Community Media: Selected Clippings – 10/09/07

Posted for comment: September 10, 2007
Comments due: November 9, 2007
Send comments to: or by fax to 301-837-0319

Draft Plan pdf

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is seeking public comment on its draft Plan for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016. This draft plan outlines our planned strategies to digitize and make more accessible the historic holdings from the National Archives of the United States.

The document is divided into several sections. The first section, INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND, provides information on NARA’s mission, our archival holdings, and our past experience with digitization, to give you the context of the draft Plan for Digitizing Archival Materials for Public Access, 2007-2016. Section II, PLAN OVERVIEW, describes our planned goals, activities, and priorities for digitization. Sections III through V provide listings of current digitization activities being carried out by NARA and through partnerships to digitize and make available archival materials.

Appendix A contains draft operating principles that we are using as we enter into partnerships and Appendix B references relevant NARA guidance that applies to handling of archival materials being digitized and the technical guidelines for image creation and description. We particularly invite your comments on Sections II, III, V, and Appendix A.
Connecticut franchise battle continues

The attorney general in Connecticut is not backing down in his quest to make sure AT&T’s U-verse is subject to the same requirements as cable TV operations. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s latest volley is a public request that AT&T’s franchise application be rejected, which seems counterintuitive on its face. Blumenthal fought to make AT&T obtain a franchise license from the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control in August. The PUC was all about letting AT&T slide, but a federal judge suggested otherwise.

The PUC later denied Blumenthal’s petition to make AT&T get a franchise license, but it appears that the resurrected Bell did so anyway, because Blumenthal issued statement urging its denial. “This new application by AT&T seems to accept that they must seek a franchise, but makes a sham of meeting the franchise requirements,” he said. Blumenthal wants AT&T to have build-out requirements typical of cable franchise agreements. —>
Verizon seeks exemption from pro-competition rules
by Matthew G. Feher
Massachusetts Municipal Association

Verizon Communications, which repeatedly claims that barriers to competition in Massachusetts limit its ability to provide cable services here, is petitioning the Federal Communications Commission to exempt it from rules designed to encourage competition in the telecommunications market. Verizon has asked the FCC for an exemption from requirements that it lease network access to competitors at reduced rates, pursuant to the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Verizon is using a little-known provision of the Telecommunications Act – known as a “forbearance” – that allows a provider to seek relief from its obligations to competitors. Verizon is petitioning for the exemption in six major Eastern U.S. markets, including the Boston metropolitan service area. “There’s a tremendous amount of competitive choice in Boston in particular,” Verizon’s Vice President and Associate General Counsel Edward Shakin told the Boston Globe recently when asked to justify the petition.

Incumbent phone companies such as Verizon, however, control more than 75 percent of the market, and several independent government authorities (including the FCC, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Government Accountability Office) have found that Verizon continues to exert preemptive market power, especially in the business market.

Qwest Communications was recently granted a similar forbearance from loop and transport requirements in part of the Omaha, Neb., region. In granting the forbearance, the FCC said it expected the company to voluntarily keep the market open to competition by continuing to allow access to necessary parts of its system. Instead, Qwest has effectively shut down the market, and its largest competitor has announced plans to exit the Omaha region.

At a recent FCC oversight hearing conducted by the U.S. House Telecommunications Subcommittee, Chair Ed Markey of Massachusetts said, “The effect of granting these [forbearance] petitions would be to usurp congressionally enacted statutes in a sweeping manner. I have great concerns about the effect on competition and consumers that these petitions pose.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley shares these concerns. “The ‘market forces’ alleged are not sufficient to protect the interests of consumers,” she said. The Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications and Cable added, “Verizon fails to show that any of its competitors have established a sufficient level of facilities-based competition in any of the wire centers of the Boston [region].” The city of Boston filed its opposition to Verizon’s petition with the FCC last month.

Others opposing Verizon’s request include the city governments of New York City and Philadelphia as well as numerous state consumer and public service agencies in Connecticut, Delaware, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates also opposes the move by Verizon.

[ These are just the concluding ‘graphs of Isenberg’s comments at NATOA last week. Follow the link to read his comments in full. – rm ]

My NATOA Talk on Network Neutrality
by David S. Isenberg
Isen Blog

Last Friday morning I was part of a panel on Network Neutrality at the annual NATOA conference. NATOA is the “National Association of Telecommunications Operators and Administrators.” Its members are mostly municipal employees who operate their town government’s telephone systems, Internet systems and information systems. My fellow panelists were Josh Silver, co-founder of Free Press, and Matt Wenger, President of The Americas for Packetfront. The panel was ably moderated by Ken Fellman, Mayor of Arvada, Colorado and long-time telecom activist…. I was the first speaker. Here’s what I prepared for Opening Remarks:

… Now we’re just beginning to see these unregulated, undisciplined, uncompetitive monoliths abandon all public duty. They decide which organizations can and can’t put messages on their networks. They arbitrarily block access to competing services. They reserve the right to terminate service if they decide — in their sole discretion — that our use of their facilities “is objectionable for any reason, …”, or if it, “damages their reputation,” or even if we post “off topic messages” to newsgroups. They’ve announced plans to police the Internet for copyright materials, and they will decide — in their sole discretion — what to do about them. They’ve announced plans to create fast-lane services for Web sites they decide — in their sole discretion — that they like, and regular Internet service for the rest of us.

Our use of the Internet should be at **our** discretion, not **theirs**. The NATOA board correctly advocates restoring the law against such behavior.

But Caution! Telephone companies have a long history of manipulating the law for their purposes. My friend Bruce Kushnick wrote a book called The 200 Billion Dollar Broadband Scandal where he documents how telcos have gotten tax breaks and rate relief in return for promises of improved services that they don’t keep. For example, they got at least $11B for promising that every customer in New Jersey would have 45 MBit symmetrical service by now. Today **no** household in New Jersey has 45 MBit service, but they kept the money.

Other scandals are brewing — for example, AT&T promised [.pdf] to offer DSL for $10 a month in its agreement to acquire Bell South, but you can’t find their $10 DSL offer anywhere. Are they going to recind the AT&T-BellSouth merger as a result?

Finally, I remind you that the Bells systematically gutted each pro-competitive position even though the 1996 Act established that competition was the Law of the Land.

So I’m not optimistic that a law that simply mandates Net Neutrality will survive the depredations of the monoliths to actually BRING us Network Neutrality. I think we’ll need to restore their sense of public duty too, and I’m not quite sure how to do that.

Entrepreneur Aims to Overthrow TV, Not Get Rich
by Bryan Gardiner

Most software entrepreneurs’ ambition is to sell out for a huge wad of cash, or maybe go public for an even bigger pile. Not so Nicholas Reville: He wants to overthrow the television industry, and he doesn’t care if he gets rich. In fact, as executive director and co-founder of the Participatory Culture Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Reville is unlikely to make much money at all.

Reville oversees the PCF’s core project: a free, open-source video player called Miro. Formerly known as Democracy Player, Miro is a desktop video application that lets you search and view videos. It uses RSS, BitTorrent and media-player technologies. But the PCF’s ambitions go far beyond making and distributing a popular internet video platform. Ultimately, the foundation’s goal is to promote and build an entirely new, open mass medium of online television.

“We see TV as moving online in a lot of ways,” Reville explains. “There’s a chance to make it really open, or there’s a chance that companies are going to build proprietary systems and try to lock in users to creators. We think that video RSS is a really good way of making it a level playing field, so our goal is to push the video industry in the direction of openness — towards using open standards.” —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: archive, archiving, cable vs telco, Internet TV, net neutrality, U-Verse, video franchising

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