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AUSTINTOWN Channel doesn't censor, chief says



Published: Tue, September 25, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Channel 19 wouldn't receive any money from the 3.9-mill bond issue that will be on the ballot in November.

By IAN HILL

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

AUSTINTOWN -- Ralph Grossen says community television Channel 19 hasn't been censoring broadcasts of the township trustees meetings and the channel won't receive any money from the 3.9-mill, 26-year school bond issue on the November ballot.

However, Grossen, general manager of Channel 19 and a teacher at Fitch High School, told the audience at Monday night's township trustees meeting that some local residents still may use the censorship argument against approval of the bond issue.

Channel 19 is run by students at Fitch High School. It broadcasts public meetings and programs produced by students.

Grossen said some local residents have called the channel to say they feel it has censored some public comments from recent trustees meetings and they don't want bond issue money supporting a channel that censors public comments.

All the money from the bond issue would be earmarked for the construction of a new junior high school and the renovation of Frank Ohl Middle School, according to district officials. The bond issue would allow the district to borrow about $32 million for the construction projects.

Funding: Channel 19 receives about $30,000 each year from township trustees to pay for its operations. The trustees receive some of the money from Armstrong Cable.

In addition, Grossen said, the students who run the channel don't have time to censor public comment. Trustee meetings are broadcast on the channel at 7 p.m. Tuesdays, 10 a.m. Wednesdays, and 2 p.m. Thursdays.

"Channel 19 has never intentionally or never will it intentionally censor anyone," Grossen said. "It's ludicrous."

Bad tape: The concerns about censorship stem from comments that were not recorded at a recent trustees meeting, Grossen said.

A student had accidentally put an unusable tape in the video camera during the meeting, he said.

Grossen said the students also had technical difficulties with a camera at a recent meeting and, as a result, could not record some comments.

A total of 285 student-produced programs were broadcast on the channel during the 2000-2001 school year, Grossen said.

"Anyone who thinks we're censoring can call me," he said.

hill@vindy.com




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