The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors yesterday approved a message to all county boards and commissions instructing them to avoid exclusive alignments with cable television firms seeking the county's lucrative cable franchise.
It also instructed each of those groups to report in detail on any contractual agreements they may have entered into with cable firms, and any other actions taken to endorse prospective cable applicants.
The action followed a report last week that the Fairfax County Council of the Arts had signed on as a local investor in a national cable company that is planning to bid for the county's cable business. A few days later, several cable firms complained publicly that public television station WNVT had attempted to solicit money in return for franchise assistance.
In the message approved yesterday, the board said it was "deeply concerned" about such activities, and urged county organizations instead to share their expertise with every cable firm that might seek it.
"It truly would be unfortunate if worthy programming and service proposals from organizations such as yours did not become a reality simply because the organization aligned itself with an unsuccessful applicant," the letter said.
At the same time, the board instructed the county executive to meet with Irvin Brobeck, executive director of the arts council, to "convey to him the board's concern" and ask that the nonprofit group dissolve its contract with Trans County Cable. The supervisors have said they fear the council's contract could place the board in a conflict-of-interest situation, because the council receives thousands of dollars in county funds each year and occupies county office space rent free.