TEMPERANCE - Board members say they are committed to doing whatever it takes to improve live cable broadcasts of Bedford Township's board meetings, even to the point of spending money to increase its production values.
Earlier, township officials spent about $2,000 to install a single static camera on a support beam of its meeting room and began broadcasting township meetings live over the new Buckeye CableSystem fiber-optic network. The meetings were taped for later airings on the old Comcast coaxial-based cable system, which Buckeye purchased this spring.
While ratings for the public service broadcasts aren't available, township board members said they have heard from residents who watch them. While those residents can hear the action, they often have difficulty discerning who is speaking because of the wide-angle format of the single-camera shot.
The township has three options it can pursue if board members want to improve the broadcasts' quality, cable committee chairman and township trustee Med Barr said.
The first option would be to allow Mike Murphy, the director of Bedford Public Schools' broadcast journalism program, to begin paying his students a small stipend to broadcast the township's Tuesday night board meetings.
“There has to be some carrot that we can stick in front of the kids to get them here,” Mr. Murphy told the board last week. “I can not compel kids to do things.”
Mr. Murphy said with approximately $250 per meeting, he could provide two students to operate two cameras, a setup that would allow viewers to see close-ups of those speaking at the meeting and should make for a much more interesting program.
Mr. Barr said a second option would be to contract with a local firm, Triple L Productions, to comere us a single camera operator to record the meeting.
While the production values probably wouldn't be as high with just a single camera, the township could be sure it would have some type of camera crew available for each meeting, Mr. Barr said.
Triple L Productions quoted Mr. Barr a price of $6,720 for a year's worth of township board meetings, with fees tacked on if township officials chose to have a camera operator shoot events such as planning commission meetings.
“Either way we go, you want all the meetings taped, and it will happen,” Mr. Barr said.
A third option would be to stay with the single static camera format and to use students whenever they are available, Mr. Barr said. Extra costs incurred to broadcast the meetings would come from the receipts the township receives from Buckeye, which pays a 4 percent “franchise fee” for the right to operate its cable systems in Bedford Township.
While some board members have complained that the township's annual $10,000 gift to the school's broadcast program was being “wasted” because students weren't able to broadcast township meetings, school officials said the township was more than getting its money's worth.
“I think the broadcasting program has been a great benefit to the township,” said Jon White, Bedford's assistant superintendent for curriculum.
“You are receiving a greater value than you realize. I'm concerned about the attitude that `If we don't get nothing, we ain't going to pay nothing,' that I've heard [from board members],” Mr. White said.