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BYU Broadcasting: State-of-the-art building will produce content to ‘bless families’ lives’

Published: Sunday, Nov. 28 2010 10:07 p.m. MST

Derek A. Marquis, BYU Television/BYU Radio/KBYU-TV/KBYU-FM managing director, gives a sneak peek at the control rooms for all the different broadcasts. BYU's new broadcast building is state-of-the-art and one of the reasons BYU was able to go independent in football.

Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News

PROVO — The new slogan for BYU Broadcasting, "See the Good in the World," takes on new meaning from Derek Marquis' third-story office.

His floor-to-ceiling windows in the new Broadcast Building offer a panoramic view of the Marriott Center, LaVell Edwards Stadium and hundreds of homes where he knows families are watching BYU-produced and -distributed content.

"We really do believe that this facility can be a light on the hill," said Marquis, managing director of BYUtv and BYU Radio, as well as KBYU-TV and KBYU-FM. "We'll be transmitting the light to the four corners of the earth, and the technology allows us to do that."

The light he talks about may be a BYU football game or a devotional address. Or perhaps a documentary, cooking show or panel discussion. Yet no matter the theme or format, the streams of information flowing from the new building just east of the Marriott Center will be positive, uplifting and fun.

"We want content coming into homes that blesses families' lives," Marquis said.

Historically, BYUtv programming has been directed toward alumni and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but the building and a new focus allow for greater worldwide reach, said Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy, chairman of the content committee for BYUtv.

"The new building is wonderful, the technology going into the building is fabulous, and the important thing now is the focus on what we do inside the building and the content that's going to be broadcast," he said.

The goal is to create a "safe haven" channel where families of all faiths and backgrounds can feel comfortable watching programs together, said Elder Maynes, a general authority of the LDS Church. And for the first time, BYUtv has contracted with Nielsen ratings to monitor viewership and provide insight as BYU develops new programming.

The building, which will open officially in early December, represents a major milestone, having first been discussed in the mid-1980s when KBYU was feeling crowded in the Harris Fine Arts Center. While the new building was being planned, BYU Broadcasting was temporarily moved to a building in south Provo.

During those early discussions, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve was a significant force in establishing a vision for the building.

"What a wonderful thing it would be if we could have a building from which we could speak to the world," Elder Ballard told the Deseret News. "To start producing and sending out to the world programming that would be of interest to those who are not members of the church as well as those who are members of the church."

Yet the new building was put on hold until May 7, 2009, when ground was finally broken on campus. Now, "25 years later, we're moving out of that temporary building," Marquis joked. "So it's been a dream for a long time."

With the completion of the new 100,000-square-foot communications hub, all BYU's television, radio, Internet and production entities and their nearly 400 employees finally will be under the same roof.

From the master control room with its 85 miles of colored spaghetti wiring snaking underneath a raised floor to the three studios with light-studded ceilings, everything is wired to allow for expansion and technological growth.

"It is a huge monumental step compared to what we had," said studio production manager Steven Enfield, as he showed off the rainbow effects of the LED lights in their largest studio.

Radio booths, television-monitoring pods, design labs, Web production areas and office space allow BYU to produce content for its many channels. There is KBYU-TV, a local PBS affiliate, and KBYU-FM. The newer BYUtv, a worldwide network carried through cable or satellite, reaches a broader audience, and BYUtv International goes worldwide in English, Spanish and Portuguese. And don't forget BYU Radio and other Web programs.

The building is also a key factor in why BYU football was able to leave the Mountain West Conference and go independent. Other BYU sports will join the West Coast Conference.

Under its soon-to-be-old contract, BYU did not control the live rights to many of their games. However, with the new building and an eight-year contract with ESPN, every home men's football and basketball game will be shown on ESPN networks or BYUtv, Marquis said. And thanks to advanced technology, ESPN or BYU producers can choose to go live from the new building, rather than bringing in a large, expensive production truck to the Marriott Center or the stadium.

BYUtv also will show 140 live sporting events each year, Marquis said, not counting pre- or post-game shows, coaches' interviews, etc.

"It's not about the money," Marquis said, clarifying that BYUtv is a non-profit educational channel. "It's about fan access, sharing with the world, (helping them) see the good in the world."

"I think that building is going to be a center of telling the whole world what is good, and the gospel is good," Elder Ballard said. "The honest in heart, and there are millions and millions of them, are seeking and looking for something that's decent and nice and faith-promoting and spiritually enriching, and that's what they are going to find if they find BYUtv."

e-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com

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