Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/12/08

Comcast too quick
by David Ashenfelter
Grand Rapids Press (MI)

Comcast Cable poorly handled the decision to change the channels for its public access, education and government (PEG) programming. That includes the rushed effective date — it begins Tuesday after only 60 days’ notice — to the company’s failure to consult with local government and school officials about the switch to the digital format.

Officials should delay the move, especially knowing that the change will mean an additional cost on those who currently don’t have the equipment to view the new channels. The PEG channels serve significant civic participation purposes, allowing people to view city and school board meetings. Comcast has shown a lack of common courtesy to those it serves. The public deserves much better.

…U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, who chairs the House Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote Comcast of his concerns. A congressional hearing is now planned for Jan. 29 to look at the evolving ways cable operators are offering PEG services and whether they’re consistent with the Communications Act and Congress’s intent. That will be helpful to the process. —>

Suit may block channel move
Comcast plans to move the public, education and government channels from their current locations in the double digits to the 900s.
by David Panian
Daily Telegram (MI)

Beginning Tuesday, Comcast viewers who check channels 20, 22 and 23 for local information might have to instead check channels 902, 915 and 916. Yes, channels in the 900s. Comcast customers with a converter box — the kind required to subscribe to digital channels, including premium channels like HBO — or a digital television will have no problem watching the local public, educational and governmental (PEG) channels, as they are called, after Comcast converts them to a digital format.

However, those who only get Comcast’s basic or expanded basic service will need to get a converter box if they like to check those channels for information such as trash collection dates and important phone numbers and educational programming from the Lenawee Intermediate School District. Comcast will provide one box per household for free for one year, but additional boxes will carry a rental fee. After one year, subscribers will have to pay for all of their boxes.

That is, unless a federal judge in Detroit issues a preliminary injunction against the move, as requested in a lawsuit filed Friday. The city of Dearborn, Meridian Township near Lansing and a Comcast basic tier subscriber from Haslett sued Comcast in U.S. District Court in Detroit, seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against Comcast moving the channels from their current locations.

The lawsuit claims requiring a converter box would negatively affect the poor and elderly who cannot afford the rental fee and violates local franchises and federal law related to cable television. “There is no significant harm to defendants from maintaining the status quo,” the suit reads. “Defendants, or their parent, continues to provide the PEG channels as part of the basic service tier in most of the country, and the maintenance of the status quo merely continues that predominant practice.”

…The U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce, chaired by Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, also plans to call a hearing involving representatives of the cable industry, PEG programmers and others regarding how PEG services are offered, committee spokeswoman Jodi Seth said. Dingell, an author of the Communications Act that regulates the cable industry, raised concerns about Comcast’s decision to move the PEG channels in a letter to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.

“Your intent to charge consumers as much as an additional $4.20 a month per television set to receive PEG channels is plainly inconsistent with Congressional intent that PEG channels be made available ‘at the lowest reasonable rate,’” Dingell wrote. “While I am sympathetic to your desire to provide additional services to your customers, it is important that you do so without denying my constituents reasonable access to the important programming provided by PEG channels and without treating PEG channels differently from local broadcast channels when both are required by statute to be part of Comcast’s basic tier of service.” —>

Show Your Support for Public Access in the Bronx
by Clarisel
Puerto Rico Sun (NY)

On January 17, the City of New York will hold a public hearing to discuss upcoming cable franchise renewal in the Bronx. BronxNet is the public access TV station and media center, serving the borough’s residents, students and public service organizations. Support BronxNet and community development through media.

When: 3-7 p.m. January 17, Hostos Community College — Repertory Theater, The East Academic Complex Building, 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx For more info, call (718) 960-1181.

Creative Citizenry Through Community-Based Media: Jan 14, 2008, 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM
by Cathy Suroviak
Pacific University (OR)

Ms. River Branch, candidate for a tenure-track position in Media Arts, will lecture on “Transforming Visual and Aural Landscapes: Creative Citizenry Through Community-Based Media” on Monday, January 14, 2:30 to 3:30 in the Library Conference Room. —>

Coming soon to your living room: Do-it-all TVs
by Etan Horowitz
Orlando Sentinel

In the next few years, televisions are going to become more than a place to watch shows and movies. They will also serve as digital concierges. Home televisions will provide access to news and information — as well as thousands of photos, songs and videos — regardless of whether that content resides on a home computer, the Internet or an iPod.

The Consumer Electronics Show, which ended here Thursday, was full of television sets able to do all sorts of things: display photos and movies from a digital-camera memory card, connect to the Internet to play videos or access information, serve as an iPod dock, and more.

The trend is driven by manufacturers’ desire to tap into the popularity of other forms of digital entertainment and by a demand from consumers for an easier way to manage their growing arrays of photos, music and videos. It’s also recognition of the popularity of broadband Internet, wireless home networks and large, flat-screen televisions that often hang on the wall like artwork. —>,0,7809510,print.story

CES 2008 Key Take-aways
by Shelly Palmer (1 comment)
Huffington Post

—> I could write a book about what I saw this week, but it all really falls into a few bullet points:

* Interoperability and simplicity were still not on display at CES.
* WirelessHD is here, sales will follow.
* CE manufacturers are committed to giving consumers easy ways to access content from the public Internet in a lean-back environment.
* Moore’s law is out the window as applied to storage capacity (which it was never meant to describe anyway).
* Wireless networks are more important than ever.
* Fragmentation of consumers by CE distribution platforms will overwhelm and immediately undermine content providers capacity to efficiently distribute.
* CE companies across the board have absolutely no idea that they have no idea about the financial structure of advertiser-supported media.
* If you can imagine an electronic device, it was probably on display at CES 2008.

…Everyone was also showing their version of OTT (over the top) IP-video-enabled TVs. These could be television sets with Ethernet connectors or wireless connectivity built-in, like the LG and Pioneer sets or, with a complete operating system and unique user interface like Sony’s Bravia Internet enabled sets. Sony has a content delivery schema and the system features video from major networks and even Media 3.0 with Shelly Palmer. Yep, we signed a distribution deal for our daily videos with Sony too.

The biggest problem with all of these OTT Internet plays is interoperability. There simply isn’t any. Video formats, advertising schemas, methodology and work flows all vary wildly from manufacturer to manufacturer. So, in practice, everything you are seeing is really only a specific solution under a specific set of circumstances. In other words, everyone is trying to sell their own separate ecosystem – this is truly unfortunate.

Perhaps the key take-away for CES this year is the overwhelming need for a set of standards for advanced media and video distribution. The CE industry needs to offer content distributors and consumers a comprehensive, interoperable set of technology solutions. Nobody is really going to be able to use this stuff at scale unless it all works together.

… Perhaps my favorite thing at the show was a new phone from Motorola called the Z-10. It has a complete video production and post-production studio built in. You can shoot stills or video at 3.2 megapixel resolution, edit (including transitions, music, narration, graphics, etc.) and then distribute (using the very well written Shozu software) your finished video to your YouTube account or to all of your accounts MySpace Video, Veoh, Vimeo, Revver, Flicker, etc. by just hitting one button. We’ve been talking about this kind of video production device for years, but to actually hold a working model in your hand is amazing. And, you can even use it to make a call. —>

outside the box #135
Media Monarchy

here ( is the latest episode of “outside the box,” hosted by alex ansary. it was originally broadcast by portland community media on january 3, 2008.
from alex ansary: Alex discusses the recent allegations of vote fraud at the new hampshire primaries with Vicki Karp.
and here is the latest episode of “outside the box” on we the people radio network from january 12, 2008.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, channel slamming, Internet TV, IPTV, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising

One Comment on “Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/12/08”

  1. […] access, education and government PEG programming. That includes the rushed effective date ?? i education students enter the world of work 05/21/08 The News-HeraldThe breakfast crowd was […]

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