Schenectady County

Agreement expands Niskayuna’s public access TV

Niskayuna residents now have access to a wider variety of televised educational programming thanks t

Niskayuna residents now have access to a wider variety of televised educational programming thanks to an updated agreement between the town and Open Stage Media of Proctors.

OSM, Proctors’ public access television broadcast entity, has been operating Niskayuna’s educational access channel for about a week, according to town Supervisor Joe Landry.

The educational access channel, found on Time Warner Cable’s Channel 17, broadcasts shows and films produced by Niskayuna High School students and a full complement of Open Stage Media’s educational programming.

The change to Channel 17 is a dramatic one, Landry said. The old version was “nothing more than a little bulletin board with events listed on it. … There was no programming prior to this,” he said.

In addition to Niskayuna High School students’ work, Channel 17’s programming now includes Masterminds, a quiz competition that pits students from across the state against each other to test their knowledge of subjects ranging from history to sports; The Wonderful Magic of Melies; Educational Archives; Classic Arts Showcase; NASA programming; TheaterTalk; Union College athletics and silent films.

The addition of the OSM-managed educational programming is a welcome one, said Niskayuna Town Councilwoman Denise Murphy McGraw.

“We heard consistently from residents that our education channel was really just not up to snuff. People couldn’t really enjoy it,” she said.

Niskayuna High School students will benefit greatly from the change, she said.

As part of a franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable, significant improvements were made to the high school’s broadcasting center last year, but the programs produced in the updated studio weren’t getting much exposure, she said.

“With this [agreement], they’ll be able to show their programs not just in the high school, not just in Niskayuna, but throughout the region, so it’s really very exciting for us,” she said. “These kids are working very hard. Some of them are winning festivals and other things, so it’s great to show it off to as wide an audience as possible.”

The announcement of the educational programming change comes nearly a year-and-a-half after the town of Niskayuna signed an agreement with OSM. Initially, OSM only operated Niskayuna’s public access and government access channels, found on Cable Channels 16 and 18 respectively.

As part of the agreement, the town contributes $5,000 annually to OSM.

The amendment to the town’s contract did not result in an additional charge, Landry noted.

As a member of the OSM network, the town retains a seat on the advisory committee of the three OSM stations and receives technical support, was well as emergency services on Cable Channel 18.

The addition of the educational channel to the agreement gives town residents access to OSM equipment and its studio.

Proctors was designated as manager and operator of public, educational and government access cable television by the city of Schenectady in 2009. That move spurred the creation of OSM. The new broadcast entity took over from SACC-TV and has expanded public access options to community organizations through three public access broadcast streams: OSM Public Access, OSM Arts and Education and OSM Government.

Since 2011, OSM has sought $5,000 each from Niskayuna, Rotterdam and Glenville, along with $2,500 from the village of Scotia. Niskayuna signed on in March 2011 and Rotterdam followed suit in May of this year.

Speaking on behalf of OSM, Proctors CEO Philip Morris said in a news release that OSM was conceived as a dynamic entity with an over-arching goal of broadening communications between and among residents in the region and their cultural and civic organizations.

“Proctors extends the invitation to the residents and town of Niskayuna — and to all municipalities — to participate in the continued evolution of a non-judgmental, virtual gathering space that links the arts, education and municipal communities and pulls people together to share ideas and nurture initiatives through open communication,” he said.

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