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Na Leo ‘O Hawaii Public Access Television President on Bad Legislation

Another bad legislative bill going before committee today has come to my attention. HB2654 talks about improving broadband infrastructure in Hawaii, which is good, but also moves cable regulation to DBEDT from DCCA which is BAD for oversight. DBEDT is a ‘resource center’ whereas DCCA is in charge of ‘protecting the community from unfair and deceptive business practices.’

Also nothing in HB2654 to continue funding Community Access Television, BAD.

There are aspects of the bill which are good, hey, who wouldn’t like better broadband internet access? But other portions need to be rewritten to better serve the public.

At this time I urge those of you on the committee hearing the bill today to vote ‘NO’ on HB2654 and for other representatives to oppose it should the bill move forward as written.

Mahalo Nui Loa,

Baron Sekiya

President, Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i Public Access Television

ACTION ALERT! Your Voice on the Big Island Could Be Silenced by Legislation!

Legislation that would silence Public Access Community TV has been introduced by Big Island Representative Bob Herkes with the backing of Cable TV giant Oceanic Time-Warner.

The bill, introduced by Rep Herkes, would rip-apart the PEG (Public, Educational, Government) Community TV station agreements and divert 67 percent of funds for Na Leo on the Big Island, and all other Community TV stations, into state coffers.

House Bill 2652 popped onto the House committee’s schedule for Monday (Feb 6) 2:15 p.m. This was done on Friday, the eve of Super Bowl weekend when folks wouldn’t be looking and it would be too late to submit testimony. HB2652 was originally scheduled for a hearing the previous week giving us only a few hours then to submit testimony against it and despite the late notice over 45 written testimonies were submitted with most of them in strong opposition to the bill.

House Bill HB2652 appears to be fast-tracked for passage as it was originally introduced Wednesday (Jan 25) and it has already passed its first reading and is being pushed forward. The General Manager at Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i was not told about the legislation ahead of time nor has it been mention by Rep Herkes to myself or other board members. There’s a definite lack of sunshine on what’s going on with this legislation for all the Community TV stations in Hawaii as well as the public.

The Community TV station on the Big Island is Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i. I am the president of Na Leo and this is a volunteer position as I, along with our volunteer board of directors, believe an informed public makes for a better society.

If our PEG franchise is split into three: (P)ublic, (E)ducation and (G)overnment then it is very likely that Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i will not survive to provide current services nor would our plans to expand our areas of coverage on Big Island survive.

On the neighbor islands we often play forgotten stepchild to Oahu. The Big Island is left out when it comes to coverage of news and events. Honolulu TV stations often ignore the Big Island when it comes to covering our island home. Because of this Na Leo has worked to fill this information gap.

Na Leo has sponsored Big Island Video News to bring much needed local coverage to the people of our island through cable TV with news that the Honolulu TV stations ignore. We also provide video from our hard working producers and staff from around the island covering an area larger than the rest of the main Hawaiian Islands combined which has always been a daunting task.

For our kupuna who may not get out often, for those living in this tough economy who can’t afford to drive across the island and often only have a decades old television Na Leo on cable TV may be their only chance to enjoy a Hawaiian music festival or watch one of our champion youth teams in action on the Big Island.

I urge everyone to ACT NOW AND CALL OR EMAIL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE. You must do this before 2 p.m. on Monday and tell them to vote ‘NO’ on HB2652. Let them know that the community on the Big Island will not be silenced. Let them know that they work for YOU and NOT big corporate interests. Tell them that you OPPOSE  HB2652.

You can visit the HB2652 page for more info here: http://tinyurl.com/hb2652

We urge you to contact your representative:

Mark Nakashima (District 1: North Kohala, South Kohala, Hamakua, North Hilo, South Hilo)
Phone (808) 586-6680
Fax (808) 586-6684
E-Mail: repnakashima@capitol.hawaii.gov

Jerry Chang (District 2: South Hilo, Waiakea Kai, Kaumana, Keaukaha)
Phone (808) 586-6120
Fax (808) 586-6121
E-Mail: repchang@capitol.hawaii.gov

* Cliff Tsuji (District 3: South Hilo, Panaewa, Puna, Keaau, Kurtistown)
Phone (808) 586-8480
Fax (808) 586-8484
E-Mail: reptsuji@capitol.hawaii.gov

Faye Hanohano (District 4: Puna, Pahoa, Hawaiian Acres, Kalapana)
Phone (808) 586-6530
Fax (808) 586-6531
E-Mail: rephanohano@capitol.hawaii.gov

* Robert Herkes (District 5: Puna, Ka’u, South Kona, North Kona)
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 320
Phone (808) 586-8400
Fax (808) 586-8404
E-Mail: repherkes@capitol.hawaii.gov

* Denny Coffman (District 6: North Kona, Keauhou, Kailua-Kona, Honokohau)
Phone (808) 586-9605
Fax (808) 586-9608
E-Mail: repcoffman@capitol.hawaii.gov

Cindy Evans (District 7: North Kona, South Kohala)
Phone (808) 586-8510
Fax (808) 586-8514
E-Mail: repevans@capitol.hawaii.gov

Note that Representatives Tsuji, Herkes and Coffman will be at the hearing on Monday (Feb 6) so it is especially important to contact them.

Baron Sekiya
President of Na Leo ‘O Hawai‘i Public Access Television
baron@mediabaron.com

Councilman Yagong Looking to Find Money for Live Streaming of Council Meetings and Amend Budget

I sent off a letter to the Council Members yesterday explaining who I was and that I basically thought we the public weren’t getting our money’s worth for what the council is paying to have their meetings shown on TV.

This was in regards to the blog that I posted two days ago.   I sent them a copy of the blog posting as well.

I forgot to mention in that post, that I don’t even see the need or justification of doubling the amount earmarked for this future year from the year before.  Unless more services can be brought to the public.

In my email to the county members last night, I flat out asked them this:

I want to know why Live Streaming of the Council Meetings is not being done when the cost to do them would be very little…”

This morning, I received the following reply CC’d to me from Councilman Dominic Yagong to Kenneth Goodenow the county clerk:

Aloha Kenneth,

I think we should do this if at all possible.  Let me know how much money it would take, and I can see if we can find the money and amend the final budget on our June 2nd meeting.  In today’s hectic world, we need to utilize technology that will provide the most convenient service to our island constituency.  Thanks Ken.

Na Leo Forks Over $75,000 for Council Meetings to be Broadcast… $140,000 and Still Not Much Public Access

You better bet Na Leo ‘O Hawaii should be coming up with money every year to pitch in to our council meetings.

Na Leo ‘O Hawaii has come up with $75,000 so the Hawaii County Council can continue to air its meetings on public access cable TV channel 52 in Hilo and Kona.

For them to even think about not giving up money would be totally against everything that community programming is for.

…Goodenow said the county’s contract with Out of the Sea Media Arts, a private video production company, totaled $131,000 for each of the past two fiscal years. He said $140,000 had been earmarked for videos of this year’s meetings.

Out of the Sea, which is owned by Jeff and Wendy Haun, records each meeting and hands Na Leo a ready-to-air DVD. The contract is renewable on a yearly basis.

“That seventy-five grand represents over half the cost of what it takes us to produce these programs,” Goodenow said. “Actually, (Hilo Councilman) Donald Ikeda said, ‘Hey, I think Maui and Oahu get some kind of funding. So I wrote a letter to Na Leo, saying that given budget cuts, we were considering reducing the number of meetings we record.”

Na Leo Board Chairman Gerald Takase, who is also a county deputy corporation counsel, said he “pretty much stayed out of the process…”

I think Big Island Video News and I could probably do a much better job and put these meetings not only LIVE On the Internet as the meetings are happening…. but also archive them for viewing later.

Anyone can videotape these meetings and then put them to DVD. With the software that is readily available people can do this in not much time at all.

I’m not trying to knock the company that is doing this… but the process and the way the county is doing this is all messed up.

That $140,000 should be spent on 3 County Employees that are hired to video document everything that happens and put it all online.

The technology is there and could be done. Why not create 3 county positions and have this done the right way where more public access could be had by all for are tax dollars.

$140,000 to watch these shows that are aired how many times? I’d like to know the actual “Viewership” numbers of the people watching them.

That could be figured out easily if they were online… well at least how many times the online copy was viewed.

…The state, which regulates cable television, charges a franchise fee, essentially a tax, to each cable subscriber, which is used in part to finance public access television, which operates channels 52-56 on the Big Island…

This is actually considered “PEG” Funding. Public-Education-Government Funding.

I don’t know what part of the “G” Na Leo doesn’t get?

Funding for PEG is managed through the government issuing the franchise agreement. This same government receives franchise fees that ultimately come from the local cable subscribers. PEG television probably experiences interruptions in contract negotiations by the local governments, late payment of contracted operating monies, or obstructive or restricting behavior from the government issuing the franchise agreement…
…PEG television stations are often poorly managed and give rise to numerous complaints. Complaints range from the poor scheduling and playback, programming playing late or not at all, or signal strength being so weak that the program becomes unviewable. Complaints may reflect viewers’ general disagreement with other people’s viewpoints that result from running programming created by other member’s of the public on a first-come, first-serve basis. Complaints may also reflect discrimination in the resources a PEG organization applies to one type of programming vs. another…

I haven’t watched any of the council meetings on TV this year, but I remember when I was a Production Assistant for the Hawaii State Legislature, we were just running one camera via remote for most of the legislative meetings. When the larger chamber meetings went on, that’s when we would switch to a multi-cam gig. I can’t see the necessity of having a multi-cam gig on a single council meeting.

I like what Dave Corrigan of Big Island Video News said about the lack of live streaming in a question I posed to him:

“…If you think about it, they are already live streaming (locations from Waimea, Kona and Hilo) so its just a matter of making that feed available to the public over the internet…”

*Update Links Corrected* Hawaii County Council Leaves Out PEG Programming for Clean Elections Hearing

If I’m following things clearly (I’m late in the game on what may or may not have happened), but according to Big Island Chronicle, the latest hearing that had to deal with Hawaii County Clean Elections was not covered by a TV Crew.

…As for the yesterday’s special meeting, it wasn’t videotaped for the public access channel as an effort to save money, according to County Clerk Kenny Goodenow…

I replied with the following comment:

Why/How does the council even get their hands tied into PEG Money?

Hawaii Counties Public Access Channel is not funded by the council or the County for that matter that I know of.

Does the council hire an independent person to film what hearings they want and don’t want too?

It doesn’t cost ANY MONEY to AIR the HEARINGS… and I’m sure I could have found someone who could have videotaped the hearing for FREE.

Heck… you don’t really even need a person… You could simply have a camera set up on a tripod and then hit Record/Stop/Pause/etc. when the hearing is in session. Remote controls on most cameras are standard now.

Record the hearing… stick the tape in the mail addressed to Na Leo Community Television… and Poof… it’s on the Air… Eventually.

I’d love to know how much the Council is Paying to have the hearings taped.

I bet Dave Corrigan of Big Island News could do a much better job for half the price… and put those videos online for everyone to see at anytime they choose to.

As Noelie Rodrigues said… this is a slap in the face.

So going back to the original statement that it wasn’t videotaped to save the county money… I need to ask why it wasn’t for a few reasons:

Na Leo Community Television currently receives $250,000 a year (January 2009) from Time Warner fees that we the public pay for out of our cable franchise fees to cover PEG programming (Public Educational and Government programming).  They have been for many years now.

So why does the council have any say at all in what is broadcast or televised or not?

Who is making these decisions on what hearings we the public get to view.

When will they get with the program and actually just get a remote camera and stream them to the internet so anyone can watch them at any time?

This last particular hearing really blows my mind that the council would somehow choose not to have it broadcast because of supposed money costs.  Do they realize how many people would have loved to have simply videotaped it for free and then submit the tape to Na Leo so that it could be digitized for broadcast?

The council acts like it’s a big cost… when the cost should be Na Leo’s to begin with!  $62,500 is given to both the East and West side for this PEG Programming and there seems to be very little hearings on the West Side.

Of course we can’t forget HB2351H.D.1 S.D. 2:

Establishes requirements for cable TV PEG access organizations relating to funding, governance, filings, and compliance with sunshine and information practices laws.

So come on now County Council… What’s the REAL REASON why this hearing wasn’t videotaped?

Noellie Rodrigues was right when she said the public was getting slapped in the face.

face-slap