Last Saturday, we launched a new kind of TV network, unlike anything that has ever been attempted before, and we did it in East New York, Brooklyn.
The journalist AJ Leibling wrote in 1961 that 'freedom of the press belongs to those who own a press'.
And, he was right.
That was particulary true for TV stations.
In New York, local news has been in the hands of the major media comapnies, whether it was CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC or Time/Warner. They produced all the local news. The reason for his was simple. Owning and running a local TV news operation was both complex and expensive. You needed crews and cameras and edit suites and trucks, but most of all, you needed an FCC broadcasting license or a cable franchise like NY1. That alone put the cost of starting a local TV station in the tens of millions.
But now, all that has changed.
Anyone who has a smart phone already owns a broadcast quality 4K camera, an edit suite in the phone, graphics, music and the ability to 'go live' at the touch of a button. (No more trucks).
The internet has blown away the need for either an FCC license ot broadcast or owning a cable channel. (Ever see Netflix? Same concept).
For a community like East New York, local TV news rarely came to town, and when they did, all they ever covered was crime, shootings, robbery and the occasional fire. As they used to say news, if it bleeds, it leads.
But on Saturday, we met with 50 residents of East New York who are ready to particiapte in something different - a local TV station that is done BY the local people, OF the local people and most significantly, FOR the local people.
Welcome to the start of BKtelevsion.com (not up just yet) - an idea conceived of by Lisa Lambden.
We are going to train the local people of East New York (and Brownsville and others), to shoot, script, edit and produce professional television. (That's what TheVJ is for!). We are going to give them professional broadcasting skills that will last them a lifetime.
But we are also going to harness those skills to an online local digiital channel that will allow them to tell their own stories, free of the sensationalism that affliicts local TV.
And, this is going to be a FOR PROFIT business, with the profits going back to the community and to the people who make the content.
What makes this possible:
1. When we walked into the room, the first thing we asked was a show of hands. 'How many of you own smart phones?' 100%. Everyone in that room already owns all the professional broadcasting gear you need.
2. Who here wants to learn to shoot professional video, edit video and produce programs? 100%. If they went to NYU film school, they would have to pay $93,000 a year. That was not going to happen. This is.
3. Who here has stories about Brownsville and East New York that you want to tell to the community and to the world? 100%.
I think we are off to a smashing start.