Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/20/07

Countrywide protests against media curbs (Pakistan)
Dawn – The Internet Edition

KARACHI –  Police on Tuesday baton-charged journalists protesting against media curbs and arrested over 100 demonstrators when they tried to march towards the Governor’s House from the Karachi Press Club.  Hundreds of policemen deployed outside the press club sealed all link roads and used batons to stop journalists from taking out a procession. About six media personnel were injured.   —>

Media can transform a country (Rwanda)
by Joseph Quesnel
Winnipeg Sun

KIGALI, Rwanda — News media has the potential to transform this country and the evidence is on the ground.  Recently, I attended an organizational meeting for a newspaper called Ibanga. In the local Kinyarwanda language, the name means “secret.”  The choice of title was not intended to convey some sort of subversive meaning. The idea is to publish the “secrets of success” for grassroots initiatives. Usually, the paper profiles some successful business idea or highlights a promising local project.

The newspaper is quite well-publicized and typifies the growth of community journalism in Rwanda as a way to promote peaceful relations within the community. The project calls itself “news for peace” and many of the reporters involved with it are local students affiliated with the National University of Rwanda in Butare.

The project has received guidance from journalism students affiliated with the School of Journalism at Carleton University. What is encouraging about the project is the grassroots publication is subject to what appears to be professional standards of accuracy, objectivity and balance.  This is very interesting as the media in Rwanda has been justifiably criticized for inciting hatred among the Hutu militias during the genocide. Carleton University professor Allan Thompson compiled an entire book documenting the prominent role of the media in encouraging genocide among the masses.

Instead, these reporters intend to use the media to promote peace.  While this project is cause for celebration, it should not always be considered the norm. Journalists in Rwanda still face challenges in practising their craft, although this should be considered in perspective.   —>

As consumer anger heats up, legislators consider steps to increase competition
by Heather Stanek
Fon Du Lac Reporter (WI)

These days, cable TV not only airs drama, it creates it.  Television has become a hot topic in recent months, especially among consumers who’ve had it with their bills.  It has drawn so much attention that Wisconsin legislators are considering a bill aimed at creating more competition. If approved, providers of programming would need franchise agreements with the state, rather than individual communities. Under current law, providers must adopt an agreement and pay fees to local governments.

Fond du Lac City Attorney Jim Flader said the bill has bounced around Madison several times. It passed the Assembly, but the Senate tweaked it so companies would pay $2,000 per year instead of a one-time fee of $2,000.  He said the Assembly may consider it again in mid-December. Gov. Jim Doyle probably won’t consider it until late December or early January.

But will the bill really reduce prices or improve the industry? Those questions have programming providers and public officials speculating.  To uncover the facts, myths and as yet unknowns about cable TV prices and practices, The Reporter spoke to representatives of Charter Communications, market newcomer AT&T and Flader.   —>

Highland Park homeowners bristle at bulky AT&T utility boxes
Residents bristle at AT&T utility boxes
by Susan Kuczka
Chicago Tribune (IL)

In a North Shore town known for promoting a “green” approach to city services, the recent appearance of bulky AT&T utility boxes near the manicured lawns of pricey homes has some Highland Park residents seeing red.  Homeowners recently complained to city officials that the 5-foot-tall metal cabinets, which contain the fiber optics necessary for AT&T to enter the television market, are eyesores that have not only ruined the view from their living room windows but also could hurt their property values.  “We’ve received several complaints from residents who don’t like the size or the look of the boxes,” said Patrick Brennan, Highland Park’s assistant city manager.

Although Highland Park is one of the first communities in the area to receive the new equipment, an AT&T spokesman said the utility has plans to install them throughout the area in the wake of a new Illinois law that gives AT&T statewide franchising rights. The new rules allow the company to install the “Project Lightspeed” utility containers without seeking permission from individual municipalities.   —>,1,655556.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

LUS Franchise Goes to Council Vote
by John St. Julien
Lafayette Pro Fiber (LA)

LUS’ cable franchise agreement is on the agenda to be approved this evening during the 4:30 LPUA meeting before the regular council meeting.  Now this little story doesn’t rate so much as a mention in local media since various tempest in a teapot issues are distracting us from this more fundamentally important issue…  If you poke around a bit and use Google you can actually find the text of the agreement on the council website. (The links in the agenda document do not work…a common problem, I have found. Someone needs to show the folks uploading them how to redirect the links.)

It makes for interesting reading. Well, ok, maybe not really interesting reading. But it makes interesting points. For instance here’s my top ten (in no particular order):

1) No Censorship. LCG denies itself the right to censor any content that flows over the LUS system   —>
2) Yearly Surveys. Consolidated government reserves the right to do yearly surveys of LUS’ telecommunications.   —>
3) In the Public Interest   —>
4) Updating the Agreement   —>
5) Privacy   —>
6) Universal Service   —>
7) Public Service   —>
8) PEG Channels (aka AOC)   —>
9) AOC support   —>
10) 21st Century Public Access   —>

All in all not a bad document. Not the document of my dreams however. That one would have had glorious clauses pushing a real digital divide program, extended public obligations, funding for a commons portal and a 21st century version of AOC. Sigh. Still, I have to say not a bad document. Just not worthy of the full vision I think most of Lafayette shares.

Indian Shores urges cable company to hold off on conversion
by Bob MacPherson
Beach Beacon (FL)

The Town of Indian Shores is among other barrier island cities concerned that citizens will lose access to TV programs dealing with local issues.  The Town Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution Nov. 13 supporting fellow Pinellas County municipalities opposed to Bright House Networks’ proposed relocation of government access channels to the lowest digital tier of service.

Town officials said that change, which will move local Channel 15 up into the digital tier, will negatively impact residents’ access to important information on local channels particularly during an emergency – information not readily available on commercial channels.   —>

Cable channel switch coming
by Michael D. Bates
Hernando Today (FL)

BROOKSVILLE – In three weeks, Bright House Network customers will have to be more creative with their remote control to find their government access channels.  On Dec. 11, the company is relocating channels 14, 19 and 20 from the easily-found lower basic tier to the upper digital channel tier, where some people may have trouble finding them.  Also, customers whose television isn’t digital-ready will have to pay $1-a-month for a converter box to receive the channels.

County commissioners have joined their counterparts in the Tampa Bay area to protest the move, which they believe will restrict residents’ access to government meetings and create a budgetary hardship.  They directed their legal staff to fire off a letter to Bright House expressing that concern and asking the company to do its civic duty in leaving the channels where they are.  So far, Bright House has not changed its mind.  But that hasn’t stopped the county from trying.   —>

Elmwood to pay TCTV2 bill after all
by Alan Campbell
Leelanau Enterprise (MI)

With the future of a public access television channel serving northwest Michigan in the balance, the Elmwood Board Tuesday voted to pay a $7,600 bill representing a six-month commitment by the township to help pay for operations.  The board voted 4-3 at its October meeting to withhold payment of the bill to help run TCTV2, on which township meetings are broadcast. Questions have been raised about the future viability of the public access channel, and the content of programs submitted by Traverse City area residents for broadcast on Channel 2.

But the board voted 7-0 Tuesday to pay the bill amid reports from members who had voted the opposite way a month earlier that they support the channel.  “I’ve decided I like it,” said treasurer Debbie Street. “But I do have some questions…”   —>

Lobbying costs hit $11M in AT&T, cable TV industry battle
by Tom Humphrey (TN)

NASHVILLE – Lobbying expenses in Tennessee’s legislative war between AT&T and the cable television industry reached the $11 million plateau this year, according to reports filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission by major participants.  The reports, required under an ethics law passed by the Legislature last year, mark the first time that lobbyist employers have had to publicly disclose their expenditures for a full year. Two reports were required for 2007, the last due on Nov. 15.

AT&T, which pushed legislation that would have allowed the company to obtain a statewide franchise to operate cable television, reported spending between $3.45 million and $3.55 million in its effort during the two reporting periods combined.  Between $600,000 and $700,000 of that total came in direct payments to the 26 lobbyists registered for AT&T. The rest went for advertising and mailings that urged Tennesseans to contact their legislators and urge them to vote for the bill.

TV4US, which bills itself as a consumer advocacy group seeking more competition in the cable television industry and a supporter of the AT&T bill, reported spending between $1.6 million and $1.7 million – almost all for advertising. AT&T is listed among several organizations sponsoring TV4US on the group’s Web site,  Thus, total spending by the major supporters of the bill in the 2007 legislative session was between $5.05 million and $5.25 million. The measure failed, but AT&T Tennessee President Gregg Morton says the telecommunications giant will renew its push in the 2008 session.

Spending on the opposing side was somewhat higher.  The Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association reported spending between $5.5 million and $5.6 million in the two reports combined. That included $400,000-$500,000 in compensation to lobbyists, with most of the rest going to cable television advertising.  The association also operates a Web site devoted to the issue at  Comcast Cable Inc. filed separate reports showing between $175,000 and $350,000 in expenditures – most in direct payments to lobbyists.   —>

KOCT wins award
North County Times (CA)

OCEANSIDE — KOCT-TV producer Russell Ferguson recently attended a conference in Ventura to accept an award for KOCT programming. The 2007 Western Access Video Excellence Award was presented at the Alliance for Community Media Western States Region Conference.  The award was presented to KCOT for “Climate TV #2,” a program for young teens that shows their peers enjoying fun and positive after-school activities. “Climate TV #2” won first place in the category of Programs for Youth/Pro.

Another KOCT program, “Living Legacies featuring Paul Tanner,” produced jointly by Ted Smit and Tom Morrow and hosted by Tom Morrow, was named as a finalist in the Programs by or for Seniors/Pro category.  WAVE Awards recognize the work of community access volunteers and professionals in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico.

Winooski documentary is first place winner
Burlington Free Press (VT)

The locally-produced video, “Winooski: City of Reinvention” is the first place winner in the Documentary Profile category at the 10th annual Alliance for Community Media-Northeast Region Video Fest.  Jess Wilson, director of CCTV Productions at the Center for Media & Democracy, wrote, edited and photographed the project.  “I grew up in Vermont, lived in Winooski for several years, and have always felt a connection to that community,” Wilson said.

The video was funded through the city of Winooski and tells the story of downtown Winooski from the days of the Abenaki Indians and Ira Allen through Vermont Vermont’s largest downtown revitalization.  An awards ceremony took place in White Plains, N.Y. last weekend.  To watch the video online, go to

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, democracy, free speech, freedom of the press, government access, human rights, municipal programming, PEG access TV, Project Lightspeed, public access television, video franchising

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