Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/17/08

U-Verse’s Sorry Excuse For Public Access TV
CT’s version of public access CSPAN a little annoyed….
by Karl
Broadband Reports


As Verizon and AT&T lobbyists worked to eliminate the local video franchise system, consumer advocates pointed out that such moves resulted in the death of public access. In States where lawmakers insist, AT&T has to carry public access — but localities haven’t been all too thrilled with the results. In Connecticut, AT&T is trying to pass preferred “franchise reform” legislation that would change how PEG channels are offered. The free, 24-hour local government policy public access channel (Connecticut Network), worried that the bill would kill off viewership, has created a video showing what locals have to do in order to access the channel in Michigan.   —>

Franchise, Phone Bills Percolate In Pa.
Cable, Verizon Put Lobbying Voice Behind VoIP Deregulation
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News

Pennsylvania lawmakers may consider a state franchising-reform bill, but the industries most affected by that bill, the cable and telephone companies, are teaming up to put their lobbying muscle behind deregulating voice-over-Internet protocol phone service.

Cable operators and Verizon officials testified last week before the state Senate’s consumer affairs committee in favor of SB 1000, which would prevent any government agency from trying to regulate the product.  Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware have already written into law that VOIP can be deployed without regulatory hurdles.

The state video franchising proposal — HB 1490 — was drafted in part by labor groups and neither cable operators nor phone companies like the bill.  “HB 1490 is a bad idea. You don’t amend or negotiate a bad idea,” Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania president Dan Tunnell said.

Most states adopting statewide franchise require a new provider to submit the names of executives, state office locations and a description of the intended franchise area. Pennsylvania’s draft bill goes further, requiring an applicant demonstrate the legal, financial, technical and managerial qualities needed to build and operate a system — much like the deep level of operating data local communities demand for cable franchises.

HB 1490 would also give the state Public Utility Commission up to four months to act on an application, a period during which three public hearings must be held. At the end of that period the PUC has the option to deny the application.

The bill also would establish:
• A six-year franchise;
• A requirement incumbents can’t be state franchised until their current pacts expire, unless the local franchiser consents;
• A build-out schedule that requires new providers to reach 35% of their declared franchise areas within three years of launch. A quarter of those customers would have to meet a low-income test. By year six, 70% of the franchise would have to be served, including 30% low-income households. If the franchise is renewed for another six years, the provider would have to serve the all households in the franchise by the end of year 12;
• And a rule that all installations, maintenance and customer service be done within the state.

Bridgeport schools showcased on TV
by Linda Conner Lambeck
Connecticut Post

[ comments invited ]

BRIDGEPORT — “Great Expectations,” a 30-minute news magazine showcasing all the good things happening in city schools, premieres this week on public access television.  The Bridgeport Public Education Fund is bankrolling the program, along with seven others, at a cost of about $5,000 per episode.

The program is hosted by Gina LeVon Simpson, a school system outreach worker with a background in television, and is produced by Borres Productions of Bridgeport.  Others involved in the production include students working in front of and behind the camera. They include: Justin Flores and Ahlaam Abdul, both students in Bassick High Schools Arts and Media Academy; and Rondique McLeon and DeSheena Kinney from Harding High.

The first episode features Hernan Illingsworth, parent of a fifth-grader at Classical Studies Academy and president of the citywide Parent Advisory Council.  “I hope this TV show starts to change expectations,” Illingsworth said. “Sometimes the expectations are bad. I hope this TV show shows a lot of the good stuff.”

A camera crew followed Illingsworth around for about three hours one day, filming him at work, during school and community activities, and at home.  “I believe the message was to get the aspect of me as a parent leader,” Illingsworth said. He hopes the show will get more parents involved and show the general public that Bridgeport parents care.   —>

Does Big Media’s One-Two Punch Knock Out the Internet?
by Jonathan Rintels

[ one comment ]

Last week saw Big Media deliver a powerful one-two combination of punches that may knock out today’s wide open Internet. First, in a speech delivered by Motion Picture Association of America President Dan Glickman, the nation’s media conglomerates vowed to fight increasingly vocal calls from policymakers and the public for “network neutrality” — a requirement that broadband Internet consumers be permitted to access the lawful content of their choice.

That’s hardly a revolutionary concept, unless you’re a broadband gatekeeper like Comcast that makes its customers’ choices for them by discriminating against some websites and favoring others.

To justify allying with Comcast, ATT, and their ilk in a mega-million dollar lobbying campaign to beat back government action that might prevent such anti-competitive, anti-consumer discrimination, the media congloms cited the need to combat piracy of their valuable content over broadband networks.

But as much as we also support fighting piracy, the MPAA’s invoking that fight here is a diversionary smoke screen for what’s really going on. The existing FCC policy principles that call for network neutrality, as well as every proposal to turn those principles into enforceable rules, speak to ensuring that broadband providers allow consumers “to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.”

By definition, pirated content is not “lawful content.” Big Media’s claim that Net Neutrality rules will prevent it from combating piracy goes way too far, as evidenced by Comcast’s recent blocking and slowing of its customers’ access to content distributed by BitTorrent. In kneecapping BitTorrent, Comcast didn’t just block pirated content, but all BitTorrent content, including legitimate un-pirated content such as a file containing the text of the King James Bible, and video that BitTorrent was distributing on behalf of its clients Fox, Time Warner, and Viacom – all card-carrying members of the MPAA!

Now consider the second powerful blow Big Media leveled against the open Internet last week. On Wednesday, went “live” after months in beta, streaming video of film and television produced by most of the media congloms that make up the MPAA.

[BTW, as Nikki Finke asked, how is it that this NBC-Universal and News Corp. (FOX) “joint venture” to distribute via Internet content owned by these companies, plus that of Sony, Warners, MGM-UA, and others, doesn’t violate antitrust laws? After all, not even the Bush administration’s “anything goes” antitrust regulators would allow these same alleged competitors to create a “joint venture” to distribute their content via movie theaters or a Dish Network-type satellite system.]

Allowing Comcast, ATT, and other broadband gatekeepers to discriminate against video content delivered by the BitTorrents of the Internet world vastly strengthens Hulu’s competitive position as the leading and “safe” web distribution method for video.

And can there be any doubt that as a condition of Big Media’s allying with the broadband providers to fight net neutrality that there is a clear understanding between them that Hulu will never be discriminated against in the way BitTorrent was? Look for all the Big Media companies currently using BitTorrent and other distribution over the Internet to sign up soon with Hulu.

Following that, to ensure they are not discriminated against by broadband gatekeepers and placed at a competitive disadvantage, look for many more video content creators to place their content on Hulu. In a world without Net Neutrality, linking up with Big Media’s Hulu — and its insulation from Comcast-style discrimination and degrading — will be a matter of self-preservation.

Kudos to the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) for immediately calling out the MPAA and exposing its anti-competitive collusion. Writes the IFTA:   —>

MIT’s Jenkins, Johnson Talk Community, Creativity
by Jessica Maguire

[ one comment ]

MIT’s Jenkins, Johnson Talk Community, Creativity Amidst accusations of the dumbing-down of American youth, Henry Jenkins stands as a profound defender of popular culture, and a notable commentator on media and video game-related issues.

The Co-Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, author of numerous books including Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture, shared the stage with Steven Johnson, author of Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software, Everything Bad Is Good for You, and other popular books about emerging technology, for the opening remarks at SXSW 2008.

The Decline Of Youth Culture?

To begin their conversation about the impact of new media and gaming culture, Johnson asked Jenkins about the emergence of books like The Dumbest Generation and the big NEA report about the decline of reading among kids today.   —>

NCVO: Over 120 MPs demand local TV on freeview

Over 120 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion demanding that the Government introduce a local television network on Freeview before switching off the analogue TV signals.

Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum are backing a plan put forward by United for Local Television, a coalition of local TV operators and campaigners. This would see the introduction of “Channel 6” as a new local channel broadcasting on the Freeview platform. No matter where you live in the UK, Channel 6 would be a local channel offering local news, local programming and local advertising. Channel 6 would also carry ‘networked’ public service content covering interests such as the arts, business, industry, rural affairs, tourism, health and social issues.

The Early Day Motion has been proposed by Ian Stewart MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Community Media, and is rapidly gaining support from MPs.  Ian Stewart, MP for Eccles, said:  “UK citizens are amongst the least well served in the entire democratic world for access to local news and information from television. It is vital that at least one channel (out of a potential 30+ channels on Freeview) is protected as a local channel providing a forum to debate and discuss local issues. I feel very strongly that local TV must be extended so that everyone has access to a local channel on Freeview no matter where they live and without the need to subscribe to pay-TV or the internet.”

The Government is committed to the expansion of local TV. Section 244 of the Communications Act 2003 gives the Culture Secretary the ability to enact a Local Digital Television Order which would roll out local TV services across the UK. MPs are now calling on the Government to enact these provisions.   —>$1213353.htm

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: BitTorrent, broadband policy, cable franchising, cable public affairs networks, cable vs telco, educational access, localism, net neutrality, participatory culture, U-Verse, video franchising, Web 2.0

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