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Demetria Shabazz: Amherst Media responds to report on lawsuit

  • mactrunk


Thursday, June 07, 2018
Amherst Media responds to report about lawsuit

We write to correct some errors in the article “Amherst Media sues over property dispute” published May 30.

Referring to our lawsuit, the defendant in this case, Gerald G. “Jerry” Guidera Jr. misspoke that, “Amherst Media is using taxpayer money to finance this shakedown.” The truth is that Amherst Media’s operational funds do not come from your tax dollars — local, state, or otherwise.

For the past 42 years, a portion of the fees that cable subscribers pay in their monthly bill is what funds the services and local coverage of public, educational and governmental programming for the town of Amherst. Our other source of financial support comes from members and donors who believe that strong community media is a key feature of a vibrant democracy. Not a single cent of the funds we are raising to build a new home for Amherst Media comes from any tax appropriation.

Intended as a means of ensuring that cable companies such as Comcast and other media corporations would not monopolize the means of communication, Congress in 1971 passed a law that stipulated that for cable operators to use the public rights of way to run cable lines, operators should pay a fee or “rent” for this privilege. The Federal Communications Commission ruled that municipalities that hold contracts with cable providers should receive part of the fees they charge their customers to fund public-educational-governmental access channels.

Furthermore, we are not involved in any sort of “shakedown.” After several attempts to find a mutually agreeable solution to the issue that drives our lawsuit, we have sought redress through the courts as a last resort.

Also, contrary to Guidera’s speculation, we are still moving to build on our Main and Gray streets property. We are fully committed to this endeavor and appreciate the community’s continued support as we embark on a capital campaign to build a new media and education facility that will serve the residents of Amherst into the future.

Demetria Shabazz

Amherst

The writer is president of the Amherst Media board of directors, which submitted the letter.