Mac McEachern: City using its own TV channel to distort message


Published: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 4:53 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 6, 2012 at 4:53 p.m.

In this day of mass communications TV is the main source. It hasn't taken government long to jump on the bandwagon, leaving the print media at least a day behind and subject to the economic environment. Many local governmental committees and boards have their own means of TV production and broadcast their meetings regularly.

Now the Gainesville City Commission is utilizing its means of communicating to support whatever issue commissioners are pushing. They are in control of staff operating the cameras. The Mayor becomes the producer.

In addition to their TV media they have started using law enforcement, under control of the city commission, to prevent competition.

I visited the scene in front of GRU Thursday to see what was going on. There was considerable activity, mostly GRU repairing a failed underground cable and venders demonstrating GPS equipment. They outnumbered the citizen protesters. The protesters, limited to the sidewalk or a pen marked off with crime seen tape, demonstrate no obstruction to customers attempting to pay bills. The citizens protesters were well informed on their issue and were well received by GRU customers (and several sympatric GRU employees.) GPD

officers were lurking just out of view, just in case one of the citizen protestors stepped across the line.

Thursday night City Commissioners used the public owned TV channel that they control to project the citizen protesters as idiots blocking GRU customers from paying their bills. Without censoring content there should be a disclaimer allowing viewers to know facts from opinions and political redbrick. But this would require an independent producer.

Even in our democracy, with government in control of media it had to happen.

Mac McEachern,

Former commissioner and mayor

Gainesville

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