Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/26/07

Fox 7 News Public Access TV Story (IN)
by eliot508

This is an edited version of a FOX 7 Evening News’ Top Story on the stopping of public, education, and government (P.E.G.) access TV in Evansville, IN (Which, is mainly composed of church shows including my “What’s Up With That” Bible study/skits/cooking show) between the local cable companies and municipalities. Shown in the interview are producers Matt Hawes and David W. Johnson. This edit is made and posted with permission from FOX News.

Public access channel change riles officials
They say the move would make it difficult for residents to find community programs.
by Steve Pardo
The Detroit News (MI)

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Officials in the state’s largest township are upset that Comcast plans to change the public access channel from Channel 5 to somewhere in the 900s. For the past 20 years, Clinton Township residents who subscribe to Comcast have been watching board meetings, community events and other township-related activities on Channel 5. The local schools have been broadcasting programs on Channels 20 and 22.

But in a letter sent last week to township officials, Comcast representatives explained starting Jan. 15, it would begin offering the public, education and government programming in digital format. The move would correspond with the change that would “place these channels in consecutive channel positions largely uniform across the state.” —>

Gwinnett TV show focuses on family violence
by Andria Simmons
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)

—> An ambitious group hopes to lure viewers into putting down their remotes for a while, though, with its new show “The Gwinnett Force.” A three-member cast and one guest host will engage in a round-table discussion patterned after the daytime talk show “The View” on ABC as they tackle different issues related to domestic violence. The Gwinnett County Family Violence Task Force chose the format to get out its message of stopping domestic abuse.

A recent meeting had the task force sitting around a table at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center as they discussed headline-grabbing domestic violence incidents of the week. “We’re trying to juice it up a little bit more,” said Sgt. Tracy Lee, a cast member and deputy in the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Department. Fellow cast member Lynda Waggoner, who represents the medical community on the task force, was quick to add the warning, “while staying in government access guidelines.” —>

Public comment may be limited
by Bryon Ackerman
Utica Observer-Dispatch (NY)

HERKIMER – Residents may have to get approval for their topics before speaking during the Herkimer County legislature’s public comment period. That’s one of the options that will be discussed Tuesday when the legislature’s Administration/Veterans Affairs Committee meets at 7 p.m. in the legislative chambers to consider changing or eliminating the public comment period. —>

UPDATE: The FCC’s Second Report and Order on Cable Franchising
by Lincoln Shurtz
Lincoln’s Legislative bLOG (UT)

On October 31, 2007, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Second Report and Order in MB Docket No. 05-311, FCC 07-190, released November 6, 2007, that addressed whether findings and relief for new entrants, promulgated in the Docket’s First Report and Order, also known as the Section 621 Report and Order, should be extended to current cable service providers (“incumbents”). The FCC found the following:

1. Application Time Limits. The provisions regarding time limits for franchise negotiations are only applicable to new entrants. The time limits cannot apply to incumbent renewals, which are governed by the renewal procedures set forth in Section 626 of the Communications Act (the “Act”), 47 U.S.C. § 546. The underlying rationale, to prevent unreasonable delays and to allow new entrants to provide service, is inapplicable to incumbents who are able to provide service during renewal negotiations.

2. Build-Out Requirements. The findings of the FCC regarding build-out requirements are only applicable to new entrants. Specifically, the finding that a local franchising authority (“LFA”) cannot refuse to award a competitive franchise because the applicant would not agree to unreasonable build-out requirements, is based on Section 621(a)(1) of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 541(a)(1), a provision which does not apply to incumbents. The underlying rationale, that build-out requirements may act as a barrier to new entrants, is inapplicable to incumbents.

3. Franchise Fees. The FCC’s findings in the First Report and Order that certain costs, fees, and other compensation required by LFAs must be counted toward the statutory 5% cap on franchise fees, should be extended to incumbents. The findings interpreting Section 622 of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 542, apply equally to incumbents and new entrants and include the following: (a) that an operator is not required to pay franchise fees on revenues from non-cable services; (b) that certain fees are not “incidental” and must therefore be counted toward the 5% cap; (c) that funds requested by LFAs for municipal projects unrelated to cable services are subject to the 5% cap; and (d) that payments to support the operation of public, educational, and governmental (“PEG”) facilities are subject to the 5% cap unless the payments are for capital costs.

4. Public, Educational, and Governmental Access and Institutional Networks. Many of the FCC’s findings relating to PEG access facilities and institutional networks (“I-Nets”) should be extended to incumbents. The findings relating to PEG access and I-Nets include the following: (a) all non-capital costs to support the operation of PEG facilities are subject to the 5% franchise fee cap; (b) the FCC’s refusal to adopt standard terms for PEG channels for new entrants applies to incumbents; and (c) the FCC’s refusal to hold that it is per se unreasonable for LFAs to require ongoing PEG support by new entrants (so long as the costs are subject to the 5% cap) applies to incumbents. The FCC held that other findings relating to PEG access and I-Nets should not apply to incumbents.

5. Authority Over Mixed-Use Networks. The findings of the FCC regarding mixed-use networks are based upon interpretations of Section 602 of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 522, which does not distinguish between incumbents and new entrants, and as such, the findings should be applicable to incumbents as well. Since the jurisdiction of an LFA applies to cable services that are provided over cable systems, an LFA may not use its franchising authority to regulate an entire mixed-use network. It would be unreasonable for an LFA to impose its authority over non-cable services or facilities that do not qualify as a cable system.

Existing Franchise Agreements

The FCC recognized that since franchise agreements involve contractual obligations, the Second Report and Order does not give incumbents any right to breach their existing contractual obligations contained in franchise agreements. Instead, the FCC believes that each situation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis under the applicable law to determine whether the FCC’s statutory interpretation should modify the incumbent’s existing franchise agreement. The FCC encourages LFAs to work cooperatively with an incumbent who asserts that terms of its franchise should be amended as a result of the Second Report and Order. The FCC stated that some incumbents may seek modifications to franchise agreements pursuant to a most favored nation clause in the franchise agreement, pursuant to a compliance with law provision in the franchise agreement, or pursuant to the modification provision, Section 625 of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 545. The FCC also recognized that if these efforts fail, some disputes may eventually find their way to court.

Customer Service Requirements

In the Second Report and Order, the FCC addressed the application of different state and local cable customer service requirements. Based upon the statutory language of Section 632 of the Act, 47 U.S.C. § 552, the FCC declined to preempt state or local cable customer service requirements that exceed FCC customer service standards, and stated that LFAs and cable operators may agree to more stringent customer service requirements.

Effective Date

The Second Report and Order will be effective 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.

Get On TV with Your Own Public Access Show
by Lou Bortone

Local public access TV stations may be the best kept secret in America. Where else can you get free access to training, equipment, support and the local airwaves all in one location? For small businesses, local access TV is an opportunity to produce your own TV show, become known in the community and build your reputation as an expert in your field. Local access or community media, is also known as “PEG” access, as in:

1. Public – Stations open to the community for local programming
2. Educational – Stations dedicated to educational or school-related programming
3. Government – Government access channels for town meetings and city business

It’s the “public” channel that offers the most potential, and here’s how to maximize it:

• Check your local listings

Not every town has all three “PEG” outlets, but with over 3,000 community media centers across the country, chances are there’s one near you. Check your town’s Web site or contact your town hall. Another misconception: You do not necessarily have to live in the town to utilize their community access station. Most access centers are eager for new producers and new programs. FYI: The Alliance for Community Media is a national, non-profit organization that promotes and supports public access TV. They maintain an extensive database and links to local access centers. Look for your town there. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: FCC, government access, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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