Community Media: Selected Clippings – 08/24/07

Legislation would restore radio’s community presence
Today’s Topic: Tuning in and out on radio
Editorial: Tennessean

With television and the Internet dominating communication systems these days, the power of radio is often overlooked.  And we’re not talking about the wattage, but the potential to affect people’s lives.

Small, low-power radio stations can serve a variety of roles that larger media cannot, such as keeping the community informed about emergencies and neighborhood school closings. They can also reflect the diversity of their community in ways that corporate-owned radio stations do not.

Yet, low-power FM is locked in a battle for survival. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 led to consolidation of radio stations to such an extent that, in 2000, the Federal Communications Commission told Congress there was too much consolidation and community radio was endangered.

With lawmakers poised to act, corporate radio owners and National Public Radio complained that low-power stations would interfere with their signals. As a result, Congress restricted the FCC to issuing licenses for low-power stations only in rural areas.

The FCC ordered an independent study in 2002, which found that low-power stations would cause no significant signal interference, but the restrictions have been allowed to stand because of the influence of corporate radio. Only 800 licenses, all in rural areas, have been issued since 2000, though thousands of groups have expressed interest.

Now is the time to act. In June, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., introduced the Local Community Radio Act of 2007, which seeks to remove those restrictions, while keeping in place a grievance process for large radio stations that believe they are harmed by signal interference. If it passes into law, educational groups, churches, nonprofits and municipal governments around the country are hoping to launch new radio stations that serve their local area.   —>

Local issues shouldn’t be shut out in process
by Ginny Welsh

Do you want to be on the radio? Know a great local band, or a story that Nashville needs to hear? Wish you could interview the famous and infamous alike?  You can be — at Radio Free Nashville (RFN), one of the few community radio stations to sign on under the FCC’s low- power FM (LPFM) radio service. Broadcasting with 100 watts from a hill overlooking Pasquo, Tenn., RFN is what local radio should be.

RFN signed on in April 2005. Since then, we’ve trained more than 150 community programmers, had our student broadcasting course added to the curricula of area high schools, and had original programs syndicated around the country.   —>

Congress should help unique local stations
by Joseph Torres

You used to be able to drive cross-country and hear different sounds at every stop: classic country in Nashville, soul music in Memphis, zydeco in New Orleans, Tejano in Corpus Christi. Now you can go coast-to-coast and hear the same 15 songs in heavy rotation the whole way. It all sounds the same.

Runaway consolidation has virtually wiped out local music, culture and news on the radio dial. Companies like Clear Channel and Cumulus have swallowed up thousands of stations and piped in cookie-cutter content and canned playlists. Fewer stations employ reporters to cover local news, and fewer local artists are making it on the air.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that we have an opportunity to reclaim a portion of the radio airwaves for local communities.  Congress is now considering legislation — the bipartisan Local Community Radio Act — that would create thousands of new low-power FM (LPFM) stations. These 100-watt stations are operated by nonprofit, church, civic and civil rights groups and broadcast over a radius of three to five miles.   —>

Cable company in regulatory no man’s land, SoCal city charges in lawsuit
by Fred Pilot
Eldo Telecom (CA)

This type of situation may begin to crop up frequently in California, where cable companies can opt to remain under local government franchise agreements or get a statewide franchise from the California Public Utilities Commission under new legislation that took effect this year, the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act.

According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, the city of Carlsbad believes Time Warner is operating outside the law because it doesn’t have a franchise from the city nor has it received a statewide franchise. Nor has it even applied for one according to the CPUC’s Web site.  Holding up a city franchise with Time Warner is Carlsbad’s insistence on higher fees to fund broadcasts of city council and other government events.

It’s probable there will be other such lawsuits brought by local governments over this and, more likely, when negotiations stall over buildout requirements in which the locals insist cable companies serve their entire communities instead of leaving parts in the dark on the wrong side of the digital divide. The likely targets include telcos and other cable players — like Comcast for example — that have so far not applied for or received statewide franchises.

Berwick warrant article seeks to create local cable station (ME)
by Jennifer Keefe
Foster’s Daily Democrat

BERWICK, Maine — In an effort to create a cable television station for the town, a warrant article will be included on the November ballot about collecting money from cable subscribers for this purpose.  The town recently entered into a new cable contract, and the Board of Selectmen have posed an article asking residents if franchise fees collected through this cable contract can be used to purchase equipment for the development of a local community television station.

The station would broadcast community events and programming, including town meetings. Residents at Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen’s meeting unanimously agreed broadcasting such events would benefit many in the community, especially those who cannot always make it to 6:30 p.m. meetings.  “That was one of the reasons we wanted it,” said Selectmen Thomas Fournier.   —>

AT&T Building U-Verse
by Pam Dawkins
Connecticut Post

—>   In June 2006, the DPUC ruled AT&T’s Internet Protocol Television is not subject to cable franchising requirements; Blumenthal sued in U.S. District Court for a ruling that it is. In July 2007, the court overturned the DPUC’s decision. Now, AT&T has moved for a reconsideration while Blumenthal has filed an emergency request with the DPUC to force AT&T to apply for a franchise.

Blumenthal puts AT&T’s chances of a reconsideration at “virtually zero,” calling it a “futile attempt” at delaying the inevitable.  “Whatever the rules for cable franchises they should apply to IPTV,” he said Thursday. “It’s the law,” and what the federal courts have decided.

“We’re waiting until court action is finalized,” because it would be imprudent to take action until then, DPUC spokeswoman Beryl Lyons said Thursday. The DPUC’s cable regulating authority is minimal and includes ensuring cable companies meet public, education and government access requirements. —>

Council Meetings Now Viewed on Web

HONOLULU – You now have access to the Honolulu City Council’s meetings, right at your finger tips. A partnership between Olelo Community Television and the city makes it possible for the public to view meetings on the internet.  The web site makes it easy for people to navigate through council agendas.   —>

PSL TV-20 informs residents
by Hillary Copsey
TCPalm (FL)

Ed Cunningham, public information officer for Port St. Lucie, appears on the PSL TV-20 daily newscast at 5 p.m. in the City Council chambers.  The show is a simple thing — one man reading the news, another controlling the camera and microphone — but it gets the job done.

Port St. Lucie’s first-ever daily newscast gives residents a daily update on their city. It lets people know what roads are being worked on, what buildings are being started and how their tax dollars are being spent.  And, with more and more residents yelling about high taxes, officials say that information is priceless.

“It’s just another way for us to get our information out to residents,” Mayor Patricia Christensen said. “Unfortunately, the regular newscasts that are on everyday only tell little bits of what’s going on in our community.”  The Communications Department, which runs TV-20, the city’s government access channel, began filming the 10-minute daily newscasts in July.   —>

Letter to the Editor: The question of hip-hop culture
by Luke Dubois
Portland Press Herald

— Regarding your Aug. 14 editorial:

As a young Caucasian male, I will never fully comprehend what it is to be a black man in America.  As a fan of the hip-hop culture the editorial addresses, I can say that responsibility for the graphic nature of the content in mainstream culture is to be placed on the shoulders of more than just those who produce the music.

The real issue isn’t who produces the music.  It’s who controls broadcasting and promotions to the masses. Follow the paper trail, and it leads to the executive decision.

Media consolidation has run rampant over the past decade, resulting in a music industry that caters to the directions of “mostly white executives.”  They pull the strings. The rappers, producers, DJs and consumers are merely puppets in the game of commercial music.    There exists an abundance of underground hip hop that is 180 degrees from commercial rap. You just won’t find it on major media networks.   —>

Leveraging the job market
by Bill Reader
Community Journalism Interest Group

I spend a lot of time checking job sites such as Editor & Publisher online, and, not because I’m looking for work, but because I’m looking for hard evidence as to why my J-school should focus its curriculum more on community journalism. Every time I hear a colleague bemoan the layoffs at large media companies, I can dig up scores of job openings at smaller-market media, especially at community newspapers.

A recent post by Mark Glaser on his Mediashift blog has made note of that very trend, suggesting that even the bigger media that have made recent layoffs are hiring in their online divisions. But not all of the jobs are in “new media” — in Glaser’s post, Dan Rohn of said, ““Right now we have 628 newspaper job openings in the U.S., from Alaska to Massachusetts to Florida to Indiana … It’s in small towns, and I think that’s because they’re owned by families or small chains that are successful and not being hit as hard.”   —>

What’s ‘IPTV’? And Who Owns the Term?
by Mark Sullivan
PC World

A handful of readers have chided us recently for trotting out the term “IPTV” without a properly defining it. In short, IPTV means “Internet Protocol Television.”  But something interesting has happened to the term “IPTV.” The telephone companies, when they decided to sell video services over phone networks, co-opted the term and made it their own. This happened before Joost was even a glimmer in Niklas Zennstrom’s eye.

As such, IPTV usually refers to video delivered over closed, telco-owned fiber optic or hybrid fiber-optic/copper networks using Internet Protocol. IPTV usually does not refer to services like Joost or YouTube, which are delivered over the Public Internet. IPTV reaches the user via a “closed” IP network (also called a Walled Garden) that is separate and distinct from the Public Internet.   —>

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

Explore posts in the same categories: citizen journalism, community radio, IPTV, low power FM, LPFM, media diversity, media ownership, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, U-Verse, video franchising

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