Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/24/07

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

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, citizen journalism, community media, FCC, media diversity, media ownership, municipal broadband, municiple wi-fi, net neutrality, televised state legislatures, video franchising

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