Friday, May 9, 2008

I Want My Huskievision

Old Bridge has OBTV-14. Keyport has CKHS-TV. Middletown has Channel 20. Matawan-Aberdeen has Huskievision. Is it worth the cost? Depends on whom you ask. Can we do more for less? Absolutely. Can we entrust the school district to create a viable television channel? Now you’re being silly. As for me, I want a husky Huskievision.

Determining the cost of Huskievision is difficult. There are no employees dedicated solely to managing Huskievision. Most of the equipment has been purchased. Nor are there any licensing fees. But that doesn’t mean our school district is getting a free ride. There are labor costs, equipment costs, maintenance, depreciation, and space usage. Last year, the school board appropriated $9,000 just for proposals on converting the TV studio into an instructional facility. I would guess that $200,000 a year is overly conservative. That translates into slightly under $20 per year per household.

For those who watch Huskievision, that may seem reasonable but the vast majority of people don’t. Huskievision, broadcast locally on channel 15, is specific to our district, is only viewable on Cablevision (not satellite or Verizon Fios), and does not provide programming schedules to the cable operator, rendering it difficult to record on digital video recorders.

Of those people that do have Cablevision, most have high speed internet access as well; meaning they can watch streaming video presentations on the school website, such as BOE meetings.

We have no way of knowing how many (or how few) people watch actually watch Huskievision but one indication was the lack of complaint when the channel stopped broadcasting popular soft rock. Less than 10% of airtime is dedicated to actual programming. The rest of the time is filled with public service announcements and background music. Cablevision, under pressure from the music industry, forced the district to shift to royalty-free music. The change went virtually unnoticed within the community.

Another sign of viewership is revenue. During the 06-07 school year, Huskievision had only $6,020 in revenue. That’s about a buck-sixty per student.

Naturally, the school is not in any position to manage a television channel but having a local channel is a great asset. The solution is to give the school oversight but assign day-to-day management to someone else.

There are three ways to do that –

  • Student Group – Create a student group to manage the enterprise. The students will be overseen by a faculty advisor and be allowed to participate in a profit sharing plan.
  • Community Group – Establish a community organization to manage Huskievision along the same lines as the student group.
  • Lease Huskievision – Simply lease the channel to the highest bidder while retaining 20 hours of weekly airtime for district programming.
Can any of these groups make Huskievision profitable? Actually, they all can. The major expense of Huskievision is the studio itself. We could rent time in a TV studio from one of the neighboring townships. Or we could do without a TV studio completely, a la Blair Witch Project. A high end Mac, some video editing software, and we’re good to go. Anybody who’s watched Huskievision already recognizes we’re not producing Good Morning America.

If I were running the station, I’d do the following:
  • Increase programming – Get local businesses to sponsor “How-To” shows. For example, the ShopRite could sponsor food programs, the Home Depot could sponsor a home improvement show, Autozone could sponsor a car fix-it program, etc. The channel could host seminars on producing programs and we could launch our own TV series. We could also have a local news show. Since the labor is mostly free, the shows would cost close to nothing to produce.
  • Stream all programming over the internet - Sponsors are interested in eyeballs and the internet would allow them to combine shows with promotions.
  • Participate in revenue sharing with neighboring districts – Home Depot might not be interested in Matawan-Aberdeen, but they would be interested in Matawan-Aberdeen, Keyport, Old Bridge, and Middletown.
  • Submit program schedules to the cable operator – People don’t just want to be on TV, they want to be seen on TV.
Huskievision is a terrific asset. Let’s stop throwing money at it and build something great. >>> Read more!

20 comments:

mrsb said...

I think having a high school group work with Huskievision, as well as the "How To" show ideas are great! There is so much more the district could be doing with the channel.

Anonymous said...

One would say the television stations costs should be found out and gone over. Then we look at how much actual taxpayer informative programming is on it and how often it is available for viewing.

Could Town Council meetings be broadcast similarly to the Board of Education meetings on Huskievision?

SHOW US THE MONEY, and show us why we do not see a daily repeated broadcast of the school board meetings, which control our students educational needs and requirements. Let us see up close and on our televisions the out of control spending of our tax dollars.

Brian

Jim said...

Your proposal would just convert the channel into another infomercial outlet; Home Depot et al would just air their own promotional videos.

Better to use the studio to generate lots of local content: Board of Ed. and municipal meetings; local and school sports games and highlights; religious services; local non-profits; lively interviews and debates -- even a blogger show!

C'mon, Bayshore -- let's get creative! Video is a fun tool that everyone can learn and enjoy.

matawan advocate said...

You really have some interesting ideas. Like to hear better audio quality for the School Board meetings. Broadcasting Matawan Borough Council meetings would be a welcome addition to the line-up. Most residents can't make it to meetings so broadcasting would make it possible for them to keep current.

Agree with previous commenters would like to see more local sports, graduations, local non-profit and the like.

mrsb said...

Covering local sporting events would increase costs for more equipment and manpower. That's definitely a multi-camera/mic job, not to mention there would almost have to be a commentator unless they are going to mic the referees.

Religious events are just opening up a litigious can of worms, unless you are going to open up to every religion and explain why the seperation of church and state is not being followed.

I do like the idea of broadcasting both the borough and the township's town meetings. Include the recreation, environmental, etc. meetings into that and we'd probably have a much more informed community.

I still believe that there could be "How To" shows, with a general theme ("how to build a birdhouse", "how to trip your shrubs the right way" brought to you by Home Depot!) sponsored by companies to bring in a profit.

I'm sure there are a ton of ideas that could bring in a profit and/or bring knowledge to the citizens.

COUNTYRDCKGIN said...

Ever notice how the School Board meetings are always so difficult to hear. But you can hear most every other programming shown on the channel without any problem.

Makes you say HMMMMMMMMM or ????????? the clarity as being puposefully difficult to hear. Even after the New Marinella sound system purchase.
Another HHHHHHHHMMMMMMMM?????????

HHHHHHMMMMMMM???????? is an Arsenio Hall TV reference, for those of you who can remember back that far.

Anonymous said...

I'm in favor of keeping Huskievision. I do watch it and get up to date on the school calender, etc. We have cable for TV, but not internet. I also feel many older resedents might not have cable for internet either.

I enjoy watching some of the school performances that are telivised with my children. We're not going to sit around a computer to watch.

I do agree, I would like to see more school and township meetings televised.

I would also like to see the students in the high school doing some of the production, maybe a semester or year class. Though I don't think it should be run by a H.S. club, because then it would be limited to a smaller group of kids.

Having it as an elective class requires the kids to be more serious about it and offers teacher supervision. Also having it as a H.S. class, makes it available to more children. There is currently a H.S. TV Production class and the kids seem to love it.

How about a "Teen News Program", there are so many possibilities, and real life work experience the kids could gain.

nsectionjoe said...

Quite obviously there are numerous possibilities that we all should wonder if HUSKIEVISION has been used to its full potential. I am certain the costs will be high, which if the public is better informed and able to monitor meetings of the offices and personnel who make all of the decisions it will be worth the costs.

Once again the powers that be will need to be pushed to have the meetings broadcast more frequently as well as a drive to better inform the students families but more importantly the taxpayers, a great majority of whom do not have children in the schools but pay a very high costs.

Similarly our senior citizens who may have had children in the school system, but not for a very long time. To them the costs which seem to increase almost everyday cut into and curtail their lives and household budgets. They too should be advised and have the ability to better understand and view the processes that effect them so drastically.

It is only fair to all.

Anonymous said...

I am pleased to see ideas being shared to use the TV station as a communnity resource and an educational tool for our students. From what I was told, the past board president wanted to tear it apart and make offices out of it. The TV station at one time was state of the art and run by Charlie Burke. He is still around and I'm sure would be willing to help.

Anonymous said...

All i will say is this. I graduated 15 years ago and the channel was used much more then. You mean with all the new tech. we couldnt find a way to make things to put on that channel?

There WERE sporting events broadcasted - to whoever wrote that comment before. Kids acutally used one camera and did the commentating themselves and HAD A BLAST !! It is a HS game, not NFL or MLB. There was a game show where students answered questions- WIN 15 it was called. Also the plays and talent shows at the HS and MAMS and elementary schools were on there plus BOE meetings. Isnt there a class now at the HS called TV production, my cousin takes it, where the students make film shorts - PUT THEM ON THERE. What i am saying is a little effort is needed and we could make that channel useful again for entertainment.

HERE IS AN IDEA - why not ask one of the 10 damn banks in this town to give a donation to help run it. THAT SHOULD BE A TOPIC FOR A BLOG mr. aberdeener, why does this town have so many banks and more being built. We lose a car dealership and a facotry in cliffwood, and a friendly's and build BANKS - why? is there any tax revenue? Hazlet and Holmdel have stores galore and chain restuarants and our town councils allow BANKS ALL OVER.... i heard the old dimarcos building was going to be an Applebees or Ruby Tuesday and NO.......... we might get yet another BANK!!! we dont need tax relief right? and what do these banks do for our schools???? - nothing.... please investigate....

Anonymous said...

Banks and drug stores is the claim to fame of Aberdeen. That and crooked politicians who do the bidding of a couple of men who have never been elected by the people they pilfer.

Time to go very public.

NS

mrsb said...

I have to say, about the sports being broadcast, if it was done with one camera, that's probably why it's still not being done. There is no way one person (kid or not) is going to be able to catch all the action of a football game. At least not without it being all "Blair Witch".

As for the TV Production class, my son just took that last year. The class had to share very limited cameras and only actually taped one thing -- a commercial. If the school was going to integrate this class into use for Huskievision, they would need to update their equipment.

I do like the idea of filming the plays/talent shows. Releases would have to be signed by the parents of all children involved to broadcast their kids on tv. And the legality of broadcasting a play that has legal rights (like "Beauty and the Beast") would have to be looked into.

BARZAMUSTGO said...

Don't worry about channel 15. I am sure plans are already in motion to have BOE broadcasts stopped forever. It already looks like the posting of agendas and minutes on the website has gone the way of the Dodo bird.

Anonymous said...

MrsB,
My child is in the TV Production class. They're filming many things,all of which they write themselves; 5 min. short films, trailers, commercials. It must have changed since your child was there.

Also school plays and talent shows are being aired; including Win 15, although that show sometimes is very poor quality. (That show doesn't seem to be run by the school.) I've even purchased copies of my son's graduation ceremony on CD (I believe it was $15, a nice source of income if parents are aware of it), although I'm not sure if that option is still available.

The problem is, you don't get much notice of when the shows are to air.

What I would like to see is more BOE meetings and Town Council meetings aired more often. And of course BETTER SOUND QUALITY. The sound was fine a few months ago, what happened?

Anonymous said...

I should be easy to see if Huskievision and its classes are worth keeping. How many graduates of the class went on to college and got a degree in similar majors. How many graduates made a career out of what they learned in the classes? Or is the class just used for the students to waste time and make their time in the high school easy?

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous Above,
Do you have any idea how much opportunity and money is in media, network or cable, advertising, broadcasting, journalism, etc. I started in that field 25years ago and it has only grown, with internet and cable. NYC is only 20 miles away. This is a great opportunity for kids to get a taste for the field. One of the top MCVSD schools is completely dedicated to Communications. (If you weren't aware, those kids average 1900 on their SAT's.) Unfortunately, that school only accepts one kid,(maybe 2) from each town. Why shouldn't more kids have the opportunity?
No they are not going to start a career with a few classes in HS, but it is a great introduction for college.

Anonymous said...

I'm posting this comment here since it has to with technology.

Is everyone aware the new MARSD website has a website blog. If you go under the District Tab, pull down and click the Technology Tab you'll find it.

I just posted a comment requesting the BOE Meeting Minutes for March and April 2008 be added to the site. (However,I'm still waiting to see my post.)

Maybe we should direct some of our comments directly to the school.

Aberdeener said...

Regarding the MARSD website, I checked with Darlene Gallagher and she said the minutes will be posted after they've been approved at the May 19th board meeting.

Regarding the sound quality of the board meetings, no conspiracy, just incompetence. People forget to either turn their microphones on or off.

As for the MARSD blog, I don't believe the site gets much traffic. However, Darlene did post your comment and she does monitor the messages if you have any specific questions.

Anonymous said...

Yes I am aware of how much money is in the business. All I am saying is are the children using the TV lab going to college and receiving degrees or getting jobs in the business. If not then get rid of it and save some money. When I was in the school it was known as a class to waste time and raise the GPA. That was when they used the station for several different programs and sporting events. Now the lab is used to post music videos on youtube.com. Now there is starting a career!

Anonymous said...

To above,
The purpose of education is to provide all children with a broad well rounded base, to introduce them to as many possibilieties as we can, and give them tools they can use in the 21st century.

According to your reasoning, should we get rid of Science, Social Studies, Spanish, Art or Music, since not every child goes onto become a microbiologist, politician, interpreter, artist or musician?

As far as the youtube comment, the internet is the new frontier for many careers and $$$$$. It is second nature for these kids, they are growing up with it.

I'm not sure how long ago you were in the HS, but there has been an "information explosion" in recent years. Maybe when you were there, there wasn't much opportunity, especially if you are not willing to travel beyond exit 117A.


I'm guessing many, many more kids will be employed in the media field in some way, such as advertising, broadcasting, TV production, marketing presentations for any business, internet businesses, etc. than become professional football players, and we're funding that and every other sport.

I'm all for saving wasted money, but we also need to open our eyes to the future.