SU advertisement screens anger NUTV

By Chris Beauchamp

A Students’ Union initiative to install revenue generating advertising screens in the MacEwan Student Center has upset NUTV, who see the screens as a duplication of the service provided by the existing NUTV closed circuit system.

The initiative involves four 40-inch plasma screens to be installed by a private company called Competitive Edge around MSC. Future plans call for a large digital sign on the outside of the building. Although the screens will be owned and maintained by Competitive Edge, advertising revenues will be split with the SU.

“A portion of the screen is going to be advertising and the other side is going to be pretty much whatever the SU wants,” said SU Vice-President Operations and Finance Greg Clayton, stressing the SU maintained the right to refuse given ads. Clayton would not disclose the expected profit to the SU, but noted it was “a pretty good deal.”

“We think this is a duplication of services,” said NUTV Executive Director Kevin Allen. “There already is student run non-profit television advertising in the student center.”

“NUTV’s Closed Circuit television system…is designed to be a public service venture, rather than a revenue generator,” wrote Allen in a May 11 letter to SU President Bryan West. Noting the current NUTV system provides free campus and community content, including SU and Campus Security messages, the letter called for the SU to reconsider the contract with Competitive Edge.

“We asked the SU to reconsider putting them up and they said no,” noted Allen. He also expressed dismay the contract was signed without the knowledge of NUTV.

“This project was engineered by the outgoing SU [VP Op-Fi] Gavin Preston, who sat on the NUTV Board of Directors,” wrote Allen. “We only found out about the project now that he has finished his term in office. The Board is investigating his legal liability with respect to board disclosure obligations.”

Clayton stressed the contract was signed before his term in office.

“These screens are just our opportunity to communicate with students,” said Clayton. “NUTV doesn’t want anything to do with advertising. The [plasma] screens aren’t going to be anywhere near NUTV screens.”

NUTV has received a legal opinion and is considering further action.

“It seems to us revenue generation is the deciding factor in this case,” said Allen. “When [Bryan West] came into my office he said the SU had a succession of budget surpluses, it seems ironic revenue is the primary motive.

“How much money is enough?”