Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/26/07

Carolyn LaVoy,
TV host, dies
by Ray Kisonas
Monroe News (MI)

Carolyn LaVoy, a pioneer in Monroe television and longtime educator, died Thursday after a years-long battle with cancer. She was 64.

Mrs. LaVoy for years hosted “Monroe Alive,” one of the first local talk shows that centered on area personalities and events. It was shown on MPACT (Monroe Public Access Cable Television). For years, she also was director of Orchard High School in Monroe. —>

Town will fight to keep cable licensing power
by Patty Lawrence-Perry
Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)

HOLLAND— Selectmen decided this week to join the fight against Verizon Communications’ proposed legislation to strip communities of their local cable licensing powers.

Selectman Earl A. Johnson and board Chairman James E. Wettlaufer agreed with the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s move to “raise public awareness of the urgent need to preserve local cable and video franchising authority,” and voted Wednesday to sign Holland onto a special Telecommunications Franchising Task Force chaired by Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone. —>

Easthampton TV program seeks new status, location
by Matt Pilon
Daily Hampshire Gazette (MA)

With a budget that has doubled in a year, big changes are in the works at the city’s public access TV station.  Easthampton Community Access Television, the operation that brings City Council meetings and local events to the television sets of cable-subscribing residents, is attempting to attain nonprofit status.

The change would allow the organization to bolster its budget through fundraising and grants and provide benefits for its employees, said Station Manager Greg Franceschi.  Since the organization’s inception, the city has hired ECAT employees as independent contractors, meaning that they are not employed by the city and therefore are ineligible for health, dental and life insurance as well as other benefits…

ECAT is also looking to relocate its studio, now at White Brook Middle School.  The location comes with time constraints. The station cannot operate after 3 p.m. in the summer, making it hard for community members to create content, a key component of the station’s mission.    —>
[subscription required]

Information Technology and Coping with the Second Energy Crisis
by Dave Moisan
Dave Moisan’s Blog (NH)

[This post is part of the World Without Oil alternate-reality game but is completely factual.  See my posts on A Salem Blog ]

Many are barely aware of it, but we’re in what I call the Second Energy Crisis.  Some of you are old enough to remember the first Energy Crisis in the seventies.  If you’re in IT, whether small or large, the Second Energy Crisis will–no, already is–affecting you in big ways and small, not all of which are immediately obvious.

Consider the organization I work for, Salem Access Television.  We are a small non-profit cable television access facility, operating since 1994.  We broadcast on 3 channels and we serve government, citizens, students and businesses of Salem.  We are a small company, with just 3 full time employees, but because of our purpose, we have a surprisingly dense IT shop.

We have 11 client machines (mixed between Windows and Mac) and 2 servers;  we have a gigabit network and WiFi for use by vistors.

We worry about power all the time.  We have two UPS’s but no generator;  when we were established (and before I was working in IT there), public access TV was considered more of a luxury.  It’s now a necessity.  Our one radio station no longer exists for us, our daily newspaper is managed from Lawrence and owned in Alabama.  We have just one weekly newspaper for Salem.  And SATV.

As an example of our power challenges, I’ll talk about our cablecast area.  Cablecast has the same function as the master control area in a TV station:  To organize, store and control everything that goes out over our three channels.    —>!95CB015E3E4A702A!210.entry

Excessive music royalties threaten Internet radio
By Davey D
Special to Mercury News

A few years a ago, I ran into then-FCC chairman Michael Powell at Jesse Jackson’s Wall Street Project Conference in New York. Powell was the man of the hour. More than 3million people had contacted the Federal Communications Commission to demand that it abandon plans to allow big media conglomerates such as Clear Channel to further consolidate media ownership.

I confronted Powell about complaints I had heard from media-reform activists around the country, including the Bay Area’s People Station Campaign, Detroit’s Black Out Friday campaign and the Turn Off the Radio Campaign, which a night earlier had attracted 1,500 people, including Chuck D, Afrika Bambaata, Doug E. Fresh and other rap stars, to a meeting at a Harlem church.

In addition, members of New York’s city council had listened to six hours of testimony in which person after person complained about hearing the same 10 songs played over and over on radio, a lack of airplay for independent local artists and an abundance of harmful stereotypes broadcast daily. They also complained that management at the city’s then-No.1 station, Hot 97, allowed disc jockeys to use the “N” and “B” words constantly.

Powell listened, then dismissively told me the solution was not to increase government regulation and prevent further ownership consolidation but rather for concerned listeners to turn to Internet radio instead. He insisted that, on the Web, people could find all the diversity and niche programming their hearts desired.

Fast-forward four years, and indeed listeners, faced with little change in over-the-air radio, have found their way to Webcasts. An industry that once reached a scant few million each month now attracts more than 70 million listeners. Apparently people got Powell’s memo.

But in a cruel irony, what has become a viable alternative for many listeners now faces a big threat. In recent weeks, the major record labels and their organization SoundExchange persuaded the Copyright Royalty Board to increase fees by three to 12 times, applied retroactively.

The increases, which became effective May 15, threaten to bankrupt Internet radio. For example, the largest Internet radio company, the Bay Area’s Live365, said its current annual cost of $1.5 million would rise to between $6 million and $7 million, bankrupting the company.

What makes the increase even more insidious is that all Webcasters, regardless of size, are required to pay $500 annually, in addition to the higher rates, while satellite radio and commercial broadcasters, which have been pushing their own online and HD stations lately, are exempt from that fee.

SoundExchange said the increase was necessary because album sales are down, and the recording industry needs other sources of income to pay artists for their work. But according to Wendy Day, of the respected artist advocacy group Rap Coalition, artists aren’t the main beneficiaries.

Day, who has brokered deals for Master P, Cash Money and others, said, “The major labels are fighting hard to retain as large a percentage as possible for digital rights. Much like record deals of the past” – involving formats such as LPs, cassettes and CDs – “the labels retain the lion’s share of the profits, giving the average artist a lowly 12 percent of the selling price, after they’ve paid back every recoupable expense. … That business model still stands in digital formats. The labels still keep the lion’s share of the money. … Artists still get pennies in comparison to the labels’ dollars.”

A broad coalition, ranging from Christian broadcasters to Yahoo radio, opposes the rate hikes.

As a result, two bipartisan-sponsored bills have been introduced in Congress, HB2060 in the House and SB1353 in the Senate, which would repeal the rate increase.

If you want Internet radio to survive in the form we know it, contact your representatives to urge their support.

Davey D’s hip-hop column is published biweekly in Eye. Contact him at [subscription required]

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

Explore posts in the same categories: internet radio, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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