BTV static expected to clear up soon

Thursday, December 7, 2006

As any student used to tuning into Brown Television knows, the station has yet to go on air this semester. Despite the hiatus, programming will return as early as next week, said BTV station manager Matt Listro ’07.

“It is our number one priority to get the station up and running again,” he said.

The channel, known for showing feature films and original programming, has been prevented from airing anything this fall because of technological and financial problems, Listro said.

BTV uses technology that is outdated and, in some cases, broken, and the University has not provided funds to replace the faulty equipment, Listro said. The technology also limits the variety of content that can be shown.

“Essentially, we can only air a certain amount of different content in one day,” Listro said. “We need movies to fill out the schedule.”

According to Listro, the funding problems are caused by the costs of acquiring the rights to show movies. BTV leases the rights to feature films from Residence Life Cinema, a company that provides college television stations legal rights to current movies.

“(Residence) Life Cinema increased their cost this year more than anticipated,” so BTV could not afford a contract with the company, Listro said.

The budget shortfall initially made playing interesting and current movies impossible, Listro said. To remedy this situation, BTV petitioned the Undergraduate Finance Board, which provides most of its funding, to cover the increased cost of the movie rights.

“Essentially, (BTV) came to us and requested the difference (in price). We were happy to allocate that to make sure the movies were put on the air,” said UFB Chair Cash McCracken ’08. “(UFB) granted $2,296 in order to make up the difference between the actual cost and the amount budgeted at the end of last year based on the prices at the time of budgeting,” McCracken wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

A contract with Residence Life Cinema is expected to be approved by the Student Activities Office as soon as next week, Listro said.

“A lot of this is out of our hands,” Listro said. “We are locked in by funding, technological problems and legal constraints that we can’t control.”

Listro said BTV’s problems this fall have strengthened the station’s resolve to reform and improve its practices.

“We are trying to revamp BTV and make changes for the better,” Listro said.

“Our ideal situation would be to have content 24 hours a day, showing movies and including performances, recitals and campus events to supplement the films” Listro said, explaining BTV’s plan to diversify its programming while remaining relevant to student life.

One of BTV’s major goals for this year is to increase coverage of student performances, such as a cappella concerts, that “people are interested in watching,” Listro said. The station is also trying to develop a news program that discusses campus and world events.

In addition, BTV is attempting to increase outside programming through organizations like ThinkTalk, a free source of interviews with high profile individuals from fields ranging from filmmaking to politics and law, and National Lampoon Networks, which provides original comedic programming to college campuses nationwide.

Listro stressed that BTV is looking to recruit new members to help implement the station’s new plans. “BTV can really reach its full potential if more people get involved,” Listro said.

Some students are excited about the return of BTV. “I remember watching BTV at (A Day On College Hill) last year, and it was honestly one of the reasons I decided to come here,” said Michele Zerah ’10.

“I haven’t watched the station very much … but I was really impressed with (the student-produced show) ‘Elected’ last year,” said Gabriella Doob ’07.

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