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RyeTV Launches New Public Access Website

This story has been updated to include additional comments from Rye Cable and Communications Committee chair Stephen Fairchild.

RYE, N.Y. – Rye TV launched its new public access website on Wednesday amidstallegations of censorship from a former RTV volunteer. The website replaces the public access tab on RTV’s page on the city’s website.

Rye resident Leon Sculti has publicly accused RTV of censoring the now defunct public access tab feature of the organization's previous website after his independent production extolling the controversies surrounding Mayor Doug French’s rental property in Rye was not posted. Sculti's program was accepted to RTV's public access channel immediately upon submission.

According to Rye TV’s policy and procedures, the submission of programming to the public access channel is “free of content control by RTV.” While the document makes no mention of a specific censorship policy for the RTV’s web affiliates, it does state that the RTV “reserves the right” to distribute programming on the web and that “public access programs will be web posted based on space and staff time.”

Council member Joe Sack addressed the issue at last Wednesday’s city council meeting during Rye Cable and Communications Committee chair Stephen Fairchild’s update report

“The public access channel is public commons,” Fairchild said. “Everything else is evolving. We don’t consider (the web) public commons; we consider that a curated site.”

Fairchild went on to say that RTV, which is directly affiliated with the city, “holds the right” to curate what is circulated on its web affiliates. Fairchild also said that currently RTV does not have in place a set of written regulations regarding content management of RTV’s web affiliates and is working to parse out the specifics. 

“We’re playing around with what things should be going on the web,” Fairchild said. “We really need to expand (the current regulations) out. This technology has gotten away from us and quite frankly in some cases we’ve handled it ham handed.”

RTV’s Public Access Coordinator Nicole Levitsky confirmed that the committee is working on codifying regulations.

“The committee is discussing plans for policies for the website,” Levitsky said. 

Sculti called RTV’s policy inconsistent, and said that the written regulations, which are posted on RTV’s new website, should simply be broadened to govern web content as well.

“All they need is to take the language that protects the freedom of speech and broaden that out to include the web. Instead of them saying we have the right to censor the web they should just widen it out to include the web channels,” Sculti said. “They already have the policy in place they just need to put the web under it.” 

Fairchild wants "to make perfectly clear" that the City has "in no way" ever influenced or attempted to influence the content for any of Rye TV's outlets. Fairchild also confirmed his earlier statement that the committee is "playing around" with new online policies.

"The Rye TV committee is looking into how to set policy for these new, on-line outlets and there are several issues to investigate," Fairchild said. "As I am sure you are aware, policies, practices and access for different media are different."

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