TV-3 Public Access
Community Channel or Censorship Channel?
A Question of Censorship & Mystery 14-Minute Video Gap?
By: Pat Hunter
March 11, 2009
The Public, Educational and Government channels (PEG) is governed by the 1984 Cable Act. PEG is supposed to provide an opportunity and outlet for free speech, local programming, government and town hall meetings, safety, health and educational information. TV-3 is the Loudon County Community cable public access channel. Public announcements and public meetings are broadcast on cable TV-3. The Community Channel is supported partly with taxpayer dollars and fees from cable patrons. Recently, TV-3 broadcast the March 2nd Loudon County Commission meeting but two significant things occurred during the broadcast of this meeting, a question of censorship and a 14-minute video gap of mostly Commissioner Austin's Shaver comments about financing the school building plan without a property tax increase.
Commission sets time aside at the end of each commission meetings to hear citizen comments on non-agenda items but when a citizen (Richard Truitt) approached the podium to speak, TV 3 ended the meeting. A total of five people spoke during this comment period but this was not shown on TV-3. Why did TV-3 cut off citizen comments? Why are citizens being censored?
County's Procedural Rules govern the conduct of meetings and Commission's Order of Business includes remarks by members of the audience as to items not on the Agenda, which occur prior to the Adjournment of meetings. Public comments are part of the meeting format and minutes. What right did the community channel have to cut off citizen comments from a public meeting?
Citizens have every right to redress government and exercise their 1st Amendment Constitutional Right to Freedom of speech. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
My good friend Mr. Paul Baird, had a flare for writing letters to the editor and speaking at commission about how he served our great nation and how he fought in a war to protect our liberties and freedom, which we should not take for granted. Mr. Baird has since passed away.
If you have concerns about 1st Amendment issues on TV-3, please contact TV-3 Station Manager Jim Fella by email and share your opinion. TVFella@bellsouth.com
Mayor Arp (l) & Greenback Comm. Bob Franke (r) as Richard Truitt returns to seat
TV-3 14-Minute Video Gap
Do you remember the Watergate break-in and the 18½ minute gap on the Nixon-Watergate tapes?
Three days after the Watergate break-in, as chief of staff HR Halderman and President Nixon spoke, their conversation was suddenly replaced with an 18½ minute gap of silence. The irony is that President Nixon himself ordered the installation of the audio recorder equipment and recording devices of telephones. The Watergate scandal eventually led to President Nixon’s resignation. What was said during the smoking gun conversation? Why was this information kept secret from the public? Was the tape erasure deliberate or an innocent mistake?
Commissioner Shaver shares details at March 2nd meeting
Commissioner Austin Shaver was listed on the March 2nd commission meeting agenda to provide information and complied figures related to the proposed school building plan. Commissioner Shaver spoke about his ideas of financing the school building plan without a property tax increase.
TV3 was present to video tape the meeting but when TV-3 broadcast the same commission meeting, right before and after Commissioner Shaver's comments, something very strange occurred, which lasted throughout Shaver's entire 8-minute (est.) presentation!
During the TV-3 broadcast, it was difficult to understand what Commissioner Shaver said. Was TV3's video problem due to carelessness, intentional or innocent and why hasn't this problem been corrected? Commissioner Shaver furnished a handout with details about how he believes that a property tax was not needed to fund the proposed schools building plan. But without Shaver’s details, facts or figures to support his position but TV viewers were left wondering what he said.
But TV3s video problem somehow was corrected when Commissioner Don Miller mentioned how a property tax increase was needed to help pay for the school building plan.
The TV-3 broadcast, in my opinion, was not a fair representation of the meeting.
What if the status quo favored Commissioner Miller's tax tax hike plan to finance the school building plan over Commissioner Austin Shaver's plan; what then? Is it a conflict of interest for the county school IT Director-Public Relations (PR) person, to also be in charge of video taping, preparation, etc. of meeting tapes for TV 3 broadcasting?
Commissioner Miller has received plenty of press promoting a property tax increase to fund the school building plan while Commissioner Austin Shaver has offered an alternative funding proposal for the school building plan without a property tax hike. Is there a media bias to keep Shaver's message from the public that may watch TV3 or readers of the local newspaper; you decide!
Loudon County Taxpayers & Mushrooms - Kept in the Dark & Fed Horse Manure