Wednesday, July 16, 2008

BOE May Seek School Channel

Frustrated by dealings with city communications staff, the school board may try to revive its own local cable channel.

In franchise negotiations with Comcast about 10 years ago, officials sought two local origination channels, one for the school district and one municipal channel. A studio was built at Maxson Middle School, but the school channel never came to fruition. The city’s Channel 74 saw spotty use and was recently overhauled with the help of consultant Parris Z. Moore. The city now publishes a monthly schedule on its web site.

On June 30, former Community Relations Director Louis Rivera taped a special school board meeting, which officials gave to the city’s communications staff for airing on Channel 74. But board member Patricia Barksdale said she was told it could not be aired because the July schedule was already in place.

Barksdale said she spoke with Public Information Officer Jazz Johnson and Corporation Counsel Dan Williamson regarding a shared services agreement the district has with the city, and she intends to discuss it also with City Administrator Marc Dashield as well.

“This can’t happen,” board member Christian Estevez said. “We can’t give a tape and wait a month. I don’t think we should be treated this way.”

Estevez said anyone is supposed to be able to submit tapes to the public access channel and have them aired. He said he will speak to Councilman Don Davis, the City Council liaison to the school board.

Barksdale suggested engaging students in television production and activating the district’s own channel in the future.

"We're entitled to a channel that we control," board member Rasheed Abdul-Haqq said.

Channel 74 has been plagued with both technical and production issues for years. At present, programming consists of re-runs of community events and new “Hello Plainfield” and “Plainfield at Work” segments developed by Moore and city communications staff. The channel also airs “Democracy Now” and some other outside shows. Click here to see the July schedule.

--Bernice Paglia


Anonymous Sean said...

I think a school channel is a great idea. Having done it in high school (different district), it was a great learning experience. Taught students about how to put together a newscast, sporting event, school concerts, etc.

It provides both great technical and life skills.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the ch 74 people to say that "the July schedule was already in place" is ridiculous. Why on earth would there be a monthly schedule, anyway? That doesn't make sense, and that is not in the interest of the public. There should be a weekly schedule, not a monthly one. Who is overseeing the poor decision-making here?

Additionally, the franchise agreement with Comcast is for two separate channels--one for the schools and one for the public. Corporation Counsel, the Mayor's office, the City Administrator, and the City Council have these documents--all they have to do is READ THEM. Copies of these documents are also in the station files--when I was fired from the station by Sharon Robinson-Briggs, all the documentation was in the station's computer files, in addition to hard copies in the file drawers. I also shared this information with the city council and the city administrator. For over two years, I have been trying to get someone to pay attention to the franchise agreement which Comcast refuses to live up to, in addition to trying to get the city council to obey the law regarding videotaping--my pleas have fallen on mostly deaf ears. It's time for the city council to find out what the administration is doing and to demand satisfaction. The BOE doesn't have to wait a month to air a program. If this administration would find competent people who know what they're doing and who understand franchise agreements and the law, the residents wouldn't be so short-changed on every front. A tepid council that plays lapdog to this administration is not in the interest of the people.

Rebecca Williams

2:31 PM  
Anonymous sean said...


I agree with you regarding the schedule. Even if the schedule is set for the month, it should have a generic "this week's ______ meeting" (blank being council, school board, etc.). It's not like there is any editing that needs to be done. As soon as the meeting is done, the tape goes into rotation. This seems to work in other towns.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, the coverage of meetings is supposed to be "gavel to gavel," with no editing. At most, they should add an opening title card with the name/date/place of the meeting. Other than that, the content must remain pristine and "uncut." This is not rocket science. It's how it is done in every other municipality! For those of us who have labored in the area of public access television, what has happened here is a travesty. Where is the council's outrage? This is why, as a previous individual said, the people are not happy. Mediocrity and coziness with the administration on the part of several councilors has short-changed the residents. It's sad that these councilmembers have seemingly checked their ethics at the door, so to speak.

12:42 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home