Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/15/07

Russ Decker’s fumbling attempts to get his priorities straight
by Emily Mills (WI)

I read with some interest Russ Decker’s (D-Schofield) recent interview with The Daily Page for their “Comp Time With…” series. Decker recently took over for Judy Robson upon her deposal from the top spot amongst Senate Democrats as Majority Leader. His first action once in the position? Pushing through the so-called Video Competition Bill, a contentious piece of legislation that proponents claim will bring Wisconsin consumer’s greater cable competition and better rates, and that opponents say will destroy consumer protections, cut funding for public access and hurt access for people in more rural parts of the state.

So it was with particular interest that I read the following point-blank statement made by Decker in the interview. When asked “Why has the video franchise bill become a priority?” his response was simple: “The video franchise bill is not a priority for me.” Wait, what? Hadn’t I just been reading, in multiple sources, about Decker’s desire to make said bill his “first priority” once in as the Majority Leader? Or was my memory failing me? I started to dig around. —>

Let the competition begin-new cable provider coming to VP
by Lawerence W. Synett
Villa Park Review (IL)

With newly enacted state legislation, Villa Park and other Illinois municipalities will now have AT&T and other cable and video providers competing for residents’ business. Villa Park took a step forward at Monday night’s village board meeting by letting the competition begin between AT&T and Comcast after considering three ordinances that would allow AT&T to begin laying groundwork for offering village residents its services. “Eventually we will have AT&T competing with Comcast,” said Villa Park Village Manager Bob Niemann. “This is a statewide thing where they are trying to even the playing field.”

… The second proposed ordinance would allow the village to impose a 5-percent fee on gross sales of cable or video service, plus a 1-percent public, educational and governmental fee. This would not replace any fees contained in current franchise agreements, and the ordinance would further define what is to be included or excluded under the definition of gross sales. Niemann stated that the 5-percent fee and 1-percent fee coincide with the fees Comcast currently pays the village.

… One concern raised by the trustees and village president was whether or not AT&T, once established in the village, would offer a public access channel that would air such things as village board meetings and other happenings taking place in Villa Park. Currently, stated Niemann, AT&T is not planning on offering a public access channel. Comcast currently uses Channel 6 as Villa Park’s public access station. “We will just have to wait and see,” said Villa Park Village Attorney David Freeman. “I believe that we will be able to discuss that issue further with them.” —>

Chamber discusses video franchise bill
by John B. Carpenter
The Herald-News (TN)

The Dayton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors stopped short of a formal endorsement of video franchising reform legislation Monday but generally expressed approval for AT&T’s bid for a statewide franchise to provide TV programming over its existing network of telephone lines. —>

AT&T wins over Hamilton County
by Andrew Eder (TN)

In advance of the next legislative session, AT&T representatives have been working hard to convince local governments across Tennessee that its statewide video-services franchising proposal won’t mean fewer fees and less control for cities and counties. Consider Hamilton County convinced. The mayor says his concerns have been “cleared up,” and the county commission is ready to consider a resolution in support of the bill, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. —>

C.A.T. critics finally getting what they want?
by Richard S. Drake
Arkansas Times

While people can’t really say that they can be surprised if C.A.T. and the Government Channel take some sort of hit in the current financial crisis hitting the city of Fayetteville, the proposed $70,000 cut is an amount that some see as a potentially crippling blow to one of the most successful programs the city of Fayetteville has ever supported.

From the Northwest Arkansas Times:

“The proposal also includes $ 70, 000 in cuts labeled “ departmental reorganization” for the Cable Administration and Long Range Planning. Becker, after the meeting, would not explain those cuts and deferred to Gary Dumas, director of operations. When asked whether reorganization meant that people will be fired, Dumas only repeated `a memo will be released Friday.’ “

Both Community Access Television and the Government Channel have helped to make Fayetteville’s electorate one of the most informed in the state – as well as giving them an ability to speak out on local issues. Both channels have made the mayor’s office less than happy over the years. Many of those critical of Dan Coody have used C.A.T. to discuss his policies.

Odd that the “memo” that will be released Friday will come the day after the November Telecomm Board meeting, when such a “departmental reorganization” should be discussed publicly. So much for respect – not only for process, but for the people of Fayetteville. —>

Miro 1.0: For Those Who Want Not Just Free Video, But To Set Video Free
by Serdar Yegulalp
Information Week

Open-source video application Miro released its 1.0 version yesterday for Windows, Mac and Linux, but its creators don’t think of it as just another me-too media player. They want it to be something a little more … well, revolutionary. Miro is actually the new name for a project once called “Democracy Player”, a combination of video player application, feed aggregator, download manager and a number of other things in one package. I suspect the most immediately appealing features will be things that allow people to better access things they already know about, like the ability to download and save videos posted to YouTube orGoogle (NSDQ: GOOG) Video.

But the real purpose of Miro, according to its creators, the Participatory Culture Foundation, is to allow people to obtain video in an open, convenient and DRM-free way. “Miro is designed to eliminate gatekeepers,” says the PCF in one of its mission statements about Miro, currently posted to the front page of the PCF website. (Recent InformationWeek contributor Cory Doctorow is himself on the board of directors for the PCF.) It’s a portal, so to speak, to the worlds of user-created video content out there that are distributed without copy protection or restrictive licensing. —>

Herkimer County legislators’ panel may change public-comment rules
by Bryon Ackerman
Utica Observer-Dispatch (NY)

The Herkimer County Legislature’s Administration/Veterans Affairs Committee is now considering either eliminating or changing the public comment period at county legislature meetings. This new consideration is in addition to deciding whether or not to continue video-recording the meetings. Decisions about both possible changes were tabled Wednesday during a committee meeting and will be addressed during a future committee meeting, which hasn’t been scheduled yet, legislature Chairman Leonard Hendrix said.

… After concerns were raised about the county’s legal responsibility to store recordings of meetings broadcast on public access television by Herkimer County Community College, Hendrix decided to stop the recordings until a decision was made about what to do. Issues were also raised with legislature candidates using the 30-minute, public-comment period at the beginning of meetings as a way to campaign, so the rules of the comment period are being reviewed, Hendrix said. Possible changes discussed during the committee meeting included:

* Eliminating the comment period.
* Banning candidates from speaking.
* Requiring presubmitted forms about topics to be discussed or changing how long each speaker can talk.

“We may tweak the rules on the public comment period depending on what everybody wants to do,” Hendrix said. Committee members decided to table the decision to allow time to further review possibilities and talk to HCCC about how recordings would be stored. The county has been contacting other counties to see how they handle both issues. Herkimer County officials contacted all counties in the state about recording the meetings, county Administrator James Wallace said. So far, 24 counties responded. Seven record their meetings, the other 17 don’t.

Recorded broadcasts of the legislature meetings are popular, Hendrix said. “The public loves it,” he said. “A lot of people watch it.” —>

Obama Joins Technology Innovation Debate
by Art Brodsky
Public Knowledge

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama today doubled the number of candidates aiming not only for support in the Internet and technology community, but also for anyone else interested in maintaining a free and open Internet. Far out front, until now, was former Sen. John Edwards.

The Edwards campaign for months has been talking about Net Neutrality and telecom policy. The campaign has a fairly comprehensive platform built around the concept of “open media” that talks about issues such as keeping the Internet open and allowing interoperability for wireless devices. Even more impressive, he sent a letter to the FCC in May as part of the proceeding to decide on rules for auctioning spectrum now held by TV stations, endorsing concepts raised by public interest groups, including PK, for ways to allow more entrepreneurs to have access to valuable spectrum.

Given the importance of the Internet to presidential campaigns, as well as to society as a whole, it was somewhat mystifying that Edwards was the only one to stake out a position. Granted, it’s not the war or health insurance and it’s a given that the policy issues can be dense, but it would be nice for candidates to recognize that there are serious disagreements that would call for new policies.

So it was nice to see Obama join the club with a nine-page paper on “Connecting and Empowering All Americans Through Technology and Innovation.” He certainly hits all the high points, starting with a pledge to “Protect the Openness of the Internet.” —>

Rudy Giuliani’s ties to Fox News
by Alex Koppelman and Erin Renzas

—>   The Time Warner lawsuit: In 1994, according to the New York Times, Giuliani prepared a speech for a reception honoring Ailes in which he wrote, “Roger has played an important role in my own career.” In 1996, Giuliani had an opportunity to repay the favor. Fox News was launching, with Ailes at the helm, and Time Warner, which provided cable service to 12 million homes nationwide, had decided it would not carry Fox News. Time Warner was the dominant cable operator in New York City, meaning that not only would 1.1 million city homes not get Fox, but the fledgling network would go unseen by media powerbrokers in the nation’s media capital.

Three days after Murdoch learned of Time Warner’s decision, a call from Ailes to Giuliani set in motion a series of unprecedented moves in favor of a cable network by the Giuliani administration. As calls and meetings continued between Fox and city officials, including Giuliani, the Giuliani administration reportedly threatened Time Warner executives with the loss of their cable franchise if the cable provider didn’t accept a deal in which the city would give up one of its own government channels so Fox News could take the slot. (Some 30 other cable networks had tried and failed to win channel space on Time Warner.) When Time Warner refused to take the deal, the city announced that it would go ahead with the plan anyway and force the cable provider to carry Fox News. A legal battle ensued.

Ultimately, the two warring parties made peace and Fox won carriage, but not before a judge and an appeals panel both ruled against the city’s plan. In granting Time Warner a temporary injunction, a federal district court judge issued a harsh rebuke to the Giuliani administration, saying the city had repeatedly shifted the legal justifications for its stand, indicating that “the City does not believe its own positions.” The judge further wrote, “The City’s purpose in acting to compel Time Warner to give Fox one of its commercial channels was to reward a friend… The very fact that the City chose Fox News out of all other news programs — not to mention the significant number of other programs which have been denied space on Time Warner’s commercial network — is by itself substantial evidence that the City chose Fox News based on its content.”   —>

Community Memory, or what Craig’s List looked like in 1974
by Michael Stevenson
Masters of Media – U. of Amsterdam

Notions of ‘virtual community’ and ‘virtual reality’ have been put to rest by locative aspects of the Web in recent years – from flickr maps to Facebook, from questions of legal jurisdiction to problems of national censorship. As much as we may have wanted to enter cyberspace, we now find ourselves clearly back in the here and now. But this move makes it easy to forget that virtual reality itself had to evolve out of previous ‘futures’ of digital media. One of these was the Community Memory (CM) project held in Berkeley and San Francisco in the early 1970s: —>

UGC Is Not Dead
by Allison
Next Great Thing

We’ve been hearing over and over from industry professionals that “User-generated content is over.” Josh Fesler of Crackle, Sony’s video venture, said those exact words in OMMA magazine. Mania TV is no longer including any user-generated content (UGC) with its professional productions. As of it’s relaunch last month, it wiped out the 3,000 user videos. At the OMMA conference in September, Eileen Naughton, Director of Media Platforms at Google, said that while “a lot of the content out there is very amusing,” Google see “premium” content providers as much more valuable.

To make such statements is to miss the core value of user-generated content: the user. Anywhere there is UGC, there is an engaged, passionate community around it. Abolishing UGC like Mania TV did is just going to abolish this community. It makes them feel uninvolved, and they lose their investment in the site. Youth have grownup watching themselves on screen–from ballet recitals to graduation. They will continue to make videos, which will only improve in quality. The key is to combine both UGC and professional content because each add value. It’s the 80/20 rule. So even though Mania TV found that 80 percent of its viewers had been gravitating to the professional-based content, that 20 percent of passionate users who upload video are essential to the site. Check out Yahoo’s Passionistas study for some good stats.

Those who say that UGC is dead also fail to distinguish between the different types of UGC out there. It’s not all teen karaoke sessions. They should check out the high quality “user-generated” content on networks like and College Humor. The content on these sites are like the public access shows of the web and are gaining audiences and advertisers. UGC—yes, but very much alive.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable vs telco, government access, Internet TV, media reform, municipal programming, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, user-generated content, video franchising

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