2010-10-21 / News

Council seeks bids for video services

By Phil Zahodiakin

The Jamestown Town Council this week decided to put out for bid a solicitation for live, videostreaming feeds from council meetings. The pending request for proposals (RFP) raised some financial concerns among members of the public, but the councilors advocating for video streams said it was time to move forward with the idea.

Councilman Bob Bowen, who noted that he has been advocating for council streaming since last November, said video streams “would be a great service for the people of Jamestown.” Councilor Mike White pointed out that “there has been incredible demand for greater government transparency over the last 10 years.”

However, the RFP – which was endorsed by the council – sparked significant opposition from some members of the public because, they argued, the town should avail itself of an offer of free video streams from Sav Rebecchi, who publishes the Jamestown Daily Record – an on-line news service providing videos of ouncil, commission and committee meetings.

In fact, several people attending the meeting argued that the town should simply skip the RFP and accept the offer from Rebecchi.

The total cost for the town to set up its own video streaming won’t be known until the town evaluates the RFP responses. However, the annual fee for the use of ClerkBase software – if this software is selected – would be $6,000 a year. There are also hardware costs – which could be funded from a town technology fund, Town Administrator Bruce Keiser has previously said.

Keiser remarked that it’s impossible to estimate the amount of money needed to purchase laptop computers, microphones, video equipment and other hardware until all the RFP responses are in.

Bowen said that the system outlined in the RFP, which will be advertised soon, “would be better than what is currently available to us” because, among other reasons, the town system would use multiple cameras, and provide wall plates for newspapers or the public to plug into the system.

Alluding to the opinion of some parties that the Record is “biased,” Bowen also said that the town system would be “neutral.” Rebecchi responded by arguing that the video content of the Record is, in fact, “neutral,” and that “headlines are not content. They’re just a way that all publishers use to get people to read or see the content.”

Schnack told Rebbechi that “all you’re saying [about a donation of streaming services] is great, and would make a compelling case for us to consider” when the council evaluates the RFP responses.

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