Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/11/07

Making Don Imus Unprofitable
by Matt Stoller

The problem with Imus is not that he’s a racist, it’s that he’s rich and powerful and has no real set of counterparts.  Minority ownership of media outlets in America is pitifully low, as is the power and reach of community radio, or public access television.  In fact, except for the internet, our media structures are exceptionally undemocratic and subsidized heavily by the government to the tune of $500 billion.  But don’t take my word for it, take the word of FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who is calling for a ‘New America Media Contract’.  —>

Cable, phone spar in cat fight
by Lyndsey Lewis
Bradenton Herald (FL)

—>   Initially, cable companies expressed concerns that Bennett’s measure would allow telecoms to cherrypick customers.  But those companies quieted down late last month, when Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, amended Bennett’s bill in a Senate committee. His amendment would require new companies to provide cable access to at least half of low-income households in their service area within five years.

That amendment “greatly improves” the bill, said Steve Wilkerson, president of the Florida Cable Telecommunications Association. Now, the association fears it might be stripped out during the committee process…

Bennett’s amended bill is expected to head to the Senate Committee on Community Affairs on Thursday. The House’s version of the proposal, which doesn’t have the same amendment tacked onto it, is waiting to be heard by the full Senate.

Germantown hires new lobbyist
Memphis Commercial Appeal (TN)

—>   The key service will be monitoring AT&T’s efforts for statewide franchising of cable and other telecommunications services. The Competitive Cable and Video Services Act has drawn unprecedented efforts by Germantown to mobilize public opposition to the measure. Officials held a town hall meeting and have done more than their normal efforts to inform the public about the bill’s impact.

Germantown fears that the measure will remove local controls and hurt funding of local access channels, like GHS-TV, the student-run station at Germantown High.   —>,1426,MCA_1936_5476888,00.html

Guard Your Local Cable Franchise Like It’s Your Remote
I want competition as much as the next guy, but not at this cost
by Joe Lance
The Chattanooga Pulse (TN)

—>   With whose side should the average consumer align? Which of these monoliths has your interests in mind? I think there is a clear answer to the first question, but it has nothing to do with the probable answer to the second. We get there by asking “who else wants the same thing?” AT&T seems to be by itself.

Cable, on the other hand, has wide support among local governments across the state, op-ed authors, and citizen journalists. I’ve lost count of the number of resolutions passed by counties and municipalities against a statewide franchise, because it strips their ability to ensure distribution and infrastructure as seen fit locally.

Many have snickered about the revenue angle; but all you have to do is tell me that PEG broadcasts (er, that’s Public, Education and Government, like cable channel 3 here) are threatened, not to mention that service quality standards would be loosened (gasp), to get me on the hunt for this beast.   —>

Report From San Antonio – AT&T Corporate Headquarters (TX)

The rubber has started to hit the road in San Antonio. More than two years after basically writing SB 5 – Texas’ statewide video franchise law that passed the Legislature in 2005 – AT&T is now interpreting that law for San Antonio city officials.

The San Antonio City Council is poised to vote on an ordinance that will solidify an agreement between AT&T and the city that outlines a scope of work for testing the telco’s new U-Verse TV Service.  City officials outlined the plan for public access advocates at a meeting today in San Antonio’s municipal building. —>

San Antonio AT&T Proposed Agreement

Here is a copy of the San Antonio AT&T Proposed Agreement, as a PDF file: 
Public Education and Government (PEG) Programming Signal First Office Application Testing Agreement

[Michigan, like Texas, is now grappling with the (intended?) consequences of a statewide video franchising law. – rm]

Whither public access?
by T.M. Shultz
City Pulse (MI)

—>   If Espy’s reaction to the news of Arialink’s new cable franchise with Lansing is any indication, Comcast may be scrambling to figure out its next move.  Asked about sharing its public access studio with Arialink, Espy initially said, “We wouldn’t provide our studio for them to use.” He also said Arialink, “won’t be able to piggyback (its signals) off of us. How the PEG shows get made is up to them.”

But a short time later, Espy called back to say that after reviewing the franchise document, there’s a possibility that Comcast and Arialink could work out some sort of agreement on PEG channels.  “We can have an interconnect with (Arialink). It is a possibility,” Espy said.

As for the future, Espy would only said that Comcast plans to continue to offer PEG channels.  “The details are being discussed internally,” Espy said.   —>

Highland Twp. to drop cable franchise fees
by Tim Pratt
Evening Sun Reporter (PA)

In response to Comcast’s recent rate hike and removal of some basic cable channels, Highland Township supervisors on Tuesday voted to do away with franchise fees that are routed to the township from cable subscribers there.

“Out of desperation, I think we can give our subscribers at least some relief by doing away with our franchise fee,” said Supervisor Gil Pringle, who proposed eliminating the fees.

[This astonishing story brings to mind the scene from “Blazing Saddles”, where the Cleavon Little character holds a gun to his own head.  Meanwhile, not every community in PA is daft. – rm]

Upper Moreland meetings to hit prime time
by Lucas K. Murray
Public Spirit / The Willow Grove Guide (PA)

Look out “Dancing With The Stars.”  Step aside, Sanjaya.  Reality television is coming to Upper Moreland….

Dodies said once the lighting and sound equipment is set, then regular meetings would be shown on ETV1, the school district’s information channel.  The township is in negotiations with Comcast to secure a second public access channel for the township as part of a renewed cable franchise agreement.

Upper Moreland, along with Hatboro Borough and Horsham Township, do not broadcast, while Southampton, Warminster and the Upper Moreland School District all televise their regular meetings.  Supervisor Richard Luce said Warminster’s televised meetings have progressed significantly since they were first shown on cable about 15 years ago.   —>

Access Carson City now airing first studio program
by Terri Harber
Nevada Appeal

People interested in the state’s backcountry trails can now watch a show on the community access cable television channel to learn more.  Called “Nevada Trails,” it’s the first show to be produced in Access Carson City’s new studio in the basement of the Brewery Arts Center.   —>

[Yay, Nevada!  Channel start-up summer 2006.  Go, Brewery Arts Center! – rm]

Ebli, Dingell TV show airs in April
Monroe News (MI)

State Rep. Kate Ebli, D-Monroe, interviews U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, on the latest installment of her cable show, “Kate’s Capitol Report.”   —>

Court Set for Appeals vs. FCC Order
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News

The multiple appeals filed against the Federal Communications Commission order that local governments approve competitive franchises in 90 days have been consolidated and will be heard in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  Action was taken Tuesday by the Judicial Panel for Multi-District Litigation to move the challenges into one court.

The petitioners — the Alliance for Communications Democracy, the Alliance for Community Media, the National Association of Counties, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors and the U.S. Conference of Mayors — each filed a challenge in the district in which the group is headquartered. The Alliance for Community Media filed in the Sixth Circuit.

“We’re happy to be the named petitioner,” said Anthony Riddle, executive director of ACM. “But that’s just a formality of filing. We’re still all one group.”   —>

Federal Court To Hear Video Franchise Challenge
by The Associated Press
Broadcast Newsroom

As promised, local governments took the FCC to court last week over its revision of video franchising rules…  The six identical petitions were consolidated into one case and assigned to the Sixth Circuit.

Steve Traylor, deputy director of government relations for NATOA, says his group is comfortable with that court. He said when the challenge was initially filed, that court set up an aggressive briefing schedule in which initial briefs would have been due the middle of May. He is now looking at late May or early June for those briefs.

“All the national organizations are looking forward to having the court hear our concerns about the FCC’s new rules,” he said.   —>

Hyper-Local Citizen Media Sites Learn How to Serve Small Communities
by Mark Glaser
Media Shift

“We are the traditional journalism model turned upside down. Instead of being the gatekeeper, telling people that what’s important to them ‘isn’t news,’ we’re just opening up the gates and letting people come on in.” — Mary Lou Fulton, publisher of the Northwest Voice in Bakersfield, Calif.

In November 2004, I wrote a story for Online Journalism Review profiling various hyper-local citizen media sites such as Northwest Voice and iBrattleboro that cover local communities with the help of community contributors. Fulton’s quote above came from that story, and her Northwest Voice project has been such a success for its owner, the Bakersfield Californian newspaper, that they launched the Southwest Voice to cover that neighborhood as well.

I wondered how this world of hyper-local sites had changed since that time. Were the businesses starting to gel? Was the community responding in positive ways and contributing? What were the lessons and challenges for the publishers of these sites, and how had they found success? This kind of follow-up was timely, with the recent creation of the Knight Citizen News Network and its Principles of Citizen Journalism as a loose guide to accuracy and fairness for citizen media sites.

One of the mistakes made by media companies and startups trying to cash in on hyper-local sites is the idea that there’s a way to copy-and-paste the success of one operation and make it a franchise in other locales.  “There is a problem with one-size-fits-all,” said Lewis Friedland, project director of Madison Commons , a civic-minded citzen media site in Wisconsin.   —>

Our Media conference #2: excellent capacity building continues
sydney alternative media

A lot less notes taken today, and lot more sharing. We managed to erect a display of our campaign contribution for communication capacity in the Patagonia/Chile No Alumysa campaign of 2002-04, to halt a US$3 billion hydro smelter project to destroy 3 local rivers, lake, 10,000 ha of original forest and fjordlands with 660K tonnes of waste per year.

Two heroes of that campaign Mitzi Urtubia and Marisol Frugone and other details are reported here Patagonia project and in Chile here —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

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

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