Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/14/07

Is Junk Media Making You Sick?

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Massing the Media
by Bill Moyers
Bill Moyers Journal

Publishing conglomerates have been buying up local newspapers for more than thirty years, but they’ve been prohibited from buying radio and TV stations in their home towns. The FCC is poised to relax this rule within the month. This week, the FCC went before the Senate Commerce Committee to discuss media ownership rule changes that Chairman Kevin Martin has been advocating, hoping to push through by December 18. Martin explains:

“This proposal would allow a newspaper to purchase a broadcast station – but not one of the top four television station – in the largest 20 cities in the country as long as 8 independent voices remain. This relatively minor loosening of the ban on newspaper/broadcast cross-ownership in markets where there are so many voices and sufficient competition would help strike a balance between ensuring the quality of local news gathering while guarding against too much concentration.”

Yet after 6 public hearings on proposed changes, the latest in Seattle on November 9 that lasted until 1 in the morning, public opinion appears to be overwhelmingly opposed to relaxing the rules. “We told you a year ago when you came to Seattle…What part of that didn’t you understand?” stated area resident Susan McCabe at the hearing.

* Watch the Senate Commerce Committee FCC hearing, 12/13/07
* Watch the House SubCommittee FCC Hearing, 12/5/07
* Watch the full Seattle hearing here, 11/9/07

Three days after the Seattle hearing, Chairman Martin released this Op-Ed in THE NEW YORK TIMES, which further stresses his desire to push through changes, despite public opinion.

Commissioner Michael Copps, one of the two Democrats in the minority on the FCC, continues to speak out vigorously against the impending rule changes vote:

“What we have here is an unseemly rush to judgment, a stubborn insistence to finish the proceeding by December 18th, public and congressional opinion be damned. When overwhelming majorities of citizens oppose this, when members of Congress write to caution us every day, and when legislation to avoid a nine-car train wreck is being actively considered on Capitol Hill, I think the FCC has a responsibility to stop, look and listen. The stakes are enormous.”

Villages’ and Verizon’s Franchise Agreement Set for Public Hearing
by Carol Frank
Great Neck Record (NY)

—> Verizon will pay a franchise fee of 3 percent of gross revenues. The definition of gross revenue is the broadest which is permitted under present federal law, and also includes a provision which will incorporate any future changes in federal law. Present federal law does not permit franchise fees to be paid on Internet service or telephone service, even if they are provided by use of the same cable used for cable television service.

Verizon will provide free connection and basic service for one service outlet at each public building location listed in Exhibit A of the franchise in each village.

Verizon will provide the ability to cablecast alphanumeric programming, and taped and live television programming, from each village hall, from the Public Access Television location, and from each school district, the public library, and park district. The ability to provide live programming from these various locations will commence within a period of time stated in the respective Exhibits D, upon request from the local entity. Alphanumeric programming will be available, via Internet connection, from day one, and taped programming will be available from day one with programs to be physically delivered to the PATC office in Lake Success.

Verizon’s system will be designed for interconnection with other Verizon systems in neighboring communities, and other cable companies operating in the villages. Verizon will deliver the Town of North Hempstead access channel to each subscriber in each village, and will deliver the school, library and park district programming to each unincorporated area within those respective districts.

Verizon will provide nine channels for public, educational and government access programming. One channel will be reserved for fulltime use by the Public Access Television Corporation, one for the Great Neck Public Schools, one for the Manhasset Public Schools, one for the Great Neck Public Library, one for the North Shore public libraries, one for the Great Neck Park District and one for the North Shore park districts. In addition, there will be one channel shared by the Great Neck villages, and one shared by the North Shore villages.

Verizon will also make various payments in support of the public, educational and governmental access programming operated or supervised by the Public Access Television Corporation (PATV). A payment of $300,000 will be made for that purpose, within sixty days after the franchise is approved by the Public Service Commission, and an additional $150,000 will be paid for that purpose one year later. In addition, Verizon will pay PATC 1 percent of gross revenues, in addition to the 3 percent paid to each individual village, to be used for PEG support purposes. Verizon will also pay PATC $2.12 per subscriber per month for the first five years of the franchise, and $2.40 per subscriber per month for the next five years. —>

A cable pioneer steps down
by Mike Hughes
LSJ Blogs (NY)

One of the pioneers of local cable-TV is stepping down today (Friday, Dec. 14). Darryl Burgess has his final edition of “Required Viewing” at 7:30 p.m. on Channel 16 of Lansing’s Comcast system. When you say “cable star” these days, people might think of anyone from Miley Cyrus to James Gandolfini. In the early days, however, guys like Darryl were a key.

His “Required Viewing” went on the air in 1979, the same year as ESPN. That was a year ahead of MTV and the USA Network, four years ahead of the Disney Channel, nine ahead of TNT, 13 ahead of the Sci Fi Channel. The cable universe was open; so were people’s schedules…

Now that’s getting harder, he says. De-regulation has set in: Comcast is planning to cut out use of the Lansing editing facilities; public-access producers will have to do shows on their own, send them to Southfield and eventually see them on an obscure, digital channel. So he’s wrapping it up, at least for now. The final show is at 7:30 p.m. —>

Enter ‘Dark Vault’ to explore history of television
Press & Sun Bulletin (MI)

“The Dark Vault Of Public Domain” is a locally produced program showcasing classic feature-length movies, cartoons and assorted short subjects selected from a collection spanning more than 80 years of cinema and television. The show, which debuted this fall, airs from 10 p.m. to midnight Saturdays on TimeWarner cable channel 4, the public access channel. The show, an homage to the classic character-hosted monster movie shows of the 1950s and ’60s, is introduced by local radio personality Uncle Pete (aka Pete Letkiewicz), a veteran of more than three decades of radio announcing. He has hosted “The Uncle Pete Show” on WHRW, 90.5 FM, since 1981. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cross-ownership, FCC, Kevin Martin, media criticism, media ownership, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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