GrassRoots TV adopts obscenity policy | AspenTimes.com

GrassRoots TV adopts obscenity policy

Charles Agar
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The GrassRoots TV board of directors released a new obscenity policy Friday in the wake of recent debate over a controversial program.

When Steve Campbell, a Glenwood Springs resident and founder of Citizens for 9/11 Truth, asked the Aspen cable-access station to air a Holocaust denial film, the board balked.

It first turned to the community for input in an open forum Oct. 11, then banned the piece, promising a policy to clarify the station’s position.

And Friday, it put the policy in place.

Excluding anything that is “repugnant” to community standards and denigrates any group, the policy makes the board editorial gatekeepers of a station that, for 35 years, bragged of unfettered public access.

“The decision of the organization is that GrassRoots is not going to be used as a vehicle to promote hate. That’s the essence of this policy. And that’s what I’m going to be looking for is the intent to provoke hate,” GrassRoots executive director John Masters said.

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Masters will not preview the hundreds of shows that run each year, but said if he or his staff notice anything obscene while transferring material for airing or happen to catch a controversial title, he’ll pull a program off the channel or bring the material to the executive board for review.

“Something would have to draw my attention to it,” Master said, and that includes complaints from viewers.

Masters won’t be quick to censor, he said, but if he finds something that is “grossly repugnant” ” language he called “pretty strong” ” he won’t hesitate.

“If they have a problem with my decision, they can take it to the board of directors,” Masters said.

The new policy more or less mirrors existing practice at the station, Masters said, but the clause gives him a guiding procedure for how to deal with troublesome material.

“What we now have is a procedure which perhaps didn’t exist before,” Masters said.

Masters said GrassRoots staff is keenly aware of what is produced in the studios, adding that it is programming coming from outside the community that is most suspect.

The policy comes from vague referrals to “obscenity” in the 1984 Communications Act that helped create public access television.

“I hope there’s controversial stuff on GrassRoots. Particularly in opinion and political programming,” Masters said. “But hopefully it’s another 35 years before we have to deal with this policy.”