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Rec Center Puts TV Channel Lineup to Vote

An Ann Arbor, Michigan recreation center has decided to let members vote on which channels will be shown on televisions throughout the gym after some gym users complained this past winter that Fox News was aired on too many of the TVs. 

Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center members Dave and Sue Weber were two of those who had complained about the decision to air Fox News, saying that a county-run facility should not show what they considered to be an offensive news program. They referred to closed-caption blocks with language such as “Young women aren’t capable of voting” and “We have enough illegals here, we don’t need more.” After unsuccessful attempts to get the facility to also air programs such as MSNBC that provide a more liberal viewpoint, the Webers petitioned to have all partisan political news programming taken off of TVs at the recreation center.  

In response to these complaints, officials at the recreation center have decided on a new eight-channel policy, where five channels will be fixed and the other three will be decided on by members of the gym. 

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Patrons will vote semi-annually via email survey, selecting their top three programs from a predetermined list of 14 options. After the votes are in, the three channels with the most votes will be part of the available programs for the following six months, in addition to five standard channels -- the Weather Channel, ESPN, CNN, HGTV and an in-house channel promoting parks and recreation events. 

Members of the county parks commission believe that putting the TV channels up to a vote will be a successful way to solve the problem and prevent future controversy surrounding the issue. 

It was also suggested by Janis Bobrin, a member of the commission, that in the future gym-goers will be able to bring their own forms of technology, such as iPads, and use the center’s Wi-Fi to watch their own shows on sites like Netflix. Another hope was that each piece of equipment will have its own screen, another way of allowing people to choose their own shows. 

According to the county’s parks and recreation director, Bob Tetens, since deciding to vote on the TV channels, talk regarding the controversy has “really died down.” 

Tetens went on to say, “Hopefully this puts it all to rest and people can come to the rec center and do what they’re supposed to be doing.” 

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