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Provincialism Reigns

August 07, 1988

As a bona fide political junkie, I have been confronted with a situation so ludicrous that, were it not so frustrating, it would be laughable. Local broadcasts of the Democratic National Convention on C-SPAN (Cox Cable 25) were pre-empted by tape-delayed rebroadcasts of San Diego City Council meetings. And as the situation now stands, the same will occur during this month's coverage of the Republican National Convention.

I prefer C-SPAN over ABC, CBS, CNN, or NBC because C-SPAN brings uninterrupted, gavel-to-gavel coverage, without commentary, with the cameras focused on the podium and the floor. The other networks bring only what they consider to be the key speeches, and spend the rest of their meager (two-hour) air time talking with each other, talking with politicians, and generally doing everything but bringing coverage of the floor of the convention.

So, quite clearly, there is both a qualitative and a quantitative difference between C-SPAN's coverage and that of the networks. For instance, C-SPAN carried Sen. Sam Nunn's foreign policy platform plank speech, while none of the other networks presented it on the air.

Cox Cable said that it is up to the city councils involved to request Cox to make a scheduling accommodation. I then called each of the offices of the San Diego City Council representatives and asked that just such a request be made. I offered the following possible solutions:

1. Show the various city council meetings either on Cox 23 (educational) or Cox 24 (public access).

2. Show the various city council meetings immediately after the live broadcast of the convention proceedings.

3. Carry the convention broadcast on either Cox 23 or 24.

The San Diego City Council people with whom I spoke told me that it would take a vote of the City Council to approve any kind of alteration of their broadcast arrangement with Cox, and that the prospect of such action taking place anytime before a couple of months from now was extremely remote.

Let's not forget that these conventions occur once every four years, whereas the San Diego and Chula Vista city councils meet weekly. Not only that, but the local council meetings are open to the public.

Here we are in one of the 10 largest cities in America, one that prides itself on its supposed sophistication. Yet, when it comes right down to it, the narrow, provincial concerns of local politicians and bureaucrats predominate over the broader public interest. It serves only to expose San Diego, the San Diego and Chula Vista city councils, and Cox Cable to public ridicule.

The real losers in all this are the literate, educated people who prefer to think for themselves.

RICHARD D. STRASSMAN

San Diego

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