Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/11/08

[ Editor’s Note:  More and more press outlets are following blogs’ example by enabling comments on their stories.  Beginning with this issue, “Clippings” will show the number of comments at the time of our publication in parentheses behind the author’s name. Even where no comments are indicated, readers should know that many publications allow them nonetheless.  Whenever you have something to add, we encourage you to participate if possible. The more presence you can give to community media concerns, the better.- rm ]

Lawsuit filed to block Comcast channel moves
by David Ashenfelter
Detroit Free Press (MI)

The city of Dearborn and Meridian Township near Lansing sued Comcast cable in federal court in Detroit today to block a plan that would move local access channels up the dial on Tuesday and require non-digital basic subscribers to get digital converter boxes to continue receiving those channels.  “They are taking away a service that should be provided to subscribers,” said Deborah Guthrie, Meridian Township cable coordinator, after the suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.   —>

Comcast channel changes opposed
Bill in the works would force return to original format
by Christy Arboscello
Detroit Free Press (MI)

Michigan lawmakers are crafting a bill to reverse Comcast’s plan to exile public access programming from the low-numbered stations to digital-only channels positioned in the 900s.  State Reps. Tory Rocca, R-Sterling Heights, and Steve Bieda, D-Warren, are drafting the bill, which is to go before the Legislature next week. Although it won’t be introduced until after the cable provider’s Tuesday switch, if approved, the bill would require Comcast to revert to the original format.   —>

Comcast switch may limit GR’s election coverage
Grand Rapids Press (MI)

GRAND RAPIDS — Jon Koeze, administrator of the city’s cable television access Channel 26, does not score big ratings on most evenings.  Now he is afraid a switch by Comcast cable will ruin one of his biggest nights of the year Tuesday. Comcast’s channel changes planned for Tuesday  City cable subscribers who look for city results from Tuesday’s presidential primary election will not find them on Channel 26.  That is because Comcast is moving its public, educational and government channels to Channel 915 that same day.  Unless viewers have a converter box from Comcast or own the latest digital-compatible television, they will not be able to tune into Channel 915, Koeze said.

“People are going to tune into our channel, and it won’t be there,” said Koeze, who has been cable-casting election results on Channel 26 since 1998.  City Clerk Terri Hegarty said she is bracing for Comcast complaints once voters find out they cannot see the city results Tuesday night.  “I’m very concerned,” she said, adding she rarely sees an election night party where the city’s cable channel is not being watched.

Also disappointed is Jose Capeles, a junior at Central High School and student producer of television shows on Grand Rapids Public School’s educational station.  Capeles, who is working on an issues-oriented program that appears on Channel 27, said his parents and many of his friends will not be able to see his work when Comcast moves the programming to Channel 902.  “Our TV is an older model. It’s as old as me,” said the 17-year-old.

John Helmholdt, a spokesman for Grand Rapids Public Schools, said dozens of parents and students will miss out on viewing student programming, school board meetings and other programs the school system sends out over Channel 27.  Comcast is supposed to be partnering with the school’s public access channels, but most school officials learned of the switch by reading the newspaper, Helmholdt said.

The switch also is affecting the schools’ and city’s ability to use public access channels in their own facilities.  Though the city and schools have numerous televisions that are tuned to the public access channels for internal use, Comcast is offering them only one converter box per building.   —>

Co-owner fears fate of HomeTown TV
He is concerned Channel 19 won’t survive if Comcast pushes it to digital cable
by Chris Sikich (6 comments)
Noblesville Ledger (MI)

Irv Heath switched to satellite TV a while back after being assured he would still receive all of his local channels.  But when the longtime Noblesville resident and businessman switched on his TV, he couldn’t find HomeTown Television Channel 19. “I told them to cut my service,” he said. Heath, 89, went back to cable.

Owned since 2002 by Rick and Nancy Vanderwielen and City Councilman Roy Johnson and his wife Judi, the station based in downtown Noblesville serves about 48,000 people in Hamilton County — none in Sheridan or Carmel — and about 2,000 in Tipton.  Rick Vanderwielen is concerned about HomeTown Television’s future under Comcast, which took over from Insight here Jan. 1.   —>

Fulton County investing in public-use studio
by D.L. Bennet
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)

In an age when anyone with a hand-held video camera, editing software and a computer can produce clips for the Internet, Fulton County has decided to invest $175,000 to create a public-use TV studio.  Officials hope the investment will jump start a little-used public access cable training program that’s cost $134,000 over the past two years but trained just five potential producers.

County officials say the program’s gotten so little use because Comcast cable didn’t promote it and the company’s Chamblee studio was too far away for most potential users. Officials hope a new studio in south Fulton will spark interest.  “I think it was a great idea,” said Commissioner Bill Edwards, who’s district in south Fulton will house the county’s television production studio. “There is a need. And I think you will see more usage.”   —>

Still No Agreement for Villages/Verizon Franchise
Public Hearing Produced No Immediate Results
by Wendy Karpel Kreitzman
Manhasset Press (NY)

The Great Neck/North Shore Cable Commission’s Dec. 20 public hearing has yet to produce the 15 required signatures for the commission’s franchise agreement with Verizon. The 15 villages — Great Neck, Great Neck Estates, Great Neck Plaza, Kensington, Kings Point, Lake Success, Russell Gardens, Saddle Rock, Thomaston, Flower Hill, Munsey Park, North Hills, Plandome, Plandome Heights and Plandome Manor — all had quorums at the public hearing, but at this time, all 15 villages must approve the franchise agreement before it is finalized and some villages held over their hearings until their January meetings…

First, Cablevision broached the subject of funding for PATC (public access television), and how Verizon will use a “per subscriber” method, which, he said, will produce an unpredictable income. Cablevision, he said, “would be unlikely to do this.”  Cablevision also raised the issue of interconnection, stating that Verizon only wants to pay the costs to “plug in,” to interconnect, and does not want to pay for what Cablevision already has in place.  And Cablevision also said that there is no “enforceable commitment” from Verizon regarding the “build-out,” actually providing lines to provide the service. The process is slated as taking up to five years, with no exact timetable for any areas.   —>

Fremont nears end of cable contract negotiations
Cost of new Exeter-Fremont line pegged at $26K
by Katleen D. Bailey
Rockingham News (NH)

The Town of Fremont is nearing the end of contract negotiations with Comcast, the town’s cable television provider.  The Fremont Cable Access/Contract Renewal Committee held a public hearing on the new contract Thursday night…  The committee’s intent is to expand the services offered by Cable Channel 22 to include live broadcasts of town meetings and events. The channel currently offers a bulletin board and taped rebroadcasts of meetings.   —>

Town works to bring local access TV to AT&T’s new service
Greenwich Post (CT)

AT&T has begun to install their television service in portions of Riverside and Old Greenwich. At this time, AT&T’s “U-Verse” service does not carry Greenwich’s government access channel.  However, Channel 79 has already begun the process to have government access carried on AT&T’s U-Verse service in the near future. As this is a new service in Connecticut, Greenwich will most likely be the first government access channel to be carried.   —>

Cable franchise fee hike good for city
by Mark Looker
Modesto Bee (CA)

The Modesto City Council is to be commended for raising the cable TV franchise fee from 3 percent to its full legal limit of 5 percent. It is an action the council should have taken years ago and reflects a common-sense approach to fiscal responsibility.

Likewise, it is hoped the council will act wisely in implementing the new state cable law known as the Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act. In doing so, the council would fulfill the city’s strategic plan to “provide equal access to local public television for all sectors of the community.” It is a goal that is shared equally by the public, government and education communities.

For-profit TV ads might violate law
Spots on Oak Island public access are questioned
by Shannan Bowen
Star News (NC)

The town of Oak Island uses a public access channel to broadcast town meetings and announcements, but there’s a chance that advertisements showing up on the channel violate federal laws.  Town Attorney Brian Edes said he is investigating the matter and hopes to have an opinion early next week on whether the public access channel is allowed to run advertisements.

Former Mayor Helen Cashwell said she made a complaint in December to the Federal Communications Commission stating that a local salesman was selling advertising on Channel 8, the town’s public access channel.  The FCC responded that federal rules prohibit announcements that promote the sale of goods and services of for-profit entities in return for consideration paid to the station.

According to FCC rules and regulations, “no promotional announcements on behalf of for-profit entities shall be broadcast at any time” on noncommercial educational television stations.  But it is unclear whether Oak Island’s Channel 8 falls under the category of educational TV stations…    —>

Hillary Clinton’s Lobbyist Driven Telecom Plans
by Matt Stoller (49 comments)
Huffington Post

Excuse me for a second while I delve into something substantive.  I’ve written about Obama’s transformative proposals on media and contrasted them to Hillary Clinton’s ‘Connect America’ plan to expand broadband access, which is based on a private-public partnership model called Connect Kentucky.  Well, it turns out that Connect Kentucky is basically a fraudulent front group funded by government grants set up by telecom interests to advance their legislatve agenda and lie about internet access.  And what Clinton wants to do is spread it nationwide.   —>

Clinton And McCain On Globalization, Technology
by Mary Hayes Weier (5 comments)

The morning after the Iowa caucus results, I shared with you what Mike Huckabee and Barack Obama are saying about technology and globalization. The focus has shifted over to Hillary Clinton and John McCain after the results in New Hampshire’s primary. Here’s what those presidential candidates have to say about those topics…

Clinton also laments the U.S.’s comparably poor deployment of broadband.

“Under the Bush administration, the country that invented the Internet has slipped to 25th in the global rankings for broadband deployment. In order to accelerate the deployment of sophisticated networks, Hillary Clinton proposes that the federal government provide tax incentives to encourage broadband deployment in underserved areas. She also proposes financial support for state and local broadband initiatives. Various municipal broadband initiatives are under way around the country to accelerate the deployment of high-speed networks. The initiatives are useful for education, commerce, technology development, and the efficient provision of municipal services.”   —>

Cable Customers Leaving For Internet TVs? If Price Is Right
by Wayne Friedman (2 comments)
Media Post’s TV Watch

Will TV consumers abandon cable systems for Internet-capable TV sets? This all seems like a big jump; but remember, entertainment consumers saunter.  Cable operators used to fear that the satellite distributors would be their biggest threat. To a lesser extent, the immediate threat comes from phone companies-backed IPTV and IPTV-like programming services.

Now, for some cable customers there are too many programming choices that aren’t used often enough, and high monthly prices — $100 and more. All this has forced some angry people to consider options like leaving the traditional TV distribution system behind.

At the CES, many companies indicated they would like to take up the slack. SlingMedia talked up technology that would take content from the Internet and send it to any TV screen. Sony, Sharp and Panasonic are making televisions where you can directly plug in an Internet connection.   —>

MEDIA-THAILAND:  Interference Mars Community Radio
by Lynette Lee Corporal, Asia Media Forum
Inter Press Service

BANGKOK (IPS) – Pride evident in his voice, Weerapol Charoenthum expressed his satisfaction with ‘Maung Loei’, a community radio station run by the youth of the north-eastern Thai province of Loei.  The station is among about a dozen that are part of Loei Community Networks, whose concept entails using radio as a means to teach children how to be responsible citizens and gives adults a way to “listen to what the children have to say” about different issues, explains Weeraphol, coordinator of the networks.

“Community radio has opened up communication channels for people and although we continue to face problems such as lack of funds, we are quite happy with what we have done so far,” Weerapol said in a lecture on community radio this week at Chulalongkorn University here.  “There is no question about the desire of local communities to express themselves through small media. It is a global phenomenon. But this is complicated by challenges coming from different sides, including changes in technology, that we don’t see the future clearly,” explained Prof Drew McDaniel, director for international studies of Ohio University.

Flourishing in the years following the media reforms provided in Thailand’s 1997 constitution, community radio became quite popular during ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s administration.  Years later, these local stations continue to experience birthing pains brought about by challenges posed by licensing, funding, programming goals — and freedom of expression.   —>

Vegan Caesar Salad
Food World Guide

—>   Enter Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (of public access television’s Post Punk Kitchen with their recently released, and much acclaimed, vegan cookbook – Veganomicon.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable franchising, cable vs telco, channel slamming, community radio, Connect America, Connect Kentucky, election programming, FCC, interconnection, Internet TV, IPTV, media reform, municipal broadband, municipal programming, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, redlining, rural broadband, U-Verse, video franchising

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