Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/07/07

Centerville opposes Senate Bill 117
Centerville-Bellbrook Times (OH)

Centerville City Council unanimously passed a resolution at last Monday’s meeting opposing Ohio Senate Bill 117. The bill, as presently written, would in effect take away local government’s control and authority over cable and other video service providers that use the City of Centerville rights-of-way to provide service and replace that authority with oversight and enforcement by the Ohio Director of Commerce.

It would also re-define gross revenue, thus reducing the city’s franchise fees and permit cable operators to drop existing cable contracts with municipalities, even if there is no other competing video service in the area. The legislation would additionally enable cable providers to “cherry pick” areas of a community in which to provide service. Currently, Time-Warner provides cable service to Centerville residents.

“We welcome competition to the cable television industry, but Senate Bill 117 in its present form would be devastating to local cities,” said council member Dr. Paul Gresham. Gresham also serves as board of director chair of the Miami Valley Communications Council, a consortium of local governments that provide government cable access along with other services. “Our eight local cities have built one of the strongest collaborative organizations in our region and we would hate to see SB117 dismantle those efforts.”

The bill would also reduce, and possibly eliminate the City of Centerville’s ability to have dedicated public, educational and governmental (PEG) access channels and do away with all specific PEG funding as well as other services, such as free cable service to public school and government buildings. The city of Centerville, in cooperation with the Miami Valley Communications Council, produces several cable programs, including monthly live Council meeting coverage along with four other public informational programs, all aired on Cable channel 10. —>

A puppet, a senator and public access TV
by Howard Troxler
St. Petersburg Times (FL)

> The changes in House Bill 529 deal with the fact that more and more telephone companies want to sell video and compete with the old cable companies. But what about the rules for access channels? The Legislature kept the existing number of channels while old cable contracts are in effect. But as new systems spread, and old contracts expire, the rules will change. Examples:

– To survive, access channels will have to show they are carrying at least 10 hours of programming a day, with limited repetition.
– Companies won’t have to place access channels on their lowest, nondigital tier of service. That means fewer people might see them.
– Communities that didn’t have access channels beforehand will be entitled to ask for two (not three).

In that last rule, especially, the backers of public access smell trouble. If there are two channels instead of three, who is most likely to get the boot?

Another rule that affects public access only: A majority of customers have to say they want it. And the law also includes this sentence: The video or cable service subscribers must be provided with clear, plain language informing them that public access is unfiltered programming and may contain adult content. —>

Will New Cable Law in Florida Slash Costs?
TMCnet News (FL)

> The head of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors feel that the new act might increase competition, but will also increase complaints that might be left unresolved. Already, cable TV and telecommunication industries consistently make the Top 10 list of consumer complaints in surveys by the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and the Consumer Federation of America. In theory, the new Act would help by stipulating that the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) will handle all consumer complaints.

However, a spokesman for Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson said cable complaints would fall under unregulated industries. Terry McElroy indicated that means consumer advocates would try to mediate disputes, but the agency would have no authority to take legal action… “We’re pretty good at solving unregulated industry complaints,” noted McElroy. “I’m certain well over 50 percent of our cases are resolved satisfactorily.”

Given the emphasis local franchises tend to put on customer service, it is hard to imagine that 50 percent is a viable measuring stick. What’s more, with customer service being managed through a central organization, there is little local operators can do to differentiate themselves from the competition — they certainly cannot all compete on price alone.

Still, cable operators are obligated, under the current Act, to abide by existing franchise agreements through the end of their current contracts or 2012, whichever comes first. —>

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a bridge, it’s a …
by John Clayton
New Hampshire Union Leader (NH)

HERE’S THE THING about the so-called “green room” at Manchester Community Access Media.
Clayton logo It’s way more than green. In fact, the lobby area of MCAM – Manchester’s public access cable television station – is awash in vibrant colors.

Those colors come from Timothy Craig’s evocative paintings of Manchester landscapes – rich with rust and russet tones – and Ron Boucher’s panoramic photos of the city’s skyline and most impressively, from a sprawling 77-square-foot mural created by artist Anthony Williams.

The mural was the focus of much of the conversation last week when MCAM held a two-day grand opening ceremony for its new studio, and it was equally grand to see Anthony’s work exposed to the kind of local audience that can best appreciate his subject matter. —>’s+a+bird%2C+it’s+a+plane%2C+it’s+a+bridge%2C+it’s+a+…&articleId=5c0fd3e8-054a-42c8-afc0-c71a9fda5a5a

Group documents mid-Mo. river culture
The group is trying to make a home for its rare collection in Ellis.
by Kyle Wayne Stewart
The Missourian

> The Columbia public access channel, CAT3 TV, has also been a major player in the efforts to preserve the culture of the Missouri River region. Not only has CAT3 TV aired some footage of the “Winter Sessions at Cooper’s,” but the channel also lends equipment and editing space to the conservancy. The channel also offers training for volunteers interested in getting involved in the project.

“We are always looking for people with experience operating video cameras and using editing programs to produce finished videos,” Cooper said. The conservancy is still trying to find a home for all of its footage. “We are still negotiating archiving agreements with the Western Historical Manuscript Collection (at MU’s Ellis library) and the Boone County Historical Society,” Cooper said.

Southern Vermont Community Media Center idea discussed
Media Giraffe Project (VT)

Watch a discussion at Southern Vermont College on Saturday, May 5, 2007, by college officials, expert and community representatives on a proposal to revise the operation of radio station WBTN and establish a community-media center for the region.

Terrence Farrell wants to move up from recording deeds to enacting them
by R. Jonathan Tuleya
The Phoenix News (PA)

> “Folks in West Chester and some other parts of the county feel the county ends at the Brandywine (Creek),” he said.  To help bridge this divide, Farrell is proposing a commissioners countywide tour, of sorts. He wants to occasionally hold the commissioners’ meetings at locations outside the Chester County Courthouse.

Additionally, Farrell said he wants to bring public access television to Chester County so the meetings will be broadcast and reach an even wider audience.  Aside from his job as Recorder of Deeds, Farrell owns a video production company. —>

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

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

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