Community Media: Selected Clippings: 04/01/07

Senate Bill 117: Eminent Domain for AT&T

by Bill Callahan
Callahan’s Cleveland Diary (OH)

There’s finally a Legislative Reference Service bill analysis posted for Senate Bill 117, AT&T’s bill to eliminate local cable franchising in Ohio. The bill substitutes a state-issued “Video Service Authorization”, or “VSA”, for local cable TV franchises. The LRS analysis says in paragraph four:

” a VSA confers on a person the authority to (1) provide video service in the video service area specified in its application, (2) construct and operate a video service network in, along, across, or on public rights-of-way, and (3) when necessary to provide the service, appropriate private property.”

If AT&T (in its capacity as a state-rubber-stamped VSA) should decide that it needs a piece of your yard to provide U-Verse video to your neighbors, your only recourse will be a court of law. Your local government will have no authority at all in the matter; and the state Commerce Department, which will issue the VSA, “has no authority to regulate video service rates, terms, or conditions of service”. —>

Verizon Presses Hard to Change Cable Franchising in the Commonwealth
Cambridge Community Television (MA)

Verizon, having failed to change cable franchising in Congress, is now pushing state legislation that would remove local control over the public rights of way and threaten funding for Public, Educational, and Governmental access channels and funding… This is a bad bill, written BY AND FOR one company without adequately balancing the needs of cities, towns and community access centers in the Commonwealth.

Next week, we will publish a guide to HOW TO TAKE ACTION on this bill. In the meantime, mark your calendar for a public hearing on May 15 at 10 AM at the State House. Make sure that your voice is heard and that you are counted!

The cable debate heats up in Madison
by jfoust (WI)

On March 27, 2007, a joint hearing took place at the Capitol to discuss a proposed “Video Competition” bill AB-207/SB-107. The hearing room overflowed with citizens deeply concerned about the threats posed by this bill. Most were associated with small-town “public access-governmental-educational” (PEG) channels. —>

The bill has a half-dozen loopholes and exclusions that in effect would not require any video provider to broadcast our existing PEG channels. For example, the bill says video providers can drop PEG channels if they’re “underutilized,” defined as less than 12 hours a day of new, non-repeating programming, 80% locally produced. This loophole alone eliminates all PEG channels. No consideration for program sharing between communities or the community announcement slideshow channels. No definition of “locally produced”. By the same definition, every ABC/NBC/CBS/Fox channel in the state is “underutilitized.” Coupled with the reductions in franchise fee revenue that supports them, and the elimination of separate PEG fees, it could mean the death knell for PEG.

Without local franchises, growing communities can’t negotiate new PEG channels, either. That’s why the hearing was packed with PEG supporters. I am fully aware that PEG channels are considered comic relief. As a public forum open to all, they can attract the homegrown nutcases. On the other hand, I think of them like local volunteer fire departments. They run on a shoestring and they provide a valuable public service. An informed citizenry makes better decisions about government, no matter where you stand on the political spectrum. Where else can you watch local government in action? Or your kid’s band concert? Or church services? Where else can the Kiwanis advertise their next fundraising dinner for free? Yes, some PEG programs are cheesy, or heaven forbid boring, but I don’t hear people praising the intellectual qualities of “Fear Factor.” —>


Fearless TV: Television from the Heart of Canada’s Poorest Neighbourhood
Art Threat – Politcal Art Magazine

Fearless TV was born in the poverty and resilience of Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (DTES), Canada’s poorest and most vulnerable neighbourhood. Occupying a 25 block radius a little east of Vancouver’s business district, the DTES is home to over 5,000 intravenous drug users, and staggering levels of poverty, HIV infection rates, and social malaise. But it is also home to a vibrant creative community of residents, activists and artists. Fearless TV is television made in the DTES by people who live and work there.

The show was created on in the aftermath of a series of television activism workshops offered by local organizer Sid Chow Tan, founder of Access TV and long time community television activist. Tan explained that the workshops were designed to introduce people to community television and how to use it as a tool for social and political change. The response was so positive, they decided to make a show. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, citizen journalism, community media, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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