At Tuesday night’s budget hearing (which I attended the tail end of), there was a short exchange at the very end that you may have missed. (You can find it beginning at the 2 hour 31 minute mark.)
Councilor George Russell asked that the administration confirm that Cable Services division is not filming events from other community groups besides city departments.
Mr. Trainor confirmed that the Cable Services division filmed WRRB‘s Thomas Green awards, which included city employees. City Manager Augustus said the standard is that if the WRRB (or another organization) hosts an event that features a city employee or department head, then Cable Services will film it, at the discretion of the City Manager.
Counclor Lukes reminded us that a (heated) discussion arose a couple of years ago when the Research Bureau had some programs shown on Channel 12. She said that the WRRB website and reports are likely more informative to candidates and residents than many City Council meetings, and that she doesn’t want Channel 12 programming restricted to members of the City Administration.
Now, perhaps that would be necessary in a city without a People’s Channel.
But in Worcester there is no reason why any community group cannot approach the folks at WCCA to record and disseminate any event of interest to residents.
The reason WRRB insisted on using Channel 12 (the government channel) versus Channel 13 (the people’s channel) is that the organization had been advocating for massive defunding of WCCA for years.
They couldn’t “stoop” to using WCCA without admitting that perhaps they were wrong in their assessment of the channel’s importance to our community.
Councilor Russell had a point two years ago, and the point still stands: WRRB is not a government group, and there should be clarity about what is an official government communication. That doesn’t mean the WRRB is not valuable, but it’s no different from other community organizations regarding the conditions under which their programming should be shown on the government channel.
I am glad that Councilor Russell pushed for this two years ago, and I’m glad he continues to push for clarification. Then as now, it was about fairness and not about the gender of the WRRB’s executive director.
I hope that the new executive director of WRRB could work with WCCA to broadcast various events (like June 5’s annual meeting) that don’t meet the guidelines for the government channel. (Also, you can now follow WRRB on Facebook and on Twitter.)
I also hope that if you’re reading this and care about WCCA that you will consider applying to serve on the Cable Television Advisory Commission, which has four openings.