Archive for June 2007

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/29/07

June 29, 2007

[ Special issue on Portland FCC public hearing tomorrow – rm ]

Buildout Big Winner In State Video Franchise Laws
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable

Buildout requirements have been the big winner in the proliferation of statewide video franchising adopted by 21 states to date.  That’s according to Gerry Lederer, legislative council to TeleCommUnity, an alliance of local government officials trying to maintain oversight over telecommunications service in their localities.

Lederer pointed out on a call with reporters Friday that of the first six states to adopt statewide franchises, only one, Virginia, required franchisees to meet buildout requirements, i.e. to provide service to specific areas or percentages of the total households. Of the last nine states to adopt statewide franchise, he said, five have required build-outs.  He also said it was a good sign that increasingly those build-outs did not include meeting that obligation with DBS service, but required a wireline buildout. He said the best laws were in Virginia and New Jersey, where they talk about an eventual 100% build-out.

… Lederer talked about three other key metrics, saying that the issue PEG (public, educational and government channel) requirements was a “maturing” debate, saying that one issue is whether a Web stream can suffice for the PEG requirement and who is responsible for providing the interconnection from, say, a county council meeting or high school football game, to the headend. He said Illinois’ new state franchise law, which has yet to be signed into law, provides should be the model since it requires the franchise to provide the interconnection and says the streamed channel must be equivalent to a tradition PEG channel.   —>

Local Governments Question Statewide Video Franchises
TeleCommUnity Claims Telcos Haven’t Accelerated Deployment
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News

Laws moving video-franchising authority to the state level now exist in 21 states (including Illinois, where the governor is expected to sign the bill pending there), but the laws, promoted to speed franchising by competitors, have not accelerated deployment or lowered prices, asserted TeleCommUnity, an alliance of local governments promoting their role in franchising.

…In Lederer’s judgment, language of the bills has improved as more states take up the issue. For instance, the Ohio and Illinois bills prevent competitors from meeting deployment obligations with old technology like direct-broadcast satellite services in place of fiber-to-the-home or Internet-protocol-TV services, he said. More bills are specifying customer-service standards and designating what officials have enforcement oversight, he added.   —>

Wisconsin “Video Competition” Bill Proponents Shut Out Opponents’ Views; Opponents Speak Out Anyway
by Barry Orton
Paul Soglin: Waxing America (WI)

—>   Now the little guys are talking back. In a clever PSA campaign, the public access folks are arguing that those soapbox channels are really little local business incubators. The DailyPage’s Kristian Knutsen focuses on Blame Society’s spot featuring Chad Vader’s creators:

“This is what Blame Society Productions looked like back in 1993,” explains Aaron Yonda in a voiceover atop the clip. “And this is what we look like today,” he continues as the strains of an acoustic “Imperial March” start playing atop scenes from their breakout hit Chad Vader.

“But how did we get from this to this?” asks Yonda rhetorically over another pair of before-and-after images. “With the help of locally-funded public access TV stations,” he responds. Yonda goes on to credit cable access with the success of their programming and, more importantly, their subsequent ability to work as filmmakers in a state that’s quite a distance from either coast.”    —>

Central City Public Library to celebrate trio of projects
The independent (NE)

The Central City Public Library has gotten a lot of work done over the past several months. And now it’s ready to show off.  The library will have a get-together over coffee at 7:30 a.m. today for local businesses to celebrate three projects that it’s wrapping up: resurrecting the local public-access cable channel, installing eight new computers and sprucing up the building with a new paint job.    —>

Play Ball: Responding to Nancy’s Post at Huffington
by Hannah Sassaman
Hannah Sassaman — Banned from the National Association of Broadcasters Since 2002

So Nancy Scola wrote a really interesting post at the Huffington Post yesterday — all about talk radio and its relationship to the ownership infrastructure in our corporate media. On my way back from hanging out with the Future of Music Coalition and the wicked charming gentlemen of OK Go, who were stumping for low power FM radio on Capitol Hill and spending some quality time with Local Community Radio Act of 2007 sponsors Mr. Lee Terry and Mr. Mike Doyle, I wanted to comment there. Sadly the Huffington peeps only let you post 350 words at a time, and no room for links! Here’s my thoughts on the relationship between low power FM and opportunities for ‘progressive’ talkers to learn their trade and gain opportunities to succeed on the radio dial:

I really like the baseball metaphor here, Nancy. Let’s take it one step further: We don’t just need double and triple-A teams for progressive (and dare I say local?) talkers to hone their craft — we need Little League.

Cities and towns band around things like high school plays, public school and community sports, and city council meetings not because there’s nothing better to watch on HBO or because there isn’t an arena rock concert or Broadway-caliber show in town. We get a chance to celebrate, appreciate and learn from our neighbors in the most vital ways when we wholeheartedly support their political, athletic, and creative work. Municipalities, local businesses, and churches fund enterprises like this because they are the lifeblood of healthy communities — and when personal or community-wide crises strike, relationships built on the bleachers at the soccer field or in the pews at church end up saving lives.   —>

The Joys of “Civic TV,” or
Television You Probably Don’t Watch
by Jeffrey P. Jones / Old Dominion University (VA)
Flow TV

There’s a particular joy I find in subjecting my friends and family to television programming that makes them squirm. The programs aren’t filled with sex, violence, or foul language, nor are the shows comprised of poor writing, atrocious acting, or outrageous characters such as Flavor Flav. Instead, the programming is best categorized simply as television you probably don’t watch. Televangelists are often a great choice. Home shopping networks rank high as well. In fact, switching back and forth between televangelists and home shopping networks is big fun, but you tend to lose control of the remote rather quickly that way.

Another such destination is what I call Civic TV, although most cable systems formally call it “Public, Educational, and Government Programming,” or PEG channels.[1] At its most rudimentary, the primary programming on government channels is typically comprised of city council meetings (what for most viewers is the equivalent of watching paint dry).

As I hope to convey, however, Civic TV has much more to offer than this stereotype suggests. Although some of the programming does resemble Chamber of Commerce videos, numerous communities across the United States actually produce quality programming on issues that are central to the health and welfare of a community, including many areas of life that academics typically complain are disturbingly absent from or underrepresented on commercial television—the environment, arts and culture, public health and safety, local history, community life, minority issues, education, and democratic institutions and processes.

Of central concern to me as an academic is how we as a public come to know ourselves as citizens of a community.   —>

On a quiet day … Reflections AMC 07
For Lack of Better Words

The Allied Media Conference took place last weekend in Detroit. It was great to come home (I moved out to Brooklyn on June 2nd) to my community and be a part of such an amazing event. Crazy personal emergencies I had to deal with and all (I burned off some mad karma last weekend for real), the AMC was the most important couple of days that I’ve experienced in a long time.

They were important for many reasons. One, it gave me a huge burst of energy and hope. The folks that make up the Allied Media Conference are some of the most intelligent, creative, and forward-thinking people in this country (shit, the world). To share that space with them and hear about the work they’ve been doing, the motivations behind it, and the way it’s pushing things forward was incredible. The work represented in the room got me thinking about one of my favorite quotes by Arundhati Roy: “Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” Last weekend, I could hear more than just breathing. She came through in conversations, music, poetry, rap, books, films, radio, newspapers, hugs, laughter, and hot dance moves. Everybody was feeling it by the time they left—I was definitely not the only one leaving with mad amounts of inspiration.   —>

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


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/28/07

June 29, 2007

FCC hearing a chance to argue for diverse views
The risk that the media will be dominated by a few large companies has never been greater.
Editorial: Portland Press Herald (ME)

The irony of the information age is that, though technology gives individuals further reach in communicating with one another, the business models created by these changes threaten diversity in the media marketplace to a dangerous degree.  Today in Portland, citizens will have a chance to sound the alarm over media consolidation. The Federal Communications Commission will hold a hearing on media ownership at Portland High School from 4 – 11 p.m.    —>

Henrico gets chance to bring in public
by Ray McAllister
Richmond Times Dispatch (VA)

They’re going to do it. You can just feel it.  Henrico County supervisors are going to open their meetings more fully — probably by broadcasting them on the Internet, possibly even by televising them, and almost surely by saving audio recordings.  Perhaps.   —>

Borough TV coming next month
by Danny Adler (PA)

Newtown is in makeup, getting ready for its big close-up. Sort of.  The borough spent about $10,000 for equipment to enter the age of TV, and officials say residents will get the best of both worlds: a channel that switches between the borough and Newtown Township.   —>

Public access cable coming to Westwood
by Greg Duggan
Daily News Transcript (MA)

Bring out the local producers, actors and filmmakers, because the town could soon have its own public access cable studio.  After seven years without a cable studio – Westwood used to share a facility with Norwood – the town is putting together a Public Access Corporation committee to explore the best way to open a studio.

“This is a chance for us to develop programming, choose programming and get information out to residents,” Donna McClellan, manager of information technology, said yesterday. “We have public access by Verizon and Comcast. The idea is to develop and set up a Public Access Corp. that will hopefully be vibrant and have a lot of input from residents.”

When the town signed a 10-year cable contract with Verizon in February, the agreement included $335,000 in fees to be used toward a local television studio and local programming. One-third of the money arrived 90 days after the signing of the contract. Another third is scheduled to be paid in three years, with the remainder coming in five years.   —>

City Council hears broadband update
by Cerena Johnson
Eureka Reporter (CA)

Blue Lake may be in the running for broadband access in the near future,  Access Humboldt presented the Blue Lake City Council with an update at the council’s regular meeting Tuesday evening.  Created a year ago, Access Humboldt is a nonprofit organization that manages cable franchise benefits throughout Humboldt County.

Sean McLaughlin, executive director of Access Humboldt, said the organization is looking at the infrastructure necessary to provide access to more areas in Humboldt County, offering the example of the Digital Rio Dell project.

The project was created to facilitate wireless availability in several public locations, with a fully redundant broadband connection.  McLaughlin said a network could be utilized to allow for the showcasing of local events in Blue Lake.  Another improvement to the city’s infrastructure could be the installation of cameras to cover meetings.   —>

Cut out: Consumer advocates say they’re left out of the cable bill
by Judith Davidoff
The Capitol Times (WI)

Bob Chernow has been chairman of the Regional Telecommunications Commission for two decades. The commission negotiates cable franchise agreements on behalf of 33 communities in southwestern Wisconsin, representing about half of the state’s population and cable subscribers.

As chairman, Chernow thought it would be important to meet with Rep. Phil Montgomery, author of a state bill calling for deregulation of the cable industry.  Chernow said it took 45 days of constant calling just to get an appointment with Montgomery, R-Green Bay. When Chernow and a West Allis official finally met with Montgomery, Chernow said it was clear the state representative was not interested in anything they had to say.

“We went into his office, and he pulls out a gyro sandwich and starts scarfing it down,” Chernow recalls. He said Montgomery then got angry at the suggestion that city representatives should be involved in hammering out details in the bill.

“He started screaming at me,” Chernow said. “I mean really screaming at me.”  Chernow said Montgomery then started to lecture him on how the bill, which is being pushed hard by AT&T, would save consumers money.

“He had his facts all wrong,” Chernow said. “If you look at Texas, the rates have not gone down.”  “The attitude he had was We’re not going to listen to you. We’ve already made our mind up. We don’t care who we step on.’ ”  Montgomery did not return phone calls for comment.

While Chernow and other critics have found Montgomery unwilling to field feedback on his bill, critics of a similar cable deregulation bill in Illinois say they were brought to the table and helped hammer out revisions that will benefit consumers and cities alike.   —>

Losing the ‘Public’ in Public Access TV Sooner Than Expected
by Eric Deegans
The Feed (FL)

Granted, it may be tough to feel connected to a TV platform with show titles such as “Smokey da Bear” and “Religion Stinks.”  But producers at Pinellas County’s cable access TV system are hoping to enlist the public’s aid in preserving at least some of the dozens of programs now slated to disappear following officials’ decision to shut down the “public” part of Access Pinellas.

For at least 20 years, companies that operate cable systems in Pinellas County have been required to maintain a public access TV operation — a facility allowing anyone who takes the time to go through a little training, to create TV programs which are then aired on a special channel. Since 2001, that operation has been Access Pinellas — a facility in Clearwater with over 100 unpaid volunteer producers cranking out shows ranging from politically-oriented talk to religious prayer.

When the state property tax cuts began forcing county officials to look at funding reductions, public access producers knew their programs might take a hit. But last week they learned county officials had decided to completely de-fund the “public” side of cable access TV, cutting nearly $350,000 and reassigning or laying off county employees connected to the shows. Under current plans, it all goes away Sept. 30.   —>

State House News Service UPDATE on that crazy Verizon Bill
by Mauro DePasquale

HOUSE CHAIRS ON MA VERIZON BILL: NOT THIS YEAR | Legislation easing regulations for telecommunications companies looking to break into cable TV markets, which has the backing of Senate Ways and Means chairman Steven Panagiotakos, is unlikely to pass this session, two House committee chairs said yesterday.   —>

RNs Educate Public on HIV/AIDS On Call-In TV Talk Show (IL)
by Clarinda Soriano Roco, RN, BSN, and Kevin J. Barrett, RN, BSN

In the early 1990s, Mary Caprio, RN, and Margaret Dykeman, RN, members of the Chicago Chapter of Nurses in AIDS Care (CNAC), developed the AIDS Call-In Live Show for Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV, channel 21) as a way to reach out to the public about HIV/AIDS prevention. The 30-minute live, interactive show allows the public audience to call in with their questions regarding HIV/AIDS and other safe sex issues. Joanne Despotes, RN, BSN, a formidable nurse leader in HIV/AIDS, hosted the show with several other nurses from CNAC, from the mid-1990s to 2003.  In December 2003, I took on the AIDS Call-in Live Show.

Taped at a cozy studio in downtown Chicago with a no-frills production including a two-person crew, a TV monitor, a camera, two desks, and one telephone, the show reaches out to the public for questions about safe sex practices. The show runs every four weeks on a Wednesday and is co-sponsored by the Chicago Department of Public Health and CANC.

I enjoy answering callers’ questions, gathering information, and picking discussion topics. But taking over the show meant finding someone who was comfortable in front of the camera. My good friend and colleague Kevin Barrett fit the bill and joined me on the show. Prior to becoming a nurse, Kevin was a professional performer. We also both chose to teach safe sex from the time we got out of college.  Two weeks before our new team’s first live show —>

Center for Public Integrity Spearheads Efforts to Disclose Broadband Data
Telco Deployment by ZIP Code at Issue in Legislation
by Drew Clark
Center for Public Inegrity

WASHINGTON — The Center for Public Integrity’s efforts to shed light on local Internet availability are having an impact in the legislative and regulatory debate over broadband.  For example, Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, last month introduced S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act. The bill would require the FCC to supplement the information it currently collects about broadband deployment with more localized data, including ZIP code plus four digits. It calls for the creation of online maps showing the availability of high-speed Internet services at the census-block level.

The chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., released similar draft legislation in May. It would require the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to create and publicize a nationwide map in which a broadband provider’s service locations could be searched in detail.

The debate around this topic has led other government, non-profit and business-led efforts to take notice. The FCC is currently reconsidering its data-collection policies for broadband. Agencies including the NTIA and the Federal Trade Commission are also considering getting involved.   —>

Dropping the Ball on Net Neutrality

“On fourth down with the future of the Internet on the line, the Federal Trade Commission decided to punt.”  That’s how Derek Turner of Free Press summed up the Federal Trade Commission’s new report on “Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy,” which was released today in Washington. After months of study, the FTC concluded that federal policymakers should “proceed with caution.” Talk about a missed opportunity.   —>

Now Hear This Electronic Newsletter
by Bob Williams

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday weighed in on the critical issue of net neutrality — or, more accurately, it indicated it had no intention of weighing in on this critical consumer protection issue. That’s bad news for consumers.   —>

A Laboratory Tool Kit for Converting DVD Movies
by Peter Wayner
New York Times

When Eric Petit wants to watch a movie on his PlayStation Portable, he pops a DVD into his computer and fires up HandBrake, a program he wrote for converting digital video files to fit onto his pocket-size game player. In a few minutes, the movie is resized to fit on the smaller screen where it can be watched without the plastic disc.

HandBrake is just one of a number of popular tools that convert video files into a different format. Format conversions are becoming more common for people who want to watch movies through some means other than the television anchored in the living room. Anyone who wants to watch a show on a cellphone, a game machine or a portable media player like the Archos must become familiar with the alphabet soup of different formats and the software that manages them.

Mr. Petit works with a team of volunteers from around the world who help him add new features to the program that he gives away (, but a number of commercial software companies sell programs that do the same thing. A quick Web search for “video conversion” can lead to dozens of versions from different companies. Techspansion, for instance, sells VisualHub, a tool for converting videos from sites like YouTube. There are dozens of similar tools, many sharing the same open source core written by some of the same volunteers who helped Mr. Petit write HandBrake.  (As always, though, be wary of downloading any such software because it could contain viruses or malware.)

The conversion software is relatively easy to use, converting films with a click or two. But they force video fans to deal with confusing names and abbreviations like DivX, MPEG, FLV and Ogg Vorbis. Users must learn to make decisions about technical matters like size of files, the aspect ratio and a dozen other options obscured by a cloud of mathematics.

If the technical questions are complicated, the legal environment is even more confusing and uncertain because some think that making copies of your own DVD files might run afoul of laws designed to stop pirating.    —>

Verizon’s FiOS Service Pays Off: Adoption Growing, Service Capable Of 50MB Today
by Dan Rayburn

FiOS Review.  A few months ago I did a review of my Verizon FiOS Internet service commenting on just how good their 20MB fiber connection is for $45 a month. Since that post, I have gotten a lot of e-mails from users all over the country asking for more info on FiOS. Many can’t yet get FiOS or their service does not yet have the ability to get 20MB (I actually have the ability to get 50MB today if I pay more) but they will before too long. To date, my post about FiOS has been the most widely read post on my blog over any other topic.

Verizon has been getting a lot of play in the media lately and in my eyes, it is well deserved. Last week, Verizon announced they had signed up their 1 millionth FiOS Internet customer and has almost half a million FiOS TV subscribers. I know those numbers sound small in relation to the market, but they are growing very quickly quarter to quarter and right now, their percentages are big. 50% of all their Internet customers are also buying video and they have a 16% market penetration rate for FiOS in areas where it is offered. In addition, nearly 80% if all FiOS customer take Internet, video and phone all as one package. Verizon plans to make the service available to 9 million homes by the end of 2007, and 18 million by the end of 2010.   —>

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/27/07

June 28, 2007

A Haunting Refrain
by Bunnie Riedel
Telecommunications Consulting

—> Ohio went down and the most important thread was which cameras were most efficient and cost effective. Now the PEG folks in Ohio will be bankrupted by transmission costs and completely de-funded by 2012, if not sooner due to that opt-out clause in the bill, but at least they’ll be informed about the differences between Panasonic and Canon. Thank God.

And while the assaults continue some have the bright idea that streaming video is salvation. Tell that to ESPN. I’m guessing they’ve done their research and understand too well that people are not watching less television, they are watching more. You heard me, more hours of sitting in front of the tube, not less. It’s called “multi-tasking.” The cutting edge of technology is that people sit in front of their tv’s with their laptops and do both, surf the web and flip channels. Meanwhile the logic on the street is that PEG will survive if it can figure out a way to use the internet to communicate. Isn’t that making the at&t “you don’t need a channel we’ll just put you on the internet” argument for them? Or is that just drinking the Kool-Aid?

Years ago there was this meeting in Tucson in which we tried to discern the future. The intelligent folks gathered in that room came to an ultimate conclusion that whatever happened we would ride that horse until it was frothing at the mouth. Who knows? Maybe we failed to communicate that commitment.

Everyone is weary, I think…

At the beginning of this blog a million years ago I wrote about the state-by-state strategy mainly because I have witnessed that same strategy used in so many other issues. It’s slow, it’s costly, but is ultimately easier than trying to find a federal solution. And frankly at&t is coming ever closer to folding up their cable tent and Verizon has gotten more franchises than they can possibly build into the foreseeable future, there are tangible opportunities waiting.

Let’s just not go there. Instead let’s spend time in the geek-o-rama world putting our energy into endless discussions about open source web creation software and whether or not we should charge for studio rental. Is it just me or do you hear the leadership vacuum sucking loudly away?

Meanwhile Ohio is gone despite the valiant effort of the access television folks on the ground and there was hardly a whimper from their colleagues in more progressive circles like the much touted, so-called “media reform” movement. They’re too busy uncovering the scandalous attempt by Rupert Murdoch to purchase the Dow Jones, as if he’s going to turn the Wall Street Journal into some kind of capitalist right wing rag. For shame.   —>

Franchising of cable TV to be taken over by state
Beacon Journal (OH)

COLUMBUS – More than 25 years of local control of cable television have ended and statewide franchising has begun as Gov. Ted Strickland signed Senate Bill 117.   —>

Greece district rejects cable access proposal
by Meaghan M. McDermott
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY)

GREECE — The Greece Central School District will not become the cable access provider for Monroe County’s west-side towns.  The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to reject the idea, but authorized Superintendent Steven Achramovitch to pursue an agreement whereby Greece or other towns could use the district’s existing television facilities to provide cable access.  “This brings some closure to the situation,” said Frank Oberg, board vice president.

The board stipulated that any such agreement would also include provisions for Greece students to use the facilities.  “This is still a positive because it will allow for our students to use the studio,” said board member Roger Boiley.   —>

Watch out for Cable Biz lies on the Brodsky Telecom bill
Rochester Turning (NY)

Yesterday we asked you to call the Gov about supporting the Brodsky Telecom bill. It is indeed a no-brainer if you’re a regular citizen like you or me.  But what if you’re a cable company?  You get freaked out and spread misinformation to preserve your monopoly and profits.  This writer stands up to the lies:

Telecom reform, viewers’ reprieve

Cable companies have been spreading misleading information about a bill that would provide for statewide video franchises. The bill is the Telecommunications Reform Act of 2007 and is bill number A.3980 in the Assembly and S.5124 in the Senate. The record needs to be set straight.   The bill does not take anything away from our local municipalities but actually gives them more. It gives municipalities the maximum 5 percent of the gross cable revenues (a true 5 percent) in addition to 2 percent to support public access channels. Municipalities also retain full control of our right-of-ways as they do now.

In addition, the bill provides for free hookups to municipal buildings such as libraries, schools and police/fire stations.  The reason for these lies is simple. Cable companies want to continue their monopoly. Studies have shown that where a statewide franchise has been introduced, cable prices have dropped. It’s time the residents of New York had a choice for their television provider and stop the cable monopoly.  — Dan Power, Lancaster, Erie County

Developer uses Knight News Challenge grant to encourage citizen publishers
Editors Web Log

Using a $15,000 Knight News Challenge grant, JD Lasica plans on developing a user-friendlier set of citizen media tools for online development.  Over the next year, he hopes to explore and design a better “community media toolset” through his website, to encourage participation in citizen media sties.

According to Lasica, when he and his partner Marc Canter launched their first citizen media sites two years ago, they had to make several revisions to the Drupal open source content management system to develop “a language that could be understood by regular humans.”  Thus, he hopes that his project will help bridge the gap between open source coders and citizen publishers to facilitate the creation of more community news sites.   —>

Telecom: Back From The Dead
All those YouTube videos and MySpace pages zipping back and forth on the Net have revived the telecom industry—and charged up the economy
by Spencer Ante
Business Week

Peals of laughter rippled through the ether in April when hundreds of thousands of people clicked on (GOOG ) to watch comedian Will Ferrell’s short video, The Landlord. It’s pretty hilarious, after all, to see a tiny 2-year-old girl in a party dress playing the part of an irate landlord, squeaking, “I am tired of this crap…I want my money!” at Ferrell, her distraught, bushy-haired tenant.

What chuckling viewers couldn’t see was the sprawling framework that companies have cobbled together to zap millions of clips like this one around the Internet every day. After a student, say, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., clicked on The Landlord, one of hundreds of thousands of computer servers in Google’s (GOOG ) numerous California data centers pushed the video through Web networking gear from Cisco Systems (CSCO ) and Juniper Networks (JNPR ). Last year, Google, YouTube’s parent company, spent $1.9 billion, or 18% of its sales, on technology systems and other capital expenditures to serve videos speedily and process search-engine queries.

From Google’s facility, the video shot across the U.S. on Level 3 Communications Inc.’s fiber-optic network, which encompasses 47,000 miles of cable. Reaching New Jersey, the clip was then handed off to a new fiber loop run by Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ ) Milliseconds later, Verizon served up the video to an apartment in New Brunswick through a broadband connection wired directly into the building.

In those taken-for-granted wires, cables, and computers lies a remarkable tale of resurrection. Seven years ago the communications business, made up of companies providing everything from phones to computer networks to routers and switches, was laid low by the worst collapse to hit a U.S. industry since the Great Depression. With breathtaking speed and little advance warning, high-flying companies like Global Crossing Ltd. (GLBC ) and WorldCom Inc., which had loaded up on debt to build out fiber-optic networks and buy up companies in anticipation of a never-ending e-commerce boom, collapsed into bankruptcy. Giants such as AT&T were ripped apart as they scrambled to recover from free-falling sales and profits. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs. Prices of some inflated stocks–boasting price-to-earnings ratios that topped 400 in the most extreme cases–tumbled 95% or more.   —>

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/26/07

June 26, 2007

Word of the Week: Fraudband
by David Isenberg

From the Double-Tongued Dictionary:
Fraudband n. low quality broadband Internet service.
The DTD quotes Azeem Azhar in the Guardian, June 14, 2001:
“Broadband offers three advantages over vanilla modem connections.…But for the overwhelming majority, it doesn’t allow them to do much they could not do before. Perhaps fraudband would be a better term.”  I could add a few definitions: —>

Gov. Strickland signs lower cost cable bill
by Megan King
Morning Journal (OH)

LORAIN — The cable bill that local officials fear will jeopardize their cable franchise fees was signed into law yesterday by Gov. Ted Strickland.  Local officials were concerned that the bill would deprive cities of their franchising fees and would jeopardize public access television.   —>

City concerned cable law could hurt general fund
by Cameron Fullam
Journal-News (OH)

HAMILTON — Gov. Ted Strickland on Monday signed legislation aimed at making it easier for phone companies and other competitors to break into Ohio’s cable television market.  It permits companies that want to enter the market to negotiate a single contract with the state instead of separate contracts with local governments, as they now are required to do.

But city officials fear provisions in the law could allow Time Warner Cable to opt out of a 15-year franchise agreement that brings in $585,322 annually to Hamilton’s general fund.  “The concern we had was that Time Warner could simply terminate the franchise,” City Manager Mark Brandenburger said. “And we wanted to make absolutely sure the new legislation didn’t take channels away from TV Hamilton.”   —>

New Cable TV Law for Ohio
Cleveland Law Library Weblog

The Governor has signed SB117, that will formally change the way cable TV companies contract within the state. Specifically, it is designed to create a franchising system for “video service” providers under the Ohio Director of Commerce (DOC). Designed to achieve uniformity state-wide, the bill rests all authority to grant Video Service Authorizations to the DOC.  Click here for a bill summary and analysis. Click here for the text of the bill, as formally enrolled as an Act, as well as links to all documents related to the bill from the Ohio Legislative Service Commission.

Rustbelt Radio for June 25, 2007
by Pittsburgh IMC: Rustbelt Radio collective

On this week’s show… * From the Allied Media Conference in Detroit, Aishah Shahidah Simmons, speaks about her experience making No!, a documentary about Black women and rape. * SEIU protests on behalf of local janitors * Bicyclists, along with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and local cyling advocacy organization Bike-Pittsburgh celebrate Pittsburgh’s second-ever bike lane * and an update on the cases of the 8 former Black Panther Party members on trial in San Francisco for the 1971 murder of a police officer * and more in our local and global headlines

Televise work of the Legislature
Daily Record (CO)

Colorado’s Legislature soon will join the majority of states that televise floor sessions of the House and Senate.  Televising anything political raises fears of unnecessary grandstanding by politicians who love to play to the camera.  But in this case the benefits outweigh the potential negatives of this move.  Governments at all levels have the challenge of engaging the public — so that the public can understand issues and so that the public can influence outcomes.  Without public access, government could just as well be secret.   —>

Albany Telcom Reform
by DIA
Democracy in Albany (NY)

Remember back in December when Corey Ellis was trying to get us public access TV? And remember when Richard Conti appointed a committee to look into it and excluded Ellis? Is it a coincidence that Conti and Mclaughlin are both on the committee that continues to deny us public access TV AND both on the mayor’s Recapitalize Albany team? Just another one of Mayor Jenning’s “Coming Soon” initiatives.   —>

Electricity, Gas – and Broadband
by Marcus Banks
Gotham Gazette (NY)
June, 2007

Should broadband access join water, gas and electricity and be a basic utility available to all New Yorkers? Some advocates say yes and are likely to press that point as the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee continues to conduct hearings throughout the city.  The Broadband Advisory Committee, created by Local Law 126, exists to advise the mayor and City Council speaker “on issues pertaining to access to broadband technologies within the city of New York.” Broadband, as defined by that law is a “high-speed connection to the Internet” that enables the “fast relay of voice and data that many have come to expect.” Broadband capabilities are essential to many online activities, such as sharing videos, and make many other on-line tasks easier and quicker.

After holding hearings in all five boroughs, the advisory committee will issue recommendations on broadband policy to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Telecommunications Policy Advisory Group.   —>

Greece cable issue to air tonight
by Meaghan M. McDermott
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle (NY)

The question of whether the Greece Central School District will become the public access cable provider for Monroe County’s west-side towns could be answered today.  During tonight’s Board of Education meeting, board members Frank Oberg and Joseph Moscato plan to ask the nine-member board to nix any plans for the district to take over cable access.

“We have decided to put a nail in this thing for once and for all,” said Moscato. “We’re comfortable with working out a lease agreement where we will allow our facilities to be used by the vendor of choice for the towns if we would charge a nominal fee and have a guarantee that our kids will get the opportunity to learn about broadcast and programming.”  Oberg said he believes the district should not be in the media business.  “But we have this TV studio, so we need to find a reasonable way we can make use of it and help the towns out with their issues,” he said.   —>

Educational access TV cancels Kyrillos interview with U.S. Attorney
by Max Pizarro (NJ)

Brookdale Community College has canceled State Sen. Joseph M. Kyrillos’ cable television show, saying the college does not want to be at the flashpoint of a political campaign.  Kyrillos had hoped to show himself in conversation with U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie, an unabashed critic of state officials and arguably the GOP’s favorite leading man. But the interview Kyrillos did with the feisty Christie may air after the Nov. 4th election, and not before, said Cheryl Cummings, executive director of the Brookdale Network, which produced the program.

“The program is not running,” Cummings told “It’s been produced, but it’s not running.” She called a plug on Kyrillos’ website alerting viewers to the pre-election times and dates of his show “inaccurate information.” She said the initial green-light go ahead from a “lower level” production member at Brookdale was a “mistake.”

… Cummings acknowledged that federal law requires broadcast entities to offer equal time to political candidates, but drew a distinction between public access and educational access. “Public access channels are open to the public,” said Cummings. “What programs go on the channel (21) are determined by Brookdale, and they are educational programs.”   —>

Some women give the word fancy a whole new meaning.
by Jennifer Caddick
Daily Titan (CA)

For Chelsea Howard and Karen Alonzo, acting fancy is all about cramming a bunch of people into a soundproof classroom and giving an unknown band the musical liberty to whine, shriek and croon all they want.  A makeshift studio at Buena Park High School is home to their public access television program “That’s Fancy.”  “This is my baby,” Howard said.  The fair-haired show is all about exposing the local music scene.   —>

Citizen Media Toolbox
by Bryan Nunez
Video Hub blog

Ran across this from unmediated.  JD Lasica from is trying to put together a set of easy to use tools to get people up and running with citizen journalism.  His wish includes:

* Out-of-the-box community publishing solution based on an extension of either the base code for Drupal or ArmchairGM (which supports the initiative).
* Set of widgets that are customizable and of particular value to sites publishing community news, political events and related topics.
* Customizable templates (sleek, CSS-ready) with mastheads, themes and graphic icons that can be adapted to different localities, regardless of CMS or platform.
* Multimedia publishing tool (free, cross-platform) for distributing videos, podcasts and photos to multiple hosting destinations.
* Instant feeds: RSS and Media RSS.
* Google Maps configured for use by local communities.
* CMS modules or capabilities: Advancedsearch, navigation controls, social networks and groups, community chat, customized blog posts, comments, forums or message boards.
* Preconfigured online video which allows people to publish to local channels based on tags or a structured ontology. If you’re a community publisher in Boise, you may wish to create channels about the city council, crime, recreation, senior living, youth news, etc.
* Resource directory: Public domain and Creative Commons-licensed images and clip art.
* Wiki plug-ins so wikis can be integrated into the local sites to spur community involvement in structuring solutions to local issues.
* Tutorials and screencasts: Detailed guides on how other local sites successfully use Web 2.0 tools and databases in their communities.

The full article can be could found here.

Analysis: 6 Useful Social Media Tools and Sites For Women
by Rohit Bhargava
Digital Media Wire

When it comes to social media tools, most are not gender specific.  That’s a good thing, as it means they can be uniformly useful for everyone, but it’s a sign of evolution when more specifically targeted sites start to appear.  It happened with websites and now the same seems to be happening with several new interesting social media tools popping up targeted at women.  Based on some planning efforts for a number of campaigns we have recently been putting together for clients targeting women, here’s my starter list of 5 great social media tools for women.   —>

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/25/07

June 25, 2007

FCC Faces Public at Official Hearing on Media Localism in Portland
Interviews Available with Public Interest Groups, Labor Leaders, Local Activists
June 25, 2007

PORTLAND, Maine — A broad coalition of local and national groups is urging the public to attend the Federal Communications Commission’s next official localism hearing – an opportunity for residents of New England to weigh in on how responsive local radio and television broadcasters are to the needs of their local community.  The FCC public hearing will take place Thursday, June 28t 4 p.m. – 11 p.m, Portland High School, 284 Cumberland Ave, Portland, Maine.  All five FCC Commissioners are expected to attend the hearing. The event will feature an “open microphone” session for the public to offer testimony on a first-come, first-served basis.  The following people are available to comment on the event:

Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Sr., Founder, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition
Jon Bartholomew, National Media and Democracy Organizer, Common Cause Maine
Linda K. Foley, President, The Newspaper Guild — Communications Workers of America
Gene Kimmelman, Vice President of Federal and International Affairs, Consumers Union
Yolanda Hippensteele, Outreach Director, Free Press
Brian Hiatt, Director of Communications and Online Organizing, League of Young Voters, Portland Chapter
Matt Power, Producer, Liberty News TV
Craig Saddlemire, Professional Media Maker
Jim Haigh, Mid-Atlantic Community Papers Association
Tony Vigue, Community Television Association of Maine

For more information, visit or

Another Media is Possible
Reclaim The Media

Reclaim the Media and many of our friends and allies are in Atlanta this week [June 27-July1] for the first United States Social Forum, an ambitious meeting of a “movement of movements,” modeled upon the World Social Forums held for several years in Porto Alegre, Mumbai, Caracas, Bamako and Nairobi. Thousands of social justice activists are gathering at the forum, uniting many struggles for social, economic and environmental justice with a shared vision of a transformed America in a just and peaceful world. Along with our organizational partners in the Media Action Grassroots Network (MAG-Net), RTM is spreading the message that there’s no justice without media justice.

Check out a list of media-related workshops at the forum. We’ll be posting our USSF photos here. If you make it to Atlanta, be sure to say hello!  Some Media Justice and Community Media Workshops at the US Social Forum: —>

Join Us for Journalism That Matters: The DC Sessions at George Washington University
August 7 and 8, 2007

JOURNALISM THAT MATTERS hosts conversations with a purpose.  It engages the entire system of journalism – reporters, editors, publishers, camera people, photographers, academics and audience, from newspapers, radio, television, and online media, including both mainstream and alternative sources – with the changing nature and definition of news in a changing world.  The point is to recommit journalism to what is fundamental for connecting news with its audience so that it serves and sustains us.   —>

Collecting MadVideos — Five promos for WYOU Channel 4
by Kristian Knutsen
The Daily Page (WI)

Only weeks after presenting its third annual awards show at the Overture Center, Madison’s community access television station WYOU Channel 4 is taking another step in building community awareness and promoting its slate of local programming. The station has just released five promotional spots highlighting the breadth of homegrown TV and opportunities for creating your own programming, all now available online for viewing.  The longest of the five is titled “Opera” and features old-time country singer and WYOU show host Jesse Walker, introducing a sequence of highlights from station programming, including The Splu Urtaf Show, performances by the Capitol City Band, HerbTV, and DW’s Show.  All five promos follow below, including the trailer-length version set to the aria “Habanera” from Georges Bizet’s Carmen.   —>

Exeter viewers to get public access channel
By July, residents could be deciding what is aired
by Jennifer Feals
Sea Coast Online (NH)

EXETER — What would you like to see more of on your town’s cable television channel? By the beginning of July, Exeter residents could have their say.  Within the next few weeks, Exeter’s Channel 22 will transition to a public access channel, meaning the town’s public will have the ability to air their own programming on the channel, according to Selectman Joe Pace, who is also a member of the CATV Advisory Committee.

“What Exeter has now can be described as an education and government channel. The only programming available is put on by the schools or town so you get graduations, parades, library shows, meetings … that sort of stuff,” said Pace said. “A public access channel will allow members of the public who live in Exeter or represent organizations in town to produce material or content to be broadcast on that channel. It’s really wide open.”  Residents voted in favor of a warrant article for the creation of a public access channel two years ago, said Pace.   —>

Local TV stations vie for viewers
by Steve Lynn
Vail Daily (CO)

EAGLE COUNTY — Four local television stations may sound like a lot for a county of around 50,000 that’s mostly rural.  For Jason Katzman, general manager for Plum TV, it works.  “The different channels serve a different purpose,” Katzman said.  Whether viewers are watching an argument about a barbwire fence at a Minturn Town Council meeting or watching mohawk-wearing skier Glen Plake, those in the industry say the stations provide unique content for locals.  But in a local lineup with two resort-oriented channels and two government television stations, it’s not easy to run a TV station with competition for advertising dollars or with a lack of funding from the county, some say.   —>

Rewriting the broadcast regulation rules
by Nolan Bowie
The Boston Globe

Over-the-air broadcast regulation now violates the spirit of the First Amendment’s defense of freedom of the press.

Broadcast regulation is still rationalized under an outdated assumption that the radio spectrum and channels are scarce resources, but new communications technologies — cable TV, VCRs, DVD-ROMs, digital recorders, direct satellite broadcasting, PCs and the Internet, cellular phones, multicasting via digital compression of channels, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, HD radio, and using white space and spectrum hopping technology, smart antennas that electronically focus radio toward their intended targets for high speed broadband connectivity — have successfully undermined all the old assumptions about scarcity.

If broadcasting is to continue to be regulated, a common carrier model like the one used for the Postal Service or transportation would allow the radio frequencies or airwaves to be made available to anyone on a first-come, first-serve basis and without censorship of content.  The scarcity rationale is a relic of the early 20th century that allows government to censor broadcasting by grants of exclusive licenses to some, but not to all. We now live in a world of channel or portal abundance, if not super-abundance. This is why it is increasingly difficult for traditional media to aggregate a huge mass audience.

… Cable access TV services operate as common carriers. They provide access to community members on a first-come, first-serve basis and do not censor content. Moreover, different classes of users are expected to provide different types of programming content, e.g., public, educational and government programming.    —>

Google Fights Global Internet Censorship
by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP

WASHINGTON – Once relatively indifferent to government affairs, Google Inc. (GOOG, News) is seeking help inside the Beltway to fight the rise of Web censorship worldwide…  Censorship online has risen dramatically the past five years, belying the hype of the late 1990s, which portrayed the Internet as largely impervious to government interference…

A study released last month by the OpenNet Initiative found that 25 of 41 countries surveyed engage in Internet censorship. That’s a dramatic increase from the two or three countries guilty of the practice in 2002, says John Palfrey, executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School, who helped prepare the report.

China, Vietnam, Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore and Thailand, among others, are increasingly blocking or filtering Web pages, Palfrey says.  Governments “are having more success than the more idealistic of us thought,” acknowledges Danny O’Brien, international outreach coordinator at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.   —>

Censorship as trade barrier
by Andrew McLaughlin, Director of Public Policy and Government Affairs
Google Public Policy Blog

The Associated Press is running a story headlined “Google Asks Government to Fight Censorship.” The story highlights some (until now) fairly quiet discussions we’ve been having with various parts of the U.S. government, including the Departments of State and Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and various House and Senate committees.  We’ve been making the following case:   —>

Citizen journalism’ battles the Chinese censors

In the strictly controlled media world of communist China, “citizen journalism” is beating a way through censorship, breaking taboos and offering a pressure valve for social tensions.  In one striking example this month, the Internet was largely responsible for breaking open a slave scandal in two Chinese provinces that some local authorities had been complicit in.  A letter posted on the Internet by 400 parents of children working as slaves in brickyards was the trigger for the national press to finally report on the scandal that some rights groups say had been going on for years.  The parents’ Internet posting was part of a growing phenomenon for marginalised people in China who can not otherwise have their complaints addressed by the traditional, government-controlled press.

… Also in Chongqing, parts of the city were this month set on fire following the beating of flower sellers by the “chengguan”, city police charged with “cleaning up” the city’s roads.  Witnesses to the beatings had appealed to local television journalists, but nothing was broadcast.  The incident only became known outside the city thanks to photos and stories published on the Internet, sparking anger among China’s netizens…

“The department of propaganda has sent out regulations to try and control the opinions being spread on the Internet, but every citizen has the right to criticise or to take part in public affairs on the Internet,” said Zhu Dake, a professor at Shanghai Tongji University.  “The government has to accept the criticisms of the people, it can no longer react crudely like in the past.”

Julien Pain, who monitors Internet freedom issues for Reporters Without Borders, is less optimistic.  “One cannot truly say that the Internet in China is becoming more and more free, because at the same time as the development of citizen journalists, the government finds ways of blocking or censoring content,” Pain said.  Reporters Without Borders, which labels the Chinese government an “enemy of the Internet,” says about 50 cyber dissidents are currently behind bars in China.

Refreshed: Getting Out Of The Internet And Into The Community
by J-Ro
The Seminal

This weekend I attended that Allied Media Conference in Detroit, MI. While there, I met people who are incredibly involved in their communities and looking outwards, working to change their blocks, their states, America, and the world. As a blogger, I try and work with as many people as I can. However, most of my interactions take place solely online, within the confines of email, Instant Messenger, and my web browser, and so it is all to easy for me to look at my work in an overly detached way. I write about national issues, issues that I will probably never have the capacity to directly change. I’m not saying the work of bloggers isn’t valuable, however it is nice to work outside of the Internet every once in a while.  So, it was incredibly refreshing to be around so many involved, committed people.   —>

100 Comments: # Sixty-something
by Laura Athavale Fitton
Great Presentations Mean Business

Chris Brogan’s Summer of Projects kicks off with the 100 Comments ebook project. Mojo 4 Video led as the first topic (thanks for picking my idea, Chris). I asked:  Why does some video content grab viewers by the throat, compel them to watch and then suck their mouse towards the bookmark/email/blog about link?  How do we get us some of that mojo for our productions?  Here’s my answer:

I am a total outsider to vlogging. I’m bearish about it, I don’t subscribe to any, I don’t have much interest in watching them. But, I can see where in the right hands, they could catch on. The whys and the audience questions fascinate me.  I think degree of fit with/use of the medium is a significant chunk of what makes the experience suck/not suck for the audience… In no particular order… —>

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/24/07

June 25, 2007

FCC coming to Portland to hear what media consumers want
by FCC Commissioners  Michael J. Copps and Jonathan S. Adelstein
Portland Press Herald (ME)

What do Americans want from their media? As commissioners at the Federal Communications Commission, we hear a lot about this issue.  We hear that Americans want to listen to hometown talent on the radio and to see local issues and politicians covered on the nightly news. They want an in-depth look at what’s going on at city hall and the schools their children attend.

In short, they want to know what’s really going on in their neighborhoods and to see the essentials of their lives reported accurately to the larger world.

All five members of the FCC will be in Portland on Thursday at Portland High School, starting at 4 p.m. and extending into late evening, to hear whether Mainers have the kind of media outlets they want and need.   —>

FCC holding public hearing on local media in Portland
by Gregpry D. Kesich
Morning Sentinel (ME)

A Portland TV station follows up its local newscast with commentary taped at the station owner’s home office in Baltimore, drawing complaints from interest groups who said they had no chance to respond with alternative views.  A local sports talk radio station replaces its nationally syndicated morning show with one produced in Portland, featuring year-round talk about the Red Sox, causing its ratings to climb.

Situations like these that raise questions of how local broadcasters respond to the viewing and listening public will be center stage this Thursday when the Federal Communications Commission holds a rare public hearing at Portland High School.   —>

Emergency Meeting: Community Media at Risk
Public Access Television (IA)

How will new legislation effct your public access, educational, and governmental channels? What can we do about it? A question and answer, round-table discussion presented by PATV.  Saturday, June 30th 2-5 pm @ Iowa City Public Library.   —>

Bill limits city ideas on utilities
by John Ramsey
Rocky Mount Telegram (NC)

Rocky Mount and cities across the state are fighting a bill in the N.C. General Assembly that would stop governments from building their own telecommunications networks.  Debate on the bill has reached the national level, with Google and Intel among technology companies opposed to the proposed Local Government Fair Competition Act.

The act would prevent governments from using tax revenue or revenue from other enterprises to subsidize any telecommunications utility, which includes phone, broadband Internet and cable services.  “This will effectively take most municipalities out of that business,” said Rocky Mount Councilman David Combs, who has inquired about the feasibility of a fiber-optic network in Rocky Mount.   —>

Fighting The FCC on Video Franchise Reform – Court actions and lobbying efforts

When the FCC voted in favor of video franchise reform, a number of concerns were raised. One of those concerns was that the requirement for municipalities to make a decision about new competitor applications within 90 days was a violation of local authority. Another was the issue of whether or not the FCC could even make those decisions, and it was predicted even then that the issue would end up in court. It has; an appeal was filed requesting a stay motion. And the action isn’t just happening in court; check out this article showing that Verizon paid $80,000 last year to lobby the government on the issue.

Analysis: Google’s net neutrality position leaves unanswered questions
by Timothy B. Lee
Ars Technica

In recent weeks, it has seemed that a day doesn’t go by without Google becoming embroiled in a new legal controversy. Earlier this month we covered the company’s antitrust complaint against Microsoft, its negotiations with the EU over its data retention policies, and the FTC’s scrutiny of Google’s DoubleClick acquisition…

Also last week, the company unveiled a new public policy blog which pledges to “do public policy advocacy in a Googley way.”  One recent post lays out Google’s position in the network neutrality debate. Noting that “one of the challenges raised by our opponents has been defining what exactly the term means,” Richard Whitt, Google’s Washington telecom and media counsel, offers details about what would and wouldn’t be permitted under the company’s ideal regulatory scheme…

One potential loophole can be found in Google’s list of what behaviors are permitted under its proposed rules (and in the Snowe-Dorgan bill on which it is based). Google would allow ISPs to provide “managed IP services and proprietary content (like IPTV)” and to prioritize “all applications of a certain general type, such as streaming video.”

This suggests one strategy that an ISP could employ to evade the intent of the network neutrality rules: it could give video services the lowest priority on its broadband service (which would apparently be legal as long as all video services were treated the same), and then it could syndicate the video content of partner companies via its IPTV service. It’s not clear how the law would distinguish between a prohibited “Internet fast lane” and a permitted “managed IP services and proprietary content.” But the effect on the video marketplace would seem to be very similar in either case.   —>

A Bad Start for Verizon
by Mark Sardella
Mark Sadella

A major corporation comes to town and says whatever it needs to say so that local officials will let them do business here, and then waits for the town to threaten legal action before living up to its agreement.  I know–it’s shocking. But that’s exactly what communications mega-giant Verizon did to the town of Wakefield, Massachusetts in the last year.

I was at the May 22, 2006 public hearing on Verizon’s request for a cable license in Wakefield. I was sitting just a few feet from Verizon spokesman Jim McGrail, who was present to answer questions from the selectmen related to Verizon’s application for a cable license.

It was clear to me as I watched the hearing unfold that the board was not inclined to grant the license that night, and would probably continue the hearing to another date. One of the selectmen’s concerns was the amount of time — up to one full year — that the license would give Verizon to start carrying Wakefield’s local public, educational and governmental (PEG) channels, WCAT and the high school channel.

The selectmen asked McGrail if that time frame could be shortened to, say, six months. McGrail replied that Verizon would only agree to start carrying those PEG channels sooner if the selectmen granted Verizon a cable license that night. The selectmen took Verizon at its word and issued the license at that May 22, 2006 hearing.

I remember wondering at the time whether McGrail really had any idea if Verizon could keep this promise or not. I also remember thinking that it didn’t matter, because he was going to say whatever he needed to say in order to get the selectmen to issue the license that night. The rest is history.  —>

The revolution will be televised
The Tribune (CO)
by Rebecca Boyle

In a country that seems to vote more consistently for “American Idol” contestants than elected officials, government on television may not be a ratings grabber.  I’m talking about real government TV, the actual gavel-banging and speechifying, not the punditocracy that dissects it on the popular cable news shows.

Boring or not, some political wonks deeply interested in state government action are often in the dark about what’s going on in Denver. The Internet is useful, but it’s difficult, if not impossible, to really grasp what happens in the House of Representatives unless you’re there.

So Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff wants to put it on TV.  Romanoff last week proposed a live telecast of Colorado House of Representatives floor action starting in January, when the next session of the Legislature begins.  Hey, the logo could be like C-SPAN’s, with the Colorado flag for the C.

City of Denver officials said they are willing to extend fiberoptic cables from the City and County Building a couple of blocks east of the Capitol. House Democratic staff said last week that Comcast already has agreed to be a partner, too.   —>

Verizon to enter cable television business
by Nicole Montesano
News-Register (OR)

—>   The agreement sets the franchise fee at 5 percent of gross revenue, matching what Comcast pays. Like Comcast, Verizon would also pay a per-subscriber fee of $1 per month to support public access programing offered through Channel 11.

In Comcast’s case, subscriber fees represent a significant source of income for McMinnville Community Media, which oversees the public access operation. This year, it expects to college about $75,000 from that source.  Comcast is required to provide one public access channel and keep four in reserve. Verizon would be required to provide one access channel and maintain two in reserve.  Verizon has also agreed to provide the city with a one-time startup grant for public access of $6,000.   —>

Banana Republic
by Michael Rosenblum
06/23/07 it’s oil….then it was bananas….

—>  The United Fruit Company (Chiquita bananas) owned almost one fifth of Gutaemala’s arable land, yet cultivated only a small percentage of it. And United Fruit did not like what President Guzman was planning to do.

United Fruit had been represented by a New York lawyer named John Foster Dulles. Under President Eisenhower he was now Secretary of State. His brother Allen Dulles was the head of the CIA. Both were stockholders in United Fruit.

The United Fruit Company and the Dulles brothers hired Edward Bernays, who as luck would have it, had just ‘invented’ the ’science’ of Public Relations, to literally create, in the mind of the American public, a case for military intervention in Guatemala.  Bernays did a great job. He created from whole cloth a ‘communist threat’, where in fact there was none:

“[The CIA plan] relied on the uncritical acceptance by the American press of the assumptions behind United States policy. Newspaper and broadcast media, for example, accepted the official view of the Communist nature of the Guatemalan regime.” (The United States and Guatemala 1952-1954;  Nicholas Cullather, History Staff Center for the Study of Intelligence, CIA, Washington, DC 1994.) …

Does any of this sound familiar?   —>

The right tool for every job but money-making?

In the overlooked but noteworthy category, blogger J.D. Lasica, cofounder of the grassroots site, has gotten a $15,000 Knight News Challenge grant to spend the next year writing about and disseminating elements of a “community media toolset: easy-to-use social media tools (plug-ins, scripts, guides and tutorials) that can expand public participation on citizen media sites. ” So says Amy Gahran in a Poynter Institute commentary. (Many additional details in Gahran’s piece.)

Lasica has already helped create one of the pioneering grassroots media efforts. OurMedia’s Personal Media Learning Center is already a great starter toolkit. In the coming year I guess he’ll be concentrating on simplification and explanation — how to use them. As he told Gahran, “the vast majority (of systems) are written by geeks for geeks. We need to get the coders and the public-facing user interface people in the same room and on the same page.”  JD’s personal home page also has a news research & reference link worth bookmarking for ways to find sources or do research.    —>

Audience Wrangling: What JibJab Could Teach TV
by Diane Kristine
Blog Critics Magazine – Sci/Tech

—>   At the Festival panel he participated in, “Audience Wranging: How Are You Managing Your TV Audience,” Spiridellis pointed out that the company had always taken advantage of the direct, one-to-one relationship possible on the web. They had long been collecting e-mail addresses of their viewers, so that when they released “This Land,” 130,000 people had already opted in to receive information on new JibJab programming. Their 130,000 friends told their friends, and by the time JibJab released another political parody several months later, they had tallied 80 million streams of the videos.   —>

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/22/07

June 22, 2007

The future of public TV
by Michael Stevens
Community Press & Recorder (OH)

CLERMONT COUNTY – The future of public access cable channels may be in doubt if a revised Ohio S.B. 117 is approved.  The bill would give the state sole control over negotiating cable television contracts with service providers, which could mean a reduction in public access channels and a loss of community programming oversight and revenue generated as part of current franchise agreements.

“It will take away our authority to communicate with residents,” said Miami Township Trustee Ed Humphrey, who recently testified before an Ohio House committee about the bill. The way the bill is written, he said, companies providing a public access channel to a township can reclaim the channel if it is deemed under used.   —>

Maine shows Internet resolve
by Ryan Blethen
Editorial: Seattle Times

The federal government’s inaction on global warming has inspired a green streak from Olympia to Albuquerque. The black hole that is the health-care debate on the federal level emboldened plans to insure most of Massachusetts’ residents.

The feds should have acted on these sticky issues before states, driven to the point of exasperation, had to act. The environment and health care are not the only topics currently dangling in front of states. Modern technologies and communications have also proven too much for Washington, D.C., to handle.

Maine is the first state to give up the wait on Internet access. The New England state has acted on wonkishly named network neutrality, which would ensure an open Internet. Lawmakers stopped short of passing a law with teeth, and instead opted for what they call in Maine “a resolve.”

That is a decent start.  The push for net neutrality must be put on the books in some fashion by politicians. It cannot continue to be an argument waged by pro-consumer groups against the cable and telecommunications companies.   —>

Taking Another Stab at Restoring LPFM
by Paul Riismandel
Media Geek

After the FCC created the low-power FM radio service in 2000, Congressional Republicans in the pocket of the NAB made a last-minute backroom maneuver to add a major restriction to the service in a budget bill. The restriction requires 100-watt LPFM stations to be spaced on the dial the same as full-power stations as large as 100,000 watts, despite the so-called Mitre report to Congress that showed LPFMs pose no significant interference threat to full-power stations when spaced according to the FCC’s original specifications.

The effect of this restriction has been that most urban areas–including the top 50 radio markets–can’t have LPFM stations because there’s no space on the dial that meets these absurd standards.

So, today, House Reps. Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced the introduction of bipartisan bills to restore LPFM. This is now the third (or maybe fourth) attempt, with McCain being the Congressperson with the most tries under his belt.   —>

Bill Allowing Public Entities to Develop Wireless Broadband Infrastructure
njpols (NJ)

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Steve Sweeney, Joseph Doria and Shirley Turner which would authorize local entities to develop wireless broadband infrastructure and contract with private Internet service providers to establish wireless community networks was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 37-0, and is scheduled for a vote in the Assembly later today.

“In today’s world, web access is not a luxury, but a necessity,” said Senator Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem. “Between paying bills electronically, performing academic research, or keeping in touch with family and friends, the Internet has changed the way we perform so many everyday activities. All New Jerseyans deserve access to broadband Internet access, regardless of their income or where they live.”   —>

The Press Gives AT&T a Lap Dance
by Karl
Word Soup

Yet another AP piece on franchise reform that fails to note the laws AT&T and Verizon are lobbying for strip away eminent domain rights, eliminate consumer protections, legalize cherry picking, and will kill off public access television.  And that’s one of the good ones.

No questions asked about whether local municipalities REALLY delay phone companies deploying TV and prevent them from competing with cable companies.  No questions asked about whether letting a company cherry pick next-gen broadband deployment results in broad competition or lower prices in a duopoly market.  No mention of the fact that Texas has had one of these laws in place for two years, and cableTV prices continue to rise, and broadband competitive utopia has not sprouted from between sidewalk cracks like fucking angelic weeds.   —>

SL and The Media Panelist Call-Out
by Elle Waters
Second Life Community Convention 2007

To all SLCC journalists and SL related news sources:
As a respected and valuable member of the media in Second Life, we would like to invite you to participate on a panel discussion for this year’s Second Life Community Convention, entitled “SL and the Media: the Power of the Press in Virtual Reality” on Sunday, August 26th at 4:30pm. In providing timely information and commentary to SL residents, your impact upon Second Life as a community has been undeniable. We feel that the media as a formidable element of change within Second Life should be acknowledged, and we would like to hear your thoughts on the challenges you have faced as a media source in SL and hear your predictions about what you see for the future of Second Life’s information culture.

Currently, we have five panel slots available for news source representatives*, and we will accept one per media organization on a first-come, first-served basis. Panelists will be asked to prepare a five minute summary of their organization’s work within Second Life and comment on their greatest challenge as a media outlet this year and what they see as the role for media in Second Life for the future. A short question and answer period (both in Chicago and from within Second Life) will follow where panelists are encouraged to contribute. The panel discussion will last approximately one hour in total.   —>

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