WEST WINDSOR: Cable TV rules during elections to change

By Jennifer Kohlhepp, Staff Writer
   WEST WINDSOR — The township plans to revise the ordinance that governs the use of its cable television channel during election season.
   The Township Council seeks to eliminate two regulations on political programming. A public hearing on the changes will take place at the next township meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. on Dec. 9 in the municipal building.
   Eliminating one of the rules means that declared candidates, their spouses and agents would be allowed to advocate any cause, viewpoint or opposed policy of a partisan nature on the township’s cable television channel. The township previously prohibited this for 100 days before an election.The second rule up for elimination states, “The political programming preclusion described in this section is inapplicable to persons receiving incidental air time as part of a public meeting. The preclusion will not apply to any comments made within the context of the operations of ordinary government business.”
   Council President George Borek said unbeknownst to the Township Council these portions of the ordinance are no longer compliant.
   ”When political season started this year it was brought to our attention that a federal law changed and our ordinance was no longer compliant,” he said. “During the election cycle we took these restrictions off. This is basically changing the ordinance to bring it in compliance.” The ordinance will continue to regulate the use of the channel for political programming, stating that the channel is not intended as a mechanism to promote any particular issue or candidate for public office. The ordinance also will continue to allow cablecasting of nonpartisan programs sponsored by mutual third parties designed to inform and educate the citizens of election issues and candidates such as debates sponsored by the League of Women Voters.
   The cable channel will continue to broadcast live coverage of meetings and events; taped meetings, shows and events; staff-originated programming produced by the municipality; approved outside-originated programming, bulletin board information and emergency broadcasts.
   The township will also continue to broadcast promotional announcements for township-sponsored events, programs and activities and for events, charities and outside organizations holding events in town.
   The township does not allow the broadcast of obscene or salacious material; material that violates federal, state or local law or lotteries.
   Township broadcasts can be seen on Comcast Channel 27 and Verizon Channels 41 and 42.