Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/18/07

Governor Doyle Likely to Sign Cable Competition Bill
620 WTMJ Newsradio (WI)

Governor Doyle today says wants to sign a bill that would allow cable competition in Wisconsin.  The bill would basically super-cede local cable franchise agreements that exist across the state.  Right now, any company that wanted to compete would have to work out agreements with all the municipalities…

The Governor says while he wants to sign the bill and wants to see more competition, he is likely to make some changes.  The Governor says he’s likely to use his partial veto to add more consumer protections to the legislation.

Barnegat TV viewers pan service, fees
New Comcast Deal in the Works
by Alan Guenther
Ashbury Park Press (NJ)

—>   But it was Comcast’s cable TV service that drew the most criticism. Mayor Al Cirulli called Comcast service “horrendous.” The mayor said Comcast will require subscribers to rent control boxes for $1 per month, with additional fees of $3.95 per box per month for homes with more than one TV.  “If you’ve four televisions, you’re looking at an increase of more than $13 per month,” said the mayor. “People don’t know that yet.”  Comcast officials were not present at the meeting and could not be reached…

The township is asking Comcast to provide video equipment, production equipment or an electronic message bulletin board. Or the cable company could provide equipment that would help put residents’ video productions on the air, Bruno said.  “If we wanted to tape ballgames, parades, social events, community events — those events could be put on the public access channel,” Bruno said. “But we would have to have the proper equipment to do that.”

Sphere of influence back on Red Bluff City Council agenda
by Cliff Larimer
Red Bluff Daily News (CA)

Tonight’s other attention grabber is a recommendation by City Manager Martin Nichols that a notice of non-compliance be sent to the city cable television franchise, Charter Communications.  Nichols said the cable firm has not complied with the cable TV franchise issued by the city of Red Bluff in 1986.  According to his report to the council, those violations include:

* Not providing a two-way cable system and services (on-demand, pay-per-view and Internet access).
* Not providing network connections to other public agencies in Red Bluff.
* Not providing Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) access channels, facilities, equipment
and related services.
* Not providing certain interconnections for the purpose of providing educational programming to Red Bluff subscribers.
* Not providing an emergency alert override system for the city’s use.
* Not providing a local office.

Nichols first contacted Charter in early August. The company responded, saying it did not believe it was in non-compliance.  The report said the city could consider assessing fines of up to $200 a day, that could total $8.9 million.  The City Council will consider sending a notice of non-compliance and setting a public hearing for Feb. 5.   —>

Community Access Channels Moved from Basic Cable in Michigan (MI)

Today, the Grand Rapids Community Media Center (CMC) announced that Grand Rapids’ public access channels, GRTV and LiveWire, will no longer be offered as part of Comcast’s “basic” cable package. They will now only be available to digital subscribers. Comcast made the decision under options it was granted in last year’s State Uniform Video Franchise Act and has moved all community access channels in Michigan to the 900 tier of their digital cable service.

According to the CMC, the change was made with “little advance notice to, and no consultation with, public, education or government access stations.” The CMC estimates that half of local cable subscribers do not have digital cable and will no longer be able to access the station. Comcast is offering one free “converter box” per household for a year, but the CMC cites numerous problems with this including that programs are not included in the navigational menu and that there is no free assistance for installing the boxes.

Suitor could spark competitive bids to run Channel 61
by Gretchen M. Wintermantel
Times-Tribune (PA)

Scranton Today, which produces Public Access Channel 61, has some competition from an organization called Electric City TeleVision.  Chris Balton, a film producer who moved to Scranton last spring, has created a promotional DVD plugging the viability of ECTV as the new operator of Channel 61. ECTV would take Scranton Today, the non-profit organization that currently operates the station, out of the picture.

ECTV would move Channel 61 into a larger location, and create separate functions for Channel 61 and Channel 62.  Scranton Today President-elect Karen Bazzarri said she had not seen the promotional DVD and had not heard of ECTV.  “I don’t know anything about it,” she said. “I don’t really know what I can comment on.”

Scranton Today funds Channel 61 through county, school district and city money and through its own fundraising efforts. Mr. Balton said he is exploring “several other funding options” but declined to give further details.  On the DVD, Mr. Balton says “ECTV would become a three-member team,” because he would invite the two permanent staff members of Channel 61 to join the endeavor. As of Monday, he said via e-mail that he had not yet spoken with the staffers.   —>

More TV Choice and Competition Near for Residents of Rowley, Mass.
Town Approves Video License for Verizon; 1,800 More Households Soon Can Get FiOS TV
PR Newswire

Residents of Rowley are a major step closer to having another choice for their cable television services, thanks to a newly approved agreement authorizing Verizon to offer its FiOS TV service via the most advanced all-digital, fiber-optic network straight to customers’ homes.  The Board of Selectmen in Rowley granted a cable franchise to Verizon Monday (Dec. 17), paving the way for video choice for approximately 1,800 more Massachusetts households.  The board’s vote brings to 63 the total number of Massachusetts communities where Verizon’s FiOS TV is or will soon be available…

The Rowley franchise agreement contains provisions for the network’s future growth; financial support and capacity for educational and government access channels; cable service to government buildings; and other important benefits to the town, including insurance, indemnification and enforcement protections.   —>

FCC Adopts 30% Cable Ownership Cap
Move Stops Comcast From Acquiring More Cable Systems
by Ted Hearn
Multichannel News

As expected, the Federal Communications Commission adopted a rule Tuesday afternoon that bars any cable company in the U.S. from serving more than 30% of all pay-TV subscribers nationally.  The rule mostly likely stops Comcast from making a big cable acquisition since the largest cable company in the U.S. has 27% market share under FCC rules on how to count cable subscribers. The cable industry is expected to appeal the new rule in federal court.   —>

Jordanian media laws must be amended
by Daoud Kuttab

A decision by the outgoing Bakhit government rejecting an application for a radio license has exposed one of the major weaknesses of the current Jordanian Audio Visual Law. The applicant (author of this article) had requested permission to initiate a community radio station for the third largest city in Jordan, Zarqa. The request was made for the category of stations that would not broadcast news or political programming. No explanation for the rejection is made in the written decision made in the November 13 session. Clause 18b of the 2004 Audio Visual Law allows the council of ministers to refuse any request for a frequency without giving any explanation.   —>

JORDAN: Community radio is refused license

AMMAN, Dec. 18, 2007 (AMMANNET) – The Jordanian government has rejected a petition to grant a local radio license for the third biggest city of Jordan, Zarqa. In one of its last decisions, the outgoing Jordanian cabinet rejected the application by AmmanNet to set up a community radio station that will not broadcast news or politics.  This is the first known case in which a radio license has been rejected in Jordan since the deregulation of airwaves allowing for private ownership.

No explanation was included in the November 13 decision of the outgoing Bakhit cabinet which rejected the request based on clause 18.b of the Jordanian audio visual law. That clause states: “The Council of Ministers may refuse to grant broadcasting licenses to any entity without stating the reasons for such rejection.”

Daoud Kuttab, founder and director of AmmanNet, called the decision an indirect punishment to the people of Zarqa. “With so many radio licenses in the capital, we expected the Jordanian government to support rather than reject a radio license that will offer public broadcasting to community services-deprived Zarqa. “  Kuttab said that an advisory board made up of community leaders was assembled, a studio space was rented in downtown Zarqa and equipment for the station was ordered. “At a time when Jordan is encouraging independent community-based media, this unexplained decision surprised us.”   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, community radio, FCC, media ownership, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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