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Photo by John Bahr

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Seattle Commission on Electronic Communications

The Seattle Commission on Electronic Communications' charge was to develop a short-term and long-term vision and direction for the City's television station and its web site in order to increase public awareness, understanding and participation in government, community and cultural affairs. The Commission was also asked to explore areas of structure, finance, programming, marketing, teledemocracy and emerging technologies.

The Commission has 14 volunteer members. It began work in early 2001, and its recommendations were published mid-December. The Commission gathered information for its recommendations from numerous sources, including: guest presenters; research conducted by City staff and consultants; subcommittee work; review of other cities' stations and web sites; and independent reading.

Executive Summary

Recommended Goal

  • To be a national leader in using technology to dramatically expand civic engagement and public discourse by transforming TVSea into a multimedia organization that provides compelling content and two-way communication opportunities.

Recommended Mission Statement

  • To inform and engage citizens in the governmental, civic and cultural affairs of Seattle through compelling use of television, Internet and other media.

Recommendations

Content & Production

  • Create a multimedia resource that provides linkages to public information and opportunities for citizens to interact with their government and each other across all media platforms.
  • Improve programming and content, making it engaging and informative for television, Internet and other digital media.
  • Enhance City Council meeting coverage by placing meetings in context, providing interactivity with viewers and web users, including online access to briefing materials, using graphics and crawls to increase understanding, and improving production values (lighting, camera angles, etc.).
  • Consider new content, such as: weekly council highlights; top 10 questions from citizens; backstage at Bumbershoot; “Day in the Life” programs; and instant feedback.

Branding & Marketing

  • Develop a brand (new name, professional style, logo and graphics) that is consistent across television, Internet and other digital media.
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive marketing plan to draw new users and viewers.

Technology

  • Use integrated technology—e-mail, Internet chat, indexed video on demand, instant polling, wireless services, television, etc.—to promote civic engagement and participation.
  • Incorporate new technologies as they emerge.

Partnerships

  • Establish partnerships with local television and radio stations, high-tech companies and community and non-profit organizations to leverage operational, content and technical resources.

Finance

  • Maintain the current level of support from City funds and the cable franchise fee.
  • Use any revenues above projections for 2001 and 2002 to implement improvements in 2002.
  • Increase the cable franchise fee in 2003 and 2004 and dedicate the revenue to improving quality and content, expanding interactive services, marketing and creating partnerships.

Governance & Evaluation

  • Maintain the TV/democracy portal as a part of City government.
  • Restructure the current TVSea organization to create two functional units—content development and engineering/operations—that serve both television and web.
  • Establish a citizen review panel to report on the organization’s performance and independence.
  • Set measurable goals and conduct regular evaluations to measure and improve performance.

Download the SCEC Final Report (pdf format)

SCEC Committee List

Article about Democracy Portal in NATOA Journal

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