Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/31/08

AT&T Knocked for ‘Inferior’ PEG Channels
Alliance for Community Media Complains About U-verse TV to House Subcommittee
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News

The Internet-based technology AT&T touts as giving it an edge over the cable industry was criticized this week by the Alliance for Community Media as providing an “inferior” platform for public, educational and government channels.  The ACM, which represents some 3,000 PEG organizations, singled out AT&T’s U-verse TV PEG access as “sub-par, low resolution [and] cumbersome” in testimony at a Jan. 29 meeting of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

“PEG channels are confined to a separate system inferior to commercial channels on AT&T’s system in virtually every way that matters to a viewer,” said Annie Folger, executive director of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Midpeninsula Media Center, representing the ACM.

Among the deficiencies Folger cited: AT&T’s PEG channels do not allow closed-captioning; the telco’s own digital video recorders cannot record the PEG channels; video resolution is as much as 25% lower than commercial channels; and the channels take anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds to load.  On the lack of closed-captioning, ACM executive director Anthony Riddle said in a statement that AT&T’s “willingness to sacrifice the needs of disabled students in a race for profit certainly makes them the poster child of corporate irresponsibility.”   —>

[ This lengthy article is noteworthy, not because of any new details about Comcast’s channel slamming plans in Michigan, but because it provides a huge amount of detail about some of the channels and the programming that would be affected by the Comcast action. – rm ]

Cable battle over local access placement now shifts to courts
by Andrew Sawmiller
Spinal Column Weekly (MI)

—>  Most of the lakes area is represented on cable television service issues by the Western Oakland County Cable Communications Authority (WOCCCA), which covers the lakes area communities of Wixom, Walled Lake, Wolverine Lake, Commerce, Milford village and township, White Lake, and Highland.

The Greater West Bloomfield Cable Advisory Board represents West Bloomfield and Orchard Lake, and the Waterford Cable Advisory Board represents cable customers in Waterford.  Each body typically has the ability to show and host public access shows, educational or school-related programming, and local government programming.   —>

Bredesen Questions Approach To Fight Over Cable Permitting
Associated Press
News Channel 5 (TN)

Gov. Phil Bredesen is questioning the approach by House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh in the fight to change cable permitting rules in Tennessee to encourage broadband access around the state.  In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Thursday, Bredesen said he doesn’t “think what Speaker Naifeh is trying to do can be successful” since the two sides are taking opposite positions on the franchising authority request.  Bredesen, a Democrat, reiterated comments he said earlier this month that he may get involved in the contentious cable proposal.   —>

Wisconsin: A case study in how corporations get the legislation they want
by Bruce Kushnick
Nieman Watchdog – Questions the Press Should Ask

In my first piece on the corporate-sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), I described a network of special interest groups working with big business to peddle so-called “model bills” to state legislators across the country. The state of Wisconsin is a classic example of how ALEC operates. At the 2001 ALEC national convention, Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor and then U.S. Secretary of Health And Human Services, stated:

“It’s wonderful to see so many of my friends from the great state of Wisconsin. There are 29 members of the  Wisconsin State Legislature who were so eager to come to New York for this conference that they rushed to get the state budget passed last week….My good friend Scott Jensen is among them. Scott holds the only job I ever wanted and never reached – Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly.”

In addition to the 29 state legislators that Thompson claimed as ALEC members, I and others working with me found at least three currently sitting Wisconsin politicians who have sponsored bills with ties to ALEC – Wisconsin Senator Ted Kanavas, Senator Jeff Plale and Representative Phil Montgomery, who was given ALEC’s 2005 “Legislator of the Year” award.

Like ALEC members around the U.S., these legislators have some clout. In 2003, Kanavas and Montgomery were part of Wisconsin’s “Special Committee on Public and Private Broadband”. Plale chairs the influential Wisconsin Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities and Rail, the committee considering the most recently introduced telecommunications bill. Jensen, the former Speaker of the State Assembly, co-sponsored one of the bills in question.

These Wisconsin lawmakers are responsible for at least four bills that appear to correspond to ALEC-generated “models” that mainly help only the state’s major phone incumbent, AT&T. (Only ALEC members have access to the full text of the group’s model bills, but bill titles are listed on its Web site and are suggestive of the contents.) Let’s examine these four AT&T-friendly bills.

1) The Broadband Deployment Act of 2003: Kanavas & Jensen (ALEC model: Broadband and Telecommunications Deployment Act)…
2) Municipal broadband bill, co-sponsored by Kanavas & Montgomery; 2004 (ALEC model: Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguards Act)…
3) Video Competition Act, co-sponsored by Montgomery & Plale; 2007 (ALEC model: Cable and Video Competition Act)…
4) Telephone Deregulation Bill, co-sponsored by Montgomery & Plale; 2007 (ALEC model: Advanced Voice Services Availability Act of 2007)   —>

Northborough: Cable Negotiations Underway
by John Dyer
Boston Globe (MA)

Town officials are negotiating separate agreements with two cable-television providers, said Kathleen Dalgliesh, director of Northborough Cable Access Television. The town’s 10-year contract with Comcast expires in October, and the town is seeking a new five-year contract with the company, she said. The town has also received a formal application from Verizon, which has wired Northborough for telephone and Internet service but is seeking to expand its offerings to include cable television. Verizon wants a 15-year contract but the town favors a shorter agreement, Dalgliesh said. Important issues in the negotiations with Verizon include making sure all residents have access to cable television, and determining the amount of funding local public-access facilities will receive, she said. The Board of Selectmen is expected to consider Verizon’s application again in a few weeks, Dalgliesh said.

Pair offers TV show to bridge Brazilian divide
by Tanya Pérez-Brennan
Boston Globe (MA)

A couple active in Framingham’s Brazilian community has created a bilingual television program meant to serve as a cultural bridge between Brazilians and Americans.  The hour show, “Maraberto TV,” premiered Sunday on the public-access cable television system, airing on Comcast Channel 9, RCN Channel 3, and Verizon Channel 43 in Framingham. It will be on Sundays at 6 p.m., rerun Mondays at 3 and 10 a.m.   —>

What day works for you?

Howdy PATV Producers –  In the quest to find the perfect day and time to host the return of PATV’s live monthly soapbox, that is, “Open Channel Live”, we want to hear from you.  What days and times would YOU prefer to be on live tv to make an announcement, sing a song, broadcast your outrage or whatever?  Mondays? Fridays?  Or perhaps Saturdays?  Let us know!  Email us at contact[at]patv[dot]tv or do it the ol’ fashioned way and call us at 319-338-7035.  We’d love to hear from you.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, channel slamming, educational access, government access, high school television, interconnection, IPTV, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, U-Verse, video franchising

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