Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A letter to Brian Sickora, CEO of WSKG, Inc., Binghamton's "Public Broadcasting" outlet

In reference to our discussion of the
network time agreements affecting
WSKG's various radio and TV streams...

Dear Brian,

I have great respect for what you have done
and are doing at WSKG. I think you take your role
as having duties to your community.

I also have great respect for you as a person.
You seem very respectful, warm, generous, curious.
You seem to enjoy creating alliances instead of partitions.

This are most welcome changes :)

As I have traveled around this town over many years,
shopping for outlets for my own creative expression(*)...

(* Not that my voice is special.
I am utterly committed to the concept
of media democracy and public access.

I consider myself a test-case, an experiment.
If I can get my voice heard, then maybe others can too.
And I'm happy to show others how I managed it.

But -- if my voice is silenced,
then what other voices are silenced too?)

As I have tried to gain access to our airwaves,
the People's Spectrum, the airwaves that I partly own
and therefore, should have exercisable rights of access,
one thing has become clear:

Network Time Agreements are one of the biggest
barriers to
having more local programming
on our local airwaves. This applies to WSKG
as well as most of the commercial outlets
in town, for most of the broadcast day.

It seems, A) Someone other than local people,
or B) a tiny minority, or C) just one person,
is making programming decisions
as to what tens of thousands of
local people get to see and hear on
radio and TV.

Big blocks of prime-time are sold off,
auctioned off, to some non-local programming

After the deal is done,
then no one, not even the local GM
has the "right" to preempt
the network stream with local programming.

Now I realize that sometimes the money
seems to flow the other way, where the
cableco / broadcaster / relay
actually pays for the network content.

But the end result is the same:
Once the contract is in place,
the time is locked out for other purposes.

Now let's look at legal agency.

WSKG, Inc. is nothing at all.
It is a legal fiction chartered by NY State.

Corporations don't have arms/hands,
so they can't sign contracts.
The legal fiction must rely upon
a designated human agent
with power of attorney for the corp.

This is the CEO, the President,
the Executive Director, or the
General Manager of the station
that signs contracts.

Now since I'm talking to you and not the GM
of WBNG, Fox40, local Time Warner,
ClearChannel's 6 or Citadel's 5 radio stations, etc.

...let's ask, where does the CEO of
a "public broadcasting" affiliate get the authority
to sign away large blocks of broadcast time
and therefore make them unavailable
to local people or local programming?

Let's look at the chain of authority:
  • We the People form the State of NY by compact and mutual consent.
    The State is a fiction which exists to serve the public which creates it.
    The people endow the state with no rights, only duties to serve,
    and necessary powers.

  • The State charters broadcast and cable corporations,
    and pass along the duty to serve the people.

  • In the case of WSKG, Inc (a public charity),
    the Board of Trustees are delegated with the
    duties to serve
    the people which created it.

  • The Board of Trustees hires the CEO to engage in contracts.

So the way I see things: you are granted authority,
by the people, to serve the people
, and yet there are
all these reasons which justify keeping the people OUT
of local broadcasting, away from having access to the airwaves
which we own

Can you hear my frustrations and puzzlement, my dear friend?

To sign contracts on behalf of the millions of NY consumers,
is an incredible duty and privilege which has been granted to you.

I pray that you consider this well,
and exercise this power with great discretion,
and with complete cognizance of, and utter diligence to
those who granted you this authority

Kindest Regards,
Bill Huston

Will Huston
Binghamton NY Phone: 607-321-7846

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