A controversial oath administered to URTV board members at their last meeting will be “clarified” to address concerns about a confidentiality clause, a press release from the public access channel announced Wednesday.
A provision in the oath that required board members to “keep confidential all the affairs of URTV, except to other members of this board in good standing or URTV staff, as necessary to the conduct of my duties,” was harshly criticized by board member Richard Bernier. URTV is required to operate under the state’s open meetings law as part of its management agreement with the city of Asheville.
Buncombe County Board of Commissioners Chairman David Gantt called the oath “suspect” and directed the county attorney to investigate its compliance with the law.
URTV receives what are known as PEG funds from a fee charged to all cable subscribers that is allocated by Buncombe County and the city.
URTV Executive Director Pat Garlinghouse had asserted that the oath was standard and that the wording only meant board members would keep confidential matters that they would handle in closed session, such as personnel decisions and property acquisitions.
The release announces that “URTV has always been subject to the NC Open Meetings Act and will continue to comply. The Board will review the Oath of Office to draft language that does not imply otherwise.”
The full press release is below.
— David Forbes, staff writer
URTV Clarifies Oath of Office.
Many new services available for public participation.
Asheville, NC; (January 28, 2009) The Board of Directors wishes to thank the public for their interest and recent comments about URTV, Western North Carolina’s Media Center. The Board is listening. Thanks also go to the entire community for continued support and programming for Charter Communications Channel 20 since 2006. URTV has always been subject to the NC Open Meetings Act and will continue to comply. The Board will review the Oath of Office to draft language that does not imply otherwise.
URTV is one of the most valuable resources that we have for citizen communication and information. The Board has full confidence in its management.
URTV is a non-profit community media center that provides a televised forum for legal, non-commercial speech–a place where you can express yourself creatively at little or no cost. URTV offers training programs to certify the public to use media tools that range in choice from cameras to editing suites to studio production facilities. Shows produced by local citizens are transmitted across Asheville and Buncombe County and on the web. We invite the public to attend orientation at 6:00 p.m. any Wednesday (except holidays) to discover how everyone can participate in public access to media. For more information, check out www.urtv.org.