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Ventura County Roundup / West | VENTURA

Mayor Wants Cable Talks to Be Public

October 09, 1998|MARINA MALIKOFF

Picking up where Avenue TV Cable left off, Ventura Mayor Jim Friedman announced Thursday that he will ask the City Council for all negotiations between the city and two cable operators to be conducted in front of the camera, rather than behind closed doors.

Friedman's announcement came after Avenue TV Cable on Wednesday won a temporary order from a federal judge that forced the city to allow the station to videotape a series of workshops it was conducting to collect residents' ideas on cable service.

City officials, who had barred Avenue TV camera operators from videotaping a workshop, responded by canceling the sessions. Information from the workshops was to be used by the city to negotiate its cable-franchise agreements with Avenue TV Cable and Century Communications Corp.

"If it is the right to information he wants to provide the public, then let's give it to him to a degree he probably never imagined," Friedman said Thursday. "It would be the most complete exercise of open government and free exchange of information that anyone could imagine."

Both Avenue TV Cable owner Steve George and Century Communications general manager Kyle Smith welcomed the opportunity to negotiate publicly.

"We have nothing to hide in these negotiations," Smith said. " . . . I think the people need to know."

George agreed, but he said that exposing the details of the discussions may make his bid vulnerable to other vendors.

However, Friedman said he still was not prepared to open the workshops up to the camera's scrutiny, because it may inhibit some participants from speaking freely and could make the city vulnerable to lawsuits.

Friedman said he will make the motion at the next City Council meeting Oct. 19.

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