PROVO The next building constructed on the Brigham Young University campus could be a new home for BYU Television, the school's expanding national network.
When BYU launched the network in 2000, it was available in fewer than 2 million homes. Today, it reaches about 45 million homes and can't keep up with the demand for fresh programming from alumni around the world and from members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Another branch of BYU Broadcasting, the new BYU Television International, is reaching new audiences around the world. The BYU Television Web site had about 2.5 million visits last year from international users, with the most foreign traffic coming from China.
A new building would bring together broadcasting studios and offices spread between the Harris Fine Arts Center on campus and a building 3 1/2 miles south in the old Ironton section of Provo off State Street near Springville.
BYU's Board of Trustees has approved the university's request to raise money for the proposed new broadcast facility near the Marriott Center, BYU President Cecil Samuelson told the Deseret Morning News.
The board has not yet approved construction of the building.
If eventually approved, Samuelson said it would be built on the side of the hill just east of the Marriott Center and north of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.
BYU generally undertakes one building project at a time. The university recently completed the new $35 million Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center.
Named in honor of the 97-year-old president of the LDS Church, the building turned a remarkable and perhaps unique page in campus construction history. More than 70,000 donors contributed to the building's cost, thought to be 50 to 70 times more than have donated for any other campus project.
University leaders might not attempt another mass-donor campaign because they attribute its success with the Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center to an expression of love for President Hinckley.
BYU Television produces 250 to 300 hours of fresh programming each year, said Jim Bell, manager of marketing and communications for BYU Broadcasting.
The station is on the air around the clock every day and is very different from KBYU-TV, which serves Utah and southern Idaho.
"It's an enormous amount of air time," Bell said. "KBYU-TV is easier because of all the PBS programming, and KBYU-FM Classical 89 is easy because most of the time is filled with classical music. With BYU Television and BYU Television International, we have 8,760 hours to fill each year. To keep it fresh is challenging, and we are hearing people want new and fresh content."
The network carries campus devotionals and forums, LDS general conferences, Church Educational System firesides, select sessions from Education Week and Women's Conference and more.
"Through the blessings of BYU Television, people across the globe can sit at the feet of prophets and apostles," Samuelson said in a recent president's report on the LDS Foundation Web site. "They can study the Scriptures with Brigham Young University's professors of religion, celebrate the victories of our athletes, and revel in the sights and sounds of our magnificent performing groups."
The network also expands BYU's educational reach and serves as a missionary tool for the LDS Church, Samuelson said.
He promised to continue attempts to expand the network's reach and influence and improve content for its international audience.
Nearly 50 percent of alumni have BYU Television in their homes.
A new building would be home for all of the BYU Broadcasting partners, as well as BYU Radio.
The BYU Broadcasting studios and master control are now on campus in the Harris Fine Arts Center, or HFAC, while nearly all of the production personnel are located in the Ironton facility, Bell said.
The separate facilities create a number of inefficiencies.
"If we're doing a production in our studios, everyone in Ironton has to come up here to campus," he said. "The majority of our students work at Ironton, so they're 3 1/2 miles from campus."When we edit a program, the tape has to be sent up from Ironton to master control on campus. Sometimes there are last-minute changes and someone has to jump in the car and drive it to master control because it has to be on the air that night."
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