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Islip Town pol Trish Bergin's TV show pulled

Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt during Town Supervisor

Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt during Town Supervisor Phil Nolan's State of the town address at Islip Town Hall. (April 26, 2011) Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Cablevision Tuesday said it would pull from Islip Town’s government access channel a program produced by an Islip councilwoman.

The cable operator said it acted because the town told Cablevision the program violated a policy adopted last week banning political partisan content from the channel.

Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, a Republican, said she was “seriously considering taking it to a higher legal level” after the cable operator, which owns Newsday, said it would pull “Exploring Islip with Trish Bergin.”

In the 30-minute program, Bergin, a former News 12 Long Island anchor, interviews GOP Islip supervisor candidate Tom Croci, who  posted a link to the program on a social media site he uses for campaigning.

Democratic Councilman John Edwards said the show violated the government access channel’s intent to act like a “mini C-SPAN,” airing material such as town board meetings. His resolution banning partisan political content was approved, 3-2, along party lines by the Democratic-controlled town board.

Tuesday, Bergin criticized the requirement that content now be submitted first to the town’s public information office — which Bergin did not do before sending her show to Cablevision — as effectively leaving decisions about content to Supervisor Phil Nolan, a Democrat.

“I had planned to do more shows, but if I now criticize the budget, is he going to allow me to air it?” she said.

Edwards said Cablevision erred initially by not advising the town it was going to air such a program.

“This was never about censorship -- the show can certainly air on the public access channel -- but rather about the inappropriate use of a government resource intended to provide nonpartisan programming to the public,” he said.

In a letter to the town, Cablevision said it was not making an assessment of whether “any particular program” complied with the policy because it was not permitted editorial discretion under federal and state law.

Photo: Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt. (April 2011)

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