Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/05/08

Preserve PEGs in Hawaii
by Cynthia Thomet
Akaku (HI)

HB3417 & SB1789 are two bills in the Hawaii State Legislature that would help preserve PEG access and ensure that community access cable channels answer to you. Public access channels (made up of content-contributors and cable subscribers like you) need your support in the Hawaii State Legislature House of Representatives! You can help by taking action two ways!   —>

To attend or not to attend
by Andy Sher
Times Free Press (TN)

Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh held a news conference today about private negotiations he is helping oversee that involve AT&T and the cable television industry.  AT&T wants state lawmakers to adopt a franchising process that would allow the company to offer cable television anywhere it wants across the state. Local governments currently control franchising.

When questioned about the gatherings, Rep. Naifeh said the behind-the-scenes meetings among AT&T, cable interests and a handful of lawmakers have been “transparent” although reporters have not been invited to attend.  “Do you want to go in there and sit through those meetings?” Rep. Naifeh asked a reporter.  “No you don’t,” Rep. Naifeh replied when the reporter answered yes to the speaker’s initial inquiry.

Lawmakers meet with reps on cable bill (TN)
Associated Press
MSN Money

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh on Monday denied there’s been a lack of transparency in the handling of a contentious proposal to change cable permitting rules in Tennessee to encourage broadband access around the state.  Naifeh, a Covington Democrat, told reporters Monday legislative leaders from both parties have been meeting with representatives from AT&T Inc. and other cable businesses for the past five weeks to work on compromise legislation, but the media has not been invited to any of the meetings.

Naifeh said about 15 representatives from AT&T and other cable businesses and several lawmakers have been present during the meetings.  When questioned about the matter, Naifeh said there’s no hidden agenda but that all parties want to first work out the “technical issues” of the proposal.  “Let’s get it all worked out … then let us as legislators go over it and determine what we want to be the bill,” said Naifeh, who was joined by Republican sponsors of the legislation from both chambers.   —>

Naifeh wants AT&T, Comcast to agree
Governor doubts rival cable businesses will compromise
by Naomi Snyder  (11 comments)
The Tennessean

House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and a bipartisan group of legislators vowed Monday to press ahead on legislation to allow AT&T to sell video services across Tennessee, despite doubts that a deal can be worked out with rival cable providers.   —>

CWA Calls on Pennsylvania Legislators to Support High Speed Broadband Buildout
Communications Workers of America

A broad coalition of labor, consumers and community groups strongly supports The Consumer Choice Cable Franchising and High-Speed Broadband Promotion Act, H.B 1490, and the Communications Workers of America is urging members of the House Consumer Affairs Committee to approve this measure.  CWA research economist Debbie Goldman will testify before the committee at a hearing on Thursday, February 7.   —>,269776.shtml

Public Access Channel goes on without county funds
by Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Evening News Tuesday (FL)


After attempting to cut funding for years, the Hillsborough County Commission last fall pulled the plug on financing the county’s Public Access Channel.  Forced to reduce the budget dues to mandates from the state Legislature last year, the board also cut in half funding of the county’s Education Channel, and warned station operators that there may not be any funding at all next year. The third channel, the county’s Government channel, also saw its budget cut by more than $200,000 – but it’s entire budget is just a little less than $2-million.

Now comes the possibility that the channel may try to allow commercial ads on the channel. At their board meeting tomorrow, Hillsborough commissioners are scheduled to receive a report from the County Attorney’s office regarding a proposal to allow commercials on HTV.   —>

Public access TV still relevant
by Doug Moe
The Capital Times (WI)

A Wisconsin state senator has done a grave disservice to one of the true stars of Madison television. And in a national magazine, at that.  The February issue of Governing magazine contains an article on what it calls the “blurry” future of public access television in the United States due to the many states, including Wisconsin, that have passed laws shifting much of the regulation of cable television from individual cities to the state.

“In the process,” the article notes, “public, educational and government channels — the so-called ‘PEGs’ — are getting hammered. Many are losing funding or studio space, and in a few places PEGs are being shut down altogether.”

The situation in Wisconsin is discussed toward the end of the article and includes this: “Wisconsin state senator Jeff Plale, who sponsored that state’s new cable franchise law, has seen some public access shows that left him unimpressed. ‘We have a channel in Madison of a guy grilling a chicken; sometimes he grills lamb chops,’ says Plale. ‘Should the ratepayers really pay for that?'”

The answer to that question is an unequivocal yes.  Yes to helping fund public access TV in general and yes to the particular show, which airs on Madison’s WYOU-TV, referenced by Plale in his quote.  I will return to that show momentarily. First, let me put in a good word for public access TV as a concept. Actually, the Governing article does a pretty good job of summing up its appeal, and why these new laws are potentially harmful.   —>

City to pay out $200,000 a year for CAT operating costs
by Emilie Rusch
Columbia Missourian

Funding problems could finally be a thing of the past for Columbia Access Television after the City Council voted early Tuesday morning in favor of a five-year contract that would pay out $200,000 a year for operating costs starting next fiscal year.  But the council stopped short of guaranteeing any capital funding to renovate CAT’s studio at Stephens College and went ahead with plans to create a competitive application process for any additional public communications funding.

“CAT has worked with very minimal funds, but they could accomplish a lot more,” Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said. “I think we owe them the funds to get a good second start.”  The contract, which will not go into effect until both sides sign, will provide CAT with $150,000 for the rest of fiscal 2008 and $200,000 a year through fiscal 2013.

The money comes from the extra revenue generated by the 2 percent increase of the city’s cable franchise fee, approved in September by the council. The city estimates the increase will generate an additional $300,000 to $400,000 in fiscal year 2009.  Before the increase, the franchise fee, which the city charges video providers in exchange for use of public right-of-way, was 3 percent of the provider’s gross receipts within city limits. In 2004, the city’s Cable Task Force recommended to raise the franchise fee to the federal maximum of 5 percent to help fund the public access channel.

CAT members approached the contract with mixed feelings. Without guaranteed capital funding, it will be hard to attract any candidates for the staff positions the city-funded operating budget creates, said Beth Pike, CAT volunteer and member of the Cable Task Force, before the meeting. It just doesn’t make sense to have operating funds without the money to buy equipment, she said.  “We would be spending the money from the city foolishly if we spent what they gave us for operating costs without having any capital,” she said.   —>

AT&T U-verse rolls into Chicago

AT&T remains committed to its aggressive IPTV roll out and this week comes to Chicago for its biggest ever deployment and remains on track to hit one million users by the end of the year. The launch of the U-verse TV service in parts of 175 suburbs is the largest single rollout in the history of the U-verse service, which currently has 230,000 users. —>

League of Women Voters of Portland To Host Media Reform Forum (OR)
by davy
Open Sources

The League of Women Voters of Portland is hosting a media and democracy forum on Wednesday, February 13, 2008. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the Multnomah Building, 501 SE Hawthorne, Portland. The event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

The democratic ideal of informed public participation in government can be enhanced by a vibrant media that values diverse voices and in-depth discussion of the many issues facing our society. Do we have such a media? Have you heard enough about movie stars and want to learn more about community concerns on TV news? Do you want radio stations to play more tunes by local artists? Those are some of the issues the panel will address.

Andrea Cano, board member of OC, Inc. (Office of Communications of the United Church of Christ), will discuss last December’s hearing of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Seattle and explore opportunities for public involvement in broadcast media policy development…

Rob Brading, CEO of MetroEast Community Media, will discuss challenges facing local access cable providers that air programs produced by local organizations and individuals…

David Olson, Director of Portland’s Office of Cable Communications & Franchise Management, will discuss the future of broadband in the metro region…

League member Janice Thompson, Executive Director of Democracy Reform Oregon, will moderate the discussion. —>

Non-profit media: Bread for the City’s ambitious community vision
We Media Miami 2008

One of the perks of my new job as communications editor at iFOCOS is listening in on conversations that Andrew and Dale are having. Yesterday, Andrew told a colleague he sees a dynamic future for non-profit media. He pointed out that for years, human rights and advocacy organizations have been producing in-depth investigative reports that journalists then publicize. Digital media, of course, opens the door for non-profits orgs to actually become media-creators themselves: no need to wait around for journalists to call.

One project in iFOCOS’ own Washington, D.C., metro area that has caught Andrew’s attention is Bread for the City, which is planning to launch a Community Media Project. Luckily for all of us, Bread for the City’s development associate, Adrienne Ammerman, will be at We Media Miami to share her thoughts and experience. Here’s what she has to say about her work:   —>

Government-only access  channel in Prescott’s future
by Paula Rhoden (1 comment)
The Daily Courier (AZ)

Prescott city officials are looking into a government-only public access television channel. City Manager Steve Norwood told the city council Tuesday afternoon the city has the opportunity to break away from Channel 13 and move to Channel 15.  Norwood said Prescott Access 13 is a Public Education and Government (PEG) channel.   —>

Mayor plans cable TV show on zoning law
by Jack Encarnacao
The Patriot Ledger (MA)

WEYMOUTH – Weymouth Mayor Sue Kay said she likes the idea of rezoning a Middle Street property under a state law that would put about $200,000 into the town’s coffers and allow 46 condos to be built there under a design process the town would control.  Kay said she plans to explain the law, called Chapter 40R, which allows the dense development in a single-family neighborhood, as the first topic of a new roundtable television show she plans to launch on local access WETC Channel 11.   —>

Viewers Question Infomercial’s Airing
by Marcia Chambers (3 comments)
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?

The short answer is that short of obscenity, pornography or outright commercialism in which a program sets out to make money, anything goes. Public access television encourages viewers to learn how to put on television programs that are of interest to viewers. It is the very essence of First Amendment speech. By and large it works.   —>

Tracking Durham’s capital bond projects: You wanted your new park when?
by KS Davis (5 comments)
Bull City Rising (NC)

—>   In Monday’s Council meeting, a $121,000 contract with Time Warner for RoadRunner business Internet service was postponed to Thursday’s work session while the administration continues to duel with TWC over the fate of church programming on community access TV. The RoadRunner contract amount is higher than Baker’s current $100,000 spending limit but below the proposed new $150,000 threshold. But I digress.   —>

Public Works and Government Services Canada: House of Commons Launches Innovative Captioning Service

OTTAWA, ONTARIO– Did you know that the House of Commons is one of the first parliamentary institutions in the world that, in addition to televising its proceedings, now provides live closed captioning simultaneously in two languages? Since the fall of 2007, the Translation Bureau of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), with its recognized expertise as a provider of language solutions, has provided French captioning through voice recognition for the television broadcast of Question Period in the House. The new service enables Canadians who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing to participate more fully in the political process by virtue of this renewed civic commitment.   —>

SNCAT spin-off targets business
by Pat Patera
Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Business needs a controlled-access version of the popular social networking sites, says Les Smith, executive director of SNCAT.  He figures Interactive Media Technologies, a planned spin-off from SNCAT, could provide it. SNCAT— the shorthand name for Sierra Nevada Community Access Television, a not-for-profit television and Internet production company — derives 80 percent of its funds from contracts with Reno, Sparks and Washoe County.

Smith sees a greater demand, and the carrier would be the Internet rather than the cable television wires that carry SNCAT programming.  For example, he points to global behemoths such as International Game Technology that could build a company-wide community. Or multilevel marketers that would build community among customers and sales associates — they could both blog and post videos. He points to business colleges that could offer self-contained social education networking systems.

Interactive Media Technologies will be funded by equity shares or preferred stock, says Smith, with SNCAT among the investors. A slim staff, marketing and administration, will hand off jobs to the existing production staff at SNCAT studios. The company should be operational within the year.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable franchising, cable vs telco, captioning, government access, media reform, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, rural broadband, U-Verse, video franchising

One Comment on “Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/05/08”

  1. […] Minister Gordon Brown’s grilling by senior MPs on the Commons liaison committee. (25 clicks) Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/05/08Preserve PEGs in Hawaii by Cynthia Thomet Akaku (HI) 0… Super Bowl through Deaf EyesAbout time that this vlog is NOT about politics but an ASL report on […]

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: