Letters to the Editor

A public request to Summit's public access channel (Comcast 36; Verizon 33) to broadcast the LWV 10/29/11 Summit Debate


Gentlemen:  I am the communications director for the Summit Democrats campaign. More importantly, I am a citizen of Summit who depends upon our local paper, the Independent Press (both in print and online); our online papers, The Alternative Press and Summit Patch; and our community's public access, 501(c) 3 Hometowne TV  for news about Summit.  At this time, Summit is engaged in an important and unique local election -- a once-in-four-years mayoral contest, featuring three candidates running for the first time in our community's recorded political history, and three Common Council seats:  Ward 1, Ward 2 and At Large. At this point, 16 days before the Nov. 8 Election, I know I speak for the Democratic candidates in thanking TAP, Patch and the IP for their coverage, serving as Summit's true free press.  Our only cost for this coverage has been for ads, which we chose to further inform the public about our campaign.  On the other hand, almost all of the candidates' coverage -- Democratic, Republican and Independent alike -- has been aired only after the candidates/campaigns have paid several hundred dollars for the privilege and been "assigned" an interviewer, usually Fred Honold.

Unfortunately, in this most important election year, the public will have the opportunity to see the candidates meet and debate in only one single forum -- the LWV debate this Saturday, Oct. 29.  To our dismay, we recently learned that Hometowne TV will NOT be taping this debate, because it is not sponsored by you!  How can that be?  Who sets this policy?  Doesn't the public have the right, through their public access channel,  which is part of the City of Summit's agreement with Comcast and Verizon, to have events as important as this one broadcast FREE?  
Frank:  I know you are the chair of Ellen Dickson's campaign, per the papers filed at the NJ Election Commission; Fred: I know you are an active Republican whose interviews with the three mayoral candidates deserve to be viewed by an impartial third party panel to determine their fairness or lack thereof; Dan: I know you are the "Democrat" on the Hometowne TV board who is somehow "permitted" to conduct interviews with candidates, preferably Democrats.  Gentlemen: Please explain how you believe Homtowne TV's "nonpartisan", apolitical policy is working for the citizens of Summit, and what you understand are the obligations of a nonprofit, public access channel.
 While we are grateful to TAP for its willingness to provide a video feed on its website, that in no way meets the community standard for a public access channel.  And, may I remind you, TAP, Patch and the IP are for-profit organizations who truly owe the public nothing beyond a free and fair press.  I look forward to your response, or better yet, to seeing Hometowne TV's cameras at the debate this Saturday, Oct. 29.
Phyllis Sank
Communications Director, Summit Democrats Campaign

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