NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 17, 2014

Town meetings now available live or on demand

SEABROOK — Thanks to the marvels of technology — and money from the town’s cable franchise agreement — those wanting to watch a town meeting can now do so anytime and whenever they want, via their computer and the web.

It’s been about a month since new equipment was installed in Town Hall’s recording studio, and the difference in the reception residents have been getting at home over cable access channel 22 has been nothing short of amazing, according to Selectman Ed Hess.

But one of the biggest additions to the new system has come a bit more recently and allows interested parties to watch meetings and keep abreast of local government on the web, either as they’re being telecast — live streaming — or any time it’s convenient — on demand.

The new service is possible thanks to the abilities of Seabrook’s technical and computer guru Brian Murphy, who’s worked very hard to get everything up and running, Hess said.

To access the service, just pull up the town’s website at www.seabrooknh.org, Murphy said. Then go to “Town Departments” on the left side vertical menu and click on SCTV-22. After that, users can choose the “Rebroadcast schedule” to learn when a meeting will appear on Channel 22, or choose to watch “Web Simulcast” to view a meeting on their computers right as it’s happening.

To watch a past meeting that’s been archived, chose “On Demand,” which pulls up a list of the most current meetings available. There is also a search component that will allow users to search for and watch meetings from months past. Town boards and commissions that are taped monthly for broadcast include the Board of Selectmen, Conservation Commission, Budget Committee, Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustment.

According to Hess, the new system that allows such access was not only possible through Murphy’s expertise, but also thanks to Town Manager Bill Manzi’s ability to get Comcast to the table to finalize the town’s contract renewal that had been in limbo since 2009.

The new contract raised the franchise fee from 1.5 percent to 3 percent, with all of that money going back to the town.

The increase will mean about $54,000 a year to the town for technology uses, or more than $250,000 over the next five years, as well as the other half of the franchise fee going into the town’s scholarship fund for local students.

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