Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/20/07

Cities expect cable-TV law to bite twice
by Josh Jarman
The Columbus Dispatch (OH)

Cities and school districts worry they’ll lose money and TV time for local programs when the governor signs a bill that gives cable companies the right to negotiate statewide contracts rather than hundreds of local contracts.  The Senate yesterday concurred with changes the House made to the cable-regulation bill. Senate Bill 117 now waits for Gov. Ted Strickland’s signature to become law…

Another worry for many communities is how the bill will affect local access channels. The bill changes the regulation of local channels and allows cable providers to drop channels that it thinks are under-used in some instances.  That throws into question how well public-access channels can be maintained by some communities.

Newark schools use the channels for the high-school broadcasting class and run advertisements for local nonprofits and church groups.  “Of course we want as many people as possible to see our stations,” said Karen Truett, district spokeswoman.

The uncertainty is troubling, said Scott Burke, who operates Lancaster Schools Network under contract to the Lancaster city school system.  The network carries City Council and Board of Education meetings, and some limited local, educational programming in a monthly program called Chalkmarks TV.   —>

State Senate approves cable bill
by Kartikay Mehrotra
Kane County Chronicle (IL)

With the approval of a bill in the state Senate’s overtime session, Springfield legislators almost unanimously have stated cable competition will improve under state control rather than local regulation…

The bill has gone through numerous drafts because of adamant opposition from the Illinois Municipal League and local officials, including Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns and the village’s Information Technologies Manager Peter Collins.  Although the IML resolved to neutrality over the final draft of the bill, Collins remains opposed to the legislation describing the approved version as “less awful.”

“Before we had local control, now any company has a right to apply for a statewide franchise and the city is supposed to enforce it,” Collins said. “I don’t understand why [Schmitz] backed this, I won’t have any problem sending any cable complaints I have to his office.”   —>

Cable competition bill passes
Blagojevich’s signature needed before measure becomes law
by Adriana Colindres
State Journal-Register (IL)

Legislation on its way to Gov. Rod Blagojevich would create thousands of jobs and attract $1 billion in new investments while encouraging competition in Illinois’ cable TV and video-services market, supporters said Tuesday.  Still unknown, however, is whether Blagojevich intends to sign Senate Bill 678 into law.  A spokeswoman for the governor said the bill is “under review.”   —>

WilliNet Broadcasts National Town Meeting June 29 & July 1 (MA)
by Gail Burns

Williamstowm, MA – WilliNet, community channel 17 in Williamstown, will broadcast “Why Media Diversity Matters,” on Friday, June 29 at 9pm and Sunday, July 1 at 8pm.  Distributed by Free Speech TV, “Why Media Diversity Matters” features author, commentator, and talk show host Tavis Smiley, Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, LCCR President and CEO Wade Henderson, and other distinguished speakers for a one-of-a-kind event on the importance of media diversity.   —>

Plan for city TV channel delayed
by David Tewes
Victoria Advocate (TX)

A request for funding that would allow the city to use cable television to get the latest information out on a hazardous materials accident or to warn people about an approaching hurricane was temporarily put on hold Tuesday by the Victoria City Council.

The council was asked to come up with $12,000 in the next budget to buy the software and equipment the city needs to broadcast information around the clock on a dedicated Suddenlink Communications channel.

But council members said the city needs to check with the school district, county and others to see if they would also be willing to help fund the project since they would also have access to the cable channel.  “If we don’t start it off right now, it’s going to be hard to get them signed on,” Mayor Will Armstrong said. “I think we need to present our program to the other governmental bodies.”   —>

Editorial: On camera – Televising city government meetings will help taxpayers
News Times Live (CT)

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton says Danbury TV, which will provide coverage of city government meetings, will be “like MTV.”  Dancing Common Council members? Singing developers? Well, not quite.

But watching local public meetings from the comfort and convenience of home can be compelling — primarily because the viewers are experts on the subject matter.  It’s their money that’s being spent. Their streets that are being developed. Their city’s problems that are being discussed.

It’s been something of a struggle to get to this point — the creation of Danbury TV and the televising of government meetings.  Boughton and the Republicans who hold the majority on the Common Council did not want government meetings on TV. Minority Democrats did, although when they were in the majority they didn’t.

But some public pressure (notably from local public access television host Lynn Waller) and common sense won the day.   —>

Legislature on TV would benefit state
More citizens would get involved if process was more transparent
The Coloradoan (CO)

An Emmy may not be on the horizon, but Coloradans will benefit if a proposal to televise the state Legislature comes to fruition.

House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, D-Denver, said party leaders are working to iron out legal, technical and financial issues to get the sessions televised, according to The Associated Press. Comcast Corp. has agreed to provide two cable channels — one for each chamber, according to AP. Sessions also may be archived and accessed on the Internet for those who missed the live broadcast.

Cost will be about $30,000 a year. This is a small amount of money to pay for broader public access to a process that leaves many Coloradans in the dark — making law and statutes.   —>

TV for Legislators?
by Rick Brand
Newsday Spin Cycle (NY)

The Suffolk Legislature is weighing whether to hit the TV airwaves.  A resolution, sponsored by Legis. Edward Romaine (R-Center Moriches), to explore the feasability of televising legislative meetings made it out of the Ways and Means Committee Wednesday. It could be voted on as early as next week.

Even before passage of the measure, Presiding Officer William Lindsay (D-Holbrook) said his office has been informally exploring the idea for several months, but indicated there might be significant logistical problems to overcome.

The legislature already has taken its first electronic steps. Audio of meetings is available on the county’s intranet, and by August will be available to the public over the Internet on the county’s website.  But to hit cable TV, the county would need to go to each town that has a cable contract to gain access for its meetings on the town’s government and education or public access channel.

Even if approval is forthcoming, the question is whether there is enough available time to include full legislative meetings — which on average are seven hours long. The alternative is to edit down the proceedings, but Lindsay worries about the political implications. “That would be like walking into quicksand,” Lindsay said.

WIPO Side-Event Highlights Exceptions, Limitations In Broadcasting Treaty
by Tove Iren S. Gerhardsen
Intellectual Property Watch

Concerns that a new treaty on broadcasting being discussed at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) this week will be unbalanced, providing extra protection rights for broadcasters and further limits to users, was the topic of an event alongside the negotiation. The impact on developing countries was of particular concern.

Negotiations on treaty to boost the rights of broadcasters and cablecasters, which have lasted for more than eight years, are taking place at the 18-22 June meeting of the WIPO Standing Committee on Copyrights and Related Rights (IPW, Broadcasting, 19 June 2007) …

Viviana Munoz Tellez of the South Centre said that the impact of such a treaty was likely to be significant for national broadcasting policy and regulatory frameworks, copyright owners, customers and citizens, competitors as well as new media technology development. Referring to an earlier study by the South Centre, she stressed the need in the treaty for access to knowledge, freedom of expression, cultural diversity, competition, technological innovation and flow of information.

“Broadcasting as a public service is critical for development,” Munoz Tellez said, adding that most people in developing countries get their information, education and entertainment mainly from radio and television. She said that the ideal broadcasting scenario for developing countries would be “characterised by plurality and diversity in the number of players in the sector, forms of broadcasting, i.e., public-private and community, and content.” She also stressed accessibility and affordability.   —>

AT&T Launches Video Share in 3 Markets
by Rhonda Wickham
Wireless Week

CHICAGO— Kicking off NXTcomm, AT&T’s Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson gave show attendees a taste of Video Share, the operator’s latest service that lets subscribers share live video over capable Video Share wireless devices during a voice call. The service is commercially available in Atlanta, Dallas and San Antonio. And the operator plans to expand the offering to 160 of its 3G markets by late July.

Customers can choose from two services packages: one for $4.99 a month for 25 minutes of Video Share usage, or $9.99 a month for 60 minutes of usage. Alternately, customers can pay 35 cents a minute each time they use the service.

The operator is offering four compatible handsets: the LG CU500v, Samsung a707, a 717 and a727. By the end of the year, the operator plans to add another seven capable handsets.  According to Janna Ducich, executive director of AT&T’s Messaging Products, only the sender pays to send the 15 frames-per-second video.

Ducich says the application offers interesting possibilities for consumers as well as business users. For instance, consumers can share live video of moments as they happen with family and friends such as a baby’s first steps or a child’s first soccer goal. In business applications, there are opportunities in real estate showings, accident investigations or other time-saving applications.   —>

RexSpeak: MNspeak’s Founder Discusses, Lileks, and the Future of Citizen Journalism
by Paul Schmelzer
Minnesota Monitor

—>   Schmelzer: You were at the fore of the “placeblogging” movement — intensely local community blogging. What do you think makes a good community blog? And given your own thoughts on the matter, what’s your assessment of James Lileks and how he’s running

Sorgatz:  Starting MNspeak, I began with a set of principles of what a community blog needs to succeed: unique features, a network of engaged people, a decent design, a flexible platform, and so on. It wasn’t until I moved away from Minneapolis that I realized all of those attributes represent the bare minimum. I realized later that a community blog actually works a lot like any other publication — it needs one characteristic more than anything else: voice. It’s really not that different from when I used to work on magazines: a handful of people set the general tone which then organically aggregates similarly- minded people.

This might sound contrary to how we usually formulate “community” — as a collection of diverse voices. But every community needs some common ground, some guidelines that subliminally frame how conversation works. For better or worse, community is not everyone — it is a defined group. Community is, by definition, a limitation.   —>

Online Community: Just what is a copyright violation? Viacom vs. Google
by Mike Rowland
The Future of Communities

In case you missed it, there is a great explanation of the two views of the world of online copyright being fought over right now by Viacom and Google. At the All Things Digital Conference held a couple of weeks ago, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman gave his outline of what is covered and not covered under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) regarding copyright and how he views Google’s YouTube violations of that Act. Giving equal time, there is also an interview with Chad Hurley and Steven Chen, the founders of Google’s YouTube…

Your local cable access station cannot let you sign up for free air time and then show an episode of the Colbert Report you recorded at home, why should the internet be any different? As companies such as Apple and Microsoft work to bring television to the web and help define the industry, sites allowing video uploads should be held to the same standards as local cable access television stations. The principles are the same. It will be very interesting to see how the courts rule. Of course, given the money involved, there will most likely be a deal announced in the next couple of months between Viacom and Google so the law will not be examined as it should.

In terms of the uncertainty right now over the DMCA and online user generated content, we advise our clients to scan their site and remove blatant copyrighted materials uploaded as they find them. For example, message board posts that contain images from Warner Brothers or Disney cartoons are edited. Videos and photos from television shows or movies are edited or removed. When community managers make a “best effort” to remove copyrighted materials, the firm has a defense against the inevitable lawsuit. With copyright confusion, the best defense is a good offense.   —>

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

Explore posts in the same categories: copyright, media diversity, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, social media, televised state legislatures, user-generated content, video franchising, WIPO

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