Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/21/07

Teen’s Tragic Death Recounted on Los Gatos TV
Eye Q, The Eric Quesada Story on KCAT TV-15
by Alastair Dallas
Los Gatos Observer (CA)

KCAT TV-15 will broadcast Eye Q, The Story of Eric Quesada on Wed., Nov. 21 at 8:00 p.m.  Los Gatos High School student Eric Quesada was killed in an alcohol-related accident Thanksgiving weekend in 2002. This powerful film was created by Eric’s close friend Andrew Quillin and other Los Gatos High students, in conjunction with EMQ Children and Family Services. Eye Q delivers an emotional message to teens about the potential consequences of unwise decisions…

At 8:30, following Eye Q, KCAT will air “Alcohol and Drugs: Effect on the Adolescent Brain,” a fascinating and lively talk by Ralph Cantor, the Tobacco, Alcohol, Drug and Violence Prevention Coordinator for the Alameda County Office of Education. KCAT produced this program in conjunction with the Teen And Family Counseling Center. Mr. Cantor is an inspiring and entertaining speaker who provides important information for teens and parents.

KCAT TV-15 is the community access television station serving Los Gatos, Monte Sereno and the Lexington Hills communities including Redwood Estates, Chemeketa Park and Aldercroft Heights. KCAT is seen on Comcast cable channel 15.


Supporting youth programing is a very important aspect of our mission. Over the last several years, the station has seen a growth in the number of students that are taking advantage of the television opportunities offered here at WYOU. From grade schoolers to college grads, from short films to live shows, the sheer numbers of students and programming that have come through our studios is a testament to the service that cable access offers the community.  See a sampling of this Youth TV every Wednesday at 3:30 pm right here on cable channel 4.

Towns Take Different Approaches To Government TV
by Tim Wood
Cape Cod Chronicle (MA)

Seated in front of a bank of television monitors in a basement room at the Chatham Town Offices, Danni Krash manipulates a joystick that controls a ceiling-mounted camera in the adjacent meeting room.  He jabs a button that switches the master shot to a different camera, all the while calling out instructions to his assistant, Bill Darmon.

“OK, lose the date,” Krash says as Darmon, sitting at a nearby computer, hits a few keystrokes that fades out the date displayed beneath the picture.  “Let’s get ready with Riley.”  He hits the console button again and the shot switches to another camera showing a local attorney beginning a presentation to the zoning board of appeals.

Cut to a similar scene, several miles away, as Harwich High School students crowd around a similar console in a room at the community center preparing for their weekly newscast.  Channel 18 Station Manager Jill Mason oversees several students seated in front of the monitors, VCRs and audio and video mixers, dispensing tips and asking questions to see how prepared they are for the show.  Kids come and go, working participation in the school’s TV club with other activities.  “Sometimes we’re stretched thin,” said senior Patrick Blute, who also does a cooking show on Channel 18.  “It gets kind of hectic around here when that happens.”

Two towns, two different approaches to government cable access television.  Under each town’s contract with ComCast, the cable company is required to provide a government access channel which only subscribers in that town can receive.  Money that covers the cost of government access operations in both communities also comes from ComCast, funded through a small fee levied on each subscriber’s monthly bill.

How the channels operate is left up to each town, which must decide the extent to which the service will be utilized and what sort of programming will be shown.  Some towns simply run a bulletin board of events; others provide hours of original programs.  Chatham and Harwich both fully utilize government access resources, but in very different ways.  While Chatham is strictly a government channel, Harwich works more like a community access outlet.  Both approaches have their strengths and drawbacks and both serve the community in different ways.   —>

LUS Cable Franchise Set
Lafayette Pro Fiber (LA)

The LUS franchise agreement was approved yesterday evening in a quick, low-key Lafayette Public Utility Authority session before the main event.  …Huval gave a brief powerpoint presentation which focused on one main point: the franchise agreement is as near a copy as is possible of Cox’s 2000 agreement. A chart of the ways in which the two contracts were the same was the central feature of the presentation. This parallelism was repeatedly presented as a direct consequence of Lousiana’s “Fair Competition Act,” a point we have made in these pages as well.   —>

BOMA says no to AT&T bill
by Jeff Farrell
The Mountain Press (TN)

SEVIERVILLE – An AT&T representative’s attempt to get city support for a statewide cable franchise bill backfired.  City Administrator Doug Bishop told aldermen during a workshop that AT&T had asked them to sign a resolution supporting a bill in the Legislature that would remove the power of local municipalities to establish and enforce regulations for their cable systems, and put it in the hands of the state.

That prompted the board to approve a resolution reiterating its opposition to the bill and sending copies to the county’s legislative delegation, along with letters explaining their position.  “This legislation will necessitate a state franchising process and diminish local authority to negotiate much needed (public education channels) and cable television service to schools and libraries,” the letter states, adding, “Statewide franchise agreements will complicate the market and inhibit local monitoring of franchise fee payments and audits.”

Comcast Closes Public Access TV Studios Across Northern Indiana
by Andrea Price
Our Channels Indiana

A year and a half after the enactment of the Indiana Telecommunications Reform Act of 2006, Comcast notified producers in South Bend, Hammond, Merrillville, Mishawaka, Plymouth, Goshen, and Portage — and Edwardsburg, Michigan – that it would be closing production studios and playback facilities for public access TV.

According the language in the Indiana video franchising law, a video services provider with existing requirements for public, education, and government (PEG) “channel capacity, facilities, or financial support under a local franchise issued before July 1, 2006,” shall provide at least the number of PEG channels “under the terms of the local franchise.”  The law goes on to explain how the financial support should be paid, and that it is not part of the franchise fee. If facilities were required in the local franchise agreement, wouldn’t that mean they should continue to be provided?  Comcast thinks not.

“While the state statute ensures that channel capacity will be provided for access channels in existence on July 1, 2006; there is no requirement to continue to provide personnel, studios or equipment,” wrote Amy Hansen of Comcast in a letter dated August 28, 2007. “Comcast will begin working with local municipalities and non-profit groups to transition the studios and equipment to new locations.”  Studios in Hammond, Portage, and Mishawaka closed on September 28; producers can drop off tapes at Comcast until December 15 or “until the transition has been completed.”

According to Jerry Puckett, a public access TV producer in Hammond, the public access channel is already no longer airing programs.  Like most of the public access channels in northern Indiana, Hammond’s channel was a shared PEG channel and included coverage of council meetings and weekly programs with the mayor.

The City of South Bend is attempting to find a solution.  “Our city had not taken advantage of this access channel,” said Council member Dr. David Varner who has started to investigate what other cities are doing and sees the closing as an opportunity: The taped Common Council meetings were the only local government meetings aired on the city’s lone public access television channel. “Our first responsibility is … to bring government to the people,” said Dr. Varner, also a proponent of giving community voices access to the television.  According to Tom Brown, a long-time public access television producer, Comcast will terminate the channel if a community has not worked out a plan for their own studio by December 15.    —>

County prepares for boxes
by Paul Dailing
Kane County Chronicle (IL)

A new state law allows AT&T to create a statewide cable service network, but residents and governments will be the ones dealing with the large utility boxes that the system requires.  Throughout the county, there are plans for the new boxes, which are more than 6 feet tall and will be placed either in public rights of way or on the properties of people who have made easement agreements with AT&T.  For a home to be able to get AT&T’s Lightspeed fiber-optic service, it must be within about 3,000 feet of a box, said Kurt Nika, Kane County division of transportation permitting chief.   —>

Letter: Volunteers needed for Salisbury cable committee
Daily News of Newburyport (MA)

To the editor:

Community access cable television is about to get a lot better in Salisbury. If you live or work in Salisbury and are passionate about good communication, then we are looking for you with that process.

Thanks to a recent new contract with Comcast, the town’s cable provider, Comcast is required to make financial resources and channels available for use by the community, as rent for the cable system’s use of public property, those wires down streets, which deliver its services to subscribers.

As a result, a new not-for-profit organization is being established to oversee the Salisbury Community Television and Media Center, which will be used to create, produce and broadcast public and community programming over Salisbury’s two local cable stations. This Media Center will be housed in the small schoolhouse located behind the former Salisbury Memorial School and operated with funds provided by Comcast as part of this new contract.

Why is this so important to Salisbury? First, because it will enable residents, civic and community groups to use these new cable airwaves to provide local programming knowing as PEG (Public, Education and Government) access. The opportunities to provide information and public discourse on a wide range of topics concerning education, youth activities, cultural and human service initiatives, government and more are endless.

Also important, however, is the fact that Dec. 31 is the last day that Comcast will provide technicians who broadcast the town’s meetings over the local cable channels. Beginning in 2008, we, the Town of Salisbury, assumes all responsibility for local programming. It is therefore critical that we get this new community-based organization up and running at the earliest opportunity.

This local organization will manage the center as a not for profit with 501(c)(3) IRS status and be led by a board of directors made up entirely of community stakeholders: residents, elected officials, business owners, educators, seniors and more. This board will hire and oversee an executive director with proven experience in community media start-up skills.

We are looking for people to serve on the initial board of directors. Applicants should first and foremost be passionate about Salisbury and interested in seeing public airwaves used to foster communication in our community. Other tasks that the board will tackle include establishing and reviewing the goals and objectives of the organization; managing the budget; developing policies; and hiring, supervising, evaluating and working closely with the executive director to run the organization.   —>

Unboxing “Unboxing TV”
by Derek Kompare
Derek Kompare’s Media Musings

Just back from Cambridge, where I attended Unboxing TV, one of the most satisfying “conference experiences” I’ve ever had. So, right off the top, yay Jonathan Gray and Joshua Green for putting this together. Let’s do it again.

In the wake of MIT5, Jon and Josh cooked up the idea for a small, one-stream conference of TV Studies scholars where the focus would not be on the conference paper as the kind of finished idea polished for presentation, but on the much more engaging process of interactive thought and discussion. They were also inspired by the design of last year’s Flow conference in Austin, which similarly put the “discussions in the corridor” front-and-center. The difference was in scale. Flow was not large, but certainly not small. There were 30 invited participants to Unboxing TV, present at every panel, in the same space, for a day and a half. This produced the effect of an undistracted collective experience, an ongoing evolution of discussion throughout the weekend.

The larger conferences in our field (e.g., SCMS, at around 800 participants) can be exciting but exhausting in all their numerous, too-brief meet-ups and scurrying between panels. By contrast, as one person put it, Unboxing TV felt like the best grad seminar ever, where everyone has done the reading, and everyone has something interesting to say.

You can do the reading as well here, where you’ll find PDFs of the “provocations” – the short thought pieces that each participant contributed. Collectively, they indicate how we’re working to understand and contextualize both the rapid changes happening in and around television (and media and culture more broadly) and the continuities of so much unfinished lines of inquiry. Rather than break down each panel, as I did for MIT5, and will ideally do for similar conferences, I thought I’d do a synthesis here instead, giving a general sense of what our collective intelligence generated.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, government access, high school television, municipal programming, PEG access TV, Project Lightspeed, public access television, video franchising, youth media

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