Monday, December 2, 2019

CalChannel Demise-CA Leg and Student Advocacy Gave Up One of Their Greatest Resources: Without A Peep to the Public.

Question: Your cable provider does not want you to continue to enjoy the benefit of knowing what is going on in CA state government public proceedings?
Just catching up to this, but initial thoughts, reaction:
CalChannel must be revived- by all means pursue way of improving on it but not a shutdown.
Student journalists also used it as a way to view hearings without having to incur travel expenses etc.


Further confusing is the fact  that the archive now is stored here:
"The California Channel was a public service network television channel funded entirely by California’s cable television operators from 1993-2019. The network was a means to provide Californians with direct access to “gavel-to-gavel" proceedings of the California Legislature and other public policy forums, as well as a balanced presentation of viewpoints.   The online archive contains material from March 2012 to October 2019.  The State Archives houses the full extent of the California Channel’s holdings.   To view materials that are not currently on the Cal Channel website, please consult our online catalog, Minerva, to view the California Channel’s Inventory (PDF).

To request a copy of a recording, please contact the California State Archives reference desk at ...or email the Archives staff with the date and title of the hearing being requested. It is recommended to check the inventory as it will be continually updated during the accessioning process.  Some years have more information provided in the inventory than others, but requests should include the information as it appears in the inventory.  Archives staff will be able to retrieve the recordings and a viewing copy of a requested recording must be made before it is viewed.  The State Archives does not charge patrons if they want to view the material, however there is a $10.00 fee if the patron wishes to purchase the recording."

-- If there is space there for the extensive archives isn't there also space for storing new archives? or for the CA leg to place it all on Youtube etc?

Why wasn't a leadership of CA Leg contingency plan communicated well  in advance?

It looks like it was a story no one caught on to soon enough or paid attention to or expressed much interest in-...In prior years * on issues like tution hikes, Title IX compliance, admissions policiies across CA higher ed, especially at University of California, -and even more especially on issues like healthcare and climate change* the exchange of comments and policy conversations ultimately have to be resolved in Sacramento... There was a quick and easy way to catch up and share via Cal Channel either through video archive OR CREATING VID CLIPS  at their website
or via its vast, vast library of video archive that was at  fingertips, no CPRA request or charge for a copy necessary etc
and now there will be no audio visual record of these proceedings other than the very shabby unreliable audio recordings sometimes provided by only some CA Leg committees 
--now that Calchannel fuller audio and visual record will no longer exists...

All  that stands in the way is $1.2 million of funding

This along with  the loss of CPEC and very poor quality Gov substitutes in its place seems to indicate a falling into dark ages of transparency in CA.

It is disturbing that the Assembly Speaker (Rendon) the Senate Pro Tem (Atkins) and most especially Guv(in) - have apparently been pretty quiet on restoring it or better yet taking it over as a public service instead of having the cable companies control it.

Some important comments that come up in the coverage:

"the legislature needs to step in, provide gap funding until a longer term plan is established to ensure that the public has live televised access of the state officials making decisions in their name #goodgovernment #democracy #caleg #publicairwaves"

"Going to only web-based streaming would limit public access on basis of digital divide, discriminate on economic class & make it harder in general to tune in. W/our public airwaves, we must ensure that public can easily watch its legislators doing public's business in real time "

we add in here also: No, PPIC would not be a good replacement.

"Cal Channel to end broadcasting after three decades"

The California Channel, a decades-old public broadcaster that has historically provided on-demand video access to the Legislature, the state Supreme Court and the Capitol community, will cease operations in October.

Supported by the California Cable and Telecommunications Association since 1993, it’s one of the few services that offer one-on-one interviews with all candidates for the state’s elected offices. The Cal Channel has long been viewed as California’s version of C-SPAN, which covers Congress.

(Editor’s Note: The California Channel, a nonfiscal partner of Capitol Weekly,  also broadcasts Capitol Weekly’s Politics on Tap TV show and its  quarterly policy conferences.)

Cal Channel President John Hancock says the decision to end broadcasting was due in part to the passage of Proposition 54 in 2016, which requires the Legislature to make audio and visual recordings of its legislative proceedings public within 72 hours. The Legislature has its own television and radio services that cover politicians and send stories to their districts.

“The board felt this limited the need for Cal Channel,” Hancock said. The board’s vote occurred earlier this year

Since its beginnings, the Cal Channel has operated much like C-SPAN, offering nonpartisan, unedited coverage beamed directly into offices and homes throughout the state.

In 1989, the non-profit Cal Channel was created by the Center for Governmental Studies in cooperation with the USC Annenberg School of Communications in response to research suggesting the public was dissatisfied with news coverage of state government proceedings.

In 1991, Cal Channel began airing Assembly Floor committee hearings for nearly 2 million homes across the state, quickly growing to 4.6 million five years later.

Since 1998, seven years before Twitter and YouTube, Cal Channel first aired Legislative hearings online and since then, has offered a “front row seat” to state policy.

“The California Channel is a basic journalistic concept – the television camera serving as the eyes and ears of a private California citizen,” Cal Channel’s website says.

“The network’s most important task remains their original one – daily gavel-to-gavel coverage of California legislative debates in the hopes of educating a new generation of civic leaders and voting citizens.”

“When the California Channel presents a hearing, you don’t get the evening news anchor giving you the network’s spin. You get that quiet camera, focused, unrelenting, critically objective. That’s your eye. And the microphone, that is your ear,” the Cal Channel says.

In 1992, the channel began televising state Senate proceedings and the oral arguments heard before the California Supreme Court on the Master’s Reapportionment Plan. In partnership with C-SPAN in 1997, the Cal Channel transmitted the first ever live broadcast of an “en banc” hearing of a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals during the Rand v. Rowland and Bates v. Jones court heard arguments.

In 2001, the network received an Emmy Award for the educational video “Checks & Balances: The Three Branches of State Government.”

What’s the future of digital Legislative transparency in California?

Some critics have previously said Proposition 54 has a few loopholes, suggesting that a 72-hour requirement to initial first house votes is not necessary since the bill will not be in its final form.

Columnist Dan Walters, writing then for The Sacramento Bee, noted, “However, not all bills are amended. So under the procedural rules, it would be possible for leaders to write a bill in secret, zip it through the first house without 72 hours of exposure…”

Currently, many websites offer spaces for transparency, like OpenGov, a Silicon Valley-based company that offers cloud-based software to help governments deal with fiscal issues.  California State Lobbying Search, a fairly recent endeavor created by coder and former political operative  Dave Middleton, is a useful open- source public records tool to help find the connections between bills and lobbying efforts.

Digital Democracy, an online platform to provide greater transparency for the state government, was launched in 2015 in a partnership between then-Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and the California Polytechnic State University.

“Technology has radically changed the way society interacts, but government is on the cutting edge of 1973,” Newsom was quoted saying in a State Scoop article.

The platform featured a searchable database of California legislative hearings, with capacity for website visitors to search by keyword, topic, speaker or date. But the project, eventually expanding to Florida, New York and Texas, was suspended in 2018.

Officials at the California Cable and Telecommunications Association were not available for comment.

Read on:
"The California Channel is shutting down. Where will you get ‘gavel to gavel’ Capitol coverage?"

"The California Channel, a broadcast service that provides “gavel to gavel coverage” of the state Legislature, will end operations this October.

California Channel President John Hancock announced that its board of the directors voted this spring to shut down, as first reported by Capitol Morning Report in late June.

The channel airs live broadcasts and maintains an archive of California Legislature and Supreme Court proceedings. It was modeled after C-SPAN and began broadcasting in 1991, according to its website.

The upcoming closure was confirmed in a report Thursday by Capitol Weekly, a nonprofit online publication and “nonfiscal partner” of the California Channel.

Hancock told Capitol Weekly that the board decided the 2016 passage of Proposition 54, which mandated that the state Legislature make video of proceedings available to the public within 72 hours, “limited the need” for the channel.

As a result, the Legislature broadcasts its hearings on its own websites.

Today, the California Channel website still carries an extensive video archive of state Senate and Assembly floor sessions, as well as public committee meetings.

In addition to live webcasting, the California Channel has been carried in Sacramento markets by Comcast.

The channel is funded by the California Cable and Telecommunications Association, which includes Comcast and dozens of other cable communications companies and networks such as BBC America and The History Channel. The California Channel receives no state funding, according to its website.

“The California Channel, like its model C-SPAN, is powerfully simple because of its unselfish display of completely unedited, unbiased legislative news,” the website’s “About” page continues. “So many people complain about the news media distorting reality to the right or the left, misusing sound bites and shaping quotes and content to their advantage. If you really want truth in government, then stop consuming the talk-show/tabloid television spin and settle in with the stoic California Channel.”

The board of directors for the California Channel includes representatives of Cox Communications, Comcast, Charter Communications, Inc. and the California Cable Television Association’s president, Carolyn McIntyre.


"California’s version of C-SPAN is shutting down. It’s a loss for the Capitol — and the public "

(George Skelton  and Michael McGough the two few who bothered to write about it)


California soon will be pushed back a huge step when cable TV stops telecasting sausage-making in the state Capitol.

You recall the old bromide about laws and sausages first voiced by 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck. To paraphrase: If you’re squeamish, don’t watch either being made.

Cable TV — specifically its California Channel — has been the public’s eyes and ears on Capitol sausage-making for more than two decades.

But now the cable industry, which is the Cal Channel’s sole financier, is pulling the plug on this cheap, mini-version of national C-SPAN.

Cable and satellite affiliates bankroll C-SPAN’s nonprofit operation, which costs around $70 million annually. The Cal Channel’s tab is a measly $1.2 million, costing each cable subscriber just 2 cents a month.

C-SPAN features gavel-to-gavel coverage of Congress, plus a whole lot of other stuff that’s the public’s business, including White House press briefings and presidential campaigning.

The Cal Channel, which is received by every cable subscriber statewide, is a dwarfed replica of C-SPAN. It, too, carries unbiased gavel-to-gavel coverage of legislative floor sessions — alternating between the Senate and Assembly — and some major committee hearings.

It telecasts gubernatorial news conferences if the governor uses the Capitol’s main Q&A room, which Gov. Gavin Newsom rarely does. He prefers his own office or a campaign-style photo-op somewhere. So he has failed to take advantage of the Cal Channel while it existed.

The Cal Channel also televises a few issues conferences and sometimes a talking-heads show. For example, John Howard, editor of the online Capitol Weekly, occasionally gathers other reporters at a popular legislative watering hole to chat on camera about politics.

“I have no idea what the viewership is,” Howard says. “Whether there are any people who pay attention, I don’t know. I could be talking into a dead mic.”

He hates to see the Cal Channel clicked off for good.

“It’s about government transparency,” Howard says. “It’s democracy, for God’s sake.”

Cal Channel has announced it will go black on Oct. 16. That will make it even more difficult for interested citizens to keep tabs on what their elected representatives are doing in Sacramento — how they’re spending tax dollars and making decisions about all sorts of issues including welfare, water, higher education and homelessness.

It’s coming at a time of declining news media coverage of the state Capitol. There hasn’t been a full-time TV reporter here in years. Newspaper staffs have dramatically declined.

The Cal Channel’s board of directors, made up of cable company heads, offered a lame excuse for shutting off the cameras. It pointed to a 2016 ballot proposition approved by voters.

Proposition 54’s main provision required that all bills be placed on the internet for public viewing 72 hours before the Legislature votes on final passage. That didn’t provide the board a hook. But a secondary provision did. It required the Legislature to record all its public hearings and post complete videos on the internet within 24 hours.

“With everything going on the internet, it made our efforts duplicative,” Cal Channel President John Hancock says.

Baloney. Not everyone goes on the internet to watch government coverage. If it were available on TV, many would rather watch there. But don’t blame Hancock. He’s just repeating his bosses’ cop-out.

The cable board long has wanted to dump the little-watched Cal Channel, considered a non-revenue producing nuisance. Anyway, board members generally are ideologically conservative and don’t particularly like broadcasting the liberal Legislature’s politics, I’m told. And all cable has been losing viewers to other platforms — Dish, Netflix, the Internet — and the Cal Channel doesn’t help.

“The California Legislature is never going to draw a bigger audience than ‘American Idol’ or Major League Baseball,” says Dan Schnur, a former political operative who teaches at USC and UC Berkeley.

“But that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a viewing option for people who feel strongly about abortion or gun ownership or vaccines or homelessness. They aren’t going to watch the Cal Channel every night, but it ought to be there for them when they need it.”

Can anything be done?

“The governor is very supportive of the Cal Channel,” spokesman Nathan Click says. “He’s exploring options.”

Secretary of State Alex Padilla intends to store all the channel’s footage in the state archives for posterity.

Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Kevin Mullin (D-South San Francisco), who presides over house floor sessions, is the only legislator who seems concerned. He’s trying to figure out a way to “retain at least a modicum of programming.”

Moreover, he says, “I think this is an opportunity to do something better than the Cal Channel. It has a lot of regurgitated programming, lots of rehash. Maybe we can do something more robust.

“It’s just a bad moment for democracy in California to have fewer eyeballs on state government. It needs to have more attention.”

But, he adds, “I don’t have a solution. I’m going to work on it this fall.”

By that time, Cal Channel will be kaput. And the Legislature knocks off for the year in two weeks.

Two possible solutions:

One, lean on cable to rethink. After all, the Legislature can write laws regulating the industry.

Two, $1.2 million isn’t even budget dust in a $215-billion state spending plan. Grab enough money to establish a new, improved, independently run Cal Channel — one a tad closer to C-SPAN.

Keep a light on the sausage-making.

for history of Cal Channel, which used to be posted on its website, see also:

----Consider again this reasoning in the coverage:
..."Hancock told Capitol Weekly that the board decided the 2016 passage of Proposition 54, which mandated that the state Legislature make video of proceedings available to the public within 72 hours, “limited the need” for the channel.

As a result, the Legislature broadcasts its hearings on its own websites."...

So with that thinking, as an example of the dire state of things i.e. finding out an announcement of a hearing and then finding the video archive for it 
take a look at the CA Higher Education Committee website:

say you wanna find that meeting on : "Oversight Hearing Agendas 2019-20
Monday, November 4, 2019;"

or this meeting:
Monday, October 21, 2019; State Capitol, Room 437

-- only PDF available, no vid etc 

and the archives section on the right hand column contains no links to the video archive...either.

and appointed but not yet confirmed UC Regents go through confirmation hearing at the CA Senate Rules Committee. Now, take a look at that website and tell me where the video arrchive exists under the 2016 passage of Proposition 54  --WTF is it? w/ W="where"

--even if you look under each of its messed up tabs you can't find it.

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