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BITV conquers the world via web

Council meetings, other events are being ‘streamed’ online

as they happen.

All of Channel 12’s live shows are now available for viewing in Beijing, Bogota, Bucharest and Rolling Bay.

Bainbridge Island Television went global this week, reaching a worldwide audience via the Internet and an increased number of viewers on Bainbridge.

The public access station, which reaches less than half of island households through cable television subscriptions, could now potentially reach 90 percent of residents, according to BITV Director Scott Schmidt.

“This is an emerging technology and a big step forward for us,” he said.

Web broadcasting puts BITV in a very select group of community television stations.

Established in 1984 as ‘Bainbridge Island Broadcasting,’ BITV today reaches 9,500 island households via cable TV.

“A year ago I decided that I wanted to reach the entire island,” he said. “With cable, we’re only reaching 40 to 45 percent of households. So I thought, ‘what’s the most universal (technology)?’ Obviously, it’s the Internet, especially with the growing number of users on the island.”

Officially launched at last Wednesday’s City Council meeting, viewers can now log on to BITV.org to see Channel 12’s live broadcast.

Technology for viewing pre-recorded shows on an “on-demand” basis is not yet available, but plans are under way to upgrade the site’s capabilities.

BITV’s new broadcasting capabilities were made possible after the station underwent a $60,000 conversion to a fully-digital format. An additional $10,000 from three private donations upgraded the station’s website for live streaming.

A high capacity digital connection will cost BITV an annual $9,000 to maintain the service.BITV will likely solicit local advertisers to help offset the new costs. Potential ads will be confined to BITV’s website and will not broadcast on-air.

“We’ll treat our ads like PBS,” he said. “It’ll be quality, so it’s not ‘Eat at Joe’s.’”

While expanding BITV’s local reach, streaming live via the Internet allows islanders to show their community to the world.

“This puts Bainbridge on the broader map,” he said. It also keeps islanders connected with far-flung family and friends.

“You can tell grandma to watch the 4th of July parade or tell her that (her grandchild) is playing in a band on TV,” Schmidt said. “It keeps us globally connected, and that’s the magnitude of it.”

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Steady stream

For live streaming BITV content, see www.BITV.org. Click the “Streaming” icon at the top right of the screen for directions on how to connect. The service requires special instructions and free downloadable software for Apple computer users.

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