Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/19/08

City Council Moves Closer To Backing AT&T Bill
Littlefield Says He Welcomes Cable TV Competition
The Chatanoogan (TN)

The City Council is moving closer to backing a bill sought by AT&T allowing it statewide franchise rights leading to development of a cable TV system. The council heard an endorsement from Mayor Ron Littlefield, then directed that a resolution of support be prepared for later action. Mayor Littlefield said some concerns he had about the bill appear to be cleared up. —>

CBC to release TV broadcast as high-quality, no-DRM BitTorrent download
by Cory Doctorow
Boing Boing

[ 31 comments at original post site: Michael Geist – 2nd link below ]

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is about to follow Norway’s NRK and become the first major North American broadcaster to release one of its shows as a DRM-free torrent:

“Sources indicate that the CBC is set to become the first major North American broadcaster to freely release one of its programs without DRM using BitTorrent. This Sunday, CBC will air Canada Next Great Prime Minister. The following day, it plans to freely release a high-resolution version via peer-to-peer networks without any DRM restrictions. This development is important not only because it shows that Canada’s public broadcaster is increasingly willing to experiment with alternative forms of distribution, but also because it may help crystallize the net neutrality issue in Canada.

“The CBC’s mandate, as provided in the Broadcasting Act, requires it to make its programming “available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means.” Using BitTorrent allows the CBC to meet its statutory mandate, yet with ISPs such as Rogers engaging in non-transparent traffic shaping, millions of Canadians may be unable to fully access programming funded by tax dollars. If the CBC experiment is successful, look for more broadcasters to do the same and for the CRTC to face mounting pressure to address net neutrality concerns. ”

FCC Debates Open Internet at April 17 Stanford Hearing
Free Press

Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will hold a second public hearing on the future of the Internet on April 17 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. The Stanford hearing promises to bring consumers and producers of innovative online content together to educate the FCC about the future of video on the Internet. The field hearing is also linked to the FCC’s ongoing investigation into the blocking of legal content by Comcast and other Internet service providers. At the first hearing last month at Harvard, Comcast admitted hiring seat-fillers, blocking interested citizens from attending the event.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, which coordinates the Coalition, issued the following statement: “Just as the Internet benefited from widespread public participation, so will the debate over its future. The hearing at Stanford — the birthplace of our Internet economy — gives Web innovators a chance to weigh in on the policies that will shape the industry for a generation.

“We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that all interested parties are accommodated. With the future of the Internet at stake, no one should be shut out of the conversation. At this defining moment in the Internet’s history, the threat posed by would-be gatekeepers like Comcast is very real and getting worse. Open Internet policies are urgently needed. We hope this important hearing will lead to immediate and accelerated action at the FCC.” —>

Clearing the air on digital TV converters
by Jonathan Takiff
Philadelphia Daily News

Last week’s column scooped the nation with the first hands-on review of low-cost, digital TV tuners/converters. These set-top boxes will become essential to receive over-the-air TV on older, pre-digital television sets next year, after broadcasters are required (on Feb. 17, 2009) to shut off their analog signals. Not surprisingly, I got a flood of reader comments and questions. Today, let’s deal with some of them…

Q: I’ve got cable TV. Some of my sets are hooked up to cable boxes, others just use the TV’s cable-ready tuner to receive non-scrambled cable channels. Will I be able to connect one of the new digital boxes to a cable line to bring in digital TV channels?

A: There’s been a whole lot of concern and misinformation about cable TV reception after the Feb. 17, 2009, conversion/cut-off. Locally, I’ve heard stories of Comcast phone reps telling customers they MUST upgrade to a digital cable box or they won’t get any TV signals come 2009.


It is true that cable companies are eliminating as many analog channels as they can – even public access channels – by moving them to a digital transmission “tier” that requires an upgraded cable box and higher monthly fee for reception. This is being done because digital signals use much less bandwidth, so cablers can increase the number of channels they offer on a system.

But at the urging of the Federal Communications Commission, cable companies have committed to continue delivering an essential core of local broadcast stations to customers in a down-converted fashion that can still be tuned by an old, analog cable box or directly by a cable-ready TV, for “at least three years,” Comcast senior executive David L. Cohen assured me. —>

Marlboro council meetings to air on cable TV channel
by Rebecca Morton
News Transcript (NJ)

Sometime in the near future, residents are expected to be able to watch Township Council meetings from the comfort of their own home. Council members adopted an ordinance on March 6 that will allow municipal cable channel 77 to broadcast regular or special public meetings. Channel 77 is available for Marlboro residents who subscribe to Cablevision for their cable television service.

Prior to the adoption of the ordinance on March 6, the local cable television ordinance prohibited council meetings from being broadcast. The municipal channel has aired special events and public information from the township and from the Marlboro K-8 School District, including notification of school closings. Having council meetings aired on the local access channel was one of 50 goals set by Mayor Jonathan Hornik in his 100- day plan upon taking office Jan. 1. —>

Assessing success in the FCC’s 700MHz auction
by Marguerite Reardon
CNet News


The Federal Communications Commission generated $19.6 billion in the 700MHz spectrum that ended Tuesday, but the true success of the auction will take months or even years to assess. There’s no question that the auction, which began on January 24, was a monetary success for the government–it raised a record $19.6 billion in 261 rounds of bidding. During a conference call with reporters Tuesday after the bidding closed, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the 700MHz auction was the most successful auction the agency has ever conducted, raising more money than all previous auctions put together, excluding the Advanced Wireless Services, or AWS, auction in 2006.

“The $19.6 billion generated by the auction nearly doubled congressional estimates of $10.2 billion,” Martin said. “All other 68 auctions conducted by the FCC in the past 15 years collectively generated a total of only $19.1 billion in receipts. Even with open-platform and aggressive build-out obligations, each of these blocks sold for more than AWS-1 blocks with comparable bandwidth and license areas.”

Despite the obvious financial success of the auction, it will be a long time before it’s clear whether the FCC was successful in achieving some of its broader policy goals, such as creating a more open wireless marketplace and a nationwide interoperable public safety wireless network. —>

Redrawing the Map
Consolidation Continues to Change Cable’s Local System Landscape
by George Winslow
Multichannel News

Despite efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to put limits on the footprint of cable companies, the impact of consolidation and clustering continues to redraw the Multichannel News list of the 100 largest cable systems. Several Insight Communications systems have disappeared into nearby Comcast divisions and the large cable operators continue to consolidate some of their divisions into larger groups. Time Warner Cable, for example, has 22 systems on this year’s list, down from 31 in 2005. As a result, only 88 systems from last year’s list appear this year with the same name and a similar footprint. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: BitTorrent, cable franchising, cable vs telco, DTV transition, FCC, government access, media consolidation, municipal programming, net neutrality, P2P, spectrum auction, video franchising

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