The message of online local broadcast streaming service heard loud and clear in the Edenwald section of the Bronx: Community members say “No” to $300 cable bills
The MMCC Edenwald Cornerstone community welcomed Locast.org this past Friday, March 23rd to host a March Madness event, showcasing the Locast online streaming service. MMCC (Mosholu, Montefiore Community Center) is a community-based organization that engages directly with community members helping to connect them with resources, support and enrichment. Center Director Dominic Smith collaborated with the Locast team to produce this outreach event and was gracious enough to provide a facilities tour for SFC-NY board member Habiba Alcindor.
We invited the entire Edenwald community to join us for the Locast community screening event. Our guest list included residents from the housing development, people from the surrounding neighborhood, including the patrons of the Laconia Barbershop, those grabbing a quick bite at Paula’s Soul Food, as well as trustees from the Butler Community Church. We visited the Tax office, the local bodegas, the independent pharmacy and everywhere we stopped, we spoke to people about the value of the Locast service and the value of local broadcast access.
Here at Locast, we believe that access to local news content is vital to keeping people informed, engaged and connected to the larger world around them. The residents of Edenwald Houses agreed with us that these are important community values that have been long been neglected. Even folks who were just taking a stroll around the neighborhood were excited to hear about what Locast is doing to spread the word in their local community.
We want to be sure that we thank all of the people who came out to hear more about the Locast mission and allowed us to hear from them about their issues accessing media content in today’s cable dominated world. As a public-service oriented, mission-based non-profit, Locast.org is making sure that every residential community knows that there IS an alternative to overpaying for cable, and the alternative is Locast.org.
For over an hour, we all shared in the experience of watching an over-the-air broadcast, NCAA March Madness on CBS, live-streamed over the Internet using Locast.org. Clemson’s men’s basketball team played the Kansas Jayhawks, who ended the game with 80 points. After the Kansas Jayhawks clinched their spot in the Elite Eight, we settled into a deeper conversation with residents about their experiences with media access.
We asked residents if they thought that a service like Locast would be useful. What we heard in response was both interesting and distressing. Community members immediately recognized that Locast, with 14 channels, two in Spanish, gave them the opportunity to reduce their own media consumption costs. One person commented that she is paying cable companies for more channels than she wants to watch, yet relies on cable to view local broadcast channels. Considering that she typically watches only three channels, and that those channels all are local broadcast stations, Locast definitely would “come in handy” because it would help her to reduce cost.
We asked residents how much they were paying for cable service and were shocked to hear that, even at Edenwald, residents sometimes had to spend $300 dollars or more just for their TV. We did not find anyone who paid less than $100 per month. We could not believe our ears. We heard residents say that cable companies require them to pay for basic cable services even if they want an Internet-only package.
As an online streaming service, Locast.org, like so many other Internet-based services, is available to people with access to the Internet either on a mobile device or through a landline broadband connection. While Locast helps to reduce people’s dependence on cable TV, it still requires a broadband connection. We therefore support efforts to make broadband more affordable and available.
The de Blasio administration has announced an initiative which promises to bring in $10 million dollars to fund broadband access services for NYCHA residents in 5 developments. As the second largest development in the New York area (second to Queensbridge Houses) and the largest development in the Bronx, Edenwald Houses, with a population of over 5,000 will hopefully be included in the second round of targeted funds for public housing. If it does, we hope that residents will continue to take advantage of Locast.org for their local broadcast viewing.
Our experience visiting this tight-knit community space was awe-inspiring. The Edenwald team creates a unique and rare atmosphere. They have developed a highly sophisticated learning center, a space where community members and their children are developing practical, commercially valuable skills, where they have access to art, culture and an opportunity for self-expression. It wasn’t that they have the most expensive equipment or a flashy building but it was that the Edenwald team, Domonic Smith, Joy Richardson and Mr. Oliver have produced so much homegrown positivity. In a community whose most recent headlines include reports of FBI raids and troubling trends of gentrification and displacement of residents, it was heartening to see that mission-driven public service still makes a difference to this community.
The Locast team is proud that we were able to share our service with the good people of the Edenwald Houses. We are very happy to be counted as members of the community.