Thursday, July 17, 2008

Misfeasance or Media Manipulation?

The Fayetteville City Council this week abdicated any role in the Government Channel operations. In identical 4-3 votes, Adella Gray, Brenda Thiel, Robert Rhoads, and Bobby Ferrell voted against a resolution asking the Coody administration to follow the existing ordinance setting city policy and against enforcing that policy that allows an alderman to request production of a forum on issues of public concern. They cared not that one of Coody's assistants vetoed the alderman's legitimate request nor that the Telecommunications Board objected to that arbitrary action.

Dan Coody now has unfettered control to decide what appears on the Government Channel 16 -- as well as the power to prevent programs from being on the regular cablecast. While the Mayor kept questioning who would pay for production of a public forum requested by an alderman, he didn't have any problems with or explanations of who paid for producing his numerous press conferences and ribbon-cutting publicity stunts. Coody also complained that producing a forum would put a strain on the reduced staff of the Government Channel -- caused by his firing the professional Cable Administrator and replacing him with his public relations advisor -- that is somehow greater than or different from taping and showing the mayor talking about whatever he did yesterday.

Events last weekend provide a good example of what to expect. Coody's Government Channel programmers scheduled replays of the regular monthly Ward 4 Meeting for just after midnight on Saturday night and again at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning, not exactly Prime Time even on the Government Channel. Then, mysteriously, the Government Channel went off the air from about 9:00 p.m. on Saturday night until sometime Sunday afternoon. This "accidental glitch" did not affect the showing of any of Coody's press conferences or ribbon-cuttings. It did prevent two showings of the most recent Ward 4 Meeting of citizens with their Aldermen, Shirley Lucas and Lioneld Jordan, to discuss the benefits of joining the Regional Mobility Authority, proposals by developers, and other issues of concern to local residents.

Probably just a coincidence.

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