Black Focus

It's been a rough year for the 23-year-old network that champions such outmoded causes as free speech and power to the people. For starters, the swapping of territories by Time Warner Cable and Comcast has essentially left MTN hanging in the balance without a solid use agreement. And Minneapolis City Council member Don Samuels has filed a civil rights complaint—and $100,000 lawsuit—against the network over broadcast remarks that he claims were life-threatening. (Suffice it to say if such damages are ever rewarded, it would effectively kill MTN's budget.) In fact, with all the image-conscious tinkerers that have infiltrated City Hall in recent years, from the mayor on down, one gets the feeling most elected officials would be happy to see the whole operation dismantled. And they'd probably start with Black Focus, the show hosted by longtime civil rights champion and City Hall agitator Ron Edwards. The weekly program (5:00 p.m. Sundays, channel 17) is low-key, with Edwards quietly dispensing anecdotes and insider dope on city politics while he sits on a set that looks like someone's home study. But most of what Edwards says packs a wallop, whether he's breaking down what happened to Dominic Felder, a black man who recently died in the hands of the Minneapolis police, or talking up the AIDS crisis in Africa. And nobody does a better job of confronting the city's race issues. Sometimes Edwards gets circuitous and conspiratorial, but even then he's usually half-right. Bottom line is that he tirelessly performs a public service, the kind public access was made for.


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