Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/22/07

Live, Raw and Very Emotional: Drug Court TV
by Maylon T. Rice
Fayetteville Free Weekly (AR)

Justice may be blind, but the Washington and Madison Drug Court has apparently found some success in its effort to discourage drug abuse with the unblinking eye: television. If you’ve never stopped to catch the local Drug Court TV while flipping through the channels on local cable television, you may, many veteran television viewers say, be in a very small minority.

Drug Court TV, a production of the Washington and Madison County Drug Court and a bevy of local agencies and sponsors, is riveting television… Drug Court TV is aired on the Jones Television Network and the Fayetteville government channel. The camera and court, in the Drug Court team’s way of thinking, can and is a deterrent to young people.

“Drug Court TV and the programs taking Drug Court into local schools have proven to be a good thing for young people to see,” Judge Gunn said in a recent telephone interview. “We have got to target the age of induction- that age when children are being drawn from experimenting with alcohol into drugs.” —>

Blunt signs cable competition bill into law
by David A. Lieb (AP)
Bellevue News Democrat (MO)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Legislation intended to give Missourians a greater choice of television service providers was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Matt Blunt. —>

Opposition to HB1500 Continues to Grow — Peter Collins Speaks Out. (IL)

As I reported at the beginning of March, one of the worst state franchise bills I’ve ever read was introduced by James Brosnahan to the Illinois legislature. I can only imagine that the goal was to fast-track this bill and sneak it through before the public got organized enough to demand that it be withdrawn. It is, to say the least, a horrendous bill, eliminating local control, gutting consumer protections and legally protecting telecom providers who wish to redline the poor and rural. This bill is, in almost every regard, directly contrary to the best interests of the general public. Luckily, thought(ful) leaders and consumer advocates from across the state have been waging a educational campaign to let people people know about this travesty. Peter Collins has been leading the charge and his recent letter to Brosnahan is included below. —>

Busy day
Illinois Issues Blog

Maneuvering inside the Statehouse was interesting today. About 1,000 people stood shoulder to shoulder on the three tiers of the Capitol rotunda and waved American flags. They were showing support measures that would grant drivers’ certificates to immigrants and earmark $25 million for expanded English classes. Roughly seven more busloads of people wearing green, pro-business T-shirts spread throughout the Capitol to show opposition for a statewide smoking ban. Meanwhile, lawmakers sat inside committee rooms and in their chambers to debate policy dealing with AT&T, electric utility bills and college loans, among many others. But the following measures could keep unfolding in the next couple of weeks: —>

AT&T — the telecommunications measure would allow companies to enter the video market through a statewide video franchise rather than through individual municipalities. Hours of testimony have been heard for three weeks, but no amendments have been filed, yet. It might take more time to get out of the House committee.

Statewide cable report rapped
by Jeff Richgels
The Capital Times (WI)

A new report from a conservative think tank that backs proposed statewide cable franchising is based on false assumptions, a critic said today. The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute’s report, prepared for release today, asserts that consumers on cable’s basic and expanded basic tiers could save up to $149.01 yearly on their bills if cable competition were allowed. —>

Orton noted that AT&T Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre has told Wall Street analysts that AT&T would not be competing on price in TV services and that the company expected its prices to be in the same range as traditional cable companies. And, he added, “The reality is where Verizon has been in business more than a year they’ve raised rates just like the cable companies. And while cable companies may have cut prices at first they’ve also risen since.” “This is a sock-puppet report repeating every one of AT&T’s talking points over and over,” Orton said. “It’s based on false assumptions, wrong facts and biased research done by former telephone company ‘economists.'” —>

Florida Legislature: Preview of Day 17
The State of Sunshine

HB 529 by Rep. Trey Traviesa, which allows cable television franchises to be granted at the state level and eliminates the ability for local governments to ask companies for local, educational, or public access channels. This bill is crafted completely and totally by telephone companies, especially Verizon, because local governments were asking for high fees or too many “free” channels. Bear in mind, these telephone companies want to use the right of way owned in large part by local governments. The bill also does not include provisions that require companies to serve entire areas – which means they can “cherry pick” the good neighborhoods, and leave other areas completely without service.

State cable bill may boost competition
The House is expected to approve a bill this week that would give telephone companies and competitors the right to offer cable-TV service. Critics fear some consumers may be left out.
by Jim Wyss
Bradenton Herald (FL)

TALLAHASSEE – A controversial proposal to open up Florida’s cable-TV market to increased competition could win House approval as early as today, even though it’s expected to face some static in the Senate… But its critics — including an unlikely alliance of consumer rights groups and incumbent cable providers — say the bill is short on safeguards. In particular, by allowing new competitors to pick and choose their coverage areas, some fear poor and rural communities might be left out in the cold. And existing cable companies fear the newcomers will have the right ”to cherry pick our high-value customers,” said Steve Wilkerson, president of the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association.

City governments also have balked at the plan, fearing they will lose the right to negotiate local concessions from the cable companies. Those concessions — which can range from providing public access channels to tree-planting projects — add up to about $20 million statewide, according to legislative staff analysis. —>

FCC Rules on Franchise Agreements
Commission passes order to make entering into cable franchise easier.
by Erika Jacobson
The Connection Newspapers (VA)

—> Immediately following the release, several groups, including the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Telecommunications Officer and Advisors, put out statements questioning the FCC’s decision. “We understand the need to get new interests in to localities,” Jeffrey Arnold, deputy legislative director of the National Association of Counties, said. “We don’t think the FCC has the authority to make these decisions.” Arnold said there are many inaccuracies in the FCC’s report, including its assertion that localities are placing unreasonable build-out requirements, which state that a franchise provide cable service to parts or all of the franchise area within a specified period of time, on applicants. “There is no example of unreasonable build-out in their report,” Arnold said.

Boyd Garrett, the Potomac District representative on the county’s Cable and Open Video Systems Commission said he is not sure why the FCC believes the actions of localities have warranted a change that took away local control over video services. “While I don’t want franchisees to face a widely varying patchwork of regulations across their service area, there are unique needs that can be addressed under the current franchise regime that will be eliminated under this change,” he said.   —>

Keep the public in public access TV
by Brian Caterino and Deborah Magone-Fragale
Rochester Democrat & Chronicle Letter to the Editor (NY)

—> For almost 25 years, Educable Communications Corp. has operated as a nonprofit corporation providing access services to towns and villages in Rochester’s western suburbs. Educable staff started up permanent access operations in the area in the face of hostile local governments. Educable has always been funded at a starvation level, insufficient to carry out all the mandates of access. Now the towns of Greece, Gates and Ogden are considering disenfranchising the community by moving public access operations to the Greece school district, out of the hands of independent producers and citizens. —>

News groups confuse audience with community, says Guardian blogs editor
by Oliver Luft

—> He added that it was a mistake to think that revamping to give the audience social tools would automatically create a community. “You have to invest in the community first before you start reaping the benefits, that is the key thing. —>

Small town community news revenue: print trumps the web
by Griff Wigley
Locally Grown

In this week’s Business Week, Jon Fine’s Media Centric column is titled Down And Out In The ‘Burbs: Turns out it’s tough to make local work on the Web. “There are media geeks who have been waiting ten years for the Web to take over community news. Pick a town, preferably one in a well-heeled suburb, that’s underserved by the big metro newspaper. (What suburban town isn’t underserved by the big metro newspaper?) Set up a site incorporating the superstructure of this online age: blogs, places to post video, interactivity everywhere. Stoke audience participation, use some variant of the phrase “citizens’ media” at every opportunity, keep staffs small, sell ads to tightly clustered readers.”

Trouble is, it’s not working financially, neither for well-funded community media startups like Backfence nor independents like How about Probably the same but I don’t know for sure. And how are the small town newspapers doing? Better than ever, evidently and much better than their metro counterparts. In Fine’s March 8 blog post, he writes: —>

Tracy Swerdlow’s itvt blog
[itvt] ITV Interview: Mike Folgner, Co-Founder, Jumpcut

Last fall, online video editing service, Jumpcut, was acquired by Internet portal, Yahoo!. [itvt]’s Tracy Swedlow recently spoke to Jumpcut co-founder, interactive TV industry veteran Mike Folgner, about the service and the concepts behind it; about how it is enabling wiki-like collaborative editing processes; about plans to integrate Jumpcut into Yahoo!’s other services; about the prospects for enabling interactivity in video edited using the service; and more.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, citizen journalism, community media, FCC, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, social media, user-generated content, video franchising

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