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City of Willmar suspends producers from city-run cable TV

WILLMAR -- The city, citing rules' violations, has suspended Bob Skor and Jason Dougherty of Willmar from producing their TV commentaries using city-owned cable TV equipment, studio facilities or airtime.

WILLMAR - The city, citing rules’ violations, has suspended Bob Skor and Jason Dougherty of Willmar from producing their TV commentaries using city-owned cable TV equipment, studio facilities or airtime.
The primary issue with episodes of Skor’s Kandi Wrapper, which began earlier this year, and a July 6 program produced by Dougherty, is related to an ongoing dispute between both men where they resorted to name calling or derogatory references, which likely violated Willmar Regional Access Channels rules or potentially Minnesota statutes, according to Interim City Administrator Kevin Halliday. Halliday notified Skor and Dougherty by letter dated July 17 of the suspension. Halliday said the city has spent considerable time, energy and expense attempting to resolve the ongoing issues related to episodes of Kandi Wrapper and Dougherty’s program.
Halliday wrote to Skor that the city received complaints regarding Skor’s program. In May of this year, the city pulled the 13th episode of the Kandi Wrapper because it included content that may be in violation of Minnesota statutes.
At that time, the city consulted with Brian Grogan of Minneapolis, an attorney specializing in cable communications law. In his reply to the city, Grogan noted that the Kandi Wrapper episode likely violated WRAC rules and procedures for using the facilities, services, equipment and channels, and that the program should no longer be aired on WRAC.
Halliday wrote to Dougherty that the city pulled the Kandi Wrapper episode in May based in part on a complaint that Dougherty submitted to the city because the Kandi Wrapper included content that may be in violation of Minnesota statutes.
Halliday said Dougherty appeared to have copied and edited large portions of Kandi Wrapper, the very program he complained about to the city.
“(In) fact, the Dougherty program appears to contain some of the same statements that you allege were defamation and harassment when the program material was included in the Kandi Wrapper program,’’ wrote Halliday.
Halliday said WRAC’s mission is “to provide opportunities for individuals, governmental, civic and charitable groups to produce and cablecast/broadcast programs that will promote open expression, bilingual education, economic growth, public forums, and enrichment of the multi-cultural, artistic and civic aspects of life in the regional area of Willmar.’’
Halliday wrote that WRAC is intended to be available to any individual or other entity wishing to cablecast/broadcast programs of nature consistent with the mission statement above. Under the rules, the city is authorized to make a final determination regarding any dispute not covered by the rules.
After reviewing the relevant facts and circumstances, and with Grogan’s assistance, the city suspended the right of Skor and Dougherty to use the access equipment, studio facilities, or airtime of WRAC for a period of 180 days effective July 20, 2015, and extending through Jan. 16, 2016.
Halliday said legal costs associated with Grogan’s production reviews, plus conversations and conference calls, could total nearly $5,000.

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