New thinking at the people's channel

Rogue Valley Television is taking steps to further engage the public in making shows, seeing them
Studio Production Certification course students, from left, Charlie Delgato, David Wilson, instructor Charles Douglas, Denise Ross and Wanda Borland prepare to produce a public access show at Rogue Valley TelevisionBob Pennell

Rogue Valley Television is expanding studio availability to encourage people to create their own programming, and it has made it easy to stream content online through an archive of shows.

"It was flailing a bit," said Brandon Givens, coordinator and production manager at RVTV, "because there wasn't a whole lot of new life. We hadn't really engaged the Internet."

In addition to new studio and field equipment, RVTV has added staff and revamped its public access workshops to encourage more community involvement.

In November 2012, RVTV hired Charles Douglas, an audio visual technician and public access assistant coordinator who had worked in public access in Humboldt County, Calif.

"Since my arrival, we've established a public access archive in the community media database section of the Internet archive, one of the largest nonprofit Internet libraries in the world," Douglas said.

Launched on Jan. 1, the RVTV archive has distributed 271 local programs, all made by community producers.

"We just topped 10,000 views and downloads altogether of our collection, something we're very proud of," Douglas said. The content archive can be seen at archive.org/details/roguetv.

Now that the content is archived online, RVTV's local programming is available for anybody with Internet access, Douglas said.

"I wanted the programming to be available in the same way YouTube videos are available. But unlike YouTube, I didn't want people giving up their rights to own their content or submit themselves to a troll society," said Douglas, referring to the negative comments some people post about videos on YouTube. Also, archive.org doesn't operate under the copyright system, so it provides producers with creative commons licensing.

"It allows artists to share their work in a nonexploitative context," said Douglas, "so you can have your work distributed, as long as it's attributed to you and they keep it intact."

For example, local producer Oscar Rodriguez, who produces a consumer affairs financial literacy program for RVTV in Spanish, got a call from a friend who had seen his show aired on a public access channel in Portland, Douglas said.

"We could totally revolutionize television that way, in a new not-for-profit, grass-roots, community-driven model," said Douglas.

As the nonprofit network works to expand the availability of its programming, it is also working on quality.


"There's quite a few new series compared to what we used to have. We have a lot of new producers who are pretty engaged," said Givens.

"Part of that was us getting really hard-core about explaining to new students and community volunteers that they have to take ownership of their own programs," said Givens.

In the past, it has been common for people with their own public access shows to want to be the star of shows, without really diving into the technical side of production, according to Givens.

"We have been pushing people to empower themselves — but having to be firm about expectations. We've seen a whole new influx of energy," said Givens.

RVTV has revamped its training on how to use the studio and field equipment. It now offers four workshops so that community users can produce their own shows. The workshops require 18 hours of time spent volunteering on other producers' shows, using the cameras, switching board or graphics. Those interested in signing up for the workshops can find details at RVTV.edu.sou. There is a small fee to cover materials and supplies.

"No one will be turned away," said Douglas. "If you want to get involved, economic situation is not a barrier. We'll find a way to help you get involved."

As funding declines, it's the spirit of volunteerism and community building that will maintain public access, said Douglas.

At the beginning of the year, RVTV had 197 hours of locally produced television. As of last quarter it had 400 hours.

"They are kind of choosing their own adventure and really getting soaked into the culture of producers helping producers," Douglas said. "That's the other big change I wanted to make."

To watch shows by local producers, see rvtv.sou.edu.

Reach reporter Mandy Valencia at 541-776-4486 or avalencia@mailtribune.com



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