Broadcast public meetings? Why not INSIGHT?


Like Yogi Berra probably never said, it’s déjà vu all over again.

School trustees restrict broadcasts of meetings, by Joseph Lord (News-Tribune).

Here are excerpts:

New Albany residents won’t get to watch, from their living rooms, elected body meetings on WNAS-TV under a policy approved Monday by school trustees …

… The 6-1 decision — with Rebecca Gardenour voting against — followed vocal opposition from residents leading up to the vote …

… A group of residents argued that broadcasting recordings of public meetings serves an educational purpose, pointing to previous showing of City Council meetings. One speaker argued that media outlets “whitewash” meetings in their coverage.Anna Schmidt, wife of city councilman Bill Schmidt, questioned calling meetings “politics.”“I call it government,” she said …

… Trustee Neal Smith said he didn’t think the school board’s mission was to broadcast public meetings.

“I think someone ought to be on Insight to get a public access channel,” he said, referring to the cable television company.

Right on, Mr. Smith.

Curiously, the council’s Gang of Four News Agency already has a public access channel, popularly known as Freedom to Screech, supplied with information by (shall we say) people “close” to the council, and “manned” by transgendered ghost blogger Erik/Erika.

(To assist those just tuning in, “transgendered ghost blogger Erik/Erika” is our way of describing the author of the Screech blog, which arose from the primordial troglodyte ooze a few months ago and claims to be written by a university professor – a transparently fictitious and adolescent claim that is a laughing stock among educated people hereabouts – at least among those lacking vendettas.)

Back to the point. NA Confidential first considered the education vs. public access question in February of 2005, in “City Council, community access and videotape.

Our toss-up was this:

Given the organizational basis of the various entities involved, are there compelling reasons for the school corporation to agree to broadcast the videotaped city council meetings?

Our answer:

Now, it would appear that according to an ordinance authored by a previous City Council, New Albany has chosen the educational access option, and in this case, the option is exercised by WNAS, which is licensed through the school corporation and not directly through the city of New Albany.

On the surface, none of this would seem to have anything to do with the City Council or its meetings, videotaped or otherwise.

In a comment, Jeff “Bluegill” Gillenwater nailed the essence of the issue:

Again, this is a clear case of the public subsidizing a private communications company and receiving very little in return. We should focus on the part of the acts that state local governments can require franchisees to provide “access equipment, facilities, services, and support in a franchise”.

Should NAHS be required to broadcast government meetings? No. But Insight should be required to not only broadcast the meetings but to provide the equipment necessary to tape them – not an unreasonable request given the millions of dollars of land use our various levels of government provide them each year.

On the occasion of INSIGHT’s ongoing broadband fiasco, it’s just a marvelous time to revisit a renegotiation of its city-mandated license to print money.