Archive for March 2007

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/30/07

March 30, 2007

TV show discusses wildfire protection
Reno Gazette Journal
03/30/07

A special television program that lets residents know what they can do reduce the threat of wildfires to their homes begins today with showings at 3 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Reno13, the city of Reno’s cable access channel. “Living with Fire. . . Before, During and After the Fire” is a cooperative effort between the Reno Fire Department, Reno Community Relations Division and the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension program. —>
http://news.rgj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070330/NEWS18/70330002/1184/NEWS18
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Telecommunications Company Wants Eminent Domain Over Geneva Property Owners?
City of Geneva, Illinois Website

genevaboxsm3.jpg

AT&T has launched a bill at the State House level to remove local franchise control from municipalities (a power Geneva currently holds) and instead give power over Geneva’s Rights of Way directly to the State of Illinois. Most important to Geneva citizens, if passed, this bill would remove full citywide buildout requirements from AT&T – something cable companies must currently do – and allow them to serve parts of Geneva that they found most profitable, and not serve others they did not. —>

Perhaps even more frightening is that the bill, in its current form, appears to grant eminent domain powers to AT&T for not only Geneva’s Rights of Way, but private property as well. If this bill passes in its current form, your front yard could end up looking something like this.
http://www.geneva.il.us/att/ILHB1500.htm
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Editorial: Cable TV bill isn’t best deal for consumers
Appleton Post Crescent (WI)

If competition means lower prices for cable TV services, a bill in the state Legislature could be a benefit to consumers. But competition isn’t the only thing this bill would allow — and that’s why it wouldn’t be a good deal in the end. —>
http://www.postcrescent.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070330/APC0602/703300712/1036
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Qwest Sells Iowa On ‘Franchise Reform’
Even though they have yet to solidify TV plan
by Karl
Broadband Reports
03/30/07

Like Verizon and AT&T, Qwest has been lobbying state lawmakers hard to try to convince them that if they eliminate the local video franchise system, the public will see lower TV prices and broader deployment. Yet, in Iowa, Qwest is very close to getting their wishlist legislation passed, despite the fact that the telco (unlike AT&T and Verizon) hasn’t decided how/if to deploy TV service. Qwest does currently offer limited fiber connectivity and IPTV, but primarily to more lucrative housing developments. —>
http://www.broadbandreports.com/shownews/82668
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Aldermen in favor of AT&T franchise in Franklin
by Kevin Walters
The Tennessean
03/30/07

FRANKLIN – Franklin residents could get another choice for their cable service after city aldermen agreed to negotiate with AT&T to provide service in Franklin. Aldermen approved 6-0 a resolution earlier this month expressing the city’s interest in possibly selling AT&T a franchise in Franklin. The resolution will also be sent to Marty Dickens, president of AT&T in Tennessee.

In addition, aldermen unanimously agreed to oppose a Senate bill called the “Competitive Cable and Video Service Act” which city officials say allows cable companies to “‘cherry pick’ the most profitable neighborhoods and customers, and impede local governments’ ability to protect their citizens,” according to the resolution. —>
http://www.dicksonherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070330/COUNTY090101/70330034
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Greece Proposes Taking Over Public Access TV
WHAM-TV (NY)
03/30/07

The town and school disctrict of Greece already run a radio station. Now they’re considering getting into the TV business. The town is proposing taking over the public access channel, Channel 12 for people who live in Greece and the western suburbs. The school district would run the programming out of one of the high schools. But, the public will have a say in this, and there are some concerns. Non-profit group, Edu-Cable, currently runs cable channels 12 and 15 in Greece and suburbs west. That worries some taxpayers. —> WATCH THIS VIDEO
http://www.13wham.com/news/local/story.aspx?content_id=afb50f2a-2c7f-4466-bd30-056eac435ad1
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AT&T Wins California Video Franchise
by The Associated Press
Broadcast Newsroom
03/30/07

(Multichannel News) _ The California Public Utilities Commission Friday formally approved AT&T’s application for a statewide franchise to provide video service in California. “The CPUC’s approval of our application brings Californians one step closer to finally having a real choice to cable TV,” AT&T California president Ken McNeely said in a prepared statement. The telco, he added, will be “rolling out our TV/video service — AT&T U-verse — in cities throughout the state as soon as possible.” AT&T has already begun offering U-verse TV service in limited areas of Northern California http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6402030.html, including neighborhoods in San Jose, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and Cupertino.
http://www.broadcastnewsroom.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=120789
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650

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Consumer and Public Interest Groups Oppose Tennessee Video Franchise Bill

March 30, 2007

From Free Press, Consumers Union, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Federation of America, March 30, 2007

March 16, 2007
RE: State Franchising Legislation

Dear Legislator:

We are writing today as the largest consumer and public interest organizations working on communications policy in the country. We have thousands of members in Tennessee who have a strong interest in a bill pending in the legislature.

We strongly urge you to take a stand for consumers by supporting an open Internet, sustaining public access television, and most importantly, bringing truly competitive broadband and cable TV service to all households. We urge you to oppose the state video franchising bill, HB 1421/SB 1933. Although the video franchise bill pending before the legislature purports to benefit consumers with new competition, if enacted in its current form, it would do more harm than good. This bill does not protect consumers against discriminatory pricing nor does it guarantee that new communications technologies will be offered throughout the state, to all communities.

The purpose of the bill is laudable—to bring competition to the cable television and broadband Internet marketplace. Yet as currently drafted, it will not achieve these results. The bill falls far short of what is required to promote meaningful competition that will deliver lower prices, more competition, and higher quality of service to all consumers. We have long sought new video
competition, and it is with regret that we must oppose the pending measure. Critical pieces are missing from this bill. (more…)

ACM Spring 2007 Regional Seminars & Conferences

March 30, 2007

This year PEG access television needs your support more than ever. If you live in or near one of these regions, please consider attending, and try to bring two or three first-timers who would benefit from the experience, as well. These golden opportunities for growing our base should not be missed.

April 13 – Newton, MA
Legislation for Dummies“; MassAccess

April 20 – Cleveland, OH
Workshop for Photojournalists, Editors, Producers, & Reporters“; OK Alliance (OH & KY)

April 27-28 – Bedford, NH
Igniting a Passion for PEG Through Management, Marketing, Motivation“;
ACM-Northeast

April 28 – Olympia, WA
Engage, Enlighten, Empower: Make Our Media Matter“;
ACM-Northwest

May 4-5 – Madison, WI
2007 WAPC Spring Conference & Video Festival“; ACM-Mid-West & WAPC

June 8-9 – Edison, NJ
Thinking Outside the Box“;
ACM-Mid-Atlantic & JAG

Thank you all, organizers, sponsors, presenters and attendees, for your continuing participation.

~ Rob McCausland

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/29/07

March 29, 2007

Help Fight Public Help for Cable TV Companies
by Mike Brau
Blog for Iowa
03/29/07

As you may have read, the Iowa Senate recently passed SF 544 which would change how communities franchise cable TV providers.  Under the proposed law new entrants, specifically Qwest, would be given an opportunity to by-pass the municipal franchising process and receive a franchise from the state under preferential terms.  Many of the community benefits negotiated by municipalities on behalf of their citizens would likely be lost as the bill contains a provision that if a competitor gives notice they intend to seek a state franchise that the incumbent cable operator can cancel their existing franchise and receive a state-issued franchise.  The House Commerce Committee will likely be taking up the bill the week of April 1.  Now is the time to contact Commerce Committee members.  Below are a few talking points.   —>

SF 554 undercuts existing commitments to local community public, educational, and government channels by limiting financial support from Qwest and other new entrants.  Capital and operational fees would be required only through the remaining term of the incumbent cable operator’s franchise and likely be totally eliminated if the incumbent cable operator opts for a state-issued franchise.   —>
http://www.blogforiowa.com/blog/_archives/2007/3/29/2844954.html
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Bill would slash JATV funding
by Frank Schultz
Gazette Extra (WI)
03/29/07

A bill in the state Assembly would cut the revenue Janesville gets from its cable TV provider and threaten the existence of its public-access channels, opponents say.  The Video Competition Act apparently would make it easier for another TV provider to compete with Charter Communications. But the bill has so many downsides that it can’t even be amended to fix the problems, said Paul Williams, a Janesville City Council member.  Williams and Judi Kneece, who manages public-access JATV Channel 12 in Janesville, testified against the bill in an Assembly hearing Tuesday.   —>
http://www.gazetteextra.com/jatvfunding032907.asp
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A lawyer’s take on SB 117
by Bill Callahan
Callahan’s Cleveland Diary (OH)
03/29/07

Walter and Haverfield is a Cleveland law firm that acts as counsel for a number of municipalities on cable and telecom matters, including Cleveland City Council. Here’s what they’re telling their clients about Senate Bill 117, the AT&T bill to end community cable franchising.  “S.B. 117 poses a grave threat to municipal Home Rule authority, municipal fiscal health, and local community growth. Walter & Haverfield LLP is currently assisting in building a state-wide coalition to oppose S.B. 117, on behalf of our municipal and other local government clients.”
http://www.callahansclevelanddiary.com/?p=231
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TML’s Bragg: AT&T limits itself and maligns cities
by Milt Capps
The Nashville Post (TN)
03/29/07

—>   Bragg also made clear his displeasure with certain verses in what he called AT&T’s “serenade” of Tennessee legislators. Bragg rejected AT&T’s argument that local governments are, as he put it, “maliciously” resisting changes in the franchising law — changes that AT&T argues would save Tennessee consumers at least $177 million per year in video-services charges that would drop dramatically — only, that is, if another wireline provider entered the market to compete with cable companies.

As rejoinder, Bragg stressed that local governments have zero legal authority over pricing of cable services. Bragg said AT&T’s allegations are merely a “red herring,” intended to shift the focus from provisions in the proposed legislation that would make it easier for providers to skip entirely or provide fewer services to neighborhoods or rural areas in which projected investment returns are deemed inadequate.   —>
http://www.freepress.net/news/22026
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Cooper, Matheny release results of annual constituency questionnaire
The Tullahoma News (TN)
03/29/07

State Sen. Jerry Cooper, D-Morrison, and Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, have released results of their 23rd annual Constituent Survey.   —>

2. Cable companies are required by federal law to obtain franchises in the cities and counties where they operate. Legislation has been proposed which would allow companies (i.e. AT&T) to bypass the local cable TV permitting process in favor of a one-stop franchising authority regulated by the state, making it easier to expand their services and improve competition. City and county governments, along with cable companies, oppose this proposal saying it would give the phone company an unfair advantage, take away local control and oversight, and cause a loss of revenue on the local government level. Which proposal would you support? a. KEEP PROCESS AS IS THROUGH LOCAL FRANCHISES 41% b. ALLOW ONE-STOP FRANCHISING THROUGH THE STATE 36% c. UNDECIDED 23%
http://www.tullahomanews.com/news/view_article.asp?idcategory=9&idarticle=4651
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CWA Union In Bed With Telecommunications CEO’s On Internet Neutrality
by Walter Ballin
Walter Ballin’s Blog – TPM Cafe
03/29/07

This is an article from In These Times. The Communications Workers Of America, CWA, seems to be in bed with the telecommunications giants AT&T and Verizon, instead of fighting for the common good. It appears that they oppose legislation to keep the Internet neutral, in the false belief that letting the telecommunications moguls get what they want, will result in more jobs for their members. The CWA is like some of the unions in SF about 25-30 years ago, which wrongfully thought that building more highrises would result in the hiring of more unionized janitors, restaurant, store, and other workers. It certainly will not help the labor movement, if we can only read what the greedy capitalists want us to read. Here is the article and as you SCROLL DOWN below the article, you will see a letter that I wrote to the President of the CWA Larry Cohen.  –  Walter
Not Neutrality
Why are the Communications Workers of America opting out of the Save the Internet coalition?
By Brian Cook    http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/3081/not_neutrality/

http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/walter_ballin/2007/mar/28/cwa_union_in_bed_with_telecommunications_ceos_on_internet_neutrality
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/28/07

March 28, 2007

Black groups oppose video bill
by Matthew Little
Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder
03/28/07

Representatives of both the Minneapolis NAACP and the Minneapolis Urban League testified before the Minnesota House Telecommunication, Regulations and Infrastructure Committee last Friday, March 23. They spoke in opposition to a bill labeled “The Minnesota Video Competition Act.” —>
http://www.spokesman-recorder.com/News/Article/Article.asp?NewsID=77292&sID=4
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Warnings Issued As Lawmakers Consider OK-ing Cable TV Competition
Proposed Bill Creates Statewide Franchise
Channel 3000 (WI)
03/28/07

MADISON, Wis. — A bill is speeding through the state Legislature that might dramatically change the way Wisconsin residents watch TV. —>
VIDEO: Watch The Report
http://www.channel3000.com/news/11407577/detail.html
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Concerns aired on statewide cable bill
Loss of protections feared; backers tout competition
by Paul Gores
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
03/27/07

In a packed public hearing that spilled into the hallway outside a Capitol committee room, public officials, lobbyists, industry leaders and even children who produce a cable TV show weighed in on a bill that would eliminate municipal cable franchises and put the approval process in the hands of the state. Many urged the legislators to think twice about doing away with subscription TV franchise agreements that are crafted one-by-one with communities. The proposed law would establish a uniform statewide standard intended to make it more appealing for new companies to enter cable markets in Wisconsin. —>
http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=583444
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Vote may be month away to allow phone companies to offer cable TV
River Falls Journal (WI)
03/28/07

A bill to let phone companies offer cable-type TV and do away with locally-negotiated service and rate contracts will come up for a state Assembly vote in about a month. That’s what Speaker Mike Huebsch said after a nine-hour public hearing Tuesday. —>
http://www.riverfallsjournal.com/articles/index.cfm?id=23140&section=Wisconsin%20News&property_id=9&forumcomm_check_return&freebie_check&CFID=27061427&CFTOKEN=46419474&jsessionid=8830bd9c8e787b5045e7
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Shut Down the Plan to End Local Control of Cable Franchises
by Joe Powell
Cup of Joe Powell (TN)
03/28/07

I’m encouraging all readers of this page and residents statewide to voice a loud opposition to a bill before the legislature which drains funds away from cities and counties, removes local control over cable franchise rights, and essentially hands the telephone companies both an unfair advantage and reduces existing standards of service. —>

And if the state does approve the end of locally created franchise agreements, the cities and counties will be looking for new ways to replace that lost income – more taxation. The bills under review are currently headed into committees for debate in early April, but the time to speak out is now, before it’s too late. Taking a cue from this post at KnoxViews, simply send an email to your representative and senator, such as the one below, mentioned at KV. —>
http://cupofjoepowell.blogspot.com/2007/03/shut-down-plan-to-end-local-control-of.html
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Senate bill would ease burden on companies entering TV market
by Rob Poggenklass
West Branch Times (IA)
03/28/07

A bill passed by the Iowa Senate last week would make it easier for cable TV service providers to enter new markets, by eliminating the companies’ need to negotiate franchise agreements with individual municipalities. … West Branch’s representative in the Iowa Senate, Republican Jim Hahn of Muscatine, was one of six senators to cast a “no” vote on SF 554, along with Democrat Bob Dvorsky of Coralville.

Although the bill passed overwhelmingly in the Iowa Senate, State Rep. Jeff Kaufmann said that it faces an uphill battle in the Iowa House. The League of Cities has pushed for more negotiating room in the legislation, and Kaufmann believes that TV companies will need to compromise for the bill to be accepted by the House Commerce Committee. “I don’t think it’s a slam dunk that it’ll reach the House floor,” said Kaufmann. “Not in its current form.”
http://www.westbranchtimes.com/article.php?id=1597
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Music Stars Back “Rock the Net” Campaign
by The Associated Press
Broadcast Newsroom
03/28/07

As promised, the Future of Music Coalition Tuesday launched a campaign for network neutrality, “Rock the Net,” http://www.futureofmusic.org/news/PRrockthenet07follow.cfm backed by a host of musicians (almost 150 artists and labels). Those artists, including R.E.M., Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam, are concerned that independent artists will be marginalized if telecommunications companies are allowed “to charge Internet service providers to have their Websites load faster.” The result, they argue, is that small labels and independent artists could be “frozen out” of another medium… —>
http://radio.broadcastnewsroom.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=119825
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Youth journalists talk about public access TV
Scripps News
03/28/07

The FCC recently announced its recommendations on video franchising, allowing more companies into the cable television market. Its stated goal is to create more competition among companies, and savings per customer. But some people worry that the change could cause public access stations to lose the funding. Youth journalists from Children’s PressLine, a news agency that works with kids ages 8 to 18, spoke to young people involved with producing segments for their local public access stations. —>

Bethany Crews, 16, PeopleTV, Atlanta: “The show that I work on, “Neo Soul,” is a spoken word variety show. I’ve been working on the show for 5 years. It takes two months to produce one show. It’s hard; it’s very hard. You have to invite the guests and schedule how your show is going to run. I’m the producer, the cameraman and the editor. . . It’s real important for me to keep my show. It gives me something to do well and I’m giving out opportunities to other youth who want to come on my show instead of getting into trouble.”
http://www.scrippsnews.com/node/20629
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Town develops rules for municipal cable channel
by Kathy Baratta
News Transcript (NJ)
03/28/07

The Manalapan Township Television Network (MTTN) Channel 77 is in the process of finalizing its mandate, complete with rules and regulations that will govern everything that is aired on the cable television municipal access channel.

In a proposed set of guidelines that will be adopted by the Township Committee following a final review by Township Attorney Caroline Casagrande with assistance from Cable Television Advisory Committee (CTAC) members Jan Zachary and Marc Levy, the mission of the MTTN is defined as “allowing for expanded communications from the township governing body to the public to foster better awareness of the operation of the township government.” The MTTN will operate under the direct authority of the township administrator, who will serve as the final arbiter of what would be deemed fit for broadcast in the case of any dispute over the appropriateness of something to be aired on the municipal channel. —>
http://newstranscript.gmnews.com/news/2007/0328/Front_Page/004.html
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No decisions on TV issue
A meeting was held to determine possible oversight of public television in York.
by Brent Burkey
Daily Record/Sunday News (PA)
03/28/07

—> The meeting was called in response to public outcry and official debate about the recesses council President Cameron Texter called during council meetings after people raised issues about his personal life. In those cases, television cameras stopped airing the meeting after Texter called the recess. Some council members said it looked like censorship, especially with the city government now owning public television in the city. —>
http://www.ydr.com/newsfull/ci_5537962
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Channel 61 won’t show council live
by Stacy Brown
Scranton Sun Times (PA)
03/28/07

Public access television cameras will be present when council reconvenes this week, Channel 61 president Louis Danzico said Tuesday. But the station will tape the meeting and broadcast it at a later time instead of showing it live. —>

A larger than usual crowd is expected Thursday because of a controversial decision to abruptly adjourn a meeting two weeks ago and then the sudden cancelation of last week’s meeting. Alleged threats made against two councilwomen and allegations of intimidation has heightened public interest.

Acting on a request made last week by Council President Judy Gatelli, Mayor Chris Doherty ordered the removal of public access television cameras from City Hall. In addition to the alleged threats, Mrs. Gatelli cited increasingly volatile meetings and the lack of decorum and respect as her reasons for removing cameras.
http://www.thetimes-tribune.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=18135815&BRD=2185&PAG=461&dept_id=415898&rfi=6

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compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650

Barry Orton on Wisconsin Bills AB 207/SB 107

March 28, 2007

[ Barry Orton posts today (“Looong Public Hearing on Video Bill“) about yesterday’s hearing before a Wisconsin House committee considering a statewide video franchising bill. Here is the final ‘graph of his excellently stated testimony. – rm ]

“That AB 207/SB 107 prohibits the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) from enforcing any of the bill’s requirements is a particularly egregious example of legislative chutzpah on the part of its sponsors. If a state agency charged with oversight of an industry cannot promulgate rules interpreting the bill’s provisions, cannot establish procedures for enforcing its requirements, cannot review a franchise applicant’s qualifications, and cannot review or approve a transfer of its franchises, it truly can be said to be powerless. Under AB 207/SB 107, the DFI could issue a franchise; file it in a cabinet in perpetuity, and little else. The video consumers of Wisconsin deserve far better.”
http://www.waxingamerica.com/2007/03/loong_public_he.html

Knight Launches Citizen Media Resource

March 28, 2007

Knight launches citizen media resource
by Mathew
mathewingream.com/worh
03/27/07

The Knight Foundation has launched a website aimed at helping “citizen journalism” or community media operations find resources and best practices. Called the Knight Citizen News Network, it’s managed by J-Lab — the Institute for Interactive Journalism — with content created in part by Dan Gillmor of the Center for Citizen Media and by Amy Gahran of I, Reporter (as well as Right Conversations and the Poynter Institute’s E-Media Tidbits).  There’s a press release with more info here. The resources at KCNN.org include:

* A database of U.S. citizen media sites, searchable by keyword, town or state and displayed on a Google map.
* A “Things We Like” feature.
* An interactive overview of the “Principles of Citizen Journalism,” with more than 40 audio and video interviews.
* Citizen media research.
* Case studies on how to train citizen journalists.
* A list of resources.
http://www.mathewingram.com/work/2007/03/27/knight-launches-citizen-media-resource/