'Technical difficulties' keep meeting of City Council off cable channel

September 30, 1997|By Robert Guy Matthews | Robert Guy Matthews,SUN STAFF

In the latest fight between the warring political agendas of the Baltimore City Council president and the housing commissioner, last evening's council meeting was not broadcast on the city's cable channel.

In a missive delivered by a mayoral aide moments before videotaping would have begun, Lawrence A. Bell III, the council president, was told that the meeting would not be aired on Channel 44 because of "technical difficulties."

"I was assured by the mayor [Friday] that the show would get on the air," Bell told council members. "I don't know what happened tonight."

Clint Coleman, the mayor's spokesman, said that the cable lines and the equipment had not been checked. He also said that the staffing necessary to run a live feed of the council meeting was not available on short notice and would have had to be paid overtime.

In the past few weeks, Bell has balked because Daniel P. Henson III, the housing commissioner, wants to nearly quadruple to $1,600 the weekly fee charged to videotape council meetings and hearings. Henson says the increase is necessary to cover production costs. Bell says that Henson is overcharging and moved to get an outside vendor to tape the meetings and hearings.

But during yesterday's council meeting, a Bell aide was operating a camera and another camera was unmanned but fixed on Bell.

The council's liaison to the Office of Cable and Communications, Councilman Robert Curran, said the mayor assured him that yesterday's council meeting would be aired. He said he would introduce a resolution next week requesting that the station's staff appear before the council.

"Maybe we will get an explanation of why we are not on [last night]," Curran told council members.

Whether the council meetings would be rebroadcast throughout the week on the cable channel as is customary is still in question.

Pub Date: 9/30/97

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