Mike Day, lawyer for local channel Midcoast Community Television, likes to crow about the central role MCTV will play in coastside emergencies.
During today’s tsunami officials were active in setting up warning signs and clearing the beach, closing the harbor, and closely monitoring the incoming tsunami. On the web Montara Fog, Coastsider, and the Half Moon Bay Review were busy reporting on the story and offering regular updates. However, repeated checks of Channel 6 and the MCTV web site during the course of the day showed that MCTV was seemingly unaware of the tsunami, continuing to broadcast its pre-programmed shows without any indication of the public emergency.
Although there have been no reports of damage along the coastside, according to geologist Gerard Fryer, a geophysicist for the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii, “We dodged a bullet.”
The leadership of MCTV has claimed in the past that the capability to post emergency notices on the television via Channel 6, on the web via their web site, as well as the ability to broadcast live make up an important part of the rationale for why MCTV should continue to receive large government subsidies.
MCTV’s failure to respond to the tsunami is part of a pattern of low activity and minimal public engagement. In July of last year, a grand jury report was highly critical of MCTV, berating it for its lack of new programming, its lack of public oversight, and its lack of interest in public input.
MCTV’s contracts with San Mateo County and the City of Half Moon Bay–which not only supports the station financially but give it monopoly control of our community access channel–expire this year. The contracts were signed fifteen years ago and have been updated every three years since then.