Community Media: Selected Clippings – 08/20/07

FCC To Extend ‘Franchise Reform’ To Cable
McDowell speaks to his primary constituents….
by Karl
Broadband Reports

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell says that the agency is preparing to offer the cable industry the same video-franchising help they gave the telcos last December. The FCC is currently being sued by States who say only Congress has the authority to implement such rules, which the FCC insists “streamline” the TV franchise system, allowing faster deployment of TelcoTV.

McDowell, who recently penned an editorial downplaying broadband penetration woes, spoke before the free market think tank the Progress & Freedom Foundation, informing them of the looming changes before anyone else:

“While a handful of states have created statewide franchises, the majority of the U.S. still operates on a local basis, meaning a new entrant would have to seek literally thousands of licenses in order to be able to operate a national television service. The FCC rules are aimed at streamlining that process. They place a 90-day shot clock on local governments to rule on a franchise application. The rules also prevent governments from making unreasonable demands on applicants or attempting to levy exorbitant fees on them.”

Of course in modern FCC parlance, “unreasonable demands” includes forcing an operator to offer broadband and TV service to more than just a city’s most profitable neighborhoods. Phone operators, their think tanks and the FCC have been working hard the part few years to demonize the existing franchising process so they can eliminate build out requirements (the very reason many “unprofitable” rural neighborhoods currently have cable TV).   —>

FCC sets Jan. 16 date for 700MHz auction
by Colleen Taylor
Electronic News

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set the auction for 1,099 licenses in the 700MHz band to start on January 16, 2008.   —>

Swords to Plowshares Announces New Media Awards for 11th Annual Veterans Day Dinner
PR Newswire

Swords to Plowshares (STP) is pleased to announce The Veteran’s Day Dinner Media Awards, which recognize and honor mainstream news and alternative media for their accurate and inclusive representations of veterans in our community and the issues that affect their lives. The winner of the Media Awards will be announced at the 11th Annual Veteran’s Day Dinner, to be held on Thursday, November 8th at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco…

Eligibility period: July 1, 2006 – June 30, 2007.  Submission deadline: Materials must be received by August 30, 2007,  6:00 p.m. PST  Submission details: Download an entry form at and mail it with supporting materials to Swords to Plowshares. Further details about submitting an entry are provided on the entry form. For more information, call the Swords office at (415) 252-4788.   —>

Eachus proposes Internet legislation
by Jill Whalen
Standard Speaker (PA)

State Rep. Todd Eachus has introduced legislation that seeks to provide high-speed Internet access to all residents of Pennsylvania.  Eachus, D-116, said that while it’s uncommon nowadays, there are still some “nooks and crannies” in his district and throughout the commonwealth where high speed, or broadband, is not available.

But through the Consumer Choice Cable Franchising and High Speed Broadband Promotion Act, cable companies would be required to provide service to those areas.  “It’s essential for classrooms, hospitals and libraries,” Eachus said.   —>

Knight Foundation to Award Millions For Digital Experiments in Community News
News Challenge Seeks Cutting-Edge Ideas from Anyone, Anywhere; ‘You Invent It. We Fund It!’

MIAMI  The John S. and James L.Knight Foundation has launched year two of the Knight News Challenge, a contest awarding as much as $5 million for innovative ideas using digital experiments to transform community news.

Do you have a big idea for informing and inspiring community using bits and bytes? Cell phone documentaries? New operating software for news collectors? Journalism games? Nothing is too far out to  qualify. With the slogan “You Invent It. We Fund It!” the contest is open to community-minded innovators worldwide, from software designers to journalist to citizens and students of any age.

The Knight News Challenge contest aims to use digitally delivered news and information to enhance     physical communities and improve the lives of people where they live, work and vote.  “Jim and Jack Knight fostered community through their newspapers,” said Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of Knight Foundation. “The Knight News Challenge hopes to discover innovative ways of using cyberspace to bring communities together.”

The first year of the contest concluded with grants to 25 individuals and private and public entities ranging from MIT to MTV. Some first-year winning projects included:

* New software that links databases, allowing citizens to learn (and act on) civic information about their neighborhood or block.
* Cell phone distribution of video news reportsfrom mobile young journalists on the 2008 presidential election.
* Online games to inform and engage players about key issues confronting New York City.
* An online environment which lets citizens “play”through a complex, evolving news story through interaction with the newsmakers.
* Digital newscasts for Philadelphia’s immigrant community distributed through a new citywide wireless platform.

Winning entries must have three elements: 1) use of a digital media; 2) delivery of news or information on a shared basis to 3) a geographically defined community.  Although there is a category for commercial applications, most entries are “open-source” and must share the software and knowledge created.

This year, for the first time, the web site – – also will allow entrants to invite public comment that will help improve their entries.   —>

Youth led media: getting the distribution right
by Tim Davies
Tim’s Blog

Film is powerful. But to have the strongest impact it needs to be used in the right way and seen by the right people. That’s why thinking about distribution needs to be a key part of youth video projects…

As I was preparing this post I came across this story from Youth Media Reporter which shares an account of how young film makers in Baltimore made sure their work was well distributed and created conversation. The group realised their their videos, shown on local Public Access TV were not getting enough viewers, so they turned to the Internet and social networking sites to build a bigger audience.

But, as well as sharing video online, the group looked to showings in the local community, and have created their own do-it-yourself distribution guide including a focus on community screenings.   —>

Westford CAT announces new studio location
Westford Web Community Notebook (MA)


Westford Community Access Television, Inc. (Westford CAT) today announced its new location at 487 Groton Road, Unit B. With this newly renovated space, Westford CAT will provide a greater level of service to Westford’s PEG Access users and volunteers and continues to expand local cable access for the town of Westford. The new location will be open for operations on Monday, August 27th.   —>

Comcast Hinders BitTorrent Traffic
by CowboyNeal

FsG writes “Over the past few weeks, more and more Comcast users have reported that their BitTorrent traffic is severely throttled and they are totally unable to seed. Comcast doesn’t seem to discriminate between legitimate and infringing torrent traffic, and most of the BitTorrent encryption techniques in use today aren’t helping. If more ISPs adopt their strategy, could this mean the end of BitTorrent?”

Network Neutrality and Non-discrimination
Bill St. Arnaud

Outside of the USA, network neutrality has largely been seen as a US problem because of the decision there to entirely de-regulate broadband.  In the rest of the world most regulators still maintain a policy of on-discrimination and are smug in the belief that network neutrality is a on-issue for them.  Non-discrimination means that carriers can offer internet QoS, preferred carriage and other premium network services as long as they offer it on a non-discriminatory basis.

Most people would agree that carriers and ISPs have a duty and esponsibility to maintain their networks and minimize impacts of denial service attacks and congestion.  But the engineering activities to achieve these goals can deliberately or inadvertently result in discriminatory action against perceived competitors or users of the network.

Examples include the case where many carriers and ISPs are deploying tools like Sandvine to block BitTorrent seeding.  The BBC new P2P service is threatened to be blocked by many ISPs in the UK because of its threat of congestion on their networks. AT&T has announced that it intends to block all illegal video and file sharing on its network. While AT&T may be going beyond the call of duty to prevent illegal video and file sharing its actions have the benefit of enhancing its own video IPTV delivery.   —>

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

Explore posts in the same categories: BitTorrent, broadband policy, cable vs telco, citizen journalism, citizen media, community media, FCC, P2P, PEG access TV, public access television, spectrum auction, video franchising, youth media

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