Council refuses to renew MediaSource contract
Houston City Council gave Mayor White a rare setback today, refusing to approve the MediaSource contract.
The Chronicle's Matt Stiles reports:
In a confusing and unexpected vote today, a divided City Council refused to renew the contract for the embattled cable public access channel Houston MediaSource.
After months of debate over a few sexually explicit programs, the council split 7-7, with one member absent, on the proposal to provide MediaSource with $800,000 in fees that cable companies are required to collect from subscribers to fund public access programming. Council measures fail on tie votes.
Councilman M.J. Khan caused some confusion with his vote against the contract, saying he supports MediaSource but wants to find a way to put some control on programming.
White, who supported renewing the contract, said he expected a close vote, but was surprised that the contract was rejected. He said he still hopes to find a consensus on the council for saving the public access channel, but could not predict whether MediaSource would continue as the contractor.
Councilmember and brand new father Ronald Green was absent and might have provided the winning vote for the mayor. According to Stiles, council can take up the issue again in 90 days.
Voting against the contract were Councilmembers Khan, Lawrence, Wiseman, Holm, Ellis, Sekula-Gibbs and Berry. Voting for the contract were Mayor White and Councilmembers Quan, Galloway, Goldberg, Edwards, Garcia and Alvarado.
Mayor White can probably win this vote in 90 days if he really wants to make it a priority, but at this point one has to question whether he wants to expend the political capital on it.
UPDATE (09-15-2005): Today's account from Stiles offers slightly more detail than the early version linked above.