Schenectady council meetings to be webcast in new year

Tuesday, December 31, 2013
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— In just a few weeks, even those without cable television will be able to watch Schenectady City Council meetings live.

They’ll also be able to watch every government meeting taped by Open Stage Media as soon as it is shown on TV. The online broadcasts should begin by Feb. 1.

OSM broadcasts the meetings on public access television, which is available only with cable television. But in February, the OSM website will allow viewers to watch in real time whatever is being shown on the public access government channel.

Proctors, which manages OSM, has been slowly buying servers and software licenses to broadcast live on the Web.

In 2012, Proctors put the OSM’s education channel online; this year, it put OSM’s arts and entertainment channel online. It will cost about $8,000 to put OSM’s public access government channel online, Proctors CEO Philip Morris said.

It cost too much to do all three channels at once.

“It’s just a money thing,” he said, but it was worth doing, he added.

“We believe in the concept of it being accessible. A lot of people don’t use cable anymore. They watch in other ways,” he said. “We thought it was important.”

Younger television viewers are often watching TV programming through subscriber-only Internet websites such as Hulu, rather than paying for a cable connection to a television. Internet programs allow subscribers to watch their shows on any Internet-connected device, anywhere.

Morris said OSM considered that in deciding which software to use for webcasting.

“There are less expensive ways to webcast, but they might not work with Apple,” he said. “With iPods, iPads, iPhones, we decided to wait until we could affordably do it for everybody.”

OSM’s sometimes-rival, Schenectady Access Cable Council, doesn’t have a live broadcast on its website. It does have a clear and easy-to-use page of videos to watch, but they don’t work on mobile Apple devices, which aren’t compatible with Flash, free software used for viewing videos.

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