Community Media: Selected Clippings – 10/21/07

At stake: diverse media and open government
by Michael R. Fancher
Editorial: Seattle Times

Wake up, people!

No, this isn’t a commercial for the new diet soft drink with ginseng and extra caffeine. It’s a call to pay close attention to what’s happening in the nexus of government and media. Important developments are afoot at the federal, state and local levels. Nationally, the hot news last week was the head of the Federal Communications Commission again trying to fast-track new rules allowing greater concentration of media ownership. This is a big deal, with potential local ramifications.   —>

How are You Plugged In?
The courts may determine whether you can get Internet-based TV
by Robert Miller
News Times (CT)

—>   Despite all the claims and counter-claims, all sides in the dispute, AT&T, the cable companies, the DPUC, and Blumenthal insist they all want more competition in the cable market in Connecticut.  “We welcome competition,” said Cianelli. “We just think there should be the same rules for everyone. There shouldn’t be a two-tiered system.”

And Blumenthal said if AT&T means what it has said that it wants to expand throughout the state, that it will offer the same community-access programming that cable must offer then the sides in the dispute are not that far apart.

“I’ll reach out to them and see if we can find a solution,” Blumenthal said. “We want them to provide this service to the people of Connecticut. We need this service.”

AT&T Ruling Could Hinder National U-Verse
Company heads to court to thwart disastrous DPUC ruling
by Mary Johnson
Hartford Business Journal (CT)

For AT&T, the future isn’t just in phones. The company is making a massive bet that it will be the dominant player in providing consumers video service over the Internet.  But blocking the way is Connecticut, which last week transformed from a state of opportunity into the biggest danger to AT&T’s national rollout strategy. Suddenly, the telecom company’s goal of reaching 18 million households by the end of 2008 may have turned into a pipedream.

“There could be a precedent set here in Connecticut,” said Brad Mondschein, a lawyer for Pullman & Comley in Hartford and president of the Connecticut Internet Service Providers Association. “My assumption is that [the competition in other states] is paying attention up here.”

AT&T has staked hundreds of millions of dollars on becoming the only national provider of Internet-delivered commercial video. Its product is called U-Verse, bringing an alternative to cable TV to thousands of households so far. U-verse currently serves about 7,000 customers in Connecticut with the potential to serve up to 150,000. The product will be available to 8 million households nationally by the end of this year, AT&T estimates.

Yet AT&T’s strategy is also to make sure it doesn’t have to compete by the same rules as cable companies. Doing so would force it to provide service to areas it deems uneconomical. That strategy has worked in 19 states so far where U-verse has been introduced. But that plan got torn up last week by the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control.   —>

Phone TV Conflict Blurry
Officials Try To Defend Choice By Denying it
by Mark Peters
Hartford Courant (CT)

TV viewers might find it difficult to choose a side in the fight over cable competition in Connecticut.  Should they choose the side of government officials who say they are representing consumers by encouraging TV-service competition as long as everyone in the state can benefit?

That position effectively eliminated a choice between AT&T’s new U-verse service and cable TV for as many as 150,000 consumers last week in areas where U-verse was going to become available. Regulators told AT&T it had to stop expanding U-verse and apply for a franchise.

Or should consumers take AT&T’s side? Starting 10 months ago, the telephone giant began giving some consumers a competitive option to the decades-old monopoly of local cable TV franchises. U-verse delivers television programming over telephone lines.

But AT&T is beholden first and foremost to shareholders, which is part of the reason the company doesn’t want to be required to offer TV service to every home in its franchise area.

The legal, technical and business arguments about the new service can be perplexing for consumers. The confusion was evident last Thursday as union workers for AT&T rallied in downtown Hartford to support their employer’s position in the battle. A few commuters waiting nearby for their evening bus were trying to figure out what the protesters were shouting about.   —>,0,1821171.story

POLITICAL PLAY of the WEEK: at least “Citizen Journalists” are paying attention to this election!
by Citizen Stringer
BlogaBarbara (CA)

I never quite liked the phrase “citizen journalist” or maybe even “citizen stringer” although it is accurate to distinguish from an “undocumented alien” journalist or stringer.  The Play this time is by all the volunteer journalists and analysts who are covering this city council election and actually interviewing the city council candidates…

During this election season, several local venues are actually interviewing the city council candidates and getting the candidates’ message out (for good or bad) via some free media coverage. Listed below are a few of these Political Players of the Week, none of whom are paid for their efforts but for their obvious love of Santa Barbara. We all should thank and toast them with a glass of Pelligrino or Prosperity Red…

4. The Ernie Salomon Show (Santa Barbara Channels, TV channel 17 several times weekly). In his minimalist style with fake bookcases behind his solitary chair, the emphatic Ernie Salomon can fill up an hour with his usually substantive rants and raves even when he has not been interviewing two candidates per week. Always one to pontificate about street sweeping and discounted Canadian drug prices, Salomon said he has been doing a show on channel 17 for nine years. Except for how he feels about Mayor Blum in his loyal jabs at her, Salomon keeps his personal preferences a mystery during his interviews with the candidates.

5. Off Leash Public Affairs (Santa Barbara Channels, TV channel 17 at irregular times). In this public access cable show, local activists David Pritchett and Cathy Murrillo have put together two hour-long TV shows called “Chewing on the Candidates” where they ask the same, and now somewhat cliché, questions of each candidate. They should have asked more questions instead of offering their personal opinions in their “analysis” of them, but that is how it goes on channel 17 (i.e., anything goes except obscenity).

6. Touring with the Candidates (Santa Barbara Channels, TV channel 21 twice a day at various times). Larry Nimmer offers another installment in his now classic election show where each candidate gets a set amount of time to go anywhere and say anything, no matter how stupid for either. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, professional videographer Nimmer keeps his interviewing to a minimum and instead lets the candidates do the talking and exposing of their nipples.

7. Candidate Video Program (Santa Barbara Channels, TV channel 21 twice a day and on the City web site). The City’s half-assed answer to election reform and public funding of campaigns, this video production cost the City no money and hardly any staff time because the public access TV station did all the work for free. Each candidate gets his or her three minutes of fame in a statement before the camera. They were recorded on video early in the campaign season, and it shows for some. Candidates Brian Barnwell looked like he got out of bed an hour earlier, frank Frank Hotchkiss the trained actor was quite the smooth talker no matter how nutty his lines were, while Michelle Giddens read her cue cards stiffly but scored a few points for some of her pitch in rudimentary Spanish.   —>

No clear signal on Grand Chute meeting broadcasts
Panel members say Town Board must weigh the options
by Ed Lowe
Post-Crescent (WI)

A study panel appears poised to recommend that the Town Board approve some means to broadcast its meetings to the public, but won’t recommend any particular option.  The final report of the board’s advisory Communications Committee will instead include information on various technologies and relative costs, said town Supv. Jeff Nooyen, chairman of the advisory body.

“As far as the webcasting or cable casting (issue), the consensus is that it will be up to the board to decide which (option) and what level of expense,” Nooyen said.  Town resident panel member Carol Diehl said the decision to invest in new services can’t be divorced from fiscal realities.

“It’s not our decision to make because this has to be part of the town’s overall strategic plan,” she said Friday. “Do you hire additional police officers and firefighters, or (provide) communications for the public? We can only make the recommendation that they keep the community informed.”

Nooyen said the broadcasting question is further complicated by the prospect of a state telecommunications bill that could end local cable franchise requirements to provide public-access channels.   —>

This Buck Doesn’t Stop
How Hyper-Chatty Wallingford Public-Access Host Became YouTube Sensation
by Joann Klinmkiewicz
The Hartford Courant (CT)

He is like a living, breathing can of caffeine-carbonated Red Bull, this Michael Buckley character. Only he swears he never touches the stuff. And he swears it’s not a character.  “This is all me. It’s me to an extreme, but it’s me,” Buckley says in his trademark rapid-fire manner, punctuating every few words with a jittery laugh. He wears a blazer and tie over a tattered pair of jeans and sneakers. His gelled hair stands in straight, spiky points. And a geek-chic pair of green Dolce & Gabbana glasses frames his sweet but smirky face.

Yes, this is all Michael Buckley. And through the far-reaching lens of the popular video-sharing website, the Connecticut native has parlayed being his own irreverent, fast-talking, pop-culture-obsessed self into a second – if entirely accidental – career.

The man who just last year had never even heard of YouTube is now among the website’s video darlings, drawing a cult following around the world for his cutting, oh-my-God-did-he-really-say-that? video diatribes on the week’s pop-culture happenings. The clips – just minutes long and tagged at the screen’s bottom with his catchphrase “What the Buck?!” – regularly land him top spots on rankings of the site’s most-viewed videos and most-subscribed-to comedians.

Now, not even a year after his young cousin threw a few of his videos online just for kicks, Buckley is finding himself in demand on the big(ger) screen. After appearances on DirectTV and Leeza Gibbons’ syndicated radio show, the 32-year-old has in the past month won himself a regular guest spot on Fox News Channel’s weekly gossip show “Lips & Ears.” Earlier this month, he sat in as a pop-culture pundit for the channel’s entertainment news program “RedEye” – an appearance that yielded Fox a raft of favorable viewer e-mail and will likely lead to more.

And to think it all began with his very homegrown videos – grown literally in his hometown of Wallingford, where he still shoots his weekly segments in the dim storefront studio of the local public access station, WPAA.   —>,0,2286081,full.story

Friends argue sports on cable TV
by Robert Bell
News & Record (NC)

GREENSBORO – Click. News. Nah. Click. More news. Click. “The Jeffersons.” Click. “Nancy Grace.” No thanks. Click. “Law & Order.”  Click. More “Law & Order.” No and no.  Click … Click … Click … Hold it. Is that “SportsCenter”? What is Stuart Scott talking about?

“Did you see the Patriots beat up on Dallas? DID YOU SEE THEM?” says Scott, his voice rising above the others on the set. “There is no WD-40 on the shelves of Massachusetts this week because the Patriots are a well-oiled machine.”

And who are those guys sitting next to him? Scott’s remarks elicit genuine outrage from one of them, who puts one screaming match on hold to begin another with Scott.  “YOU WANT TO CROWN THEM? GO AHEAD AND CROWN THEM!” he shouts, doing his best imitation of former Arizona Cardinals coach Dennis Green.  Scott and the other man are in each other’s face, eyes bulging as they trade verbal barbs.

Wait a minute. This guy isn’t Stuart Scott. Where are the pretentious glasses? The catch phrases? And what’s that other guy doing? Is he drinking a beer? Come to think of it, that doesn’t look like a snazzy studio set. It looks more like … is that a family room?

What is this?

The would-be Stuart Scott turns out to be a 29-year-old mail clerk at UNCG named Chris Lennon. He sits back on his stool and starts waving a Michigan T-shirt while the host, who’s sitting in a Jeff Gordon chair with a Miller Genuine Draft between his legs, turns to the camera and flashes a smile.

What is this?

It’s public-access cable television. More specifically, it’s “Talking Sports” and it’s coming to you — tape-delayed! — on Channel 8, Guilford County’s public-access station on Time Warner Cable.  “Thank goodness it’s public-access,” said Leon Lennon, Chris’ older brother and the show’s producer and host, “because regular television couldn’t handle us. We’re not some show you’d see on ESPN. We’re the real thing.”

“Talking Sports” is 29 minutes of real, unscripted chaos. It’s five friends who call themselves The Committee and get together every Monday night to talk sports.  The charm of “Talking Sports” is that it bears no resemblance to “SportsCenter” or any of the polished sports recap or talk shows that fill the airwaves with slick haircuts and even slicker suits.  At times, “Talking Sports” is so awful it’s beautiful. Opinions are passionate and delivered at fevered pitches. Everyone has one and shares it — often at the same time.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, citizen journalism, election programming, FCC, government access, IPTV, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, U-Verse, video franchising

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: