SOU suspends gay men's show after indictments

Because of the indictment of its producer and host, the Rogue Valley Television show "Wilde Life" — about "issues facing gay men" — has been suspended by Southern Oregon University.

The half-hour show was hosted by Scott Clay, 55, who was fired in August from his job as chief planner for the city of Jacksonville when child pornography was found in his workplace computer. He was indicted Aug. 25 on a first-degree count of encouraging child sexual abuse and a second-degree count of the same charge. Both are felonies.

The show was produced by Dennis Vickoren, 62, of Eagle Point, who was indicted Aug. 26 on 30 felony counts of encouraging child sexual abuse for allegedly disseminating, duplicating and possessing child pornography.

The show was suspended by SOU Associate Provost Paul Steinle because of the indictments and will stay off the air "until it's resolved in court," Steinle said.

RVTV is a public access station and allows anyone in Jackson and Josephine counties to produce shows after taking training sessions, said Nena Heitz, RVTV director and administrative manager. It operates under the auspices of the university, and its office and studio are on the university campus.

Although there are no set rules on barring indicted persons from RVTV's airwaves, Steinle said "it's good sense." Neither Clay nor Vickoren could be reached for comment.

Sylvia McDaniel, executive director of Portland Community Media, which operates under the state government, said she cannot suspend a show unless lawbreaking occurs in the studio or within the context of the show.

"We manage the programs, not people's personal lives," McDaniel said, in a phone interview.

"We also go by their behavior in our facility," she added. "Producing the show 'Cannabis Common Sense' doesn't give them the right to stand in my parking lot and smoke dope."

"My jurisdiction is what goes on my channels, not what someone does outside my jurisdiction," McDaniel added. "Their personal lives are none of my business. I don't pull a show if it has nothing to do with the show."

The SOU Provost's office gave instructions, Heitz said, that the show needed to be suspended "until the situation is resolved." RVTV contacted the Provost's office when the arrests were made, she said, adding that the show has continued to air since the indictments — and the station has received many calls on the issue, with "a tremendous amount of support for Dennis and Scott and for what they're doing."

"They (the callers) think they're doing a great job and they ask if it (the charges) is true and we say we don't know," Heitz said.

RVTV in general "allows free speech," but, she said, it's run by a public university in a small town and is "a lot more conservative in approach." By contrast, some public access TV is much more liberal, including a "Nude News" show in New Jersey.

"We allow free speech here," she said, with usual FCC prohibitions on hate speech, obscenity and incitement to riot. Producers also may not try to sell goods or services.

Heitz said the show by Clay and Vickoren violated none of these standards, adding, "I'm remaining neutral. I always considered Dennis and Scott to be friends. When you work with people here, you become friends. I won't judge them unless they're found guilty."

Heitz said a similar situation arose about five years ago, when a producer of a show on rock bands had to be taken off the air because he had child pornography in his computer.

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