Not Too Soon to a Channel Near You
you missed the first meeting of the committee hand-picked
by Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings to decide the future of public-access
television in the city, fret not; the meeting was taped and
will air on a public-access channel near you—in Bethlehem,
with production gear borrowed from the Town of Bethlehem’s
public-access studio, Steve Winters, representing the Council
of Albany Neighborhood Associations, recorded the first meeting
of the group that will steer contract negotiations between
the city and its cable provider, Time Warner.
said he had to borrow the equipment from Bethlehem since Albany
doesn’t have a public-access studio or production equipment.
Once he edits the video, either in his home or at the Bethlehem
studio, Winters said the tape must be played on Bethlehem’s
public access station before it can be aired in Albany. To
reach an Albany audience, Winters said he’ll have to bring
the tape to Time Warner’s office in Rotterdam and roughly
a month later it should be broadcast on one of Albany’s public-access
channels. Winters is hoping the rigmarole will change when
Albany renews its cable contract with Time Warner.
law requires cable providers and municipalities to renegotiate
their contracts at minimum every 10 years, and Albany’s expires
in October 2004. Since March, city officials and private citizens
have been gearing up for negotiations that could bring millions
of dollars to the city’s coffers.
week’s meeting Steven Shaye, a spokesman for the New York
State Public Service Commission, which regulates the cable
industry, informed the committee of what it can expect from
providers are bound by law to provide certain fees and services
to municipalities in exchange for exclusive, often lucrative,
contracts. They are required to pay franchise fees of up to
five percent of their gross annual revenues and to set aside
certain channels to be used for public, educational and government
purposes. Through negotiations, providers can also be required
to fund public-access production studios.
Albany last negotiated its cable contract in 1994, the city
took full advantage of the franchise-fee requirement, a deal
which has netted the city $1.6 million over the past two years
alone. But the city did not require Time Warner to create
a public-access studio within the city.
used the franchise income to fund a $100,000 media-education
center at the College of St. Rose, but the program is only
open to Albany High School students, not the general public.
Winters and other private citizens had been lobbying the common
council since March to fund a public-access studio in Albany,
but were not chosen by the mayor to sit on the committee addressing
the issue [Newsfront, July 31].
certainly be nice if there were greater community representation
of city residents on the committee,” Winters said, “but I’m
hopeful. You can always start off hopeful.”
Big Bank on Campus
Auxiliary Services has contracted out another service it used
to run. On Monday (Aug. 25), Hudson River Bank & Trust
Co. opened a full-service bank branch in the University at
Albany Campus Center food court. The branch replaces UAS’s
Filippone, executive director of UAS, says UAS made the decision
to seek an outside bank because they wanted to be able to
offer a complete range of financial services, which was “so
much more than we could provide ourselves.” UAS banking services
cashed paychecks and offered Western Union money transfers.
was chosen from half-a-dozen local banks through a request
for proposals process, and given the exclusive right to offer
banking services on campus. ATMs from other banks will remain.
Filippone says UAS was looking for a bank that was interested
in operating a full-service branch and willing to operate
on a schedule “more like a university than a bank.” The new
branch, which offers everything except safety deposit boxes,
will be open Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM.
members of the campus community who choose not to open an
account with HRB&T, the fee for cashing a check will rise
from 60 cents to a dollar.
services’ two employees have been hired in a similar capacity
by HRB&T. UAS stills runs the Podium accounts, in which
students can deposit money and use their student IDs like
debit cards to access it on campus, and now at certain off-campus
universities across the country, including a few SUNY schools,
have taken a different approach to on- campus banking by starting
university credit unions. Credit unions are member-owned,
cooperative financial institutions. “[Our] main goal is to
satisfy the needs of [our] members,” reads the Web site of
the SUNY Geneseo Credit Union. “Unlike banks, whose primary
purpose is to provide a profit for their shareholders, credit
unions are ‘member owned’ and operated.”
said UAS did not consider the credit union route. “We were
looking to work with an established organization,” she said.
“We wanted one that we could expect would stay in business
and continue serving the community for many years.”
is a publicly-traded company, founded over 150 years ago.
It has $2.5 billion in assets. Since going public in 1998,
it has “increased shareholder value” by acquiring Mohawk Community
Bank, Cohoes Savings Bank, and Schenectady Federal Savings
a private, not-for-profit organization that offers quality-of-life
services to students, faculty, and staff at the University
at Albany. It is responsible for food services, bookstore,
computer sales, vending, laundry, and more. UAS contracted
out its food service and vending functions in July 1999. Barnes
& Noble has run the bookstore for years.
banking move part of a on-going trend toward out-sourcing
at UAS? Filippone said no. “Our services for the moment are
stable,” she said. “We don’t have any plans [to change anything]
for the moment.”