Note: The following is published as a letter to the editor, and is written by Joe Viglione. None of the opinions stated should be considered the view of Medford Patch:
On Tuesday evening, January 18, I will be speaking to the Medford City Council about political speech, about opening up the cablespace at TV 3 which we who pay a Comcast bill fund, and for every Medford citizen to be able to express themselves on channel 3. It's an election year and voices want to discuss issues and ideas concerning those running for Mayor, for City Council and other elected positions in our community.
There is hardcore censorship going on at tv 3. Oh they disguise it as "banning" or they insinuate those with opinions they don't agree with are "troublemakers" or they blatantly pull the plug on a sports host who was calling in to the Ziggy Bush Show, an example that is on DVD and which I presented the City Council to prove that censorship not only exists at TV 3, it is exactly how the current self-appointed president conducts "public access." The problem for the station, though, is that Judge Jackson-Thompson's report stated plainly on page 8, paragraph 2: "Thus rather than a public access station there is in effect an MCC access station." Former board member Joseph Fortunato called TV 3 "Private public access", so it appears he now has a judge agreeing with him. Powerful stuff.
In 2009/2010 I produced a videotape of Winthrop Hockey vs. Medford Hockey. Frank Pilleri went on the Government Channel and informed all the residents funding "his" private access station that he would not allow any Medford resident to sponsor my show. So the parents, brothers, sisters, schoolmates and the hockey players themselves were denied seeing their game because of one selfish individual, Francis R. Pilleri, Jr. That individual appointed himself to the presidency, despite his feigning that he was "duly elected." Did you vote him in? Did you ever get the chance to vote him out? City Solicitor Mark E. Rumley promised us an election on January 19, 2008. I warned Mr. Rumley that sources had informed this journalist that Pilleri was going to back out of the election. After a board meeting in December of 2007 Pilleri did just as my confidential source warned me. Rumley didn't listen, the community lost out.
On June 10, 2008 City Councilor Bob Penta said "So - while there is a cloud over TV 3...I think it's a huge cloud. It's the same cloud that turns around and has mocked our City Solicitor, has insulted the Mayor, has made a fool out of the City Council..and just doesn't want to be accounted for anything that's going on. ...they have caused a serious black eye to this community, in the area of public broadcasting and community services."
Judge Jackson-Thompson in her report also said "the station can be deemed to be controlled by the few elected Board members". The judge notes that quality veteran members are missing and that programs have been pulled from the air. This is censorship.
"There is an implied assumption that a corporation will conduct itself in a lawful manner consistent with good business practices. Contract law provides that there is inherent authority for the contractor, Medford, to monitor the contractee, MCC, for compliance with the contract" wrote the judge on page 2 of her report entitled HEARING RESULTS, FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS.
The report was due on December 15, 2008, released by City Hall on August 5, 2009 and we are now 808 days - about two and a third years - since the first Evaluation Hearing of October 29, 2008.
A Saturday edition Boston Globe editorial in 2009 stated: "the focus on TV3 should prompt a discussion on how to improve public-access TV (in Medford), not how to make it serve the interests of political leaders."
In 2009 the Vice President of Medford Community Cablevision, Inc. offered
city councilors, some who were previously mocked by the station, free air time on channel 3 (while those elected officials already had the use of the government channel, 15). The VP gave "fuzzy math" about having a greater percentage of programming and a greater percentage of new members. It was hyperbole. Members are leaving the station while station management offered a vulgar pornographic show, “Dirty Talk: Live Sex Advice, Dirty Talk and Naughty Stories,” which was a creation of the young manager - though he told the City Council he was protecting a secret producer. That producer was himself. So the 19 movies that the former station manager initiated were replaced by the pornography created by her successor. This is not access television.
The news media jumped on the story of "First Amendment" rights in Medford, but it was a ruse by the station. There was no mysterious "producer" whose alleged "free speech" they had to defend and when a sports show host went on the Ziggy Bush Show to say just that his call was quickly taken off the air. Censorship. Medford residents are producing shows in Stoneham, Winchester, Winthrop, Lexington, Arlington and at other facilities in other regions. TV 3 has been masterful at manipulating the media and failing to hold fair and honest elections, while simultaneously denying access to residents; the individuals who hold on to power use the station as their own personal sandbox.
TV 3 Medford pays huge rent for a small studio smack dab in the middle of Medford Square while Stoneham and Winthrop own their own buildings. Comcast ratepayers are held hostage to a board of directors who don't have the faintest clue about the First Amendment, what access is, or how to manage money. The two board members who call themselves "money managers" offer financial advice to Medford viewers, but their board failed to comply with auditors paid for by the city. They said to a local paper, collectively as the Board of TV 3, that the audit contained "...numerous references to accounting standards and accounting practices which we are not familiar with and which we do not understand.”
So why are these board members giving financial advice and censoring Medford residents from political speech, this most protected right, while offering air time to elected officials instead of community volunteers?
In 2011 the elections will have little community input because of the political leaders who control the access station; the political leaders who are the oversight. This gives current elected officials an unfair advantage in election 2011.
Viglione is a media producer. He lives in Medford.