Tampa Area Cable Access Takes a Pugnacious Message to the Airwaves
The first commercial begins with shots of despots Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin, warning of the dangers from government leaders totally controlling public media. By the spot's end, the picture has resolved into photos of four Hillsborough County commissioners, drawing an uncomfortable and serious comparison.
Weeks after filing a lawsuit against the county for voting to end the community's side of cable access while maintaining the government's end, Speak Up Tampa Bay has unleashed a series of commercials to raise money for their legal fund. The first and most striking ad, which I described up top, is viewable here.
Another, slightly less in-your-face ad can be seen here, showing cable access programs cut off without warning. The third, and funniest spot, features a longtime access host literally getting the rug -- and the background and the mics -- pulled out from under her.
All the ads make the same basic point: That County officials' decision to drop cable access programs created by the pulbic, diverting all the money collected for the program to shows touting the government and elected officials, is Unconstitutional.
It's hard to know whether this action has any chance of success. And Speak Up's very success in getting its commercials seen on YouTube -- along with efforts by other producers to keep their shows alive online -- may turn out to be the most persuasive argument against their thesis.
Check out the commercials yourself below. And speak up here -- is this much ado about nothing, or an important First Amendment issue?