Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/14/07

Note:  Five stories on the FCC’s forth-coming 700 MHz auction are excerpted in a separate edition today – rm

FCC To Hold Localism Hearing In Portland
by Ken Christian

The Federal Communications Commission wants to hear from listeners, viewers, industry and civic organizations on how broadcasters are serving their local communities.  The FCC says promoting localism, along with competition and diversity, is a key goal of the Commission’s ownership rules.  The meeting will allow the public to participate using what the FCC describes as an “open microphone” session. Captioning and sign language will be provided.

The hearing will be held 4 PM – 11 PM, Thursday, June 28; Portland High School, 284 Cumberland Avenue, Portland.  The public may also file comments or other documents with the Commission and should reference MB 04-233. Visit for more information.

Ohio House Public Utilities Committee considers cable bill
by Michael J. Maurer
This Week

—> S.B. 117 already has been approved by the Ohio Senate and was the sole topic Tuesday before the House Public Utilities Committee. it would prohibit local governments from stopping cable providers from offering services and would stop renewals of current contracts that call for cable providers to subsidize “public access” channels, paying additional fees or providing equipment and support to government and educational-access television facilities.

State Sen. David Goodman (R-New Albany) was one of only four senators who thinks the bill is a mistake.  “There are some very good points to be made to allow these companies (lobbying for S.B. 117) to roll out their services with as little government intrusion as possible, to make Ohio as competitive as possible, having the communications infrastructure,” Goodman said.

“That’s how it’s been sold, and that’s a good point. But I think we’ve proven we’ve been able to provide these services with the rules and regulations we currently have.”  Goodman concedes, nonetheless, that he is in a minority and that the bill almost certainly will pass.   —>

Keep cable local
by Ron Cox
The Malden Observer (MA)

—>   What was also very interesting at the hearing was the alliance of PEG (Public, Educational and Governmental) professionals with cable providers, Comcast and RCN, who are also opposed to the bill. The main reason they have joined the opposition of the bill is that it changes the rules of the game during the game. For almost 20 years, these cable companies have had no problem establishing franchises in many communities in the state of Massachusetts. But now that Verizon wants to get into this very lucrative business, they want to tilt the cable TV market in its favor, to spare it from the real competition that exists on the level playing field of today.

The paradox is that Verizon has had nothing but success in signing local franchises in our state. As some of you know, before I left Wakefield Community Access Televison (WCAT) I had worked with local town leaders in negotiating a very good deal with Verizon and Wakefield that essentially brought $450,000 in capital funding over 15 years and a third revenue stream to support local community programming. I say a third because Wakefield has three cable providers – Comcast, RCN, and now Verizon. Competition seems to be working in this small town north of us.

However, during the hearing, the current WCAT executive director, Tom Stapleton, complained that after over a year has passed Verizon has yet to provide the WCAT programming promised. Out of frustration with their non-compliance to the agreed contract, he said, “I don’t trust them.” Stapleton added that a lot of viewers who picked Verizon over the other providers are upset that they cannot receive the signal of their community television station and have complained.

If the current bill were to pass, this accountability to the municipality it is providing service would be lost. Customers who were dissatisfied with their cable providers would have to call their state legislators instead of their local selectmen or city councilors. Who do you think would be more responsive?   —>

Net Neutrality Law Passes in Maine
by Matt Stoller

I’ve been meaning to blog this for a few days, but you may have noticed a few items on Breaking Blue about a major step for the Save the Internet coalition: our first legislative victory.  Maine passed into law a provision ordering the Office of the Public Advocate to investigate what Maine could legally do to protect net neutrality in Maine, with the understanding that net neutrality is critical for Maine business and democracy in Maine.  There was heavy lobbying against this by Time Warner, Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, but the lobbying campaign failed.

The Maine legislature, pressured by Common Cause, League of Young Voters, the Community Television Association of Maine, the Maine Civil Liberties Union, and the blog Turn Main Blue, has taken the extraordinary first step of pushing for net neutrality protections.  There was some discussion about whether to pass a full-blown law mandating protections for net neutrality, but the legislature settled on an investigation of the state’s authority to prevent a costly legal challenge.  Depending on the outcome of that investigation, you can expect either a state resolution calling on Congress to mandate net neutrality protections, or an actual law protecting net neutrality in Maine.   —>

The Deciders of Network Neutrality
Here are the key politicians who will decide the fate of this once-obscure technical issue.
by Robert Poe

Network neutrality isn’t the hottest political issue around, stories about Iraq, health care and immigration crowd it off the front pages all the time. Still, it has a pretty high profile for such a geeky technical topic. It has, at one time or another, caught the attention of most of the leading politicians in Washington. The biggest question is, what they’re going to do about it.

On the surface, the issue seems pretty straightforward. The pro side wants government rules saying broadband providers have to treat all traffic equally, thus prohibiting them from providing better network performance for Internet companies that pay more. The shorthand phase is: No tiered Internet. The opposing side wants no such rules. Its catchphrase: Don’t regulate the Internet.

It also seems on first glance a classic partisan political divider. Call it individuals vs. corporations, progressives vs. conservatives, grass roots politics vs. big-bucks lobbying, government regulation vs. free-market capitalism — and Democrats vs. Republicans. A closer look reveals, it’s not quite that simple. Overall, the issue is complex enough to make tracking individual players both necessary, and worthwhile. We’ll start with the party in power.   —>

PAC-14 medical show premieres Saturday
Delmarva Daily Times (MD)

SALISBURY — PAC 14 and Salisbury University’s Nursing Department continue the medical series Focus on Health at 9 p.m. Saturday as Dr. Mark Edney, a urologist with Peninsula Urology Associates, performs a live-on-tape laparoscopic prostatectomy.

Filmed at Peninsula Regional Medical Center, the laparoscopic prostatectomy is a procedure in which a cancerous prostate is removed using small incisions, rather that invasive surgery. Prostate cancer is a very common cancer found in men. Statistically, more than 130,000 in the United States will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year.  For other air times visit the PAC 14 Web site and click on “Programming.”

Officials tune out Comcast offer for local productions
by Elizabeth Benton
New Haven Register (CT)

Cable television giant Comcast has offered $15,000 in seed money to produce local television in the Valley, an offer local politicians have spurned as disappointing and inadequate.  Last year, Comcast acquired TeleMedia of Western Connecticut, which had been producing several community-interest shows out of its Seymour studio.  Those shows, including coverage of high school football games, political debates and the local news show, Valley Worthy of Note, have gone off the air as a result of the change.   —>

Should government control public-access TV?
by Jeremy Moule
Rochester City Newspaper (NY)

The latest local media saga isn’t about mergers; it’s a story of a family business in conflict with local government – along with concern about government-controlled media.  When the Greece School Board meets on June 12, it will likely discuss whether the district should take over the operations of the Gates and Greece public-access cable channels. The channels show government meetings as well as resident-produced programming such as travel and talk shows.

For years, the two towns have been among the 17 municipalities that contract with Greece-based Edu-Cable to operate public-access cable channels 12 and 15. Edu-Cableserves municipalities on the west side of Monroe County and in eastern Orleans County – even Byron and Bergen in Genesee County. But the proposed takeover has raised the ire of some viewers as well as public-access advocates. While it’s a blow to an established, family-owned business, critics also charge that the move is a power grab that could stifle free speech.   —>

Holland tired of sharing public access TV
by Shandra Martinez
The Grand Rapids Press (MI)

HOLLAND — Mayor Al McGeehan says he is ready to replace “community” in access television with “city” because an eight-year effort to share Holland’s public access programming beyond city borders has brought little financial support from other governmental units.

“I think it would be a sad day in the community if we pull the plug. However, if we aren’t successful in asking people to pay their share, I’m afraid we may not have a choice,” McGeehan said during a study session Wednesday where a 90-minute discussion focused on MacTV funding issues.

At issue is whether the city will continue to fund the public access channel another year and allocate $40,000 for new equipment, a request that was postponed last year over concerns about the lack of areawide funding for the service.   —>

Media Consolidation Is YOUR Problem: An Interview With Author Eric Klinenberg (Part 1)
Posted by J-Ro
The Seminal

Media consolidation affects us all, but we might not realize it. The fact that 80% of the television market is controlled by just five companies hardly registers as more than a factoid for most Americans, but it touches their lives more than they know.

Think about it: The most popular source for news and information in America is through broadcast or print media. This means that to a large extent, media companies control what Americans know about, what they talk about, and what they care about. If the media doesn’t report on a story, it won’t become part of our national discussion.

A free and independent press has long been recognized as a cornerstone of democracy, yet as media companies have grown from local outlets into national conglomerates, they have begun to lose sight of the average citizen they once existed to protect.

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

Explore posts in the same categories: FCC, media ownership, municipal programming, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, video franchising

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: