July 10, 2005
Who needs premium cable?

Who needs Skinemax when you have Houston MediaSource?

Until now, the battle over Houston MediaSource's programming largely has been waged on a limited front: the public-access channel's supporters against City Councilwoman Addie Wiseman.

Funny how airing nudity can change that.

Several council members who'd been ambivalent about the issue now say they can't support the channel's $800,000 contract with the city after a show featuring nude women aired Wednesday night.

"This absolutely has changed the dynamic of this whole debate," said Councilman Michael Berry, who said he now would vote against renewing the channel's contract. "This is no longer a free-speech-versus-censorship issue. This is about basic accountability and people who have no business putting on public programming."


Under its deal with nonprofit MediaSource, the city moves fees collected by cable providers to MediaSource to provide a forum for citizens that is free of government interference. No city funds are spent on the public-access channel.

MediaSource doesn't operate the separate government-access channel that broadcasts council meetings and other official programs.

Mayor Bill White said Friday that he hadn't seen Hough's video, and that he isn't yet sure whether he will support renewing the contract when it comes before the City Council on Wednesday.

He said he wants to ensure the channel has quality programming that complies with the law.

"I don't think that Houston MediaSource should get a contract unless there are some changes that would prevent an abuse," he said.

Boy Wonder Berry is right, at least about the dynamic changing. The question is whether or not HMS can do what it's contracted to do in a manner that's consistent with the regulations that are in place. If they can't, then maybe someone else can. But like Stace, I hope the Council can keep the debate focused on the problem at hand and not simply throw away a program without at least a thorough review of its overall merits first.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on July 10, 2005 to Elsewhere in Houston | TrackBack

Sort of like saying that a wardrobe malfunction warrants demolishing a baseball park.

Posted by: Charles Hixon on July 10, 2005 2:02 PM

I watched a recent broadcast on the Municipal Channel regarding HMS and the Council's wage against "pornography" and there was one speaker (a teacher in the area) whose comments didn't get the attention I thought they deserved. He noted that there are proper channels for viewers to go through to complain about a program that has been broadcast - a procedure already in place for just this purpose. But, Councilwoman Wiseman didn't bother to go through these channels at all. Appears she used her seat on the Council to bring it up. Not sure this was the best way to handle this one....

Posted by: Becky Earle on July 11, 2005 1:52 PM

Technically, Hix, it was a football stadium; but you're right. "Throwing the baby out with the bathwater," "swatting a fly with a sledgehammer," and "invading Iraq to fight terrorism" are cliches that come to mind.

Silliest quote: "This is no longer a free-speech-versus-censorship issue...."

OF COURSE it's a free-speech vs. censorship issue! THEY AIRED SOMETHING YOU THINK SHOULD BE CENSORED! Certainly, nudity on a public-access channel is arguably censorable, but nobody with half a brain falls for that "it's not about censorship" line. At least stand up for what you believe and knock it off with the weasel words.

Under its deal with nonprofit MediaSource, the city moves fees collected by cable providers to MediaSource to provide a forum for citizens that is free of government interference.

Well, apparently not. Shouldn't Berry at least have noted the irony of that statement?

Posted by: Mathwiz on July 16, 2005 3:02 PM