Community Media: Selected Clippings – 09/23/07

Public access unplugged
by Andy Grimm
Post-Tribune (IN)

Public access channels across Northwest Indiana may go dark later this month as local leaders look for a way to extend the 20-plus season run of local, low production-value programming.  For more than two decades, cable TV subscribers have had a slate of locally-produced shows that spanned the gamut from high-minded (town council meetings and local political commentary) to lowbrow (pop culture phenomena such as “Jackass”).

The programs were the result of franchise deals brokered between cable companies and local municipalities during the 1980s, when the companies needed to lay cable on public right-of-ways and cable competed with only TV antenna for viewers.

Those deals will largely be replaced by a new, statewide franchise agreement that does not require cable companies to provide any local content, nor to staff production studios. Comcast, the company that provides service to most of Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties, will shutter its public access studios Sept. 28.

When Comcast and other cable companies drop their public access programming next week, there’ll be no new episodes of “Behind the Star” with Porter County Sheriff David Lain, viewers’ source for crime-stopping tips, interviews with 4-H champions and, in once recent show, techniques for pet cardiopulmonary resuscitation.    —>,access.article

“CAT” Gets Another Life
Columbia Access Television has been given additional money to continue to function as a public access channel.

COLUMBIA – Imagine watching your favorite TV show and all of a sudden the screen goes black- off the air. That’s just what may happen to Columbia’s cable access channel.  The cameras and equipment are enough to give anyone a hunger for the limelight. At Stephens Hall, a room downstairs is starving for cash.

The city is trying to keep Columbia Access Television (CAT) on life-support with a bit more cash to spruce up the place.  “It was never intended to operate on a small amount of money,” CAT treasurer Stephen Hudnell said.  Right now, the station operates with a budget of $30,000 a year.

…That was before the city voted to give CAT $15,000 to keep going. In addition to the money, city leaders want area cable companies to give five percent of their profits to the city in order to help fund projects like CAT.  “It’s giving the citizens a place to go, to communicate with their local public,” Hudnell said.

It could give CAT a stake in tax revenues, which are expected to be nearly $300,000. That could mean a big boost to a hungry beast.  “We need to feed the CAT,” Thompson said.  The city council still has yet to decide how to distribute the cable franchise funds.

Stand Up for Local Media
by Namrata Kolachalam
The Oberlin Review

Traditional news sources are facing a growing crisis and their response has been nothing short of infuriating. Rather than adapting to shrinking newspaper circulations, the emergence of YouTube and soaring ratings of The Daily Show with innovation, it appears that the conglomerates would rather spend their money on stifling free speech. Their attitude seems to be, “Why fix a problem when you can simply eliminate the competition?” It’s a lesson they apparently learned from watching The Godfather.

Like the Corleone family, Big Media has been making congressmen an offer they can’t refuse and after millions of dollars in campaign contributions, Big Media has discovered just how easy it can be to buy the Bill of Rights.  This may sound dramatic, but let’s take a look at the media’s latest victims. Predictably, they are minorities, women and the poor, three groups with considerably less influence than, say, Rupert Murdoch.

While there are many sins attributable to Big Media, I would like to focus on a specific example that demonstrates the influence of corporations in limiting the democratization of news sources. About seven years ago, Congress enacted a proposal by the Federal Communications Commission entitled Low Power FM. LPFM was intended to provide non-commercial educational broadcasting capabilities to a community of individuals falling within 3.5 miles of the station — not a large broadcasting range by any standard. Significantly, newspapers and broadcast media were forbidden from buying a LPFM station, thus leaving their ownership in the hands of the general populous.  —>

About NLCTV | National League of Cities
Welcome to NLCTV, the National League of Cities’ internet-based TV channel with programming for and about cities and towns.

NLCTV, which was previously known at National City Network TV (NCNTV), provides live and taped web cast coverage of NLC events and other events important to cities and video programming on successful programs, lessons learned, and best practices being applied in cities.

Internet freedom must never be taken for granted
by Susan Crawford
Detroit Free Press

On Sept. 1, virtual cops started patrolling all 13 Internet portals in Beijing. The cute, doe-eyed animated figures salute smartly as they remind Chinese Internet users every 30 minutes that the Internet police “will maintain order in all online behaviors.”

Of course, it’s well-known that China has real Internet police, too. According to Reporters Without Borders, “China … spends an enormous amount on Internet surveillance equipment and hires armies of informants and cyber-police.” Zhao Hongzhi of the Beijing Public Security Bureau has been quoted as saying, “It is our duty to wipe out information that does public harm and disrupts social order.”

Online censorship is becoming more sophisticated around the world. The OpenNet Initiative (, a collaborative program run by research groups at Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge and the University of Toronto, is coming out with a book this fall, “Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering” (MIT Press), that will say at least 25 of 41 countries OpenNet tested are engaged in some form of Internet filtering. OpenNet found that “most countries in the Middle East and North Africa maintain control over what citizens can say and see online.”

The Internet has the power to change human lives and spur economic growth, but that power is threatened around the world. Why? Because the Internet threatens established industries of all kinds — governments, traditional telecommunications companies and traditional entertainment companies — and they are fighting back, using every tool they have.

That’s why I started OneWebDay, which was observed on Saturday. It seemed to me that we needed a global Earth Day for the Internet, to make sure that everyone understands the threats to our shared online future.   —>

OneWebDay, Sept. 22, is an Earth Day for the internet.

Here’s a very short overview video that will give you the idea (watch here) and a Rocketboom interview about OneWebDay (here). For recommendations about actions to take on OneWebDay, and electronic versions of all the logos and buttons we use, go to the action page. The first OneWebDay took place in 2006.

It’s easy to take the web for granted. But it’s worth taking a moment to reflect on what the web could mean to humankind in the future. That’s the purpose of OneWebDay, held each September 22.

Veterans Forum visits Auburn
Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)

The Route 9 Veterans Forum will hold a live show at 7 p.m. Friday at Auburn Town Hall. The show will be hosted by Dan Stacks. For more information, call Dan Stacks at (617) 727-2974 or send e-mail to  The show will be broadcast on the following cable access channels: South Grafton Public Access, Shrewsbury Government Television, Auburn Cable Access, Leicester Cable Access, Holden Community Television, Douglas Cable Access, Uxbridge Community Access, Ashburnham Community Access, Bolton Access Television, Spencer Cable Access, Whitinsville Cable Access, Pepperell Cable Access Channel 15, West Boylston Cable Access, Dudley Cable Access, Oxford Cable Access and Worcester Cable Access Channel 13.

Dog park could face problems from website voting
by Hannah Onoroski
Bedford Journal (NH)

—>   Last week’s meeting also included the BCTV update from Gene Mackie, BCTV board chairman, and station manager Bill Jennings. The two discussed the status of Bedford’s community access station, which currently operates as a “PEG” (public, education, and government) station. The news out of BCTV is good, with an increased budget meaning that the station is virtually “self-sustaining,” in the words of Mackie.

Jennings also spoke of the steps being taken in the Bedford School District, and described BCTV’s involvement.  “There’s a dynamic change going on,” Jennings said.  He went on to say that the station is providing the high school with older (though still functional and high-end) equipment as the station upgrades its own facilities.

The setup of the video lab at BHS is still a “work in progress,” according to Jennings, but he said that important strides have been taken. According to Jennings, BCTV has contributed about $75,000 to the new facilities at BHS’ video and media center. The ultimate goal is for the labs at the high school to mirror those at Bedford Community TV. Eventually, Bedford High will have the ability to broadcast live programs from the auditorium, gymnasium, and athletic fields. Comcast has the contract to do the wiring of the school, and Jennings gave a “conservative” estimate of about three months to get the school fully wired for broadcast. He added that he expects to have an infrastructure plan within the next 30 days.

Chairman Paul Roy congratulated Mackie and Jennings on the success of BCTV, commenting, “I’ve seen BCTV grow, and I’m impressed, and continue to be impressed.”

RTM Community Media Film Festival: Paper Tiger Reads Paper Tiger TV / Panel Discussion
Green October (WA)

Tuesday, October 23, 2007 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm – Reclaim the Media presents the Seattle premiere of Paper Tiger Reads Paper Tiger TV, presented by Paper Tiger co-founder DeeDee Halleck).

Paper Tiger Television (PTTV) has been creating fun, funky, hard-hitting, investigative, compelling and truly alternative media for 25 years, and its groundbreaking productions have influenced generations of media artists and activists around the world. Paper Tiger Reads Paper Tiger TV tells the story of how this NYC video collective has grown and evolved since 1981. It’s a jubilant mosaic of archival footage featuring interviews with media critics and historians as well as current and past Tigers.

followed by Waves of Change, a panel discussion on the future of community media broadcasting. Guests include DeeDee Halleck (Paper Tiger/Deep Dish TV), Jill Freidberg (Un Poquito de Tanta Verdad), Joaquin Uy (KBCS), Jeff Reifman (, Jonathan Lawson and Karen Toering (Reclaim the Media), and other community media practitioners, evangelists and pioneers. Event cosponsored by KBCS 91.3FM Community Radio and the Northwest Community Radio Network.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: government access, high school television, internet censorship, municipal programming, net neutrality

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