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Don’t let City Council “censor” TV

-Alexi Malenky, Corey Nicholl
Monday May 20, 2002

To the Editor: 


We are outraged. You think that you have the right to judge and define what is and is not suitable for people to watch, and at what time they should watch it on our own public access TV station, channel 25. You think that you can become Mom and Dad to the people of Berkeley, telling us that the national standard for "adult programming" is not good enough for us, that we need you to help us decide what to watch and when. We do not need you to do this, and you do not have the right! 

What is at stake here is free speech. Alternative viewpoints on television are becoming harder and harder to come by as large corporations control more and more of the media. This is why channel 25 is so important, because its mandate is that it does not censor any program, and any Berkeley resident can bring in something to play and it will be aired. B-TV's own mission statement says, "Our mission is to build an electronic free speech forum in order to encourage democratic involvement and build community." And if a program is voluntarily labeled by its producer as being "adult", it will play after 10 p.m., as per the National Standard. 

Moving the time for "adult programming" to midnight is not just "rescheduling". It is clearly censorship by way of time ghetto-izing. What makes Berkeley so different from the rest of the country, which follows the 10 p.m. - 6 a.m. safe harbor guideline? What you are really saying is that Berkeley residents can not decide for themselves before midnight what they want to watch, or what they feel their kids should be watching... and that you can and will decide this instead. You are imposing your own personal tastes and the personal tastes of the few who have complained to you, on the rest of us. Free speech does not work that way. None of us has the right to not be offended by things. If you do not like a program, are offended by it, just turn it off. If you don't want your kids to see something on TV, that is between you and your kids. No one of us has the right to impose our personal tastes upon the rest of the community. 

This is why we are outraged. This is called censorship, and governmental suppression of free speech. And this is why we will be protesting and fighting this. And thank you Kriss Worthington for voting NO last Tuesday! 


-Alexi Malenky, Corey Nicholl