May 25, 2024

Sullivan Slams TV9 Board

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Seekonk Select Board member Justin Sullivan criticized the Board of Directors of public access channel TV9 Wednesday.

Sullivan said TV9’s recent decision to suspend broadcasting, as well as sending employees into town buildings to remove equipment was “as stunning as it was unnecessary.”

The Select Board meeting was aired on the Town of Seekonk’s YouTube channel.

Ongoing negotiations between the Town and TV9 have broken down over the terms of a proposed Access Agreement. The latest meeting between Town Administrator Shawn Cadime, Sullivan, who serves as the Board’s liaison,  and representatives of TV9 was abruptly cancelled.

“The appearance of TV9 Board’s impulsiveness is rivaled only by that of potential manipulation,” Sullivan continued. “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. These funds received by Comcast are considered town revenue by the State and require appropriation through Town Meeting like all other budgets.”

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. Make no mistake, this all could’ve been avoided had TV9 acted more in good faith by refraining from their actions on April 1.”

A statement posted Monday on the town website read: “As of April 1st, Seekonk Cable Access, LLC (TV9), has suspended all programming on our local cable access channels, including public meetings such as the Board of Selectmen, Planning Board, and Zoning Board of Appeals. This decision was made by the Board of Directors of Seekonk Cable Access, LLC, without any discussion with the Board of Selectmen. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

“We are deeply troubled by the decisions made by the Seekonk Cable Access Board of Directors, particularly in light of the ongoing negotiations for a Cable Access Agreement between the Town and Seekonk Cable Access. These actions undermine the collaborative efforts we have been diligently working on.”

“As you are aware, the public access channels rightfully belong to the Town, and the funds received by Seekonk Cable Access, LLC originate from public funds provided by the Town of Seekonk. It is imperative that we uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in the management of these funds, ensuring they serve the best interests of our community.”

The past year has been tumultuous for TV9.

TV9’s Board of Directors was dismissed at a special meeting held last July. A new board was elected in December. Andrea Rosseter is serving as President and Lori Saudade is serving as Vice President.

The state is continuing to investigate allegations of discrimination filed against the former Board of Directors.  Deborah Hoch and Kristen Montgomery who had previously served on the board, filed complaints with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination in Boston.

Hoch and Montgomery both allege they were discriminated against by Seekonk Cable Access, on the basis of age and gender.

Former TV9 President David Saad dismissed Hoch’s allegations.

The Select Board discussed potential litigation regarding TV9 in an executive session Wednesday.

TV9’s website has been taken down, although the station’s Facebook page is still active. The TV9 Board is scheduled to meet again on April 16.

The April 10 Select Board meeting can be viewed by clicking on this link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nSTShF2b_x0&t=6549s.

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