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November 1, 2005 > College cable station to cease operations

College cable station to cease operations

by Kim Huggett

CNTV, the cable television station at California State University, East Bay, will stop transmitting and cease all its other operations after Dec. 31 of this year because of budget cuts and the expiration of its contract with Comcast.

"At one time CNTV was a vehicle to help get our message out to the communities we serve, but it has not been able to meet its budget and the number of viewers has become minimal," said Jim Kelly, Cal State East Bay provost and vice president of academic affairs. "This decision recognizes that we must be cost-efficient in our communications and that expanded online operations and other approaches can be more effective for us than cable television."

CNTV is available to about 200,000 Comcast cable subscriber households on Channel 26 in Hayward, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Alameda, and Union City; on Channel 29 in Castro Valley; on Channel 76 in Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon and Dublin; and on Channel 22 in Newark.

The station is administered by the university's Division of Continuing and International Education that, by state law, is required to be self-supporting.

Kelly said CNTV tried unsuccessfully in recent years to meet its $300,000 annual budget by applying for grants and sponsorships and contracting out its production crews for video projects and outside events such as concerts.

"The poor response to these efforts demonstrated that there was not widespread community support for CNTV," Kelly said, noting that the number of original programs aired by the station had been declining for several years. "The CNTV facilities can be put to more productive use in support of the multiple degree options in our Department of Communication."

Kelly said the fact that the university's contract with Comcast is up for renewal also makes this a convenient time to cease cable operations.

In recent years, CNTV programming included broadcasts of university theatre programs, concerts and lectures as well as cartoons and classic movies. The Backstage Pass pop culture program was syndicated nationally and the Duck, Duck Goose children's reading program was seen on several Bay Area cable systems. The station offered televised courses in biology, Mandarin, history and algebra until it became more efficient to offer them online.

CNTV first went on the air in 1980 as part of an agreement with the city of Hayward and United Cable to offer educational programming in local communities that included San Lorenzo and San Leandro. According to Roger Parker, Cal State East Bay media and technology services director,
the university initially shared cable time with the Hayward Unified School District. The university began broadcasting on the channel exclusively by 1987, when negotiations with new cable system operator TCI led to an expansion into Fremont, Newark and Union City.

In 1999, Orkin and the university negotiated a contract with Comcast that expanded service to Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, San Ramon and Alameda.

The Communication Department will continue to offer its bachelor's degree option in broadcasting, including course work in television production and direction, documentary production and broadcast news. The principal facilities for instruction in these courses are adjacent to the CNTV studios.

CNTV has three full-time employees and one part-time staff member, who have been notified that their positions will be terminated as of Dec. 31, 2005. If it is not possible to reassign them to other positions in the university they will maintain retreat rights for their job classifications for five years. For up to five years they will be able to use the university fee waiver program for academic courses and have access to continuing education courses.

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