Starfish Televison Network, 1 Year Later

Every couple of months it seems I hear of another television ‘network’ that is devoted to airing programming from and on behalf of nonprofits.

Inevitably the network delivers its signal entirely online. Often as not the network enjoys a flash of publicity before ultimately flaming out.

But the Starfish Television Network, a 501(c)(3) charity which broadcasts over the air (via Dish 1000, channel 9408) as well as streaming live on the Internet, is approaching the important one-year milestone.

The management at Starfish, for whom I’ve done work in the past, knows very well what the Network's shortcomings are. They need some “appointment” television shows. That is, programs so compelling viewers will come back every week to watch them. They need wider carriage. And, it goes almost without saying, they need more money.

And of course there’s the usual chicken and egg problem that all nonprofits face in their early years. They have good ideas for programs, but currently lack the money to pull them off.

But to survive even a year means Starfish has got key people and important processes in place. Moreover, the people on board at Starfish are overwhelming TV people rather than Internet people. Collectively they have a very strong idea of what quality television looks like.

And while every person there expects that in perhaps 10 years Starfish will be an Internet only network, they still have get from here to there. With all due respect to Marshall McLuhan, while the ‘medium may be the message,’ not too many people watch message television just because of the medium.

Getting the money to run Starfish is by no means inevitable. But they do have some fundraising momentum behind them.

As for the carriage issue, Starfish is challenged by the coming of HDTV in two respects. First of all, HDTV requires more bandwidth. As a result carriers that might have added Starfish to their channel lineup for free in the past are hard pressed to do so now. Secondly, rare is the nonprofit that shoots and edits their programming in high definition. Meaning Starfish will remain standard definition for the foreseeable future.

That said, the TV people at Starfish have a few tricks up their sleeves to increase carriage even in the HD world.

If your cause would benefit by having programming air on Starfish, contact Linda at 801/567-3180.

If you have scads of money you’d like to throw at a charity that benefits a world of good causes, contact Todd at the same number.

And remember, because Starfish broadcasts on-air as well as online, its potential audience is much larger than any of the Internet-only nonprofit TV networks. So your programming can be seen by a larger audience and your donations go further at the Starfish Television Network.

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