Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/01/07

House impedes public access to testify on cable bill
Rules show bias toward public input on public utility issues
by Dave Harding
Progress Ohio

A contentious bill that would weaken long-standing consumer protections and limit local oversight of cable TV providers just got more contentious when the Chair of the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee created rules that impede public testimony on the bill.

At issue are rules created by House Chairman Rep. John P. Hagan and Vice Chair Josh Mandel. They require written testimony at least 24 hours in advance of the committee hearing and 45 copies of that testimony. While committee chairs have the discretion to set some boundaries, this is an unusual and burdensome standard – especially in light of citizen interest in Senate Bill 117.   —>

Video bill deal eases most of local concerns
by Steve Lord
Beacon News (IL)

A last-minute compromise forged a video service bill in the Illinois General Assembly that local officials are still unhappy with — but not as much as they were.  The battle between local municipal officials and AT&T over House Bill 1500 came to a head during the past two days, with last-minute wrangling resulting in a compromise passing the Senate and expected to pass the House late Thursday.

“It was the best alternative we could come up with,” said Terry Miller, a senior assistant city attorney for the city of Naperville. He worked on the bill for several municipal organizations, including the Illinois Municipal League.,2_1_AU01_CABLE_S1.article

Cable bill pulled from consideration
by Terry Britt
Germantown News (TN)

If AT&T wants a piece of the Germantown cable provider scene, it’s still going to have to go through the city’s licensing procedures.   —>

AT&T plans for Public Access with U-Verse Part 2
411 Productions (TX)

AT&T executives spoke with Texas and Louisiana Public Access Providers in January 2007 about AT&T plans for PEG channels. Public Access Producers, concerned about the possible loss of public access, asked questions about their service or lack of service offerings (PEG is not shown on U-verse at this time) . Part 1 of 5.  Please note these files are 10-15 minutes long and may take some time to load.

Committee Recognizes Importance of Internet Non-Discrimination; Groups Applaud Net Neutrality Resolution
Maine Civil Liberties Union

Last week the Maine Legislature Joint Standing Committee on Utilities and Energy took a stand for net neutrality when it approved a resolution stating the importance of internet non-discrimination principles to Mainers and directing the Maine Public Advocate to study what this state can do to protect net neutrality.  If passed, this resolution will be the first of its kind in the nation.  [more at ]

A Briefing On Public Policy Issues Affecting Civil Liberties Online
The Center For Democracy and Technology

Airwave Auction a Unique Opportunity to Promote Broadband, Openness
(1) Airwave Auction a Unique Opportunity to Promote Broadband, Openness
(2) Adding a New Broadband Option a Critical Goal
(3) Auction Rules Should Include Neutrality Requirements
(4) Wholesale Spectrum Access Will Guarantee Greater Competition, Choice   —>

NPR Joins Appeal of Online Music Royalties
Broadcasters Challenge Fee Ruling
by Seth Sutel, AP
Washington Post

National Public Radio is teaming up with online radio broadcasters to appeal new music royalty fees that they say would put smaller operators out of business and force others to sharply scale back their online music offerings.  NPR filed a notice with the U.S. Court of Appeals in the District on Wednesday signaling that it would challenge the ruling by a panel of copyright judges that will sharply raise the amount of royalties that NPR stations and others have to pay record companies for streaming music over the Internet.

NPR also said it, along with other webcasters, was filing a request with the same court yesterday for an emergency stay blocking the adoption of the new rates, which are set to take effect July 15.  Several NPR member stations, such as KCRW in Los Angeles, have large online audiences for music programming and would have to drastically cut back those offerings under the new royalty rates, NPR says.   —>

A Legacy-Defining Moment for Martin’s FCC
by Gigi Sohn
Huffington Post

Every Federal Communications Commission Chairman has one or two legacy-defining moments in his tenure. For Clinton FCC Chair Reed Hundt, it was pushing through the Children’s television programming rules and starting the transition to digital TV. For the first George W. Bush Chair, Michael Powell, it was the media ownership battles and the adoption of the “four freedoms” that set out the commission’s expectation of consumer’s Internet rights.

Current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin will face one of those moments this summer. His agency is about to set the terms of the most valuable auction of spectrum (the public airwaves over which broadcasters and cell phone companies operate) we have yet seen, and likely the last significant auction in our lifetimes. This auction involves a large portion of spectrum that broadcasters are to return as part of the nation’s transition to digital TV. The location and characteristics of this spectrum make it ideal for the development of a third, nationwide broadband Internet provider that could compete with the powerful incumbent telephone and cable companies which control 96 percent of broadband lines in this country.

But unless the FCC takes a very different course than it has in past auctions, this valuable resource will most likely end up in the hands of those very companies. Why is that a bad thing? Because the incumbents have no incentive to develop new wireless broadband services that compete with their current wireline services. Should the telephone and cable companies win most of the spectrum, we can expect to see more of the same high prices and low speeds for broadband, with a sprinkling of new add-on services (like music and video) for which consumers will have to pay extra.

A coalition of public interest organizations, including Free Press, the New America Foundation, Media Access Project and Public Knowledge are urging the FCC to adopt rules for the auction that will ensure that a third broadband competitor develops. This “Public Interest Spectrum Coalition” is asking the Commission for specific “auction rules” (which determine who can bid and how they bid) and “service rules” (which determine the terms by which the winning bidders will operate). The most important of these include:   —>

Blaming the Media?
by William Harryman
Integral Options Cafe

—>   I know I’m relying on you readers to have more familiarity with this topic than I have offered here. So, is it fair to blame the media, as Gore does, for the decline in the American political system? Are the various news sources in this country complicit in the current decline in democratic values?

At 8:50 AM, Robert K. Blechman said…

Gore, with a nod to Marshall McLuhan and Neil Postman, has it right. Television, by its nature is a non-discursive medium. As Lewis Black noted, there too much distraction.

Postman has this great analysis in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death where he compares current political debates to the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Back in the mid 19th century, crowds would gather and listen for hours, HOURS, to political opponents debating. Questions from the audience were answered immediately and fully, by both parties. Imagine trying to sustain a seven hour debate today. Its not clear who would collapse first, the debaters or the audience. And forget about getting a sponsor!

The point is that differing modes of communication contain differing biases, and it happens that the constraints of television are biased against intelligent discourse.  I discuss these and other media ecological issues at my own blog “A Model Media Ecologist” —>

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

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable vs telco, FCC, IPTV, media reform, PEG access TV, public access television, spectrum auction, U-Verse, video franchising

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