Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/17/07

Learning to Love PEG Channels
by Geoff Daily

Last week I wrote a post entitled “Learning to Live Without PEG Channels (And Loving It!)” that attempted to broadly convey a narrow point about the limitations of cable systems and the possibilities of Internet systems for the delivery of PEG content.  Admittedly, I wrote this post focusing only on a small area of a much larger and more complex issue, and in doing so committed the cardinal sin of not acknowledging the other complexities that exist, causing what I’d hoped could be a rallying cry to instead appear like a dismissive rebuttal of the current paradigm.

Luckily for me, the responses to my post were thorough, informative, and enlightening, expanding my understanding of some of the issues at hand, and sparking my interest in learning more about the opportunities and challenges of these vital societal resources.  I’ve begun an information gathering process in an attempt to prepare for an extended conversation about local community media over the coming weeks and months.

But for now, I wanted to circle back and flesh out a bit more some of the basic ideas expressed in that first post.   —>

Quiet, please! Locals on air
An Anne Arundel radio station grows into a community voice
by Nicole Fuller
Baltimore Sun (MD)

The weekly local political roundtable is in full swing and the discussion is heating up: The farmlands of southern Anne Arundel County are fading. People trying to escape sprawl are being pushed out to West Virginia. Soil erosion and nutrient runoff are polluting and degrading the bay.  “The Chesapeake Bay Foundation, are you listening?” asks Erik Michelsen, one of the impassioned voices at tiny 97.5 WRYR-FM radio in Churchton.

Michelsen’s show hits the airwaves for an hour on Saturday mornings, and Charles “Big Daddy” Stallings, a Baltimore blues artist, presses lips to his harmonica on Tuesday nights. Carol Bennett, the station’s resident fortuneteller, offers love advice Mondays.

All of it finds a home on the low-power community radio station that broadcasts from the second floor of a strip mall, over a Domino’s Pizza.

Funded through listener donations and local businesses, the no-frills nonprofit station is staffed solely by volunteers. In a nod to these everyman radio amateurs, taped to the walls are signs instructing, “Speak directly into the microphone” and “On Air SSSHHHH!!!!!”

Though its 100-watt signal reaches only from the Eastern Shore to Annapolis, it streams on the Internet at and reaches around the world – but many of its personalities will say they are perfectly content to play for a minuscule local audience.  Who needs ratings when your wife is listening?

“That’s not what we do,” says Robb Tufts, the station manager and a producer. “What we do is we provide a voice to our community. As far as ratings go, that’s not our game; our game is giving our community a voice.”  The grass-roots citizens group South Arundel Citizens for Responsible Development launched the station – whose call letters stand for “We aRe Your Radio” – in 2002, after the group won two high-profile land-use battles.   —>,0,5360401.story

FCC Chairman Martin Proposes Local Boards of ‘Good and Great’
by Fred Johnson

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is indulging in one of the FCC’s oldest, time honored traditions: making a lot of noise about “localism” and local programming, while creating policies that are destined to have the opposite effect.

As part of his efforts to have the FCC adopt rules that would relax the 32-year-old ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership, Martin proposes that, “Licensees should establish permanent advisory boards in each community (including representatives of underserved community segments) with which to consult periodically on community needs and issues,” and, that “The commission should adopt processing guidelines that will ensure that all broadcasters provide a significant amount of locally oriented programming.”

There is something very curious about a proposal to have our local broadcast license holders create local advisory boards, just now — particularly since it is coming from the FCC, an agency that has for the last 20 years charted new terrain in the land of regulatory capture.

So what’s the problem, surely we are all for more local programming? And surely requiring broadcasters to take advice from local communities is desirable, what could be the downside? Well perhaps a great deal.   —>

Comcast local access shift riles viewers
Community TV channels to move, require $4 a month digital box after 1st year.
by Christina Stolarz
The Detroit News (MI)

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — When it comes to television, Loretta Jasniak is proud to say she’s picky.  The Clinton Township resident is “disgusted” about all the sex and violence on TV nowadays. So, for entertainment, her remote control often lands on Animal Planet or Comcast channel 5 for the latest about her local government, community activities and emergency updates.

But next month when Comcast moves its public, educational and government channels from lower-numbered channels to somewhere in the 900s, her preferred viewing options will be even more limited. That is, unless Jasniak — and other analog customers — sign up for a special converter box that will cost about $4 a month after the first year.

“I have no intention of paying Comcast any more money than I do now,” said Jasniak, 79, whose basic cable bill is about $44 a month. But “if we don’t get this stupid box, we have no way of knowing what’s going on in our township. I’d be out in the dark without that. This is terrible. It should remain the way it is.”

Residents aren’t alone in their complaints about the switch. Community officials throughout Metro Detroit — such as Clinton Township, Warren, Sterling Heights and Dearborn — are up in arms over a state law that will allow the cable conglomerate to change the public access channel lineup. The move will take effect Jan. 15 when Comcast begins offering those channels in digital format.

Local officials are upset because they feel that viewership of community programs — that widely include council meetings, high school sports, library activities, senior citizen events and hobby shows — will plummet once the programs are hidden in the 900 range. In Sterling Heights, the government channel will move from 5 — its home for more than 20 years — to 915.   —>

Qwest calls off cable TV plans for Portland
by Mike Rogoway
The Oregonian

Qwest Communications International Inc., which won city permission just last month to offer cable TV service in Portland, called off those plans today after the company’s new CEO called IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) unsuitable for Qwest. Here’s a statement from the company’s Oregon office:

“When Qwest began the cable franchising process with the City of Portland, we were investigating an IPTV cable service deployment.  However, after further evaluation, Qwest does not plan to deploy IPTV cable television service but, instead, will continue to offer that capability through our partnership with DirecTV.”   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: community radio, cross-ownership, FCC, IPTV, low power FM, LPFM, media ownership, PEG access TV, public access television

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