WNCP-TV, UNC Pembroke’s broadcasting arm, is back on cable and reaching out to more viewers than ever thanks to Time Warner, the nation’s leading cable TV provider.
WNCP-TV’s return to cable will allow UNCP to produce its first-ever live commencement on Saturday, May 13 at 10 a.m. Broadcast journalist Charlie Rose, who appears on “60 Minutes II,” is the speaker. Early in April, Time Warner’s Robeson County General Manager Eric Collins threw the switch and WNCP-TV lit up the screen on cable channel six in the homes of 15,000 cable subscribers in and around Lumberton, Pembroke, St. Pauls, Red Springs and Fairmont.
“This is a significant development for our local access channel,” Mr. Collins said. “We’re pleased to be in partnership with UNC Pembroke, and we view it as an educational asset for the whole community.”
Dr. Randy Hines, chair of the Mass Communications Department, praised the news on several levels.
“I can’t thank Time Warner enough for their generous support of the university and the community,” Dr. Hines said. “This is a very, very valuable contribution to our broadcasting program because it gives us an audience for our product of well over 45,000 viewers in 15,000 homes.”
“The access that Time Warner has provided also allows us to promote education in Robeson County,” he said. “Not only do we produce programs for and about UNC Pembroke, but we produce programs for Robeson Community College and the Public Schools of Robeson County.”
The cost of running fiber optic cables and installing electronic equipment was approximately $40,000 for Time Warner, but Mr. Collins said the real value of the gift is in what it will do for the community that his company serves.
“Based on our lengthy relationship with the university, we feel very confident that UNCP will do an excellent job with the local access,” Mr. Collins said. “We have worked well with the university since the beginning of their broadcast program.”
UNCP Chancellor Allen C. Meadors said the gift of access to cable is priceless.
“UNCP is in the communications business, and we are always attempting to reach out to more people,” Chancellor Meadors said. “With Time Warner’s help, we will find new and important ways to reach new audiences.”
“There is no way to translate a gift like this into dollars and cents,” he said. “Bandwidth on cable is a limited resource, and we thank Time Warner for allowing us access to this important asset.”
WNCP-TV will program the local access channel from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 9-11 p.m. WNCP-TV will air its award-winning student produced news program, as well as interview programs from the university, Robeson Community College and the Public Schools of Robeson County and student productions. Additional live programming of events and educational features are also a possibility.
Until Time Warner upgraded its system with fiber optic cable, WNCP-TV was on cable only in Pembroke, Red Springs, St. Pauls and Fairmont. In the mid-1980s, WNCP-TV debuted its local access partnership with programming for viewers in the Pembroke area only.
Time Warner’s general manager said that the transition has gone very smoothly, and picture quality is good on the channel, WNCP-TV engineer George Johnson agrees.
“This is a much better situation for us because we are in more households, and because the picture quality is better than ever with fiber,” Mr. Johnson said. “It is good news all around.”
To broadcast the commencement, the university will use its on-campus fiber-optic system to get the signal from Givens Performing Arts Center to WNCP-TV's studios. Because every building on campus is linked to the university’s fiber-optic network, there are interesting opportunities for live cablecasts in the future, Dr. Hines said.
“The ability to go live from all over campus presents a new teaching setting for our students,” Dr. Hines said. “This opens some new doors for us.”
Mr. Collins said the local access channel opens the door to many interesting possibilities and collaborations between the university, Time Warner and the community