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February 05, 2014

New Media Center In Southampton?


Southampton Education and Government Access Television (SEA-TV) may be getting a new partner.

Alan McFarland, an investment banker and resident of Tuckahoe Lane, along with Francesco Rulli, an Italian businessman and philanthropist, met with the Southampton Town Board last Thursday morning to discuss the possibility of housing a new multimedia center on the third floor of the village hall on Main Street.

Both Rulli and McFarland proposed installing state of the art editing and production equipment for educating Southampton residents on the creative art of filmmaking and how to distribute it more efficiently.

"This community is in a uniquely strange spot, being near a major community center in the city," McFarland said. "We want to establish an educational foundation here for citizens running a media center," he added. "We would like to get support from you (the town board)."

McFarland said the center aims to be used predominantly by local kids, under the guidance of filmmaking professionals, as a studio workspace with the hopes of focusing on community-based events presented by local organizations.

"Television has become a one-way conversation," Rulli said. "There's a need to move into a more interactive medium, and that's the Internet. This is a small community, and it's very important to have a presence and promote digital literacy, especially with young people."

Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst said she would like to see "a happy marriage" between the proposed media center and the already running government channel, SEA-TV.

"Our SEA-TV pretty much does what you're talking about," she said. "It's important our channel is supported because it airs our government activity as well as educational programming. We need to conceptualize what this needs to look like. I would suggest to you to interact with Mayor [Mark] Epley and the SEA-TV advisory board."

Councilwoman Christine Scalera agreed, requesting McFarland and Rulli to return with a clearer plan that accommodates the village's goals as well as their own.

"We want to see that we'll be able to benefit from this," she said. "We need a clearer understanding of where SEA-TV is and where you are."

Bruce Nalepinksi, Executive Director of SEA-TV, said there was an absolute possibility of the two entities combining forces to distribute content accurately and efficiently.

"We have a commitment to SEA-TV to put our activity out to our constituents," Councilman Brad Bender said.

Throne-Holst and Rulli both agreed there is the potential for job creation opportunities with the new multimedia center.

"We would like to get support for this," Rulli said, "because it will be a place where stories are produced, edited and distributed."

Throne-Holst invited both to the next SEA-TV board meeting for further discussion.

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