BCTV to Facebook Live graduations

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BRATTLEBORO — Brattleboro Community TV will be live streaming on Facebook two graduation ceremonies this week.

"On Friday night, we will be live streaming the Brattleboro Union High School graduation and the next morning the ceremony at Leland & Gray Union High School," said Cor Trowbridge, executive director of BCTV.

The local community television channel has been live streaming graduations on the internet for about four years, using the YouTube platform, said Trowbridge. It also has been broadcasting a high-definition stream on the BCTV website. If you are old fashioned and want to watch it on your TV, the ceremonies will be broadcast live on Channel 10 and then will be rebroadcast later.

"This is the first year we are going to Facebook Live the ceremonies," said Trowbridge. "Facebook Live is designed for things like this."

It will take five or six people to coordinate and run all the equipment for each ceremony, she said, but no one will be required back at the studio in the Brattleboro Municipal Building to monitor the stream.

"Using our laptops we can log into the stream and see that it's broadcasting," said Trowbridge.

Until recently, the setup at BUHS has been easier than at Leland & Gray.

"The location of the ceremony at L&G is down on a baseball field below the school," she said. "In order for us to go live, we had to run a 300-foot cable out of the school and down to the site."

To make matters worse, there is no cell service on the ball field, she said, meaning someone had to run back and forth between the field and the school to make sure the signal was going out live.

But recently, Dale Stevens, Leland & Gray's

information technology coordinator, installed a hard-wired ethernet port at the ball field, making this year's broadcast much easier, she said.

Trowbridge said broadcasting live on Facebook opens up a whole new avenue of engagement for BCTV.

"People can comment and congratulate students live and share the link with their friends," she said.

This year, BCTV used Facebook Live for its Strolling of the Heifers coverage, getting 250 shares and 14,000 views, said Trowbridge.

"It's the sharing that makes this platform different," said Trowbridge. "People can share a video with people who wouldn't otherwise stumble across the link. Even though YouTube is ubiquitous, people don't share those videos as much."

BCTV's operations are paid for by the viewers in its coverage area, through a surcharge on their cable TV bill. It also has underwriters to help pay for coverage such as a graduation ceremony.

Sponsors include BCTV, Brattleboro Savings & Loan, FirstLight, the Brattleboro Food Co-op, Brattleboro Area Prevention Coalition, The Tuxedo Gallery, West River Valley Thrives and Winston Prouty Center.

"This kind of thing is happening all over the country," said Trowbridge. "But Vermont is particularly active in this regard. In order for a cable operator to do business in Vermont, they need a certificate of public good and they have to provide public access television."

Because of the requirement, Vermont has 25 community media centers such as BCTV.

The BUHS ceremony is on Friday at 6 p.m. and the Leland & Gray ceremony is on Saturday at 10 a.m.

The Bellows Falls Union High School graduation ceremony on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.will be covered by FACT-TV.

Bob Audette can be contacted at 802-254-2311, ext. 151, or raudette@reformer.com.

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