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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Resolution to Establish Grassroots Democratic Control Over Public Access Media

Saturday, August 20, 2005

RESOLUTION of the Eureka Greens
a Local of the Green Party of Humboldt County (GPHC) covering Eureka, Myrtletown, Cutten, Pine Hill, Humboldt Hill and Samoa

Resolution to Establish Grassroots Democratic Control Over Public Access Media

Whereas, The platform for the Green Party of California “demands that everyone has a right to access of the various media for the free expression of their viewpoints,” due to the fact that “access to information has profound consequences to our democracy,” and,

Whereas, Public access channels for use by local governmental and educational institutions as well as directly by independent producers have been mandated by law since the overwhelming passage of the federal Communications Act of 1984 by the U.S. Congress, and,

Whereas, Communities including Eureka have hosted public access stations accessible to all Humboldt County residents for over 15 years, the most prominent of which having been Arcata’s Channel 12, which until 1999 was under the auspices of a contract with the independent Arcata Community Access Television (ACAT) and featured a wide variety of local news, commentary and entertainment programs from over 50 independent local producers without fear, favor or censorship, and,

Whereas, Until 1999, the Board of Directors of ACAT was in compliance with state law and its own bylaws in ensuring the regular rotation of the membership of its Board of Directors through periodic elections, and,

Whereas, In 1999 and 2000, a small group led by Roland Yartzoff and closely aligned with City officials, local politicians and the Arcata Eye got rid of most local, independent producers and programming and destroyed the ability of ACAT to function, leading to the termination of its contract with the City of Arcata, and,

Whereas, The current HCTV Station Manager, who previously applied for the ACAT Station Manager position and was denied due to his reporting of a false residential address (which turned out to be an abandoned building), was hired by Yartzoff’s group in late 1999 and turned out to be the last Station Manager ever hired by ACAT, and,

Whereas, During his tenure as ACAT Station Manager, the current HCTV Station Manager admitted to illegally confiscating a broadcast tape from an independent producer instead of fulfilling the station’s contractual obligations to air a public access program, and committed numerous other violations of station rules in clipping shows, including their credits, moving shows unilaterally to different times, damaging broadcast tapes and censoring programming, and,

Whereas, The website of HCTV blatantly admitted that the station is not free of censorship following the hiring of the current HCTV Station Manager, with the Channel 12 schedule dominated by satellite programming copied from other stations such as Free Speech Television and the Classic Arts Network, along with out-of-county religious programming as well as bulletin boards exclusionary of Green Party announcements, and,

Whereas, Despite promises of re-introducing democratic oversight and control of Channel 12, the HCTV Board of Convenors, organized under the auspices of the Humboldt Area Foundation, has yet to hold a membership meeting or call a fair and free election for a new Board of Directors that they intend to appoint directly, or address the governance of Eureka’s Channel 10 or the College of the Redwoods-administered Channel 8, and,

Whereas, Cox Communications, Inc., the cable provider which hosts Channel 12 and administers Channel 10, has been involved in franchise renewal negotiations with Humboldt County and the cities of Arcata, Blue Lake, Eureka, Ferndale, Fortuna and Rio Dell, which include both franchise fees to local governments and direct assistance to public, education and government access to the cable system (including financial support and the construction of a permanent facility for public access channels at the company’s expense), and,

Whereas, With upcoming hearings on the cable franchise renewal process, Greens have the potential to bring this history to light and persuade local governments to establish grassroots democratic control of public access media by holding the Humboldt Area Foundation and HCTV accountable for the composition of the new Board of Directors and the behavior of the HCTV Station Manager. Therefore be it

Resolved, The Eureka Greens applaud the steps taken towards the creation of an independent Board of Directors of HCTV which will meet in public and be held accountable to state law and published bylaws approved by the membership. Be it further

Resolved, The Eureka Greens demand the establishment of grassroots democratic control over public access media stations in Humboldt County through a fair, free and open election of their Board of Directors by any resident who wishes to join HCTV, regardless of economic or other privilege. Be it further

Resolved, The Eureka Greens demand the resignation or removal of the current HCTV Station Manager from their position due to their history and continued pattern of censorship towards Greens and others, advertising the position instead through an open, legal hiring process conducted by the HCTV Board of Directors in public session. Be it further

Resolved, The Eureka Greens call for the immediate amendment of HCTV policies that do not guarantee the complete freedom from censorship for public access programming that is essential to precluding prior restraint of free expression and ensuring that the diversity of viewpoints reflected include Greens. Be it further

Resolved, The Eureka Greens call for the revocation of all banishments placed upon any resident of Humboldt County who wishes to produce public access programming or otherwise contribute to the operation of Channel 12 by any government official or Channel 12 staff member or administrator. Be it further

Resolved, The Eureka Greens request that their local representatives in municipal and county government push for increased support for Channel 12 and other public, educational and government access stations in their cable franchise negotiations with Cox Communications, Inc. or with any other company. Be it further

Resolved, The Eureka Greens ask Cox Communications, Inc. to recognize their obligation to provide increased support for public, educational and government access channels, including the construction of a community media center intended for the use of independent producers. Be it further

Resolved, The Eureka Greens ask the new Board of Directors of HCTV, once elected, to create or amend their bylaws (with the ratification of HCTV members) to ensure elections that are open to free competition, meetings that are public and well-noticed and station rules which do not overly restrict access to cablecast time for independent producers. Be it further

Resolved, The Eureka Greens believe local governments should conduct a new round of scoping sessions with their residents to determine their particular interests in public, education and government access channels as well as in other aspects of the cable franchise renewal process. Be it further

Resolved, The Secretary of the Eureka Greens shall transmit this resolution to all GPHC Locals, as well as the General Assembly of the GPHC, the Emerald Regional Greens, the GPCA, the HCTV Station Manager, the HCTV Board of Convenors, the Humboldt Area Foundation, Cox Communications, Inc., the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors, the Arcata City Council, the Blue Lake City Council, the Eureka City Council, the Ferndale City Council, the Fortuna City Council, the Rio Dell City Council, the Federal Communications Commission and the media.


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