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Student Media Revamps TV36

By Daniel C. Stevenson
Associate Night Editor

After three years of planning, the Student Media Group plans to begin its production schedule for MIT Cable channel TV36 over the Independent Activities Period. SMG will incorporate the functions of the current MIT student cable group "to provide an organized method for student communication through visual and interactive media," according to SMG founder Ronald D. Peters II '94.

"The main purpose of SMG is to encourage MIT students to pick up a camera and make some videos," Peters said. "Our membership is open to anyone in the MIT community. We have positions for people of all majors."

"Our short term goal is to provide an entertainment service, just like any other TV channel," Peters said. SMG will be "a source for MIT students and anyone in the MIT community who has an idea to be able to communicate that idea to the entire campus," he said.

By the end of the IAP, "our production facilities will be up and ready to go," Peters said. Currently, two shows are slated for production. "One is our flagship show, a comedy show called MIT Students Using Comedy to Keep their Sanity," said Peters. The other show is a talk show which is still unnamed.

Peters is working on "striking deals with surrounding schools to rebroadcast their student produced material." SMG will also add lecture and test review broadcasts, and hopes to eventually produce news programming specifically geared towards MIT events, Peters said.

In the future, "MIT could be a site for testing some of the information superhighway." SMG would be able to "promote MIT as a test site for new and emerging technologies," Peters said.

Project backed by UA

Peters and UA President Hans C. Godfrey '93 proposed a bill at the Nov. 17 UA Council meeting to create SMG as an affiliated group of the UA. Not enough members were present to constitute a quorum to vote on the bill, but the UA Executive Committee of the passed the measure at a meeting on Nov. 28.

"I think it's a great opportunity for MIT students," Godfrey said. "I'm glad I was able to be a part of it."

SMG was first conceived when "about three years ago Hans and I were watching the student cable channel, TV36," Peters said. "At that time there were three or four shows on the channel weekly and they were all pretty much the same. ... MIT cable has a lot more potential than that."

Recent technological developments have helped the development of SMG, according to Peters. Avid Desktop Video Group, a subsidiary of Avid Inc., produced the editing equipment used by SMG.

"Just this year has the technology come down to a level where it's affordable to us," said Peters. "It [the editing equipment] is very inexpensive. It's just as good if not better than the traditional system."

Eric L. McDonald G of the student cable group absorbed by SMG said, "SMG is good because we're going to be able to pool our resources." Student productions were limited in the past by the lack of editing equipment and portability, according to McDonald. With the help of SMG, "now we can do both," he said.

Eventually self sufficient

Startup funding for the SMG came primarily from within the MIT administration. Dean for Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs Arthur C. Smith, Associate Provost for Institute Life Samuel J. Keyser, and Vice President for Information Systems James D. Bruce Sc D '60 contributed a total of over $10,000, according to Peters. The MIT Council for the Arts provided over $4,000 as part of a grant.

To meet operating costs, Peters says that SMG "plans to sell advertising to student groups. Ideally, we would make all of our money through advertising revenues."

Until advertising income meets costs, Peters said Bruce had made a tentative agreement "to fund the continuing operations of the group once it demonstrated active student participation."