Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/29/07

Sunshine Week 2008: People, Get Ready…
by Charles Davis
FOI Advocate

Sunshine Week 2008 Hits the Campaign Trail:
Candidates from President to Mayor to be Quizzed on Access Issues
Actors, Scientists, Researchers Join Growing Call for Open Government

Washington, D.C. — The Sunshine Week alliance has begun a yearlong Sunshine Campaign project to bring the discussion of open government issues to election campaigns from president to local city council. While the initiative expands the scope of Sunshine Week to cover the entire election season, specific events and coverage are still planned for Sunshine Week, March 16-22, 2008…

Resources such as suggested questions and links to additional material to help get people involved in the project are on the Sunshine Week Web site. —>

Policy Changes Threaten Local Nature of Radio and Television, Scholar Says
by Gina Vergel
Inside Fordham Online (NY)

Philip M. Napoli, Ph.D., Magis Professor of Communications and Media Management, is a huge fan of talk radio. Daily newscasts courtesy of National Public Radio help get the 37-year-old through his long commute to work and his favorite on-air sports personality is New York Yankees broadcaster and Fordham University alumnus Michael Kay (FCRH ’82).

Napoli may love to surf the dial but that’s not to say that the director of the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center doesn’t see problems in the ever-volatile world of radio—and television, for that matter. In fact, Napoli believes that both media are under increasing danger of losing their sense of localism and thus their grounding in the communities radio and television stations serve.

“Media content and services that address local interests and concerns,” Napoli said, “are essential to the welfare of local communities.” The problem, however, is that given policy changes in recent years, that essential role played by local radio and television station is under attack like never before.

For years, the federal government imposed strict limits on the number of television and radio stations a single company could own in one community. In 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) relaxed a variety of media ownership regulations. The move resulted in large media companies acquiring many more radio and television stations in the same market. The policy change sparked a widespread debate, with critics arguing that the rules would result in fewer companies controlling more of what Americans see and hear.

So far, Napoli said, the critics were on the right track. “The biggest disparity we see is in terms of source diversity—the diversity of information sources available—given the increasing concentration of ownership of the major media outlets,” Napoli said. “The problem has been that policymakers have increasingly emphasized economic efficiency to the neglect of non-economic policy objectives such as diversity and localism.

“A media marketplace of diverse sources is inherently inefficient in that it’s more efficient to have one source covering a story, for example, than four or five different sources,” Napoli said. The move by media companies to buy more stations and leave fewer independent voices in local communities has implications for society as a whole and minority communities in particular, Napoli said. “Content flows from owners,” he said. “The statistics on minority ownership are really disappointing. It simply hasn’t kept pace with the increasing numbers of minorities in the country.”

So what can be done to fix the problem? —>

Teletruth News Analysis: PART TWO (Summary)
by Bruce Kushnick

NOTE: This is the second in a series examining how the FCC’s brand of deregulation harmed America’s economy and digital future. Part One: 56% drop in wireline competition since 2004.  . To read the details of Part Two.

Part TWO: Summary:

* Killing Off 7000 Independent Internet Service (ISPs) Providers by the FCC Created Net Neutrality Problems — a 74% Drop in Companies Since 2000.
* The FCC Used Bad Data and Undue Corporate Influence to Destroy the Small ISPs, Violating Section 257 of the Telecom Act.
* The FCC, FTC and DOJ Supported Actions that Blocked Small ISPs from Migrating Their Customers to Faster Services, Failed to Enforce Laws, Harming Choice and Increasing Duopoly Controls.

According to the Census, in 2000 there were 9335 independent, mostly small ISPs operating in America. By 2005, there has been a 74% drop in the number of independent ISPs in the US.

Uniform cable agreement changes channel on WBRW
by Chris Gray
Romeo Observer (MI)

You’ll have to exercise your thumb a bit more to get your local public access news coverage. Letters were recently sent to residents in Bruce and Washington townships and the Village of Romeo, stating that Channel 6 will be known as Channel 902 as of Jan. 15. This is caused by the Michigan Uniform Video Service Local Franchise Agreement. —>

Manatee gives up cable TV suit plans
Bright House basic cable subscribers will need upgrade for county channel
by Frank Gluck
Herald Tribune (FL)

MANATEE COUNTY — When Bright House Networks decided to charge thousands of cable subscribers higher fees to view public access channels, Tampa Bay-area governments promised a legal fight. These broadcasts, while hardly ratings grabbers, give homebound residents a way to keep up with local news and watch live public meetings. Charging more would be unfair, especially to the poor, officials argued.

The cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg filed federal lawsuits earlier this month to block the Dec. 11 channel change. But Manatee County, also a leading opponent of the cable company’s plans, is now backing down. Here, Bright House subscribers with basic cable subscriptions, and no digital channel box, will soon have to pay for an upgrade if they still want their MGA-TV, Manatee’s government channel.

Robert Eschenfelder, assistant county attorney, said a lawsuit could have proved costly. And a court victory would have ultimately been pointless, he said. Federal law requires that all full-power television station broadcasts be digital by Feb. 17, 2009. That means televisions will need to either be digital-ready or viewers will need converter boxes to receive most broadcasts. —>

Guest commentary: Wisconsin deserves better cable bill
by Senator Judy Robson
Beloit Daily News (WI)

Since the dawn of broadcasting, the public interest has struggled with commercial interests for use of our public airwaves. The government decides how much control of the airwaves to hand over to private corporations, and how much control to retain in the hands of the people. So far, control has gone largely to the corporations. A few bones have been thrown to the people in the form of public television and radio, public access cable stations, and public service announcements. But by and large, our public airways are wholly owned by corporations whose primary interest is maximizing profits.

Consumers get stuck paying ever-increasing prices for channels they don’t want in order to get a few channels they do want. People are clamoring for change – for more options and lower prices, and more control over price and options. In swoops AT&T with legislation it claims will provide more options and bring down prices. AT&T calls it the “cable competition” bill. A more apt name is “cable deregulation.”

The bill may create competition in some markets. But the areas that are most in need of cable and Internet options – rural and low-income urban neighborhoods – will continue to be bypassed. The Legislature could have added requirements to wire more of these areas, but it did not. That was but one reason I voted against the bill. —>

Airing of 9/11 film ignites debate
Some say channel is for local access
by Eric Moskowitz
Boston Globe (MA)

The Groton Channel usually carries local selectmen’s meetings and high school sports events. So Joan Simmons was taken aback this month when she flipped on the cable-access channel and found a documentary that argued the Twin Towers fell because of a planned demolition, not because of the crash of two hijacked airliners…

Colman said he hopes any attention generated by the movie will help increase the community’s understanding of public-access TV – and draw viewers to its locally generated programming, like a recent documentary on the high school’s robotics club that won its producer, Astrid Jacob, a regional excellence award from the Alliance for Community Media. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, FCC, FOI, Freedom of Information, localism, media diversity, media ownership, media research, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, rural broadband, Sunshine Week, video franchising

One Comment on “Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/29/07”

  1. […] Community Media: Selected Clippings -?11/29/07 […]

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 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: