January 2, 2013

As Membership Grows, Princeton Community TV Looks to the Future

What are the implications of consolidation for Princeton Community Television (TV30), the public access cable station created by the Borough and Township of Princeton in January of 1997?

“Our core mission will remain the same,” said Executive Director George McCullough in a recent interview. “That is to provide the public with the means, know-how, and the tools to broadcast their own programs.”

While area residents are probably most familiar with TV30 through its regular programs likeКEducation Roundtable, Skyrocket Your Business, Reed and Ponder, and Back Story, and access to archived coverage of municipal meetings, Mr. McCullough noted that TV30’s “first priority is teaching.”

An upcoming “Video Basics” class on Wednesday, January 2, for example, reviews the proper care of the cameras and accessories available for loan at the station, and teaches participants how to begin shooting with automatic settings. The one-half hour class, which is mandatory for anyone wishing to borrow field equipment, is usually held the first Wednesday of each month, and is limited to six participants. While Mr. Mr. McCullough allows that “it is nice if folks watch” TV30 programs, “I get a bigger thrill out of someone who puts together their first show or edits their first film.”

“I think it would be safe to say that Princeton TV may very well be the largest producer of local content in the state,” he added, noting that Princeton TV” is looking to develop a full digital media curriculum,”

While TV30’s Valley Road building location is likely to change in the coming months, its next home has yet to be determined. “The new government is offering us space in the soon to be vacated Borough Hall, reported Mr. McCullough. “This offer is very generous,” he said, adding however, that “the board and I are assessing if it will be good fit for us in the long haul.” Of primary concern is “the station’s tremendous growth in our memberships and in the number of people using our services. And it looks like we will be continuing on this trend for a while. Finding a space that would allow us the room to continue this growth is important to us.”

The station’s current funding sources — “member support, donations, grants, some work for hire, and franchise fees which are the lion’s share of our funding” will remain the same after January 1, although Mr. McCullough said that they will also “be seeking new sources of funding to develop Princeton/New Jersey programming.” This includes “looking to have the Princeton business community sponsoring our activities.”

“Helping to provide the community with a new facility, and offering the new government any help we can if they need it,” are givens, said Mr. McCullough. Some community officials are already members of TV30’s board, and some “have been in touch.” In the meantime, though, he is philosophical. “Princeton has its hands full at this moment. I’m willing to wait until the dust has settled.”

The station believes that their archive of online municipal meetings, a resource that began several years, ago, has been good for the community and they expect to continue doing it.

In this season of wish lists, Mr. McCullough reflected on what he would like Princeton TV’s future to look like. If the new government doesn’t need it, possible scenarios include use of the Borough’s municipal channel. What would he do with it? “Although a challenge, I would like to use this opportunity to develop a New Jersey channel much like C-SPAN. Of course it would require outside funding, but I see a need that is not being filled,” he said.

“Also on my wish list,” he added, “would be to start a low power fm (lpfm) radio station. The FCC recently expanded the number of available licenses. If the opportunity comes along it would nice to give folks the chance to have a radio show.”