SGA to debate loan for student-run TV station


    The House of Student Representatives will discuss whether to lend nearly $40,000 — the largest loan in its history — to an entrepreneurial club that wants to start a student-run television station to broadcast on TCU cable.

    The CEO Entrepreneurial Club, which is requesting the loan, would air CEO TV on channel 47 and hire 14 students for paid jobs in areas such as programming, advertising and marketing.

    The Student Government Association will debate the request at 5 p.m. today in the Student Center, Room 222.

    The $37,545 loan would be paid back to SGA at $700 a month beginning in September 2004. Payments would continue for 60 months and total $42,000, meaning the club would pay about $4,500 in interest. If the CEO club fails to pay back the loan, then SGA would recover CEO TV’s assets, which would include the station equipment and subscription rights.

    SGA President Jay Zeidman said that the money would come out of the $120,000 reserve budget — unspent funds from previous budgets — and not take money away from student organizations.

    “Our whole goal for this program is to unite the entire university,” said Jason Ruth, president of the CEO club.

    A divided Finance Committee voted 4-4 — with chairman David Watson breaking the tie — on Feb. 27 to approve the bill for a House vote. Watson plans on motioning to table the bill to allow for more discussion.

    “One side will be asking, ‘Why hold onto this money if it’s just sitting around?’ ” Zeidman said. “Another side will be asking, ‘What will you do if an organization needs money next semester and there isn’t any to give because it all went to CEO TV?’ ”

    The bill requires CEO TV to give SGA up to five hours of air time per week and up to 20 advertising slots per day. It also requires the station to allow an SGA adviser and faculty members from the radio-TV-film and journalism departments to sit on its board of directors.

    No journalism faculty will advise CEO TV because the department does not have the time or resources to help the station, said Tommy Thomason, the journalism department chairman. He said the primary educational goals of the station — to give students business experience — weren’t the same as the department’s objective of teaching journalism.

    “We welcome them — the more, the merrier,” he said. “But we have our own projects going and can barely get things covered.”

    Some SGA members said the journalism department’s decision not to participate in the project could influence the likelihood of the bill’s passage.

    “It could have a huge impact on it,” Zeidman said.

    A Finance Committee member who opposed the bill said the lack of a journalism department adviser could jeopardize the bill’s support.

    “When you have a faculty member on the board, it shows the journalism department’s support,” said Matt Jacobson, a sophomore accounting and finance major.

    Watson said the requirement was made to encourage participation from journalism and radio-TV-film students. He said if the journalism department isn’t interested, then it shouldn’t be an issue.

    Jacobson said he opposed the bill because its cost would benefit too few students. He also said CEO TV is too similar to journalism’s newscast class, which will cost the department $50,000.

    “When I found out about the class, that’s when I decided it wasn’t worth it to pass the bill,” Jacobson said.

    But CEO club members say the station will provide entertainment and news for all students and deliver educational opportunities for students in advertising/public relations, marketing and radio-TV-film, among others.

    “This is an opportunity to get hands-on experience while still in college,” said Mike Hennig, a member of the CEO club.

    Ruth said he wanted to start the station because there is nothing on campus that continuously shows off TCU talent. He would like to have student programming, ballet, dance, theater, sports, slide shows for art and anything else that will show off the student talent. It also hopes to show movies.

    “Anything students want to show off, we can figure out a way to show it,” Ruth said.
    Ruth said the station would also air weather, sports, news updates and stock information. It will stream the information in live from a video feed in New York, provided by the Inlighten System, which will keep all the information up to date.
    Approximately $20,000 of the loan would go toward the purchase of the system, a computer that schedules shows, creates advertisements and streams in news information.

    The remainder of the loan would pay for a new computer, a DVD changer, three digital cameras, a video switcher, a printer, office furniture, a phone system and rent for office space. Club members aren’t sure where they will get office space yet.
    CEO TV would be a business, not a non-profit organization. Any money left after reimbursing SGA would be invested back into the company, Ruth said.

    “The whole idea is for students to get practical business experience,” Ruth said.
    CEO TV would be the second business started by the CEO club. The first is the newspaper WHAT’SUPTCU!

    It will cost about $2,000 a month to run the station, said Corey Eickenloff, the club’s chief financial officer. Most of that money will go toward programming costs and movie royalties.

    If it receives the loan today, the station should be working the week before school begins this August. Ruth said it will take three months to receive the machines they need to order. Once the machines arrive, they will start doing trial runs over the summer and training students to run the station.

    If the club does not receive the loan, Ruth said he might help fund the station himself. It could also look to local businesses for funding.

    Radio-TV-film and journalism faculty members did not feel threatened by the proposed station.

    Journalism’s newscast class will function like a real news station. It will produce a 30-minute newscast that will run on city cable.

    “What they’re doing is not what we’re doing at all,” said John Miller, the journalism department’s professional in residence. “We’re teaching a course on how to teach students how to run a news department, so I don’t think it will in any way compete with what we’re doing.”

    Miller said he would be open to running the newscasts on CEO TV.

    Richard Allen, chairman of the radio-TV-film department, said the station would be a good outlet for RTVF majors.

    Ruth said he wants to work with radio-TV-film and journalism students for programming.

    “We’re not trying to work against the journalism department in any shape or form. We want to work with them,” Ruth said.

    Editor in Chief Brandon Ortiz and News Editor Aaron Kokoruz contributed to this report.