Community Media: Selected Clippings – 08/29/07

TV station tour meant to raise awareness of funding woes
by Regan McTarsney
Columbia Missourian

In order to plead their case for funding, Columbia Access Television volunteers gave Columbia City Council members Jerry Wade, Karl Skala and Barbara Hoppe a tour of their facility on Tuesday night. The council is set to vote next week on a drafted ordinance that may determine Columbia Access Television (CAT TV) funding.  Beth Pike, a member of the Columbia Cable Task Force, showed the council members the aging audio and video equipment — some of which dates back as far as the 1950s — and the potential for growth within CAT TV’s spacious Stephens College facilities.

“They really had some foresight when they built this, but unfortunately the equipment is outdated,” Pike told the council members.  Pike said that if CAT TV is able to expand its resources, there could be possibility for growth in partnerships with local schools.  “Before you can develop partnerships you need to update your studio,” councilman Skala said in agreement.

CAT TV has been surviving on $30,000 a year from Mediacom since its inception in 2004. Because CAT TV is still waiting for an installment of $10,000 from May, the station is down to its last $2,000.  “Right now, I figure we can last for about a month, and then I guess we’ll go off,” CAT TV treasurer Steve Hudnell said.   —>

Struggling access channel makes plea for help
by T.J. Greaney
Columbia Tribune (MO)

The clock is ticking on public access television in Columbia. Without help from city hall, televisions tuned to Columbia Access Television will go black in October.  Supporters sought to tilt opinion in their favor last night by offering a tour of the studios where they operate free of charge at Stephens College. Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala, Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade and Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe took the tour, which was offered to all Columbia City Council members.

The council will hear a first reading Tuesday of an ordinance to increase the cable “franchise fee” from 3 percent to 5 percent. The fee is money paid by cable companies for use of public rights of way. If Mediacom chooses to pass the hike on to customers, it would amount to an extra $1 on a $50.

CAT TV said it needs about $600,000 in startup money and $250,000 annually for maintenance and full-time staff. The increased franchise fee would generate an estimated $334,000 each year. CAT TV also will ask the council for special funding in next year’s budget to stay on the air.

Council members on the tour seemed more interested in offering a helping hand than a constant funding stream. “In essence, this would be seed money so you can get other sponsors interested in this. If you have a successful product and people see there’s interest in the product, people will be more likely to chip in,” Skala said.

The money would be exponentially more than CAT TV now receives from Mediacom each year. The cable giant has fallen behind on its payments, CAT TV personnel said, and still owes $10,000 from May.  “Mediacom really just wanted you to go away, and you didn’t,” Skala said.  A message left for Mediacom yesterday was not returned.

If the franchise fee is approved, though, others have designs on the money. Columbia’s other two public cable channels, for education and government, have both expressed interest.    —>

Local access shows moving
Bright House to put school, government channels on digital tier
by Sylvia Lim
Bradenton Herald (FL)

Come Dec. 11, Bright House Networks basic cable customers won’t be able to catch school board or county commission meetings on TV anymore.  The company decided to move its government access channels to a digital tier, said Joe Durkin, a Bright House spokesman.  That means cable customers have to obtain a digital converter box for $6.95 monthly to view any local government channels, such as Manatee Government Access and Manatee Education Television, Durkin said. MGA can be viewed on Bright House Channel 20 and METV on 21.

Manatee officials are worried Brighthouse’s decision will limit constituents’ knowledge about the workings of local governments.  “I think it’s unfortunate,” said Amy Stein, Manatee County Commission chairman. “I think that the government access TV and education TV are real public service.   —>

A Tale of Two Cities

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  And when it comes to broadband, Tokyo is a long way from Little Rock.

The Japanese enjoy broadband speeds that are up to 30 times faster than what’s available here at a far lower cost. This faster, cheaper, universal broadband access – according to an excellent article in today’s Washington Post – “is pushing open doors to Internet innovation that are likely to remain closed for years to come in much of the United States.”  To the Japanese, our “high-speed” Internet service doesn’t look much different from dial-up:

“The speed advantage allows the Japanese to watch broadcast-quality, full-screen television over the Internet, an experience that mocks the grainy, wallet-size images Americans endure.  Ultra-high-speed applications are being rolled out for low-cost, high-definition teleconferencing, for telemedicine — which allows urban doctors to diagnose diseases from a distance — and for advanced telecommuting to help Japan meet its goal of doubling the number of people who work from home by 2010.”

Open Secrets – What’s the secret of Japan’s success? Open access.

Less than a decade ago, DSL service in Japan was slower and pricier than in the United States. So the Japanese government mandated open access policies that forced the telephone monopoly to share its wires at wholesale rates with new competitors. The result: a broadband explosion.  Not only did DSL get faster and cheaper in Japan, but the new competition actually forced the creaky old phone monopoly to innovate. As the Post explains: —>

Burlington Telecom
by Dean Corren
The Prog Blog (MA)

Today was an exciting day. I got to sign up for telecommunications service with my city’s own provider – Burlington Telecom.  My wait had been just under two decades.  What took so long? In 1988, when I was appointed to the Burlington Electric Commission, I had missed the city’s consideration of whether to provide its own cable TV service. While Mayor Bernie Sanders had been clear on the need for local public control, the City Council had been divided and uncertain, and had looked to the electric commission.   —>

Schenectady City Council Committees Meetings
by Pat Zollinger (NY)

Last spring the Schenectady City Council voted on legislation that would have moved their committee meetings up to room 209 in City Hall so they could easily be videotaped and broadcast on our public access channel. With Council President Mark Blanchfield absent, the council members voted 3-3 on this legislation, causing it to fail.

The legislation was to be a pilot of sorts, where the summertime council committees meetings would be videotaped and a later decision would be made as to its continuance. Currently members of the community have to go in person to these meetings, to see and hear how our elected city council does its business. But that can be difficult for many of our seniors, for working people because of the time and for the disabled because of the room itself.

But a pilot of sorts did occur over the summer, and will continue as long as necessary so that the people of our community can see these council committees meetings on both SACC-TV 16 and the Internet. I along with Mr. Devin Harrison of Schenectady have provided this through videotaping and Internet accessibility and SACC-TV puts it on the air. The four committees meetings held in July and August have been aired and are on the Internet at Schenectady U-TV at   —>

Public Access TV moves
by Kathleen Kirwin
Westford Eagle (MA)

It’s lights, camera, action at Westford Public Access TV’s new home at 487 Groton Road.  The new studio is a welcomed change from the old studio cramped inside Nashoba Valley Technical High School.  “Here there is so much more room and we are more accessible to the public,” said Erica Davidson, member of the Westford public access committee.   —>

Greater Ossining TV Seeks New Home
by (NY)

Greater Ossining Television (GO-TV), the community’s public access TV station, is facing the possibility of becoming homeless in just another four months.  The lease at its current location at Ossining High School is set to expire on December 31, 2007.  An agreement between the school and GO-TV has allowed the station to operate a small studio rent-free for the past 10 years, in exchange for sharing some of its equipment with the school.   —>

A demanding audience: On-demand TV breaking records in state
by Bill Hutchens
The News Tribune (WA)

In this age of instant information and gratification, many businesses understand that if customers can’t immediately get what they want they might move on.  The old “delivery may take six to eight weeks” advisory is almost unthinkable now that even next-day delivery from Amazon can seem to take too long. We want what we want, and we want it now.  So it is with television.

Local cable companies are seeing exponential growth in the usage of their “on-demand” services. Since the introduction of on-demand TV in Washington three years ago, viewers have ordered more than a quarter of a billion programs from Comcast, according to company records.  Included among the nearly 200 million orders of free video entertainment programs provided by the state’s largest cable company are hundreds of popular local features, said Comcast spokeswoman Shauna Causey.

And Mitch Robinson, spokesperson for Click! Network, said the Tacoma-run TV utility is committed to providing free local programming with its Video on Demand service.  Local features are produced by Comcast’s team of videographers in Puyallup and Click!’s community partners. To view them, cable subscribers select the “Get Local” button from the on-demand menu to watch high school sporting events, community festivals, local band spotlights, spelling bees, destruction derbies and more.   —>

Worldwide community media, at your local blog
by Bree Bowman
Center for Social Media

The venerable, but never less than edgy, grassroots media organization Deep Dish TV has launched a blog where you can find out about edgy, improbable and grassroots media worldwide:  Its task: to “celebrate the energy and success of community expression, but also look at problems of sustainability, difficult interactions with political power, stressful lives of volunteers, and the ever-present potential of co-optation by commercial interests. You can read today about South African kids’ comics and Mexican indigenous radio. Tomorrow? Winds of Change’s guru is DeeDee Halleck, author of Hand-Held Visions, a book that serves as a record of a life filled with exuberant grassroots experiments.

Media Giraffe – Journalism That Matters 2007: DC
Our Group  “After Action Report”
by Cho
ePluribus Media

After the 7 of us who went to the Media Giraffe Journalism That Matters sessions got home from our DC trip, we did an email round robin of the highlights and the low points of the two days.  Our aim was to grab our impressions for a sort of “After Action Report” for all of you with an eye toward:

* proving background information to any one planning to future events
* articulating the take-aways so that we can, in business speak, make them “actionable” — basically, be able to take some actions with what we learned
* identifying good things to do and bad things to avoid

Ilona Meagher, who has attended all three of the Media Giraffe symposiums, suggested that the vibe of this one was different, most likely because of the sheer number of participants (160 in DC as opposed to 50ish in Memphis).  The email exchange was so rich, with so many intriguing insights, I found it hard to pull together as I didn’t want to leave anything out.  So without further ado, as the cliché goes, here’s my maladroit gleaming from our discussions.   —>

Batavia’s broadcaster ready for school year
by Jimmy Gordon
Batavia Republican (IL)

—>   In addition to being a voice for Batavia’s 2nd Ward, Wolff is the voice behind the microphone of Batavia’s private access television production, channels 10 and 17.  “There are so many citizens that think public access television is simply an avenue to record and broadcast the typical monthly board meetings held at various places around town,” he said.  In fact, with enrollment in a 90-minute class citizens are allowed to use the public access channels for just about anything one might want to promote. Though most material is welcome, it is sports that take the top shelf. It’s a great tool for coaches to use while reviewing recent games for errors and future strategies, Wolff said.   —>

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

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, citizen journalism, media criticism, media ownership, municipal broadband, municipal programming, on-demand, PEG access TV, public access television

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