By Sharon Aron Baron
It’s 2012, and the City of Tamarac still isn’t broadcasting its workshops or city commission meetings to the public.
When Beth Talabisco first ran for Mayor in 2006, this was her platform. She even had campaign mail-outs saying that was one of her priorities. Maybe it was looked into, and it was too cost-prohibitive. When I spoke in front of the Mayor and Commissioner last week, they didn’t mention anything about it.
If the city believes it’s too expensive, I want to assure them it’s not. Local public high schools are already broadcasting their games, so why can’t the City of Tamarac?
After a considerable amount of research with other cities that broadcast or “stream” their meetings over the internet, I have found out that if Tamarac wanted to start by streaming their meetings over the internet, it would cost less than $10,000.
The city of Tamarac says it “Commits to Transparency” on its website. Show the residents this is true and start broadcasting meetings.
Broadcasting or streaming meetings is nothing new or different. There are over 30 cities in Broward County and 19 of them already broadcast their meetings:
- Coral Springs
- Cooper City
- Dania Beach
- Deerfield Beach
- Fort Lauderdale
- Hallandale Beach
- Oakland Park
- Pembroke Pines
- Pompano Beach
Susan Poling, City Clerk for Cooper City, says that besides using cable, they use live streaming using their own equipment via Granicus, a company specializing in streaming government meetings.
Matt Hoffman, Broadcast Communications Coordinator with the City of Coral Springs, has been streaming meetings since 2003. He says they bought a Streaming Video Appliance for only $3,700 and pay $800 yearly for the multi-cast stream support.
Margate Records Coordinator Carol DiLorenzo says that the City of Margate broadcasts the audio-only of City Commission meetings. The broadcast is live, and it’s heard on their Public Access Channel, Channel 78 through Comcast.
Parkland City Manager Caryn Gardner-Young says they stream their meetings, but they also televise them if you have Comcast.
Pompano Beach Communications Director Sandra King says citizens requested City Commissioners that got it done. The City of Pompano Beach videotapes all City Commission Meetings. They also broadcast the Commission Meetings live and rebroadcast them nine times during the week on Ch. 78. They also web stream the Commission Meetings live.
Sunrise City manager Bruce Moeller said at first they used Comcast but then resorted to streaming. Residents can go to the site any time and watch the streaming video. It coincides with the agenda so that you don’t have to watch the whole video. You can find the part on the agenda you’d like to see and click on that area.
Now I know that broadcasting and cable sound expensive, so maybe Tamarac should take this in baby steps. According to the recent Tamarac citizens survey of 629 residents, 86% have internet access in their homes. So before jumping headfirst into broadcasting, the City of Tamarac should first look into streaming their meetings over the internet for a relatively inexpensive cost.
Eric Powell, Production Manager of Beacon TV, said the city could purchase a Tricaster portable production unit for less than $10,000. High schools such as Cypress Bay and Nova stream their games using the tricaster, and Tamarac can too. The city already has the audio in the commission chambers, all they would need is the video, and they would be set for live streaming.
Once we’re set up on live streaming for the workshops and commission meetings, we can eventually move on to cable and other options in the future.