2013-10-25 / Letters

Details need to be corrected in article

To the editor:

This letter is in regard to the recent article in the Sentry entitled “SPCTV Moves Ahead” by Sean P. Milligan and is intended to clarify some of the information presented therein.

Sean and I had a brief conversation over the phone about SPC-TV’s online presence and the availability of municipal meetings to the public via the Internet. Along the way we talked about SPC-TV’s current operational changes and what viewers can expect in the weeks to come as we complete these transitions.

Taking the article point-by-point:

“Currently, school board and city council meetings from as far back as 2007 are available on demand on SPCTV’s website.”

Not so. The available meetings only go back to 2009. The 2007 year was my own estimation and was incorrect.

“but online live streaming broadcasts of these meetings will create a tap of instantaneous knowledge previously available only to those present at meetings”

We’ve been streaming SPC-TV live for several years. This includes live municipal meetings. Viewers have had three options: attend in person, watch on cable TV or watch the live stream on a Flash-enabled computer. We are improving this existing functionality.

“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.”

The ability to deliver live content to multiple devices (Apple, Android, Roku, PC) is actually a fringe benefit of the transition we are making away from an analog video broadcast server toward an IPTV environment. From an online viewer’s perspective, the value added is in simplicity. End-users will be able to watch both channels (SPC-TV and SPEAC) online without having to install plugins or worry about selecting the proper format.

“Channel 3 has temporarily been designated the school channel and is running on new servers.”

Channel 3 has been the school channel all along. It will become the public access channel when we complete the transition to our new IPTV server.

“At the end of the process this will be reversed with channel 2 hosting public access television and channel 3 broadcasting city meetings.”

It’s the other way around. Channel 2 will have municipal, government and educational content. Channel 3 will have public access content and communityinterest programming.

“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.”

I was referring to official municipal meetings such as the harbor commission that are not taped. If they were recorded, we would make them available to the public online. For a full list of the boards and committees available, please visit: http://www.southportland.org/ourcity/ board-and-committees/.

Essentially, SPC-TV has been running two concurrent servers for several months. Our new IPTV server is hosting SPEAC (currently channel 3) and our old analog server has been continuing in its role as a dual-focus channel with public access and municipal/government content on channel 2. Eventually the IPTV server will host both channels, with the educational content migrating from channel 3 to 2 and the public access programming migrating from 2 to 3. Municipal/government programming will remain on channel 2. Both channels will stream live with enhanced functionality 24/7. Recorded municipal meetings will continue to be available as video on demand.

One of the real benefits of the new paradigm was highlighted at the Aug. 19 city council meeting that took place at Mahoney Middle School. Because of IPTV’s inherent flexibility, SPC-TV was able to broadcast that meeting live over the Internet using the city of South Portland’s internal network infrastructure. Going forward, SPC-TV will be able to have live Internet streams from within the city’s IP network.

I’d like to thank Sean for his interest in SPC-TV’s online presence. We truly do “[hope] these changes add to the public’s access to information and [provide] an unclouded explanation of where the information is being generated.”

Maurice Amaral, media specialist
City of South Portland

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