- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 10, 2007

There’s a new local TV channel in town. Allbritton Communications, owner of ABC affiliate WJLA-TV (Channel 7) and the Politico newspaper, has rolled out a digital channel devoted to Washington-area filmmakers, producers, animators, musicians, comics and storytellers.

Local POINT TV, carried on Channel 205 for Comcast cable subscribers and 867 for Verizon FiOS customers, bills itself as a “return to television’s creative roots.”

The programming on Local POINT TV is filled with video segments, lasting no more than five minutes, featuring local talent.

“It’s really dramatically different,” creator Paul Sherno told Channel Surfing. “Local TV is essentially about local news and local sports. We’d like to bring star power back to local TV.”

Mr. Sherno said the channel is designed to capture the attention of viewers who might not care to invest 30 or 60 minutes watching a newscast or sitcom.

“If you don’t like what you see, you can wait five minutes and something else is going to come on,” he said.

Segments vary from concerts to personal stories to short films. The channel also features short “news bursts” of local news, weather and entertainment.

Viewers can watch and rate clips that aired on TV on the channel’s Web site, www.localpointtv.com.

Or, they can upload their own videos, which Local POINT TV promises to broadcast if it receives enough votes or the management thinks it’s good enough.

“We hope it’ll be a resource for creative people to rely on,” said Mr. Sherno. For example, he said, the site could bring a local band to the attention of a filmmaker who needs music for a project.

Despite the ever-increasing number of video Web sites out there, Mr. Sherno said, there’s room for his.

“We think that local is one of the things that the Internet can’t do well,” he said. “The video aggregators — YouTubes, Google Videos — it’s too much. They don’t have reference points.”

Local POINT TV employs a nontraditional advertising model: Instead of running as commercials, advertisements appear as crawls at the bottom of the screen. Mr. Sherno calls them “message units.”

“It’s tactical,” he said. “The messages can’t be skipped, ignored or Tivo’d because they’re basically in the content.”

For example, an advertisement for a Scion might appear as a car driving across the bottom of the screen.

To maximize the benefit for advertisers, the channel won’t have more than 12 advertisers a month, running about 200 ads per day.

Local POINT TV is much different fromcable-access programs that are produced by amateurs, Mr. Sherno stressed. He and his partner, executive producer Matt Sobocinski, are veterans of the film industry.

For now, it’s “basically just two people at the entire TV station,” he said.

He and Mr. Sobocinski shoot their own video but also solicit footage from venues and performers. For news segments, they rely on information from sister stations WJLA and NewsChannel 8.

Mr. Sherno said he hopes to expand Local POINT TV to other major cities, especially those with creative communities such as Austin, Texas, or Raleigh, N.C.

“We see this as perfect for big cities. And I think it would be an easy transition” for a local station, he said.

Channel Surfing runs on Wednesdays. Call 202/636-3139 or e-mail krowland@washingtontimes.com.

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