June 18, 2024

Town Might Cut Ties with TV9

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The Town of Seekonk may be cutting ties with local access channel TV9 following months of controversies.

On Wednesday, the Select Board will consider rescinding the designation of the Seekonk Cable Access Corporation as the cable access provider for the town. Negotiations between the Town and TV9 over a new Access Agreement have stalled.

TV9 suspended operations on April 1. Their website has also been taken down.

“The appearance of TV9 Board’s impulsiveness is rivaled only by that of potential manipulation,” Select Board member Justin Sullivan said at the April 10 meeting. “The Town of Seekonk holds the cable licensing agreement with Comcast. Comcast pays (the town) five percent of revenues through your subscriber fees to be used for local television with PEG (public access, education, and government) limits.”

Sullivan noted TV9’s financial records “showed in excess of $500,000 in cash and securities, (as well as) a rental property that they collect income from.”

In the last six months, the town has withheld over $128,000 in funding designated for TV9.

“TV9 had been working in its normal capacity under the understanding that TV9 would, and in anticipation of, receiving the two checks held by the Town for that purpose,” said TV9 Board President Andrea Rosseter. 

There was also a resignation from the TV9 Board last month. In an April 2 letter, Peter Hoogerzeil explained one of the reasons for his departure was the decision not to televise a ‘Meet the Candidates’ program before the annual Town Election. Board members David Viera, Luis Sousa, and Jeffrey Starr Mararian were all seeking town offices at the time.

“There is not one instance in the past where the ‘Meet the Candidates’ program was not produced and broadcasted when board members were up for election or reelection,” Hoogerzeil wrote. “Seekonk Cable Access would always seek an independent moderator for the program, and the Board of Directors would refrain from submitting questions for the forum.”

Hoogerzeil believed the decision had done “irreparable damage” to the board.

“Unfortunately, the decision to cave and, in a sense, agree with the inaccurate criticism has now politicized the board moving forward. I cannot continue to serve under that unfortunate circumstance,” Hoogerzeil added.

The state is investigating allegations of discrimination filed against the former Board of Directors of TV9.  Ex-board members Deborah Hoch and Kristen Montgomery filed complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) in Boston last September.

Hoch appeared at the Select Board’s November 15 meeting.

Hoch urged the board to hold off on a funding agreement with the TV9 Board of Directors until the Attorney General’s office releases their findings.

“They are concerned about the illegality of the board at TV9,” Hoch said, adding there may have been violations of the bylaws as well as “concerns of assets being misused.”

David Saad, the former President of the Board, denied Hoch’s allegations.

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