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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

EDITORIAL: BTVs bid for more money shows poor thinking

Published: March 18, 2005
Section: Opinions

After a highly successful year of producing and airing both original programming and movies on a minuscule budget, BTV put forth an amendment, which passed overwhelmingly, making it a secured organization. In the two years that BTV has received secured funding it has received almost $30,000 in student money, and yet the level of programming and services provided to the community has dramatically deteriorated.

Now BTV is proposing another amendment to fatten its purse at the expense of other campus organizations which, unlike BTV, have proven themselves over many years. In the process, BTV has consciously targeted younger students who do not know how the fledgling television station has fallen in quality and scope in the past two years. Throughout the process BTV has sought to downplay the effects its amendment will have on the Justice, WBRS, the yearbook, and Student Events, and yet the BTV executive board did not even speak to those organizations prior to proposing this ill-advised amendment. Finally, BTV has misrepresented how BEMCo and the Waltham Group will be affected by this amendment both will lose money under the BTV proposal, despite BTVs repeated and insistent claims, made as recently as Wednesday, that both groups will be unaffected.

It is for the above stated reasons that we urge the entire campus community to vote AGAINST this constitutional amendment.

BTV claims that it needs more student money in order to purchase professional-grade equipment, build a studio, and create a new, all-movie channel. All three claims are false.

In recent years the declining cost of technology and advent of desktop computer video editing has made the cost of producing quality television shows almost insignificant. BTVs contention that producing video with consumer-level equipment is akin to using a karaoke machine from WalMart to put on a concert, is completely absurd, and a blatant misstatement of the facts. Not only is current consumer-level miniDV equipment perfectly adequate for college broadcast, editing that used to require an entire online production studio can now be performed on an iMac.

Half a dozen video hobbyist magazines provide detailed instructions on how to stretch dollars by creating cheap and durable lighting and sound solutions rather than buying fancy (read: expensive) pro-level gear. Perhaps rather than looking for the latest in ultra-high-end equipment, BTV should get its priorities straight and start implementing solutions today that can have an immediate benefit.

BTV states that it needs money to build a new production studio, but it has not identified a location for such a studio, nor determined what such a studio would cost. There are no quotes or bids, no blueprints or floor plans. While we agree that BTV would benefit from permanent studio space, before student money is thrown at the problem, we expect BTV to do its homework and look at existing campus resources.

Finally, BTV claims that additional funding would allow it to operate a second 24 hour movie channel. We find this claim highly dubious. BTV right now cannot even fill one channel with programming, leading one to wonder how they expect to fill two. It is also unclear whether the cable infrastructure could even support a second channel. Talk of moving to an IP-based TV system has only just begun, and cannot form the basis of long-term planning. If BTV was committed to launching a second channel rather than attempting to get its first one in order, there is no reason why existing equipment could not be used to create a workable solution at very low cost. While fancy software and hardware for broadcast is ideal, we do not live in an ideal world, but a pragmatic one.

On every count, BTV is substituting complaints and excuses for a more productive pragmatic approach. Instead of showing our community how it can use the large amount of money we have granted it to improve the services it provides, BTV has fewer shows, worse quality, and lower viewership than it had only a few years ago.

Finally, BTVs approach to this amendment, one of entitlement and conceit, does nothing to recommend it to the community. A group that cares more about its own prosperity than about how its actions will affect the campus as a whole does not deserve any more of our money.

In the end, BTV has a long way to go to prove it is responsible enough to get a larger part of the student money pie. It needs to justify the money it has before it can ask for a raise.