Gavel-to-Gavel back on the air

90-day session begins today with beefed-up Internet presence

Posted: Tuesday, January 19, 2010

KTOO's Gavel-to-Gavel coverage of the Alaska Legislature resumes today, as Juneau's main effort to bring coverage of Alaska's lawmaking and budget-writing process to everybody in the state.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

This year the cable television broadcasts will continue, but will be augmented with a much stronger Internet presence, said Bill Legere, general manager of Capitol Community Broadcasting.

"We'll be adding new search tools for the audio files, and a new player interface," he said.

Previously, those using Apple Macintosh computers found it difficult or impossible to listen to the extensive Web archive of audio recordings of legislative activities.

In addition, Gavel-to-Gavel will no longer be asserting copyright and trying to prevent downloading of the files, he said.

"This is a 180-degree change," Legere said. "We're making them available for any user to down load as mp3 files or to podcast."

Gavel-to-Gavel already grants blanket permission for any Alaska broadcaster to use its material, but will continue to block its use in political activities, he said.

Other than that, the files will be available to post to other Web sites, while previously users could only link to the files.

"This is a recognition that many people use our material in different ways, and rather than to make it hard we want to make it easy," Legere said.

Later in the session, Gavel-to-Gavel expects to begin experimenting with video on demand as well, he said.

Gavel-to-Gavel's broadcast will begin with the House of Representatives floor session beginning at 1 p.m. today, followed by the Senate at 1:30 p.m.

Additional activities such as political caucus press conferences, committee meetings and community events such as the recent World Trade Center Alaska economic forecast luncheon, will also be telecast, he said.

The coverage will run on KTOO's 360 North Network from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

"If the Legislature is still going on after 7 p.m., we'll stay with it; we'll keep going as long as they're going," he said.

360 North will have other programming until 10 p.m., at which point it will begin repeating the day's activities.

Gavel-to-Gavel is part of Juneau's capital retention effort, with $325,000 of its $536,000 budget provided by the city.

This year's producer is Claire Richardson, he said.

All of GCI's cable systems in Alaska carry Gavel-to-Gavel, while ACS provides the Internet capability, both as a public service, Legere said.

Additional upgrades such as fiber-optic connections may not be visible to the public, but are aimed at providing better service, he said.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.



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