Live Streaming the County Council Meetings… More Chaos or Just Musical Chairs?


On May 21st  I sent out the following email:

Aloha Council Members,

My name is Damon Tucker and I am curious about the Na Leo Television contract that was written about in yesterday’s paper.  I blogged about it on my blog and the links in the blog will take you to the sites referenced in the re-post of the blog.

I was the former Master Control Operator for Olelo Channel 56 (However I was under the Employment of the Department of Education.

I controlled channel 56 statewide and broadcast hundreds of live shows statewide during the last decade.

I also work on many websites and blogs for people throughout the community.

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.

Also the price that you are paying this company to do the work that they are doing is frigging ridiculous.

I could record each meeting and have the council and Na Leo copies of the meetings on DVD w/in 24 hours of each meeting.

This could easily be done for under $40,000 a year!!!

And I could put these online and available for viewing at any time instead of the limited broadcast times available on Na Leo.

The following I posted on my blog today I suggest you view the blog to see the links:

May 20, 2009

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…”

I received the following reply from Councilman Yagong addressed to Kenneth Goodenow on May 22nd:

From: “Dominc Yagong”
To: “Goodenow, Kenneth”
Cc: [email protected]

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.

Aloha – Dominic

On May 22nd I also received the following E-Mail from Councilman Yoshimoto:

From: “J S Yoshimoto”
To:”‘damon tucker'”

Aloha Damon,

Thank you for your email. We are in the process of looking into having live streaming video of our council meetings that could possibly result in considerable savings to the county.



Later that same day I get the following email from County Clerk Kenneth Goodenow:

From: “Kenny Goodenow”
To: “‘damon tucker'”
Memo No 09-029 Access to County Websites by Persons with Disabilities (2).pdf (533KB)

Mr. Tucker,

Please see the attached Department of Human Resources. I’ve already been through this before, but I thought I check again. I have also been told by HR the following:

1) In the case of video-streaming the law hasn’t caught up to the technology yet. Podcasts and webcasts are now mentioned as falling under the ADA requirements for accessibility.

2) The County of Kaua ‘i had a lawsuit filed against them based on Communications Access because transmission of County Council Meetings was not captioned. There was a judgment against County of Kauai and now everything they do is captioned.

Thank you again for your comments. Again, if you think you can provide the services for less, I encourage you to participate in the next RFP.

Thank you,

Ken Goodenow

So my response of course is to once again look at what is being done on Oahu already:

REGULAR CITY COUNCIL Meeting April 22, 2009 06h 08m Agenda Video Open Video Only in Windows Media Player MP3 Audio

I also want to make a note that there is a difference between what I highlighted above in Goodenow’s reply as to Podcasts and Webcasts versus Live Streaming.

Podcast: a Web-based audio broadcast via an RSS feed, accessed by subscription over the Internet

Webcast: the broadcasting of news, entertainment, etc., using the Internet, specifically the World Wide Web.

Live Streaming: a technology for transferring data so that it can be received and processed in a steady stream.

There is nowhere in the 20 page PDF file*  that Clerk Goodenow sent me that mentions Live Streaming needed to be ADA Compliant.   *(I can email that to anyone interested)

All us folks are simply asking for is a simple live stream of the meetings.

You can make the CC of the meetings available at any time there after.

Let’s take a look at one more from Oahu:

SPECIAL CITY COUNCIL MEETING April 8, 2009 00h 04m Agenda Video Open Video Only in Windows Media Player MP3 Audio

3 Responses

  1. Mahalo!

    I see a cartoon coming, “The Lack”.
    All of us with our noses pressed up against the windows of the county building, watching workers watching the council on the internet!
    At this rate you’re going to have to come up with a cartoon a day!

  2. Awesome!

  3. You run with this Damon and don’t look back. This is a great plus for all of us, need help call.

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