Wasteland Television

Wasteland TV

It’s 2014 and it’s been 25 years now since I was banned from cable access TV – I’ve uploaded my favorite segment from the first episode of Wasteland TV, “The House of Voodoo” (see below) it aired on Channel 6 in Palo Alto, CA in the summer of 1989.

viral video vhsIn the late 1980s I started making short sketch comedy videos which I put on VHS to hand out to friends and show at parties – a pre-internet viral video campaign. Later on, I compiled the skits and launched a cable access TV show – which quickly got me banned from cable access TV.

Palo Alto Cable Channel 6, a Public Access station in my hometown of Palo Alto, CA. aired the first episode with a disclaimer at the beginning. Other shows featuring nudity, gore and profanity aired regularly on the channel with no such scrutiny.

With two more 30 minute shows readied for broadcast, I arrived to submit them to the Program Director of the station who told me, “We’ll wait to see how these are received by the public before we accept any more.” I was dumbfounded.

This Public Access station was created as a condition of the cable company’s contract with the City of Palo Alto. Public Access stations are required to air any program produced by a local citizen. They don’t have the right to censor content or decide who gets on the air.

6 months went by and my shows weren’t aired. I kept being told that they couldn’t find room on the schedule but pointed out that they’d been rerunning programs to fill empty time slots on the station. Blank stares were all I got.

My show wasn’t advocating anything illegal or obscene – even if my show was something as repugnant as a KKK telethon they’d have to air it according to their own policies and legal obligations. Other Public Access stations in Mountain View and Cupertino aired my programs with no such problems.

My complaints in person and in writing to the station did not remedy the situation.

I have to conclude that I was singled out and censored because someone didn’t like my sense of humor.