[Editor’s Note: The following was submitted by Ed Bowie, executive director of Acadiana Open Channel.]
I’d like to take advantage of the current dustup involving political debates that have been cablecast on AOC. For those interested in the real issue, it’s not who showed or didn’t. The real issue is about how our community gets information. It is critically important for a successful society that those citizens who partake in the decisions of the collective, such as activists, politicians, journalists, corporations and voters, have information. The free flow and exchange of information is as important to our democracy as water is to our health. Good information makes for a good democracy, and bad water is bad for your health. Enough with the bad metaphors, AOC is proud to say that nearly any group can produce a political debate. We’ll make every possible accommodation to ensure that it is cablecast, possibly live and with replays.
When a group comes to us, they are usually activists, such as the group involved with the current issue, or semi-neutral people who also care about sharing information, such as the League of Women Voters or Chamber of Commerce. So far this season, the only group to produce a debate did so under the same policy that everyone in the community follows when they produce political programming. They made what some may consider bad choices for their panels, a local candidate took exception to that panelist and did not participate. AOC is sorry the information that candidate could have shared was not available to the community. We consider this a missed opportunity for every voter.
AOC can only ensure equal chances and opportunities; we can’t ensure how those are used. Please give it a try. The more conversation we are able to cablecast the better our community will be served.