Community Media: Selected Clippings – 09/25/07

Sixth Annual Women’s Studies Student Conference
“Media Justice and Feminist Futures”
November 29-30, 2007, University at Albany

This event will highlight the use of media for feminist social justice and critical studies of women and gender. We especially encourage analyses that intersect gender with sexuality, race, class, and (trans)nationality.  We invite college and university students and community activists to submit proposals for papers, film, music, art, live performance, and other creative and critical works

… Please send 200-word abstracts describing your project to no later than Friday, October 19, 2007. Abstracts describing film and live performances should indicate the project’s running time (Image or digital files of media projects may also be submitted as e-mail attachments or through a URL if presented on the web).

Manatee officials annoyed by government broadcasts move up the dial
Bright House plans to put broadcasts in pricier tier
Herald Tribune (FL)
by Frank Gluck

MANATEE COUNTY — Changes to local cable programming are so routine that they often go unnoticed.  But a decision by Manatee’s largest cable provider, Bright House Networks, to move government meeting broadcasts beyond the reach of many basic subscribers has government officials and some of the company’s 85,000 local customers crying foul.  County commissioners will decide today whether they want to file a federal lawsuit against Bright House to block the changes, set to begin Dec. 11.   —>

[ This next one is reprinted in full.  Please follow the link to add to their page view totals  – rm ]

Are public access TV channels on the way out here?
by John Herbert
Hernando Today (FL)

Whenever we have an opportunity to grab something for “only” about one dollar a month, our anticipated reaction to most bargain-basement offers is usually to say, “yes, please.”  Bright House, the county’s TV cable carrier, is apparently counting on that very reaction. It presented plans for program realignment at a meeting of county commissioners a few days ago. Several public service channels are to be moved from basic channels to a low-tier digital network.

The “magic box” for those of us previously content with about 80 normal channels would be just around three cents a day or a dollar a month if we want to continue with public service on digital TV. Sounds sympathetic enough.  Wait a minute, though — everything seems to be going up at least a dollar a month: a quart of milk, insurance premiums, rent, a gallon of gas, a pound of beef, a loaf of bread, and so on. Put it all together, and we’ve all got an additional $25-$50 in monthly operating costs to budget.

One commissioner, Diane Rowden, fingered the immediate problem with the new digital TV system. Many of us don’t have digital and would need to add the one-dollar-a-month box to go on seeing commission and school board meetings, plus educational programming, on TV.    We don’t have a choice, either. There is no competing cable company serving Hernando County. Satellite TV won’t help; it doesn’t carry the public service channels that thus far are the preserve of cable TV.

We’re both forced to accept changes we haven’t asked for, and to pay for channels we never bother watching. That’s not surprising, actually; programmers display stunning big-business muscles.  Viacom, for example, runs CBS, MTV, CMT and Comedy Central, most of which we watch, at least occasionally. But, to get them, we also have to pay for Viacom’s VH1 and TV Land. Who views the latter two — unless, maybe, you’re in the mood for a 1960’s sitcom?

Commissioners have previously said that Hernando County doesn’t provide an appealing number to potential subscribers to draw competitors. The commission had to twist arms, they claimed, even to get a long-term deal from Bright House.  Maybe, but Bright House’s current 40,000 subscriber-numbers must be interesting to someone. After all, there is a small town in southeastern Massachusetts whose local electric company turns a neat little profit with just 5,000 cable TV subscribers.

A dollar a month may seem harmless enough to many. But to other cable subscribers on fixed retirement income, it’ll be a squeeze. Commissioner Rowden was referring to them when she voiced her fear that Bright House’s latest move would remove many of us from the information loop.

And then the other shoe will drop, in 2009. In Washington, the Feds plan to order all old-style analogue TV broadcasts over to supposedly superior and sharper digital systems sometime in the spring of 2009.  Millions of Americans, like me, with non-digital TV sets or with traditional rabbit-ear antennas will be left out to lunch unless they get digital converter boxes, this time for upwards of $50 a month, or even updated TVs for $400 or so each.  Not only will it hurt in the wallet; many of us have that old-fashioned philosophy, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Rowden posed a fascinating question, even if an answer wouldn’t really settle our pain in the pocketbook: Why can’t Bright House just wait and make all the changes in 2009?

Here’s why: Public service channels don’t attract many viewers; they’re not ESPN or ABC. The cable companies understand and hope they’ll eventually be rid of all their costly public channel commitments like rebuilding roads and relocating street lights when they bury their lines. What better way than to make public service less accessible and more expensive to the average viewer?

County reviews ‘Reverse 911’
by Scott Nicholson
The Watuaga Democrat (NC)

—>   Charter Communications will have its collections records audited as part of its franchise agreement with the county. The commissioners approved an agreement with Telecommunications Consulting Associates of Waynesville, which will conduct the audit on a speculative basis and split the amount of any collected underpayments with the county. The company predicts revenues of between $10,000 and $12,000 total, and the commissioners noted that Charter had been found underpaying during all previous audits.

Cable franchise fees distributed by the state were down about 35 percent last year, when the state took on the role of approving franchise agreements with cable companies.

ON TV: Show will feature first selectman candidates
The Ridgefield Press (CT)

The two candidates to lead Ridgefield for the next four years, Democratic First Selectman Rudy Marconi and his Republican challenger, Scott Mason, are scheduled to appear together on a cable television show Thursday.   “A Conversation With the Candidates” will be on Comcast Cable’s public access channel 23 from 9 to 10 Thursday night, Sept. 27.  Viewers will be able to call in questions.     —>

Video of the Day: NYC TV Online
Gothamist (NY)

New York’s municipal cable channel NYC TV is making its shows available on demand for online viewers. This could be the biggest workplace timewaster ever invented, because we love shows like “Secrets of New York,” “Cool in Your Code,” and “$9.99.”   …Now if only the city could start posting videos of Mayoral addresses, city press conferences, and City Council meetings . . .

“Perils for Pedestrians” public access TV show
Sprawled Out

An expansion on yesterday’s post about children losing the ability to walk to school from John Z. Wetmore of the Perils for Pedestrians website:

For a look at last year’s Walk to School Day in Delaware, see my tv series this week.  Here’s the info:
Tuesday, September 25, The Universityhouse Channel will show Episode 128 of “Perils For Pedestrians”.
Contents of Episode 128 (2007):

–We attend Walk to School Day in Delaware.
–We learn about Starkville in Motion in Starkville, Mississippi.
–We look at pedestrian safety at a highway interchange in Raleigh, North Carolina.
–We visit Broadway in Saratoga Springs, New York.

DISH Network Channel 9411 — The Universityhouse Channel , Tuesday, 9:30 PM Eastern
Episode 128 is also available on Google Video
(Note:  Public access cable channels are showing different episodes than DISH Network.)   —>

AT&T jumps into TV competition
10-year franchise would pit firm against Time Warner
by Betty Lin-Fisher
Beacon Journal (OH)

On the first day it was allowed under a new state law, AT&T Ohio applied for a 10-year statewide franchise to expand its video services in competition with cable television.   —>

AT&T applies for video permit
Company seeks state approval of franchise
by Jon Van
Chicago Tribune (IL)

Although still a few months away from offering competitive video service in Illinois, AT&T on Monday applied to the state for a video franchise under a law enacted in June.  The application to the Illinois Commerce Commission should result in a permit granted to the phone company by the end of October to offer its U-verse video service here. Paul La Schiazza, the president of AT&T Illinois, said he expects to start offering the service in some communities early next year.   —>,0,7515998.story

Ellen Hume speaks on New England’s Ethnic Media Landscape
MIT Center for Future Civic Media  (MA)

Last week, Ellen Hume spoke to the MIT Center for Future Civic Media about her latest project, NEWz, a site for New England ethnic news. The website offers a sampling of the best news stories published in a week in over 100 ethnic publications across New England. NEWz is the only portal offering a snapshot of the diverse ethnic media landscape in the Greater Boston area. Hume’s real enthusiasm for the project stems from its threefold mandate. Beyond serving as an online platform for ethnic media, NEWz aims to be a forum for dialogue across ethnic boundaries, as well as a training resource for those who contribute to their migrant community’s press.

Hume’s project is ambitious; she wants NEWz to maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date ethnic media database that includes records of both hyperlocal newsletters as well as larger publications with circulation figures in the thousands. In its attempt to amplify voices that are otherwise not heard in the mainstream media, the project is relevant and timely. Still, Hume’s conversation with the faculty, staff and students of the center focused on the challenges of developing a product that effectively fosters participation and engagement while serving the needs of the communities it targets.   —>

Media Center is looking for local heroes
Palo Alto Online (CA)

The Midpeninsula Community Media Center in Palo Alto is looking for nominees for its Local Heroes Awards program, which began last year.  Last year’s winners told their stories in interviews that were aired over local cable channels.  The center is looking for nominees who have contributed “over and above” to the community, overcame a significant hardship or achieved an important goal, are somewhat unsung or usually not in the limelight and who have a compelling story to tell.

Nominations may be sent to the media center by e-mailing Information should include your name and contact information, the name and contact information of the person you are nominating and a brief description of why the person is being nominated.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, election programming, media diversity, media justice, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, U-Verse, video franchising

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