Community Media: Selected Clippings – 08/11-12/07

AT&T’s fiber-optic TV is tied up in knots
by Brian Lockhart
Stamford Advocate (CT)

For months, AT&T has been attempting to lure Cablevision and satellite customers in Norwalk, Stamford and 33 other municipalities to its new U-verse fiber-optic television service. But a recent court decision has state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal calling on the state Department of Public Utility Control to stop AT&T from signing up new customers. “AT&T right now is in a kind of regulatory limbo,” Blumenthal said last week. “It’s providing a service but has no franchise (and) no license to undertake the activity that it is doing.” —>,0,6561867.story?coll=stam-news-local-headlines

AT&T Eyes Batteries in Explosion Probe (TX)
Light Reading

AT&T says it isn’t finished investigating what caused one of its broadband equipment cabinets to explode in suburban Houston last year. The explosion, first reported by Light Reading, occurred in the 8200 block of Clover Gardens Drive, outside the home of an elderly couple in late October…

“Our investigation is focused on the batteries, which were previously supplied by Avestor, a company that went out of business,” an AT&T spokesman writes in an email sent to Light Reading last week… Avestor filed for bankruptcy in October 2006 and the company closed shortly thereafter. That was the same month AT&T’s equipment cabinet in Houston was ripped to shreds by an explosion that industry sources say could have very likely been caused by Avestor’s lithium-metal polymer (LMP) battery becoming unstable.

What’s the big deal? Light Reading has confirmed that there are now 17,000 Avestor batteries deployed in equipment cabinets across AT&T’s network. “This includes U-verse and non-U-verse installations,” an AT&T spokesman writes. If the battery was at fault in Houston, any injury risk or expense incurred is suddenly multiplied by tens of thousands — and spread across a huge geography. —>
[ impressive 18-photo slideshow here: ]

Comcast Turns Back on First Responders (MI)
PR Newswire

Comcast Communications, the nation’s largest cable company, has decided that it will severely restrict the complimentary cable service it now provides to police and fire stations throughout Michigan. Comcast’s cable network in that state is the seventh-largest free-standing cable system in the country, and the move could signal a major policy initiative for the company.

According to Comcast’s recent letter, “state legislators saw fit to fundamentally alter video service providers’ complimentary service obligations across the state.” Apparently, the cable giant was referencing a new, sweeping state law which essentially deregulated cable service in Michigan. The new statute allows cable operators to ignore many of their existing contractual commitments to local communities, including ongoing obligations to provide cable service to police and fire stations.

“Comcast really missed the mark on this one,” said Larry Stoever, City Manager for the City of Saline, Michigan. “In a local government setting, cable service means more than video programming. For example, local governments can use cable as a distance learning tool so police and fire personnel can remain on call at their home station rather than travel to another location for training. It’s also a good way to keep local police and fire stations informed about regional and state-wide emergencies.” —>

Dash, DVDs launch access-TV chief
by Andreae Downs
Boston Globe (MA)

Brookline Access Television’s new director has already made a mark in this very political town. During spring Town Meeting, within weeks of his arrival on the job, Peter Zawadzki handed out free DVD dubs of the proceedings to all comers. He repeated the feat after high school graduation. His staff has even handed parents free DVDs of their children’s performances in a town-sponsored camp… Zawadzki also cut membership fees to zero for the station, which gets roughly $392,000 annually from cable companies. —>

New Community Television director takes the helm
by Jondi Gumz
Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)

The new executive director of Community Television of Santa Cruz County is ready for his close-up. John Patterson is a familiar face to the staff there; he’s worked at the public access station for two years, first as operations director, then as acting executive director. —>

News shows make a comeback thanks to the Web
by David Zurawik
Baltimore Sun (MD)

For more than two decades, discussions of TV news have been dominated by a discourse of decline. No statistic has been quoted more often than that of network evening newscasts collectively losing 27 million viewers – roughly half their audience – across a 25-year span starting in 1980. But for all the talk of dinosaurs and audience erosion, major TV news programs – such as PBS’ “The NewsHour With Jim Lehrer” and Tim Russert’s “Meet the Press” on NBC – have found new life on computer screens, iPods and cell phones during the past year. —>,0,5503934.story

[ Many PEG access practitioners know about the existence and functions of community foundations. Perhaps some do not – for the longest time, I did not. Where they exist, community foundations play a central role in human services delivery and community planning. That would seem to make them essential partners in PEG access program development. Here’s a nice primer for the uninitiated. – rm ]

Toward a better Bay Area
Working together, local foundations could lead the way
by Lucy Bernholz
San Francisco Chronicle

What would you do if you found $4 billion? Community foundations in the Bay Area are the hidden treasures of our local society, quietly managing billions of dollars and supporting health services, outdoor spaces and parks, science programs, day care centers and public concerts that benefit everyone in the region.

If you’ve ever dialed 911 or watched “Sesame Street,” you’ve benefited from the work of a foundation. If you’ve ever swum in the Simpkins Pool in Live Oak, sought a last-minute flu vaccine, dropped your kid off at a Boys and Girls Club, or listened to an outdoor concert, you’ve benefited from one of our community foundations.

What’s a community foundation? It is a public trust that serves donors and the community by bringing together charitable resources with knowledgeable, creative problem solvers. The region’s community foundations, from Santa Cruz to Sonoma, collectively manage more than $4 billion in public trust.

While we tend to think of Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey when we think of philanthropy, the truth is that, year after year, the vast majority of American charitable giving is actually the sum of lots of small gifts from far-less-affluent individuals. These add up quickly. According to Giving USA, individuals in the United States in 2006 accounted for about 75 percent of the $290 billion in charitable giving, or more than $217 billion of that total. —>

[ PEG access folks will be familiar with the names John and Timothy Rigas, father and son owners of Adelphia Cable, who bankrupted their company and were convicted on 18 counts of fraud and conspiracy. Adelphia’s demise has been a cause of no small disturbance for many communities and their PEG access providers. Last week on PBS, Charlie Rose gave John Rigas the hour to tell ‘the rest of the story.’ I missed it, but based upon these comments from Third Estate Sunday Review, I’ll try to catch it now on-line. I admit – I’ve been a long-time fan of Charlie Rose – maybe I need to practice more critical thinking? – rm ]

TV: P(ure)BS
Third Estate Sunday Review

Last Thursday, we got calls from friends with PBS advising us that Senator Joe Biden, a 2008 Democratic presidential candidate, had come out strongly against the privatization of oil in an interview on The Charlie Rose Show. Could we note a moment that actually mattered, we were asked? And how about showing a little Charlie Love while we were at it?

Biden’s strong statements made it into Friday’s “Iraq snapshot” and we’ve noted it here, at the top. But Charlie Love? It seemed unspeakable but we figured what the hell, maybe he’s on a hot streak. We’ll give it a sample. He wasn’t.

Friday, he did all but scream “For the HOUR!” with John Rigas. That, in and of itself, might not be a bad thing. Nor were we surprised that his introduction was so long winded. We were bothered that he repeatedly referred to “the tragedy.” The tragedy. The tragedy.

As we know the story, John Rigas and his son Timothy were convicted in a court of law on eighteen counts and, reading over the convictions, we didn’t find “guilty of the tragedy” in any degree among the charges listed. The eighteen counts were for fraud and conspiracy.

We’re having a hard time believing that some day in the future, Rose will sit down across that ugly wooden table (disclosure, one of us has the same table in mahogany and uses it as a computer desk — but in mahogany, not what appears to be pine) and talk to a convicted home burglar about his or her ‘tragedy.’

First off, such a criminal isn’t big enough to get booked on Rose’s show. Second of all, even if they did, they’d be seen as common thieves. There is no difference in action, according to the public, court record, between them and the father and son Rigas. The only real difference is they were caught knocking over the equivalent of every home and residence in the tri-state area. But it’s a ‘tragedy,’ Rose kept trying to convince the audience. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, community media, Internet TV, U-Verse, video franchising

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