Community Media: Selected Clippings – 09/07/07

FCC Pulls Cable-Franchise Item from Sept. 11 Meeting Agenda
Cable Operators Won’t See Franchise Rules Loosened to Level Faced by Telcos
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable

The Federal Communications Commission pulled an item from its Sept. 11 public meeting that would have extended its loosened franchise rules to cable. When it adopted loosened video-franchise rules for telcos earlier this year, the FCC said it planned to do the same for cable. But after scheduling the item earlier in the week, the FCC Friday issued a deletion notice saying that it would not be on the agenda after all. —>

Cable channel change
Bright House switch should be affordable
Editorial: Bradenton Herald (FL)

Government-access TV programming was created in the early days of the cable era as an inexpensive way to provide average citizens easy access to the actions of their governments. Giving viewers a way to watch their county commission or city council in action was considered a small payback by cable companies for the privilege of stringing their cables through public rights of way so they could make big profits off people’s love of commercial television programming.

Now Bright House Networks is preparing to limit public access to those channels – in Manatee County, Channel 20 for MGA (Manatee Government Access) and Channel 21 for METV (Manatee Educational Television). On Dec. 11, the cable provider plans to switch those stations throughout its seven-county market in the Tampa Bay region from analog to digital. That means subscribers to Bright House’s lowest-priced basic package will have to pay more to rent a converter box to maintain their access to the educational channels. The precise amount of the monthly digital-converter fee has not yet been determined, company officials said.

Nor has the company decided to what numbers the government-access channels will be assigned – whether they will stay in the bottom 24 that currently make up basic service or move far up to the top of the dial. That decision is important to the viewership of stations like MGA and METV. If it stays in the lower tier, more viewers are likely to run across the stations when clicking between popular network and independent channels. If put way up in the 100s or even 300s, there will be far less pass-through traffic to educational fare by channel surfers. —>

TV channel shakeup causes stir
Local government officials worry the cable changes may reduce open access.
by Barbara Behrendt
St. Petersburg Times (FL)

—> Those who pushed the legislation include the bill’s co-sponsor, state Rep. Rob Schenck of Spring Hill. He argued that it would allow much-needed cable competition. But Rowden said she doesn’t see it that way. “All this is doing is making more money for Bright House, more money for Bright House and other cable companies. It’s not for the people,” she said.

Schenck said he believes competition will come. He also questions why Bright House is making these channel changes at this time. “I believe this is a political move to make the state Legislature look bad for trying to bring in competition,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that Bright House is taking advantage of the consumers.”

But Bright House’s Durkin said the firm was planning to make the move to make all channels in its seven-county service area uniform long before the franchise legislation was passed. He also said he was confused by Schenck’s comments because Bright House supported the compromise bill that was passed. He added that, despite anecdotal evidence from government officials, the government access channels have some of the lowest viewership of any cable channels.

Hernando County school officials, who produce educational programs and broadcast School Board meetings on Channel 14, say they think they do have an audience and they are also concerned about the Bright House change. “Part of our concern is that we’re planning significant increases in the coverage in the classrooms and we have a station identity,” said Roy Gordon, manager of communications and public relations for the school district.

New superintendent Wayne Alexander has told Gordon that the district needs to have a greater presence in the homes of local citizens showcasing the good work going on in the district’s classrooms. The move by Bright House could curtail that, Gordon said. “You hear more and more conversation about how television is not going in the direction some people want to see it go. It’s not family friendly,” he said. “We’re trying to keep people educated and informed about the direction of the school district … showing good, wholesome programing to boot.”

Gordon said viewers also appreciate the opportunity of viewing the School Board and other government entities in the county conducting their official business. “The folks who are following their elected officials in the sunshine will have a genuine concern,” he said. “I’m not sure this is in the best interests of the county.” —>

Beloved TV show on prep sports shelved
by Steve T. Gorches
Post-Tribune (IN)

No matter how talented the high school standout, no matter how mild-mannered the kid, their faces still lit up like a 7-year-old on Christmas morning. After all, they were on TV.

I vividly remember waiting after games for an interview with the player of the game, usually a female because I cover girls high school sports, watching them with a camera pointed at their face. Amanda Wendlinger after a Hanover Central softball victory. Julie DeMuth after a Highland, and later Merrillville, basketball or volleyball contest. Notre Dame-bound Becca Bruszewski after a victorious Wheeler hoops game. All of them gleaming from ear to ear because they were going to be on television, albeit public access cable TV.

And that person on the other end of the camera was Jamie Perko, with the taped interviews aired on “Sports Weekly” on Thursday evenings on Channel 4 on most local Comcast cable systems. Yesterday was the final airing of the show that began in 2000 with Perko and Mark Smith bringing their insight, analysis and love of high school sports to local viewers.

To coin a phrase from a humorous beer commercial, it’s a ‘traveshamockery’ that high school kids and their parents won’t be able to watch that show anymore. Truly a sad day for Northwest Indiana high school sports. “It was a big shock,” Perko said before the final taping this week. “Everyone was let go — five employees. We got a long explanation and a ‘You’re doing a good job.’ Basically, Comcast doesn’t have to provide local programming anymore.

“You never think you’re prepared for it. I had the best job in the world. You just thought a selling point for people keeping cable would be local sports.” Not so much. It’s the modern TV business at its worst with local franchising agreements obsolete and the big, bad cable company getting in the way of the ambiance and tradition of high school sports coverage. —>,cabl.article
Bill forcing Athens to look at fees, rights-of-way
by Casey S. Elliott
Athens Messenger (OH)

The passage of a bill in the Ohio Legislature that affected rights-of-way in municipalities and cable franchise fees, among other things, might not be as severe as Athens city officials have feared. However, the passage of Senate Bill 117 earlier this year has brought some changes that Athens City Council will have to deal with, from the franchise fee the city receives from Time Warner Cable to potential legislation that might have to be enacted to cover the city’s rights-of-way.

Council passed an ordinance at its meeting Tuesday that dealt with the franchise fee, ensuring that the city will continue to receive the 5 percent franchise fee from the cable company. That fee is used for a number of functions, but key among them is the support of the operations of the city’s public access channels. Athens Law Director Garry Hunter said Tuesday it was necessary for Council to pass the ordinance. Under the state legislation, the city can continue to receive its franchise fee from its contract with Time Warner if it adopts an ordinance authorizing that funding up to the existing level. The contract had expired previously, and the discussions had stalled while both parties were awaiting the outcome of the Senate bill. —>

Highlighting the volunteers
Washington Post

This is a cool idea: “Travel Television,” the first half-hour show aired on Access Montgomery Channel 21 on Aug. 29, the second anniversary of the storm hitting Louisiana, and featured interviews with five local volunteers of organizations such as the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center and Common Cause. Randy Bacon, the director of Behrend Builders, a volunteer group that repairs shelters, low-income homes and community centers in the District, appeared on the premiere. Video footage of the volunteers attempting to clear dilapidated homes with mold-blackened walls and rooms cluttered with debris and tattered furniture was shown. —>

Central, West candidate debates to air on cable
by Stephanie Chelf
Eagle-Tribune (MA)

Candidates for the Central and West districts’ council seats will face off in two forums that will be aired on local cable television. The seven candidates vying in the Central District race and the five candidates in the West District race will tape separate, moderated forums next week at Methuen Community Television’s offices. The forums will start airing Friday, Sept. 7, and will be rerun up until the preliminary election Sept. 18.

Celebrating 20 years of WCTV
by Mac McEntire
Wilmington Advocate (MA)

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to produce or star in your own television show or be part of a professional television crew, here’s your chance. Wilmington Community Television (WCTV) has a week’s worth of special programs to give locals a look behind the scenes, for anyone considering becoming a member. WCTV has planned a variety of special events for the week of Sept. 10-13 to give residents a behind the scenes look at community television.

On Monday, WCTV will feature a special 20th anniversary program with a variety of special guests and a look at how WCTV has evolved. You can join everyone at the station to see first-hand how WCTV operates, take the opportunity to meet some of the local television show producers, and see highlights of some of its best programs that our volunteers and members have ever produced. The next night, Tuesday, Sept. 11, viewers will be treated to a fun night devoted to student-produced programs. These will feature highlights of students’ work from the summer video programs and after-school programs. There will also be a live program starring several Wilmington children. —>

Media Minutes: Friday September 7
Free Press

The Youth Media Council is working for media justice and making a difference. Executive Director Malkia Cyril talks about mediating the public conversation to create better public policy. And as American news organizations cut back on international coverage, Americans are increasingly unhappy with the quality of television news.

[ This looks interesting – a personalized selected view of the history of the cable industry. I’ve not read this yet – it’s possible that I may end up being appalled by its logic or style – so don’t assume any editorial endorsement due to its inclusion here. Given its apparent scope, however, it does seem worthy of attention. – rm ]

Alex Constantine’s Blacklist – Media Mafia: Cable Industry Corruption

Part One: 1972: The Cable Guy and the Bribe

Part Two: The Looting of Adelphia

Part Three: Introduction to CABLEVISION

Part Four: A “Natural Monopoly” and the Cost of Broadband Services

Shutting Down Big Downloaders
Comcast Cuts Internet Service to Bandwidth Hogs
by Kim Hart
Washington Post

The rapid growth of online videos, music and games has created a new Internet sin: using it too much. Comcast has punished some transgressors by cutting off their Internet service, arguing that excessive downloaders hog Internet capacity and slow down the network for other customers. The company declines to reveal its download limits.

“You have no way of knowing how much is too much,” said Sandra Spalletta of Rockville, whose Internet service was suspended in March after Comcast sent her a letter warning that she and her teenage son were using too much bandwidth. They cut back on downloads but were still disconnected. She said the company would not tell her how to monitor their bandwidth use in order to comply with the limits. —>

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

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

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