Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/01/08

Astroturfs, Now Fighting for Cable
Side Cut Reports

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Is there such a shortage of news around telecom public policy that normally respectable information outlets still fall so easily for astroturf announcements? If you are a Comcast lobbyist you just have to love the official sound of the lead graf in this non-news missive from IDG “news” service, which asserts that “a coalition of seven civil rights groups” is now banding together to fight off the resurrection of network neutrality, mainly in reference to the recent FCC hearing about Comcast’s network management practices.

C’mon. Please. Does anyone really believe anymore that the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association, League of Rural Voters, and National Council of Women’s Organizations just happen to have the same viewpoints on net neutrality and cable network management? Or maybe, they are all BFF and on Facebook together, and said “hey, we really need to work together to ensure our voices are heard.”

Right.  Or maybe, they are all organizations that get substantial contributions from large telecommunication companies or cable providers, whose legislative agendas just happen to mesh with those of the civil rights groups. (Or maybe they all just use the same policy PR firm, whose prinicpals have been at this a long time.)

C’mon, InfoWorld. C’mon, Mike. Do some digging before you post — the scoop on these outfits is already out there thanks to the fine work of Bruce Kushnick and many others.   —>

Lawsuit holds back digital cable switch
Public access channel still widely available
by Nicholas Deshais
Times Herald (MI)

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Comcast announced a slate of programming changes Friday, including the removal of some channels from standard cable in order to move them to a high-definition format.  As part of the changes, effective March 27, Channel 900, the simulcast of public access standard-definition Channel 12, has been moved to Channel 901, which carries a digital signal. The announcement says programming available on Channel 12 will remain there but does not indicate if that could change after a lawsuit regarding moving public, educational and government channels is resolved.   —>

Lights, camera, school board
by Stephen Sacco
Times Herald-Record (NY)

The Port Jervis School District now has its own educational public-access television station — Time Warner Cable Channel 20 in the Port Jervis viewing area. The channel was launched Feb. 8 and features live coverage of Port Jervis school board meetings.   —>

Board of Supervisors meetings airing on TV
Residents may now view county Board of Supervisors’ meetings on the city’s public channel, City TV. (CA)

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The meetings take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but will be aired in their entirety each Friday morning. The stations, Channel 24 on Cox and Time Warner cable and Channel 99 on AT&T, also air City Council and committee meetings, news conferences by city officials and some county programming.  Until now, television broadcasts of supervisors meetings were available only through the County Television Network, which does not appear on Cox. –J.V.

City near long-delayed cable deal
by Amelia Flood
Kane County Chronicle (IL)

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ST. CHARLES – A seven-year stalemate over a franchise agreement between St. Charles and its cable provider, Comcast, soon might be over, but it will have little impact on customers.  The new contract still must be approved by the City Council.  The city will continue to collect a 5 percent franchise fee from Comcast. That comes to about $375,000 a year.  In the future, residents could see a 35-cent monthly charge added to their bills. The money would go toward increasing public access programming. The city has no plans to implement the fee at this time, City Administrator Brian Townsend said, and it would require additional council action.   —>

Goodies up for bid to assist GHS-TV
Student-run public-access station sets $40,000 goal
by Lela Garlington
Commercial Appeal (TN)

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Interested in a five-day hotel stay in Orlando? Or getting your closet reorganized? How about VIP passes to the Stanford St. Jude Golf Championship?  This weekend, the award-winning Germantown Community Television hosts its 15th annual auction from 2 to 9 p.m. today and again from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Germantown residents can watch the auction on Channel 17. Viewers outside of Germantown can see a portion of Auction 2008 on Comcast Cable Channel 30 from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday. DirectTV viewers will not be able to see the cablecast, but anyone can bid online at

“Last year we raised about $35,000 and this year we hope to make $40,000 or more,” said publicity co-chairwoman and student Johnnalee Kutzke. “The money from the auction will benefit the television studio and also contribute to our senior scholarships awarded at the end of the year.”   —>

Community Organization with Digital Tools
by Dan Schultz
MediaShift Idea Lab


Last week I took a digital-communication-oriented glance at the war on Scientology being led by the nontraditional online group called Anonymous. I’m not exactly writing a part 2, but I want to start a follow-up discussion on a few of the comments made and questions posed by Anonymous about how digital media affects the dynamics of community organization. That being said, if you haven’t had the chance to browse the comments of that post it’s probably worthwhile.

I have mentioned in the past that I want to see digital media facilitate local impact; to do that well we need to understand some of the nuances of many-to-many digital communication and look at how those nuances might change the way communities can plan, organize, and ultimately act on the issues they find important. This post lists a few traits of online communication and what they might mean for digitally driven movements, including the one being led by Anonymous.   —>

Cable’s Class Act
CIC Boosts Its Profile as Education Leader
by Stuart Miller
Multichannel News

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After nearly two decades, the Cable in the Classroom educational foundation continues to work closely with networks and operators to provide cable technology and programming to schools and libraries nationwide…

People often thought there was a catch to CIC, said Donna Krache, executive producer of CNN Student News. “They’d look at you sideways and just not believe that it was free.”  Overall, CIC was welcomed with open arms: Peggy Charren, the outspoken president of the advocacy group Action for Children’s Television, said at the time, “I’ve got problems with everything when it comes to children and television. I have no problems with this.”…

CIC is placing a growing emphasis on broadband access to provide schools with study guides, clips and even games. “Teachers are very busy and don’t have time to slog through material,” O’Connell said. “This is something that really works and it’s a good, reliable resource.”

Among CIC’s latest initiatives is eLECTIONS, which offers video from C-SPAN, CNN Student News and The History Channel to teach about the election process and lets students run their own campaigns in a multiplatform game. “The depth of resources with something like this is so great you almost don’t need the textbook,” said Krache.   —>

Russia: NTV’s Past Points Toward REN-TV’s Future
by Robert Coalson
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

When independent experts this week released their assessment of media coverage of the Russian presidential election, there were few surprises. On Channel One, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev got 32 percent of election-related airtime; on Rossia, he got 26 percent; on TV-Tsentr, he got 35 percent; and on NTV he got 43 percent.

The other three official candidates all got single-digit coverage on all four national networks, with figures ranging from 6.8 percent to 0.1 percent, according to figures released by the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations. Also unsurprisingly, President Vladimir Putin — who isn’t running, of course — got more airtime even than Medvedev, ranging around 50-60 percent.

The one oddity in this bland picture, however, was REN-TV, a small, but still-private national network. REN-TV’s figures are truly startling: 31 percent of the airtime went to Putin, followed by 21 percent for Medvedev, 22 percent for Liberal Democratic Party of Russia head Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 21 percent to Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov, and 6.3 percent to Democratic Party head Andrei Bogdanov.

Such even-handedness is unheard of in Russian national media these days. The reduced percentage to Bogdanov can easily be justified by the facts that his support consistently polls at about 1 percent, that his party received less than 1 percent of the vote in the December Duma elections, and that his candidacy is widely seen to be a Kremlin-inspired stratagem to create the impression that at least one liberal politician is in the race.

The contrast between REN-TV and NTV is particularly noteworthy. NTV, it should be recalled, is the once-private and once-respected national television network that was taken over by Gazprom in 2000-01 as one of the first major steps in Putin’s dismantling of civil society. At the time, Gazprom claimed the takeover was merely a business dispute and senior managers pledged endlessly the network would be sold off in short order.

Now, seven years later, Medvedev is the chairman of Gazprom’s board of directors and that channel is outdoing even the formally state-controlled Channel One and Rossia in violating the law ensuring equal media access to all candidates and in contributing to what the liberal-posing Medvedev has eloquently described as “legal nihilism.”   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: astroturf, cable franchising, cable vs telco, channel slamming, citizen media, educational access, election programming, government access, high school television, internet use, municipal programming, net neutrality, new media, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising, youth media

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