Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/13/08

Union Made
by Bunnie Riedel
Telecommunications Consulting

—>  I had to go back and look at the original piece of legislation. Sure, Indiana led the nation by completely de-regulating telecom, including wireless. But if that had been the goal all along, de-regulation of wireless in order to bring all those wireless union jobs to Indiana, why did they have to gut local video franchising? Did CWA jump into AT&T’s pocket because they hated Comcast so much? Did CWA have any idea what the statewide video franchising bill would do to PEG in Indiana? Did they even care?

I guess they didn’t care, but they should have.

Somebody tell me where a union, any union, ever gets coverage on television, much less has its own half hour or hour long television show. The answer is Public access television. Without it there is no union programming. I did a query of access stations and found out that CWA uses Public access facilities and channels across this country. CWA could have its programming on the AT&T system in Bloomington if it wanted, but that’s not going to happen because there are no access channels on the AT&T system in Bloomington.

The firefighters, the nurses, the sheet metal workers, the teamsters, the teachers, the hotel workers, the state employees, the musicians, the mechanics, the railroad workers…you name a union and somewhere in this country they have a show on Public access.

I have no doubt that the CWA prides itself in working for justice. But I guess I just wish CWA would fight a tenth as hard for the survival of Public access as Public access has fought for CWA’s right to be seen and heard. What is missing in this discussion is that CWA needs to be on the side of the access community when it comes to dealing with AT&T or the cable operators, because both CWA and the access community would be eliminated by cable or Ma Bell, given half a chance.   —>

Comcast turns off Springs
by Ralph Routon
Colorado Springs Independent

[ 1 comment ]

Nobody seems to know exactly what day it happened.  Certainly there was no announcement or news release, courteously informing the Colorado Springs-area public that our cable company doesn’t really care about this market anymore.  Instead, with the simple flick of a switch and the layoff of one highly visible person, Comcast Corp. apparently hoped nobody would notice. As if we, the legions of Comcast’s 100,000-plus paying customers, never pay attention.

Wrong. We have noticed. We do pay attention. And we aren’t happy.

This could have been all about that layoff. As reported in the March 6 Indy, Comcast eliminated the position of Sandra Mann, who handled the company’s local public relations and, in reality, did so much more. She put a human face on the cable provider’s local presence, smoothing over concerns when Comcast replaced Adelphia in August 2006. She spent nearly eight years going to City Council and committee meetings, providing updates and furthering goodwill there as well as with local civic clubs, nonprofits and countless fundraiser events.

Mann, who spent two decades (1977-96) as a highly popular local TV news anchor before moving into PR work and election to the District 11 school board, had used her expertise in another important way: She developed and organized local programming, first for Adelphia and then Comcast, on the local Channel 2.

Besides her own show and others such as those spotlighting the Better Business Bureau and the Philharmonic, there was the community calendar; Mike Boyle’s restaurant show; coverage of parades as well as other civic events; and all kinds of local political forums around elections.

That channel was a big deal from the start in 2000, but Comcast inexplicably decided neither it nor Mann were worth keeping.  Mann, starting her own consulting firm now, doesn’t want to talk about Comcast or its changes. But this customer will.   —>

Editorial: Attend TV meeting in Martin; push for School Board to air meetings in St. Lucie
TCPalm (FL)


Excuses, excuses, excuses.
• No one showed up to advocate his position.
• Students’ privacy rights could be jeopardized.
• It’s too expensive.
• Speakers will make political speeches for the audience.
• We’re a top school district so we don’t have to change.

The Martin and St. Lucie school boards have offered almost every excuse in the book for why they shouldn’t televise their meetings. Perhaps the biggest reason why they should televise them is credibility: The board has nothing to hide, right? So why not televise the meetings, educate the public and show it how educational policy and major expenditures are determined?

Indian River County has televised its meetings for years; students generally put together the broadcast. A perfect situation for the board? Not necessarily; this form of Reality TV helps create second-guessers, but informed second-guessers.  Still, broadcasting breeds credibility, transparency and helps to inform people. Isn’t all of this critical in a democratic society?

The good news is that the Martin School Board will discuss airing its meetings at a workshop at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the School Board meeting room, 500 E. Ocean Blvd., Stuart.  Attend en masse. Time to take away excuse No. 1.   —>

Letter: Vote yes for taping meetings, Belmont
Linda Frawley, Brian Loanes, David Morse and Greta Olson-Wilder, Belmont
Concord Monitor (NH)

The Belmont High School Student Council once again produced a “Meet the Candidates” program on March 5. It was encouraging to see civic interest and involvement, led effectively with youthful energy, interest and sincerity. The students and their teacher-adviser are a credit to the community, and we congratulate all helping the effort.

Increased citizen access to community issues, decision-making and volunteer opportunities are all at the heart of Warrant Article 5 on Saturday’s Belmont town meeting agenda. Voters will have a voice and choice, deciding whether selectmen meetings should be videotaped for the purpose of cablecasting on Lakes Region Public Access Television.

Nearly all of the other member communities of LRPA-TV use this resource extensively – from including local events on the calendar to airing educational programs and government meetings on other cable channels. Nearly half of Belmont’s households subscribe to MetroCast cable services, with full access to these education and government channels by voters and voters-to-be.

Let’s open our meetings and community to share with residents unable to attend these Corner Meeting House sessions – typically scheduled for 5 p.m. Over the past few years, four major events were successfully videotaped and aired on LRPA-TV. Cablecast information has included a master plan community report, conservation commission presentation of a natural resources inventory and our Old Home Day parade and events. Last year’s “Meet the Candidates Night” was even videotaped by local students, so a broader range of citizens could attend – from home.   —>

Wilson builds its own fiber optic network
by Heather Moore
News 14 Carolina (NC)

The City of Wilson will soon start offering its own telephone, cable TV and internet service. It’s through a new, state-of-the-art, $26 million fiber optic network. Wilson is the first city in the state to offer fiber connections directly to businesses and homes.  “We’re optimistic it’s going to be a superior service at a competitive price,” said Grant Goings, Wilson’s City Manager.

The fiber optic network, recently named Greenlight, will be available to every home and business within the city limits. Crews have installed about 150 miles of fiber optic cable, and the network is about 70 percent complete.  The City of Wilson borrowed $18 million to build the fiber optic network. With interest, Wilson will have to repay $26 million. Wilson’s business plan predicts the network will break even in 12 years and the city will be able to repay the entire debt within 15 years.   —>

Verizon tiptoeing around Boston with FiOS rollouts?
by Darren Murph


All in all, the Bay State most certainly isn’t hurting for access to FiOS TV, but curiously enough, downtown Boston has yet to be touched by Verizon’s fiber-based services. More specifically, the areas of Boston, Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge, Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Medford, Melrose, Watertown and Quincy have yet to be reached by Verizon’s recent expansion efforts, and for whatever reason, it seems that may be the case for some time to come. According to a response by Boston’s Mayor on the situation, Verizon has “declined the city’s repeated encouragement to enter a cable franchise negotiation, opting instead to slowly build in the suburbs.” Granted, it’s not unusual for the firm to target the outskirts, but it’s certainly not pleasing news for Bostonians holding out for FiOS.

Verizon to New England: Bye-bye
by Robert L. Mitchell

[ comments invited ]

It looks like the Verizon selloff of its Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont landline business to FairPoint Communications is a done deal. All three states have given their approval, with conditions. That deal will have a huge impact on the evolution of high speed broadband in Northern New England.

Ratepayers had little choice. Although FairPoint is not well capitalized to upgrade the network infrastructure, which appears to have deteriorated on Verizon’s watch, at least the company is interested in making an investment here. The question is whether it will be able to make those investments and pay off the massive debt load it will be taking on.

Rate payers had no good options. The best that consumers and businesses could hope for was a deal that left tiny FairPoint, the acquiring carrier, with as little debt as possible. The good news is that Verizon lowered the purchase price by $235.5 million and will contribute another $50 million toward maintenance projects to get the infrastucture (including some 1.7 million land lines) back up to snuff. The bad news is that FairPoint is still taking on a boat load of debt.

If the deal hadn’t gone through, however, it is clear that Verizon would not have made the investments necessary to bring the infrastructure up to where it should be – let alone move it into the 21st century.

Forget high-speed broadband

With Verizon out of the picture, rate payers must face up to the new reality: FairPoint may continue to push out classic broadband, but without a huge investment by ratepayers, true high-speed broadband in Northern New England is a pipe dream. Verizon has sold out to a much smaller player. And the capital that Verizon could have invested to improve that infrastructure is now gone. It’s time to start over.

Verizon’s selloff of its Northern New England business reflects the fact that the market is abandoning the twisted pair telephony infrastructure in rural areas – and the customers who use it. Meanwhile, telephone, cable television and broadband Internet access services are moving onto a faster infrastructure based on fiber and the Internet Protocol. In metro areas and elsewhere in the world those services are surging ahead to speeds of 50 Mbps, 100 Mbps and even 1 Gbps.

Most New England subscribers remain on dial-up, however, with a pledge that FairPoint will bring yesterday’s 3 Mbps DSL to them within the next two years. While metro areas will get “triple play” services that deliver telephone, Internet, and television over those new, high speed connections, Northern New England will be stuck in the Internet stone age. As these new services come online, 3Mbps will be the new dial-up.   —>

NPC-TV plans for the future
Community station wants to expand local programming
by M. Dirk Langeveld
Sun-Journal (ME)

[ comments invited ]

A local public television station is planning to double its coverage, pending support from Time Warner Cable.  Steve Galvin, station manager for Norway-Paris Community Television, said the station will expand its coverage to West Paris, Oxford, and Harrison.  “The main thing is, we want to get the towns in the school district on our system, so they can get our programming,” said Galvin.

The station serves Norway, Paris, and Waterford. The three towns, along with the three towns approached for extended coverage, are part of SAD 17.  West Paris receives Bethel’s public broadcasting signal, while Oxford receives Great Falls Television out of Lewiston. Harrison gets Lake Region Television.

West Paris resident George Twine presented the issue to selectmen, and the issue was taken to the annual town meeting on March 1.  “After George spoke, we took a straw poll and everyone at the meeting seemed to be in favor of it,” said West Paris town manager John White.  Oxford selectmen voted to pursue the change after a presentation by Twine at their last meeting.  “Harrison was a little hesitant,” said Galvin.  —>

Trustees worry new cable policies not enough
by Sarah Cormier
C & G Newspapers (MI)

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A new set of policies and procedures pertaining to Harrison Township’s community access channel prompted a discussion among board members about how officials can have more control over what is played on the air.  The board approved the new policies with a 5-2 vote at a Feb. 25 meeting. Township Treasurer Darrin York and Trustee James Ulinski both voted against the measure.

The newly adopted rules are for Harrison Township Community Access Television, HTCA-TV, which runs specifically on Channel 18 on Wide Open West, WOW. According to a statement of purpose written in the policies, the point of having a community access channel is to provide “citizens, community groups and nonprofit organizations with the resources to distribute non commercial video programming.”

William Servial, chairman of the township’s cable board, said that the community access channel has been in operation for about 14 months, but due to technical difficulties, no new material has been shown on the air. The only items shown on the public access channel are the same that currently run on the township’s government channel.

However, officials say the channel is ready to run, and now they just need content to air. The new rules will govern what type of material is appropriate to broadcast.“The first step in this process is to get WOW running, and hopefully, people will see some value to it, submit files, and we’ll actually have a real community access channel,” said Servial.   —>

Chamber says no to TV forum
by Jimmy LaRoue
The News Virginian (VA)

[ comments invited ]

The president of the regional chamber of commerce said Wednesday the organization wants no part of a politically charged proposal to televise a candidate forum on the city government access channel.  “We don’t want to be pulled into this political tug of war, and that’s what it is,” said Ben Carter, president of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, “because we as a chamber have nothing to gain and everything to lose by allowing that to happen.”  Carter said the chamber has not requested to be involved in forums for Waynesboro City Council or school board candidates.   —>!news!localnews

It’s alive! Wolfman Mac brings horror B-movie classics back to local TV
by Susan Whitall
The Detroit News  (MI)

[ comments invited ]

Tucked away on a quiet street in a Warren industrial park, a $14.95 skeleton from Wal-Mart is having a shrieking argument with a plastic plant. The two are sitting in a vintage hearse, with a husky wolfman at the wheel.  “There’s a weed whacker in the trunk!” the skeleton taunts the plant. A violent fight breaks out.

“If you two don’t knock it off, I’m going to turn this car around,” the werewolf warns. Then he grins at the TV camera, howls and delivers his tagline: “Hey kids, it’s time to lock the doors, pop some popcorn, roll out the sleeping bags and watch ‘Wolfman Mac’s Nightmare Sinema.'”

This is Stage 3 Productions, and original, local television is being created as Wolfman Mac, Detroit’s first horror movie host in decades, films a show late on a snowy Thursday.  “Wolfman Mac’s Nightmare Sinema” premieres on TV 20 Friday night at 1 a.m. (technically Saturday morning), with a furry, wisecracking host presenting the best of the worst black-and-white horror movies, as well as demented skits. It’s a return to the kind of local programming that used to be a staple of the TV dial in the early days of the medium in the 1950s and into the ’60s, but was largely dumped by local stations for syndicated fare in the ’80s.   —>

Networked Community Communication Model
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition (MA)

[ comments invited ]

Seungahn Nah’s 2003 paper, “Bridging Offline and Online Community: Toward A Networked Community Communication Model” (see Works Cited) the author surveys literature on community studies from the Chicago School of sociology to social network analysis. He develops a holistic approach to community studies across both online and offline spaces. The author weaves together a range of physical and virtual communication environments to provide a way to study the “community phenomena” (24). In the Introduction, Nah writes

“Given that community in virtual space is also based on the community in physical space, and the two types of community are closely related to each other, we need to review the existing community studies comprehensively in order to understand the “online” community as well as the “offline” community. “(4)

In his Networked Community Communication Model, Nah explains that from this approach “linkage among structure, agent, and computer network can create and expand the concept of community from local based community to global community and integrates them into networked communication environment” (24).

Nah’s model is particularly helpful in looking at the community media center as a specific geographic location within which to study community in a way “in which all kinds of communication pattern are integrated and coexisted” (24).

For the networks, television’s future is online
The launch of online syndication sites such as underscore how television companies are using the Internet to leverage their key asset: well-made content.
by Gloria Goodale
The Christian Science Monitor

Predicting the death of network television is a popular pastime in Hollywood. After three decades of audience erosion to cable, the doomsaying has intensified in recent years as video-sharing websites such as YouTube and Facebook have demonstrated an audience of millions for low-budget video.

But it’s still not time to count the Big Five networks out yet, say media watchers. They may have stumbled in the transition to the world of digital entertainment, underestimating audience appetite for consumption in new media beyond traditional TV, but they’re rapidly trying to adapt.

This week, a new, ad-supported site launched in partnership with Fox and NBC, showcases both companies’ programming via streaming video. ABC recently launched Stage 9 Digital Media, an online production house for short-form content. CBS has assembled a partnership of some 300 online syndication outlets such as AOL and Joost. And Fox has acquired the wildly successful social-networking website, MySpace. In part, the networks hope their online offerings will spur interest in traditional television programming. But, more than that, the networks want to establish bulwarks in the online universe where they can leverage their primary assets: well-crafted content.

“The model the networks come up with for distribution is going to affect everybody because everyone consumes TV in some way,” says Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University in New York.

That new business model is still very much a work in progress. If network television is to continue to provide big-budget productions to viewers without charge, it must attract enough eyeballs to draw advertisers. Increasingly, though, competition is coming from other forms of online entertainment.

In the networks’ favor: A great TV show can still trounce amateurish YouTube video for sheer entertainment value.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, election programming, government access, Internet TV, municipal broadband, municipal ownership, municipal programming, PEG access TV, public access television, rural broadband, video franchising

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