Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/25/07

A crisis at public access TV
by Lisa Falkenberg
Houston Chronicle (TX)

Half-hour from downtown, turtles float, alligators sun and birds bathe in Armand Bayou.  Houston has the most successful Crime Stoppers in the world, helping solve 1,152 cases last year.  Katrina evacuees find jobs easier if they put local numbers on resumes and delete music from voicemail.  The things you learn on public access TV.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve watched a lot of Channel 17 so I could be aware of what the Houston community could lose.

Next April, operations funding for Houston MediaSource, the nonprofit that runs the station, will drop from about $617,000 to $100,000. The cut surprised station officials, who are frantically trying to jump-start fundraising efforts.   —>

A different opinion about cable
by Gina DiMario
Community Press & Recorder (OH)

As the manager of a community access television station, I am part of the opposition to SB117, and welcome the opportunity to rebut some of Senator Niehaus’ comments.   —>

Telecoms Want to Change “Outdated” Laws
by sco
.08 Acres (MA)

I saw a web-ad today for the Massachusetts Consumers for Technology and Cable Choice, a nonprofit set up by Verizon and rest of the telecom industry to shill for their “Massachusetts Cable Choice and Competition Act”, a bill that would take cable permitting power away from cities and towns and hand it to the state. The ad asks:

How come 21st century Massachusetts is stuck with cable tv franchise laws from the 1970s?

That’s a good question. Also a good question is: why is Massachusetts stuck with telecommunications property tax exemptions from 1915? If old regulations for new technologies are bad just because they’re old, then let’s get rid of that outdated exemption. For some reason, I’m not so sure that Verizon would agree.

I’m neutral on the Cable bill — I’m lucky enough to live someplace where I can choose between two Cable companies. I’ve said it before, though, if they want this expedited permitting so bad, let’s see if they’ll give up their exemption for it. They’re taking the power to regulate cable away from cities and towns, the least they can do is start paying their property taxes. —>

FiOS leaves public access out of the loop
by Galen Moore
MetroWest Daily News (MA)

The red-shirted Verizon salesman has been spotted in Marlborough, and soon may be knocking on doors Southborough. The new FiOS fiber-optic cable he is selling comes with high-definition channels and high-speed Internet, but not local public-access channels.

Verizon, which began serving Southborough this week, has been in Marlborough since January, but the company has until December to start delivering local government, education and public-access programs, a spokesman said.  Spokesman Philip Santoro said Verizon needs time to negotiate agreements with existing cable providers, to share their connection to local stations. Verizon is committed to providing the service eventually, Santoro said.

However, a Southborough official said getting Verizon to set aside channels for local programming was the most stubborn sticking point in negotiations with the New York-based company. The final agreement left local programs on shaky ground, said local cable board member Alex Neihaus.   —>

Cable Bills in Texas Getting Bigger Despite New Competition
by Bob Williams
Hear Us Now

You know the old saying about everything being bigger in Texas.  Well we can now confirm that cable bills are indeed getting bigger in the Lone Star State, despite the recent entry of telecom giant Verizon and some other new compeitors into many markets there.

Basic cable rates have not declined in any Texas market where there is competition, according to an enlightening new report from Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (TATOA). You can read the whole report by clicking here.   —>

No Texas-Sized Rate Declines in Texas
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News

Basic-cable rates have not declined in any of the Texas communities where there are competitive providers, according to a survey done by the Texas chapter of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors.

Rates for the tier including off-air signals and public, educational and government channels have actually increased over the past two years, according to the study posted May 22 on the group’s Web site.

The greatest hike, according to the group, was in Denton. There, Charter Communications raised basic rates from $12.78 per month in 2005 to $19.05 today despite competition from Grande Communications and Verizon Communications.   —>

The Internet Revolution is in the Air
by Tim Karr
The Huffington Post

Few of you are likely aware that the future of communications in our country rests on a seemingly arcane decision on how we sell off soon-to-be vacated TV airwaves. This public “spectrum” has the capacity to deliver high-speed Internet signals almost everywhere in the country.

The Federal Communications Commission will decide very soon how this chunk of air is to be auctioned off and used after TV stations go digital.  The government hopes that revenues from the sale (anticipated to be as high as $30 billion) will help pay down the national deficit, especially high since we went to War in Iraq.

Yesterday, many members of the Coalition came forward with a proposal: Let’s use these airwaves to make the Internet more neutral, open and affordable for everyone.  Most people haven’t heard about this issue, or know that such valuable airwaves are up for grabs. But it is important stuff.  Here’s where things stand: —>

New Coalition Touts National Broadband Policy
by Roy Mark

A broad coalition of some of the Internet’s leading brand names, public advocacy groups and grassroots organizations called on Congress today to immediately adopt a national broadband policy. The goal, the group said, is universal, affordable broadband for all Americans.

Noting that the United States has slipped behind many industrialized nations in broadband penetration and speeds, the Open Internet Coalition said in a letter to lawmakers the lack of a comprehensive broadband policy has led to an uncompetitive market where cable and telephone companies control 96 percent of the broadband market.

“Now is the time to give this goal the urgency it needs,” the group wrote. “A national broadband policy will provide the unifying principle to enact a variety of needed reforms and changes to our telecommunications laws.”

The letter was signed by more than 50 companies and organizations, including Amazon, PayPal, eBay, Google,, Skype and YouTube.

Among the reforms sought by the group is a new focus and initiative to bring high-speed services to all parts of the country. Currently, 10 percent of the U.S. has no access to broadband and in the rest of the country only about half have a broadband connection.   —>

More from MIT5: Copyright, Fair Use and the Cultural Commons
Center for Social Media

Center director Pat Aufderheide recently participated in a fantastic conference in Cambrige, MA. MIT5: Creativity, Ownership and Collaboration in a Digital Age, held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, explored Media in Transition. Check out the MIT5 conference page , which gives full details of the panel discussion that Pat participated in.  You can also read Pat’s thoughts on the panel through her blog entry  . —>

Newmarket residents discuss disaster relief
Groups offer assistance
by Peg Warner
Seacoast Online (NH)

NEWMARKET — What if they had a flood recovery meeting and no one came? They’d hold it anyway.  That’s what a coalition of government, nonprofit and volunteer organizations, coordinating efforts under the umbrella of New Hampshire Operation Disaster Recovery, did Wednesday with no local flood victims in attendance — or at least not in the Town Hall auditorium with them.  Their presentation aired live on the town’s cable-access channel and will be rebroadcast at a later date.   —>

TV shows reflect diversity
Public access shows target minorities, offer information about county services
By Nia-Malika Henderson
Baltimore Sun (MD)

Aiming to get the word out to minorities about county services, a local group will take to the airwaves with a series of shows on the county’s public access station.  The first of four shows, Voz Latina, which translates to Latino Voice, starts tonight at 6 on Channel 99 on Comcast and Channel 39 on Verizon’s FIOs television services.  The rest of the programming slate, which will begin airing next month, includes, Our Community, Your Voice, targeted at African- Americans and a show called Korean-Americans in Anne Arundel County.

The county is partnering with Minority Communications Group, an organization of citizens who work with minority communities, to produce programming for the 30-minute shows.  The group is also working on a show that will run on the government access channel, 98, beginning in July.  “It’s important to have comprehensive and assertive outreach to provide information,” County Executive John R. Leopold said. “We do a good job passing bills but not as good of a job informing people.”   —>,0,7669220.story?coll=bal-local-arundel

Channel 6 programs win awards
by Nicole Gerring
Times Herald (MI)

Port Huron’s public-access TV station has received high honors for two programs.  CPHS Channel 6 won silver prizes in the 2007 Telly Awards for a documentary about the station – CPHS-6: 20 Years of Floating On Air- and an episode of a show produced by local high school students – Dangerous Duo + 3: Skits   —>

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

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable vs telco, copyright, fair use, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, social media, video franchising

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