Senate funds Osprey TV on Comcast


The Student Government Senate approved a special request Sept. 27 that will give Osprey TV almost $24,000 to broadcast on Comcast in Jacksonville.OTV will be able to air all original programming, including Senate meetings, on basic cable channel 26.

The money comes from SG’s special request fund. The fund finances, among other things, club expenditures, non-academic travel and one-time expenses that are not budgeted during the yearly budget allocations.

The funding approved on Monday will pay for a server at Comcast, a permanent camera mounted to the Senate chamber’s wall and other supplies like wiring and adapters. All of these are one-time costs. The most costly item is a remote programming program, which Comcast requires its partners to use. The software is over $8,000.

However, the Senate will also have to approve a $145 per month request that would finance the recurring cost of airing programming on Comcast. This fee will be added into OTV’s budget during the spring budget allocation, but the Senate will have to pay for it out of special requests until the spring.

Since the Senate approved OTV’s request, the special request fund went from $75,000 to $51,000. However, the Senate can also access $200,000 from a special fund balance pending a two-thirds vote, which means the Senate still has access to about a quarter of a million dollars for the rest of the fiscal year if they choose to tap into it.

If SG president Sitou Byll-Cataria signs the bill, OTV is looking at about three months of setup and calibration before they can begin broadcasting on Comcast.

The longer OTV waits for funding, the less options they have to secure time slots, said station manager Justin Lerman.

Channel 26 is a public channel oriented toward educational programming. All the universities in Jacksonville have the ability to broadcast on the station if they can pay for the equipment to do so.

Currently, only Florida State College at Jacksonville airs on channel 26, but the sooner Osprey TV can get on Comcast, the sooner it can establish itself and begin securing the best timeslots, Lerman said.

OTV may soon have to compete against the UNF Communication Department and other colleges around Jacksonville for timeslots, so the sooner OTV gets on Comcast, the more seniority they will have, he said.

The bill passed 15-8-0 in the Senate and saw substantial debate on the Senate floor.

Major opponents felt the expenditure represented too large a chunk of the remaining special request fund.

Sen. John Fader was a vocal opponent who admitted the equipment was a good idea – just not now.

Sen. Roderick Williams shared Fader’s sentiment. The $24,000 could be better spent this year on clubs and activities, he said.

Senate President Mack Volk, who sponsored the request, said it was time UNF got a piece of the action on channel 26.

Senators presented two student polls regarding the funding. A poll presented by Courtney Warner, who favored the bill, said a majority of students were OK with SG funding the request and they would watch Senate meetings on Comcast. Similarly, a poll conducted by Fader showed a strong majority against the legislation.

Both polls came under scrutiny from opposition during the meeting.

The Spinnaker would like to know what you think. Students interested in voicing their opinion regarding OTV on Comcast can send a letter to [email protected]