BIDDEFORD (AP) – Free speech advocates scored a victory when the City Council voted to fully reinstate public access television.

The unexpected vote set aside decisions made by the former City Council with the backing of then-Mayor Donna Dion. Critics said city officials pulled the plug because of programming critical of city government.

The vote was a win for Mayor Wallace Nutting, who campaigned last fall on the theme of open government and advocated for the full return of access TV. Yet even Nutting didn’t expect or push for Tuesday’s decision.

The mayor had asked councilors to vote on public access, but he was recommending a more cautious move: The reinstatement of the Cable Television Committee as a first step toward returning independently produced programming.

After hearing from free-speech advocates, the council decided to forgo small steps and take the larger step of reinstating the rules that governed public access before the shutdown of the cable TV station.

AP-ES-02-04-04 1315EST

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