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NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL SPEAKER CHRISTINE C. QUINN, COUNCIL MEMBERS & THE MAYOR’S OFFICE OF MEDIA AND ENTERTAINMENT (MOME) ANNOUNCE LIVE TV AND WEB COVERAGE OF CITY COUNCIL HEARINGS MAKING NEW YORK CITY THE LARGEST MUNICIPALITY TO CARRY LEGISLATIVE HEARINGS LIVE
City’s Television Channel NYC Gov Now Features New Branding, Profiles of Council Members and Is Available to New Yorkers on Broadcast and Cable Stations; Live Online Streaming Will be Available on the Council Website

April 27, 2012 - City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Members and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) today announced that live coverage of City Council hearings will be available on New York City’s government television station, NYC gov, and online at http://council.nyc.gov starting May 1, 2012. This will make New York City the largest municipality to carry live legislative hearings.

As part of an effort to make NYC government more accessible, the first phase, now underway, includes live coverage from the Council’s 250 Broadway committee rooms. The City Council Chambers will be equipped for live broadcasts over the next three to four months. The hearings will repeat and alternate at night on television, and within 48 hours, each hearing will be archived and viewable on the Council’s Legislative Calendar at http://legistar.council.nyc.gov/Calendar.aspx. Stated hearings will also be available on the Council website.

This collaboration by the City Council and NYC gov, which is part of NYC Media, the official network of the City of New York, provides constituents a window into City government by presenting press conferences and hearings with public officials.

These capital technical upgrades were paid for by MOME out of allocated grant funding and come at no cost to the taxpayer. The City Council is paying an additional nominal fee to host the hearings on the web.

Last year, MOME expanded NYC gov to an over the air channel on Channel 25.2, making it available to an additional one million New Yorkers who do not have cable as well as to other residents in the metropolitan area. NYC gov continues to transmit on local cable systems. With over 2,000 hours of New York City Council coverage in 2011, NYC Media will become the largest distributor of live municipal coverage in the country.  Additionally, NYC Media has worked to rebrand and redesign many of the aspects of NYC gov to now include City factoids, City Council maps, and committee profiles on each of the members. MOME has been working closely with the Mayor’s Office and and the New York City Council on making these changes.

“Live coverage of City Council hearings is a step in the right direction towards increasing government transparency,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “By bringing government directly to the people, we are encouraging greater participation by New Yorkers in city government. I look forward to continuing to work with the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and the Council’s tech staff to increase access to all public meetings.”

“As chair of the Committee on Technology, it is exciting to the Council embrace methods to enhance access to the city government,” said Council Member Fernando Cabrera. “Having Council committee hearings available live on the internet and on television will allow more of the students, community groups and organizations that call our offices for information each week to actively observe the legislative process. I am glad to play a small role in enhancing access to our local government.”

“The live webcasting of all City Council committee hearings is a milestone for open government in which we can justly take pride. In taking this step Speaker Quinn and the IT Department at the Council have earned the thanks of all New Yorkers,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer.

“Mayor Bloomberg has always believed in making government as open and accessible to New Yorkers as possible,” said Katherine Oliver, Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner. “These upgrades and live capabilities will help strengthen NYC gov as a viable and strong example of good government, allowing New Yorkers a front row seat to the workings of their government.” 

“Citizens Union commends the Council and the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment for bringing greater transparency to the legislative process by enabling New Yorkers to access committee hearings via the web and on television,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director for Citizens Union.  “This expanded level of openness will make the Council more accessible to civic groups, journalists, and the broader public which will be able to follow Council proceedings without necessarily attending them.  Citizens Union has long advocated for these transparency measures, and believes enhancing the ability of people to engage and participate in government ultimately results in greater accountability.  We praise the Council and Speaker Quinn for their leadership in making meetings and hearing more accessible, and look forward to city agencies following its example.”

“With this encouraging step, Speaker Quinn, the Council and Mayor Bloomberg are going beyond the letter of the law and embracing the spirit of government openness,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, a non-profit group that promotes using Information Technology to increase open and transparent government in New York State. “This move helps make New York City’s democracy that much more robust. Council committee hearings serve a key role as forums for providing ample public opportunity to review legislation, and ensure every council member and interest group has a chance to weigh in.  We hope the governor and state legislative leaders follow the city’s lead and ensure important state bills are publicly discussed in committee, online and on TV.”

“Webcasting Council meetings will make New York City’s legislature closer to the people it serves. And that’s great news,” said Gene Russianoff, senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.