Access 23 Hosts Get Shows Back after 6 Years

Hosts allege they were removed for criticizing local government
April 27, 2016 5:09 pm Last Updated: April 27, 2016 6:41 pm

PORT JERVIS—On the wall of the studio where Daniel “Tony” Cea restarted his “Voice of the People” show April 25 is a poster titled “Years Gone By” with old photographs of people playing music, hosting shows, and working behind the scenes.

Years have gone by since Cea, a Deerpark resident, hosted his live talk show at Access 23 in Port Jervis. Six to be exact.

Cea was told in 2010 that his call-in talk show featuring political commentary that at times focused with a critical gaze on local government, was canceled. His friend and another host at the station, Raymond Bowley, was also removed, allegedly because he stood up for Cea.

In June of 2011, Cea and Bowley filed civil charges against the Board of Directors at Access 23 and two local officials, Karl Brabenec, who was the supervisor of the Town of Deerpark and is now a New York State assemblyman, and Russell Potter, the former mayor of Port Jervis.

The charges allege that Brabenec and Potter used their political influence and promise of funding to pressure the directors of Access 23 to have Cea’s show taken off the air, challenging his first amendment rights to free speech and association.

The plaintiffs are delighted to be back on the air and intend to continue to raise their voices to whatever political ineptitude and corruption they perceive.
— Michael Sussman, Attorney for two Access 23 TV show hosts

“Access 23 receives funding from government sources, including contributions from the City of Port Jervis and, upon information and belief, the Town of Deerpark,” the charges say. “The defendants exerted such pressure and threatened to withhold critical financial support from the station if Cea was permitted to remain on the air.”

The charges against Brabenec and Potter were dismissed in 2014 due to lack of material evidence.

Last week, the Directors of Access 23 reached a settlement with Cea and Bowley that allowed them to continue broadcasting.

“The plaintiffs are delighted to be back on the air and intend to continue to raise their voices to whatever political ineptitude and corruption they perceive,” the plaintiff’s lawyer, Michael Sussman said in a statement. “While I may or may not agree with either of them, that has never been critical. What matters is protecting their rights to free speech and expression.”  

Sussman said in a phone interview that he plans to appeal the district court’s earlier ruling in the next few weeks. Potter has denied being involved with the station. At press time, Brabenec had not returned calls asking for comment on Sussman’s plans to appeal.

Voices of the People

Cea’s first show centered around second amendment rights, and joining him on the show was the president of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Association, Inc., Tom King, and George Rogero whose website ocshooters.com gives information on local, state, and national gun laws.

 Also on the show was Raymond Bowley, who is returning to his alternative news show “Wake Up America” and a religious program he holds on Sundays.

“I’m so glad,” Bowley said. “It took us 5 years to get back on the air but at least we’re here. At least the freedom of speech is being maintained.”

Going forward Cea says he is looking for representatives of local gun clubs to come on his show and introduce their clubs and hopes more people will call in with questions and comments during his live broadcast at 845-304-2114.

To contact this reporter, email [email protected]

A poster on the wall of Access 23's studio in Port Jervis  on April 25, 2016. (Holly Kellum/Epoch Times)
A poster on the wall of Access 23’s studio in Port Jervis on April 25, 2016. (Holly Kellum/Epoch Times)