Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/19/07

Cable franchise bill moves forward
by Lyndsey Lewis
Bradenton Herald (FL)

—> Dozens of opponents to the measure – mainly cable lobbyists – have argued that it would allow telecoms to cherry-pick customers. Poorer Floridians in rural communities would probably be left out in the cold, they said.

Some of those naysayers were relieved when Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, managed to tweak the bill a few weeks ago. Under his amendment, new companies would be required to give cable access to at least half the low-income households in their service areas within five years.

But senators said Wednesday they still aren’t happy with the bill, which will head next to the Committee on General Government Appropriations.

Convergence with seniority
by Kate Casper
The Daily Iowan (IA)

A kitchenette fills the corner of a gray carpeted room, a mini-fridge hums quietly, the smell of coffee wafts through the air. This scene, vaguely reminiscent of grandma’s kitchen, becomes incongruous when you notice the coiled extension cords and lighting equipment hanging from wall-mounted pegboard, the tripods and video cameras. This is the Senior Center television studio.

One year after launching a website streaming its television broadcasts, members of the Senior Center and UI students have surpassed their expectations for the project. The site has generated more than 5,000 viewings, and the group behind the broadcasts has no intention of slowing down. The members are even looking for more volunteers to help complete their current queue of projects.

Senior Center TV Online has taken to the road, interviewed experts and neighbors, and created films both informative and entertaining. These projects have all involved one uniting theme: bridging the age gap. The partnership among students and seniors has created a Senior Center broadcast that is recognized as one of the most dynamic in the nation today.

But the seniors may see limitations placed on their broadcasts. By the end of April, it is expected that the Iowa Senate will pass Senate File 554, which would move the oversight of telecommunications franchising from the city to state level. The measure, backed by Qwest Communications, aims to increase the availability of service “bundles” to customers, but it is likely to also shut down local public-access stations such as PATV in Iowa City. For the past 17 years, the seniors have been using PATV, in addition to other local access-channels, to broadcast their documentaries and features.

Josh Goding, the executive director of PATV, said that though he isn’t sure exactly what the outcome of the bill will be, he does not think the future for public access looks promising. “The bill is just a mess,” he said. “We could, almost immediately, lose funding and support for this organization.” —>

You Choose – Google’s Government Access Channel
by Jason Crow
Cambridge Community Television (MA)

When I opened up YouTube this morning, I was met by a big smiling John Edwards in a banner promoting the “You Choose” section of the website. YouTube has decided, after success of YouTube’s non-partisan “You Choose ’08” voter education initiative, to ramp up its involvement in national politics with slick full page “spotlights” on candidates. These spotlights will highlight one candidate per week starting with former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney last week.

For those involved in community television, these spotlights sound like the on-line version of the candidate forums that dozens, if not hundreds of stations around the United States hold every year. These forums, often highlighting such local races as city councillor or school board, are usually one of the few chances a candidate gets to speak unfiltered on television. The usual media coverage of politics is usually very limited to the soundbites of the six o’clock news. Soundbites are not conducive to creating an informed civic dialogue.

Each week in the “spotlight,” candidates will produce a video for YouTube and encourage the public to respond. The YouTube community has one week to respond to the candidate with questions and concerns. The candidate will then engage these videos and address the community’s concerns via video responses, giving the luck ones highly visible access to presidential candidates.

As YouTube touts its civic mindedness, I am still the ever skeptical citizen. One article writes how the on-line features will “allow presidential candidates to mobilize voters through the power of on-line video, while giving voters highly visible access to candidates.” The article concludes, “[b]etween now and the presidential election, YouTube will continue to serve as an engine for democracy by encouraging direct interaction between presidential candidates and voters.” This sounds eerily like press release language you might read issued by Google’s marketing department. Call me old fashioned, but I still believe live town hall meetings, impassioned speeches and well-reasoned rhetoric are the best tools for organizing a constituency – not necessarily 425 pixel wide by 350 pixel tall, poorly encoded video. Finally, where is the substance? I may be missing something, but I can’t find a single mention of where Mr. Edwards stands on important issues. Perhaps the content is buried in his featured videos. A text based companion would be nice.

On the other hand, I applaud YouTube’s effort to inform voters during this crucial run-up to a presidential primary that for the first time in many years does not have an already decided winner in both Republic and Democratic camps.

Government in particular, but Public and Education Acccess channels as well, should take note of this commercial behemoth’s attempt at promoting the public interest. Perhaps this year, access television channels around the country can follow YouTube’s example by starting their own “Spotlight” on local candidate races. There are plenty free, on-line tools to get your local candidates’ message to the community that inform and build community all at the same time. If you have an example of on-line, candidate videos, send them on; I am interested to see what sort local “You Choose” sites are out there.

I look forward to see the You Choose site develop over the course of the next year. Perhaps in the meantime, someone can convince them to add some relevant content to the spotlight – where the candidate stands on issues, for instance.

Brentwood TV has grown from weekly report to 24-hour station
And now it’s on the Internet, too
by Kelly McCann
Suburban Journals (MO)

—> The half-hour show aired every two weeks and featured interviews with local residents and city officials, spotlights on local businesses and discussions of city issues and activities. “A lot of people that never got on TV got a chance to get on TV,” Wynn said. “They didn’t care if it was CBS or what; they were on TV.”

The show was deemed a success, and in October 1998 the city was offered the opportunity to have its own 24-hour broadcast channel. With a matching grant of $6,000, the city purchased used equipment such as tape decks and monitors to get the channel up and running.

Today the Public Education and Governmental Access (PEG) channel is operated by Kevin McCarthy. In addition to its own studio, the station is outfitted with modern equipment such as a 24-channel soundboard, a 64-channel audio editing system and a digital playback server. The station broadcasts information on city services and programs, as well as tape-delayed coverage of City Council and Planning Commission meetings. —>

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

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

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