2013-10-18 / Front Page

SPCTV moves ahead

By Sean P. Milligan
Contributing Writer

SOUTH PORTLAND – South Portland Community Television is making publicly funded committee meetings available live online as part of its efforts to overhaul the manner in which it broadcasts its programming.

SPCTV is adding new ways that community members can access information. It is currently separating public access television, programming that is produced by citizens of South Portland, from broadcasts of committee meetings that are supported financially by the taxpayers, such as the school board and city council.

Currently, school board and city council meetings from as far back as 2007 are available on demand on SPCTV’s website, but online live streaming broadcasts of these meetings will create a tap of instantaneous knowledge previously available only to those present at meetings. Station officials hopes these changes add to the public’s access to information and provides an unclouded explanation of where the information is being generated.

Since the operation began last March, there have been several technological snags that have held up the process. Previously, the station had only a single stream that could not function on all platforms.

“We used to have just one live stream, and that was a[n Adobe] Flash-based stream that’s not supported by Apple on their handheld operating system,” said Maurice Amaral, a staff member at SPCTV who is spearheading the transition. “We have a piece of equipment now that allows us to go around it. We have actually three different streams and you can use whatever device you want.”

As of Tuesday, Oct. 15, both the station’s online access and television programming are a bit awry while in a transitional period.

On channel 2 viewers can find public access programming, as well as government meetings. These are hosted on the SPCTV’s old servers. Channel 3 has temporarily been designated the school channel and is running on new servers.

At the end of the process this will be reversed with channel 2 hosting public access television and channel 3 broadcasting city meetings. Upon completion of process programming, both channels will return to a consistent, grid-based schedule.

Not all meetings will be broadcast, however. Private committees such as the Protect South Portland political action committee will not be available via live stream because it is not taped to begin with.

Amaral feels confident about the progress, but is anxious to get SPCTV through this transition period.

“We’re getting there,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work, so within the month, hopefully within the next couple weeks, we’ll have a transition made and I won’t have to manage two servers at the same time.”

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