Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/06/07

‘Nuncrackers’ in Breese
by Roger Schlueter
Belleville News-Democrat (IL)

The Clinton County Showcase in Breese has made it a habit of staging some kind of farce to brighten up the holiday season. This year, that “habit” will come to life literally when those Little Sisters of Hoboken return for “Nuncrackers — The Nunsense Christmas Musical.” This time, the sisters are hosting their first televised Christmas special broadcast from the cable access studio that Reverend Mother has built in the basement of their convent. —>

Political Chowder: Rountable, Kucinich, and McCain
Democracy for New Hampshire

Political Chowder with host Arnie Arnesen is New Hampshire’s newest political television show. Tune in Sunday, December 9, from 11 to Noon EDT on MyTV (WZMY-TV – Comcast 18 or Comcast 6 and Dish and DirecTV ). Political Chowder re-airs during the week on 38 public access stations, serving over 89 cities and towns across NH. Check local listings for times and dates.

Part One – The Round Table
__Susan Bruce NH coordinator Kucinich Campaign
__Professor Albert “Buzz” Scherr – Pierce Law School
__State Representative John Hunt
Part Two – A conversation with US Senator McCain

New director of Windham Community Television Named
by Darrell Halen
Salem Observer (NH)

Viewers of Windham Community Television may not know it, but there’s a new coordinator running its studio. Stacey Sofronas, 25, took over the position in mid-November and brings a lot of enthusiasm to the job. “I definitely want to bring fun programming,” she said. “I want to do more cooking shows. If anyone has a show they want to do, I want them to come by and see me and we’ll do it. I’m very open to different types of programming.” —>

Tri-Towns to Consider Regional Animal Shelter, Paramedic Service
by Ken Souza
The Wanderer (MA)

—> The boards first met with Old Rochester Community Television (ORCTV) Inc. Executive Director Kim Miot to discuss the status of ORCTV’s recent negotiations with Comcast Cable to “light up” a shared Education Channel for the tri-towns and to bring a dedicated government channel for Rochester online. Selectman Raymond Andrews recused himself from the Tri-Town board to act in his capacity as a member of the ORCTV Board of Directors. —>

Salisbury Prepping for role in cable
Town gets into programming
by John Laidler
Boston Globe (MA)

In a venture that town officials hope will increase the flow of information and encourage community involvement in town, Salisbury will be taking over its cable TV access programming. As part of the license renewal the town granted Comcast in August to provide Salisbury with cable TV service, responsibility for local programming shifts to the town Jan. 1.

The town is creating a nonprofit corporation, the Salisbury Community Television and Media Center, to run its two access channels. Salisbury now shares the channels with Amesbury, Merrimac, and South Hampton, N.H., but starting Jan. 1, within Salisbury they will be dedicated to Salisbury programs.

“I think it’s a great thing for our community,” said Selectman Donald W. Beaulieu, who is playing a key role in readying the town for the change. He said it would expand opportunities for programming, which could lead to a more “informed electorate” and more “open communication.” “It builds pride; it builds enthusiasm for your community. It shows the positive things,” he said of local cablecasts of town events.

Salisbury will join several other local communities that have taken over operation of their access stations through license renewals with Comcast. Others include Newburyport, which formed a nonprofit earlier this year to operate its access channels, and Essex, Gloucester, Manchester-by-the-Sea, and Rockport, which recently formed a regional nonprofit to serve all four towns.

As is the case with those communities, Comcast will continue to provide funding for Salisbury’ access channels. Four percent of the company’s annual cable revenues from Salisbury will go toward operation of the channels. Comcast also provided a one-time payment of $75,000 and a $50,000 advance on its yearly payments, to help the town fund the capital expenses involved in taking over the programming.

With the Jan. 1 takeover date looming, the town is getting ready, helped by a consultant, Rika Welsh of Cambridge. A “convenor” board appointed by the Board of Selectmen is filing legal papers to establish the new nonprofit corporation. It is also developing recommendations for selectmen on candidates to appoint to the board of the new corporation, one of whose duties will be to hire an executive director. —>

Maynard seeking Funds from Comcast
by Matt Gunderson
Boston Globe (MA)

Selectmen are looking to increase the town’s franchise fee from Comcast Corp. as the renewal process for Maynard’s cable-television contract gets underway this month, Town Administrator John Curran said. By law, the town may request up to 5 percent of the cable provider’s gross revenues from Maynard customers for underwriting local cable-access television offerings, Curran said. Officials hope that the money will pay for the cost of hiring someone to run the town’s cable-access studio and to make upgrades to the studio, he said. Another goal of selectmen during the negotiations, Curran said, is to request that Comcast provide cable to streets that don’t have the service because of low population density.

Qwest’s push for cable-TV bill gets an ally
by Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News (CO)

Qwest is taking another stab at statewide cable-TV franchise legislation, this time with a key Democrat in its corner. Rep. Rosemary Marshall of Denver, chairwoman of the business affairs and labor committee, confirmed Tuesday she is working with the telco to sponsor a bill. “I think competition is better for the consumer,” Marshall said, while acknowledging that it likely will be a tough battle and that “Comcast obviously will object to this.”

A statewide franchise law would let Qwest avoid the cumbersome process of negotiating with individual municipalities. But with new Qwest CEO Ed Mueller yet to announce the company’s strategic plan, it’s unclear how much money the Denver-based telco plans to invest in its own TV product.

Last year, Qwest couldn’t get a Democratic sponsor, and its bill was quickly killed by a legislative panel headed by Pueblo Democrat Buffie McFadyen. Lawmakers expressed concern that Qwest would “cherry-pick” affluent neighborhoods rather than provide TV services throughout a community, and that a state law would pre-empt local control. —>

Peabody/Loyless Report Explores Fragmented TV Landscape
by Irene Lew

According to a report released by the Peabody Awards, “television is in a state of transition and confusion,” with narrowcast niche channels and the Internet fragmenting once-massive viewing audiences.

The report is drawn from the inaugural University of Georgia Peabody/Loyless Seminar held in October, which assessed the state of TV. The report concedes that television, broadcast, cable, satellite or online, rarely provides experiences that create a shared sense of national community. It notes that television’s once-massive viewing audiences have now been splintered into sharply defined taste publics whose members define themselves by special interests, leisure preferences, identity orientation, political affiliation or other specific features.

The assessment also points out that television news no longer commands the cultural and social authority it held in the broadcast era, with many citizens no longer holding the belief that the formal institutions of broadcast journalism are capable of fulfilling the role of society’s watchdog. It suggests that this is due to the explosion of news outlets and digital technologies. The report found that network as well as local television news operations struggle with reduced staffing, news organizations face increased pressure to avoid upsetting valuable sponsors, newscasts air at times when many viewers no longer watch and channels pursue the increasingly elusive audience through an injection of “superficial” entertainment news.

At the same time, viralization means that one no longer needs to wait for the news, with the information arriving from blogs and Internet news outlets that are available “on demand” in user schedules. Viralization also means such items may have far greater reach and potentially increased visceral impact, with citizens choosing to broach charged issues openly on web forums.

Amidst all this, the report also says that “quality television” still exists, with the fragmented post-broadcast system providing opportunities for program developers to offer content that caters to diverse tastes and interests, explores new forms and addresses problems from a broader range of perspectives. Viewers may also receive more information and varying perspectives on issues through fiction and documentary than in traditional news presentations. Commercial broadcast networks no longer have a monopoly, and the widening array of delivery systems leads to an increase of choice. Premium and basic cable networks are also creating signature series—programs distinctive enough to stand out, good enough to reward regular viewing.

This flourishing of TV entertainment and documentary extends to the Internet. Uploaded segments or skits reach more viewers than the originals, and documentaries aired only once on broadcast or cable channels are archived for multiple viewing by expanding audiences. Through digital equipment, Internet connections and familiarity with software, consumers now have the potential to be producers by creating TV series.

On the downside, a financial “caste system” is dictating access to quality programming and range of perspectives. Cable access, particularly at the premium level, is still expensive and opportunities afforded by the web are largely restricted to those able to afford computers and broadband access. Conversion to digital signals from analogue may also make it more difficult for people to access quality programs, especially those who need them most, but can afford them least.

The report recommends that industry leaders, policy makers and citizens’ groups work toward the creation of various types of “media commons.” These channels, networks or other media spaces must be available to provide opportunities for encounters and exchanges among different and differing groups rather than retreat into gated communities for the like-minded. Across the board, the report says, industry leaders and policy makers must work to provide access for all communities and to overcome the financial divides that restrict some citizens to a narrow range of content. Strategies to accomplish this goal should be developed by projects comprising citizens’ groups, industry, legislative, and policy representatives.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, educational access, election programming, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, video franchising

One Comment on “Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/06/07”

  1. […] Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/06/07 Posted December 6, 2007 by Rob McCausland Categories: PEG access TV, cable vs telco, educational access, election programming, public access television, redlining, video franchising Nuncrackers in Breese by Roger Schlueter Belleville News-Democrat (IL) 12/06/07 The Clinton County Showcase in Breese has made it a habit of staging some kind of farce to brighten up the holiday season. This year, that habit will come to life literally when source: Community Media: Selected Clippings -12/06/07 […]

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