Legislative Update March 2024: News from Trenton & Washington, DC

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

Last October the White House urged congressional appropriators to dedicate $6 billion to extend the ACP, or Affordable Connectivity Program through the end of 2024. The ACP allows about 23 million low-income households to receive discounts on their internet bills of up to $30 a month. Lawmakers and Federal Communications Commission officials have held numerous rallies calling for this program to receive a new round of appropriations from Congress.  If it does not receive this money, the existing funds would expire in the end of April as reported by FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, this past January. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said recently at an event to gather support for this program, “it’s going to be very detrimental to all these people that need internet access if the funding expires”.

A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers unveiled a bill last month to re-up its funding (ACP Extension Act: HR-6929/S-3565). Now, key negotiators are pushing to tuck the measure into upcoming spending bills on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers are racing to avert a possible shutdown.

From the New Jersey League of Municipalities:

The Assembly State and Local Government Committee is scheduled to consider A-4045, and the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee are considering an identical bill S2930, that change various rules to OPRA. These reforms to the Open Public Records Act address many of the issues municipalities have been experiencing since the inception of OPRA, including:

  • Implements recommendations of the Privacy Study Commission.
  • Provides residents with protections from losing their privacy in the course of conducting public business.
  • Addresses burdensome commercial requests that continue to increase each year. Since the enactment of the OPRA, commercial enterprises have abused the legislation as a mechanism for commercial purposes.
  • Addresses the mandatory prevailing attorney fee provisions that have cost taxpayers.
  • Takes the first step to address how police records should and are considered under OPRA.  As the use of technology has increased in police work, requests for police records have increased tremendously.
  • Permits public agencies to adopt an official OPRA request form that must be used for all OPRA requests.

The League is strongly in favor of these proposed changes and encourage you to reach out to your legislator to express municipal support for these bills. We will update this story as it progresses.

Please do not forget that the Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) is still circulating in Congress.

From the ACM (Alliance for Community Media):

The FCC’s 2019 Franchise Fee Order redefined the federal Cable Act’s 5% franchise fee cap to include the value of most non-monetary franchise obligations as franchise fees. This change allows cable companies to reduce what they pay for the use of public property and rights-of-way. The Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) would correct this error by simply clarifying that franchise fees are only monetary.

The Cable Act of 1984, protects the rights of a local community to charge cable companies a five (5%) percent franchise fee and to meet community needs and interests, such as providing public, educational and governmental channel capacity.

Contrary to industry practices that date back to the 1980s, the FCC’s actions could result in reducing cable operators’ monetary compensation to towns and municipalities that wish to communicate with residents through community television. The FCC Order could force communities to choose between franchise fees or communicating with residents through community media that provide Americans with local civic, public safety and public health content. 

The Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) clarifies that only monetary payments, not non-monetary franchise obligations, qualify as Cable Act franchise fees and are subject to a fee cap. Without it, a cable operator could create fees to drain away municipal revenues and pressure municipalities to give up or de-staff channels.  

JAG constantly advocates, analyzes and addresses emerging issues in areas such as: Local Government Communications and Internet Policy.

JAG’s new video partner: Granicus

by Andrew Collinsworth, Account Executive, Granicus

Have you heard of Granicus? They’ve been serving government since being founded in 1999. Granicus helps organizations run more efficiently, effectively, and transparently. Their video streaming solutions make meetings accessible to the public, wherever they are and on their own devices.A person in a suit

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Granicus’ mobile-friendly, multi-channel video streaming solution lets viewers search for and skip ahead to any agenda item they want to view, without sitting through or fast forward through an entire meeting. Voice search, multi-lingual captioning and automated minutes are just some of the time savers that benefit both staff and the public. With industry-leading video quality, security and reliability not previously seen in the government meeting market, Granicus created a true industry revolution and continues to lead the way.

In 2022, Granicus acquired Swagit to continue the transformation of streaming video for government. Swagit’s EASE solution helps relieve the workload of overburdened government meeting managers and IT staff by allowing agencies to offload hosting to Swagit servers. EASE also includes agenda indexing—shifting that duty from government staff to the Swagit team, which saves staff resources and improves turnaround time from meeting to public posting of the polished video. 

Swagit’s AVIOR solution scales the EASE concept to an international level, outsourcing meeting streaming and recording for reliable, hands-off production. 

In addition to video hosting and indexing, the Swagit team uses multiple cameras and manages all production work including panning, camera switching, zooming and on-screen graphics. It’s all done remotely from their offices in Dallas, Texas. With AVIOR, government agencies recover valuable staff time, improve viewer experience, and can redirect taxpayer dollars toward core priorities, avoiding repetitive meeting work or troubleshooting technology during critical public meetings.  A group of people sitting in a room with computers

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The AVIOR solution has been successfully deployed in cities both large and small, including Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories. In the decade since its installation, Swagit AVIOR has been serving the remote Arctic city reliably and securely. Hundreds of jurisdictions across the U.S. and Canada rely entirely on the Swagit production team for video management, production and polishing. They don’t worry about staff coverage, technical problems, or low-quality video. 

The addition of Swagit maintains Granicus’ dedication to using video solutions to enhance government participation. Swagit’s functions complement Granicus’ industry-best closed captioning, transcription, spoken word search tools, as well as simultaneous multi-channel streaming capabilities, including social media platforms and cable access channels. These features, along with mobile device responsiveness, allow government agencies to reach viewers anywhere. A computer and camera next to a computer

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In the years since its founding, Granicus grew beyond video streaming and recording. The Granicus video solutions are part of a larger suite of products and services bringing digital solutions to governments managing meeting agenda creation, public record requests, board and committee staffing and servicing, website design and hosting, and public engagement. JAG’s partnership with Granicus evidences our ongoing commitment to transparency and quality in the services we provide. Tune in on Wednesday, March 27, and get to know our new video partner and the solutions we’re exploring.

President’s Message: March 2024 JAG Conference 2024 – Compelling Reasons To Be There On May 16th

by Bob Duthaler

Each year the Jersey Access Group holds its annual conference for not only its members, their staff and volunteer crews, but others outside the organization who are interested in local access television. Just because it’s an annual event, does not mean it is the same old event. In fact, quite to the contrary. The conference committee has worked hard on this year’s event to include new sessions, bring in outside professionals from our industry and work with vendors on presenting the latest equipment, technology and more.

This year we host a session called How to Conduct a Great Interview – Interviewing Skills and Tips. Have you ever wondered how to prepare properly for an interview?  How do you get the most out of your guest and avoid single word answers? Learn how to effectively listen, react, and ask the right questions—and the right time to ask them during an interview. Professional reporters from local channels in the New York/New Jersey market will guide you through the steps to help make your next interview your best interview.

Attention All Station Managers

We have designed a series of sessions just for you. These are designed to incorporate what you learned into your operations and station management. We will discuss various ways a municipality can communicate with their citizens beyond traditional cable television channels. The panel will explore and discuss new video trends in social media, live streaming and how access channels are entering the Over-the-Top (OTT) world with their own channels on Apple TV, Roku and more in our session titled Beyond Cable: New Ways to Communicate with your Citizens. This is just one of many you will find.

Tired of the same programs year after year? Is there content beyond town meetings and summer concerts? You’ll want to attend New Programming Ideas for PEG Stations. This panel gives you ideas for new programming opportunities to enhance your program schedule. Join fellow station managers who have found new stories to tell in their towns. Discover new sources of programming that you might have overlooked right in your own backyard.

I consider myself to be a technology geek. And I’m proud of it. I’m always interested in the latest gear and technology to make this job not only easier, but more exciting—technology that wakes the creative mind in each of us. That’s why I love the vendor floor with all the latest cameras, switcher technology, lighting, and live broadcasting options. 

But we don’t stop there. We have a session geared to those who love new technology and want to incorporate it into the everyday operations: Less Gear and Better Production. This session discusses how to streamline your workflow in the field by minimizing gear and optimizing production . This can significantly enhance efficiency and make work more manageable. We will discuss ways to prioritize essential equipment (cameras, audio and lighting kit), multifunctional tools (e.g., a smartphone with a high-quality camera can eliminate the need for a second camera in many situations). Invest time learning the ins and outs of your equipment to enable you to work more efficiently and troubleshoot issues quickly. By implementing these strategies, you can create a nimbler production workflow in the field. Discover the latest gear that makes it all possible.

JAG prides itself in keeping all our members up to date on legislative issues, news from Washington, DC and what is going on around the country. Don’t miss Understanding Franchising and What to Know When Renegotiating.  This session covers the main differences between a state franchise and the ones negotiated at the municipal level.  Which one is a better choice and can a municipality have a say on which one they prefer?  Nationally, what is being added or taken away in negotiated franchise agreements?  Franchise monies are declining due to streaming, what can we do during negotiations to curb this?  Bills being introduced around the country that are trying to force streamers to pay a per subscriber fee to municipalities. How is this going and if successful, what does that mean for the local access station?

This is just the tip of the iceberg for the 2024 JAG Conference. You will also have time to mingle with vendors, network with each other and industry professionals. We’ll have giveaways during the Vendor Cocktail Hour followed by our banquet and the 2024 JAG Awards. I urge you, your staff and volunteer crew to register now! Mark your calendar for Thursday, May 16 at the Crowne Plaza in Edison, NJ.  A group of people sitting at tables in a room

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Go to www.jagconfernce.com to register and get more information. If you have any issues that might prohibit you from attending this year’s JAG Conference, please reach out to me directly via email at bduthaler@jagonline.org to see if I can help you.

See you all at the 2024 JAG Conference!

Spotlight: Brookdale Television – JAG’s Own Wonder Woman

by Geoffrey Belinfante, External Relations Committee, Chair

Note:  This is usually a spotlight written by one of our JAG Members, however this article was written by Geoff Belinfante with input from Lauren Concar Sheehy.  Lauren is busy doing what Wonder Women do, but her story should be of interest to JAG members.

Lauren Concar Sheehy has been a JAG member for many years.  In fact, many moons ago, Lauren interned at Cablevision and has fond memories working with Dave Garb and the crew.  These days, she is a video production specialist at Brookdale Television with responsibility for the TV facilities at Brookdale Community College, along with Jennifer Yannibelli and Sergey Kornienko.  For well over two decades, the team has been producing, directing and editing television shows, providing real world experience to their students.

Brookdale Television (BTV) is a non-profit Educational Access Channel that can be viewed on Comcast Channel 21 and Verizon FIOS Channel 46 throughout central New Jersey, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. BTV’s mission is to present quality educational programs that inform and inspire viewers. While working at BTV is her full-time job, her passion for the last 22 years has been the Garden State Film Festival.  In fact, she is so busy preparing for this year’s festival that she has asked me to draft this article about her and the festival.  

In addition, Lauren is a filmmaker with a long, passionate history in the Television & Film industry. She has written, executive produced, directed & edited award-winning content for Bloomberg TV, SAG-AFTRA & other high-profile clients. Her latest feature, which she co-produced, Shelter in Solitude is out now on all platforms.

Sandwiched between her responsibilities at Brookdale, and her independent film making, this Wonder Woman and her team has worked tirelessly year after year to bring a first-class film festival to the Garden State, and this year will be no exception. 

From March 21-24, GSFF transforms Asbury Park and Cranford into a cinematic paradise, showcasing over 200 films from 14 countries in eight venues The festival is a celebration of diversity, creativity, and the art of storytelling, with a variety of films, both theatrical and documentary, engaging panels, live podcasts, and not-to-be-missed parties.  JAG members who have an interest in the production of films of all kinds will welcome a chance to meet and network with celebrities and professionals from all over the world right in our backyard. 

As usual, Lauren and her associates have assembled a diverse, informative and entertaining selection of feature films and documentaries. This year’s lineup boasts notable figures such as Matthew Modine, Carla Raij, Janice Kovach, Armand Assante, Lisa Eldelstein, Bridget Moynahan, Ed Begley Jr., and sports legends Louis Neglia and Joe Pyfer. The GSFF is a testament to New Jersey’s storied film history and as a hub for producers, directors, actors, investors, and industry talents.

One of the highlights of this year’s festival will be the screening of Don Q, a comedy crime thriller that features international star Armand Assante who will be on hand to discuss the film and answer questions from the audience. In addition, this year’s festival will feature screenings of a thriller called The Nanny; a comedy thriller called Don’t Tell Larry; and a documentary called Journey to the UFC about Joe Pyfer’s overcoming insurmountable odds to become a UFC fighter.

As with any good film festival there will be social events and lots of opportunities to network.  This year’s festival kicks off with a Meet the Filmmakers cocktail party on Thursday March 21st at the Asbury Hotel, and no good film festival would be complete without a red-carpet celebration… and the Garden State Film Festival is no exception.  On Friday March 22nd there will be a red-carpet premiere of the drama “The Martini Shot” starring Mathew Modine, John Cleese, Fiona Flascott, Derek Jacoby, and Stuart Townsend.

The festival culminates in an awards dinner on Sunday March 24th, with awards to the winning films, screenplay, and the best movie music. The festival also honors the Exceptional Woman of the Year which this year goes to New Jersey’s own Carla Raij, who worked with Steven Spielberg on the Fablemans and the Educator of the Year which goes to David Dilianni from Film Academy360.  Who knows, perhaps there are some future JAG members in the Student Television network that he represents.

Naturally, the festival includes feature films and documentaries shot right here in New Jersey, using our mountains, lakes, beaches, cities, farms and historic sites as background.  It’s always great to see locations you know on the big screen, or perhaps you or someone you know worked on these Jersey based productions.  There may even be some films that would be appropriate for exposure on our municipal channels.

Tickets for the Garden State Film Festival are available on-line at gsff.org and are reasonably priced with a variety of options, so I would urge all JAG members to consider supporting Lauren’s efforts to bring a bit of glamour to the Garden State. Congratulations to JAG member, Lauren Concar, award winning filmmaker, community activist and a tireless champion for the arts in New Jersey and to all of her associates who help assemble this incredible weekend of entertainment.  It’s always great to see a fellow JAG member work outside their traditional venue to create something of value to the entire State.

JAG Awards February 2024

by George Farfield, JAG Awards Committee Chair


Did your town have a concert?  Did your station record it?  How about a council meeting?  Did your town have a community event?  These are all great events you can enter in the JAG Awards.

Not sure what the categories are?  Here they are…surely you have something to enter.

101. Documentary

201. Instructional/Training

301. News Magazine

401. Talk Show

501. PSA: Public Service Announcement

601. Promotion

701. Sports Programming / Single Camera

801. Sports Programming / Multi-Camera

901. Public Meeting / Single Camera

1000. Public Meeting / Multi-Camera

1100. Public Ceremony / Single Camera

1200. Public Ceremony / Multi-Camera 

1300. Public Parade / Single Camera

1400. Public Parade / Multi-Camera

1500. Concert / Single Camera

1600. Concert /Multiple Camera

1700. Community Holiday Event

1800. Community Development Event

1900. Community Ground Breaking/Ribbon Cutting/Dedication

2000. Community Festival/Fair Event

2100. Community Award Presentation

Haven’t had time to get it together?  Don’t worry, many of us have not had the time.  Registration has been extended until February 16.  At least get that done.  Videos are not due until the end of February. We want to see your entry.  Enter the JAG Awards NOW!

JAG’s Annual Conference Taking Shape

by Geoffrey Belinfante, Conference Committee, Vice Chair

Even though our conference is still about 4 months away, your conference committee has already been busy planning another informative and entertaining event for all JAG members.  This year’s conference is scheduled for May 16th and once again it will be held at the Crowne Plaza in Edison, so mark your calendars now!  The conference will be followed that evening by a gala celebration where we will present the JAG Awards for excellence in production for 2023.

As usual, this year’s conference will feature workshops and user group meetings that will bring you up to date on the latest from manufacturers and tips that help you create more interesting and better-looking programming.  While this year’s panels are still in formation, there will be topics for programmers, production personnel and those with technical responsibilities for their facilities. Topics will include: Why PEG managers should care about Broadband deployment; Interviewing techniques from industry professionals; programming tips that might lead you to new sources of stories in your town; and new equipment that will make producing in the field easier.  As usual there will be a legislative update from our Washington partners, and a report on trends from around the nation when negotiating enhancements to your next franchise agreement.  Of course, there will be user groups for those who own equipment from particular manufacturers.

It is hoped that our keynote luncheon will feature speakers from the cable companies’ broadband suppliers and representatives from NATOA and/or the ACM to discuss broadband deployment and the future of cable companies, and why you as PEG operators should care.

As in the past, there will be an opportunity to meet with and see new offerings from manufacturers and our JAG Organizational members.  This is a great time to familiarize yourself with new offerings that will improve your productions and make communicating with your citizens that much easier.

Since this is the age of Artificial Intelligence, we thought we would ask Microsoft’s Co- Pilot why it thinks you should attend.  Here’s what it said:

  • Knowledge Enhancement: Attend sessions led by representatives from organizations such as NATOA, the ACM, and JAG’s Organizational Members. These sessions cover topics related to legislation, technology, and management in the media field. Learn about laws, rules, regulations, new equipment, and operational challenges.
  • Conference Content: The event features a diverse schedule, including a TelVue User Group Breakfast, exhibit hall, keynote lunch, and various sessions. Whether you’re interested in legislative updates, technological advancements, or management strategies, there’s something for everyone.
  • Networking Opportunities: The conference provides a platform to connect with fellow media professionals, industry experts, and like-minded individuals. You’ll have the chance to exchange ideas, collaborate, and build valuable relationships.
  • The Banquet-.Awards and Recognition: If you’re an Independent Producer, Non-Profit Organization or JAG Station Member in good standing, you can participate in the JAG Awards where we recognize excellence in production in our community. The banquet, where the JAG Awards are presented, is an opportunity to celebrate achievements, connect with peers, and enjoy a delicious meal. It’s a time to unwind, share stories, be entertained, and celebrate the vibrant community of media creators and advocates.

Remember, participating in the annual conference and banquet contributes to the collective growth and vibrancy of the JAG community. So, go ahead and register now to make the most of this enriching experience!  Visit the conference website at www.jagconference.com   See You There on May 16, 2024!!

But you don’t need Artificial Intelligence to make up your mind about the JAG Conference–regular intelligence will do just fine.  Registration is now open.  For more information, check out the conference tab on our website, jagonline.org/conference or log on to www.jagconference.com .  Be sure to check back often to follow additions to the schedule.  New events and workshops are being added all the time.

Thanks to our sponsors, TelVue, Planet Networks, Cologna Productions and Varto Technologies for making this all possible.

Call for Vendors Booth size and event sponsors: Link to Register: https://lp.constantcontactpages.com/ev/reg/889386h

Legislative Update February 2024: News from Washington DC- The Congressional Budget Office

by Dave Garb, Legislative Committee Chair

As we have talked about in the last few newsletters, the American Broadband Deployment Act of 2023 (HR 3557), is still in play in Congress. If enacted, it would impose new restrictions on local authorities regarding their ability to regulate a variety of state and local land use and zoning issues that pertain to the deployment of the telecommunications infrastructure. This would include wireless and wireline deployment, and new limits on the requirements and renewals of cable franchise agreements.

In order to fully understand the ramifications if it were to pass, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), Public and Private Mandates Unit asked for an Inquiry about it.  Last month, the National League of Cities, the United States Conference of Mayors, the National Association of Counties, and the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, met with the CBO about the American Broadband Deployment Act of 2023.  They were able to relate the concerns of local government regarding the cost impact and loss of revenue to local and state governments that would be caused by this bill.


The CBO asked about the impact on cable franchise fees. Gerry Lederer, a partner at Best, Best & Krieger, LLP, was able to point them to the cable industry’s FCC filing back in 2018 that operators pay ~$3.4 billion, annually, in franchise fees.

Also discussed was the loss of wireless siting revenue and the burdens & expenses of increased permitting costs, inspections and requirements.

It remains to be seen how much CBO will rely on our ‘loss of (street rent) revenue,’ so we’re now pivoting to a focus on examples of increases costs/expense/burdens such as:

• Costs of a study to amend ordinances, code, permitting processes and/or fees.

• (In discussions, we mentioned a conservative estimate of $18-20K per unit of government. The # of local  government units – counties, municipalities (cities and town), and special districts run from 28,000 – 32,000. (Last year, Treasury’s SLFRF funding reported 2,966 counties, 1,088 metropolitan cities (>50,000 pop.) and 22,356 non-entitlement units (<50,000 pop.).

• Back of the envelope, that’s an unfunded mandate of $504M – $640M.

• As Nancy Werner, partner at Bradley Werner, LLC, suggested, think in terms of Small Cell rules – studies, staff, consultants, staffing costs for wireless permitting reviews, inspections, etc., as well as any in-kind contributions that would be threatened.

For more information on this harmful bill, please watch JAG’s very informative video about HR3557 and hear what might happen if it is passed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzP_t_SPzGk .  Please share this link with all those who have the influence and power to stop it.

While HR3557 is floating around Congress, we must not forget that the Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) is also still very much alive and is circulating the halls as well.

From the ACM (Alliance for Community Media):

The FCC’s 2019 Franchise Fee Order redefined the federal Cable Act’s 5% franchise fee cap to include the value of most non-monetary franchise obligations as franchise fees. This change allows cable companies to reduce what they pay for the use of public property and rights-of-way. The Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) would correct this error by simply clarifying that franchise fees are only monetary.

The Cable Act of 1984, protects the rights of a local community to charge cable companies a five (5%) percent franchise fee and to meet community needs and interests, such as providing public, educational and governmental channel capacity. 

Contrary to industry practices that date to the 1980s, the FCC’s actions could result in reducing cable operators’ monetary compensation to towns and municipalities that wish to communicate with residents through community television. The FCC Order could force communities to choose between franchise fees or communicating with residents through community media that provide Americans with local civic, public safety and public health content. 

The Protecting Community Television Act (HR 907/S 340) clarifies that only monetary payments, not non-monetary franchise obligations, qualify as Cable Act franchise fees and are subject to a fee cap. Without it, a cable operator could create fees to drain away municipal revenues and pressure municipalities to give up or de-staff channels. 

For further information on these bills, please contact David Garb, Chair. of JAG’s Legislative Committee at davegarb@paps.net. JAG (Jersey Access Group) constantly advocates, analyzes and addresses emerging issues in areas such as: Local Government Communications and Internet Policy.  JAG promotes, and preserves the right to, media production, distribution, civic engagement, and education in support of diverse community voices, through Public, Educational and Government access facilities and other forms of media

Programming Best Practices “Crafting Compelling and Engaging Local TV”

by Jesse Lerman, President/CEO, TelVue

Creating a successful broadcast schedule involves both art and science. Understanding your audience is the foundation for a winning program strategy. Knowing demographics and daily routines (kids aren’t available during school hours, working folks may only view evening broadcasts, seniors and retirees might watch during the day) allows you to tailor your content with more dayparting and encourage “habitual” viewing. Focusing on the Ls: local and live drive viewership. Leveraging technology tools to increase programming, promotion, reach, and accessibility can help grow your audience and keep viewers coming back for more.

The TelVue HyperCaster’s powerful series scheduling automates and simplifies adding a wide variety of programming. Combined with support of a vast array of live streaming sources, you can easily create a fresh, updated program schedule including live programming. The HyperCaster has always been ahead of the curve on streaming integration, supporting modern SRT (since 2017), RTMP Push & Pull, Social Media, Zoom, NDI and more, without the need for expensive restreaming services just to go live. The JAG Media Exchange is also a great resource for “like” programming to complement your local productions. The HyperCaster’s integrated Bulletin Board augments scheduled programming and connects your audience to town departments and community organizations needing to deliver important local announcements.

The HyperCaster’s new mobile user interface makes program scheduling much faster and more convenient, including on-the-go. Expanded user access control makes it more efficient to distribute and partition scheduling responsibilities, such as scheduling certain channels only, or managing live events only for volunteers.

New HyperCaster Mobile & Responsive Scheduling Interface

Consistent scheduling can increase tune-in and deliver a professional viewing experience, helping to build viewer loyalty. The new HyperCaster program segmentation feature allows building in natural program breaks for spot messaging, sponsorships, and to pad programs to consistent durations. Designed originally for advertising and modern FAST channels, segmentation is useful for PEG stations as well.

Promoting your programming is essential to attract and retain viewers. HyperCaster’s graphic overlay rules with snipes, tickers, program guides, and squeezebacks automate on-air marketing messaging to maintain audience flow throughout the day. The fully searchable website guide, electronic program guide integration, and CloudCast’s program guide display alongside your live stream all drive promotion.

HyperCaster On-Air Program Guides & Integrated CBB

Social media platforms are also a crucial tool for your station to expand its reach and increase engagement. TelVue’s integrated social streaming simplifies distribution to platforms such as YouTube and Facebook, where you can also leverage analytics for demographics and more. TelVue’s native CloudCast analytics and reporting make it easier to identify who, where, what and for how long people are watching on your website, mobile & OTT apps. This enables your station to evaluate the success of your programming and identify opportunities for improvement.

CloudCast Integrated Viewer Analytics & Reports

Accessibility is increasingly important to ensure all viewers can connect with your cable & streaming content. Many viewers, especially young multi-taskers, prefer to watch video programming with the captions on. TelVue SmartCaption is an affordable way to automatically caption your channels and on-demand programming, while also making your government meetings fully searchable. The CloudCast video player has been designed with web accessibility in mind and is well on the way to full adherence to upcoming Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and ADA requirements. Embracing the best practices above can elevate the appeal of your station’s programming, leading to increased viewer engagement and satisfaction, and cement your station’s role as an important local broadcasting hub. TelVue’s focus has always been to provide the scheduling and broadcast tools to help you reach these objectives. At the JAG meeting this month, we look forward to showcasing the latest TelVue enhancements that can help you craft and deliver compelling and engaging local TV, wherever and however your viewers are watching.

President’s Message: February 2024 JAG’s Mission Is Your Mission

by Bob Duthaler

I hope this message finds you all well as we embrace the month of February.  It’s an honor to connect with you through our monthly newsletter and share some updates and reflections on the incredible work that JAG continues to do in promoting access and community engagement.  Let’s hope the Groundhog was right and spring is just around the corner.

As we navigate through the challenges and opportunities that each month brings, it’s crucial to acknowledge the dedication and passion that both our board and members bring to the table.  Your commitment to fostering communication, connectivity, and community building is the heartbeat of JAG, and it’s what makes our organization truly special.  Stay engaged with JAG via the website, newsletter and email to make your life easier.

In the spirit of collaboration and inclusivity, I encourage all members to actively participate in upcoming events, workshops, and initiatives.  Our shared goal is to enhance access to information and empower individuals to express themselves within our community.  By working together, we can create a more vibrant and connected community in which we serve.

Looking ahead, we have some exciting projects in the pipeline that will further strengthen our mission.  From innovative technological advancements to community outreach programs, JAG is committed to staying at the forefront of providing accessible platforms for all:

  • Thursday, February 15th @ 2pm:  Managers Round Table Discussion on JAG’s Conference and the Sessions Members Want
  • Friday, February 16th – JAG Awards Close at end of day – Register Now!
  • Wednesday, February 28th @ 11:30am – JAG Membership meeting in-person at WBMA-TV Bloomfield.  Lunch followed by the meeting at Noon along with a presentation by TelVue
  • Thursday, May 16th – JAG’s Annual Conference in Edison, NJ. Visit conference website at www.jagconference.com to register and more information.

I would like to extend my gratitude to each one of you for your unwavering support and commitment to the JAG mission.  Together, we are making a difference in the lives of our community members, and I am confident that the impact of our collective efforts will continue to resonate.  As we move forward into February, let us remain inspired by the power of community and the positive change we can create together.  Thank you for your ongoing dedication to the values of JAG. Wishing you all a wonderful month ahead!

Spotlight: Middletown Township Builds TV Studio in New Town Hall

by Tara Berson and Raven Rentas, Township of Middletown

Home to 68,000 residents, Middletown Township is one of the largest municipalities in New Jersey. Due to the size of our community and diverse age ranges, interests, and neighborhoods, it is important for the Township to offer various ways for residents to access information. One of those communications tools has been our municipal TV channel which has changed over the years, particularly with the addition of our brand new TV studio this year. We had the opportunity to work with experts in the industry who helped guide the project from beginning to end.

How It Started

In November 2021, my colleague Tara Berson and I traveled to Atlantic City for the annual New Jersey League of Municipalities conference and attended the Jersey Access Group’s (JAG) seminar about cable television consumption post-pandemic. Feeling inspired after the session ended, we introduced ourselves to some of the presenters: JAG President Bob Duthaler and External Relations Chair Geoff Belinfante. We exchanged contact information, expressed our interest in becoming JAG members, and discussed our plans for a TV studio in Middletown’s new Town Hall that was being built.

In May 2022, we moved into our new Town Hall. With the new building came new opportunities so we used this transition to emphasize the importance of having an in-house TV studio to help promote key Township initiatives and programming, as well as provide a potential revenue stream through shared service agreements with other communities. We already had our mayor and administrator’s approval and funds secured through a Comcast grant, so we were given a space to help fulfill our aspirations of airing interesting and informative content.

Bringing the TV Studio to Life

We knew that creating a TV studio from scratch was a large task for us to take on in addition to our regular responsibilities. With that in mind, we reached out to Bob Duthaler to see if he (DNS Media) would be interested in supporting our Communications and IT Departments by joining our team as a consultant. Thankfully Bob was up for the challenge, so we hired him. Bob took the reins and introduced us to vendors, received quotes, and figured out next steps. With his help, we were able to determine the equipment specs for when this project went out to bid. By the end of 2022, we were feeling more organized and had finally become JAG members!

In February 2023, we joined our Purchasing Department at a pre-bid for our TV studio project, which was divided into two categories: lighting and control room equipment. We briefly met vendors and showed them the studio space and the office that was going to be utilized as a control room, as well as answered their questions. A month later, our Purchasing Director advised us that RDM Rigging would be handling lighting and G&G Technologies would be the equipment vendor. Both companies also offered training, which was much needed since we are not experts in TV production.

Our equipment arrived in April. Due to the studio’s small size, we needed to use an empty office near the Communications Department for the control room. Our IT and Public Works & Engineering Departments ran cables and installed electrical outlets wherever needed to ensure that our TV studio and control room could work together efficiently since they are not in the same vicinity.

In May, Rich DiMinno of RDM Rigging and his crew installed the pipe grid in the studio over the course of several days. While our lighting infrastructure was being taken care of, Marvin Charyn of G&G Technologies assigned John Micewicz to set up the control room (see photo). John trekked to Middletown from Westchester County, New York over the course of a few months to help set up our control room, work with our IT Department to connect our new TriCaster system to TelVue, and trained us on how to properly use the equipment.

In July, the lights for our TV studio arrived and Rich DiMinno and RGM Rigging were back to install them, along with the help of Paul Distefano of DeSisti Lighting. In August, they returned to Town Hall to teach us how to use the lighting console, which is situated in our TV studio but can also be used from our control room. In between that time, we ordered a small table and two comfy chairs, making our TV studio finally complete in August 2023 (see photo).

Lights, Camera, Action!

After almost 18 months full of vendors, doubts, training, and dedication, our TV studio was born!  Building our TV studio wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our colleagues, the expertise and knowledge of our amazing vendors, and advice from our JAG family. We are truly appreciative of everyone’s part in making our TV studio become a reality. Now that it’s a new year, we’re excited to focus on our TV studio and begin producing content. We’ll check back in within a few months to keep you all posted on our progress!