Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/28/07

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

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable vs telco, FCC, Internet TV, municipal programming, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

One Comment on “Community Media: Selected Clippings – 06/28/07”

  1. Thomas Says:


    \”…Most answering services have answering service software, but it is best to ask first…\”

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