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Public Access

NEWS
March 11, 2007 | By Craig R. McCoy, Edward Colimore and Art Carey INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
After the Bhopal chemical leak in India killed thousands in 1984, Congress decided public safety required openness about the chemical plants in our midst. Now, some officials have decided secrecy is better. Officials across the United States, including some in the Philadelphia region, have ended public access to information about facilities with hazardous materials, a new survey shows. Citing the 9/11 attacks and security concerns, they refuse to release the information despite a 1986 federal law called the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act. It requires communities to develop - and make public - plans for coping with disasters at chemical or hazardous-material plants or facilities.
NEWS
June 21, 2004 | By Dan Berger
As the state Senate considers a proposal for establishing a Keystone Opportunity Improvement Zone in downtown Philadelphia for Comcast Corp., it bears noting that Comcast has not been a good corporate citizen for the residents of Philadelphia on several issues, including the establishment of public-access cable television. Philadelphia, Comcast's flagship city, remains the only large city in the nation without this community-based form of communication. Comcast's record here should be taken into account when considering whether to grant the company a significant tax abatement, especially for prime Center City real estate.
NEWS
July 26, 2002 | By Juliet Chung INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A federal judge has thrown out a suit filed by local groups and individuals charging that the City of Philadelphia was violating their First Amendment rights by failing to ensure local public-access channels on cable television. In a decision handed down Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Robert F. Kelly dismissed the suit with prejudice, saying that the plaintiffs - 27 groups and individuals, including the local chapter of the National Organization for Women, the Kensington Welfare Rights Union, the Philadelphia Unemployment Project, and the Philadelphia Lesbian and Gay Task Force - did not have standing to file the suit and failed to show that their First Amendment rights had been violated.
NEWS
July 14, 1996 | By Stephanie Brenowitz, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
The Township Committee has taken the first step toward eliminating public programming from Channel 18, the local-access channel, because members fear someone might try to show racially or sexually offensive material. No one has ever attempted to show something deemed objectionable. In fact, no group besides Eastern Regional High School has ever tried to show anything. Until Ronald Richards. He has tried since January to telecast Township Committee meetings that he has taped, but the committee has repeatedly denied his requests.
NEWS
February 23, 1999 | By Clea Benson, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The city's cable subscribers are supposed to be able to view community meetings, local dance performances, and other shows produced by Philadelphia residents on five of their cable channels. Instead, they're getting the Eternal Word Network, C-Span, and Channel 69 from Allentown. Fifteen years after City Council passed an ordinance calling for public-access cable facilities and channels, the city still hasn't filed incorporation papers for the nonprofit entity that would oversee the system.
NEWS
January 18, 1998 | By Michelle Crouch, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
Township Committeeman Ron Richards doesn't want to read letters to the editor. He wants to watch them. That's why he has been trying for more than two years to open the regional public-access station, Channel 18, to the public. "I would like residents of the community to have a chance to get in front of the television camera and share their opinions in what would be a visual equivalent of a letter to the editor," Richards said. His vision may soon become reality. Last month, Richards set up an advisory panel to establish guidelines regulating the usage of Channel 18, the township's public-access channel.
NEWS
August 12, 1996 | By Stephanie Brenowitz, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
Voorhees Independent Party founders John Markwardt and Tom Fanelli kicked off their campaign for Township Committee a month ago with an ad calling for candidates' forums on the local public-access channel. A week later, the current Township Committee, made up of Democrats and Republicans, introduced an ordinance that would eliminate public access from Channel 18. The ordinance will be voted on tonight after a public hearing. In the meantime, Markwardt tried to apply to use the public-access channel for campaign programming before the ordinance is voted on, but he had some difficulties: The township told him to file his application with Eastern Regional High School, the school told him to go to Garden State Cable, and Garden State told him to go back to the township.
NEWS
September 12, 1993 | By Nancy Pasternack, INQUIRER CORRESPONDENT
Frank Moore is in a tight spot. If he refuses to show White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger's Race and Reason video series through his public-access cable TV station, he will be breaking the law. But if he does carry the series, he will incur the wrath of viewers and civil rights groups, not to mention offending his own sensibilities. As general manager of Lower Bucks Cablevision Inc., Moore said he is compelled by federal law to show on a first-come, first-served basis any video brought to his station by a resident of the community.
NEWS
September 23, 1995 | By Chris Conway, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
A state police plan to make criminal background histories more readily available to the public drew sharp criticism from privacy advocates, defense attorneys and civil liberties groups at a public hearing yesterday. The proposal would increase significantly public access to details about arrests and convictions in New Jersey. Anyone with the subject's name and birth date or Social Security number could get a complete New Jersey criminal history for $15. The plan has aroused significant privacy concerns.
NEWS
May 22, 2003 | By Joseph A. Gambardello INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Delaware River Port Authority's board decided yesterday to overhaul the agency's bylaws to open itself to greater public scrutiny and to check the power of its chief executive. The action, proposed by Pennsylvania State Sen. Vincent J. Fumo, came as the bistate agency found itself embroiled in controversy over contracts for billboards at one of its four toll bridges. The original agreements had been negotiated by the authority's former chief executive, Paul Drayton, and taken to the board only after the deal was done.
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