Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/25/07

Local Groups Petition FCC to Stay Ruling on Video-Franchise Reform
Broadcast Newsroom

Local franchise authorities, including the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, have asked the FCC to stay its Oct. 31 decision extending to incumbent cable operators essentially the same video-franchise reforms it gave telco video providers  in an earlier ruling.

In a petition for the stay and reconsideration of the decision, the local government groups “more than a half dozen of them, including the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors” argued that the commission failed to preempt “most-favored nation” clauses (which specify that the a new entrants can’t get better terms than the incumbent) or to base its decision on “appropriate economic impact analysis.” The groups further pointed out that they had filed a lawsuit against the initial decision granting franchise relief to telco video providers.    “In the absence of a stay,” they said in the FCC filing, “petitioners’ members will be irreparably harmed.” The governments have said that the FCC decision will “severely restrict the ability of local governments to protect their citizens, rights-of-way, community channels, and public safety networks.”

They argue in the request for a stay that by not preempting existing most-favored nation clauses, the commission “upended the franchise negotiation process.”   —>

The good FCC
by Matthew Lasar
Lasar’s Letter on the FCC

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission, by a bare majority, voted to lift its over three decade old prohibition against an entity owning a newspaper and a television station in the same market. Most FCC watchers will now shift their visors to Congress and the circuit courts, where media reform activists will doubtless turn in a bid to reverse this ruling.  But the agency also made four important decisions this month and last that deserve a second glance, not only because they could have an impact on broadcasting, but because they illustrate the extent to which the Commission can promote measures that clearly serve the public interest—when it wants to.

Low Power FM…
Diversification of broadcast ownership…
Cable subscriber caps…

Local Network’s Warnings About TV Unheeded
by Louise Thompson
Tampa Tribune (FL)

Regarding the Tribune editorial, “Bright House Snubs Public Good” (Our Opinion, Dec. 13):

In this editorial about Bright House Networks moving local government channels to the 600 tier, you neglected to let your readers know that their own local public access channels have also been moved from Bright House channels 19 and 20 to digital channels 949 and 950 or Outer Mongolia on the TV channel lineup.  To view Tampa Bay Community Network’s programs, which are produced by the local community, Bright House subscribers who don’t currently have digital boxes, will have to rent them for $1 per month.  Or, perhaps, and more likely, make the switch to Verizon FIOS, where they can still view Tampa Bay Community Network on channels 30 and 36.

It is on TBCN that viewers can watch alternative news programming like Democracy Now and Free Speech TV, learn (in both English and Spanish) how to access nonprofit and government services, enjoy University of Tampa sports, take in a sermon or local band, “attend” (via TV) local community events and, perhaps most importantly, watch local debates and political forums that may help them vote in the right people come November.

As we previously told your editorial board, there is no question that our legislators made a huge error when they passed the so-called Consumer Choice Act of 2007, which your paper supported.  As our governor suggested when he signed the bill last May, it needs to be amended to protect the public, education and government channels. Hopefully, that will happen.

And, just maybe, then the county’s Board of County Commissioners, which eliminated residents’ free speech rights on cable when they de-funded the people’s channel, will come to its senses and restore their constitutional rights by reinstating TBCN’s budget.  As your own editorial pointed out in a different context, why would anyone want to “slam shut a wonderful window of public access”?

Daytona may televise more public meetings
by John Bozzo
Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)

Forget about those premium movie channels.  Mayor Glenn Ritchey is considering expanding the city’s telecasts of public meetings on Channel 99.  “There’s a lot of people who can’t get to meetings because of their work schedule or they can’t because of their health, or any reason,” he said.  City Commission meetings began airing on the Bright House cable channel last Jan. 10 after the company provided the city with $300,000 to equip the commission chambers to televise discussions.

“Anything that takes place in the commission chambers — Planning Board, Code Enforcement Board, redevelopment boards, Economic Development Advisory Board — anybody who meets in the chambers, we’re already set up to televise there like we do for the City Commission,” Ritchey said.  The mayor plans to nail down additional costs, such as for employees to operate the equipment, before bringing the issue to the City Commission, possibly Jan. 16.  “The whole thing is to make our government more accessible,” Ritchey said.

Other commissioners appear to like the idea of televising city advisory board meetings, but cost might be an issue.  “I don’t know what the costs are yet,” Commissioner Rick Shiver said. “I like the concept a whole lot.”   —>

PVT wants to enter Carlsbad cable market
by Stella Davis
Current Argus (NM)

CARLSBAD — Artesia-based PVT Networks is seeking a long-term, non-exclusive cable franchise agreement with the city of Carlsbad.  If the Carlsbad City Council approves the agreement, PVT will begin building its multi-million fiber optic network in Carlsbad that, when completed, will offer residents cable television with a “local flavor,” said Terry Mullins, PVT marketing director.

“What we are planning to do is build a fiber network in phases,” Mullins said. “The network will be capable of delivering video, TV cable, local telephone and extremely high-speed Internet for businesses and residences.”  PVT offers video/telephone, video/cable, data Internet, landline and cell phone services to residents in North Eddy County and other rural communities north of Artesia.

“We hope to get the city’s support on this,” Mullins said. “We offer cable TV with a local flavor in Artesia that offers high school sporting events, community theater productions and other community functions. We  also offer the standard channels and special packages and other quality products. The people in Artesia like to see the local stuff on cable and we have received a lot of favorable comments from them. We believe Carlsbad would also like to have the local cable channel, in addition to the standard channels.”   —>

Council adopts public access TV policy
by Dick Broom
Bar Harbor Times (ME)

The Town Council last week adopted a policy governing use of the public access cable television channel, which the town controls.  The policy states that programs distributed on the Public Access System “may be intended for any purpose and may include information, entertainment or the expression of points of view without limitation unless prohibited elsewhere in this document.”  Content that is not allowed includes:

• Advertisements or information concerning lotteries or games of chance;
• Advertising designed to promote the sale of commercial products or services;
• Solicitation of funds;
• Material soliciting or promoting unlawful conduct;
• Statements, pictures or sound that violate town, state or federal laws including those related to obscenity, defamation, slander and libel;
• Sexually explicit material.

The administrator of the Public Access System must be notified if a program contains adult language, images or situations.  “At the sole discretion of the administrator, this material may be cablecast outside of prime time child viewing hours,” the policy states. “Such programs would be cablecast between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.”  Steve Cornell, the town’s technical systems administrator is designated as the Public Access System administrator.   —>

‘Interviews with the Veterans’ public access program lets former GIs tell their stories
by Andrew Schroedter
Chicago Tribune (IL)

Like many in his generation, Larry Littel preferred not to talk about what he saw as a member of the California National Guard during World War II.  Littel, 82, said not even his family heard stories about gun fights in the Pacific Islands or the men he saw wounded and killed.  “I didn’t talk about it for 50 years,” said Littel of Evanston. “But you know, there’s a 1,000 of us dying every day. In 10 years, you won’t know we were around.”

Rushing to capture the stories of Chicago-area veterans before it’s too late is part of what motivates Gerry Boguse to produce his “Interviews with the Veterans” program, broadcast on local public access in 28 communities on the North Shore and in the northwest suburbs.  Since the first show in May 2004, Boguse has filmed 65 interviews with 55 veterans like Littel, who served in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  “I’m not glorifying war,” said Boguse, 47, a programming/government access coordinator with the Evanston Community Media Center. “I’m here to record history.”   —>,1,5951320.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Rhode Island gets a lot more FiOS TV
by Darren Murph

Wondering what Verizon was going to get you for the holidays? If you find yourself a resident of the Ocean State, the answer could be FiOS TV access. Reportedly, the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carries granted Verizon licenses just this week to operate cable TV services in Charlestown, Cranston, Foster, Hopkinton, Johnston, Narragansett, North Providence, Providence, Richmond, Scituate, South Kingstown and Westerly. Apparently, Verizon had secured a license to operate in Service Area 6 earlier this year, but just now got approval on Areas 2, 3 and 8 covering the locales mentioned above.   —>

Verizon FiOS coming to more Westchester communities
by Sean Gorman
The Journal News (NY)

OSSINING – Several more Westchester communities are moving closer to sealing deals to provide Verizon cable television to their residents.  Last week, Briarcliff Manor, the town of Ossining and Sleepy Hollow signed agreements with Verizon, the company said.  Elected officials in New Castle and the village of Ossining last week voted to give cable franchises to Verizon, but they have yet to reach final agreements.  Verizon has been working to provide its FiOS television services in a market long monopolized by Cablevision.

“I think they (residents) like the idea of competition,” said New Castle Supervisor Janet Wells. “They have felt that when there’s only one franchise, it’s hard to get the service they would like, and also I think people are hoping that it (cable services) will be less expensive.”  The town was still trying to work out some technical concerns with Verizon, such as whether events and meetings held at the library, community center and other buildings in town could be simultaneously broadcast live on both the Verizon and Cablevision systems, said Town Administrator Gennaro Faiella.

In Ossining, the village board last week voted 5-0 to approve a resolution authorizing Village Manager Linda Cooper to sign a deal with Verizon.  “It’s very important, we believe, that the competition exists,” Ossining Mayor William Hanauer said last week.  At that meeting, Verizon officials had committed to speeding up their timetable for paying $62,500 to the village for cable equipment for public access television, Hanauer said.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable cap, cable franchising, cable vs telco, channel slamming, FCC, government access, interconnection, localism, low power FM, LPFM, MB 05-311, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

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