Annual Report 2010: Public Media Strategies

Public Media Strategies is the BAVC department responsible for operating and supporting SF Commons, San Francisco’s public access television station, and related community media projects and programs.

Highlights from Public Media Strategies in 2010 include:

Opening and operating a public access television station and channels at Mariposa Street. In January, 2010 after the new year holidays, BAVC re-opened its doors to unveil facility renovations designed to accommodate the public access television station within BAVC’s walls. We installed a three-camera studio and control room in the multipurpose room, a conference room for meetings, a mini studio for live shows, Final Cut Pro edit suites, and the technology and hardware required to broadcast and live-stream two cable channels 365 days per year. Other upgrades include an ADA-accessible kitchen, improved signage and visibility, and better lobby and lounge furniture to accommodate members of the public using our facility to produce television programs. We implemented a bar-coding system to inventory and track all of our equipment, organized and networked the facility, and moved our administrative offices to accommodate the department’s team of staff and interns in a space accessible to producers off of the facility lobby.

Offering affordable community programs and services

SF Commons brought ongoing production activities back to BAVC, supporting up to 140 producers and their programs. In addition to airing content on two channels, we began offering programs, services, and facilities to help community members produce and distribute their content. In 2010, we hired Program Manager Andy Kawamani and Program Assistant Philip Jackson, and began offering:

  • orientations to incoming producers
  • producer level memberships (including a new $10/year low-income membership)
  • trainings and certifications in video production, postproduction, and single operator three-camera studio operations
  • quarterly live open mic night community events, supported by a Community Advisory Board commons/community-advisory-board of producers elected by membership
  • field gear
  • edit suites
  • production space
  • live shows (with 8 to 10 half-hour live shows per week)

With more community members using our facility than ever before, stopping by to drop off shows, pick up gear, use the facility, or participate in a live show or event, BAVC became a hub of activity in 2010.

Building the community media center of the future

In 2009-2010, largely due to the impacts of state franchising, public access television in California and nationwide faced a crisis. Many public stations that were created and funded by franchise agreements with cable operators shut their doors completely. In San Francisco, when the City announced a request for proposals for a new public access operator, the funding to support operations was reduced by over 80%. BAVC responded with a proposal for a new model for public access, one which uses the power of the web and high-speed networks to reach out into our neighborhoods and across the globe rather than one that relies on a large staff to operate a full-scale television studio for a limited number of producers and viewers. We believe that the community media center that will survive economic challenges and meet community need must understand media of all kinds, partner with technology experts, use the web to empower community members and reach a wider audience, recognize that broadband access is the future of public access, and operate as efficiently as possible in order to train and equip more people and to help the people who need it the most. In 2010 we worked with technology partners to develop smart systems that require less staff time to operate, freeing up that staff time to provide training and support to producers.

Developing the neighborhood news network (n3)

With a grant from the Renaissance Journalism Center, we began to develop the neighborhood news network (n3), a program that trains producers to create live television news shows at bureaus in their neighborhoods. With help from a Transmission Project grant, we trained and supported Anne Simmons, Americorps member who is with us for one year, to develop curriculum and run community journalism trainings at the first three n3 bureaus: the Boys & Girls Club in Bayview, SomArts, and Mission Cultural Center. At each of these three satellite sites, studio installation, trainings, production, and live shows will be completed in spring of 2011, after which we hope to continue working with these local centers and to obtain funding to expand the program to sother community sites and neighborhoods.

Collaborating with community media centers regionally and nationally

With community media at a crossroads, collaboration and sharing of best practices and curriculum is key. We participated in a regional collaboration of eight Northern California community media centers (public access stations) which resulted in the California Community Media Exchange, a network of centers that will continue to share best practices, curriculum, infrastructure, and media. The community centers represent San Francisco, Gilroy, Santa Cruz, Monterrey, Marin, Humboldt, and Davis, and we also work with organizations across the nation through membership and advocacy with the Alliance for Community Media.

Partnering with numerous agencies on the City of San Francisco’s broadband strategy

BAVC worked with the City of San Francisco to develop a proposal that was funded by the federal National Telecommunications and Infrastructure Administration (NTIA) to implement a Community Broadband Opportunities Program (CBOP) throughout the City over the next three years. BAVC’s role in GoConnectSF will be to incorporate broadband training into existing training programs, and to coordinate outreach and distribution of media, curriculum, and resources created through several partner programs. With the City’s Department of Technology,, City College, CTN, the Beacon Centers, and several youth and senior centers, our goal is to increase broadband access and adoption throughout the City, particularly in low income and underserved neighborhoods.