Framework Television, a new “post-cable” video network focused on teaching digital skills, is aimed at filling a perceived void in the county’s media landscape.
“We’re doing something that I don’t think has been done here before,” said Framework Founder and President Mark Lassoff. “Teaching digital skills on television at a price point that people can afford, with a schedule that’s flexible enough that our members can become technically sufficient and compete for jobs.”Speaking at Framework’s Norwalk studio, which officially opened on Jan. 2 at the Palace Production Center at 29 N. Main St., Lassoff said that the network is designed to teach such skills as coding, design and game development, filling a growing need for such talent. Programming will originate from the Norwalk studio and be available on Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Vizio Television and various other streaming destinations.
“We really start from a basic level,” Lassoff said. “We try to demystify the process and show how anybody can do this.” Courses like learning basic HTML are free, with higher-level courses coming at a higher price. The complete professional development program costs $3,999.
“That’s still less than what they charge at universities and colleges,” Lassoff said.
Lassoff’s background includes numerous digital/educational ventures, including Austin, Texas-based Internet Broadcasting Group, centered around selling branded internet radio stations. Growing up in Trumbull and Westport, he returned to Connecticut about 10 years ago to launch LearnToProgram, an online media company focused on programming.
Although LearnToProgram remains as an umbrella title for Framework, Lassoff said he weaned the company away from that area because “we’d done everything we could. There’s such a low barrier to entry in programming now.”
Lassoff said the move to Norwalk from New Haven was made “because it’s near the train and is perfectly situated between Boston and New York, where there’s all kind of tech talent and interest to draw from.”
For Framework, Lassoff has assembled an array of experts to lead its courses. “These aren’t necessarily the most extroverted people around, so finding someone with the knowledge and know-how who doesn’t keel over on camera can be a challenge,” he joked.
The board of advisors includes Heidi Diamond, the former president of Martha Stewart Omnimedia, and Mike Schreibman, a one-time NBC News executive who now runs Hudson River CIO Advisors in Hawthorne, New York.
An important distinction from similar companies promising quick and affordable digital training, Lassoff said, is that Framework offers certifications for a number of professions. “We also help them build real portfolios, so that they can show employers that, yeah, they can really do this,” he said. “The market is more apt to accept people who have those kinds of materials to back them up.”
Many of LTP’s students have made the move to Framework, according to Lassoff, who said its total membership stands at around 12,000 from over 150 countries. “We don’t have a lot of millennials,” he said. “What we seem to get most of are people looking to make a career change — we have as many people over 40 as under 40. And we even have someone who’s in his 80s.
“Our typical member, if there is such a thing, is probably someone who’s ex-military and trying to gain expertise in a non-military sector where there’s plenty of opportunity for growth,” he added.