Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/24/07

Don’t let AT&T buy Ohio! Save Free Speech! Save Public Access Television!
by Logan Martinez
The Free Press (OH)

Public, Educational and Government Access channels are under imminent threat by AT&T sponsored legislation. The Ohio House of Representatives’ public utilities committee will be holding their hearing on Senate Bill SB 117 on Wednesday, May 30th at 11 a.m. We need people to attend. We will be holding a short rally at the capital at 10:40 A.M.   —>

Resolution opposes cable TV legislation
Akron Beacon Journal (OH)

BATH TWP.: Township trustees Monday approved a resolution opposing Senate Bill 117, the cable franchising bill. —>

Stop NC HB 1587: Prevent Big Telecom from killing Muni WiFi
by Brian Russell (NC)

As I write this NC HB 1587 is before the Utilities Committee for consideration. Big Telecommunications companies want to prevent democratically elected bodies from bringing broadband Internet access to everyone. Please ask your NC state Rep to vote No or ask their colleague to vote No! —>

Cable franchise fall-out: Local officials learn more about AT&T
Farmington Enterprise (MI)

If you’re looking for cheap cable service, you might want to do some serious comparisons between local cable providers and AT&T’s new U-verse service, being rolled out in this area now.

State lawmakers blazed a trail for the communications giant with a telecommunications bill passed during the 2007 legislative session, the argument being it would open up the field of cable providers to encourage competition. The new law set up a state-wide franchise, taking local cable agreements out of the hands of city officials. All three cities involved in the Southwest Oakland Cable Commission – Farmington, Farmington Hills and Novi – have reluctantly signed provider agreements with AT&T.

At the Southwest Oakland Cable Commission’s May 23 meeting, Carmen Johnson, External Communications Director, outlined the services AT&T will offer locally, which include packages of television and internet service that vary in price based both on the internet speed of service and the number of channels desired, which will include premium channels. The lowest priced package AT&T offers is approximately $55; Bright House offers a basic cable package that includes only Detroit area and local PEG channels for $12. Hills City Councilmember Jerry Ellis asked about the cost of a variety of packages that are comparable to those offered by Bright House, the current provider.

“Those prices sound a little higher than or equal to what Bright House offers,” Ellis said. “That’s what competition is all about,” Johnson responded. Ellis shot back, “I thought competition was supposed to bring the price down.”

But the real challenge may be what cities have to do to get their meetings broadcast over AT&T’s service.

Eric Angott, SWOCC’s video operations manager, said there will be channel fees for public access, education and government (PEG) access that could total $1,600 monthly. In addition, the cities would have to install new encoders at $5,000 each. And technically speaking, that will not ensure live broadcast of cable and commission meetings. Angott said he is still in discussions with AT&T to resolve those technical issues.

Farmington Hills city manager Steve Brock believes because Bright House currently provides equipment to acquire those broadcasts, AT&T must do the same and bear the cost of installation. SWOCC staff believes that’s not likely to happen. In addition, PEG channels won’t be separated in AT&T’s line-up. Viewers will surf to one channel, from which they can select from a menu of government, school and public access programming. Ingott said the signals will be degraded and come through with a poor picture on the television screen.

Sue Cobb, who works with Farmington Schools on their channel, TV-10, worried about adding another cost burden to the school district, which has already had to cut TV-10’s budget due to funding shortfalls. She said she would like to see the same cable drops from AT&T that Bright House provides. Farmington Schools representatives will meet with Carmen on June 6 10 a.m. to go through some of those things. —>

Cable Competition: Where Up is Down and More is Less
by Bob Williams
Hear Us Now

For some time now big telecom companies such as Verizon and AT&T have been telling state and local officials that allowing them to offer cable television service in their communities will benefit consumers by spurring new competition, driving down prices and improving service.

Being skeptical types, we here at Now Hear This never placed much faith in such sunny promises, particularly when they come from former monopolies that had to be broken up by the government. So suffice it to say we have chosen to judge Verizon by its deeds rather than their words. And it’s fair to say that Verizon’s deeds in the cable television business so far have fallen far short of their promises.

For example, Verizon hiked the price of its FiOS Premier service, its most popular subscriber package, from $39.95 to $42.99 at the beginning of the year. That is a 7.6 percent jump. The monthly rates for add-ons such as HBO and sports channels also rose by $1 or $2 each. For a complete breakdown of Verizon’s rate hikes, click here.

Now comes word Verizon is jacking up the monthly fee for its high-definition digital video recorder service from $12.99 to $15.99 — which works out to a 23 percent increase, by our calculations. In a remarkable coincidence, Verizon’s new price is just a few cents less than the fee its chief competitor Cablevision charges for its HD-DVR service. Go figure. And it gets worse, according to Multichannel News. —>

CMS and Media Lab Get Knight Grant to Start a Center for Future Civic Media
by Henry Jenkins
Confessions of an Aca-Fan (MA)

The John and James L. Knight Foundation announced today that the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Media Lab would receive a grant of $5 Million over the next four years to create and operate a Center for Future Civic Media (C4FCM). The money comes as part of a new initiative the foundation has launched to deploy new media technologies to foster greater civic engagement. —>

Homegrown programs come to viewers via public access TV
by Adrienne Wigdortz Anderson
Ventura County Star (CA)

Tune in to Channel 25 on the Time Warner Cable lineup and you might catch “Rhythmotomy” Newbury Park percussionists joyfully pounding on drums of various sizes. Or you can have a front-row seat to “Readers Theater Television” and treat yourself to local actors giving performance readings of new plays. Want to see Southern California by train? Then hop aboard “Railroad-Freeway” with Edward and Alex Simburger of Agoura Hills.

These homegrown programs, and others like it, are brought to you by public access television. Here ordinary citizens can put together their own shows and, by federal law, have complete control of the content; even Les Moonves has no say. —>

GrassRoots Television Turns 35
Aspen Daily News (CO)

GrassRoots TV started off as a “communal hippie idea” in the early 1970s, but sometime in the ensuing 35 years the local station with a focus on freedom of speech morphed into a legitimate community resource. The organization now produces well over 600 original programs annually, reaching more than 15,000 viewers in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties.

“Our mission is to protect and nurture channels of open communication for the citizens of the Roaring Fork Valley,” said Executive Director John Masters. “We achieve that goal by operating as a television station that is open to all the citizens and organizations that exist here. It’s their channel, and they get to do with it what they will. The only real limitation is that what goes on the air must conform to community norms, be something you would do in public and not break any laws of the state of Colorado.”

Founded in 1971 by Katy and John Smith as the first nonprofit community media network in the nation, GrassRoots TV quickly gained popularity in ’70s Aspen mainly due to its unlimited access and nonconformist nature. But like many bourgeoning nonprofits with a lack of institutional infrastructure, GrassRoots struggled financially throughout the ’70s, ’80s and early ’90s, closing and opening its doors several times.

GrassRoots TV reopened in its current form in 1999 when the city of Aspen and Pitkin County committed funds to the organization. John Masters took the helm a few years later in 2001. —>

[ Some have wondered why PEG access should concern itself with the new social media tools, while some, like Cambridge Community TV, among others, have been leading the way for a while. Now, even the mainstream media is catching on. Any more questions? rm ]

CBS Partners With Leading Community Sites and Social Application Providers to Add New Layer of Interactivity to the CBS Audience Network

CBS Interactive announced today that it is partnering with leading community-building websites and social application providers to add greater user functionality to the CBS Audience Network. Today’s announcement includes deals with new companies as well as expanded relationships with existing CBS Audience Network partners. Through these online properties and social application providers, users can easily incorporate CBS clips into their profiles, websites, blogs, widgets, wikis, and community pages. This enables them to discover and personalize CBS content and to use it to communicate with others. At the same time, CBS gains promotional value online while learning about its audience. —>

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

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, citizen journalism, municiple wi-fi, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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