Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/10/08

Manhattan Neighborhood Network (NY)

SPECIAL MNN PRODUCERS EVENT On Monday, January 14, at 7pm
All MNN Comunity Producers, Friends and Allies, Come and Find Out What’s at Stake!

In September 2008, the franchise agreements between the City of New York, NYC Public Access Centers and the cable companies will expire. What’s at stake in the upcoming deals? What will be the future of local community voices in the NYC media landscape? What about the digital divide, the consolidation of media ownership and the ongoing threats to Internet freedom?

• Gale Brewer, NYC Councilmember, Chair, City Council’s Technology Committee
• Tony Riddle, Executive Director, Alliance for Community Media
• Jeff Chester, Founder and Executive Director, Center for Digital Democracy
• Dan Coughlin, Executive Director, Manhattan Neighborhood Network

WHERE: Manhattan Neighborhood Network—Open Studio @ 537 West 59th Street, NY 10019
(Subway: A/B/C/D/1 train to 59th Street – Columbus Circle). Light refreshments will be served
Please RSVP ASAP by email: promo [at] or by calling 212-757-2670 x 308

Comcast Prepares Public For Digital Cable Changes

Ready or not, the digital change is coming to Livingston County for analog customers. There has been some discussion from local municipalities about the change since it will move their public access channels into the 900’s. —>

Public Access Channels Move
by Jamie Edmonds

On January 15th, your public access, educational, and governmental programs on Comcast will go from analog channels in the 20s to digital channels in the 900s… much to the chagrin of the people who produce them. “It’s not really accessible anymore,” said Haslett High School Senior Caitlyn Hudgins. “At least I don’t have channel 912, and most people I know don’t have it either.” Haslett High School’s TV Station – The Vision – will have to scale back because of it. “We would need to get digital boxes for every classroom, and that’s not possible,” Hudgins said.

Comcast said a cable box will convert the digital signal and they’ll provide it for free for 12 months. Subscribers just have to call. In a statement, they said they are “proud to provide public programming to nearly all of their 1.3 million Michigan customers in a digital format.

Meridian Township’s Hom-TV isn’t buying it. The director said their average viewer relies on their programming and won’t use a cable box. “Call a senior citizen and ask them to hook up a converter box,” said Deborah Guthrie, station manager at Hom-TV. —>

Cable shift riles local officials
by Scott Spielman
Wayne Eagle (MI)

A change proposed by Comcast Cable has government officials channeling their anger toward the company. The cable provider recently informed officials that Public, Education and Government (PEG) channels will soon be moving up the dial—from their current location to channel 915. “All the communities are upset about it,” said Wayne Mayor Al Haidous. He and other members of the city council talked about the issue last week. He said he hopes to have a representative from Comcast at the next city council meeting to talk about it, too. —>

Comcast moves local public access shows
by Alison Bergsieker
Hometown Life (MI)

Huron Valley residents who have Comcast cable subscriptions can expect a change in their channel lineup next week when Comcast moves all local access stations to channels in the 900s. The channel move will prevent some subscribers from watching the local access shows if they don’t have a digital cable package. Comcast’s web site states the company will provide equipment for one year to those subscribers, but will ask them to upgrade their packages the following year.

The local education channel, which features Huron Valley Schools HVS-TV, will move from Channel 12 to Channel 903. For subscribers located near Walled Lake Consolidated Schools, which is currently broadcast on Channel 10, its educational programming also will move to channel 902. Government access programming on Channel 20 will shift to 915, while public access programming on channel 22 will move to channel 916. Comcast is testing the channel move in Michigan, where 1.3 million subscribers will be affected. —>

City to develop own media
by Ken McLemore
Hope Star (AR)

The Hope City Board of Directors agreed Tuesday night to allow the city to develop its own media content and delivery through cable television access despite a plea from a local television station not to compete with local media. Hope Mayor Dennis Ramsey sought to assure KTSS Television owner Greg Bobo that the city would not develop advertising-based content through an agreement with Hope Community TV to broadcast City of Hope news via text scroll on an unused cable access channel.

Ramsey, who said the City of Hot Springs operates a similar news delivery service, seemed befuddled by Bobo’s protest that the city was laying the groundwork for competition with local media. Ramsey said the outlet might also be used by Hope Public Schools and the University of Arkansas Community College at Hope for educational practicums. —>

Comcast, AT&T, Verizon Agree: Reform The FCC
by Ted Hearn
Multichannel News

Carmel Group chairman and CEO Jimmy Schaeffler saved his best for last as moderator of a 2008 International CES panel on Monday that included representatives from the biggest cable and telephone companies. “[What’s] the one thing … at the FCC that you would like to change?” Schaeffler asked, looking in the direction of Joe Waz, Comcast’s vice president of external affairs and public policy counsel Joe Waz.

“You’re asking a cable guy?” Waz said, jumping right in. “I’d like to hit the delete button on the last 12 months.” Waz was referring to cable’s rocky 2007 with Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin, who slapped cable with set-top box technology mandates, cut cable leased access rates by 75%, and voided exclusive cable contracts with apartment building owners.

But Schaffler’s question was not designed to reprise Martin’s cable-bashing record. Instead, his intent was to explore whether the FCC needed a stem-to-stern overhaul. —>

The end of the cable set-top box? Yes, Comcast says
by Zoë Slocum

Comcast, the United States’ largest cable operator, says the set-top box’s days are numbered. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Tuesday, CEO Brian Roberts predicted in a keynote address that by the end of the year, “virtually the entire cable industry will support Tru2way,” an “open cable” standard that would render the bulky boxes moot by directly integrating any U.S. cable provider’s service with a variety of devices. Initial partners in the Tru2way endeavor include Motorola, TiVo, Intel, Samsung Electronics, Microsoft, LG Electronics, Cisco Systems, and Sun Microsystems. —>

Is ‘Tru2Way’ True Two-Way TV?
by Gene Hirschel

Remember the days of three network channels? Then came cable TV with 50 channels, then more. Now, the next horizon in television is looking more like true two-way connectivity like the Web or the Internet. Brian Roberts of Comcast corporation stepped up to this bold announcement during a keynote address at CES by noting the beginning of yet another revolutionary moment in communications. He called it Comcast 3.0, but in truth, the next version of cable and on demand content is built on the DOCSIS 3.0 (define) standard, which sets downstream traffic transfer rates between for cable providers.

Roberts and Comcast call it Tru2way technology, a set of tools and services for the cable network, and a new term for cable internet speed: Wideband. This may be more than just a new blend of acronyms; it could create a new generation of interconnected media devices. If adopted by the industry, Tru2way will be the language of cable television just as HTML is the language of the Internet and allow the equivalent of surfing Comcast content. —>

Connect Kentucky Provides Uncertain Model for Federal Legislation
by Art Brodsky
Public Knowledge

The only telecommunications legislation that has a chance of passing the Congress controlled by Democrats this year is modeled on a group whose apparent accomplishments are open to question and whose origins are in Republican politics in Kentucky. That group is Connected Nation, which began life as Connect Kentucky.

In just three short years, the organization claims to have brought Kentucky out of the technological dark ages, raising the availability of high-speed Internet by one-third while increasing other prime indicators ranging from home computer ownership to growth in high-tech jobs. Connect claims an advanced mapping system to guide the development of Internet through the state and through the work of local “leadership teams.” The mapping program is supposed to show where there are gaps in the provision of high-speed Internet. The local teams, led by Connect Kentucky staff and composed of representatives of local business, education and technology organizations, are supposed to come up with a snapshot of how advanced the community is now, and set out some goals for improving use of technology.

Connect is on the cusp of bigger things. It has renamed itself Connected Nation, and is poised to try to replicate its model across the country. It has become a star on Capitol Hill, the model for programs enshrined in bills that, in different form, have passed the Senate and the House and others that are waiting for action. Some of those bills have millions of dollars in potential grant money attached to them, with the Connected organization now positioned perfectly to receive them.

Even more impressive is the attention the group has received. It is practically unheard of that an organization receives the universal accolades that Connect has in its portfolio. Every news story is favorable. Every politician is fawning. The organization, ostensibly set up to spur broadband deployment, has been hailed in Washington as a model of a public-private partnership. That combination is irresistible to Democrats because it frees them from the stereotype of a government-only program and brings in private-sector participation.

The apparent accomplishments of Connect Kentucky are as impressive as is the irony surrounding them.

The irony is that the Connect Kentucky model, hailed by Democrats such as Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Rep. Zach Space (D-OH) and, to a lesser extent, House Telecom Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-MA) was cooked up by Republican staffers for then-Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R) and representatives from BellSouth. That background is necessary to understanding the unique circumstances of Connect Kentucky as others try to replicate its “success.”

Part of that understanding is recognizing that there is another story; however, that hasn’t received its proper attention. There are other voices that are not being heard – those of people around the state who work in the same industry as Connect and in some of the same technical areas. Connect is a subject widely discussed in telecommunications circles, but many people who are most knowledgeable declined to be quoted by name because of the continuing power and influence of AT&T and the other local telephone and cable companies.

Their judgment, broadly stated, is that Connect Kentucky is nothing more than a sales force and front group for AT&T paid for by the telecommunications industry and by state and federal governments that has achieved far more in publicity than it has in actual accomplishment. Connect helps to promote AT&T services, while lobbying at the state capitol for the deregulation legislation the telephone company wants. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable franchising, channel slamming, Connect Kentucky, FCC, government access, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: