Spotlight: Cranford – Darkest day gave way to its brightest future

by Christine Hoffman, Staff, Cranford Television

PEG TV35 in Cranford was born in 1986 with the help of then Township Committeeman Dan Aschenbach, who understood the benefits of public access to his community.  It started at the high school but was moved to the township to give greater community access. That is where it remains today.  Cranford resident H. Edward Davenport was asked to help lead the effort to start it up.  He had little funds, so he gathered old and used tech equipment and duct taped it into a station that instantly brought local news and interesting stories to Cranford.  Ed worked full time at pharmaceutical giant Hoffman LaRoche.  He headed its media department which was tasked with making commercials and worldwide product announcements.  But for years he volunteered every night at the station and slowly molded the beginnings. 

With Cranford residents Ron Brown and Jack Duffy, the three labored for hours on editors like the Toaster, to produce shows such as how to make a good Irish soda bread and the opening of our community center.  The station back then brought in many high school volunteers who are now working in areas such as homeland security, the MLB network, and Fox sports.  TV35 occupies the lower level in our municipal building.  In 2011 Hurricane Irene swamped our local river, which came flooding into the station.  We had at least 4 feet of dirty water in our studio and control room.  Everything was ruined by the floodwaters.  However, TV35’s darkest day gave way to its brightest future.

A good insurance policy enabled the station to leap into this century and allowed us to up our production quality.  We now have our third main Tricaster, the Tricaster 2 elite.  Our live events are brought in with our Live U 300, and we have three Mac editors with adobe premiere pro.  Our studio, recently named the H. Edward Davenport studio, has three Hitachi SD cameras and gray and green curtains for virtual backgrounds.  We use SCALA as our billboard software and are in the market for a new affordable one.  Unfortunately, our request to fund new software was rejected last year.  We have a mobile truck for our graduation coverage and football games. 

When our old box truck died, the township’s sewer dept gave us their van.  After it was sanitized, we moved in our mobile operations, including a Tricaster TC1.  Our coverage is hyperlocal and adds another voice to the community.  We show all the regular meetings of the township committee, planning and zoning board, and the BOE, high school graduation, Memorial Day parade, prom and pre-prom parties, church services and townwide events.  We have shows that focus on town, health and education issues. 

The goal is to give leaders and residents a chance to have their say and to add to the conversation.  Some of our more popular shows include Cranford Cooks, which is named after a Facebook group here that highlights culinary dishes people are making and eating.  On our show, residents share their cooking tips and recipes with each other.  Our high school football, baseball and wrestling teams do well, and so they too are our most popular shows and we cover them on a regular basis.  We do try to cover at least one game in each varsity sport per year.  With talented home announcers and now the addition of graphics and replay, our residents, alumni and extended Cranford families can really enjoy following their home teams and neighbors.  We have a small town feel, and Friday night football brings us all together. 

During the pandemic, TV35 brought residents coverage of high school baseball’s Last Dance series.  We gave our town a bit of a respite, something to have fun with during a dreary time.  People held small family gatherings outside on their patios with their TVs, eagerly waiting for the games to be on.  Our team eventually won the whole contest, easily beating top notch private schools, and hundreds of people were able to watch through us.  It was the town buzz.   In the last few years, we have averaged more than 300 shows that we produce per year.  TV35 has two part-timers who work on a daily basis, and several people who work hourly to help with editing and live shows.  We always welcome volunteers.  TV35 programming can be found on channel 35 on Comcast and Fios, on Facebook and on CranfordTV35 YouTube.  While we eye the HD channels longingly, we fear changing location to such high numbers on the dial would confuse our senior citizens, who are among our most loyal viewers.  They rely on us to connect them to the community.  TV35 started as, and remains as, a labor of love.  The staff pours tremendous amounts of time and effort into producing shows and keeping up with technology.  Financial constraints keep us at bay, but the station does its job, which is to show the community a reflection of itself and to promote conversations to move the township to new levels.

Adapting Your Station – Broadcast, Cord Cutters and Hybrid Productions

by Bob Duthaler, President, JAG

If you have been in this business for over 10 years, you recall that there was only one way to do it.  The formula was simple, cover the event in full, get it to post and air it on cable – repeat.  That applied to both meetings and township events.  Somewhere along the way in recent years, the viewing habits of the consumer has changed, and so must the formula.  Stations need to adapt to move forward and survive.  We will cover three areas to focus on to move forward with: Broadcast Trend, Cord Cutters and Hybrid Productions.

Before I break down the three areas we are going to discuss, I want to plant a thought in your mind about your station.  You should think of the station as a marketing arm of your township.  But aside from the fact that we cover meetings of all sorts and help keep government open to the public, your station should be used to market all the good things about your town.  If you keep that thought in mind, it will help your station move forward with a mission.

Broadcast Trend:  This is probably the slowest of all the changes we are going to talk about.  Most stations are still broadcasting in SD using analog, composite video, and audio.  This is the same technology the stations used in the 70s when the first went on air.  That is 50 years without change!  Until the cable company’s feet are put to the fire, change will not take place.  For that to happen, it needs to take place on both the state and local level.  On the state level, JAG has already enacted changes to benefit your station.  The BPU has already stated that cable companies like Verizon that are on the system-wide franchise agreement need to provide high-definition channels to municipalities, include station listings on the electronic guide and make available equipment/training for productions.  JAG will continue to fight for municipalities on both the state and federal level.  But on the local end, you as station managers need to take action to move your station forward.  For those with local franchise agreements, you need to prepare for the movement towards HD in your upcoming negotiations.  The cable companies are not just going to give you these upgrades, you need to ask and pressure them to do so.  In addition, you need to make sure your station is ready for that change.  You need to have an HD broadcasting system in place that is capable of sending out an HD-SDI signal that can be handed off to the cable company. 

Cord Cutters:  To understand this new trend of watching TV (or perhaps we should say video), most of us don’t have to look any further than our own homes.  If you have kids under 25 you already know their viewing habits.  Most split the consumption of video on a phone, tablet or computer with watching Netflix, Hulu or live sports on a large screen TV.  A recent study showed that during the month of July 2022, more people viewed video online than a traditional cable viewing (Note:  it should be noted that there is no football in July, which would have changed viewing habits towards traditional).  With that thought in mind, you need to start exploring ways to have your content available on multiple platforms.  These can include YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media platforms.  You should also consider streaming your station live on the web.  Plus, to accommodate cord cutters, you should have a plan for an Apple TV, ROKU or Fire TV app.  There are several vendors who are supportive of JAG that understand this and have offered up solutions to get you underway.

Hybrid Productions:  Here is where we need to embrace new technology, explore what we can do and investigate other possibilities.  Hybrid does not only apply to meetings and bringing in Zoom and in-person together.   Hybrid explores ways you can take your productions that are normally live-to-tape or post-driver and make them live.  Can you have multiple people working in different locations to collaborate to make a production?  How can you operate your station virtually?  These are all questions and answers to the hybrid production and operation scenario.  During the next few months and beyond, we will discuss these through webinars, manager’s round table discussions and vendor presentations. Now is the time to explore these three properties I spoke of and how this can become a marketing arm of your operation to benefit your municipality, school, or organization.  Reach out to stations that are doing this already, attend JAG meetings and webinars for further information and reach out to vendors who understand what JAG members are going through, where they want to go and, more importantly, our budget constraints.  I hope you take this into account and help move your station forward.

A Retrospect of the Importance of PEG and News from the FCC

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

Over the decades, PEG Television Channels have demonstrated their value to the communities they serve.  We  have been challenged over and over again to get our vital information out to our local viewing audiences, especially in times of crisis.   But there has never been anything more challenging than during the past pandemic.  It was the access stations that found ways to get their individual messages directly out to their communities.  

PEG channels were one of the few places viewers could go to watch Governor Murphy’s daily press briefings in their entirety, both live and “on demand.”   While it is not surprising to find PEG stations carrying this, there were many other ways PEG Channels helped the citizens in their communities.  With schools closed, and kids stuck at home, many stations tried to create programing to help parents entertain their kids while they worked from home.  This programming included the mayors of several towns reading books to kids to keep them entertained.  Other stations developed specialized programming around drawing and painting for kids stuck at home.  Several stations even created shows for kids with sing-a-long songs that both educated and entertained.

Many of our PEG Stations carried local high school sports so friends and family could watch their teams compete even though they couldn’t attend the games in person.  PEG stations covered graduations virtually to give families a chance to honor their seniors, when traditional celebrations were cancelled.

Clearly, the fight against Covid 19 was a stressful time for people throughout the state, and our PEG stations provided programming designed to ease that stress with programs of Yoga and Meditation.

The Jersey Access Group (JAG) is proud of how our members have responded to the challenges we faced due to this pandemic.  It’s clear that our PEG Television Channels have risen to the occasion to prove their true value to the communities they serve.

Straight from the FCC:

In August, the Federal Communications Commission adopted an Order creating the “Your Home, Your Internet” pilot program designed to raise awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) among households receiving federal housing assistance. The one-year pilot program will test the best methods for helping consumers receiving federal housing assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development learn about the Affordable Connectivity Program and enroll in the program.

“Broadband is a necessity for American households, yet many HUD-assisted families lack access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “HUD is committed to ensuring that the people we serve have sufficient internet access for work, school, health care, and other needs. FCC’s new pilot program will make it easier for HUD-assisted families to access reliable and affordable high-speed internet, and I look forward to working with Chairwoman Rosenworcel and the Commission to get more families online.”

The “Your Home, Your Internet” pilot program features enhancements that are designed to help ease the application and enrollment process for federal housing assistance recipients. State and local housing authorities, Tribal Designated Housing Entities, and other state, regional, or local government entities, as well as community partners are eligible to apply for the pilot. Pilot program applicants will be able to submit proposals for specialized ACP outreach efforts, including promotional materials that are directed to federal housing assistance recipients and organizations. Pilot participants also are encouraged to propose application assistance tools which the Commission will evaluate. In addition, the Commission has set aside up to $10 million to support pilot-related activities. The Wireline Competition Bureau will provide more guidance on how to participate in the pilot program. The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a monthly discount of up to $30 per month (and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands) as well as a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. Under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a household may qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program if at least one member of the household meets the qualifications for participation in the Lifeline program. Households that receive federal housing assistance are eligible for Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program.

President’s Message: September 2022 – Finish or Start The Year Strong. It’s All In The Way You Look At It

by Bob Duthaler

September is upon us, and it invokes many different emotions.  There have been several songs about September as well: “Wake Me Up When September Ends” – Greenday,  “September” – Earth, Wind and Fire, just to to name a couple.  For parents and teachers, it starts the beginning of a new school year.  For some businesses it’s the end of the first quarter and for those using a calendar year, you are in the final third of the year.

For JAG as an organization, its all of those above.  The Executive Board Retreat in August, signifies the beginning of planning for a new JAG year.  Having the months of July and August off from General Membership Meetings, we come back again in September like school kids coming back for a new year.  For the fiscal year, we are winding up the 2022 budget, preparing for the 2023 budget and motivating members to take a role on the board or committee.

Whatever way you look at it, you need to be “all in”.  That should apply to everything you do – work, volunteer, play and life in general.  Be present, give your all, be “All In”!  That is the approach the executive board at JAG takes.  When it comes to this organization and its future, we on the board are “All In”.  Because of that, we are taking several approaches to finish out this year or start it – however way you look at it.

We are looking to hold our first Hybrid Meeting.  The October General Membership Meeting will be held both in person at Varto Technologies in East Rutherford and virtually on Zoom as well.  This will be a first for our organization as we welcome gathering again for those interested and still giving the option to those who can’t travel to join us virtually.  Please mark your calendar for October 26th for this historic event in JAG!

Coming up for our September meeting on the 28th, we will also have another first.  We will welcome one of our newest Organizational Members, G&G Technologies, who will be doing a presentation to our membership.  G&G represents many different manufacturers and offers installation services as well.  I urge all members to take part in this virtual meeting and welcome our newer member.

During the last few months of the year 2022, we will be very busy as an organization.  We are currently preparing for our participation in the upcoming New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference in November.  JAG will be hosting two sessions with the league along with having our booth on the conference floor.  I urge you to invite your mayors and council members to come to our sessions and visit our booth.  In addition, we will be hosting a couple of webinars and round table virtual discussions.  Look for emails announcing days and times. Finally, at our September meeting you will also see our new agenda layout.  We understand your time is valuable, we have reviewed past meeting attendance and “dropout” periods and the executive board has come up with a condensed, but action-packed agenda for our meetings moving forward.  Now all we ask of you is to give an hour of your time to attend the meetings.  Then at the conclusion, we will host an “after hours” session where you can continue with questions and discussions with vendors and members alike.  For those in person, you can network with each other and explore vendor presentations up close and personal.  I hope everyone enjoys this new format and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it once we launch.  So, make the most of this new start, closing of the year or however you view it and be “all in” when it comes to everything JAG.

PTZ cameras: NDI, HDBaseT, SDI and HDMI

by Marvin Charyn, Director of Broadcast Sales, G&G Technologies

I have about 50 years experience in this industry. Engineering, sales and designing systems.

I graduated from Voorhees Technical Institute which is now a part of Hunter College and continued my education at New York Institute of Technology.

G&G Technologies has been in business for over 34 years. If you go to G&G Technologies website www.ggvideo.com  you will find that we are an authorized dealer for over 100 manufacturers.

I am now starting my 11th year at G&G Technologies as the Director of Broadcast Sales.

I will be presenting at JAG’s Sept. 28 meeting.  The main topic will be PTZ Cameras, discussing all phases of this particular type of camera such as NDI, HDBaseT, SDI and HDMI.  PTZ camera systems are now starting to take over the industry.  Most camera manufacturers are now adding this type of camera to their line of products.  Municipalities, Courts, Houses of Worship and Schools are now replacing their current camera systems with PTZ cameras.  Today all 30 Major League Stadiums have Panasonic Outdoor PTZ cameras installed.

In addition to selling individual items, we also design systems and do On-Site Surveys.  G&G also offers equipment rentals with various cameras, intercom systems, lighting packages, etc.

Two of the PTZ cameras I will talk about are the Panasonic AW-HE42K and the JVC KY-PZ200NBU.

The AW-HE42K is a full HD camera with an integrated rotating base equipped with 3G-SDI and a variety of other output connectors. The four types of output interfaces and the genlock function support smooth large-scale shooting with multiple cameras. The camera is perfect for a wide range of environments, from recording and broadcast of lectures, to live streaming at concerts and other events.

HD PTZ REMOTE CAMERA with NDI|HX

JVC’s new HD KY-PZ200N cameras provide optimal streaming image quality and performance for remote production over the internet and is equipped with NDI®|HX and SRT streaming, H.265/H.264/MJPEG encoding, and VITC (Vertical Interval Timecode) multi-camera synchronization technologies.

G&G will be presenting at the September 28, JAG General Meeting via Zoom.

Glad to be Back

by Jesse Lerman, President/CEO, TelVue

The Eastern Video Expo 2022 brought a welcome end to a two+ year drought of local, in-person trade shows and other industry events, giving participating vendors the opportunity for face-to-face engagement with valued customers once again.  It was great to say goodbye to endless Hollywood Squares-like Zoom meetings and welcome back the kind of meaningful conversations and collaborative-based discussions that generate important feedback, crucial for product development.

Before the pandemic, trade shows were a mainstay line item for any company’s marketing budget, and exhibiting to current and prospective customers, suppliers and other business associates was crucial.  Most importantly, the EVE gave us a chance to access key decision makers in current and prospective organizations, and to service and support any current accounts’ requests in-person.  In addition to having direct exposure to long-time clients, it was a chance to see what other products are being introduced to the market, as well as a forum to unveil TelVue’s key product roadmap items.

While the attendance was lighter than past years, not unexpected for the first post-pandemic return, it actually fostered a very productive climate for more one-on-one discussions with station operators, producers and other stakeholders, so vital to the region’s PEG channel operations. Having a single day on the exhibit floor for vendors to showcase and highlight products felt just right.  Ho’Iki’s J Robertson always wins the prize for the most frequent flier miles accumulated to attend the expo once again this year, and it was great to see him, along with everyone whose commute to the event was considerably shorter! Thanks very much to Montclair’s Rick Gearheart for furnishing a huge box of salty snack bags to balance the otherwise heavily chocolate candy-skewed bowl at TelVue’s booth, giving nice balance for grazing throughout the day.

We also said “bon voyage” to one of TelVue’s first customers in the Garden State, Woodbridge’s own Lee Beckerman, as he prepared to sail off in the retirement sunset, and, after 20+ years, it was also the swansong show for TelVue’s own founding partner and SVP of Sales & Marketing, Paul Andrews. It’s been said that retirement is when you trade the boss who hired you for the one who married you, so good luck to Lee and Paul, with both of your new bosses! At least in retirement, you don’t have to request paid time off anymore.

The EVE conference always affords vendors the opportunity for larger group presentations, and TelVue covered a range of new items this year: from next level, integrated social media streaming directly from our very affordable new AIO+ line of Hypercaster server models, automation rules, dual language closed captioning, and a special users group for the JAG Shared Server. Both of our presentation slots on captioning and social streaming were well attended with great engagement, questions, and feedback. Any trade show will offer potential to satisfy one or more of a company’s marketing objectives, but it’s also the chance for engineering and product development staff, who seldom get as much customer contact as they need, to engage directly with end users. EVE is like a dynamic day-long focus group, where we get to review our products and services and assess preliminary customer reactions, critical or not.  The annual conference is a valuable testbed for an appreciative audience and TelVue is always grateful to be a part of the robust NJ station community.

Old Bridge Television

by Aime Alonzo Station Manager

My name is Aime Alonzo. I am the newly appointed Station Manager of Old Bridge Television or as we call it, OBTV.  I was pleased to learn about JAG and to meet many of its supportive members on the phone and at this year’s Eastern Video Expo.  Let me tell you a little about myself and the station.

I am an actor and a member of SAG/AFTRA.  In college I majored in Theater and Film Production, but life’s twists and turns took me to Law School.  After earning my Juris Doctorate Degree, I worked traditional jobs, but the yearning to be creative kept nagging at me.  I went back to acting.  I acted in award winning independent projects, produced some independent films and directed an independent series.  I also worked as a background actor on TV shows like “Law & Order”, “The Equalizer”, “FBI” and movies like “Players”, and “Your Place or Mine” which will be out soon on Netflix.   I am very happy to have joined OBTV.  My duties also include overseeing the township website and serving as the Business Administrator’s executive assistant.

Old Bridge Television is one of the founding members of JAG.  Currently it has only two staff members, including   me, the station manager, and Jacob Turchi, a media production technician.  OBTV covers the township council meetings, the zoning meetings, and the planning meetings.  Original shows include the “Old Bridge Outlook”, the Mayor’s PSAs, and coverage of township events like the Memorial Day Parade and Old Bridge Day to name a few.  We broadcast on Altice channel 15, on Fios channel 22, and on YouTube.  In addition to the cable channels, I worked on getting OBTV programming to broadcast on streaming platforms.  Residents of Old Bridge can now watch OBTV on Apple TV, Roku, Fire Stick and on android and iPhone apps.  Before I began working at the station, I reviewed programming footage.  Since my first day on the job, I made it a point to improve the look of our broadcasts.  I have experimented mostly with lighting and with JAG’s help, I have explored other technical solutions until we are able to upgrade our equipment.

Our studio is comprised of a filming area and a control room.  We use three JVC PROHD compact shoulder mount cameras (model number GY-HM850CHU) that are permanently mounted on Bogen tripods (model number 3068 and 3127).  Attached to our cameras are JVC Zoom Servo Units and Focus Manual Units which are manipulated on our tripods.  We have Swit Electronics Co. LCD Monitor Screens that we use for more flexible viewing and as a composition and framing tool.  The studio has 12 ceiling mounted lights that we manipulate as needed. Five lights are Dracast LED 1500 Wi-Fi Headlights, six are Dracast LED 200 Headlights and one Dracast LED 1500 Headlight with no Wi-Fi.  We also have, positioned behind two white window panels which are used as a background in the studio, four ADJ Mega Go Bar 50 RGBA LED lights that change color.

Our court room/council chamber has three PTZ cameras and a second control center right in the council chamber.  This is unusual because we also have a control room which has all the equipment necessary to broadcast from.  The cart holds a broadcast switcher from Broadcast Pix (1000 Panel) a microphone mixer from Shure (model M367), and a Sony joystick remote camera controller (model RM-IP10).  During council meetings our technician sits at the controls in the council chamber to monitor the broadcast.  In the chamber we use 14 Shure XLR Gooseneck microphones (model MX418D/C), two Shure Wireless Gooseneck Microphones (model MX890G5) and one Shure wireless handheld microphone (model DD4ULX2).  The XLR microphones are used by the council members, the two wireless goosenecks are used at the guest table and the wireless handheld mic is used by residents that want to make comments during the meetings.  The equipment on our cart allows us to zoom in and out to provide viewers with a closer look at each speaker.  This makes for a more interesting meeting. When we film on location, we use a Panasonic 4K Portable camera (model AG-DVX200) that we attach to a LiveU Live Unit (model LU-SOLO) to enable us to broadcast live to our YouTube channel.  We also use a NetGear WIFI puck (model Nighthawk MR1100) as a hot spot.  We recently started broadcasting live on Facebook as well.  We are always working with the Mayor and the Business Administrator to identify programming opportunities that will keep our residents informed and involved in the community.  We thank the Mayor and the Business Administrator for their continued support, and we look forward to upgrading our equipment so that we may provide residents with high quality programming.

Cablecast OTT Spotlight: MCTV Network

by Dana Healy, VP Cablecast Community Media

As the community media hub serving the City of Midland, Michigan, Midland Community Television (MCTV  Network) enables residents to create original content to inform, entertain, and educate. Operating four cable access TV channels on Charter Spectrum and AT&T U-verse, MCTV expanded its reach last year to include Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire, and mobile devices as well as enhancing its streaming offerings.

MCTV’s four channels contribute to a sense of community, providing hyper-local content, transparency in government, and a free speech forum to individuals and organizations. They include Midland Government TV, Midland Public Schools TV, Community Voices (public access), and Community Messages (bulletin board content, as well as live programming beyond what is offered on the other three channels).

While the four Cablecast SX LE HD servers that MCTV purchased in 2014 were still going strong and working reliably, the station knew it needed to expand its distribution platforms to maintain and grow its audience. “We just weren’t able to reach people who were dropping cable television,” said Matt Richardson, Manager of Midland Community Television. “As a non-commercial entity, we also didn’t want to be tied to a commercial service like YouTube.”

Working closely with Tightrope’s professional services team, MCTV launched custom-branded Cablecast apps for bringing all four of its channels to viewers on three OTT streaming platforms. The MCTV Network Community Voices app was released in early 2021 for Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire. MCTV’s channels are also available on iOS and Android mobile devices through the standard Cablecast Community Media mobile app.

“Cablecast made the process of going OTT incredibly easy, with Tightrope support helping us create our branded apps,” said Richardson. “Most importantly, our viewers like the OTT option. A lot of people have downloaded our apps, and love being able to watch our channels in HD since our cable channels are limited to SD.”

At the same time as launching the new OTT apps, MCTV also upgraded the streaming capabilities on its website. VOD content is now served from Cablecast VOD via the Cablecast Reflect service (it was previously hosted on YouTube), and the addition of Cablecast Live servers enabled live streaming of all channels for the first time. MCTV is planning to upgrade to Cablecast VIO servers next year, and looks forward to reducing its equipment requirements by running the Cablecast CG bulletin board software on the same server as the station’s channel playout. The station is also switching its government meeting coverage from a dedicated municipal governance platform to Cablecast, and is excited about the rich capabilities the Cablecast platform offers for publishing civic meetings. “The ability to have VOD chapter markers and associate agendas as part of every government meeting recording is huge for us operationally, and for our viewers,” concluded Richardson.

The Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

A couple weeks ago, Vice President Kamala Harris announced that millions of American households have signed up for broadband internet credits through a provision in the bipartisan infrastructure bill called the Affordable Connectivity Program.  This bill passed in November of 2021 and White House officials are calling it an example of the administration’s efforts to lower costs for Americans amid the high inflation that has swept our nation.

This program provides eligible households a $30 monthly credit toward the cost of their internet service plan, or a $75 monthly credit for households living on Tribal lands.  Households with an income at or below 200% of the poverty level are eligible, as well as any household with at least one member who participates in Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Pell Grants, and other programs.

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel circulated a Notice of Inquiry in mid-July to kick off the agency’s annual evaluation of the state of broadband across the country.  As part of this assessment, Chairwoman Rosenworcel proposed increasing the national standard for minimum broadband speeds and proposed setting a long-term goal for broadband speed.

“The needs of internet users long ago surpassed the FCC’s 25/3 speed metric, especially during a global health pandemic that moved so much of life online,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel.  “The 25/3 metric isn’t just behind the times, it’s a harmful one because it masks the extent to which low-income neighborhoods and rural communities are being left behind and left offline.  That’s why we need to raise the standard for minimum broadband speeds now and while also aiming even higher for the future, because we need to set big goals if we want everyone everywhere to have a fair shot at 21st century success.”

This Notice of Inquiry proposes to increase the national broadband standard to 100 megabits per second for downloading and 20 megabits per second for uploading.  The FCC previously set the broadband standard at 25/3 Mbps in 2015 and has not updated it since.  It also proposes to set a separate national goal of 1 Gbps/500 Mbps for the future. 

Looking beyond speed, Chairwoman Rosenworcel also suggested that the Commission consider affordability, adoption, availability, and equitable access as part of its determination as to whether broadband is being deployed in a reasonable and timely fashion. 

Speaking of broadband, the FCC is also hoping to reclassify the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act.  They would like to change the designation of internet access as a Title II telecommunications service and return the FCC’s authority to impose net neutrality rules.

That authority went away in 2017 when the FCC, under then Chairman Ajit Pai, reclassified it as a Title I information service not subject to mandatory access or potentially rate regulation rules.

This bill has been introduced by Senator Mikey with a companion bill by Rep. Matsui.  If passed, broadband would become this Title II status and would then be subject to net neutrality, and other potential requirements

”The pandemic made clear internet access is no longer a luxury, but a necessity—and that consumers don’t just need broadband, they need to be able to hold their providers to account,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel.

“After all, everyone should be able to go where they want and do what they want online without their broadband provider making choices for them.  I support Net Neutrality because it fosters this openness and accountability.  While I trust the FCC has the authority it needs to adopt Net Neutrality rules, legislation that helps ensure it is the law of the land is welcome.” Commissioner, Geoffrey Starks, also gave his support of the bill, “I have previously stated that the FCC’s 2015 Net Neutrality rules were the right approach.  That approach is undergirded by a voluminous record and overwhelming public support, and it has been tested in court,” said Starks. “The Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act would codify just that.  COVID and the last few years have proven that broadband is essential for the 21st century.  This legislation is an important step that will provide certainty to consumers and broadband providers and allow everyone to move forward.”

President’s Message: August 2022 – Short and Sweet … Just Like Summer

by Bob Duthaler

I think the title of my article tells my feelings about summer, it is a great time of the year, but way too short.  In summer, you find ways to cram a whole bunch of things to be done in a short time both on the personal and business side.  From a production standpoint at the stations I am involved with, summer is a very busy time.  There are events throughout the summer we are covering, along with meetings and concerts.  I find myself covering three concerts a week at times!  Then there are the graduation parties, summer BBQs and most importantly …. VACATION! 

The same can be said with running JAG as well.  The executive board and committees don’t take time off during the summer.  These groups continue to meet and develop the plans that keep the organization running now and in the future.  Committees like the JAG Awards and Conference Committee are coming off their annual events.  They spend the summer reviewing their performance, making their recommendations to the board and preparing to start up again.  Other committees throughout the year work on updating their plans and strategies, and pass these on to the leadership committee which reviews and recommends the final plans. The plans are then passed on to the executive board.

The executive board will hold their annual retreat during the month of August.  During this three-to-four-day event, the board will review every facet of our organization.  We examine both our Policies & Procedures along with our By-Laws, review our running of the organization, examine its structure, and come up with solutions to move the organization forward.  Most of these come directly from Leadership (via individual committees) helping make the review process easier.  Unlike a vacation that you look forward to every summer, I am not sure the board thinks this is the highlight of their summer.  But we do know that it is very important, and we continue to take seriously this event and the work entailed.  Thankfully we also have the help of our managing director to help steer us through this process, prepare all the documents and make changes/updates to all documents after the board goes through them and votes. As you can tell, summer is a very busy time of year and yet still way too short of a time.  I do love the warm summer days, the extended hours of light and the feeling of a nice vacation.  But this all-passes way too quickly.  So, in keeping with the summer is too short theme, I will make my article Short and Sweet – just like my title says!  Final Note:  In September, we will begin in person meetings again.  We also plan to hold a hybrid online version as well.  Look for details next month.