Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/05/07

AT&T gets to write its own telecom rules
by State Senator Kathleen Vinehout
The Tomah Journal (WI)

A man from Eau Claire called this week. He was suspicious by a post card that came in the mail. “AT&T wants me to ask my senator for competition in cable. Don’t they really want something else?” He was looking for direction.  Here is what’s behind the stories being spun.

When you write the rules, you win the game. This week in the Senate, the fight will be over the rules governing the delivery of cable TV, internet, and telephone services for the foreseeable future. What kind of companies will get to compete? What rights will consumers have? Will local government have a say? At stake are billions of dollars.  The battle is over “video franchising,” a bill that would change the way cable and video companies operate. According to news stories, the bill was written under the supervision of AT&T attorneys in Washington, D.C., and has been introduced in numerous other states across the country.

What are some of the rules that AT&T wants?

* No meaningful community input.
* Minimal standards for quality.
* No future provisions for community access television.
* Loopholes to avoid serving low income and rural communities.
* Fewer consumer protections.
* No provisions for service to schools or other public buildings.

The bill as written, gives AT&T the power to do just about anything is wants, without consequences or the public having a say. This is the “competition” AT&T advertises on television and in direct mail across the state.

…This week I will offer the Illinois model as a substitute amendment on the floor of the Senate. We need the same political determination in Wisconsin. And we need to put protections into law because cable companies and AT&T cannot be trusted.

Lobbyists for AT&T told me that they want to continue to offer “charity” and provide service to public places like fire and police departments and schools but they don’t want the requirement in law. In Michigan, however, when providing public cable services became optional, the cables were cut to police departments, fire stations and local government. And there was no recourse.  That is why who writes the rules makes a difference.

Editorial: Headlong into the murk of media
The Seattle Times

The Federal Communications Commission must slow down. Nothing good can come from squeezing major changes to the laws that govern media ownership by year’s end.  FCC Chairman Kevin Martin wants a vote on media-ownership rules by Dec. 18. Never mind that the FCC has not held its required sixth and final hearing on media ownership. That hearing is now scheduled for Seattle on Nov. 9.

Expect the hearing to be a rushed affair. An FCC hearing to explore how broadcasters are serving communities was announced at the same time as the Seattle media-ownership hearing. The broadcaster — or localism — hearing was finalized the night of Oct. 24, giving the public only five business days to prepare. The localism hearing was not only degraded by its timing, but also by its venue. The hearing was tagged onto the end of a regularly scheduled FCC meeting on Halloween.

There is no logical reason for Martin to be in such a hurry other than to work something out for the sale of media conglomerate Tribune to Chicago developer Sam Zell. Zell wants the deal to go through by the end of the year. He also wants the deal to include Tribune’s television stations, many of which operate in the same cities as its newspapers.   —>

Copps, A Liberal Voice On The FCC, Knows How To Get His Message Out
by Jim Puzzanghera
Los Angeles Times

His dark suits. His wing-tipped shoes. The nearly four decades he’s toiled in the nation’s capital, including the last six years on the Federal Communications Commission.  Everything about Michael J. Copps screams bureaucrat — until he opens his mouth.  Copps, a Democrat whose crusade against media consolidation has helped make him Hollywood’s public-policy enemy No. 1, is more proselytizer than pencil pusher.

The public airwaves, he says, are filled with “too much baloney passed off as news.” The Republican-led FCC is so lax that “unless you’re a child abuser or a wife beater, it’s a slam-dunk” to renew a TV station license. “Our country is paying a dreadful cost for this quarter-century fling with government abdication and media irresponsibility,” he said this year.

Copps’ ability to distill the complexities of media ownership into plain English and fire up crowds like a revivalist preacher helped derail an industry push in 2003 to loosen restrictions on owning broadcast stations.  Now, as the FCC prepares to tackle the volatile issue again, with Chairman Kevin J. Martin proposing a vote on new rules by the end of the year, the 67-year-old former history professor is reemerging as a hero to the firebrands fighting media consolidation.  In a city where officials speak in bland pronouncements, blurring their message with acronyms and jargon, Copps stands out like high-definition TV.   —>,1,6721866.story?coll=la-headlines-business-enter&ctrack=1&cset=true

Ignoring Cantwell and Inslee, FCC rushes to conclude nationwide ownership debate in Seattle
FCC to Conclude Nationwide Public Debate on Media Ownership in Seattle
Chairman ignores request from Cantwell/Inslee, provides just five business days’ notice
by Jonathan Lawson
Reclaim the Media

On Friday afternoon, Chairman Kevin Martin of the Federal Communications Commission announced that the FCC will hold the last of six official hearings on media ownership on November 9, at Seattle’s Town Hall. The hearing, announced just five business days in advance despite a request from Senator Cantwell and Congressman Inslee to give at least four weeks’ notice, will be the only chance for Northwest residents to weigh in on proposed changes that would dramatically alter both national and local media landscapes. A significant proposed change would allow one media company to consolidate a town or city’s newspaper, TV and radio station under single ownership, and single editorial control.

“It’s appalling that the FCC would schedule a hearing of such importance with so little public notice,” said Jonathan Lawson, Executive Director of Reclaim the Media. “The FCC needs to hear from rural people, Native Americans, immigrants, working people and others who often get sidelined both in the media and in public debates on the media. Unfortunately, Martin’s disrespectful timing says to these same communities, ‘we don’t care what you think about the media.'”   —>

The full Commission comes to Seattle
by Geov

The “Commission,” in this case, is the Federal Communications Commission, and if this sounds familiar, it’s because it is.  Twice before — on March 7, 2003, and just last year, on November 30, 2006 — hundreds of area residents jammed auditoriums to testify overwhelmingly in opposition to a Republican-dominated FCC’s attempts to further weaken ownership limits on broadcast television and radio properties. In each case, the crowds testified only before the two Democratic commissioners; the three-person Republican majority was MIA.

But those crowds were broadly representative of a national movement for media democracy that in only a few years stymied former FCC Chair Michael Powell’s deregulation bid, preserved net neutrality, and stopped a telecommunications lobby “reform bill” widely expected to pass the Republican Congress in 2006. In last year’s hearing, local testifiers against deregulation spanned an unlikely ideological range, from Reclaim the Media’s Jonathan Lawson to Seattle Times owner Frank Blethen, from KVI Radio host John Carlson to UW President Mark Emmert.

This time, FCC Chair Kevin Martin, architect of the latest (big) industry deregulation scheme, is bringing the whole Commission to town to “prove” to them that Seattle really doesn’t care all that much about this arcane stuff. Which is why, despite the entreaties of local Congresspeople (who wanted four weeks), he has given exactly five business days’ notice for this unprecedented local hearing. The hearing was announced late in the day Friday, November 2, timed for the least-read and -viewed news time of the week. The hearing itself will also be on a Friday night, from 4-11 PM November 9 at Town Hall, 8th & Seneca near downtown Seattle.   —>

Urban LPFM Soon?
by Ernesto Aguilar
Rolas de Aztlan: KPFT/Pacifica/Media Notes

Here’s the take from the Prometheus Radio Project. The issues is an interesting one. Though doubtful for a full Senate vote soon, the idea of LPFM in major cities captures the imagination. The impact of such things on the signal of KPFT and other stations, as well, is intriguing. Current protections ensure broadcasters’ spectrum on the dial gets minimal interference; LPFMs, most note, will interfere with stations in some cases. However, for now, it’s a fascinating dialogue, for sure.   —>

Comcast contract still bogged down
by Jason Graziadei
Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror (MA)

Comcast, the national cable television and internet service giant, has rebuffed nearly all of the town’s demands in the ongoing negotiations for a renewed television contract.  Nantucket’s 10-year contract with Comcast expired in March, and the town accepted an offer to continue its current service until a new contract is agreed upon.  The Cable Television Advisory Committee (CTAC) has spent the last two years attempting to solicit public input regarding cable service and has continued to review a draft of the proposed new contract from Comcast.

The committee’s requests for a 5 percent surcharge to fund public access stations, a senior citizen discount, to maintain the on-island Comcast office as well as an extension of areas where the cable service is available, have all been removed from the most recent contract proposal from Comcast.  “They’re really not negotiating,” CTAC chairman Gene Mahon said at Tuesday’s committee meeting. “They’ve basically said ‘no’ for no reason.”   —>

ACI recognizes outstanding firms with VIVA Awards
New Mexico Business Weekly

The Association of Commerce and Industry of New Mexico honored six organizations this year during its VIVA Award ceremonies.  VIVA stands for vision, investment, vitality and action. The awards recognize New Mexico businesses that demonstrate a unique vision or corporate philosophy, as well as investment in their employees and communities.

… Edit House Productions LLC also received kudos for its growth from a home-based business to an enterprise with anticipated revenues of $1 million this year. The company operates Rio Rancho’s two public access television stations and creates an open, family environment that offers “just a little more” to customers, according to ACI.

Lecture to Explore Community-Based Media In People’s Movement in Oaxaca, Mexico
Allegheny College (PA)

Assistant Professor of Communication Arts River Branch will present a public lecture titled “From Protest to Movement: Community-Based Media in Oaxaca, Mexico.”  On June 14, 2006, at 4:00 in the morning, roughly 2,500 armed troops entered the Zocalo, the heart of Oaxaca City. For several hours, police drove the protestors, a peaceful group of unarmed teachers, from the square. Late in the morning, the teachers fought back and reoccupied the Zocalo. Today the city remains in turmoil.  “Deaths, disappearances, detentions and on-going acts of state-sanctioned violence mark Oaxaca’s struggle,” said Branch. “What shifted the events of June 14, 2006 from being one of the many crimes for which the people charge Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz into the spark for a popular people’s movement?”

Branch will explore the pivotal role played by community-based media within the people’s movement of Oaxaca. She argues that community-based media provided the essential vehicle for organizing, inspiring and informing the people of Oaxaca.  “Recognizing this, the state targeted and continues to target the individuals working within and the mechanisms of the community-based media network of Oaxaca — brutally beating and killing journalists and photographers and destroying community radio stations,” said Branch. “A vibrant, courageous and creative stand marks the people’s response.”

Branch will show footage she shot during the summer of 2007 in Oaxaca and discuss the expanding definitions and practices of community-based media as they develop in concert with the people’s movement of Oaxaca.   —>

The Fast Lane and the Dirt Path: Corporate Media, Democracy and the FCC
by Paul Schmelzer
Minnesota Monitor

[Audio ]

In “Rich Media, Poor Democracy,” communications scholar Bob McChesney wrote about how democracy tends to be the first casualty in the collision of big media and big money. As keynote speaker at the Nov. 3 Citizen Media Forum put on by Twin Cities Media Alliance, he continued the theme in a discussion about “journalism’s freefall” and the challenges and triumphs of the fledgling media reform movement, which has grown exponentially since he founded its top advocacy group, Free Press, in 2002. One of the biggest feathers in the movement’s cap is the massive public campaign in 2003 that stalled the Federal Communications Commission’s attempt to relax media ownership rules. Another is the halting of attempts to ban “network neutrality,” the policy that ensures all web users, regardless of wealth or influence, get equal access.

But both of these successes are again facing threats. Under new chair Kevin Martin, the FCC is scrambling to relax longstanding rules governing media consolidation. It announced, with only one week’s notice, that the final public hearing on media ownership will be held in Seattle this Friday, Nov. 9. By year’s end, the Commission may change the provision that prevents the same company from owning both a TV station and newspaper in the same town. And net neutrality remains under fire, thanks to the telecommunications and cable industries that want to replace an equal-access Internet with a two-tiered scheme that McChesney calls a “fast lane” and a “dirt path.”

On Saturday, he spent a few minutes discussing these important policy crises and their impact on democracy.   —>

Habermas blows off question about the Internet and the Public Sphere
by Howard Rheingold
Smart Mobs

I recently asked Jurgen Habermas in a public forum what his current opinion is about the state of the public sphere, now that the broadcast era has been supplanted by the many-to-many media that enable so many people to use the Internet as a means of political expression. He blew off the question without explanation, and a little further investigation into the very sparse pronouncements he has made in this regard has led me to understand that he simply does not understand the Internet. His ideas about the relationship between public opinion and democracy and the role of communication media, and the commodification and manipulation of political opinion via public relations, are still vitally important.

But I think it’s important now to build new theories and not simply to rely on Habermas, who is signalling his ignorance of the meaning of the changes in the infosphere that have taken place in recent decades. He did his part in his time, but the ideal public sphere he described — a bourgeois public sphere dominated by broadcast media — should not be taken as the model for the formation of public opinion in 21st century democracies. Some background on my interest in this subject and Habermas’ personal opinion follows. And then I’ll briefly describe my recent encounter with the man himself.

When I wrote The Virtual Community in 1992, the most important question to me was whether or not the advent of many-to-many communication via the Internet would lead to stronger or weaker democracies, more or less personal liberty, which led me to the work of Jurgen Habermas on what he called “the public sphere.” —>

Ethnic social networking sites
by Qilan Zhao
Masters of Media – University of Amsterdam

It is no longer a matter of signing up for a social networking account, but rather choosing one from the existing social networking sites. Major social networking sites such as Facebook or Myspace have secured their position in the market. But according to the online competitive intelligence service, Hitwise, two ethnic social networking sites, (ranked 4) and (ranked 19) made up the list of top 20 Social Networking sites from January to February 2007. Ethnicity forms a solid basis on which niche online communities may thrive. For this matter I want to look at three ethnic social networks,, and with the following questions in mind:

– How do ethnic social networking sites contribute to an imagined community?
– What is the value-added of these ethnic social networking sites?

The emergence of niche social networking sites may arise from our need to build a community with people we do not personally know, but who we feel affiliated with, or as Benedict Anderson articulates:

it (the nation) is imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion… In fact, all communities larger than primordial villages of face-to-face contact (and perhaps even these) are imagined (Anderson 1991).    —>

Can American blogging beat fascist trends?
by Subroto Roy
Indian & Pakastani Friends of Ron Paul

Ms Naomi Wolf has given a persuasive argument in The Guardian and elsewhere, including her new book and on the radio, to suggest the USA has been headed in a fascist direction. And of course whatever America does today, at least some other countries will follow tomorrow. About ten years ago, I gave a public lecture on “Transparency and Economic Policy”, which now appears at my main blog and is republished here. I think Ms Wolf’s analysis is excellent but unduly pessimistic for reasons I had outlined in that lecture. What we have seen since then too is the growth of blogging itself — and that is an antidote to fascism and totalitarianism.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, citizen journalism, citizen media, community media, community radio, democracy, FCC, low power FM, LPFM, media diversity, media ownership, media reform, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, social media, user-generated content, 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: