Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/23/08

Candidates to appear on public-access TV
‘Experiment in democracy’ sponsored by Time Warner, Times West Virginian
by Bill Byrd
Times West Virginian

[ comments invited ]

FAIRMONT — Candidates for local and statewide offices in the May 13 primary will be appearing soon on public-access television — Channel 19 — of the Time Warner Cable Co., said D.D. Meighen.  “We are doing what public-access television is supposed to do, broadcasting information of important events to the viewing audience,” said Meighen, director of Marion County TV-19.

“The public is invited to attend and watch our videotaping of this forum,” he said.  “This is the first time this has been tried in Fairmont. It’s an experiment in democracy.”  The program is being sponsored by the Times West Virginian newspaper and the Time Warner cable system, he said.

Viewers will be able to see nearly 75 candidates who are on the ballot from the comfort of their living rooms in the month of April, he said. The brief profiles will air twice daily throughout the month.  “Even people who will vote in early voting will have time to view these profiles,” Meighen said.   —>

A show we’d like to see: The legislature on TV
by Jack Betts
Charlotte Observer (NC)

Sixteen years ago, the late N.C. Sen. Mary Seymour of Greensboro dropped a two-page bill in the hopper that could have given the state’s residents a front-row seat for gavel-to-gavel televised coverage of legislative sessions.  Identical to a House bill sponsored by then-Rep. Judy Hunt of Boone, the bill went nowhere. But it was a good idea then and an even better one now.

That thought occurred to me as I sat in the audience Thursday at the annual Sunshine Day observance at Elon University and heard state Sen. Eddie Goodall, R-Union, repeat his call for a study commission to assess the need for televising all legislative sessions and certain committee meetings.

He’s right to pursue a study; legislative leaders have not backed the idea of gavel-to-gavel coverage in either chamber, though of course commercial and public television stations provide varying kinds of new coverage on issues. But what the legislature needs is that kind of daily coverage so the public can see what’s going on — and what’s not.   —>

Insiders enlisted in back-room cable war
Top lobbyists work on TV bill in Naifeh’s office
by Theo Emery
The Tennessean


A small group of lobbyists gathers outside the office of House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh each week, checking BlackBerries and chatting as they wait to be invited through the doors of the speaker’s office and into a conference room in the back.  The subject of those meetings is an issue that could touch every corner of the state: whether telephone giant AT&T will receive statewide permission to offer television service in competition with cable companies like Comcast and Charter, and how widely available AT&T’s service will be.

The meeting participants come from a wider cast of characters: dozens of lobbyists, lawmakers and others on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill whose relationships and loyalties make a potent stew of politics. They include numerous former members of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration and two married couples.

“I think every lobbyist in Nashville’s been hired on one side or the other,” said House Commerce Committee Chairman Charles Curtiss, the Sparta Democrat who sponsored the AT&T legislation last year.

The quiet negotiations in Naifeh’s office, which participants are reluctant to discuss, stand in stark contrast to last year’s knock-down public fight over the legislation, which would allow AT&T to franchise its new service statewide instead of negotiating with each individual city, town or county.   —>

Verizon mum on extent of FioS for city
‘City will not allow cherry-picking,’ city spokesman says
by Aaron Nathans
The News Journal (DE)


Verizon workers are wandering through Wilmington neighborhoods, mapping them in preparation for offering its FioS television service in the city. Workers have even started installing the necessary fiber-optic wires in some areas.  But city officials haven’t yet received a permit application from Verizon to offer the service. And the mayor’s office says it will insist on one big condition: wire everyone.  Although city officials aren’t highlighting it, that means that even the city’s poorest neighborhoods would need to be properly wired to be able to opt for FioS television and Internet service as part of any permit deal.

Verizon isn’t ready to discuss its plans for Wilmington, said William Allan, the company’s Delaware president. He confirmed the company is working on plans to offer FioS in Wilmington but said not to assume too much from one sighting of fiber wire crews.  “If you went around the city, you would see pockets of activity in lots of places right now,” Allan said. “None of it is being driven by ‘where is the income?’ ”   —>

South Bronx businesses in Internet dumps, but help could soon be on way
by Nadia Zonis
New York Daily News


Tenants in the Harlem River Transportation and Distribution Center have easy access to the Major Deegan and Bruckner expressways – but when it comes to the information superhighway, sometimes there’s no entrance ramp.  “I’ll be working during the day, and for a period of maybe 10 minutes, the Internet system goes down,” said Tony Ricchio, senior vice president of the management company that runs the large industrial park in Port Morris.

Lack of reliable high-speed broadband Internet access is bedeviling many businesses in the South Bronx industrial zones. Most are far from residential areas wired by Cablevision or Verizon for cable and DSL   While the city is studying the issue and companies are coming up with alternatives, Bronx business owners say they are wallowing in a digital divide.

“To be competitive, you need fiber optic,” said John Mullane, head of Transcon International Inc., a company in the industrial park that moves and stores fine art.  He wants to expand to serve museums, but can’t without state-of-the-art Internet service.  “It’s like years ago when we started, people would ask if you had a fax, then e-mail, and you’d be embarrassed to say you didn’t,” he said.

Experts say part of the problem stems from franchise agreements with cable companies.  “Cable doesn’t have to go to places where there aren’t residents,” said David Birdsell, dean of the Baruch School of Public Affairs and a member of the Broadband Advisory Committee created by the City Council. “So there’s very little incentive for … Verizon … to go and provide high-quality copper and local stations that will multiply the DSL signal.”   —>

Timing on new cable till fuzzy
AT&T’s is licensed to provide cable TV in Albany, but there is no word on when — or if — service might start.
by Susan  McCord
Albany Herald (GA)

A new Georgia law allowed AT&T to purchase on Feb. 14 a single state video franchise that includes much of metro Albany, but the company is slow to say when it will bring U-verse television service to Southwest Georgia.  “We do have a limited launch in the Atlanta area and we are committed to bringing our U-verse products to other markets,” AT&T Corporate Spokesman Joe Chandler said Friday.   —>

Cable-TV crew digs new digs
$8.7m project created space in old building
by Paysha Stockton Rhone
Boston Globe (MA)

It’s a regular Wednesday night, and the new home of Boston’s public-access cable network is buzzing. In the computer lab, three teenagers edit their new show, “Swagger.” Upstairs, newbies gather in Studio A to discuss production. And in Studio B, Southie artist Dan McCole is warming up for his weekly arts talk show, “Citizen’s Corner.”

At the Boston Neighborhood Network, almost anything that can be videotaped will be.  “We don’t allow anything with flames,” digital media director Christine Kelly says. But that leaves plenty of room for heat-free chefs, Afro-Brazilian drummers, call-taking cops, Chinese dancers, Alzheimer’s experts, and local pols. About 40 different shows air on Comcast channels 9 and 23 throughout each month.   —>

Millis – Comcast Deal Unsigned
by Calvin Hennick
Boston Globe (MA)

After months of negotiations, Comcast and town officials have yet to finalize an agreement on renewing the company’s local cable-television franchise. James Neville, president of Millis Community Access Television, said the town had hoped to have the new deal signed by mid-January, when the previous license expired. He noted that Comcast representatives had been unable to attend several meetings with town officials.

An initial agreement calls for keeping the 4.5 percent surcharge on customers’ bills that funds the town’s public-access TV operation. Comcast has also agreed to provide the town with $100,000 for capital expenses for the station. Under the agreement, Comcast would reconstruct the system that delivers the public-access signal by May 1 or face fines. Comcast spokesman Marc Goodman said the work to resolve the channel’s reception problems has already begun, and he does not foresee any changes to the preliminary agreement. He said he expects the contract to be signed soon.

Folk singer Jori Costello to feature for poetry collective
by Cat Donnelly
Northwest Arkansas Times

Local poetess and singer / songwriter Jori Costello will feature for Ozark Poets and Writers Collective at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Nightbird Books, Fayetteville’s best little independent book store ! She promises to deliver her sophisticated fusion of jazz, folk rock and blues, along with performance poetry. Costello also considers herself a puppeteer and artist, along with her regular job as Community Access Television’s Outreach Coordinator. Costello was born in St. Louis and moved to Arkansas 11 years ago. She is in a committed four-year relationship. Costello claims that after her 20-year companion, Allie Cat, passed away she was immediately reincarnated as Hobbit, who at 6 months old, is already a feline television celebrity on CAT Channel 18.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: broadband policy, cable franchising, cable vs telco, election programming, municipal broadband, PEG access TV, public access television, televised state legislatures, U-Verse, video franchising

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