Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/14/07

Cable franchise laws and the public interest
by Andy Opel, Asst. Prof., Florida State U.
The Tallahassee Democrat (FL)

As the Florida Legislature is considering significant changes to the laws that govern cable TV, broadband Internet and other emerging digital media technologies, a review of what is at stake may help us understand this technology puzzle…

As we move into the digital era, public access remains a critical component of the payment media companies owe the public. While Internet sites such as YouTube may allow users to post videos, we still need channels and airtime on our televisions dedicated to local politics and culture. As the number of cable channels grows, we should be seeing more opportunities for local television, not fewer PEG stations.

Finally, in an information age, local government must not be prevented from offering broadband Internet as a public utility. St. Cloud, Fla., is one of the few cities in the country to offer free wireless Internet to its residents. This service eliminated the digital divide while creating educational, economic, cultural and political opportunities for the community. More than 77 percent of the households there are registered for the service, and residents are saving over $50 a month per household. —>

Cable bill imperils government access
by Brad Clark
The Capitol Times (WI)

—> There’s a very real possibility that a Video Competition Act will become law in Wisconsin; and, should it be the current one, it could mean the end of local government programming such as that provided by Madison City Channel. I think it’s fair to call Madison City Channel Madison’s version of C-Span. We exist to help connect residents of Madison with their local government. We do that through our coverage — live, on tape, and on the Web at — of the most important meetings of local Madison government.

Because we cover these meetings and other events gavel to gavel, our audience does not have to rely on a 30-second clip on the evening news or a 500-word story in the daily paper to find out what’s going on. Madison residents can watch for themselves, see for themselves, and decide for themselves.

Madison City Channel is able to provide these services because we have a staff of professional television producers and directors. We are a professional organization, and for over 30 years we have been a fundamental part of local democracy. This is all in jeopardy under the bill as written because, under AB207 and SB107, cities like Madison are prohibited from collecting any fees to support access channels. From the beginning, cable companies have partnered with cities that made the choice to provide public, educational or government-access television for their communities.

When cable subscribers in Madison pay their bill, about 40 cents a month — less than $5 a year — goes toward helping Madison City Channel. This funding is provided only by subscribers, not property taxpayers. —>

Technical problems for LRPA channels
by Erin Plummer
The Citizen of Laconia (NH)

Lakes Region Public Access channels 25 and 26 will remain off the air after a new problem arose with the station’s broadcast system.

Late last week a “nexus” controller, which controls what programming goes on the air at what time, would not play programming and, according to LRPA TV director Denise Beauchaine, reached “the point in time where it just basically crashed.” After a remote session with a technician failed to solve the problem, the unit had to be packaged up and sent to Michigan to be repaired. The controller was shipped back to the station within the week and appeared to be working normally, leading the station to announce it would be back on the air.

The system, however, later stopped encoding DVD or tape feeds into computer files to be aired. Another call to technical support indicated the problem may have been with the server that stores the files, and the equipment had to be sent for diagnostics in Michigan. —>

[ Readers shouldn’t make judgments about Leightronics based on this. If I’d banked a nickel every time products from *two* of its competitors crashed on me… I’m sure many here understand this frustration all too well. Still – to make the press? Do you think the vendors appreciate just how big a problem not having a bullet-proof application can be? Hats off to Ms. Beuchaine, and every cablecast manager who’s ever struggled for days and weeks on end to maintain scheduled programming in the teeth of ill-tempered technology. Hats off, too, to those vendors’ unnamed tech support heroes (and to those local/regional PEG access tech support engineers like Dennis Dutra) who’ve quickly been able to set things right. – rm ]


Democracy Now! (Exclamation Point)
by Ed
Help Bring Public Access TV Back to Swampscott (MA)

—> “Democracy Now!” makes it’s show available to public access television for free, and is currently on the daily schedule in Salem and Beverly on their public access channels. Lynn does not have a satellite dish to download the show, but I’ve been downloading a bittorrent file of the show from the internet (usually on Wednesdays), burning it to DVD, and passing it in for viewing on Channel 3, Thursdays 4:30-5:30. —>

[Using Bit Torrent to distribute PEG access programs? What a concept! – rm]


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

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

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: