Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/01/07

Bang the Drum Slowly
by Bunnie Riedel
Telecommunications Consulting

Recently I was told that my naiveté was charming. That despite my worldliness and my often cantankerous disposition, I still believed that people should do the right thing and when they don’t it causes me great disappointment. “Childlike view of the world” was slipped into the conversation. Anybody else would have been insulted, but not me. I couldn’t dispute it.

It was all those years of Girl Scouts or maybe it was one too many Jimmy Stewart movie or perhaps my strict religious upbringing. God is always watching and when you lie, cheat, steal or otherwise behave dishonestly, some celestial record keeper is checking boxes. Ultimately at the end of the day there will be an accounting, that’s how I was brought up. I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, human beings do need parameters and benchmarks, otherwise there would no social contract, we’d all run amok.

So it begs the question, can corporations or institutions be called to account? Does Comcast have a mortal soul? Is there a Purgatory for federal agencies? Can entire legislative bodies be required to do penance?

The FCC handed down their “2nd Report and Order” on cable franchising and in the weeks that have followed there has been much confusion because while the FCC sought to “clarify” the Telecommunications Act, it just added more mud to the well. I have read the 2nd Order and the 1st Order that addressed telecommunications companies. I’ve read filings in the attendant case before the Sixth Circuit, and I’ve listened to intelligent people, some of them lawyers who do nothing else for a living except telecom law, and there’s a huge amount of “well, we don’t know” “we’ll have to see how it plays out” “we’re waiting for the court to decide.”

The bottom line, with or without the FCC’s guidance, cable operators and their cohort phone buddies, will say or do anything to get over on anybody. That is the corporate culture of those industries. Period. And the only way to deal with them is to come out swinging. Forget negotiating, carry a large stick. —>

Changes in city councils could aid Qwest
Arvada, telco set tentative hearing on video franchise
by Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News (CO)

Qwest Communications is getting a fresh start in municipalities such as Arvada in its efforts to win TV franchises. In Arvada, the recent elections brought in three new city council members, including Mayor Bob Frie, who defeated Ken Fellman, considered by many to be a Qwest adversary. Qwest has taken Arvada off a 90-day shot clock to force a decision on its video franchise application, with the two sides tentatively agreeing on a public hearing Feb. 4. The city’s staff and Qwest say negotiations are progressing, and Frie indicates he’s open to a possible agreement. “I’m not sure what Qwest wants, but I’d like to meet with them and see if we could start fresh,” Frie said. “It probably would be an advantage to have some competition to Comcast in Arvada.”

Other area municipalities also have undergone council makeovers, but it’s too early to know whether that will help Qwest win TV franchises. Qwest said it also is in discussions with Littleton and Thornton, but no longer actively in negotiations with Broomfield and Colorado Springs. It terminated discussions with Denver this year. It does offer TV services in Highlands Ranch and RidgeGate in Lone Tree.

It’s also unclear how aggressive Qwest will be in pursuing franchises and following up with capital investments and deployments. New CEO Ed Mueller is still developing a strategic plan. Mueller announced recently that Qwest would spend an additional $300 million to extend fiber into neighborhoods, which could be a precursor to offering TV services. But he also told analysts the company isn’t changing its video strategy of reselling DirecTV satellite-television services.

Qwest also could try to circumvent the franchise process, as AT&T has tried to do, by offering a TV-over-Internet product. “If I was advising Qwest I think I would adopt that strategy,” said Mike Glaser, chairman of the telecommunications practice of the Denver law firm Shughart Thomson & Kilroy. Glaser also said he would push for a statewide video franchise law.

Qwest is trying again to drum up support for such video franchise legislation. A bill last year lacked a Democratic sponsor and was soundly defeated by a legislative panel. “We’ve had conversations with legislators and other interested parties,” Qwest spokeswoman Jennifer Barton said. “We’re currently evaluating where we’re going from here.” —>

Searching for the Broadband President
by Geoff Daily

In the midst of a hotly contested presidential election, now would seem to be the perfect time to start having constructive dialogue about finding real-world solutions to our nation’s problems. And given the transformative power of broadband to realize new efficiencies across all aspects of society, you’d figure the deployment and use of broadband and the Internet would be elevated to a place of prominence by candidates jockeying to establish themselves as the best leader for America. Unfortunately that’s just not the case.

This article analyzing the Democratic front runners’ Internet platforms inspired me to delve further into what’s missing in the presidential debates. —>

Who owns the Net? Hint: It’s not Al Gore
There are growing signs the Web is heading toward a class system
by Chris Sorenson
The Star

When British scientist Tim Berners-Lee created the concept of the World Wide Web as a series of hyperlinked pages in 1989, it was as an egalitarian tool that would allow cloistered academics to share their research. But two decades later, several prominent techno evangelists, including Berners-Lee and the so-called “father of the Internet” Vinton Cerf, warn that those same democratic values are now being called into question just as the Internet is becoming the backbone of society throughout much of the developed world.

They say some of the companies that operate the Internet’s local infrastructure – the complex networks of cables, routers and switching equipment that pipe the Web into people’s homes and offices – want to effectively slice up cyberspace into a series of channels that offer a variety of service levels, ranging from basic to premium. That would allow them to squeeze more money from Web-based companies and content creators in exchange for priority access to broadband subscribers, creating a new source of revenue distinct from that which already comes from customers’ monthly access fees. —>

SPCTV South Portland Public Access TV, People Lie Us We Edit Life, Why I Love Them
by Calvin Muse
The Disobedient Muse (ME)

One of the few television channels I find worth watching is SP-CTV channel 2. Thats right the good folks at the South Portland public access station, working out of two rooms no bigger than shoe boxes, deliver some great entertainment. The range of material is refreshing as well as informative. Have you ever heard of The Flying Santa? How about some vintage footage from the 1939 NY World’s Fair. Saturday nights you can watch “Carnival of Souls” on the Saturday Fright Special. This is just the fun stuff, you also get to watch your city council in action, your school board wrestle with the numbers, and the zoning board weigh the value of the latest new building proposal. Next to the public works department it is perhaps the most vital part of our city government.

Oh but dear viewer it could be taken away. In fact the cable companies would love to chop it right off the left hand side of the dial and they work very hard to it. So if you are like me and find it to be a great way to stay connected with whats happening in your town, write a letter or call the good folks huddled in those two little shoe boxes and let them know that you watch and want to continue to do so. I have also embedded my favorite viewing experience from SP-CTV a film collage called “We Edit Life”.

Artist Adds How-To-Paint Show To Nutmeg TV’s Public-Access Paletteby
by Mary Ellen Fillo
Hartford Courant (CT)

Move over Singing Doctor. There’s a new professional on the Nutmeg TV community-access station. Farmington artist Nolan Lombardi wants everyone to learn to paint like her, sort of. So she is taking her canvases and paints out of her studio and into the Plainville studios for her new show, “Crack of Dawn,” scheduled to debut Saturday at 8:30 p.m. on the community channel serving Avon, Berlin, Bristol, Burlington, Canton, Farmington, New Britain and Plainville.

“I just love what community cable can do; I love ‘The Singing Doctor,'” she said about the Nutmeg TV, Channel 5, program on Sunday evenings featuring Dr. JoséEstela. “I thought I could do what I do — paint — and show people anyone can do it,” said Lombardi, a former art teacher who has done work for the White House and for the state’s former first couple, John and Patty Rowland.

But there’s a catch. She is putting her paint and palette acumen on the line on the air. Plans are for most of the shows to feature area “celebrities,” ideally with no artistic talent, who, with her help, will create an oil painting during a 30-minute segment of her show. —>,0,7441585.column

[ Here’s an occupying-thought piece. It’s not entirely clear, it seems to me, what the author’s stance is on the question he presents – and I think that’s his intention. Hard to find a good place to clip it, so here it is in full. If it moves you, please click through to register your interest, and maybe comment, even – rm ]

Online Media – Down With TV?
by Todd J
Thoughts of a Middle-Aged Programmer

Today on my social networks I ran across a couple of folks that mentioned that online networking and media has all but replaced TV for them. I’m dropping that on you with no opinion of good or bad. Just to point out that such comments are becoming much more common. But is that really a good representation of the world? Heck, is it a good representation of your city?

What those of us heavily into living our lives attached to the Internet, is that many individuals don’t have Internet access. Now some of those individuals don’t because they don’t have an interest but could afford to get access. Others have no interest but couldn’t get access due to cost or location or both. Yet another group has interest but can’t afford it or access is not available.

Of those three groups, I’d like to deal with the two groups of have nots, regardless of interest.

Just today, two Utterz I read directly mentioned giving laptops to third world countries. The idea being that we can’t ‘leave them behind.’ Heck, not a bad idea in itself, but not just third world countries are being left behind. Many folks in the US today can’t afford access or can’t reasonably get access. And even some of those that can use a public installation perhaps have no way to guarantee access or even access to specific things. (Libraries increasingly have blocking software.)

So what are we doing to help those individuals? Are we giving them free laptops and free wifi? Are we sitting up free Internet terminals that have unrestricted access? Or is it really worth it? For those without access, should we even be concerned about it?

Have people like me become part of a sort of upper class of society. And instead of a trickle down economy you’d find with money, we seem to generate only more success and riches for ourselves and others in this upper class. I tweet only for those than can have Twitter, and Utter for only those that can reach Utterz. My Facebook goodness, yet again, not available to the have nots of society.

Perhaps we should institute a mandatory Internet awareness and membership drive. Instead of recruiting soldiers and having a draft, how about we draft everyone into the Internet?! Maybe, just maybe, if everyone in the world is tied up browsing and Uttering, and swapping virtual spit on Facebook, they’ll be too busy to shoot each other up, or have turf wars, or sweat religious differences.

Or sadly, I see a darker future, where the seedier side of man finds yet another outlet for it’s pathos.

What do you think? Internet for the world = Great stuff? Or are there bigger concerns?

Be brave, give your opinion. Utter, Tweet, email me, blog about it, post it on Facebook, I don’t care, but I do urge you to have an opinion.


compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable vs telco, digital divide, FCC, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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