Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/11/07

AT&T negotiating with local government…in Mississippi
by Andrew Eder
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)

As AT&T tells Tennessee that it’s too cumbersome to negotiate for TV franchises with each local government — spawning an epic battle to change state law — the company has negotiated for a local contract in suburban Memphis, according to the Commercial Appeal.  The cable industry and local governments, which oppose AT&T’s statewide franchise proposal, have asked why AT&T can’t negotiate contracts with individual Tennessee municipalities. This latest twist should open up a new round of questions about why AT&T can do it in Mississippi, but not Tennessee.

New government channel to educate Nevada County
by Soumitro Sen
The Union (CA)

If C-SPAN is here, can NCTV be far behind? Starting Dec. 19, Nevada County residents will be able to watch local government meetings around the clock on an exclusive government channel aired by Nevada County TeleVision (NCTV).  In addition, a partnership with Suddenlink cable in south county will enable residents in Truckee, Colfax, Lake of the Pines and Alta Sierra to watch NCTV and the new government channel.

“My vision is to help unify the county through live broadcasts of (local) government meetings so citizens can better understand and participate (in the government process),” said Lew Sitzer, director of NCTV. “(The new channel) will include not only planning commission meetings, but also board meetings of the fire district and the water district.”   —>

Champaign staff against funding another cable channel
by Mike Monson
News-Gazette (IL)

The city’s staff is urging the council to reject using city funds or higher cable bills to pay for a proposed public-access channel to serve Champaign-Urbana.  The council will consider the issue tonight in study session at 7 at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

The staff recommendation goes against that made by a city consultant, the Moss & Barnett law firm of Minneapolis, in its recently completed assessment of the community’s cable needs. The report was prepared to help identify community needs before the start of cable franchise renewal negotiations with Comcast, which is expected to become the city’s new franchisee within a few weeks, taking over from Insight Communications.  Champaign and Urbana’s 15-year cable franchise agreements expire Feb. 28, 2009, and the cities are readying for negotiations.

Moss & Barnett is recommending the cities negotiate creation of a fifth access channel that would be devoted exclusively to public access programming – programs submitted or created by the general public.  Currently, there are four access channels, one each for Champaign and Urbana, plus channels the cities have allocated to the University of Illinois and Parkland College. Champaign’s channel is devoted exclusively to government programming, while Urbana divides its content between government and public access.

Besides a new public access station, Moss & Barnett also recommends that the cities should negotiate obtaining $400,000 in capital funding from Comcast to equip the station, which would likely lead to an 18-cent per month increase in Champaign-Urbana subscribers’ cable bills for five years. Federal law allows cable operators to recover negotiated costs from subscribers.

The report also recommends that the public-access channel should have an annual $300,000 operating budget that could be funded from franchise fees levied by the cities. It is this recommendation that city staff doesn’t agree with, said Jeff Hamilton, a telecommunications and audiovisual technician for Champaign.  “The administration is supportive of creating a fifth channel that could be used jointly by our citizens,” Hamilton said. “We don’t feel it’s in the best interests of the city to fund it with city dollars or to increase cable bills to pay for that.”   —>

State Assembly approves video franchising bill
Wisconsin Technology Network (WI)

Madison, Wis. – AB 207, a bill designed to intensify cable television competition in Wisconsin, has passed the State Assembly and remains one signature away from becoming law.   —>

AT&T U-verse access debated
City’s low-income areas often lack cable alternative
by Rick Barrett and Ben Poston
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)

—>   Yet even as AT&T irons out some technical glitches, such as occasional video and Internet lockups and problems with sound-picture synchronization, U-verse finds itself in a statewide debate over competition and access in the video and Internet businesses.

Today, the state Assembly is scheduled to vote on legislation that proponents say would open Wisconsin to real competition in cable and video services.  The legislation would give cable and video providers a single statewide franchise and scrap the present system that forces them to negotiate separate contracts with each community they serve.

But opponents say the measure lacks adequate consumer protection, and they point to the rollout of U-verse in Milwaukee as evidence that AT&T has been “cherry picking” neighborhoods where it wants to offer the service.  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says he’s worried that AT&T will exclude some parts of the city from U-verse.  “I don’t want to see a service map with a huge doughnut hole in it,” he said.

240 locations, 15 in poorer areas

A Journal Sentinel analysis of U-verse “service cabinet” locations that have been approved or are awaiting approval in Milwaukee shows that significant parts of the city aren’t covered. The cabinet locations are “nodes” that provide U-verse to a neighborhood.  Of 240 locations, only 15 are in census tracts where the median household income is less than $24,130, the 2007 federal poverty threshold for a family of five, according to the analysis.

There are 40 of those tracts, which accounted for 11.3% of the city’s population in 2004, but account for only 6.25% of the approved or pending U-verse cabinets.  “These trends are very disturbing to me,” Barrett said Monday. “We will be talking with AT&T about filling in the gaps and reversing the trends shown on the map.”  U-verse has been available in selected areas of Wisconsin for about nine months. But it’s unclear exactly where the service is offered, or when it’s coming to a neighborhood, because AT&T refuses to provide detailed information.   —>

Pancake breakfast at Applebee’s
The Citizen of Laconia (NH)

The Tilton Police Union will sponsor an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at Applebee’s Restaurant in Tilton on Sunday from 7:30 to 10 a.m.  Proceeds will go toward scholarships, providing needy families with Christmas baskets, and the WLNH-Lakes Region Public Access Television-MetroCast Cablevision Children’s Auction, along with the other community activities the union provides.   —>

Avoid the crowds: Watch Merriment on cable TV
by Stan Musick
The Reporter (CA)

This year’s 25th celebration of Merriment on Main was a lot of fun. My fellow volunteers from Vacaville Community Television and I recorded the event for broadcast on your Public Access cable TV Channel 27.  We were able to work with the event coordinators to provide a live broadcast in the streets the night of the Tree Lighting.   —>

Santa Claus is coming to town … again
by Brian Falla
Daily News Transcript (MA)

Due to overwhelming demand, Santa Claus is coming to town again this year to talk live with kids on Norwood Public Access Television.  “Norwood Digest” host Jack McCarthy said he received confirmation from Santa last week when he attended the annual Friends of St. Nick luncheon to benefit Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  Santa will again be making an appearance on NPA’s “Norwood Digest” show, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. and kids can call in live to talk with Santa and drop any last-minute gift hints to the man in red.

McCarthy will once again be sitting down with Santa and sipping hot cocoa in front of the fireplace during the one-hour show that has become a holiday tradition.  Norwood Public Access held the first “Live Santa” chat last year and decided it had to do it again.  “We must have had 40 or 50 kids talk to Santa last year,” said NPA station and public affairs coordinator Karen Murphy. “It was so popular, Santa asked us if we could come back again this year.”   —>

Mass Confusion: Bright House Channel Changes Start Today
St. Petersburg Times (FL)

As you may already know by now, tons of channels are changing on Bright House Networks in every one of its Tampa Bay area cable TV systems in seven counties. Pinellas County has been hit the hardest, with 42 different channel changes, including moving the government and public school channels into the high definition tier. It’s all in the name of standardizing channel numbers in every market….

I also got this email from the good folks at Verizon:

“Our channel line-up for PEGs is already “in order” and will not be changed. The link below provides you with our overall line-up. The PEG channels are available to both analog (Local Package on this list) and digital customers in the same location. The overwhelming majority of our FiOS TV customers take the digital Premier package. One, it is the foundation of our bundled offerings; and two, at $42.99 for standalone (STBs, taxes and fees are extra), it is priced very competitively to Bright House’s analog and digital packages.”   —>

Beware Of Channel Changes: Playmates Turn Up Where Government Used To Be
by Walt Belcher
The Tampa Tribune (FL)

In the great channel shake-up that is going on with Bright House Networks today, Hillsborough County subscribers don’t get a break when it comes to getting E! separated from C-SPAN2.  For years, this odd combo has shared the same channel space. It’s politics in the daytime and pop culture at night.  C-SPAN2, which features coverage of Senate hearings, runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Then E! kicks in and runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Today, this odd couple has moved from channel 51 to channel 22, formerly the home of Hillsborough County Government Television.

If you haven’t been paying attention, and you click to tune in to see the next Hillsborough County Commission meeting or a Planning Commission meeting, you might be surprised to find something such as “The Girls Next Door,” the E! series that follows the adventures of three of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Playmates.  After a few minutes of that, you may not care that the Hillsborough County government channel has moved to channel 622. All the access channels are up in the 600s now.   —>

Controlling the Internet
by Mic Mell
State of Mind of The Art

As if throttling Bit Torrent, blocking access to sites like and PirateBay, and endless industry litigation aren’t eroding net neutrality enough, the IFPI is taking it a step further.  The IFPI is an international version of the RIAA, and the recently sent a memo to the European Union about file sharing.  The IFPI wants to see Europe’s internet monitored, managed, and controlled.  They are presenting a “complete solution to piracy”.  This three step process looks something like this:

1.  Scan the entire internet for audio files, and block files that don’t match up to a database of music.  This practice is called content filtering.  Although it seems benign, the practice of monitoring the entire internet is a slippery slope toward full scale surveillance.  Aside from harming commerce and academic research, having a huge government database of people’s web activity can be used for more malicious purposes then chasing down people who are illegally downloading music.

2.  Blocking peer to peer protocols.  A protocol is a standard for connecting and sharing data, and P2P networks have their own protocol.  If ISPs systematically ferret out and block these protocols, academics and businesses won’t be able to share large files, either.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: BitTorrent, cable vs telco, government access, internet censorship, municipal programming, net neutrality, P2P, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, U-Verse, video franchising

One Comment on “Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/11/07”

  1. […] Original post by The Liberty Lounge Political Forums […]

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