The 55,000-plus residents of St. Peters, Mo., could soon be able to watch broadcasts of the local government-access channel—St. Peters TeleVision (SPTV)—on their smartphones and tablets as SPTV seeks another venue for its content.
The need to quickly get content to viewers is important with the all-too-common severe weather in Missouri, known for unexpected tornadoes and ice storms. When inclement weather hits the Missouri area, SPTV diverts the programming to nonstop weather and traffic.
SPTV staffers Jason Shepherd, a television program production specialist, and Whitney McIver, a program development specialist, work as a team when gathering live footage of breaking news. SPTV directs their footage to live coverage in the event of breaking news or inclement weather and traffic.
“Being 30 miles outside St. Louis, the weather in our area can be different than that of the commercial programming,” said Lisa Bedian, SPTV’s communication director. By accessing the traffic cameras on the city’s major routes, SPTV provides accurate and timely traffic and weather programming to the St. Peters area both daily and nonstop in times of severe weather. When a storm hits the city, SPTV is the destination for viewers to obtain information about debris, road closures and special yard-way pickups, Bedian said.
While the cable channel is SPTV’s primary method of transmitting information, the station’s programming is also available through online streaming, U-verse, cable and their online on-demand library to enhance transparency and accessibility, Bedian said. By either broadcasting something live on the cable channel or on-demand online, “we want to make sure that they can get to that information,” she said.
For this reason SPTV has plans to expand to a mobile platform during 2013. With increasing demand for smartphone and tablets, the government channel wants to ensure viewers have that type of access, she said. Therefore, the station is considering cost-effective ways to provide a signal that streams to mobile devices.
Because cable television costs continue to increase, SPTV says it is important that the new medium be “cost effective” for both the station and its residents.
“Our channel was moved several years ago from being in the basic tier to a digital tier where people had to have a converter box,” Bedian said. The move forced viewers to pay an extra price to receive SPTV, she said, adding that has changed. Now residents do not have to pay the extra cost for the channel, but they have to purchase the converter box for a monthly fee.
Chris Burke, SPTV events specialist, and Jason Shepherd work the soundboard at an outdoor taping. All of the shows produced by St. Peters TeleVision are available on demand on their website.
SPTV is “very aware of the difficult economic challenges” facing both the city and viewers, Bedian said. “As a city we have choices to make how we spend our money to make sure that we are not cutting back on services; and providing information is a service,” she said. So the station’s strategy is to offer the channel on different platforms that will not cost viewers as much.
During the last four years, SPTV added live, online Web streaming, as well as an updated and expanding on-demand video archive, both as more cost-effective options for residents. With SPTV streaming the signal on their website, a viewer with access to the Internet, free Wi-Fi or a local library can watch SPTV’s programs.
SEAWORLD HAS A SHOW
Those programs include coverage of city governmental meetings as well as additional government-focused programs such as “Ward Update,” which provides information from the mayor and members of the Board of Aldermen. The station offers a variety of programming to keep St. Peters residents informed about their community including “Upfront St. Peters,” a city-magazine show about local events and programs. There is also “Shamu TV,” an award-winning environmental-education series by SeaWorld and Busch Gardens featuring stories about wildlife and the efforts to save some of the world’s most endangered and threatened species; and “Health File,” which provides information from top, local health experts about issues important to the well-being of residents and their families.
Educational programming is also an important feature of the station’s offerings including “Meet the Author,” which promotes literacy and an interest in reading and writing by giving students direct access to authors. The authors share their personal stories, offer their writing tips and encourage students to “keep reading, keep writing, keep dreaming.” There is also programming from universities and library districts from across the country.
With such accessibility and relevant programming it is no surprise that SPTV has won several national awards throughout the course of its 20 years. Despite the awards, SPTV’s small and highly committed staff does not lose sight of the station’s mission, which is the viewer.
“If you focus on your end user, your residents, and make your programs relevant to them, you are going to do good things and be a good resource to your community,” Bedian said.