Category Archives: Community Television Network

Watching a public meeting with five windows open to the world – #a2council

The Ann Arbor City Council holds meetings twice each month, which are streamed online through the city's CTN network. I tuned in last night on my laptop to listen and watch.

While I was listening, I had a few other windows open on my computer. First and foremost, I had a twitter stream that I was watching for the #a2council hash tag; that caught commentary from a few other people who were watching at home, plus some reporters in the audience. The running cmmentary made it easier to follow what was going on, and it served as a back channel to help make sense of the proceedings.

The council was working from an agenda that's in the Legistar system, and from time to time I'd go back to that to see what the text of an agenda item was, to look at supporting materials, and see the detail.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle does near-real-time news coverage as a Civic News Ticker, reporting out results from key votes and decisions during the meeting. This is brief coverage but important, and it sets the stage for their 10,000 word meeting reports that come out a week or so later.

Finally, I had a window open to Arborwiki, which has a local encyclopedia of information about what is going on in the city and the surrounding area. As council considered various options, I looked up what Arborwiki had to say about the current state of affairs, and updated it as best I could to reflect the meeting results and the news that was happening.

I'm sure that watching this multi-connected stream was different from the experience of being in the same room as council. You miss the non-verbal communications, the body language, the hallway conversations that take place during breaks, and all sorts of in-person nuance. But for what it was, I'm pretty happy with the experience. It felt like I was engaged with the meeting and could have a sense that I was part of the civic process.


Ann Arbor City Council meetings now simulcast online

Ann Arbor City Council meetings are now simulcast online, which is handy if you don't get local CTN cable service.  This link

goes to an experimental setup which also tracks the Twitter #aacitycouncil tag.

The CTN Meetingplace page now hosts the current broadcast (both live and delayed) for CTN Channel 16. Meetings are held the first and third Monday nights of the month starting at 7:00 p.m., unless they aren't for some reason like a holiday. There is a meeting today, May 23, 2011, which is a continuation of budget-related issues that were left unresolved at the May 16, 2011 meeting.

See Legistar at

for the calendar and agenda.

NOTE: Agendas can and do change up until the last moment, and it's impossible to know ahead of time whether your topic of burning interest will be addressed at any given meeting. Watching online, and ensuring that you have a person who is tracking your issue close enough to city hall to get to council chambers, can be an alternative to sitting in the pews every other Monday.


What to watch on CTN, April 1-7, 2011

What to watch on CTN is the City of Ann Arbor's weekly programming guide to public access cable. Download this week's flyer as a PDF. Here's show listings for April 1-7, 2011. Note that several of these are also available on demand over the Internet at .


Edward Vielmetti is certain to make it big in television if he ever gets a chance to break in to the big time.

Merge the Ann Arbor Community Television Network with the Ann Arbor District Library’s video services?

Matt Hampel has released a study of Ann Arbor's Community Television Network.  He writes about an organization that was innovative and forward-looking in the 1970s that is now running with little public oversight and with only the most tentative ways of engaging with the public through networks other than cable television.

Most notable in the whole discussion is a comparison of CTN's video archiving and online access system with a similar setup at the Ann Arbor District Library.  The library has direct access into the CTN digital network feeds, and uses off the shelf software to transcode video for delivery to cable.  Where CTN is hamstrung by a reliance on city IT staff to do technology development – an IT staff that only does necessary maintenance – the AADL has an active IT department that is doing development in support of their mission.

I'm sure that the people at CTN are doing a good job at their core mission, of teaching people how to do video production.  The system is failing where it fails because there is not a corresponding core set of priority on video distribution and access beyond their cable television franchise.  The whole system looks like it would be better off if CTN lopped off the approximately $180,000 per year they spend on City of Ann Arbor IT services and instead merged that effort into the Ann Arbor District Library's existing video efforts.  That would put both innovative production and innovative distribution under the same roof, and move citizens closer to access to public production libraries to let them be the media, not just consume it on channel 19.

Ann Arbor City Council video

Ann Arbor City Council videos are being uploaded to Google Video. It’s not entirely clear from the Google site who is doing this, but they appear to be long, long, unedited versions pulled off the air from CTN.

Murph got the exclusive on the city council mashup video with short (and cruel) edits from a recent session.

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