2017-12-01 / Community News

Community television upgrades on the wire

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Scarborough Community Television has been airing planning board, town council, school board, zoning board of appeals meetings and athletic contests in town for years, but a $146,000 project that gets underway next week will offer much better quality, and more reliable video and audio broadcasts.

The existing equipment is becoming increasingly obsolete and often has had issues during the live broadcasting of meetings and events.

“A lot of the equipment is outdated and technology has advanced so much in that time. Right now we have a hodge podge of a system,” Town Manager Tom Hall said.

“It’s about replacing the dinosaur system we have with something that is much better,” said Scarborough Community Television Cable Operations Manager Michael Hofheimer. “It will be much more efficient for my crew back in the control room.”

The system has had hiccups in performance over the years, but Hall said it became evident to him something needed to be done while presenting the preliminary town and school budgets in April 2016 and the jack in the wall that connected to the computer failed, causing director of technology

Jennifer Day to have to secure it by hand.

“At that point, we really knew we had to do something,” Hall said.

The project is being funded through $65,000 that was approved as part of the fiscal 2018 capital improvement budget and from carryover funding from cable fees and community services programming.

“It will be a complete upgrade, audio, visual and broadcasting,” Hall said.

“I am hoping you won’t see a huge change at home or online. It will mostly be a clearer picture because we are updating all our cameras,” Hofheimer said.

As a result of the upgrades, a number of meetings that would take place in council chambers between Dec. 4 and Dec. 15 will be relocated.

The Dec. 6 town council meeting will be held in the Wentworth School cafeteria, the Dec. 11 planning board meeting will be held in the Scarborough High School cafeteria and a Dec. 13 meeting about the Gorham Road reconstruction project at Scarborough Public Library. The zoning board of appeals meeting will be held at the middle school cafeteria on Dec. 13. Hall said a number of town council committee meetings, including communication and ordinance meetings next week, have been canceled as a result.

The board of education has switched its schedule and decided to hold two business meetings this month (Nov. 2 and Nov. 30) in order to avoid being impacted. The group’s workshop on Dec. 21 is expected to take place in the council chambers.

“During the two-week shutdown, we don’t have the ability to broadcast live,” Hall said. “We will be recording video and rebroadcasting it and making it available on television and through our streaming service.”

Once the project is done, town and school meetings will be recorded and broadcast with superior clarity. Hall said the focus will then turn to improving community television broadcasts of remote events, such as sporting events and graduation.

“We will be looking to expand that as well, but this project is just focused within the four walls of the chambers,” he said.

Updating the equipment used to broadcast remote events, Hofheimer said is a “good logical next step.”

Hofheimer said broadcast of high school athletic games been “hampered” recently because the cameras used do not work as well as they should.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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