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Public Access Television Continues to Thrive in San Francisco

Friday, February 21, 2014
Contact: Ron Vinson (415) 581-4003 @ronvinson

SAN FRANCISCO - The Department of Technology (DT) has awarded a three-year grant to the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) to provide public access television services in the City and County of San Francisco. DT in partnership with BAVC has successfully managed to save public access as a vital community resource for free speech and digital media skill development. Public-access television is a non-commercial mass media where the public can create and distribute video programming through designated cable TV channels and web streaming. Public access services consist of (1) operation and scheduling of channels, (2) provision of facilities and equipment for video production by the public; and (3) training on how to produce video programming.

“Due to a state law passed in 2006 that eliminated operating funds to Public, Education and Government (PEG) Channels, the future of public access television was in doubt,” said Marc Touitou. “Today I’m proud to say we continue to work with a community partner that not only kept the traditional public access medium going strong, but made it even more relevant by expanding to social media channels.”

BAVC has operated SF Commons, San Francisco's public access television and online station, since 2009. BAVC’s mission is to inspire social change by empowering media makers to create and share diverse stories through art, education and technology.

“We are thrilled to be renewing our partnership with the City,” said Jason Jakaitis, BAVC’s Director of Independent Media. “As one of the primary conduits through which local independent producers of all kinds can access BAVC’s services and resources, SF Commons is a cornerstone program in BAVC’s services to the larger community of media makers we support.”

The new agreement requires:
• Increased night and weekend hours of operation;
• More resources for community engagement;
• Greater accountability through more frequent reporting on specific performance measures.

In the most recent period, BAVC reported:
• 250 hours per month of programming;
• 115 active producers from youth to seniors;
• 259 person/days video editing suite use;
• 109 days of production equipment check out; and
• 150 potential producers received orientation to public access services and facilities.

BAVC is also pleased to announce the completion of several major facilities improvements for SF Commons producers. In addition to setting up a new Access Lab where producers can drop in to work on their programs and receive production assistance, BAVC has spent the past three months remodeling the SF Commons in-house broadcasting studio. The revamped Live Studio includes an HD multi-camera platform that features a NewTek TriCaster live production switcher and represents BAVC’s commitment to providing its public access producers with top-of-the-line production facilities. This studio makes it possible for producers to hold live shows, call-in shows, and to easily record shows in-studio for later broadcast. It also provides live streaming on multiple channels easy for any producer.

“These facilities improvements will make it even easier for producers to create and share their content with the community,” commented Andy Kawanami, SF Commons’ Program Manager. “We’re aiming to provide the best experience possible.”

What I like most about SF Commons is the staff. They’re wonderful, caring and very helpful. They make my beautiful stars on Bicycles as lovely as possible. The space is also optimal for creativity and community building.
- Carla Laser SF Commons producer “Bicycles”

SF Commons supports my television show through their comprehensive production consulting and training. They provide access to state-of-the-art equipment and spaces for recording and editing. Their support has made it possible for me to develop and broadcast my show.

- Lawrence Paul SF Commons producer “ Acapella”

In San Francisco, Public Access television programming is distributed on the Comcast cable system on channels 29 and 76, the Astound cable system on channels 29 & 30, the AT&T U-verse cable system on a shared basis on channel 99 and is also available by video stream on

For the new grant, BAVC was chosen through a competitive bid process and was chosen by a panel of independent experts in the field. The new contract also makes significant changes to ensure improved service to public access producers and greater accountability.
Last updated: 3/5/2014 1:08:47 PM