Archive for December 2007

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/30/07

December 31, 2007

MacTV channels moving on Comcast
The Grand Rapids Press (MI)
12/30/07

HOLLAND — Just when fans of MacTV were getting used to seeing their public access programming on Channels 24 through 26 on their Comcast cable system, they’re moving again.  Comcast officials say the city of Holland’s public, educational and government programming will be moved to Channel 916 through 918 effective Jan. 15 as part of its digital service.   —>
http://blog.mlive.com/grpress/2007/12/mactv_channels_moving_on_comca.html
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County board meetings won’t be aired
by Paul Marose
Daily Citizen (WI)
12/30/07

JUNEAU – The Dodge County Board Show is off the air.  At least for the time being.  Viewers in Juneau who watched board broadcasts carried on local, public-access, cable TV may have to enjoy the board in person in 2008, since funding to televise regular, monthly board meetings has failed.   —>
http://www.wiscnews.com/bdc/news/264736
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Board disbands cable committee
by James Fuccione
The Beacon (MA)
12/20/07

BOXBOROUGH – With two consecutive unanimous votes, the Board of Selectmen disbanded the Cable Advisory Committee while giving its responsibilities, under a newly revised charter, to the Boxborough Information Technology Committee.  In August, selectmen charged the Boxborough Information Technology Committee, known as BITcom, with extensively discussing a proposal to merge their group with the Cable Advisory Committee and, at Monday night’s meeting, BITcom Chairman Jay Bhatia reported his committee’s recommendations.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/acton/homepage/x360512786
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Pembroke: Progress on Cable Pact
by John Laidler
Boston Globe (MA)
12/30/07

Selectmen will be receiving an update in January from the Cable Advisory Committee on the panel’s negotiations with Comcast on a new franchise agreement for the company to offer cable television service in town. Comcast is currently providing service under the town’s previous franchise agreement with Adelphia Communications, whose assets were assumed by Comcast. That agreement expired some months ago, but Comcast is operating under it pending the completion of a new one.   Also next month, representatives of Verizon are expected to update selectmen on that company’s project to install a fiber optic network in town.    —>
http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2007/12/30/store_employees_face_theft_charges/?page=3
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Barack Obama will change the system part 2
by Populista
MyDD.com
12/30/07

Yesterday I wrote about the need for systematic change in this country and why Barack Obama had the best plan and record to accomplish that of any of the candidates running. In that diary I talked about his support for public financing of elections and the bills he had introduced to make that a reality with progressive champion Russ Feingold. Since I wrote that I have found out he introduced a bill to publicly finance elections in the Illinois State Senate too. Hard to still make the claim that he is only doing this to win votes.

There is a old saying in the media reform movement “if media is not your number one issue, it has to be your second issue.” In this post I am going to focus on my second issue, media reform.   —>
http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/12/30/232940/51
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So long, Inside The Times; hello, journalism’s future
by Mike Fancher
Seattle Times (WA)
12/30/07

The tradition in my family has been to say “So long,” rather than goodbye. The difference is that “so long” means goodbye only until the next time.  Today’s “Inside The Times” is my last, after almost 16 years and more than 600 columns. As I explained in columns the past two weeks, I’ll start a Seattle Times blog about the press, the public and technology after the first of the year and explore it until I retire sometime in the first half of 2008.

This final column is one of optimistic hope for the future of public-service journalism. It is a leap of faith to a future when new economic models have been found to support the public journal as a public trust. I’m confident in making that leap because I believe the American people will act in their own enlightened interest to preserve a free and independent press.   They will because “The primary purpose of journalism is to provide citizens with the information they need to be free and self-governing.” That quote is from what I consider the best modern book on media, “The Elements of Journalism.”   —>
http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/insidethetimes/2004099333_fancher30.html
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Pew/Internet Study Finds Most Americans Get Their Answers From The Internet
by Vanessa Fox
Search Engine Land
12/30/07

A PEW/Internet and American Life study out today finds that the place Americans turn to most for answers is the internet. The study, which surveyed 2,796 Americans, found that 76% have internet access and that 58% turn to the internet when they have questions about things like health, school, careers, and government issues. The project focused on how people use the internet, libraries, and government resources when they need to solve problems and found that those without high-speed internet access (no access or dial-up only) were less satisfied with their ability to get the answers they were seeking.

Overall, people tend to consult two to three sources for information and are generally satisfied with the results. 77% of internet users (55% of Americans) have high-speed access; whereas 18% are still on dial-up. The speed of access seems to make a big difference in whether a searcher turns to the internet or some other source for answers. Those with broadband access spend more time online and are happier with their online experiences. 77% of those with broadband access at home used the internet for answers, compared to 57% of those with dial-up access.   Below, more findings on internet usage, particularly in researching health and government-related issues.   —>
http://searchengineland.com/071230-161116.php
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It’s The Network, Stupid!
by G. Patton Hughes
Media Shift
12/30/07

My challenge has been summed up as making money from a hyperlocal community web site or, said differently “It is the sales, stupid.” (see previous entry)  That is a gross oversimplification. What my 21st Century Newchallenge is all about is building a sustainable business model based on connecting a community. That means it is always about the network. Sales and revenues impact sustainability but are secondary to the core mission, which is to develop the community.   —>

If challenged to say what is the community, I could just smirk and say, read the site; all 1.7 million posts. If you were to ask, how do you know you have a community, that could be answered objectively.

Obviously, one of the key metrics defining the success of a web site is the amount of time spent on a site. According to the compete.com analytics for Paulding.com, the average visit on Pcom last 17 minutes and 33 seconds as they view an average 14.6 pages. This compares to a typical local news site – I’ll choose Macon.com (Macon Ga) which has an average visit of 4 minutes 51 seconds and 4.9 pages, also according to compete.com. The primary reason for the difference are the social networking aspects of paulding.com.

Indeed, paulding.com’s figures in the social networking world pale in comparison to myspace.com which compete.com puts at the head of the pack. Compete.com says each visit to that site consumes 24 minutes and 26 seconds of the visitors time as they peruse 36.6 pages. Paulding does compare favorably to Facebook in terms of time on site (14:09) but those college kids tear through 43 pages on each visit according to compete.com.

When thinking about these figures, it is important to consider the demographics of the audiences involved. Myspace has a reputation of skewing to younger people … literally high-school age and even younger. Certainly these kids have more time to burn than their college age brothers and sisters and of course, Paulding.com members tend to be marginally older – I.e. adults living in a hyperlocal community.

Regardless, the ability to gain such high levels of involvement are a distinct advantage common to successful social networking sites. That paulding.com competes favorably in terms of time spent shows it is possible to overlay a social network on a hyperlocal geographic environment. (Kind of a ‘duh’ moment it seems to me.)

Key to this success in the hyperlocal environment is the audience. The most desirable computing component in these local deep networks is the wetware – the people who come together to form these networks. For myspace it is the peers of the tweens and teens; for facebook, college peers constitute the largest draw. Frankly, one of the main reasons both sites are a success is that most there are probably on the make.

While there is some of that on paulding.com, the draw is infinitely more community minded. Many come to this hyperlocal community because they need the knowledge of those who live and know the community.  The point is each kind of social network targets a different demographic group – and most are places where ‘people like me’ congregate. That the large national social networks seem to target the youth is unmistakable. What is equally obvious is that in the hyperlocal sphere, it is geography rather than the common angst of being pubescent that is at the core of the social mortar.   —>
http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2007/12/it-is-the-network-stupid.html
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NTV Predictions: Online Video Stars
by Liz Gannes
NewTeeVee
12/30/07

Among the questions we’ve asked our panel of experts was this one: Which online video star do you think will make it big in 2008?  Selections from their responses are below. We’d love to hear your take on the question or on our panelists’ predictions in the comments. For more information on the NewTeeVee 2008 outsourced predictions, see this post.

Henry Jenkins, director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities (media and popular culture academic)   —>
http://newteevee.com/2007/12/30/ntv-predictions-online-video-stars/
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

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Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/29

December 31, 2007

County to public access: Pay us for the production truck we bought you
by Wayne Garcia
Creative Loafing (FL)
12/28/07

The saga of Speak Up Tampa Bay’s attempts to get back onto Hillsborough County cable channels continues. You may recall that county commissioners cut funding for the public access producers last year, ostensibly to save money in a tight budget year but likely more nakedly an attempt to crack down on programming and speech that the commissioners aren’t real fond of.

Speak Up Executive Director Louise Thompson says now the county wants her nonprofit to pay back at least some of the nearly $300,000 the county gave the group to buy a production truck, used to tape and broadcast remote events, speeches and other independent programming. The truck was used 52 times in 2006, according to Speak Up’s annual report, including to televise UT women’s basketball games and animal friends programming.   —>
http://blogs.creativeloafing.com/politicalwhore/2007/12/28/county-to-public-access-pay-us-for-the-production-truck-we-bought-you/
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NpTech Tag Summary: Best Wishes for Healthy, Happy, and Social 2008!
by Beth Kanter
Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media
12/29/07

NpTech Tag Summary: New Year’s Reflections, Predictions, and Best Ofs.  What are some of the ways that the social web marks the New Year? Let’s take a look.   —>
http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/2007/12/nptech-tag-su-1.html
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MANILA PEN SIEGE – Media’s role in conflict situations
by Maria Ressa
Philippine Daily Inquirer
12/30/07

MANILA, Philippines—Some 50 members of the media, including two Inquirer reporters, were humiliated by the police for doing their job—informing the public about the revolt led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim in Makati City on Nov. 29.  After the police subdued the revolt at the Manila Peninsula hotel, broadcast and print journalists were rounded up at gunpoint, handcuffed and herded like cattle to Camp Bagong Diwa in Taguig City.

The authorities were incensed that the journalists did not heed the order to vacate the hotel. Had the journalists heeded the order, the public would not have known what was happening inside the hotel. Foul deeds are often committed far from the prying eyes of the media.   —>
http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/talkofthetown/view_article.php?article_id=109414
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Selectmen offer town manager position
by Christian Schiavone
The Beacon (MA)
12/20/07

—> Hunter said the Acton selectmen watched video recordings of Ledoux and Maylor with their respective boards of selectmen and felt that Ledoux was more open to his board’s input.  “I think we’re a stronger Board of Selectmen and more given to evaluating and giving instruction to the manager based on his proposals and suggestions,” said Hunter.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/acton/homepage/x469060844
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/28/07

December 31, 2007

Editorial: Is cable TV law really needed?
Commercial Appeal (TN)
12/28/07

When it was making the rounds in the Tennessee General Assembly last spring, a bill dealing with cable television franchising was jokingly dubbed “the Lobbyists Full Employment Act.”  The legislation would have allowed cable companies to get statewide franchising authority, which means they wouldn’t have been required to negotiate separate agreements with individual cities and counties.

The Competitive Cable and Video Service Act, as it was officially known, earned its nickname because so many high-powered lobbyists were involved in arguing the bill’s pros and cons. Even though the legislation didn’t win approval this year, AT&T Inc., the bill’s primary supporter, wants the debate to resume next year.  However, based on what’s been happening across the border in Mississippi, it’s fair to question if that would be a good use of Tennessee legislators’ limited time.   —>
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2007/dec/28/editorials-is-cable-tv-law-really-needed/
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A big year for the IT guy
Issues forced techies to the forefront in 2007
by Steve Lord
The Beacon News (IL)
12/28/07

GENEVA — The IT guy has long ago shed the nerd image and become the VIP of the office.  And in 2007, at least in the Fox Valley, the people who run Information Technology took it one step further and stepped out from behind the door to the server office, becoming a public face themselves.

No one personified that more than Pete Collins, IT guy for the city of Geneva. Whether lobbying for a fair law governing cable and Internet video, helping get a deal for free wireless Web service or turning on the city’s webcasts of City Council meetings, Collins was certainly no quiet guy behind glasses and a pocket protector.  “I’ve got a cool job,” he says. “And to me, part of the job is I’m supposed to stand up and fight for the city.”   —>
http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/beaconnews/news/716018,2_1_AU28_FACES_S1.article
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Neighborhood Public Radio mixes up art and radio
by Reyhan Harmanci
San Francisco Chronicle (CA)
12/28/07

Every now and then since 2004, while scanning the lower end of the FM spectrum in certain parts of the Bay Area, it’s been possible to cut through the static and hear something unexpected.  You might have heard a raucous noise band performing live, or a teenager interviewing another teenager about life in Hunters Point, or a roundtable of artists discussing their work, or a man-on-the-street-style interview done on the street, all courtesy of NPR.

That’s not NPR as in National Public Radio, but, rather, a conceptual art project and mobile pirate radio station called Neighborhood Public Radio.  The loose collective, headed by artists Lee Montgomery, Michael Trigilio and Jon Brumit, typically sets up in an art gallery with little more than a banner, booth, microphone and transmitter and a rough schedule of hyper-local programs aimed toward maximum neighborhood participation…

Neighborhood Public Radio will be in New York City beginning in March for its three-month residency as part of the Whitney Biennial, but thanks to the Internet, you can listen to its broadcasts live or dig into its archived offerings. http://www.neighborhoodpublicradio.org.   —>
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/12/28/DD63U0PKS.DTL
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Cooking show keeps pastor busy
by Doug Zellmer
The Northwestern (WI)
12/28/07

Inspiration comes in many forms, and for Rev. Paul Stephens growing up meant spending time in the family kitchen.  Stephens, who lives in Omro, didn’t know it at the time, but his knowledge of how to cook from his early years has paid off in a cooking show he hosts on Oshkosh Community Access Television.   —>
http://www.thenorthwestern.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071228/OSH/71228125/1987
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Congratualtions Global Voices Online on such a wonderful initiative!
by David Sasaki
Global Voices
12/28/07

The inaugural group of Rising Voices citizen media outreach projects have given us new and powerful voices from communities that previously were rarely seen participating online. Last month we put out a call for new citizen media outreach proposals, of which five would be selected to join our current projects based in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, India, and Sierra Leone.

In total we received 63 project proposals from over 35 different countries. Although the quantity of applications was less than the 142 we received in July, the quality and innovation that stood out throughout all of this round’s proposals made the selection process far more difficult. The overwhelming response to the latest Rising Voices grant competition is, once again, a testament to the global enthusiasm for citizen media from rural Uganda to Orthodox communities in Israel, from the mountains of Guatemala to the working class neighborhoods of Serbia.

The five grant winners are representative of the innovation, purpose and good will that Rising Voices aims to support:

Youth Media Consultative Forum in Nakuru, Kenya   —>
Iran Inside Out: A Videoblogging Initiative   —>
Bloggers Desde la Infancia (Bloggers Since Infancy) – Uruguay   —>
Bringing Malagasy Forumists to the World of Citizen Journalism – Madagascar   —>
Diary of an Inmate – Jamaica   —>
http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2007/12/28/congratulations-new-rising-voices/
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/27/07

December 31, 2007

Public Access Producers
DCTV8.blogspot.com (NC)
12/27/08

As of January 1, 2008, the Durham Studio will no longer be available to public access producers. Effective November 1, following the expiration of the local franchise agreement with the City of Durham, Time Warner Cable filed for a state issued franchise.  According to the law governing the state issued franchises ‘A cable service provider is responsible only for the transmission of a PEG channel. The county or city to which the PEG channel is provided is responsible for the operation and content of the channel.’   —>
http://dctv8.blogspot.com/2007/12/public-access-producers.html
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Editorial: Vetoes strengthen cable TV bill
Sheboygan Press (WI)
12/27/07

Gov. Jim Doyle, before he signed the cable television competition bill last week, wielded his powerful veto pen and made it stronger…  Doyle wound up vetoing several parts of the bill, and in the process, beefed up consumer protections and gave the state the power to write and enforce regulations and standards for service. Two state agencies, Department of Financial Institutions and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, will write the rules.

Left hanging, however, is the future of public access, government and educational channels.  There is good reason to have local TV channels that broadcast such things as governmental meetings, local high school sports and school and public service programs. But without a requirement that they be continued on cable systems, their future is bleak because funding for these kinds of channels runs out after three years — and Doyle didn’t change that provision.

We wish he had, since local access channels and broadcasting of government meetings give people a better insight into what is going on in their community.  Doyle’s changes to the bill allow these channels to carry revenue-generating commercial programming to raise money to stay afloat. But a guarantee of public access is something that the Legislature needs to address separately so that public access to cable TV remains viable.   —>
http://www.sheboygan-press.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071227/SHE06/712270443/1883
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METV covers Manatee County
by Nicholas Azzara
Bradenton Herald (FL)
12/27/07

MANATEE —  On a stormy July evening last summer, county leaders and public safety delegates turned out to dedicate Manatee’s new $56 million Public Safety Center. The crowd stood under an awning sheltered from the storm while officials thanked the construction crews participating in the project.  Standing near the edge of the overhang was a cameraman about to film the event. Raindrops had drenched the back of his shirt and he warned others to take a step forward to avoid a similar soaking. As the commemoration began, he threw a few gestures to his crew and calmly peered into his camera.

For METV Station Manager Charles Clapsaddle, it was just another day away from the office. The following day he and two others edited their footage and the program aired later that week. In time, it slipped into the annals of METV’s 15-year history. The award-winning station wraps its 15th year later this year.   —>
http://www.bradenton.com/local/story/293637.html
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Minnesota Atheists radio program to debut on Air America Radio in January
by Tim Harlow
Minneapolis Star Tribune (MN)
12/27/07

Minnesota Atheists are taking their message to the air waves with a new radio program that will debut in January on the  talk station Air America Minnesota.  Called “Atheists Talk” — the same name as a show the organization airs on cable access television — the live radio broadcast featuring news, interviews, listener call-ins and special guests is believed to be the first show of its kind in Minnesota, said August Berkshire, a spokesman for the Minnesota Atheists.   —>
http://www.startribune.com/local/12851441.html
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Brick goes Hollywood with new video system
by Patricia A. Miller
Brick Township Bulletin (NJ)
12/27/07

The bland videos of Township Committee meetings and other events on BTV20 will soon be a thing of the past.  Township Council members awarded a $29,204 contract at the Dec. 18 council meeting to Rush Works Media, Carrollton, Texas, for the purchase of a tapeless, portable digital video recording system.   —>
http://bulletin.gmnews.com/news/2007/1227/Front_Page/006.html
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A year in Los Al
A look back at the news in Los Alamitos in 2007, and a look forward at 2008.
by Jorge Barrientos
OC Register (CA)
12/27/07

—>   In January, the nonprofit Los Alamitos Television Corp. that ran the local cable television station, LATV-3, was dissolved following an emotional board meeting that drew vocal opposition from the station’s volunteers and previous managers. The television corporation’s assets were to be absorbed into the city’s general fund, and a city-appointed commission would be created to oversee the station’s operations. In March, the City Council granted final approval to the creation of a city commission to oversee LATV-3. The city this month received final approval from the state attorney general to transfer and receive $133,750 from the now-dissolved Los Alamitos Television Corp. to continue operation of the public access station that has no staff or incoming funds.
http://www.ocregister.com/news/city-alamitos-school-1949964-rossmoor-year
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Fewer wires, more access to come
Consumers getting content through a PC is fading model
Chicago Tribune (IL)
by Jon Van
12/27/07

The world may change for people like George Graves, who takes his laptop computer to the Western Springs library, which has free broadband service. Graves’ household is among an estimated 10 percent of residences in the Chicago market too far from the phone company’s central offices to get DSL broadband.

“We get advertisements for $20 a month DSL, but when I call AT&T, they say it’s not available. This has been going on for two years. It’s exasperating,” said Graves, who doesn’t want cable television-based Internet.  An AT&T spokesman said network upgrades will bring DSL to Graves sometime in the future, but he wouldn’t say when.

For people frustrated by their inability to get broadband Internet connections at the price they want, there may soon be relief in the form of fast wireless Internet connections that will compete with wired connections supplied by phone and cable TV providers.   —>
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-thu_outlook_telecomdec27,0,4599458.story
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It’s still not just Imus
Media Matters
12/27/07

Media Matters for America usually takes the opportunity at the end of the year to name a Misinformer of the Year, an individual or media entity who in that year has made a noteworthy “contribution” to the advancement of conservative misinformation. This year — a year in which Don Imus was removed from his decades-long radio program following a reference to the Rutgers women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hos” (Imus returned to the air in December) — Media Matters has decided to change the focus of the year-end item. The Imus controversy resulted in intense media attention to the subject of speech concerning race and gender.

At the time, Media Matters thought it necessary to remind the media that “It’s not just Imus” — that speech targeting, among other characteristics, race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and ethnicity permeates the airwaves, through personalities including Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, and Michael Savage. But offensive and degrading speech is not limited to conservative media personalities and “shock jocks,” although they are, of course, well-represented on any such list.

As Media Matters has documented throughout this year, speech that targets or casts in a negative light race, gender, religion, ethnicity, national origin, and sexual orientation can be found throughout the media, and it often bears directly on politics and policy. That speech has earned the title of Misinformation of the Year 2007.   —>
http://mediamatters.org/items/200712220006?f=h_top
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/26/07

December 31, 2007

Public access TV to be a tough find
Comcast taking it digital, into 900s
by Christy Arboscello and Emilia Askari
Detroit Free Press (MI)
12/26/07

Don Thomas of Bloomfield Township is like a lot of cable viewers. When a familiar face or a local place on television catches his attention, he stops to watch — and chances are it’s the public access station.  Starting Jan. 15, it’s unlikely he will happen upon the local stations simply by flipping through channels on the low end of the dial.

On Comcast, hundreds of local access cable stations that broadcast municipal meetings, school concerts and sports, parades and other community events are moving to channels in the 900s. It’s unclear what programming will be shown on the lower channels, but Comcast said the local access move is driven by customers’ desire for digital service. Local access shows are to be broadcast digitally.

All 1.3 million Comcast subscribers in Michigan are to be affected. And many metro Detroit community leaders and residents, like Thomas, are unhappy about the change.  “I’m not flipping through hundreds of channels,” Thomas said Wednesday. “They might as well close down the whole operation. … I’m going to be less well informed.”   —>
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071226/NEWS05/712260332
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Comcast changes concern local officials
by Julia Zaher
The Grand Blanc News (MI)
12/26/07

GRAND BLANC TWP. — Concern about Comcast’s decision to close its public access television studio in Flint and move public access programming to the 900 channel spectrum has program producers, residents and local officials concerned.  “Genesee County has lost too much already,” Ernestine Tune of E.M. Tune Productions told the Grand Blanc Township board at its Dec. 13 meeting.

Tune volunteers to videotape the township board meetings, which have been shown on public access Channel 17. She asked the board to take action to save the channel from being relocated to the 900s.  Channel 17 volunteer Scott DeMaria of Swartz Creek echoed that request. Comcast closed its Flint public access production studio this month cutting off access to both the studio and equipment many long-time public access producers have used.  “We need your help to save community access,” DeMaria told the board.   —>
http://blog.mlive.com/flintjournal/newsnow/2007/12/comcast_changes_concern_local.html
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Students produce cable program
The Daily News Journal (TN)
12/26/07

MTSU students enrolled in an entry-level journalism class recently wrote, videotaped and produced the entire January edition of Middle Tennessee Record, a 30-minute cable-TV program about the people, places and events of this region.  The completion of the January program, which is broadcast throughout the month on local cable channels, including at 5 p.m. daily on Murfreesboro’s cable Channel 9 and at 1:30 p.m. Sundays on News5+ in Nashville, marks the first time that MTR has been an entirely student-created production.

John Lynch, the show’s creator and producer said, “This project was beneficial in a number of ways. First of all, the students brought a fresh perspective to the stories. Second, it gave them a chance to get involved in a hands-on project in which they had to meet several critical deadlines, and it was inspiring for us to work closely with students and see our video production process through fresh eyes. This really was a student-centered project.”

The 18 students who created the broadcast were enrolled in a fall 2007 course taught by Lisa L. Rollins, adjunct professor in the School of Journalism and director of special media projects for the Office of News and Public Affairs at MTSU. Rollins divided the class into six broadcast teams of three students, and each team created its own segment for the January program.   —>
http://dnj.midsouthnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071226/NEWS01/712260316/1002
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Council tables public-access proposal
by Lewis Delavan
Saline County Voice (AR)
12/26/07

A proposal to return public-access television station Channel 12 to city control was tabled by Benton City Council recently.  In 2005, the council gave administrative control of Channel 12 to the Benton Community Access Association for one year.  Alderman Doug Stracener, who sponsored the ordinance, said Benton needs to set standards and operate Channel 12.   —>     http://www.salinecountyvoice.com/news/2007/1226/Front_Page/003.html
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Forum to discuss public art
by Gordon Weixel
Bismarck Tribune (ND)
12/26/07

A Jan. 24 Public Art Forum likely will be more than just a discussion about Bismarck Parks and Recreation District properties and consider public art in the Capital City overall.  This is what district director Steve Neu told the Bismarck Park Board at its meeting last week as he outlined the upcoming forum, which was requested by the board.  The forum will be held in the City/County Building’s Tom Baker room, where it will be broadcast by local Cable Access Television from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Hopes are that a public art policy for the district’s properties will come out of the forum.   —>
http://www.bismarcktribune.com/articles/2007/12/26/news/local/145261.txt
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Cross-ownership and new media
by Dan Kennedy
Media Nation
12/26/07

Ten years from now — maybe a little sooner, maybe a little later — we’ll receive what we currently refer to as “television” through a thick Internet cable. As with today’s Internet, we will theoretically have an infinite number of choices. Rupert Murdoch (and, yes, I am convinced the man is going to live forever) may own nine of the 10 most-viewed video sites. But anyone will be free to start his or her own video operation, whether it’s the major metropolitan news site in your region (we may still be calling them “newspapers,” but strictly for nostalgia purposes) or the sort of community-minded folks who today volunteer at local-access cable television outlets.

As long as we can preserve net neutrality, such a mediascape is almost certain to come into being. And, at that point, there will no longer be a rationale for regulating the media. For some 80 years now, the FCC has regulated the content and ownership of over-the-air television and radio stations because of a very simple principle of physics: there is only so much broadcast spectrum available, and therefore it makes some sense to make sure that spectrum is used in the public interest.

Since the Reagan years, though, the FCC, with an occasional assist from Congress, has been moving away from its regulatory mission. The Fairness Doctrine and the equal-time provisions no longer exist, and corporations are allowed to own many more properties, both locally and nationally. Most famously, this led to the situation in Minot, N.D., a few years ago, when a train accident led to a deadly outbreak of poisonous gas — and there was no one at the local Clear Channel station to get the word out. (I should note that the story is at least partly apocryphal.)

Last week FCC chairman Kevin Martin led an effort to loosen ownership rules still further, allowing one company to own both a newspaper and a television station in the same city, an arrangement known in the trade as “cross-ownership.” The reaction to this has been remarkably low-key. Maybe it’s because Martin’s proposal is cautious and complicated: it would only apply to the 20 largest cities in the country, and it would pertain only to one of the smaller TV stations in a given market. Maybe it’s because he simultaneously proposed new limits on cable companies. Or maybe it’s because the news business is in such a diminished state that critics are accepting of, or at least apathetic toward, what they once would have railed against. I might fall into this category; and I find myself half-agreeing with Martin that allowing television and newspaper operations to combine might result in more and better journalism.

To be sure, some are vehemently opposed to this. Media-reform advocate Robert McChesney’s group, Free Press, is unleashing a campaign to overturn the loosening of the cross-ownership ban. A group of journalism-school deans, represented locally by Alex Jones, director of the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, at Harvard’s Kennedy School, wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times arguing that “we do not believe that the market can be absolutely trusted to provide the local news gathering that the American system needs to function at its best.”

New-media cheerleader Jeff Jarvis wrote a post for his Buzz Machine blog claiming that the j-school folks just don’t get it. Now, I agree with Jarvis in part. I don’t like either Martin’s or the deans’ suggestion that the news content of broadcast operations should somehow be monitored and regulated. I do not lament the demise of the Fairness Doctrine or of equal time, and would prefer that the FCC limit itself to breaking up monopoly ownership. By ensuring local, diverse ownership, you don’t need to regulate content.

But Jarvis bases his argument on the belief that local television news is essentially worthless, which simply isn’t true. Yes, it could be infinitely better. But, certainly on breaking news, local newscasts keep newspapers on their toes. Let a media company that already owns a newspaper in a given city to add a TV station to its holdings, and you might have better, deeper journalism in both the paper and on television. Or you might just get more cost-cutting.   —>
http://medianation.blogspot.com/2007/12/cross-ownership-and-new-media.html
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TV group sees dark time if white space opened up
by Jon Van
Chicago Tribune
12/26/07

When a Dallas TV station started transmitting digital signals a decade ago, five dozen wireless heart monitors at Baylor University quit working.  Baylor got different monitors, and no patients were harmed, but it’s a story that Dennis Wharton, executive vice president of the National Association of Broadcasters, still tells to argue against allowing electronic devices to operate on vacant TV channels.  “That was an unforeseen circumstance,” Wharton said. “It shows how predictions of the way things will work don’t always come true in the real world.”

The nation’s TV broadcasters are fighting Google, Microsoft and other high-tech firms that want to use vacant TV channels to carry high-speed data for a new generation of gadgets. Called “white space,” over-the-air channels like 6 and 8 in Chicago are left vacant to prevent signals broadcast on Channels 5, 7 and 9 from interfering with one another.

But new digital technology and smart radios that sense whether broadcast channels are being used should enable low-power devices to use vacant channels without hurting TV reception, Internet-oriented executives argue.  Utilizing white-space channels will provide consumers with more affordable ways to access the Internet and encourage innovators to make nifty new wireless gizmos, said Brian Peters, director of government relations for the Information Technology Industry Council. This would be especially useful in rural areas where high-speed Internet connections are scarce and vacant TV channels plentiful, he said.   —>
http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/chi-wed_whitespacedec26,1,1712266.story?ctrack=2&cset=true
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Community Project: Roundtable on Social Media Measurement
by Joseph Thornley
Pro PR
12/26/07

How do we measure the value of social media to an organization? What should we be measuring? What are the metrics that accurately capture the things we want to measure?

Over the past year, people like Jeremiah Owyang, Kami Huyse, Scott Karp, Christopher Carfi, Mike Manuel, the Research Fellows at the Society for New Communications Research, John Bell, Flemming Madsen, Geoff Livingston, Katie Paine, David Brain, Brendan Cooper, Brian Solis and Jeff Jarvis have made valuable contributions to our emerging understanding of social media measurement and metrics.

The online discussion is great. But sometimes, it’s even better to sit down face to face and talk things through.  This is what I’d like to do. Let’s bring together a group of experts for a roundtable discussion of social media measurement and metrics.   —>
http://www.propr.ca/index.php/2007/community-project-roundtable-on-social-media-measurement/
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POLITICS-KENYA:  NGOs Bolster Women Candidates’ Media and Voter Savvy
by Kwamboka Oyaro
Inter-Press service
12/26/07

A number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have come to the assistance of female candidates ahead of Kenya’s general elections, scheduled for Thursday, in the hope of giving them a fair shot at the polls — this in a country where lack of funds, resistance to women in leadership positions and various other factors tend to undermine women’s electoral performance.

Just 18 of the 222 legislators in the country’s last parliament were women, and only nine of these won their seats: the others were nominated to parliament. This put Kenya in an unfavourable light with regard to its neighbours in East Africa. Against the 8.1 percent of seats that were held by women in Kenya, 30.4 percent of seats in Tanzania and 29.8 percent of seats in Uganda are in female hands.

The NGOs include the Association of Media Women in Kenya (AMWIK), which has itself received support from the Gender and Governance Programme in Kenya: an initiative funded by the United Nations Development Fund for Women and other donors that aims — in part — to strengthen women’s leadership at community and national level.   —>
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=40600
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/25/07

December 31, 2007

Local Groups Petition FCC to Stay Ruling on Video-Franchise Reform
Broadcast Newsroom
12/21/07

Local franchise authorities, including the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, have asked the FCC to stay its Oct. 31 decision extending to incumbent cable operators essentially the same video-franchise reforms it gave telco video providers  in an earlier ruling.

In a petition for the stay and reconsideration of the decision, the local government groups “more than a half dozen of them, including the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors” argued that the commission failed to preempt “most-favored nation” clauses (which specify that the a new entrants can’t get better terms than the incumbent) or to base its decision on “appropriate economic impact analysis.” The groups further pointed out that they had filed a lawsuit against the initial decision granting franchise relief to telco video providers.    “In the absence of a stay,” they said in the FCC filing, “petitioners’ members will be irreparably harmed.” The governments have said that the FCC decision will “severely restrict the ability of local governments to protect their citizens, rights-of-way, community channels, and public safety networks.”

They argue in the request for a stay that by not preempting existing most-favored nation clauses, the commission “upended the franchise negotiation process.”   —>
http://webcast.broadcastnewsroom.com/articles/viewarticle.jsp?id=263342
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The good FCC
by Matthew Lasar
Lasar’s Letter on the FCC
12/21/07

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission, by a bare majority, voted to lift its over three decade old prohibition against an entity owning a newspaper and a television station in the same market. Most FCC watchers will now shift their visors to Congress and the circuit courts, where media reform activists will doubtless turn in a bid to reverse this ruling.  But the agency also made four important decisions this month and last that deserve a second glance, not only because they could have an impact on broadcasting, but because they illustrate the extent to which the Commission can promote measures that clearly serve the public interest—when it wants to.

Low Power FM…
Diversification of broadcast ownership…
Cable subscriber caps…
Localism
   —>
http://www.lasarletter.net/drupal/node/531
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Local Network’s Warnings About TV Unheeded
by Louise Thompson
Tampa Tribune (FL)
12/25/07

Regarding the Tribune editorial, “Bright House Snubs Public Good” (Our Opinion, Dec. 13):

In this editorial about Bright House Networks moving local government channels to the 600 tier, you neglected to let your readers know that their own local public access channels have also been moved from Bright House channels 19 and 20 to digital channels 949 and 950 or Outer Mongolia on the TV channel lineup.  To view Tampa Bay Community Network’s programs, which are produced by the local community, Bright House subscribers who don’t currently have digital boxes, will have to rent them for $1 per month.  Or, perhaps, and more likely, make the switch to Verizon FIOS, where they can still view Tampa Bay Community Network on channels 30 and 36.

It is on TBCN that viewers can watch alternative news programming like Democracy Now and Free Speech TV, learn (in both English and Spanish) how to access nonprofit and government services, enjoy University of Tampa sports, take in a sermon or local band, “attend” (via TV) local community events and, perhaps most importantly, watch local debates and political forums that may help them vote in the right people come November.

As we previously told your editorial board, there is no question that our legislators made a huge error when they passed the so-called Consumer Choice Act of 2007, which your paper supported.  As our governor suggested when he signed the bill last May, it needs to be amended to protect the public, education and government channels. Hopefully, that will happen.

And, just maybe, then the county’s Board of County Commissioners, which eliminated residents’ free speech rights on cable when they de-funded the people’s channel, will come to its senses and restore their constitutional rights by reinstating TBCN’s budget.  As your own editorial pointed out in a different context, why would anyone want to “slam shut a wonderful window of public access”?
http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/dec/25/na-local-networks-warnings-about-tv-unheeded/
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Daytona may televise more public meetings
by John Bozzo
Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
12/24/07

Forget about those premium movie channels.  Mayor Glenn Ritchey is considering expanding the city’s telecasts of public meetings on Channel 99.  “There’s a lot of people who can’t get to meetings because of their work schedule or they can’t because of their health, or any reason,” he said.  City Commission meetings began airing on the Bright House cable channel last Jan. 10 after the company provided the city with $300,000 to equip the commission chambers to televise discussions.

“Anything that takes place in the commission chambers — Planning Board, Code Enforcement Board, redevelopment boards, Economic Development Advisory Board — anybody who meets in the chambers, we’re already set up to televise there like we do for the City Commission,” Ritchey said.  The mayor plans to nail down additional costs, such as for employees to operate the equipment, before bringing the issue to the City Commission, possibly Jan. 16.  “The whole thing is to make our government more accessible,” Ritchey said.

Other commissioners appear to like the idea of televising city advisory board meetings, but cost might be an issue.  “I don’t know what the costs are yet,” Commissioner Rick Shiver said. “I like the concept a whole lot.”   —>
http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/News/Headlines/frtHEAD03122507.htm
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PVT wants to enter Carlsbad cable market
by Stella Davis
Current Argus (NM)
12/25/07

CARLSBAD — Artesia-based PVT Networks is seeking a long-term, non-exclusive cable franchise agreement with the city of Carlsbad.  If the Carlsbad City Council approves the agreement, PVT will begin building its multi-million fiber optic network in Carlsbad that, when completed, will offer residents cable television with a “local flavor,” said Terry Mullins, PVT marketing director.

“What we are planning to do is build a fiber network in phases,” Mullins said. “The network will be capable of delivering video, TV cable, local telephone and extremely high-speed Internet for businesses and residences.”  PVT offers video/telephone, video/cable, data Internet, landline and cell phone services to residents in North Eddy County and other rural communities north of Artesia.

“We hope to get the city’s support on this,” Mullins said. “We offer cable TV with a local flavor in Artesia that offers high school sporting events, community theater productions and other community functions. We  also offer the standard channels and special packages and other quality products. The people in Artesia like to see the local stuff on cable and we have received a lot of favorable comments from them. We believe Carlsbad would also like to have the local cable channel, in addition to the standard channels.”   —>
http://www.currentargus.com/ci_7807271
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Council adopts public access TV policy
by Dick Broom
Bar Harbor Times (ME)
12/25/07

The Town Council last week adopted a policy governing use of the public access cable television channel, which the town controls.  The policy states that programs distributed on the Public Access System “may be intended for any purpose and may include information, entertainment or the expression of points of view without limitation unless prohibited elsewhere in this document.”  Content that is not allowed includes:

• Advertisements or information concerning lotteries or games of chance;
• Advertising designed to promote the sale of commercial products or services;
• Solicitation of funds;
• Material soliciting or promoting unlawful conduct;
• Statements, pictures or sound that violate town, state or federal laws including those related to obscenity, defamation, slander and libel;
• Sexually explicit material.

The administrator of the Public Access System must be notified if a program contains adult language, images or situations.  “At the sole discretion of the administrator, this material may be cablecast outside of prime time child viewing hours,” the policy states. “Such programs would be cablecast between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.”  Steve Cornell, the town’s technical systems administrator is designated as the Public Access System administrator.   —>
http://www.mainecoastnow.com/articles/2007/12/26/bar_harbor_times/local_news/doc476fb6ebcfb3b860646519.txt
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‘Interviews with the Veterans’ public access program lets former GIs tell their stories
by Andrew Schroedter
Chicago Tribune (IL)
12/25/07

Like many in his generation, Larry Littel preferred not to talk about what he saw as a member of the California National Guard during World War II.  Littel, 82, said not even his family heard stories about gun fights in the Pacific Islands or the men he saw wounded and killed.  “I didn’t talk about it for 50 years,” said Littel of Evanston. “But you know, there’s a 1,000 of us dying every day. In 10 years, you won’t know we were around.”

Rushing to capture the stories of Chicago-area veterans before it’s too late is part of what motivates Gerry Boguse to produce his “Interviews with the Veterans” program, broadcast on local public access in 28 communities on the North Shore and in the northwest suburbs.  Since the first show in May 2004, Boguse has filmed 65 interviews with 55 veterans like Littel, who served in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  “I’m not glorifying war,” said Boguse, 47, a programming/government access coordinator with the Evanston Community Media Center. “I’m here to record history.”   —>
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-vets_on_tvdec25,1,5951320.story?ctrack=1&cset=true
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Rhode Island gets a lot more FiOS TV
by Darren Murph
engadgetHD.com
12/23/07

Wondering what Verizon was going to get you for the holidays? If you find yourself a resident of the Ocean State, the answer could be FiOS TV access. Reportedly, the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carries granted Verizon licenses just this week to operate cable TV services in Charlestown, Cranston, Foster, Hopkinton, Johnston, Narragansett, North Providence, Providence, Richmond, Scituate, South Kingstown and Westerly. Apparently, Verizon had secured a license to operate in Service Area 6 earlier this year, but just now got approval on Areas 2, 3 and 8 covering the locales mentioned above.   —>
http://www.engadgethd.com/2007/12/23/rhode-island-gets-a-lot-more-fios-tv/
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Verizon FiOS coming to more Westchester communities
by Sean Gorman
The Journal News (NY)
12/25/07

OSSINING – Several more Westchester communities are moving closer to sealing deals to provide Verizon cable television to their residents.  Last week, Briarcliff Manor, the town of Ossining and Sleepy Hollow signed agreements with Verizon, the company said.  Elected officials in New Castle and the village of Ossining last week voted to give cable franchises to Verizon, but they have yet to reach final agreements.  Verizon has been working to provide its FiOS television services in a market long monopolized by Cablevision.

“I think they (residents) like the idea of competition,” said New Castle Supervisor Janet Wells. “They have felt that when there’s only one franchise, it’s hard to get the service they would like, and also I think people are hoping that it (cable services) will be less expensive.”  The town was still trying to work out some technical concerns with Verizon, such as whether events and meetings held at the library, community center and other buildings in town could be simultaneously broadcast live on both the Verizon and Cablevision systems, said Town Administrator Gennaro Faiella.

In Ossining, the village board last week voted 5-0 to approve a resolution authorizing Village Manager Linda Cooper to sign a deal with Verizon.  “It’s very important, we believe, that the competition exists,” Ossining Mayor William Hanauer said last week.  At that meeting, Verizon officials had committed to speeding up their timetable for paying $62,500 to the village for cable equipment for public access television, Hanauer said.   —>
http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071225/NEWS02/712250325/1018/NEWS02
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/23/07

December 24, 2007

Access is difficult on AT&T cable
Palo Alto considers suit against telecom giant
by Kristina Peterson
Palo Alto Daily News (CA)
12/23/07

Most Monday nights, the Palo Alto City Council meeting on Channel 26 is just a couple clicks away from any resident with cable television.  But beginning in early- or mid-2008, locals may have to scroll up to channel 99 and weave their way through a series of screens to find public, educational and government programming if AT&T rolls out full cable service in the city.

And after finally reaching the public broadcast, residents will not be able to preserve it with a digital video recorder, list it as a favorite or utilize closed-captioning features – all of which violates state law, said Melissa Cavallo, cable coordinator of the joint powers authority managed by Palo Alto.  “If you ever get (to the program), the features, functions and qualities of the picture are inferior to commercial channels,” Cavallo said Friday. “They are giving our channels second-class treatment.”

The picture quality on public programming channels under AT&T will be less than one-fourth of its current resolution, according to a city staff report.  Even more problematic, students watching DeAnza College’s filmed lectures will not have access to closed captioning for recorded classes.  The proposed system “really prevents students in the disabled community from being able to participate in the educational programming,” Cavallo said.

After having raised these issues repeatedly with AT&T and getting no substantive response, the city is contemplating legal action against the telecommunications company, Cavallo said.  “If AT&T fails to comply with (state law), the city will be forced to explore all its options, including legal action if necessary,” she said. Right now, the city is waiting for AT&T to respond to a letter sent last month stating its objections.   —>
http://www.paloaltodailynews.com/article/2007-12-23-pa-cable-fight
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City Council likes blackout TV dates
Only one meeting a month will be broadcast, Santa Ana officials decide. Mayor says an ‘informal’ setting is sometimes needed.
by Jennifer Delson
Los Angeles Times
12/24/07

In an age when new technology has provided access to increasing amounts of information, the Santa Ana City Council has decided that certain things are not fit for viewing — some of its own meetings  Mayor Miguel Pulido will allow only one of the two monthly meetings to be broadcast, making Santa Ana the largest city in the state that doesn’t televise all its meetings.

At the Dec. 3 meeting, no council member would second a motion requiring that all meetings be televised on the public access channel and be available on the city’s website for at least five years.  “You have to ask why every other council is doing this and we aren’t,” said Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who offered the motion. “There’s a perception that this council wants to run closed-door meetings.”   —>
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/california/la-me-santaana24dec24,1,5045459.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california&ctrack=1&cset=true
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Defiant Till the End: Terry Liberty Parker
Wes Benedict for LNC (TX)
12/22/07

—>  Terry Liberty Parker was a 10-year host of the show “Live & Let Live” and first invited me to appear as a guest on his show in 2002. It was my first live television appearance, I was nervous as heck, and also offended quite a few people. Terry let me know that, but in a supportive way and with plenty of constructive criticism. As libertarians often do, we occasionally butted heads in our future political activism. Terry was as stubborn as they make ’em and I will never forget him and will always consider his unwavering support for freedom to be an inspiration to me.  I hope this excerpt from the final “Live and Let Live” show before his passing shows how much Austin libertarians appreciate all that he did.

From the Austin American Statesman:

Terry Liberty Parker

Terry Liberty Parker, longtime Austin Libertarian activist, passed away peacefully on December 17, 2007 after a short but valiant fight against aggressive brain cancer. Terry was born on October 26, 1944 in New York City. For over 30 years Terry was a vocal and passionate champion of Libertarian principles. In the early 1970s, Terry gained worldwide fame for establishing a clothing-optional apartment whose tenants signed a “non-aggression pact” whereby “they were free to do whatever they want as long as they don’t aggress physically against one another.” He was active in the Libertarian Party during the 1980s and once served as Travis County Libertarian Party Chair. For 10 years, Terry hosted “Live and Let Live,” and for the past two years he co-hosted the “Jeff Davis Show,” both on Austin’s local public access television station. In the 1990s, he began using the Internet to expand his Libertarian voice by establishing himself as moderator of the Libertarian Yahoo Group and provided the valuable service as archivist for televised Libertarian programs. Terry was most admired for his unwavering commitment to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and his unconditional love for his friends and family. Terry’s survivors include beloved daughter, Clare Burchfield; cousin, Mary Partlan (John); loving life-mate, Rita Gonzalez; and numerous lifelong friends. A private memorial will be held in Austin to celebrate his exceptional life. Obituary and guestbook online at http://wcfish.com
http://wesbenedictforlnc.blogspot.com/2007/12/defiant-till-end-terry-liberty-parker.html
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“There Is No Free Press, Only Free Journalists”
Arab Press Network
12/23/07

Michel Hajji Georgiou, a political analyst at the Lebanese French-language daily L’Orient-Le Jour, has won the 2007 Gebran Tueni Award 2007, given annually by the World Association of Newspapers and the Lebanese An-Nahar daily to a young newspaper editor or publisher from the Arab world in memory of Gebran Tueni, the Lebanese editor who was assassinated in December 2005.  In an interview with APN, he spoke about his view of the role of the press in Lebanon and the Arab world.

APN: You have just been awarded the second Gebran Tueni Prize. How does it feel?
Michel Hajji Georgiou: I was never thinking about winning a prize, I was just doing my job. Commitment to free speech, civil liberties and democracy through journalism is a natural approach for me. I am, however, very happy and very honoured to receive this award which carries with it a heavy responsibility. Firstly because it carries the name of Gebran Tueni, and also because of the current situation in Lebanon. The Beirut Spring is running out of steam. The country is very divided and is sinking into a crisis with no end in sight. We are heading for a dubious compromise involving a military leader in power and this sort of experiment has never been a comfortable one. Safeguards will need to be established to protect civil liberties and the gains of the Independence Intifada.

I am pleased that it is Gebran who is driving this ferment since he is someone who is still irreversibly alive, much more alive than some members of the political establishment who continue to prove on a daily basis that they are more dead than alive.

APN: How do you see the role of Lebanese journalists today?
MHG: Their mission is not obvious. The last two years have seen the degeneration of the political discourse to the point where people are rejoicing at the assassination of the other side’s leaders. Unfortunately the media are polarised, and line up along this political divide. It is high time the press played a role in supporting reconciliation in Lebanon, and stopped giving a helping hand to this stupid escalation and to the resurgence of populism, which is a threat to democracy.

It is the role of the media to transcend communitarian attitudes and to cross those divides, but they do not always manage to do that. There is no free press in the Lebanon, just free journalists and I think this is the case in the whole Arab world. Today’s challenge is to protect the gains of the Beirut Spring that Gebran Tueni, Samir Kassir (editor’s note: a Lebanese journalist assassinated in June 2005) and others died for.

APN: What is your view of the Arab press today?
MHG: It is not in a very encouraging state. In saying that, I am thinking of Samir Kassir. I think we should all read and reread his book Being Arab (Verso, London 2006). The book is a beacon for the future. Samir Kassir, who was my tutor at the Saint-Joseph University, died for this renaissance. And who, other than the press, can breathe life into this renaissance on the scale of the Arab world as a whole, marked as it is by too much despotism, lack of freedom and fossilization of ideas. It is time for a wind of modernity to blow and for lamentations to cease.
http://www.arabpressnetwork.org/articlesv2.php?id=1738&lang=fr
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org