Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/23/07

Access is difficult on AT&T cable
Palo Alto considers suit against telecom giant
by Kristina Peterson
Palo Alto Daily News (CA)

Most Monday nights, the Palo Alto City Council meeting on Channel 26 is just a couple clicks away from any resident with cable television.  But beginning in early- or mid-2008, locals may have to scroll up to channel 99 and weave their way through a series of screens to find public, educational and government programming if AT&T rolls out full cable service in the city.

And after finally reaching the public broadcast, residents will not be able to preserve it with a digital video recorder, list it as a favorite or utilize closed-captioning features – all of which violates state law, said Melissa Cavallo, cable coordinator of the joint powers authority managed by Palo Alto.  “If you ever get (to the program), the features, functions and qualities of the picture are inferior to commercial channels,” Cavallo said Friday. “They are giving our channels second-class treatment.”

The picture quality on public programming channels under AT&T will be less than one-fourth of its current resolution, according to a city staff report.  Even more problematic, students watching DeAnza College’s filmed lectures will not have access to closed captioning for recorded classes.  The proposed system “really prevents students in the disabled community from being able to participate in the educational programming,” Cavallo said.

After having raised these issues repeatedly with AT&T and getting no substantive response, the city is contemplating legal action against the telecommunications company, Cavallo said.  “If AT&T fails to comply with (state law), the city will be forced to explore all its options, including legal action if necessary,” she said. Right now, the city is waiting for AT&T to respond to a letter sent last month stating its objections.   —>

City Council likes blackout TV dates
Only one meeting a month will be broadcast, Santa Ana officials decide. Mayor says an ‘informal’ setting is sometimes needed.
by Jennifer Delson
Los Angeles Times

In an age when new technology has provided access to increasing amounts of information, the Santa Ana City Council has decided that certain things are not fit for viewing — some of its own meetings  Mayor Miguel Pulido will allow only one of the two monthly meetings to be broadcast, making Santa Ana the largest city in the state that doesn’t televise all its meetings.

At the Dec. 3 meeting, no council member would second a motion requiring that all meetings be televised on the public access channel and be available on the city’s website for at least five years.  “You have to ask why every other council is doing this and we aren’t,” said Councilwoman Michele Martinez, who offered the motion. “There’s a perception that this council wants to run closed-door meetings.”   —>,1,5045459.story?coll=la-headlines-pe-california&ctrack=1&cset=true

Defiant Till the End: Terry Liberty Parker
Wes Benedict for LNC (TX)

—>  Terry Liberty Parker was a 10-year host of the show “Live & Let Live” and first invited me to appear as a guest on his show in 2002. It was my first live television appearance, I was nervous as heck, and also offended quite a few people. Terry let me know that, but in a supportive way and with plenty of constructive criticism. As libertarians often do, we occasionally butted heads in our future political activism. Terry was as stubborn as they make ’em and I will never forget him and will always consider his unwavering support for freedom to be an inspiration to me.  I hope this excerpt from the final “Live and Let Live” show before his passing shows how much Austin libertarians appreciate all that he did.

From the Austin American Statesman:

Terry Liberty Parker

Terry Liberty Parker, longtime Austin Libertarian activist, passed away peacefully on December 17, 2007 after a short but valiant fight against aggressive brain cancer. Terry was born on October 26, 1944 in New York City. For over 30 years Terry was a vocal and passionate champion of Libertarian principles. In the early 1970s, Terry gained worldwide fame for establishing a clothing-optional apartment whose tenants signed a “non-aggression pact” whereby “they were free to do whatever they want as long as they don’t aggress physically against one another.” He was active in the Libertarian Party during the 1980s and once served as Travis County Libertarian Party Chair. For 10 years, Terry hosted “Live and Let Live,” and for the past two years he co-hosted the “Jeff Davis Show,” both on Austin’s local public access television station. In the 1990s, he began using the Internet to expand his Libertarian voice by establishing himself as moderator of the Libertarian Yahoo Group and provided the valuable service as archivist for televised Libertarian programs. Terry was most admired for his unwavering commitment to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and his unconditional love for his friends and family. Terry’s survivors include beloved daughter, Clare Burchfield; cousin, Mary Partlan (John); loving life-mate, Rita Gonzalez; and numerous lifelong friends. A private memorial will be held in Austin to celebrate his exceptional life. Obituary and guestbook online at

“There Is No Free Press, Only Free Journalists”
Arab Press Network

Michel Hajji Georgiou, a political analyst at the Lebanese French-language daily L’Orient-Le Jour, has won the 2007 Gebran Tueni Award 2007, given annually by the World Association of Newspapers and the Lebanese An-Nahar daily to a young newspaper editor or publisher from the Arab world in memory of Gebran Tueni, the Lebanese editor who was assassinated in December 2005.  In an interview with APN, he spoke about his view of the role of the press in Lebanon and the Arab world.

APN: You have just been awarded the second Gebran Tueni Prize. How does it feel?
Michel Hajji Georgiou: I was never thinking about winning a prize, I was just doing my job. Commitment to free speech, civil liberties and democracy through journalism is a natural approach for me. I am, however, very happy and very honoured to receive this award which carries with it a heavy responsibility. Firstly because it carries the name of Gebran Tueni, and also because of the current situation in Lebanon. The Beirut Spring is running out of steam. The country is very divided and is sinking into a crisis with no end in sight. We are heading for a dubious compromise involving a military leader in power and this sort of experiment has never been a comfortable one. Safeguards will need to be established to protect civil liberties and the gains of the Independence Intifada.

I am pleased that it is Gebran who is driving this ferment since he is someone who is still irreversibly alive, much more alive than some members of the political establishment who continue to prove on a daily basis that they are more dead than alive.

APN: How do you see the role of Lebanese journalists today?
MHG: Their mission is not obvious. The last two years have seen the degeneration of the political discourse to the point where people are rejoicing at the assassination of the other side’s leaders. Unfortunately the media are polarised, and line up along this political divide. It is high time the press played a role in supporting reconciliation in Lebanon, and stopped giving a helping hand to this stupid escalation and to the resurgence of populism, which is a threat to democracy.

It is the role of the media to transcend communitarian attitudes and to cross those divides, but they do not always manage to do that. There is no free press in the Lebanon, just free journalists and I think this is the case in the whole Arab world. Today’s challenge is to protect the gains of the Beirut Spring that Gebran Tueni, Samir Kassir (editor’s note: a Lebanese journalist assassinated in June 2005) and others died for.

APN: What is your view of the Arab press today?
MHG: It is not in a very encouraging state. In saying that, I am thinking of Samir Kassir. I think we should all read and reread his book Being Arab (Verso, London 2006). The book is a beacon for the future. Samir Kassir, who was my tutor at the Saint-Joseph University, died for this renaissance. And who, other than the press, can breathe life into this renaissance on the scale of the Arab world as a whole, marked as it is by too much despotism, lack of freedom and fossilization of ideas. It is time for a wind of modernity to blow and for lamentations to cease.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable vs telco, government access, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, U-Verse

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