Taking new tack, GrassRoots TV airs ‘Democracy Now!’
GrassRoots Television recently expanded its horizons by broadcasting its first-ever show from outside Aspen, “Democracy Now!”The program originally began on Pacifica Radio in 1996, eventually becoming Pacifica’s flagship news and public affairs program. Just after Sept. 11, 2001, “Democracy Now!” began broadcasting simultaneously on radio and television every weekday.For John Masters, executive director of GrassRoots, the show represents an exciting new prospect.”It’s a new step for us, and we’re curious how the community reacts to basically an imported show daily on their station,” Masters said.But in the past couple of years Masters said he’s heard from viewers wishing there was a TV news program that isn’t commercialized or underwritten by giant corporations. “Democracy Now!” is an independent, nonprofit news program that fits the bill.”It’s an independent point of view, and that independence makes their coverage of the news different than mainstream commercial television news,” Masters said.The show, the station’s first with a live satellite feed, costs GrassRoots TV $200 a month. An anonymous donor is funding the first month of the program. Crystal Video and Satellite in Carbondale installed the satellite equipment for free.So far the station has received positive feedback about the program, and Masters said he will likely look into getting other new programs that are available to community television stations.”We’re always open to other programs not community produced if they are requested and sponsored by members of the community,” Masters said. Incidentally, GrassRoots is known as one of the most prolific community stations in the country because of the number of citizens interested in airing and producing their own shows, he said.Generally, community TV stations focus on programming that’s most relevant to their community. Masters said a station in Arvada runs Iranian news because immigrants from the country in that area constantly requested news from their homeland.Friday’s “Democracy Now!” aired at 6 a.m. and 5 p.m., and contained reports on prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib and a story about a Los Angeles police beating victim who is suing the city for $25 million.”Democracy Now!” takes on Democrats and Republicans alike, Masters said. “I think they tend to lock onto people not doing what they say they’re going to do. It’s about democracy, and government serving the people.”Masters said the locally produced shows on GrassRoots have expanded in the past few months to include shows from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, an environmental show called “Sustainable Settings” and a discussion show on numerous topics with different moderators called “Local State of Mind.” A show from the Pitkin County Senior Center is currently looking for underwriting.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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