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BAVC’s New Public Access TV
by Gus Manos
Bavc New Public
The Adrenaline-fueled Jennifer Gilomen, of BAVC, leads the charge on the new Public TV.
If the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) is short on funds for SF Commons, the new name for San Francisco's public access television, they're certainly not short on ambition. Just ask Jennifer Gilomen, BAVC's new Director of Public Media Strategies, who's charged with overseeing the transition from what was Access SF to SF Commons, and managing a leaner and - as she envisions it - more decentralized operation.
The San Francisco Community Television Corporation, called Access SF for the last 10 years, passed the torch to BAVC on September 1, but with the torch comes headaches. SF Commons' first producer's meeting was swamped, indicating a healthy interest by the public in the use of the facilities.
As I sat at SF Common's current facility at 1720 Market Street, listening to Gilomen describe the future of San Francisco's pubic TV access, I got the feeling that she was running on pure adrenaline. She spoke about her vision for SF Commons' two stations (Channels 29 and 76 on Comcast), painting a picture of utilizing various technologies and organizations which, linked together, could make SF Commons a model for others to emulate. The goal is to bring them in line with today's trends - social networking and the TV/Internet convergence. Pretty heady stuff.
The first hurdle is surmounting an annual budget that has been butchered from last year's $800,000 to a paltry $170,000 and somehow return to the previous level of service. Although Flash studios, editing suites, and workshops providing training, are part of the short-term plans, Gilomen's long-term strategy seems to be centered on networking.
"How can we plan for operating this in a different way?" said Gilomen before launching into a description of BAVC's current and pending partnerships with other media non-profits, as well as plans to develop a fiber optic network. In addition, she is suggesting the building of several satellite studios in various neighborhoods in the City, which will be connected by fiber to BAVC's servers for program airing, transcoding, and archiving.
The first order of business is to implement the Denver Open Media's Internet-based management system, which allows for reserving equipment, tracking workshop reservations, uploading and scheduling shows for airing, and a bevy of other training applications. In addition to being a major change in BAVC's MO, the system is likely to produce a significant savings for them as well.
As Gilomen continued, her vision enlarged into having SF Commons fit into a phenomenal concept similar to recreating the Internet. Having already started The National Public Light Path, a consortium designed to connect public media institutions, BAVC has partnered with academia's National LambdaRail and CENIC (Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California - pronounced "scenic") in order to tap into their existing fiber optics networks. This could extend BAVC's reach out to 450 universities across the country and every K-12 school in California. BAVC's partnership with Public Broadcasting and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) adds city governments and PEG (public, educational, and governmental TV) to the mix.
By linking to this extensive fiber optic network, BAVC will be able to exchange large files, stream live shows, and download videos, not to mention employ new technologies that a large bandwidth system of this type could facilitate, offering SF Commons producers a pretty big reach for their buck.
"All this will take a few years to build out," Gilomen confesses. In the meantime, they remain on automatic pilot until the closing of the Market St. facility on December 20th and the move to BAVC's home location on the 2nd floor of 2727 Mariposa. It's going to be a tight squeeze, but they've hired a green architect to help reconfigure the space. They expect to begin using the Denver Open Media system in the spring, at which time, if the stars line up, they'll also get the funding green light for their first satellite studio.
Of course, SF Commons will be looking for content, so producers of live and pre-recorded TV programs, documentaries, shorts or feature films whose audience demo fits the public access profile would well be advised to make their proposals now - or at least look into BAVC. Clearly, the future for public access TV in San Francisco is going Internet.
Posted on Nov 03, 2009 - 05:31 PM