SRTV Task Force Predicts Return of Station Soon

    Leaving their first face-to-face negotiations with administrators, Student-Run Television task force members were optimistic, but still remained unsure about whether or not top university officials would accept some provisions in the revised station charter.

    Kunal Sukhija/Guardian
    A.S. Commissioner of Student Services Maurice Junious, the chair of the SRTV task force rewriting the station charter, has been absent from both council and task force meetings.

    “I feel really good that we’ll have the station back in the next couple of weeks,” A.S. Vice President of Academic Affairs and task force member Harry Khanna said.

    The task force, made up of A.S. executives and senators, had been mulling the station’s charter with SRTV co-Manager Andrew Tess since it was shut down by the council in November, and subsequently kept off the air by administrators.

    At the Jan. 30 meeting, acting Assistant Vice Chancellor of Student Life Gary R. Ratcliff and Campus Counsel Daniel W. Park kept mute about the university’s stand on banning “graphical depictions of sexual activity involving nudity” on the broadcast. Ratcliff had previously said that the university would not back off from requiring the clause. During negotiations, the task force remained unwilling to include the ban, which was first passed by the A.S. Council in October, then overturned by student vote in last week’s special election.

    “We will abide by the election results and take the clause about banning sexual nudity out of the charter,” Thurgood Marshall College Student Council Chair and task force member Denis Shmidt stated in an e-mail. “[Ratcliff] knows that we have to do this, and we know that we have to do this, so there really was no room for negotiations on that point.”

    During negotiations of the new charter, Ratcliff sidestepped the task force’s questions about the nudity provision until he could consult his superiors, particularly Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph W. Watson, who is currently out of the city.

    Ratcliff and task force members also exchanged ideas of how the station would prescreen material. The university currently wants a program review board, which would require show producers to fill out forms about their broadcasts and allow board members to review broadcasts if there was possible indecent material involved, according to Ratcliff.

    Tess was vehemently against the idea.

    “It sounds like prior review, which can be construed as illegal,” he said.

    Instead, the task force has written in a requirement for show producers to inform the station operations manager and programming director of broadcasts with questionable material and also videotape the airing.

    To deal with postbroadcast violations, task force members included a “program review panel” into a draft of the station charter. The panel would “review complaints about any producer or show to determine whether or not the charter was violated,” according to the draft. The group, made up of the station’s manager, programming director and an appointed A.S. senator, could also recommend sanctions if it decides the charter was violated.

    Ratcliff’s program review board would be useless if combined with a postreview panel, since the board would not have the authority to act if informed of questionable broadcasts, according to Khanna.

    “The program review board would have no teeth,” he said.

    However, Ratcliff again made no guarantees, saying he would confer with Watson before approving the charter.

    But Ratcliff generally welcomed other charter revisions, including placing the station’s operations ultimately in the hands of the A.S. commissioner of communications to reflect language in the A.S. constitution. Per the station’s old charter, Commissioner of Student Services Maurice Junious served as the liaison between the A.S. Council and SRTV, according to Tess.

    “People weren’t well-versed in our operations and the A.S. didn’t know about the discrepancy between who had power over SRTV in the A.S. constitution and our old charter,” he said. “Now the two documents agree, and people are aware of who to go to with SRTV-related issues.”

    The change phases out Junious, who has been conspicuously missing from the controversy over the SRTV shutdown, according to Tess.

    “He hasn’t been helping with revising the charter,” Tess said. “I don’t think he’s done a proper job of dealing with the situation.”

    Junious, the appointed chair of the task force, has attended only one meeting, according to a task force member who sits on the council and wished to remain anonymous.

    “He’s completely missing in action,” the official said. “He hasn’t shown up for anything, council- or task force-wise. But we’ll move forward to get the station back with or without him.”

    Junious did not return a call for comment.

    Tess suggested impeaching Junious, specifically to make an impact on candidates for the student services position in the upcoming general election.

    “It will send a message that this isn’t a job to be played with,” he said. “People need to take their job seriously.”

    Although Ratcliff did not formally agree to any part of the charter during the talks, administrators have and will show willingness to compromise, according to Shmidt.

    “I am confident [administrators] will accept our charter because [they] want progress just as much as the A.S.,” he stated in an e-mail.

    However, major hurdles do so still exist for the task force, especially getting Ratcliff to let go of the nudity clause, according to Tess. But, no matter what the process, Tess said a conclusion is in sight.

    “We’ll have a solution to that nudity ban,” he said. “Whether in this task force or in court, we’ll have a solution.”

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