Open Source North event encouraging more Indigenous language broadcasting

Nuxalk Radio in Bella Coola, BC is one of the Indigenous language stations using Open Source software to enable their live broadcasts.

Open Source North, an event being held next week in Whitehorse, Yukon, aims to bring together developers, coders and anyone interested in using open source software to broadcast over-the-air or online, with a focus on Indigenous languages.

The event has been organized by a group of like-minded fans of publicly-accessible open source software, which rather than its proprietary counterpart, is free and customizable, giving the end user the ability to modify the source code to suit their needs.

“The beautiful thing about open source software is that the intellectual property and source code is published in the public domain, so anybody can have access to it. We have users all over the world,” said Rob Hopkins, the president and CEO of Open Broadcaster, one of the northern companies writing open source software and an organizer of the event.

Open source software has proved revolutionary for independent broadcasters because it can be used to create a complete end-to-end broadcast solution. In fact, open source is one of the topics of discussion at influential media, entertainment and technology show IBC 2019, underway this week in Amsterdam.

The focus of Open Source North, happening Sept. 16-18, will focus on Indigenous Language revitalization and Media Asset Management. Hopkins says right now many Indigenous communities are faced with the challenge of what to do with media recordings to preserve their respective Indigenous languages. Open Broadcaster has been working with some of those communities to collect and create online, multimedia repositories to keep track of those assets and make them accessible.

Hopkins says the Nuxalk Nation at Bella Coola, BC, for example, also used Open Broadcaster’s open source code to enable its community radio station 91.1 Nuxalk Radio (CKNN-FM) to broadcast live.

“One of the cool things about open source tech is that when a user comes across the software and it does everything they need it to do, but it’s missing X, Y, and Z, they can code those additional features or hire programmers or sponsor additional projects,” said Hopkins. “We worked with Nuxalk to develop a live assist interface, like you see on commercial broadcast software offerings, so they got all of the tools they needed to do live broadcasting on a web interface.”

“The real beauty of this is that source code went into the public domain, so other groups and other First Nations are able to download and utilize that additional functionality to do live broadcasting,” explained Hopkins.

Open Broadcaster also helped a multilingual radio network in the U.S. create a custom module to do its SoundExchange music copyright reporting, that saves time and money by generating a pre-formatted report.

Hopkins says those that attend next week’s event will range from IT professionals and developers to those curious about what’s happening with open source broadcasting in the north.

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