Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/22/08

Another Chance to Preserve PEG!
by Cynthia Thomet
Akaku: Maui Community Television (HI)

If you want another opportunity to help preserve PEG access in Hawaii, now’s your chance to make a difference ! Support SB1789 now and submit your testimony. Deadline is Monday, Feb. 25 at 8:45 a.m. (And in case you didn’t know!… SB1789 & HB3417 are two bills in the Hawaii State Legislature that would help preserve PEG access and ensure that community access cable channels answer to you. —>

[ State laws on cable franchises ]
by Derek Hodges
The Mountain Press (TN)

[ comments allowed ]

—>  The group also received a request from AT&T representative Dennis Wagner that it endorse the company’s efforts to get state laws on cable franchises changed. Currently, the law requires cable systems to operate franchises in the individual municipalities and counties they want to serve, with fees from that licensure going to local governments. Though a number of other neighboring states follow a similar system, AT&T has asked the rules be changed to allow for statewide franchising.

The proposal has drawn considerable attention from the public, with State Sen. Raymond Finney, R-Maryville, saying he’s gotten more mail on the subject than anything else the Legislature has considered since he was elected. Much of the correspondence has been opposed to the move, Finney says.

Wagner’s search for support for the proposed law change may be a tough one. During the session, Sevierville Alderman Barry Gibbs questioned Wagner as to whether the service would be available to all Sevier County residents.  Wagner conceded the service will only be available to those who already have access to the company’s broadband service, though he said AT&T hopes to expand those lines in the future.  Statewide, many have expressed concerns the company may not work to serve everyone like local cable franchises are asked to do. Some have also questioned why the company can’t comply with the state’s current rules.

Clearing up the DTV Transition
Cable Tech Talk

[ 1 comment ]

There’s no denying that the Digital Television Transition is a complicated issue. Even those of us who work on it all the time sometimes have difficulty keeping all of the technical details straight. Some people seem confused over whether a box is always necessary to keep watching TV…

Here’s another example: In the latest edition of the Bose newsletter, there’s the same error. It says that you’ll need to do nothing for the transition if “You subscribe to digital cable TV.” Further down, it states that it is a “Myth” that cable subscribers are ready for the changeover, suggesting that cable subscribers who receive analog service will be left out.

The source of the confusion seems to be that two topics are combined. It’s important to remember that this DTV Transition is only for the over-the-air broadcast industry. Cable is going through its own “digital transition.” Because of that word “digital,” the two often get confused.

What will cable subscribers need to do in preparation for the DTV Transition next February? The current information is that cable customers – whether or not they have a set-top box – will still be able to watch television after Feb. 17, 2009. At the same time, the cable industry has been moving towards a digital platform; as part of that, sometimes operators will move channels from the analog tier to the digital tier, which then needs a digital set-top box for reception.

Bottom line: If you have cable service, you should be fine, with the set-top box as an irrelevant factor. However, if you want to get access to cable’s newer services, such as hi-def TV or digital video recorders, or if you want to see the hundreds of programming choices available through the digital cable platform, you’ll need to have the appropriate set-top box. You can avoid having a box by purchasing a Digital Cable Ready television, but the current sets are only one-way, which means you won’t have access to interactive services. However, the tru2way standard will address this issue.   —>

Local Self Reliance (CA)
Mother Earth News

[ comments allowed ]

—>    Cable TV is a fast-growing, multibillion-dollar industry, and firms are scrambling to gain municipal franchises that will allow them exclusive rights to wire those territories for decades to come. In fact, one out of every four American homes is already reached by cable, and almost all of the systems that serve such residences are owned by major national corporations.

There are, however, a few exceptions. Several dozen smaller cities (including Conway, Arkansas and Jackson, Minnesota) have decided to finance and build their own cable services. Davis, California, though, will become the first major market to choose a third alternative: customer ownership. As a member of the Davis Cable Cooperative (DCC), each household will be able to vote on the types of programs and services that the system will offer.

“Cable cooperatives do exist, but not in major markets,” explains Robert Kahn, a DCC board member. “They’ve sprung up in the upper Midwest primarily because no one wanted to invest in those areas. But the industry wanted our market. In fact, several large companies that were bidding on a cable system for nearby Sacramento offered to tie Davis into it … but our community preferred a co-op.”   —>

Net Neutrality Is a Civil Rights Issue
by Mark Lloyd
Save The Internet


Decisions made by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission in the next few years — if not sooner — will determine whether we protect free speech online, close the digital divide, and bring a greater diversity of voices to this transformative medium.

The world of technology is rapidly changing. Pretty soon, you’ll get all your media — TV, phone, radio and the Web — from the same high-speed Internet connection. The potential democratic, economic, public safety and educational benefits of the Internet are almost limitless. Wiring our nation with a high-speed Internet connection is now a public necessity, just like water, gas or electricity.

Unfortunately, the powerful cable and telecom industry doesn’t value the Internet for its public interest benefits. Instead, these companies too often believe that to safeguard their profits, they must control what content you see and how you get it. Their plans could have dire consequences for those whose voices are often marginalized by our nation’s media system.

For communities of color, the Internet offers a critical opportunity to build a more equitable media system. It provides all Americans with the potential to speak for themselves without having to convince large media conglomerates that their voices are worthy of being heard.   —>

Media community calls upon Somali government to change media laws
ijnet – International Center for Journalists

[ comments allowed ]

Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein has received a letter from the international media community urging the Somali government to change its media laws and work toward ending the oppression of journalists and members of the media. The letter encourages freedom of expression and freedom of press.  The action to write the letter was led by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and other members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).  To learn more, contact

Liberia: Community Radio Station Closed Down
Media Foundation for West Africa (Accra)

[ comments allowed ]

Following a management dispute, SMILE FM, a community radio station based in Zwedru, a north eastern-town, about 643 kilometres from Monrovia, the police on February 20, 2008 closed down the station.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent reported that the Acting Superintendent of police in the area, Tarley Dweh and his Commander stormed the premises and closed the station at about 12 midday.

The station’s Advisory Board had in January suspended the Station’s Manager, Victor Gbeyeah following a recommendation of a committee that probed the station. The committee’s report indicated that Gbeyeah had misappropriated funds of the station.  Gbeyeah rejected the committee’s findings and complained to the local authorities.

The MFWA correspondent said for fear of losing their influence on the station, the authorities dissolved the Board which had been constituted by the community.

Australia – Annual report 2008
Reporters Without Borders for Press Freedom
undated – 2008

The last years of conservative prime minister John Howard’s long period in power – brought to an end with his decisive defeat in elections in November – was marked by a growing battle with the press. The media even formed a coalition called Australia’s Right to Know to combat the administration’s lack of transparency. Meanwhile a journalist’s right to protect sources and the confidentiality of communications were once again under threat.

During the legislative election campaign, the Australia’s Right to Know coalition showed that a lot of news and information was not accessible to the press and public and that this right was obstructed by at least 1,500 legal decrees and rulings. One of the leaders of the campaign, John Hartigan, chairman and CEO of News Limited, said that journalists working for his group had been banned from: accessing information in an audit of politicians’ expenses; obtaining a list of restaurants against which public health authorities had taken action; and accessing ranking of hospitals according to the quality of care. A few days after his election, Labor Party leader, Kevin Rudd promised concrete improvements in access to public information.

Lack of rights for journalists to protect sources was demonstrated in June 2007 when two journalists working for the The West Australian in Perth were threatened with prison unless they revealed how they had obtained a confidential report of an anti-corruption commission which the newspaper had used to point the finger at a political figure.   —>

Stories from the Global Grassroots
by Amy Wolf
The Indypendent

[ comments allowed ]

For a seasoned journalist finding a challenging assignment is no small task — but neither is mentoring journalists and building independent media production in communities around the world. On this assignment however, you are not judged on the merits of the stories you file, but on the work of those you train.

Craig Duff was one of 33 journalists faced with this challenge as a Knight Fellow at the International Center for Journalism (ICFJ) last year. As a former producer of television and web documentaries for CNN, Discovery and The New York Times, Duff wanted to get away from “voice of god” style narrated productions. Through the fellowship, Duff taught documentary production at American University in Cairo in 2007. There he set out to foster his 36 student’s innate story-telling capacity through the production of stories told in the first person.

Seven of these works were shown at a screening at the Tribeca Grand Hotel Feb. 12 with one of Duff’s students, Alaa Al Dajani, a young financier turned filmmaker.

Al Dajani’s film focused on Mustafa Said Mohamed Antar, a master musician on the oud, a pear-shaped, stringed instrument. The fact that the artist was blind from birth was not the point of the film; rather, the story explores the radical act of loving music and delivering it from the realm of the profane. (Music in some conservative Egyptian traditions is considered sinful.)

Another film, Kasr Masr, provides a portrait of the doctors inside Cairo’s over-crowded, under-resourced public charity hospital for which the film is named. Filmed with an arresting degree of access amid bloody chaos, the work hooks the viewer on the story of a small boy, hit by a donkey cart, who has sustained possible brain damage, blood trickling out of his ear. The injustice of his massive suffering unfolds in an abrupt, unresolved ending that leaves the boy’s condition a mystery.

According to Al Dajani, without a cinema dedicated to independent film and adequate investments in the arts, there are limited opportunities to create or watch independent films in Cairo. But with the new Al-Jazeera Documentary channel launched January 2007, the demand may help spur the supply. One or more of the documentaries produced in Duff’s classes will air on this new station. In addition to helping fill the dearth of documentaries produced in Cairo, Duff also mentored and trained professional journalists at Orbit, a premium cable channel broadcasting across the Middle East.

Last year, Knight Fellow Michelle Garcia helped El Salvadoran community radio stations, which are largely run by young volunteer farm workers, advance their programming and content goals. In a nation with an alarming murder rate, Garcia stated that an overall goal in this work was “to figure out a way to talk about violence in a way that the listener is not dulled and desensitized by it.”

Garcia also partnered with Providad, a pro-transparency and anti-corruption organization, to hold a nationwide conference aimed at opening dialogue between political opposition media, the radio stations and their listenership. The conference specifically addressed “how journalists see the public, how they see institutional power and how they report on them,” she said.   —>

Verizon FiOS Wins Local Video Franchise in Chesapeake, Virginia
Telecommunications Industry News

[ comments allowed ]

The City Council of Chesapeake, Virginia, has awarded Verizon Communications with a local video franchise, licensing the telecom giant to provide fiber-optic television service to the city’s 81,000 households.  The 15-year franchise, retroactive to December 10, requires Verizon to roll-out its FiOS TV service to at least 65% of residents within the next seven years. It also makes provisions for three public access channels, and compels the company to supply grants worth $10,000 plus $0.22 per subscriber, to local public programs.

Verizon began deploying FiOS in Chesapeake in December under a default franchise set by state law, and currently offers the next-generation TV service to more than 6,400 homes in the area. This number will swell to approximately 22,000 within the next three years.

‘Captain Curling’ is in the house
by Keith Uhlig
Wausau Daily Herald (WI)

[ 1 comment ]

About 14 years ago, a knee injury kept Cal Tillisch from curling, the winter sport he loves.  It’s an exaggeration to say that curling is Tillisch’s life during the winter. He still eats, goes to work (he’s an attorney) and talks with his wife regularly. But curling never strays too far from his thoughts or actions.

So the knee injury was tough for him to take. Despite the gimp, he went to the opening ceremonies of the Badger State Winter Games that year, and he noticed cameras from public access television there. An idea hit him, and he marched to the public access offices and asked John Jordan, the Wausau public access cable coordinator, if Badger State curling matches could be televised, and if he could be the play-by-play announcer.

Jordan was hestitant at first. But Tillisch, 49, of Wausau can be an exhuberant booster of curling — imagine him as a cheerleader/preacher hybrid for the sport — and he prevailed.

Tillisch and curling have been a fixture of local public access television ever since. He covers curling for the Badger State Games, the Tietge Bonspiel (curling lingo for tournament) and high school state championships.  The Wausau public access coverage has won state awards, Jordan said. Curlers love the coverage, and even folks outside the sport have been drawn in. And Tillisch has become the face and voice of the sport for the viewing audience.   —>

Internet-TV connection still far off, experts say
New sets allow users to watch Web videos from the couch, but many say technology isn’t there yet
by Alex Pham and Dawn C. Chmielewski
Los Angeles Times

[ comments allowed ]

Buyers of this year’s most advanced televisions might notice a curious new feature — a jack that connects the sets directly to the Internet.  For now, the capabilities are modest. Viewers can’t surf the Web as they can on their computers, but they can use their remote controls to receive updated local weather forecasts, personalized stock quotes, on-demand access to a handful of TV shows such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and thousands of YouTube videos.

But the Web connections eventually could upend the way TV programs have been distributed. The goal one day is to replace every set-top device — cable boxes, TiVos, media center computers, stereos and game consoles — so all you need is a TV set that does it all via the Internet.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable cap, cable franchising, cable vs telco, channel slamming, community radio, DTV transition, freedom of the press, human rights, net neutrality, new media, PEG access TV, press freedom, public access television, 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 )

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: