Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/01/07

As cable TV bill heads to Crist, debate goes on
St. Petersburg Times (FL)
by Rebecca Catalano

TALLAHASSEE – The House cleared for Gov. Charlie Crist’s signature on Monday a long-disputed bill that would open the cable TV market to fiber-optic telecommunications companies…    Though the battle pitted cable and phone companies against each other, legislators managed to make both sides happy late last week by allowing cable companies to break their existing local government contracts as early as July in lieu of state-issued contracts. The immediate losers in that arrangement were local governments, which stand to lose at least $19-million in in-kind services from the contracts, according to a legislative analyst.

Florida League of Cities lobbyist John Wayne Smith said he’s prepared to ask Gov. Charlie Crist to veto the measure. Of particular concern is local governments’ control over access to rights of way.   —>

View From the Helm
by Drew Ruble
Business TN Magazine (TN)

At press time, the General Assembly was debating the so-called “Competitive Cable Services Act,” a proposal for possible radical changes in state law governing cable television and video franchising. Essentially, the legislation would eliminate local cable television franchising and replace it with a statewide franchising process. BellSouth/AT&T has argued that the current system is burdensome and time-consuming and a barrier to competition. Can you explain the opposition of cities to this proposal?

[Murfreesboro Mayor] Bragg: We believe municipal governments play an integral role on behalf of residents in ensuring viable and stable service delivery, and cable services, which now include Internet and telephone services, are no different. Many of us are aware how it is getting harder and harder to talk to an actual person when you are asking questions about service or need service. I believe the best service can be delivered with these municipal franchise agreements, and I think the taxpayer is rewarded by quality service delivery as a result. So as a municipality, we would oppose any degradation in service quality. The statewide franchise would really take that service excellence away from the local residents.

[Bartlett Mayor] McDonald : The current bill assumes that there is not the ability to compete right now, which is absolutely false. We would allow them to come and get a franchise. In fact, we’re the only city in Tennessee that had a franchise with AT&T/BellSouth. We had it for 10 years. They never acted on it during that period of time. So it was not so difficult as some of their lobbyists would have others believe. Though I understand that it is still in that bill to continue to pay the fees directly to the locals, they also put in there an ability to basically usurp our authority in terms of right-of-ways, aesthetics codes, etc. Those are things we have to deal with everyday: people concerned about the aesthetic value of their community, people that drive our streets. It seems like every time we put down a fresh coat of asphalt one of the utility groups wants to cut across it. So it’s about having that kind of local control so we can use a holistic approach to our planning for our easements and our right-of-ways. The business community ought to understand that it should be a level playing field, which is what typically everybody considers to be the best arena for competition. They currently have that. We’re not opposed to the competition. But we do want it on the same playing field.

[Knoxville Mayor] Haslam : I think most mayors love the idea of competition. We want to encourage that and make sure that happens; however, we also believe that local government is where the best decisions get made about local conditions, and it concerns us that some of the local control is taken away under this bill. If there’s a way we can answer some of those concerns about the loss of local control, then I have no issue with expanding the people who get in to the market because competition is good.

McDonald: The other piece is the channel we use for public education. Part of this bill basically makes it impossible for us to run the education channel. And those have been, at least in Bartlett, extremely successful. I have people who continue to stop me and say, “I saw the board meeting. What about this?” Or, we produce a couple of our own shows to inform people and I hear feedback like, “I’m so glad to know that.” Well, they want like eight hours of non-repetitive, continuous programming, which most governments just can’t afford without their own television production company. But the ability to stream and repeat things so people during the day can get the information they need is very valuable.

Haslam: That’s a good example of some things that can be adjusted in this legislation to make it work. But right now, it’s not a level playing field and they’ve taken too much local control away. If they can solve those, again from where I sit, I love the idea of the added competition.

RCN going into Milton, Dorchester
Firm plots 1st growth since exiting Chap. 11
by Carolyn Y. Johnson
Boston Globe (MA)

Cable company RCN Corp. plans to bring its “triple play” offering of television, Internet, and phone to residents in Dorchester and Milton this year, in what would be the company’s first expansion into new local communities since it emerged from bankruptcy protection three years ago.   —>

Leal Announces Community Media Grant
KXCI Community Radio (AZ)

Tucson City Councilmember Steve Leal (Ward V) cordially invites everyone to Tucson’s community cable channel, Access Tucson, 124 E. Broadway, Wednesday, May 2, 11:00 a.m.  “I will be giving a $11,700 Back to Basics award to Access Tucson for a study that looks at a possible future expansion on their building at 124 E. Broadway,” said Leal. “This would be a Community Media Center that could include a diverse collection of media entities enhanced resources.”

The goal of this award is to strengthen community’s resources for participation in the local community.  “There is a great need for a Community Media Center,” Leal went on to say. “Access Tucson, KXCI, Pan Left and other communications groups can come together in an integrated form. This would not only make these groups more efficient, it would also spur creativity so I am donating the funds for the study and design work that will be done by the Poster Group.”

TV for the people
Cable programs ‘all about the community’
by Frank Witsel
Detroit Free Press  (MI)

As the bright lights focused on him and the cameras rolled, the show’s host, Carlo Ginotti, hit his mark on the studio floor, told a few jokes, introduced his special guests, and then broke for a “word from their sponsors.”  Welcome to “The Royal Oak Show,” a talk show, about, well, Royal Oak…

As the number of households with cable grows, and the cost of producing shows decreases, suburbs — such as Royal Oak, Shelby Township and Farmington Hills — are broadcasting local productions that put members of the community in the spotlight…  In Farmington Hills, the Southwestern Oakland Cable Commission — SWOCC Studios — has four public stations and broadcasts shows for Farmington Hills, Farmington and Novi. It offers magazine-style shows such as “SWOCC Around the Block,” “Sheryl in the City” and “Police Journal.”

“We cover local people, places and things — stories about anything and everything,” said Melissa Cohn, the station’s community relations specialist. “We spotlighted pinewood derby champs — fourth-grade boys with their wooden cars — and a local survivor of the Andrea Doria, an ocean liner that sank” in 1956.

On “The Royal Oak Show,” which is one of the only ones in the area to have a live audience, the guests discuss their latest achievements. One segment of Monday night’s taping featured a roundup of area Eagle Scouts.   —>

Rights of Way Give Away
by Dee Dee Halleck
Hand Held Visions

Georgia has just passed in both houses a bill which virtually eliminates local control of public rights of way. The telecom giants have been pushing this hard. One rep counted 47 lobbyists from ATT who had been pursuing her. This is happening in many states: the telcoms want to deliver video, but without the public interest safeguards and equity that cable has been forced to give. Cable access has been an important resource for many communities, with channels and funding for educational, government and public access. Up to now Atlanta has had a good public access: The Peoples Channel.   —>

Pass The Word: PCF, Harvard’s Berkman Seek Joint Funding On Project
by Barry Cooper
Demoncract Internet TV Blog

>   The Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and Participatory Culture Foundation — publishers of The Democracy Player — are jointly seeking funding for a new nonprofit project, the Open Media Library. The project will make it easier for students, faculty, staff and the public to access rich video and other academic content from the Berkman Center with a more robust, interactive, and easy-to-manage user interface for the existing Berkman Media Library.

The software will be released with open source standards and made freely available to universities, organizations and individuals. Because the software is open source, any person or organization with Internet access and a computer will be able to freely use the software to create deep, compelling media libraries.   —>

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

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

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