MCTV MIA on tsunami: “No one called us”


Posted by on Mon, March 1, 2010

Do not attempt to adjust your TV set.

MCTV carried no coverage of Saturday’s tsunami advisory, despite the fact that it led to the closing of the harbor and all Coastside beaches by the Harbor District and the County Sheriff. This was noted by Darin Boville on Montara Fog yesterday.

I sent MCTV attorney and spokesman Mike Day a question about whether MCTV covered the tsunami and he issued the following statement.

In response to your inquiry, we have checked and MCTV received no email or phone call notification from anyone at San Mateo County regarding the tsunami warning Saturday morning.  You are correct that Mr. Boville made no effort to contact MCTV before publishing his article criticizing MCTV.  We have indicated in the past that MCTV can serve as a means to transmit public safety information to the community, and we have placed messages on the message channel and shown public service programming on specific topics at the request of the County and other governmental agencies.  However, if we do not receive any communication from the governmental agencies, it is obviously not possible for MCTV to disseminate such information, particularly when it is time sensitive information.  Mr. Boville’s uninformed and unfair criticism does not take into account the fact that MCTV has always made an effort to cooperate with the County and City to inform the community about public safety issues and other important public matters in addition to the regularly scheduled meetings we cablecast—when we have been asked to do so. [emphasis added]

The entire Coastside was buzzing about this event on Saturday. I was stopped by a couple of readers in downtown Half Moon Bay that morning asking about the tsunami. MCTV is the only Coastside media outlet that was not covering the tsunami. In addition to Coastsider, Montara Fog and the Review issued bulletins throughout the day. Coastsider alone received 2,400 visits on Saturday—about five times our typical Saturday traffic.

If, as Mr. Day says, "MCTV can serve as a means to transmit public safety information…", they should to be prepared to do just that in an emergency and not wait for the authorities to give them a call.

NOTE: The reason for the communication breakdown between MCTV and the county has been updated in the comments.

I’m not sure what the point of this article is.

Nevermind, I know the point. I’m not a big MCTV fan, and in fact, don’t even get the channel… but you guys going after them publicly at every whim is getting beyond tiresome.

If you have a point, make it. Otherwise, I believe MCTV exists to provide non-profits and government agencies to put on messages about meetings, events, including fundraising events, and PEG broadcasts.

Besides, DishTV, DirectTV and Comcast are all already part of the EAS (Emergency Alert System) and can broadcast over any/every channel if need be. Or, were folks seeking another talking head to overhype the 3 foot waves that bombarded Hawai’i, as the other 473 channels of Chicken Little weren’t enough? MCTV 6 providing emergency alerts sounds good in theory, but does their SLA/contract state someone has to run down to the station and do ______ . And lord forbid if they do _____________ wrong, given the armchair quarterbacking here on the coast. That would be worse, than doing anything at all.

Tsunami…, no how about an earthquake… where would I turn to??? Hmmmm. Honey, that 6.5 was doozy here at 3AM, can you turn on MCTV for status and alerts.

Granted, they may/may not have been proactive enough to get on the agencies radar, but why didn’t any public officials/agencies notify MCTV? Why not go after them? Guessing the bandwidth used on Mavericksgate consumed that. The only people with the mindset to turn on MCTV during event such as Saturday, are the Barrys and Darins of the coast looking for the next opportunity to criticize the channel.

MCTV gets about $100,000 a year from cable fees and recording fees from public agencies. Last year, the county grand jury criticized MCTV for poor quality programming, a failure to communicate with the community, restriction of reuse of programs it produces with public money, and the elimination of a public voice in the station’s management.

MCTV reaches about half the homes in the Coastside and is our only “broadcast” outlet. They should be prepared to serve the community in an emergency.


We quoted MCTV attorney and spokesman Mike Day as saying “We have indicated in the past that MCTV can serve as a means to transmit public safety information to the community ... However, if we do not receive any communication from the governmental agencies, it is obviously not possible for MCTV to disseminate such information”

It turns out that MCTV was not on the Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Services media contact list.

Lieutenant Ray Lunny, Public Information Officer for the Sheriff’s Office of Emergency Service, said, “I sent out press releases to al the media that I have contact information for.  ... I was unaware of these people [MCTV]. They had never contacted me.”

Day disputes this statement, saying “San Mateo County OES has provided public safety information to MCTV in the past, and has even provided us with videos about tsunami safety and how to respond to tsunami warnings, which we have shown on MCTV.”

Lunny says that following today’s questions about MCTV’s role in emergency communications, he did get MCTV’s email address from the county’s Public Communications Manager, Marshall Wilson, and that they would be contacted in the event of future emergencies.

Maybe MCTV thinks the big Mavericks waves they have been showing almost incessantly for the past few weeks cover the subject adequately?