Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/06/07

If denied, AT&T says it won’t ask again
by John Rodgers
Nashville City Paper (TN)

AT&T’s lead lobbyist says that if the telecom giant is not successful this year in passing its bid for statewide television franchising, it won’t try again next year but could offer its services to Nashvillians in the near future. —>

Update on Qwest’s Cable Grab Bill
by Nicholas Johnson
From DC2Iowa (IA)

> As of May 3 Qwest’s cable bill — passed by the Iowa Senate and House with the help of about $190,000 in campaign contributions — was still sitting on the Governor’s desk unsigned. See, Jason Clayworth, “Cable law faulty, advocates say; Lawsuits targeting franchise fees in jeopardy, they fear,” Des Moines Register, May 3, 2007. —>

Press gives a free pass to citizens groups allied with telecoms
by Brusce Kushnick
Nieman Watchdog

At a New Jersey utilities board hearing on cable franchises, three guys from Verizon – the elephant in the room – go unnoticed by the regulators, and by the press.

Q. Citizens groups get funding or other support from telecoms and then testify on their behalf, neglecting to point out that they are beneficiaries. Is that acceptable behavior by the citizens groups?

Q. Newspapers run op eds by these citizens groups promoting their benefactors, but do very few news stories – usually none – on the issues involved, which affect millions of Americans. Is that acceptable behavior by the press?

I’m sitting in a government-looking room attending an open meeting of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to discuss giving Verizon new cable franchise gifts, removing various obligations. There are 50 to 75 people and I notice something odd. Three guys are standing in the back by the exit door and they keep shaking the hands of the speakers, most of whom testified that Verizon should get a new, statewide franchise to offer cable services.

The state legislature has already passed a bill; this session is held to iron out the details. And what I notice at this meeting is that the majority of speakers, those representing the Hispanic organizations, the black organizations, a computer club and some business execs, have been parroting words that I’ve heard before with sentences directly out of Verizon’s press materials.

The mantra: Don’t you want cable competition? Won’t competition lower prices? Blacks, Hispanics, seniors, the poor, persons with disabilities, and even common folk all agree that the poor baby bells need to get rid of that cumbersome obligation to the public known as a cable franchise.

What I didn’t notice were any reporters from news organizations. Even had one or more been there, the plain fact is that the media are mostly blind and deaf to the Astroturf problem. For example, I googled to see if anything had been written about the issues involved. What I found were op eds by Astroturf groups in various New Jersey papers, such as the Newark Star Ledger. It and other newspapers paper don’t seem to look behind the curtains, for the most part.

I later learn that the three men in the back of the room, Moe, Larry and Curly, work for Verizon, and it is clear by the smiles and handshakes that a room of witnesses have been brought by Verizon to testify on its behalf. Not one mentioned that Verizon gives their organization money or other support.

Why is the statewide cable franchise bad? —>

Oshkosh’s local cable television sorely missing original flavor
by Stew Rieckman
The Northwestern (WI)

Like most of the legislation coming out of Madison, the controversial cable competition bill is a little like a gooey melange thrown together by a kitchen full of cooks. The recipe was written by lobbyists with ingredients from other states, subjected to taste testing at hearings and reheated by committees until the concoction is inedible, much less understandable. When the diner asks, “What’s in this?” the answer is “A little of this, a little of that. Don’t worry, you’ll develop a taste for it.”

That’s about when my gag reflex kicks in. It’s hard to sort out the heroes and villains standing around the stove. But here’s what we know for sure. —>

Media center looks to fill board
by Carla Bova
Marin Independent Journal (CA)

The Community Media Center of Marin is looking for people to serve on its first board of directors, help set policies and manage public access cable television channels that will offer local programming. The nonprofit media center is being established by the Marin Telecommunications Agency to provide video and related services to Marin as well as community outreach and access through three channels – public, educational and government – that will be available through Comcast and AT&T systems. The deadline to apply is May 16. Visit

“The media center will really facilitate a whole new type of forum in Marin as far as communication, whether it be something broadcast across the channels or down the road,” said Barbara Thornton, chairwoman of the telecommunications agency.

The telecommunications agency, a joint powers authority made up of 11 Marin municipalities, signed a contract with Comcast last year securing nearly $4 million to pay for the media center, about 10 studios around the county and equipment such as cameras. The money also will pay to create an I-net data network system, which will connect to the main media center for easy transfer of information and programming. —>


Mayoral contenders say change still needed
by Andy Grimm
Post-Tribune (IL)

> All three have attacked Pabey for failing to keep to campaign promises in a city where high school sports and politics are the top sources of civic pride: Allowing the direct election of members of the school board and restoring public access television. What is now solely a source of administration-produced government content had been home to lively, perhaps libelous, political commentary. Pastrick ended public access programming when he renegotiated the city’s contract with cable provider Comcast, and Pabey has done nothing to restore the forum that dogged his predecessor. —>,ecmayor.article

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

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

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