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CTC on access

The article "Battle of the Network Stars" (2/13/02) contained several errors of fact and misrepresentation regarding current issues before the San Francisco Community Television Corp., the nonprofit organization managing the city's public access facilities and channel.

The CTC does not have a "written policy that prevents members from speaking out publicly against board decisions." No member of the CTC board has been placed on probation because of disagreement with board decisions. There are actually three active producers on the CTC board and two former producers. Producers at Access San Francisco are not "nearly unanimously opposed to the lottery concept."

The article was framed from the perspective of three disgruntled long-term producers at the station, presenting a distorted view of the issues involved. No board member or producer who might present other perspectives was quoted.

Regarding recent disciplinary action within the CTC board, the board expects and encourages vigorous debate on issues by our members. We have never been disappointed in this regard. After the final vote on an issue, directors are free to continue to express their disagreement with a policy. However, the board also expects that individual members will not attempt to misrepresent or undermine the organization or act in a manner that is contrary to the mission and goals of the CTC: to provide equitable access to the tools of program creation and the means of program distribution to the people of San Francisco.

At the heart of the controversy are simple yet extremely contentious issues: Should the production and distribution resources of the facility and channel be shared equitably by all members of the San Francisco community, or should policies favor those who "got there first"? Should someone in our community who wants to air only a single program be treated differently than someone who wants to air a continuing series of programs?

The majority of clients at Access San Francisco understand the need for changes after decades of abuse by corporate media. A few individuals, some protecting their particular special interests, are resisting the changes.

There are amazing, dedicated community people involved at Access San Francisco: the producers creating programs, the sponsors putting programs on the air, the CTC board volunteers, the dedicated staff members who help keep the facility and channel running on a daily basis, and the viewers of the channel. All – and more – are necessary for a vigorous and successful public access operation in San Francisco.

John Higgins Vice president, Board of Directors San Francisco Community Television Corp.

Rachel Brahinsky responds: Higgins says that directors are free to express their disagreement, yet CTC executive director Zane Blaney described expectations of the board quite differently in an interview Feb. 6: "Once the board has voted on a policy, you are expected to support the organization if you are a sitting board member," he said. Higgins says no board member was put on probation for disagreement, yet in a Feb. 13 letter to member David Miles explaining that he had been put on probation, CTC board president Ellison Horne wrote, "Directors who disagree with [official board] decisions are expected, if not actively to support, at least not actively to undermine and publicly attack the decision or assail the motives of the board and staff involved in these decisions."

The other facts disputed by Higgins were attributed to sources who say they stand by their comments. And though Higgins says the story was framed from a one-sided perspective, the questions he identifies as central to the issue mirror those posed by me: should long-time producers be prioritized or not?

Ridiculous plan

I am writing this note to show support for Access television producers who are currently under attack by the CTC board of directors. This is outrageous!

The heart of the controversy seems to be about producers maintaining regular time slots for the broadcasting of their programs. But maybe it runs deeper. The attack that seeks to force them into a lottery system for these broadcasting times is really an attack on access television in general, and what I can not understand is the CTC board's inability to see this proposal as a way of losing viewers.

Everyone knows that having programming that is broadcast in a regular time slot is the way to build viewership.

Wes Brain

Ashland, Ore.

For the record

In last week's issue, in a story titled "NIMBYs Against Sunshine," we incorrectly stated that Oakland City Council member Nancy Nadel is also chair of the Planning Commission. She is not; the chair is Kenneth S. Katzoff. In our "Who's Endorsing Whom" chart last week, we listed endorsements by the Sunset-Parkside Education and Action Committee and Teachers 4 Social Justice. Neither group makes endorsements.