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D.C. Government TV Channel Shut Down During Press Conference

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After a tumultuous year at city hall, the D.C. Council appears ready to turn the page in 2012. Chairman Kwame Brown held a press briefing Tuesday to preview the council's legislative goals. But  the meeting didn't go exactly as planned.

At yesterday's press briefing outlining the first legislative session of the year, Chairman Kwame Brown -- at the urging of the press corps -- changed his mind and agreed to answer some off-topic questions.

But the moment Brown starting answering a reporter's question about ethics, the TV feed carrying the press conference was cut. For about 20 minutes, Channel 13, which is run by the city government and funded by taxpayers, was down as Brown fielded tough questions.

The reporters in the room had no idea the video feed of the press conference had been cut off, until reports started surfacing on twitter. That's when Tim Craig, a reporter at the Washington Post, asked Brown what was happening.

"Jonathon O'Connell from the Washington Post just sent a message saying you cut the television feed as soon as questions started being asked about ethics and Harry Thomas," Craig said. "How do you respond to about why the need to shut off the television feed?" asked Craig.

In response, Brown offered: "I think what normally happens, I would be willing to talk with anyone, anytime, about any issue. What happened was no one wanted to walk upstairs to have that conversation."

Brown later appeared surprised the feed had been shut off. "You said the camera has been cut?" said Brown. "The intent was to answer as many questions as we can."

Brown's chief of staff later said she didn't know what happened. A spokesperson for the Office of Cable Television said he's not sure if a phone call was made ordering the TV feed to be shut off. But he said the department was essentially doing what it was told. 

He added that before the briefing started the instructions were given that the press briefing was going to be about the legislative session and nothing else.

Before the incident, Brown said he hoped to improve the Council's communication efforts, but at the end of the press conference he laughed saying he realized the TV cutoff would be another distraction.

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