I was contacted by a board member of a resident owned cooperative earlier this month with a rather interesting situation. One of the unit owners was videotaping the board meetings and now wanted to broadcast those videotapes on the "in house" channel that served the community. Was the association’s board required to allow the unit owner to broadcast these videotapes?
The statutes governing condominium, cooperative, and mandatory homeowners associations provide that a member is entitled to videotape board meetings. For example, Florida Statute Section 719.106(1)(c) provides in part that "any unit owner may tape record or videotape meetings of the board of administration."
However, the right to record or videotape does not create a right to broadcast that tape recording or videotape and there is clearly nothing in any of the applicable statutes or Florida Administrative Code sections that requires the association to allow an association member to broadcast the videotape or recording on the association’s "in house" channel.
Here are a few reasons why I suggest that a resident owned community not broadcast board meetings (either live or by video or audio replay) on the community’s "in house" channel:
- Many board members and unit owners may feel inhibited by the knowledge that their every word and action at the meeting will be broadcast throughout the community. Some people simply don’t feel comfortable speaking or otherwise participating when they are being videotaped.
- There’s a real danger that board meetings–where the business of the association is supposed to be conducted–will become "media events" or "performances". While CSPAN certainly has helped open the doors to the workings of our Federal government and the meetings of many governmental boards and agencies are televised, community associations are a different animal--ROC board members are volunteers and Florida’s ‘government in the sunshine" law doesn’t apply. I’d suggest that many unit owners in a resident owned community would be less willing to serve on the ROC board knowing that the board meetings would be broadcast on the "in house" channel.
- Unless there is very controversial item on the agenda, many, if not most, unit owners simply don’t attend board meetings. Unit owner participation is both encouraged by Florida’s statutes and important to the overall health of resident owned communities and my suspicion is that even fewer unit owners will attend board meetings in person if these meetings are broadcast.
I’m also concerned that the taping won’t accurately reflect the meeting–perhaps the video or audio quality won’t be sufficient, or perhaps the person taping the meeting will alter the tape for innocent (or not so innocent) reasons.
And if the association decides to supervise the taping and broadcasting of the meetings, wouldn’t that tape now become an "official record" of the association? Does the association really want to be responsible for safeguarding these tapes as "official records" and producing them in response to a unit owner’s record inspection request?
Obviously, if a unit owner wants to make a video or audio tape of a board meeting available to the other members of a ROC he or she can certainly do so–but I’d suggest that an association and its board is better served by not allowing those tapes to be part of the programming on the association’s "in house" channel.