Appeals Court Affirms Public Access TV Is A Public Forum

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In a case filed by public access TV legend Deedee Halleck and poet Jesus Papaleto Melendez against NY’s public access chanel Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals revived a free speech lawsuit after a lower court had dismissed it.

The case involved banning from the public access channel’s premises of Hallack and Melendez by MNN executive director Dan Coughlin and his employees without a clear infringement of any facility rule or regulation. 

Manhattan Neighborhood Network’s defense was that they are not a public actor or forum, but simply a recipient of donated facilities and equipment and therefore not require to provision services to anyone.

The appeals court reinstated the case, refusing to uphold the lower court dismissal.

The second circuit wrote: “We conclude that the public access TV channels in Manhattan are public forums and that MCAC’s employees were sufficiently alleged to be state actors taking action barred by the First Amendment to prevent dismissal of the claims against MCAC and its employees,”

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