Open Media Foundation Launches Cloud-based Software for Public Access TVOpen Media Foundation Launches Cloud-based Software for Public Access TV

This week at the Alliance for Community Media conference in Chicago, IL, the Open Media Foundation will be launching a cloud-based media service that could change the face of community media. After 7 years and $700,000 contributed by the Open Media Foundation and other supporters, the open-source software will be launched as both a paid monthly service, and free of charge to organizations wishing to implement and manage it themselves.  

“Our latest version of the Open Media Project (OMP), reflects a major step forward in our mission to put the power of the media and technology in the hands of the people,” says Founder and Executive Director Tony Shawcross. “For the first time, small stations with limited budgets and technical resources will have an opportunity to join a growing network of stations devoted to empowering their communities to run a new kind of media operation,” Shawcross adds.

“Our goal is to help community media stations modernize, getting all their content on-line and shared with other stations, establishing a network unlike anything we’ve seen before,” said Shawcross, who has been overseeing the OMP since the project began with OMF’s effort to revive Public Access TV in Denver back in 2006. “Unlike other networks” Shawcross added, “the programming of the OMP is created, rated, and scheduled by the community... its truly community-driven TV.”

Shawcross and team were motivated to build the software back in 2005 when the City of Denver removed operating support for Public Access TV, necessitating a model that could let the community take the reigns. As the largest Public Access station in the nation without operating support from the City or cable-provider, few thought it would work. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invested $380,000 in the effort back in 2008, and today, Denver Open Media (OMF’s Public Access TV station) has more members and programming than the previous Denver station, even without those hundreds of thousands of dollars in operating support their predecessor enjoyed.

“If these kinds of user-driven business models existed 30 or 40 years ago, we feel this is how Public Access TV would’ve been designed,” suggested Brian Hiatt, Director of OMF’s development team. “The community doesn’t need gate-keepers, they just need the tools and training to engage in today’s media. By empowering them to register and reserve equipment, view and vote on the shows, and essentially schedule the TV channels, we are able to focus our limited resources on training and development,” added Hiatt.

“This cloud-based service is open-source and fully-supported, meaning stations without technical staff will not require an in-house developer,” added Hiatt, “and through our partnership with www.archive.org, the OMP enables content-sharing across stations on a level never before possible.”  With common metadata, voting/rating and encoding, community media stations using the OMP software have an opportunity to share the best in user-generated content across a network of participating stations in an entirely automated fashion with no need to download, upload, or transcode individual files.

The software will be unveiled at 9am on Tuesday, July 31 with a sneak peek at the first station to launch using the cloud-based software, the Long Beach Community Action Partnership, whose new station is set to launch in Sept, 2012.  Learn more about the Open Media Project at http://omp.omfound.org/