Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/13/07

Way Beyond YouTube! Wiki on US PEG Streaming
by Deep Dish
Waves of Change

The Alliance for Community Media has set up a Wiki with links to streaming PEG (Public, Educational and Government) channels in the U.S. You can get a sense of what sort of programming is being presented on these channels. Access centers can add their own url if it has not been included on the interactive site.

Opponents of cable bill lobby Doyle to again use partial veto
by Charles Brace
The Daily Cardinal (WI)

The bill relating to cable television passed the Assembly Tuesday, but opponents still hope Gov. Jim Doyle will veto portions of the legislation before signing it.  State Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, (above) said he believes Gov. Jim Doyle is willing to veto portions of the recently passed cable bill.   —>

Cable competition bill concerns local officials
by Jeff Bollier
Oshkosh Northwestern (WI)

A proposal to replace local cable television agreements with a statewide licensing system only needs Gov. Jim Doyle’s approval to become law now despite the proposal’s impact on public access channel revenues and doubts about how much added competition will lower cable rates.  The bill, lobbied for heavily by AT&T, does away with the local licensing agreements that started in the 1970s and replaces it with a single statewide license. Getting one license to operate in the entire state was advocated by AT&T as a faster and more efficient way for it to enter the state’s cable market.

But Oshkosh Community Access Television Executive Director Jon Urben, a strong opponent of the bill because of its impact on community stations like OCAT, said he fears the bill will not reduce consumers’ cable rates. Urben also pointed out the city of Oshkosh’s franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable does not exclude AT&T, Charter Communications or any other cable provider from offering services in the Oshkosh market.  “The idea of more competition resonates so well with everyone, but nowhere in the bill does it say your cable bill is going to go down,” Urben said. “The system has been this way for more than 30 years and there’s never been a barrier to AT&T coming into the community. They just want to get into the market with less government regulation.”   —>

EDITORIAL: Cable deregulation harmful for Wisconsin Consumers
The Daily Telegram (WI)

Wisconsin consumers beware.  Legislation awaiting the governor’s likely signature claims to be in the best interest of video service network subscribers — cable TV viewers.  The objective of Assembly Bill 207 is to take franchise agreements out of the hands of local government and move governance of those agreements to the state.  The goal, the bill’s authors say, is to hold down costs by fostering competition. On its surface that sounds like a good plan, but it’s deregulation, which has rarely benefited consumers.

The bill offers little in the way of consumer protection. Mandatory standards of service are minimal. And if the cable provider fails to meet even those minimum standards, there is no enforcement mechanism.  A consumer’s recourse — file a court action and get a judge to order the company to comply with the law.

The bill does offer support to maintain public access, but critics are undoubtedly correct when they say the legislation will eventually starve it to death. Wisconsin offers a long list of examples of breaking its promises to balance the state checkbook on the backs of property owners — courts, public health, social services, shared revenue. It’s only a matter of time before fees to support public access are added to the list. However, it’s more likely to go away since AB 207 doesn’t allow local government to tax for the cost.

The bill already prevents local government from collecting permit fees when the cable company uses a public right-of way. It’s a fee other utilities are required to pay.  The governor should whip out his veto pen and send AB 207 back to the Legislature with instruction to follow the suggestion of Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma. Her idea is to adopt a bill that mirrors a cable bill adopted in Illinois.

The Illinois bill protects consumers, sets service standards and has a means to penalize companies that don’t meet those requirements. Illinois also has the mechanism in place to protect the general public interest, whether or not individuals are cable customers, by allowing municipalities to recoup costs for inspection of work in the public right-of-way.

Public access television to add second channel
New channel will air government, education
by Jenny Goldsmith
Sierra Sun (CA)

Community television has been a bit too successful in the North Tahoe area.  Coverage of Truckee-Tahoe government meetings has overwhelmed the public-access programming the region’s cable provider broadcasts to its viewers in the Truckee-North Tahoe area.  To stay true to its mandate of providing the public its own broadcast outlet, Truckee Tahoe Community Television will add a second public-access channel to improve community coverage.   —>

TV production training is free at MCTV
by Paul Boerger
Mt. Shasta News (CA)

If you ever had the notion to put on or be part of a television program – whether educational, talk show, entertainment or documentary, or running the equipment or learning any of the other many activities that TV production entails – then Mountain Community Television Channel 15 has the studio and people to make that happen for you.

MCTV15 is the non-profit Siskiyou County public access television station broadcast by Northland Cable. The studio is located at College of the Siskiyous in Weed, and the public is invited to be part of the station. In partnership with COS, classes on many aspects of television production are also available for credit.

“We have up-to-date equipment just waiting for the public to take advantage of,” said Audra Gibson, president of the board of directors. “We’re not the local news station. The programming is citizen generated.”  Gibson said the station is open to a wide range of programming.

“We invite you to take your creativity and bring it to MCTV15. We’re looking for a variety of programs including events, talk shows, educational, sports, kids activities, cooking, news magazines and school activities. Authors, musicians and artists can showcase their work,” Gibson said. “Let your imagination be your guide. If you are interested in getting an event or story on television, we can assist you in making that happen.”   —>

Tech companies and public interest groups form coalition to expand broadband access
by Kevin Bogardus
The Hill

Tech giants and public interest watchdogs joined forces Wednesday in a new coalition to support new portable wireless devices that will utilize underused parts of the spectrum for Internet service.  The Wireless Innovation Alliance (WIA) is a new group comprised of IT companies like Google and Hewlett-Packard as well as watchdog groups such as Free Press and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. They have teamed up as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers rules for devices designed to provide broadband access using “white spaces” — unused parts of the spectrum that typically would be occupied by television frequencies.

“All government is doing is setting the road signs,” said Rep. Jay Inslee (D-Wash.), speaking at the press conference announcing the alliance. “But the private sector can’t move ahead until the road signs are established.”   —>–lobby/tech-companies-and-public-interest-groups-form-coalition-to-expand-broadband-access-2007-12-13.html

Today: TV static. Tomorrow: broadband.
by Richard Whitt
Google Public Policy Blog

Remember how, before cable and satellite TV became ubiquitous in our homes, we would have to turn the VHF dial on our old televisions to watch local channels? NBC might have been on channel 3, CBS on 10, and ABC on 17. And between those channels…was static.

Today, the spaces between those channels remain largely unused. But now a consensus is growing that those portions of TV spectrum — known as “white spaces” — could be used to expand Internet access through low power personal devices, akin to Wi-Fi. Best of all, new spectrum sensing technologies can ensure that this spectrum could be used for mobile broadband service without interfering one bit with television signals. Which means that not only would more Americans be able to reach the Internet, but also that I’ll still be able to watch The Colbert Report (at least once the Hollywood writers’ strike is settled).

Over the past few months, bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the House (by Reps. Jay Inslee and Nathan Deal) and Senate (by Sens. John Kerry and Gordon Smith) to open up this spectrum. We support these bills and thank their sponsors. At the same time, the Federal Communications Commission is currently evaluating the technology concepts behind this issue. As part of that process, we met last week with some of the FCC’s engineers and presented encouraging test results based on ongoing trials of wireless technologies.

Today, Google joined a broad-based coalition of technology companies, public interest and consumer groups, civil rights organizations, think tanks, and higher education groups to launch the Wireless Innovation Alliance, a new group to promote the numerous benefits that the “white spaces” can bring to consumers. The members of the coalition have already helped secure significant political support for our goals from Members of Congress, and we will be working over the next several months to educate more policymakers about the promise of white spaces. And while some have sought recently to politicize this process, we think the FCC should be allowed to conduct its analysis free of political considerations.

Between today’s TV channels lies the opportunity for more Americans to enjoy the Internet’s rich resources. We’ll be working hard to make sure this debate is marked by more clarity, and less static.   —>

Your Guide to Hyper-Local News
by Mark Glaser

From time to time, I’ll give an overview of one broad MediaShift topic, annotated with online resources and plenty of tips. The idea is to help you understand the topic, learn the jargon, and take action. I’ve already covered blogging, citizen journalism, widgets and other topics. This week I’ll look at hyper-local news.   —>

Cable Industry Launches ‘Our Time To Vote,’ a $5 Million National Multi-Cultural Voter Education and Registration Campaign
Public Service Announcements, Webpage, Hotline and Comcast Foundation grants to diverse organizations headline campaign
Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications, Inc. and Bright House Networks to support effort
PR Newswire

Comcast , the nation’s leading provider of cable, entertainment and communications products and services, today announced the launch of “Our Time to Vote,” a year-long, non-partisan voter education and registration campaign designed to increase voting in diverse communities served by the cable industry.

“Comcast recognizes that broader participation in the democratic process is important for our nation, and we are very pleased to launch this partnership to pursue that goal,” said Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen. “This campaign reflects the cable industry’s commitment to strong local communities and to active public citizenship.”

The estimated $5 million campaign features four multi-cultural public service announcements (PSAs), as well as the creation and launch of two nationally available voter education resources: the webpage and a voter information resources hotline, 1.866.544.VOTE.

The PSAs will begin airing on December 15, leading up to the 2008 primary elections in Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications, Inc. and Bright House Networks markets. They feature appearances by African American, Asian American and Hispanic entertainers and leaders, including Ana Ortiz, George Lopez, Lou Diamond Phillips, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Margaret Cho, encouraging diverse audiences to register to vote. A series of “Get out the Vote” spots will run from September 1, 2008, through November 3, 2008, just prior to the general election. The PSAs can be viewed at:

“Too few Americans vote and that hurts our democracy,” said FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps. “‘Our Time to Vote’ is a welcome and multi-faceted campaign to promote citizen participation in the electoral process. It’s a real public service.”

The Comcast Foundation has also awarded grants to the following organizations to help support their nonpartisan voter outreach efforts:
— Asian Pacific Islander American Vote
— The Hispanic Federation
— League of United Latin American Citizens
— The NAACP National Voter Fund
— National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, citizen journalism, FCC, hyper-local, hyperlocal, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, streaming, video franchising, white space, white spaces

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