Community Media: Selected Clippings – 10/25/07

Prometheus on FCC
by Ernesto Aguilar
Rolas de Aztlan: KPFT/Pacifica/Media Notes

The Prometheus Radio Project would like to express its concern about recently announced plans for the FCC to vote on changing the protections against consolidation of media ownership.  We continue to oppose the weakening of these rules, which defend the public from unchecked corporate power in media. In the 2003 lawsuit, Prometheus vs. the FCC, decided by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, the court ordered the FCC to reconsider the ill-advised changes to those ownership rules that were passed by Chairman Michael Powell.

In the time line currently being proposed by Chairman Martin, we do not believe that the Commission will be able to circulate it’s conclusions based upon the comments submitted and fully address the demands of the remanded decision. We appreciate the opportunities for public comment. However, these public hearings have been announced to the public on extremely short notice and often held in the middle of a weekday. Reflective of whirlwind Washington DC scheduling, the scheduling of these hearings has not been considerate of the schedules of most working people, employed outside the world of media policy. Despite this significant inconvenienceif not hardshipthousands of citizens have made it out to show their displeasure with the direction that the FCC has taken in dismantling these important media ownership rules.

We also believe that the media ownership proceeding should not be resolved until the results of the localism task force are fully integrated into the ownership proposals at the FCC. A false split between ownership and localism was established in the structure of the proceeding, and that separation must be redressed in any final version of the rules.   —>

New Senate leader puts cable TV bill as priority
New Richmond News (WI)

The Wisconsin Senate’s new majority leader says he’ll push for the long-delayed bill that re-regulates the cable TV industry.  Russ Decker, D-Weston, was promoted Wednesday after his colleagues removed Judy Robson after just 10 months on the job.  Decker says he’ll call for a Senate vote soon on the bill that takes cable regulation away from local communities, and moves it all to Madison.

AT&T convinced the Assembly to pass the bill this spring, so it can compete with cable without having to go to each local government.  But the locals say consumer protections will be lost, along with at least some public access TV programming. Decker says he’ll seek an amendment to require Wisconsin-based workers to answer consumer complaints.   —>

AT&T loses bid for TV service
by Jeff Richgels
Capital Times (WI)

AT&T has been handed another defeat in its efforts to offer its U-verse TV service in Connecticut without a cable franchise — a situation with potential implications for other states, including Wisconsin.  A bill introduced in Wisconsin would provide for statewide cable franchising but has run into strong opposition. AT&T moved forward with U-verse in Milwaukee without a franchise, was sued for that move by the city, then made an interim agreement with the city pending outcome of the case or the franchising legislation.   —>

AT&T says no U-verse if license is necessary
by Brian Lockhart
Norwalk Advocate (CT)

HARTFORD – If AT&T must apply for a cable franchise for its fiber-optic U-verse, it would stop offering the television service in Connecticut, a company vice president said yesterday.  “It’s not a threat,” said John Emra, AT&T regional vice president of legislative affairs. “We will not enter the marketplace.”   —>,0,6193940.story?track=rss

Lawmakers favor competition in cable TV industry
by Ken Dixon
News-Times (CT)

HARTFORD — If a state court doesn’t back up AT&T’s effort to compete for Connecticut cable TV customers, leaders of the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee said Wednesday they plan a quick rewriting of a recent state law.  Rep. Steve Fontana, D-North Haven, and Sen. John Fonfara, D-Hartford, said during an afternoon news conference that the law, which took effect Oct. 1 and was intended to open the TV market for more competition, has been misinterpreted by the state Department of Public Utilities Control.

The redrafting of the deregulation statute could occur as soon as next week, as lawmakers have tentatively set Tuesday for a special session on the lingering stalemate over the long-term capital funding in the state bond package.  “It remains our position and policy in this state to encourage a competitive environment in the video services area,” said Fonfara, who shares co-chairmen duties on the committee with Fontana.

A DPUC spokeswoman said Wednesday the agency is aware of the importance of the issue but has to obey federal rules as well as state law that requires AT&T to obtain a state cable television license.  The DPUC ordered the company to suspend its U-verse customer recruitment campaign after 7,000 state residents signed up for its new television service.  There will be a state Superior Court hearing in Hartford on the issue Friday, during which Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s office will defend the DPUC’s decision that AT&T must apply for cable franchise approval.   —>

AT&T gets OK for Internet TV service
ICC action expected to bring lower rates
by Howard Wolinsky
Chicago Sun Times (IL)

The TV universe for Chicago area residents opened up a bit Wednesday as AT&T received a green light from the Illinois Commerce Commission to offer its Internet-based TV service, with promises of lower rates and new kinds of service for consumers starting next year.  The Commerce Commission certified AT&T as having the financial resources and technical know-how to deliver Internet Protocol TV, under the U-verse brand, which delivers traditional TV channels for movies and sports as well as interactive services.   —>,CST-FIN-att25.article

Reader Views: Should AT&T be able to receive a statewide video franchise?

Should AT&T be allowed to rewrite Tennessee law? No.  Here’s one reason, based on legislation AT&T offered this year, legislation in other states and reports from other states: Many Tennessee cities and towns have at least one public, educational or governmental (PEG) access channel. There are thousands of PEG channels across America. Very nearly every version of AT&T legislation offered or passed in other states does violence to those channels.   —>

Public Access TV Comes to Fresno – But Only if YOU Act Now
by Mike Rhodes
Central Valley | Indymedia (CA)

You and I have a rare opportunity to alter the media landscape in Fresno and Clovis. If you are tired of the options corporate America gives you on your television, it is time to stop complaining and to do something about it. In the next month or two a decision will be made that will affect local TV for decades to come.

Here is what is at stake. Fresno and Clovis city council members will decide whether or not to accept money from Comcast to fund Public, Education, and Government (PEG) access channels. The money, over $500,000 a year, is there for the asking. The funding is a part of a state franchise agreement which will be accepted by most other communities in California that have cable. But, neither Fresno or Clovis have passed the necessary ordinance to accept the funds. Time is running out.

If Fresno and Clovis elected officials are encouraged by enough residents (that would be YOU) to accept the funding, here is what will happen. A Community Media Center (CMC) will be established that will serve as the hub for producing and broadcasting locally originated programing. The CMC will have a studio, cameras, digital editing equipment, and a staff that can provide training. All of this will be provided to the community by Comcast as a part of the franchise agreement.   —>

Get Your Hands Off the Web
Interference in Web content by AT&T and Verizon shows that more regulation is needed
by Stephen H. Wildstrom
Business Week

A bit over a year ago, I wrote a column arguing that innovation on the Internet would be best served if the government mostly kept its hands off. I’ve changed my mind. The behavior of the top telecommunications companies, especially Verizon Communications (VZ) and AT&T (T), has convinced me that more government involvement is needed to keep communications free of corporate interference.

The incident that swayed me was a decision in September by Verizon Wireless, majority owned by Verizon Communications, to block Naral Pro-Choice America from using its system to send text-message alerts to supporters. Verizon, which had cited a policy barring distribution of content that “may be seen as controversial or unsavory,” quickly backed down after a public outcry. But, a spokesperson says, Verizon “reserves the right to deny other programs in the future.”

Verizon has that right under current law. It may not interfere with voice messages, but “common carrier” requirements do not apply to any form of text or data transmission. They should.   —>

First Conference of the World Association of Community Broadcasters for Africa (Middle East and North Africa) just ended in Rabat
UNESCO Communications & Information Resources

The first World Association of Community Broadcasters (AMARC Africa) Conference was held on 22 to 24 October 2007 in Rabat, Morocco, jointly organized with the UNESCO Office in Rabat, the UNESCO Chair in Public and Community Communication, and with the support of the Ministry of Communication of Morocco and Maroc Telecom.

This conference entitled, “Community Radio in Africa-Middle East and North Africa: Sharing Experiences for development and democracy building from the grassroots” gathered community radio stakeholders and offered an opportunity for more than a hundred broadcasters from the two regions to improve their skills, to increase the social impact of community radio where it exists, and to develop an appropriate environment for community radio in countries where this is not yet established, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

The conference reflected on how AMARC can most effectively increase the impact of community radio in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as how to transfer African experience in this field to the MENA region in order to strengthen community media as an important factor for democracy building.  The participants reviewed the situation of community radio in their respective countries and discussed the contribution of community radio towards key issues such as the democratization of societies, the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the resolution of the conflict situations.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, community radio, democracy, FCC, internet censorship, IPTV, media diversity, media ownership, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, U-Verse, video franchising

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