Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/28/07

Instruction in TV Production
Gloucester High students can earn certification in the school’s TV studio.
by Mathew Paust
Daily Press (VA)

GLOUCESTER — One after another, Gloucester High School students climb up onto the stool under the floodlights and answer questions about what they’re getting from the school’s television/video production course. “I was kind of shy at first, but I’m not shy anymore,” said one girl, smiling boldly into a video camera that was being operated by a fellow student.

Conducting the interviews was their instructor, Jeff Leone, a former professional TV producer and director in New York. The class, his first as a teacher in Gloucester, is producing a video to promote the school’s career and technical education curriculum.

It’s also the first year that television/video production has been offered as a career-oriented course. Previously, it was part of the fine arts curriculum. —>,0,5613353.story?coll=dp-news-local-mp

City TV dons stilettos and vinyl
The NYC channel sexes up — no more back-to-back council meetings here — and wins fans globally.
by Erika Hayasaki
Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK — Looking like a superhero in her vinyl black trench coat, stiletto boots and red choker, she navigates the city with a hand-held Treo-like device and struts to the drum of rock music. Facing her camera crew, this diva host is more MTV than municipal programming, but make no mistake, she is the face of government television.

Kelly Choi, a journalist and former model, is the star of “Secrets of New York,” the latest hit show in the rebirth of NYC TV — New York’s government-run television station under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s charge. Gone are the days of back-to-back City Council meetings and government news on Channel 25.

Now, the cable channel has positioned itself as a magnet for a younger, hipper audience, with programs featuring indie bands, bars, fashion, celebrity chefs and hip-hop videos. It’s a model that government-run stations across the country and around the world are trying to learn from. NYC TV’s producers have received calls from stations in Los Angeles, Seoul and other cities interested in developing similar shows.

Producers say the concept is useful and entertaining for residents, and has boosted local tourism and business. “We wanted stuff that people could actually use, as opposed to this ethereal wonkish government stuff,” said NYC TV General Manager Arick Wierson, a former investment banker who helped revamp the station’s image beginning in 2003 after working on Bloomberg’s mayoral campaign. —>,1,3331211.story?track=crosspromo&coll=la-news-politics-national&ctrack=1&cset=true

Bill Olson on “Threat to Access” (WI)
Surly Robot

The man who wrote The History of Public Access Television says that history may be coming to an end. Here’s his take on the three-way dance between access, government, and telecommunication companies that may spell the death of this beautiful, quirky institution.

“Threat to Access”
By Bill Olson
May 17, 2007

You might recognize my name as the person who wrote an essay called “The History of Public Access Television.” Sadly, that history may be coming to an end, thanks to efforts by AT&T to do away with local franchise agreements.

Currently in Wisconsin, AT&T has 16 lobbyists working the statehouse, trying to pass the bills written by their corporate lawyers. AB 207 & SB 107 were written to make it easier for phone companies like AT&T to offer “video services” (cable TV) by doing away with the requirement to negotiate franchise agreements with local governments. It would also do away with PEG (Public, Education and Government Channel) fees, requirements to serve an entire community (including impoverished neighborhoods) and a host of consumer protections.

AT&T has failed to pass a national bill along these lines, so now they are going state by state. They have already facilitated the passing of similar legislation in 11 states, and if they haven’t come to your state yet, they will.

AT&T is so intent to abolish public access TV in Wisconsin that it has singled it out for special requirements engineered to make this valuable service impossible to operate, including that we broadcast no fewer than 12 hours of new locally-produced programming every day, the elimination of PEG fees and that we pay for the equipment to send our signal to the cable companies.

For us, any one of these would put us out of business.

In Wisconsin, AT&T and its supporters have kept the bill on the fast track as much as possible. Less than two months after the bills were introduced, they were up for a vote. We could’ve been abolished in early May 2007. Our supporters in the legislature tried introducing amendments and tried to slow the bills down by sending them to the Joint Finance Committee.

Voting was along party lines. In both houses, all the Democrats voted to send their bill to the JFC, and all Republicans voted against it. The Assembly is Republican controlled, so the bill stayed there, and in fact, they recently passed it. The Senate voted by three votes to send their bill to the JFC where it’s not expected to be taken up again until after dealing with the state budget. We’ve been told we probably have until September.

One can’t really say that the Republican are the villains and the Democrats are the heroes; since the phone companies are organized and the cable companies aren’t, many liberal groups support these bills. And AT&T, apparently dismayed by the party-line voting, has recently hired their 16th lobbyist – Joe Wineke, the state’s Democratic chair.

Republican Assembly Representative Terry Moulton introduced an amendment that was added to AB 207 before it passed. Mr. Moulton as been saying and writing that he has saved public access TV with this amendment, but he only created a 3-year delayed reaction. Three years after the bill is signed into law (if it’s signed into law as currently written), public access TV will be put out of business.

So there is some hope: We have until September (possibly) to defeat or change the law. We are currently circulating a petition to urge legislators to add amendments that would reduce our revenue from PEG fees, but keep the fees in place, keeping us alive. The local city council (we broadcast live city council meetings) unanimously passed a resolution supporting us. We have supporters, we have a little time. We’ll see what happens.
* * *
Bill Olson
(715) 835-6446

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

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, high school television, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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