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The following op-ed appeared in The Newton TAB. It was originally available at this link.

Reclaiming NewTV for the City of Newton

By Diana Applebaum
Guest Commentary
Tuesday, February 10, 2004

NewTV was not created to serve as the voice of a terrorist organization. Public access channels were intended to provide space on the dial for coverage of local issues.

Despite its charter mandate to focus "on Newton issues, events and activities," the rules of NewTV have been interpreted by the station's Board of Directors to permit the broadcast of anti-Semitic propaganda produced by Hezbollah, a group listed by the United States as a terrorist organization. If the NewTV charter is not more strictly construed the situation -- and the propaganda -- may get worse.

NewTV enables any Newton resident to produce programming, even programming with offensive political content, without censorship of any kind.

The Board of NewTV, however, has long stretched their mandate to permit any Newton resident to provide the station with a tape on any topic for broadcast. There has been no restriction on the content of tapes submitted, but the good sense of Newton residents has meant that the submission of offensive material has been extremely rare.

Until now.

Newton resident Arthur Obermayer has stepped forward to request the regular broadcast of the satellite feed of an Arab propaganda program called "Mosaic." As Obermayer told the TAB, "yes, there is anti-Semitism [on "Mosaic".]

Meeting in January, the Board of NewTV changed its rules to permit the regular broadcast of programs received by satellite. The station says that it will broadcast any satellite program requested by a Newton resident.

I asked the president of NewTV, Robert MacCready whether he would really broadcast a program produced by the Ku Klux Klan advocating the lynching of blacks, provided that it was requested by a Newton resident. He answered that, yes, he would be required to do so.

The two programs that Arthur Obermayer has actually requested are "Democracy Now!," a daily hour of reporting and advocacy from a position somewhere to the left of Che Guevara, and "Mosaic," a roundup of news from the Middle East with an anti-American, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic perspective. Mosaic includes clips from the televised voice of Hezbollah, one of the world's most vicious terrorist organizations.

The upshot is that Newton residents are being taxed to support the broadcast of terrorist propaganda, anti-American programming and the demonization of Jews. You and I are required to pay for this via a 4 percent tax taken out of our monthly Comcast or RCN bills.

The free speech provisions of the Constitution protect the right of individuals to publish even racist views. The idea of forcing people to pay to subsidize the publication of racist propaganda is not supported by the constitution.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of "Mosaic" is that, by setting itself up as a not-for-profit corporation, "Mosaic" has made itself eligible for broadcast over public access television channels. By the simple mechanism of finding individuals in Newton and in other cities who are willing to make a request to the management of their local public access channel, Mosaic is fast establishing a nationwide network of cable channels that broadcast its insidious propaganda at the taxpayer's expense.

Mayor Cohen has it in his power to reinterpret or rewrite the NewTV charter to require NewTV to return to the purpose for which it was created: to cover Newton issues, events, and activities.

The mayor should move firmly to prevent NewTV from being hijacked by those who would use it as a way to spread hatred and violence in an already troubled world.

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