Parade to enjoy broadcast boost

A group of local high-tech businesses has teamed up with the city-owned Ashland Fiber Network to launch a new community TV channel and Web site.

AshlandTV, Project A, Open Door Networks and AFN are kicking off the TV channel with a live broadcast of Ashland's Fourth of July parade.

The parade starts at 10:15 a.m. from Triangle Park on Siskiyou Boulevard.

AshlandTV is operated by Ashland Home Net, the company that took over the city-run cable TV service in 2006. AFN retains control over the city's high-speed Internet service.

AHN is launching its Channel 20 as a community-oriented channel. After the Fourth of July parade broadcast, AHN plans to ramp up the channel until it eventually provides Ashland-specific content 24 hours a day.

Examples of potential content include high school football games and other sports events, clips from local theater, government meetings, user-submitted videos and special community events.

Channel 20 content will be available at .

"We've wanted to have a way of making Ashland-specific content widely available for years," said Project A President Jim Teece, who is developing the Channel 20 Web site. "We're incredibly excited that the technology has advanced to the point where we can actually do it."

People who want to view the Fourth of July parade live via Internet should visit /july4/.

Local company Open Door Networks is doing a special webcast of the parade in partnership with other companies and AFN.

Open Door Networks and Project A provided an Internet-only broadcast from the 2004 Fourth of July parade. That webcast drew thousands of viewers from around the world.

This year, the group of local high-tech companies is providing broadcasts through both Internet and television. AFN's AFNanywhere wireless Internet system will transmit the sights and sounds of the parade.

"It's a great example of collaboration between Ashland Home Net, Project A, Open Door Networks and the AFN," said Alan Oppenheimer, president of Open Door Networks. "It's what local business is all about."

Updated technology will provide higher resolution feeds for Internet and television viewers this year.

Cameras will be positioned on an Open Door Networks parade entry and on downtown buildings along the parade route.

Channel 20 will not only broadcast the parade live on TV, it will show taped reruns of the parade.

Representatives of the local high-tech businesses said that one of the most exciting things about the new community channel is that people will be able to submit their own videos for potential broadcast on the channel and its companion Web site.

Similar to the popular "YouTube" service, Channel 20's Web site will let users upload videos. The videos will be screened to ensure local relevance, and then added to the channel's running feed.

Details are still being worked out, but new technology could allow user-based voting and ranking of content, which could determine how often particular videos run.

Meanwhile, AHN is working on other fronts to provide more TV that is tailored to Ashland.

The company that runs AshlandTV recently began surveying its customers to find out which channels they watch, which channels they would like to have and their preferences for types of channels, such as religious programming, sports or documentaries.

AHN is also asking whether people are more interested in sports coverage of Pacific Northwest teams like the University of Oregon Ducks and the Portland Trail Blazers, or teams from the San Francisco Bay area like the San Francisco Giants and the Oakland Raiders.

People who are not AshlandTV customers are invited to take the survey. Call 488-9207 for more information.

"We are hoping to get our TV designed toward the local community rather than national averages," AHN President Gary Nelson said.

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