Artistic Freedom on Cable TV

News Release: 
Friday, November 20, 2009

Public access TV is designed to provide an avenue for diverse voices in the community to express their ideas and push the envelope of creativity. Yet last summer, Bremerton-Kitsap Access Television took off the air the “Saturn Series,” a conceptual art show that combined assorted footage with political captions criticizing the Bush administration. Some captions appeared over images containing nudity, which drew complaints from a county commissioner and others.

With the help of the ACLU, producer Gary Nicholson regained his broadcasting privileges. We pointed out that it was impermissible prior restraint to ban a program on mere allegations of obscenity and noted the ACLU’s successful litigation on this precise issue in Seattle several years ago. The city attorney responded that the producer’s rights to use station facilities were restored and that the rules governing the station would be rewritten. Thanking us for our intervention, Nicholson noted, “We’d all be sitting ducks without the ACLU.”