Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/01/08

Broadcasting a warning for television
Media advocate: Public programming needs to be protected
by Kristina Peterson
Palo Alto Daily News (CA)

Congress got a taste of Palo Alto’s civic engagement this week when a local media coordinator flew across the country to testify about the importance of preserving public access programming.  Annie Folger, executive director of the Midpeninsula Community Media Center, told the nation’s lawmakers Tuesday about the threats a new AT&T service poses to public, educational and government access channels in the Palo Alto area.

Folger said she testified before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet to “let Congress know about the erosion of support for PEG (public, educational and government) access” from various video providers.  “These companies are trying to make business decisions to save money and bandwidth so they can make commercial profit,” Folger said Thursday in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “If they’re not checked, public access could be lost.”

Congress has been involved in protecting public programming since the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 established that cable companies must provide public access channels in exchange for using the public right of way, Folger said.  “It’s like reserving a public park – a place for people to gather so it’s not all commercial real estate,” Folger said.

The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said in his opening statement Tuesday that without such structures in place, “the vast majority of this programming would otherwise not exist on the dial.  “It is important that cable operators, programmers and communities work together to ensure that consumer welfare is protected,” Markey said.

But when AT&T rolls out its new “U-verse” video service in Palo Alto at a date still to be determined, the system will probably pose some problems for community access programs, Folger said.   —>

Leaders fight move of government channels to upper end of cable TV dial
by David Damron
Orlando Sentinel (FL)

Orange County Commissioner Teresa Jacobs is launching a statewide fight to stop cable companies from pushing government channels to the higher reaches of their digital-channel lineups.  Jacobs, head of the Florida Association of Counties, wants her group to battle a national trend of moving public channels onto what critics call the “second class” tier of the dial.

Orange TV, which airs county, city and School Board meetings, moved from channel 9 to 199 earlier this month on Bright House Networks. The change was part of a programming shuffle that also rolls out new channels today.  Other cable companies across the region and state are making similar moves.  People “are far more likely to tune in when it’s in the lower channels,” said Jacobs, adding that some residents actually have stumbled onto issues important to them while channel surfing. “We ought to guard that.”   —>,0,6654254.story

Bredesen questions tactics in cable-permitting fight
Governor says he may get involved in contentious proposal
Associated Press (1 comment)
Knox News (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” because 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.  “Last year and so far this year, it’s shaping up into what AT&T wants versus what the cable TV companies want,” Bredesen told the newspaper. “Maybe at some point, we ought to consider what Tennesseans want. It’s something I am taking a look at how I might have an influence on.”    —>

Grumblings All Around About AT&T
But 10Mbps U-verse starts today
by KathrynV (10 comments)
Broadband Rports

AT&T is irking people all around with problems in different areas of its service. Yesterday’s outage was one source of irritation for 3G and EDGE customers who weren’t able to get online for much of the day. A more ongoing problem for some customers is the inexplicable reduction in size of pictures sent by MMS; some of those messages aren’t going through at all. And making headlines this week is a complaint filed by the Alliance for Community Media which attacks AT&T for providing sub-par service to public, educational and government (PEG) channels.   —>

So When Are We Going To See Some Of That Net Neutrality?
by djtyg
Blogging for Michigan

In what seems like eons ago (2006), the Legislature passed what was known as HB6456, a.k.a. The Cable Franchise Reform Bill, bloggers became worried about the lack of net neutrality that would result from the bill.  National bloggers even got angry with the Governor, causing a short lived fight between the local and national bloggers.  The local bloggers (i.e., us) asked “where were you when we were trying to make heads or tails of this bill months ago?” while the national bloggers conceded that we should’ve been working together on this earlier.

Governor Granholm promised us later that net neutrality would be brought to the legislature as “stand alone” legislation.  Well, it’s been over a year now.  And while Comcast hasn’t decided to start charging blogs like ours money so we won’t be censored by them (unlike a certain Republicon Senator we all know), it’s highly likely that without legislation we could be seeing it in the future given Comcast’s recent actions.   —>

IGE Talks: Community Peace and Justice
Media Mouse (MI)

The Institute for Global Education (IGE) in Grand Rapids has started uploading its monthly IGE Talks show to the Internet following a decision by Comcast to move public access channels to digital cable. Starting with this episode, Media Mouse will be posting the show online in order to expand its audience in West Michigan and to support independent/do-it-yourself media.  The topic for January’s show is “Community Peace and Justice” and the show can be watched below.   —>

Are you laughing with your cable provider?
Media Mouse (MI)

About a year ago, Comcast ran an ad called the “Laugh Riot” which had the look of a Seattle style WTO protest, featuring cops in riot gear, people throwing things at the cops, and even street puppets. Unlike real confrontations between cops and street protesters where people get beat up and arrested, this commercial invited viewers to get Comcast cable and enjoy all the wonderful comedy programs they offered.

Like other Comcast ads, this commercial tried to entice young audiences with visual messages that make their company seem edgy and lots of fun. Other ads have featured talking turtles-the Slowskys, a guy dressed in a Spiderman outfit, and the frequent Triple Play ad. The Triple Play commercial tries to seduce viewers with the idea that Comcast can provide all your communication needs – cable, Internet and phone service. Wow! You mean Comcast can do all that? So, how did this cable company become such a huge media player and why is that relevant to Joe and Josephine Citizen?

According to the group Free Press, “Comcast is the largest cable and broadband communications provider in the United States, owning about 28.9% of the U.S. market. Comcast gained 1.8 million subscribers from its joint acquisition of Adelphia with Time Warner. Comcast now has 23.3 million cable customers (plus 3.5 million) held in various partnerships.” Since Comcast is so large, it can wield a tremendous amount of power in the political arena. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Comcast is the 2nd largest campaign donor in the telecommunications industry in the 2008 Election cycle. As of mid-January Comcast had already donated over $1 million to candidates, with about 65% going to Democrats.

So what does Comcast stand to gain by funding politicians?   —>

Verizon to soon offer TV-34
by Erica Zarra
Montclair Times (NJ)

Verizon FiOS subscribers will no longer be deprived of viewing municipal government proceedings or local festivities.  The cable provider has recently installed equipment that will enable it to carry Montclair’s free local cable access station, TV-34, which broadcasts news updates, emergency notices, and airs taped meetings and presentations.

By Valentine’s Day, Verizon subscribers will be able to watch the recently revamped station, which also offers chat programs, performances and cooking shows.  “Verizon is still fielding-testing it,” TV-34 Station Manager Sharon Colucci said. “Everything so far looks great.”

This development should placate residents who had left the municipally licensed Comcast Cable Television Service for Verizon FiOS, and soon discovered they did not have access to their local station.  “We’ve been waiting for a while,” Township Manager Joseph Hartnett said. “We’re happy that Verizon came in to make technical installations so that the citizens of Montclair can get our access channel no matter what service they have. We have been getting several complaints when people switched and weren’t getting TV-34.”   —>

Small Town Cable cuts some customers
by Bill Grubb
The Rogersville Review (TN)

SURGOINSVILLE — Small Town Cable (STC) has cut off service to some residents in the Surgoinsville area and others may soon be losing their connection because it is no longer “cost effective” for the company to serve those customers.  Vincent King, chief executive officer of Small Town Communications, the parent company of STC, met with the county commission’s TV Cable Committee Wednesday to discuss the local cable provider’s actions.   —>

San Jose paves way for new public access TV studio
by Stephen Baxter
San Jose Mercury News (CA)

San Jose’s public access TV channel is preparing for a surge of new participants, facilities and a fresh multimedia approach.  The San Jose City Council on Jan. 29 approved channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Comcast Corp. to San Jose Media Access Corp., a nonprofit group that will manage Channel 15 beginning July 1. The group also plans to open a new TV studio at a location to be decided and try to bring in new volunteers to improve its programs.

A Comcast studio at 1900 S. 10th St. has been the main production center for Channel 15 for at least 15 years. In December 2006, Comcast agreed to get the nonprofit group on its feet with more than $3 million, and Comcast pledged to continue with annual payments of roughly $1.2 million – or about 1 percent of its quarterly gross revenue.   —>

Early Winner in FCC Auction: Choice
by Dibya Sarkar

WASHINGTON (AP) — No matter who winds up winning a large chunk of the public airwaves, consumers aching for wireless choice won’t be on the losing end.  When a $4.7 billion bid came in for that swath on Thursday, it effectively kicked open the gate on beachfront wireless property, allowing consumers to come in and use any cell phone or service they want on the resulting network.  A $4.6 billion minimum bid was needed to trigger the so-called “open-access” requirement.

While bidding is anonymous, analysts speculate that Google Inc. and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, are likely bidding against each other for that block, which is about one-third of the total spectrum currently being auctioned…

…Several consumer and public interest groups, including the Consumer Federation of America and U.S. Public Interest Research Group, also hailed the open-access benchmark.  “We hope that the freedom that will develop as the new spectrum opens up will carry over into the existing cellular network,” the groups said in a statement.   —>

Viewers Question Infomercial’s Airing
by Marcia Chambers
New Haven Independent (CT)

What belongs on a town or a city’s public access television?  In the aftermath of the infomercial “New England Estates v. the Town of Branford,” starring the lawyers who won a huge $12.4 million verdict and “reporters” Duby McDowell and Tanya Meck, residents in Branford have asked if an infomercial that pretends to be a news show should be allowed on public access television.

The 30-minute video, accepted for airing by the seven Comcast towns that make up a shoreline franchise, ran in December and January. Its run ended in East Haven on Jan 26. The video is a thinly disguised advertisement for the law firm’s positions on a variety of topics that go far beyond the Tabor land trial. It was designed to serve the interest of the sponsor, Shipman & Goodwin, one of the state’s best known law firms. Branford’s community cable station, BCTV, has received complaints from viewers.

Yet it was aired. Why?   —>

Black New Yorker: Veronica Keitt
by Demetria Irwin
AmNews (NY)

“I just love to talk,” said Veronica Keitt when asked about what prompted her to become a cable access television personality. The ageless beauty and mother of two is well-known to New Yorkers who tune in to her half-hour show, “VK News.”  As lead correspondent on her nine-year-old self-titled show and producer of the hour-long “Community Cop,” hosted by the 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, Keitt is a veteran of public access television.  “My comrades and I all have cable access shows and we document history. That’s what we do. Cable access television is very important because we control that. The mainstream media is not for us Black folks,” said Keitt.

Raised in the Astoria projects in Queens and currently living in Harlem, Keitt says her natural curiosity is what determines her show’s content. Tune in on any given night and you could find footage from an Obama campaign event, feedback from a rally about the drummers in Marcus Garvey Park or any number of topics.

“Being in the studio is fine, but I love being in the field the best. Everyone has a story to tell,” said the John Jay graduate. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration. Keitt utilizes her education and professional experience to run 360 Media, a multi-media consulting firm she co-owns.

One major project 360 Media is currently promoting is “365 Days of Marching, ” a documentary about the community reaction to Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant who was slaughtered in a hail of 41 NYPD bullets in 1999 as he returned home to his Bronx apartment. The murder of the 23-year-old received international attention and rocked not only the Bronx community where it occurred, but also the entire New York City population.

Keitt explained how the Diallo case united activists in different areas. “New York doesn’t normally come together as a unit, but this brought everyone to the streets. People marched and protested about racial profiling, police brutality, poverty and a lot of other important issues. People were fed up. This story needs to be told.”

The name for the film comes from the fact that New Yorkers marched for the year’s time it took between the crime and the not-guilty verdicts delivered by an upstate jury. Footage from rallies, demonstrations, marches and forums are included in “365 Days of Marching. “ There are interviews with politicians, activists and regular people on the street.

A screening of the film will take place on February 4th at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Boulevard).   —>

Imagine Raises the Bandwidth Bar
by Jeff Baumgartner
Cable Digital News

The customer is always right.  That business axiom appeared to be in play Monday when Imagine Communications introduced a digital video processing platform designed to cram 50 percent more MPEG-2-based broadcast channels into a slice of 6 MHz cable spectrum. (See Imagine Unveils Platform.)  Imagine’s ICE Broadcast System, introduced here at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Conference on Emerging Technologies, aims to pack three high-definition linear video networks or as many as 15 standard-definition networks into a single 6 MHz channel. Those improvements are boosted by a variable bit rate (VBR) video quality engine called the ICE-Q. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, channel slamming, ethnic media, human rights, interconnection, IPTV, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, red-lining, redlining, spectrum auction, U-Verse, 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 )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: