Thursday, August 30, 2007

Candidates get free air time

BY COLBY FRAZIER
DAILY SOUND STAFF WRITER

Whether a Santa Barbara City Council candidate is flush with cash or not this year, each of the eight hopefuls will have the opportunity to reach the public with a three-minute spot broadcast on public access television in the lead up to the Nov. 6 election.
The cost? Free.
It’s all part of the City Council’s effort to reform municipal elections and take the money card out of the deck.
“You’re always trying to take the idea of money out of the campaign,” said Councilman Brian Barnwell, who is up for reelection and filmed his three-minute spot on Tuesday. “You don’t want somebody winning just because they have money.”

All of the spots were filmed in The Santa Barbara Channels studio with an American flag and Santa Barbara City flag as a backdrop.
With the camera fixed on the candidates from the shoulders up, each one read their message from cue cards, or in the case of Frank Hotchkiss, had it memorized.
The format appeared to be simple, crisp and clear.
At least that’s the message Hap Freund, executive director of The Santa Barbara Channels hopes to get across.
“It doesn’t discriminate based on how much money has been raised,” Freund said. “It levels the playing field. Every candidate will have the opportunity to get their message out.
“It’s a pretty good deal.”
Aside from the simple setup, candidates were urged to stick to their own qualifications and not attack or mention other candidates.
City Council hopeful Michelle Giddens was the last of the eight candidates to film her spot yesterday.
Giddens said she hadn’t ever stood in front of the camera, but was well rehearsed reading her message.
Her biggest hiccup came before the filming began, when Director Josh Figatner told her that the cue cards she had prepared were too big.
Without hesitating, Giddens dug into her purse, pulled out a utility knife and promptly cut the poster-board into more manageable pieces.
During her filming, Giddens said “I love Santa Barbara and want to bring professional leadership to our small paradise.”
She said her top priority would be public safety and mentioned certain points in the city’s General Plan that she is particularly concerned with.
Giddens said looks forward to seeing her and the other candidates messages broadcast.
According to the Candidate Video Program pamphlet, the three-minute messages will be combined and broadcast as a 30-minute segment. The program will be shown on City owned TV Channel 18 a minimum of three times per week, and Santa Barbara Channels, Channel 21 a minimum of four times per week.
The segment will begin broadcasting about 30 days before the election and will also be available on the city’s web site.
Freund said this is the first year the individual format has been used. A candidate forum will also appear on public access TV before the election.
Bob Grissom, general manager for Cox Media, who oversees the production arm of Cox Communications, said calculating the cost of a three-minute segment is difficult.
He said candidates traditionally buy 30 second or one minute slots, which depending on a number of conditions, could cost as little as $2,500 or as much as $25,000.
Grissom did say if a candidate wanted Cox to produce their commercial, it would cost $500 for production alone. He said the candidate would then have the choice of airing the piece on their choice of 55 different cable channels.
If a candidate wanted to air their campaign commercials on local network channels, they would have to go directly through the the networks, Grissom said.
If nothing else, Freund said its been nice having all of the council hopefuls in the studio, seeing first hand what’s going on at the publicly funded station.
“It’s good for us and it’s good for them,” Freund said. “It’s a win, win deal. It’s good to have the candidates for city council know how many people watch public access television.”

1 comment:

David Pritchett said...

Based on the photos in the Daily Sound print edition, the USA flag was placed incorrectly to the left of the speaker, while it should have been on the speaker's right side.

That is the standard tradition for all history.