Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/16/07

Community access TV, including Oshkosh OCAT, threatened by statewide cable franchise bill
Fox Cities HD

The following letter from Jon Urben at Oshkosh Community Access Television (OCAT) has been circulating online today and we felt it bore reprinting. The issues specific to OCAT as described below are certainly not exclusive to them. If you believe in the importance of community access television, please read on and forward this to others.

Dear OCAT producers, guests and supporters:

I am going to be very blunt with this letter. OCAT’s existence is in jeopardy and we need your help. A bill was proposed last week by state Rep. Phil Montgomery, R-Green Bay, that will strip the authority of local municipalities to manage local cable franchise agreements and replace it with a one-size-fits-all franchise agreement process managed by the state. The bill has been titled Proposed Video Franchising Legislation LRB 1914/3. —>

Georgia On My Mind, Ohio In The Cross-Hair
by Bunnie Riedel
Telecommunications Consulting

—> Ms. Comer said that they, the Georgia Municipal Association, had sat down with cities, towns and counties, and those cities, towns and counties were not interested in PEG. I found that somewhat surprising given that in Georgia there is very little P and mostly G. T’would seem that the cities, towns and counties would, at the very least, be self-interested enough to make sure their own government channels were funded. Comer further verified what I had heard, that indeed the funding would be eliminated by 2012. —>

I can’t be one hundred percent sure that the Georgia legislation could ever trump the Ohio legislation that has just been introduced for terms which will gut PEG. In that one, no muni over 50,000 population can get more than three channels and they better be darn sure they are using them the way the video provider tells them to or they’ll get taken away. Twelve hours per day of programming must be shown and no more than eighty percent of it can be repeated or imported.

Does anybody have any idea how much money most access centers have in their budgets? When I was at the Alliance I realized that over one third of our membership were operating television stations on $100,000 or less per year. How can a small center with minimal means produce almost 3,500 hours of new programming each year? And they certainly won’t be able to meet that given that all PEG support will be gone…not some…ALL. —>

Legislative Alert: Broadband access and statewide franchises
by R. Neal
Knox Views (TN)

Write your State Senator and Representative and ask them to support three broadband access measures and to oppose statewide cable franchise legislation pending in the Tennessee General Assembly. Here’s the Senate directory and here’s the House directory. Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Sen. Finney and Rep. McCord:

I urge you to vote against and actively oppose SB1933/HB1421, which eliminates local control of cable franchises, regulates local franchise fees, restricts or eliminates customer service and quality standards, provides state regulation of local public right of way for the benefit of cable companies, restricts or eliminates local build-out requirements, and allows cable companies to create statewide franchises. Contrary to claims of the lobbyists who wrote it, this legislation is not good for consumers or for local governments who know best what is needed in their communities and which areas are underserved. Local governments have a duty to maintain infrastructure rights of way for the benefit of all citizens and taxpayers in their communities. —>

I urge you to vote for and actively support the following three bills that would help expand broadband access in Tennessee. Broadband access, and particularly rural broadband access, is vital to our economy in terms of availability for businesses relocating here and maintaining a qualified workforce, and will also help cure the “digital divide” between poor working people and the more affluent. —>

Statewide Cable Franchising Committee Meeting (MN)
Blandin on Broadband

I was wrestling socks on my two year old. I turned on the TV to distract her – and what came on? The live committee meeting for the statewide cable franchise proposal! It didn’t distract her but I got out paper and a pen to take the best notes I could. (Remember, I still had the two year old.) I have wrriten them up as best I could. It’s long but hopefully helpful. (I walked in when John Stanoch from Qwest seemed to be introducing the proposed legislation.) —>

Iowa considers statewide cable franchise
by Dan Gearino
Quad City Times

DES MOINES — An Iowa Senate committee is recommending a plan that could lead to more cable television options and lower rates. The Senate Commerce Committee voted Thursday on the plan, which puts the state in charge of granting cable franchises that would cover the entire state. —>

Bill likely to alter cable services in Springfield
Springfield News-Leader (MO)

—> “The bill only requires 25 percent coverage where the median income is below $34,000,” Wichmer said. “If you look at an income map of Springfield, that excludes way more than half of the city.” The Mediacom franchise, which expires in 2008, requires a more aggressive “build out” to serve more areas of the city. Assistant City Attorney Nancy Yendes has worked extensively on the cable TV franchise issue and said it could end up costing schools and other agencies more money. Although it requires companies to provide at least five public access TV channels, Yendes said the bill now puts some of those equipment costs on the backs of schools and governments. —>

Cable bill switches control of TV from city to state
Governor’s approval expected for bill that gives more cable access to companies
by Cliff Ainsworth
Columbia Missourian

—> AT&T spent $168,434 in campaign contributions to Missouri state candidates during the fall election season, according to a January report the company filed with the Missouri Ethics Commission. The lobbying effort on the cable bill drew skepticism from House Minority Leader Jeff Harris, D-Columbia, who was one of only four House members to vote against the legislation. “When it looks like you’ve got a huge concentration of power and you’ve got nearly every lobbyist in Jefferson City, including the governor’s brother, retained to lobby on behalf of this bill, the Missourian in me says, ‘Let’s take a closer look at this,’” Harris said. —>

FCC/Congress Feud to Impact Startups
Local content creators could benefit if Democrats rein in Republican-controlled FCC.
by Cassimir Medford
Red Herring

—> Democrats on the subcommittee were particularly perturbed about the commission’s recent ruling on the easing of local TV rights for the phone companies (see FCC Sets Video Rules). They accused the FCC of interfering with two-decade-old rules without Congressional approval. —> Part of the franchising negotiations between local governments and phone companies involves local content such as local news, traffic, education, politics, search, local access channels, and other issues.

Now that House Democrats have taken the side of populism on the issue of franchising, one can expect a Congressional push for local content. “It opens opportunities for smaller and locally focused entrepreneurs,” said Joe Nordgaard, director of the wireless consulting firm Spectral Advantage. “Cable traditionally was very much focused on local communities and driven by local capital, but consolidation is changing that.” —> ~

Arnie’s on YouTube…
…and MyTV, and public access, and you can download her podcast
by Heidi Masek
Hippo Press

—> Arnesen had a show for about three years previously, but it was discontinued when the station was sold. Now Arnesen is back in a more grassroots fashion. The idea actually originated with the president of New Hampshire Coalition for Community Media, Dottie Grover, who e-mailed Arnesen when she noticed Arnesen wasn’t on the air last fall. Public access doesn’t pay, so they devised a hybrid that probably won’t turn a profit very soon, she said.

With the help of Southern New Hampshire University interns, Londonderry Public Access volunteers and her husband, Arnesen now films an hour-long interview show called Political Chowder covering state and national issues. She buys time from 11 a.m. to noon on MyTV to air it, and tries to sell commercials to cover the cost of that air time. The show runs weekdays with public service announcements in place of ads on 28 public access channels around the state. She also has an intern-run Web site that links people to full episodes of her show posted on YouTube, plus downloadable podcasts. You can take Arnie anywhere.

Grover hopes this show will promote public access as a medium to be taken seriously. “I now have 28 communities also airing Political Chowder,” Grover said. She expects all the presidential primary candidates to come on the show.    —>

Public access stations thrive in communities
by Bea O’Quinn Dewberry
The Republican (MA)

Tracey B. Durant’s allegiance to filming hours of weekly town meetings extends beyond her love of government. Durant, station manager at Longmeadow Community Television, seeks foremost to improve the public’s access to elected officials. “People are seeing the governmental process at work, not just the results,” Durant said, of the broadcasts of the Longmeadow Select Board, School Committee and special Town Meetings that she and a team of volunteers produce on the town’s government access channels. “People see the (officials) making the decisions that affect them daily. For some people, this is the only access (to government) they have,” Durant said.

Public access TV, also called community access, community television, cable access and PEG (Public, Education and Government) channels, are operated primarily by volunteers working tirelessly to bring meetings of public boards and commissions to residents in their cities and towns. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, community media, FCC, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, video franchising

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