Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/28/08

Verizon CEO seeks pact on a state cable license
by Jay Fitzgerald
Boston Herald (MA)

[ comments invited ]

Verizon’s Ivan Seidenberg wants to cut a broadband deal with Massachusetts – and Mayor Thomas Menino signaled yesterday he’s willing to listen to his offers. The giant telecom’s chief executive, who spoke at yesterday’s Boston College Chief Executives’ Club of Boston lunch, said Verizon is willing to wire rural and other remote areas of the state if lawmakers give the company a “statewide license” to deploy its broadband cable and Internet service without negotiating with individual towns. —>

AT&T, EBR approve TV deal
Action adds new competitor
by Ben Calder
Advocate (LA)

AT&T and the city-parish have reached an agreement to allow the company to offer television service in East Baton Rouge Parish, adding another competitor to a market that includes cable provider Cox Communications and satellite services Dish Network and Direct TV. The agreement, ratified by a unanimous vote by the Metro Council Wednesday night, will allow the company to begin providing Internet-based television programming along with its Internet and phone service through fiber or copper lines using a set-top box.

But AT&T spokeswoman Karen Beck said the company will not say when people can begin using the service, called AT&T U-verse, already offered in 12 states. The city-parish will get 5 percent of AT&T’s gross revenue from subscription fees and 0.5 percent of gross revenue to support the capital costs incurred for the construction and operation of the city-parish’s public, educational and governmental channels.

The mayor’s office did not return a call for comment Thursday. The council approved the deal without comment the evening before. The agreement, which Beck said has been in the works for about six months, is the first between a Louisiana municipality and AT&T. Beck said while AT&T plans to pursue similar agreements with New Orleans and other cities with a home rule charter predating 1974, its next step will be to try to get a statewide franchise.

AT&T did so two years ago, but then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco vetoed the bill. The company said House Bill No. 1009 and Senate Bill No. 422 were filed late last week and will enable AT&T to obtain a statewide franchise. Beck said she did not know whether Gov. Bobby Jindal would be more receptive to the bill if it passes again. —>

“AT&T, EBR approve TV deal”
by John St. Julien
Lafayette Pro Fiber (LA)


Well, that was fast! The day before yesterday we noted here that AT&T through its astroturf subsidary TV4US had launched the public relations champaign to support its statewide video franchise law. This morning we see the first substantial political move in the upcoming battle. Baton Rouge has cut a deal with AT&T and so is taken off the board in an early first move of the chess pieces.

AT&T, according to the Advocate, has reached a franchise agreement with the East Baton Rouge City-Parish government to provide cable TV (aka “video services”) in the parish. Follows a summary of what seems to be going on with the caveat that all I have to go on is the article…I can’t find the ordinance or contract online as I would be able to in Lafayette—anyone have access?

AT&T will have the right to offer its new “U-verse” services (site, overview) in the parish for 5 percent of revenues to the general fund and .5% of revenues to support public, educational, and governmental channels (PEG channels). Presuming that turns out to be correct (and enforceable) its a good deal on two of the three major issues that any locale should consider: a fair price for the rental of public land and support for local media. Realizing any actual benefit from those two will depend on the third leg: the product being offered to a sizeable number of citizens.

AT&T has long made it clear that they do not intend to offer this product to just anyone…instead they want to offer it chiefly to their “high value” customers and less than 5% of their “low-value” purchasers. (Fiber To The Rich, FTTR) If you figure out the implications of what they told investors back when this plan got underway they only intend to offer this product to about half of their current population base. Baton Rouge and other wealthy centers in generally cash-poor Louisiana might get U-Verse in rich neighborhoods but I’d be surprised if it went much into North Baton Rouge and Scotlandville. That might prove a difficult thing for Mayor Kip Holden to explain.

A bit of unease about the part AT&T was unwilling to promise might well, in turn, explain the secrecy with which this deal was constructed and the stealth with which it was executed. Holden received the council’s blessing to negotiate on Wednesday with no (that’s NO) discussion, and was able close and announce the deal on Thursday. The fix was in. (*) What didn’t happen was any public discussion of the pros and cons of the deal offered by AT&T–discussion which might well have lead to uncomfortable demands that the city-parish require AT&T to actually serve the citizens whose property AT&T wants to use. Such a requirement is part of Cox’s deal…but not, I have to strongly suspect, part of the deal with AT&T. —>

And, speaking of Cox, what about the cable companies? Where do they play in this game? A smart reporter will try and delve into that question. AT&T is using its extraordinary influence in the legislature to push two very bad video bills through the legislature. By comparison the cable companies have relatively little influence. What’s curious is that Lafayette is the state’s largest community to whom these bills will apply. Should Lafayette succeed, as she did two years ago, in getting herself excluded along with other older home rule communities the five largest metro areas of the state comprising the wealthiest 35-40% of the state’s population will have to have local franchises anyway. Since no one (except deliberately naive legislators) actually believes that AT&T is going to provide video in rural regions the question has to be who will really benefit?

One devious answer would have to be: the cable companies. They will be able to drop their local franchises with the communities that actually own the land they want to use, pick up a state franchise at a 30% discount in fees and NO local obligation to serve PEG channels. In other states like North Carolina where the phone company waged a bitter war to win the right to a state video franchise they didn’t make use of it and filed few such requests. On the other hand their supposed cable opponents made out like bandits snatching up state franchises which allowed them to drop the more demanding local ones. The end result was no significant new competition, no price drops, and a huge drop in income to local municipalities.

Somebody in North Carolina got taken…..and the grifters are on the prowl here

(*)Revealing tidbit: The wikipedia section on U-Verse vailability was updated to include Baton Rouge on the 25th, two days before Baton Rouge supposedly concluded the deal and one day before the city-parish council approved negotiations. Not surprisingly, the prescient anonymous editor who added Baton Rouge to the list of cities was operating from a “BellSouth” (now AT&T) URL. The fix was in….

Metro Live Television Chat Far More Informative Than Metro Live Online Chat
by Fred Camino
MetroRider LA (CA)


Last night, Metro Board member Pam O’Connor answered questions and spoke about the Long Range Transit Plan on Los Angeles Public Access Television. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch the live show last night, but watched it on the web this morning. You can check out the show on LA36’s website, right here.

The hour long show proved to be a much better medium for Pam than her monthly home on the Metro Interactive online chat, which is pretty much universally panned for its inability to be either interactive or informative. Metro Live, despite its obviously public access level production values, managed to keep my attention for the entire hour. Pam’s answers came off a lot more candid and sincere than they do on the online chat, which for the most part seem like copy-paste clippings from Metro press releases. That’s not to say she didn’t paint a rosy picture of Metro when faced with some hardballs, from hearing her talk you’d think the TAP card is the second coming and fare gates are neccessary, well, just because. Here’s some highlights (and lowlights). —>

March Madness: Bruins, O’Connor Both Win During TV Showdown
by Damien Newton
Streetsblog Los Angeles (CA)

[ 1 comment ]

LA Streetsblog picks up the action as UCLA holds a 28-15 lead over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in their Sweet Sixteen match up in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA is wearing their home whites despite being miles from Westwood. The game is being broadcast nationally at CBS.

Meanwhile, Metro Board Chair Pam O’Connor was wearing her road pinks at her home court at Santa Monica City Hall for a call-in-show about Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan. Metro Live! was broadcast on LA City Cable Channel 36 and Santa Monica Channel 16. Just like UCLA ended up winning after some shaky moments, O’Connor gave a strong performance despite perhaps over focusing on the benefits of TAP cards. We pick up the action, after the jump. —>

Singer in tune with message
by Kerri Roche
Daily News Tribune (MA)


Unlike many celebrities and stars, Renee Marcou is not waiting for fame to envelop her before she gets puts her name next to an important cause. While she puts together her second album, Marcou, 19, also serves as the spokeswoman for the Baby Safe Haven New England Foundation. Yesterday morning, she belted out her latest tunes for a student-produced segment on Waltham Education Television, combining her passion for pop, rhythm and blues with a less than Hollywood-glamour conversation about abandoned babies…

A Wilmington native, Marcou, who has family, including Councilor at-large David Marcou, living in Waltham, has performed at Gillette Stadium and in Los Angeles and Chicago. When she’s not performing, she is a guest on radio and television shows throughout New England, promoting her songs and the options for reluctant parents.

Although WE-TV won’t get the audiences of NECN, where Marcou has previously appeared, Morrisey said local cable television and radio shows generate attention from their target audience – young adults. “You would think a high school TV station wouldn’t be important, but actually we found … they’re probably the most important media outlets to get the message out to. That’s what kids listen to,” said Morrisey. “She’s done every genre of radio of format from punk rock to sports talk.”

Waltham students invited Marcou to their half-hour magazine-style news show because of her vocal and dancing talents, said Patrick Daly, high school television production teacher. Although the student interviewers P.J. Centofanti and Jen Gullotti will likely focus on her career path, the conversation will undoubtedly shift toward Marcou’s more serious work, said Daly. “That’s the cause that she promotes, so we’ll talk about that as well,” said Daly, who added that the segment will air in a few weeks. —>

One Class
by Will Okun
New York Times


The average Chicago Public School freshman misses 20 school days a year and fails more than two semester classes. At my high school on the Westside of Chicago, attendance trumps intelligence, work ethic and economic background as the most important indicator of achievement versus failure. In this case, Woody Allen is correct: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

In most communities, students attend school every day because they are convinced that educational achievement is essential to their future success. For many unfortunate reasons, however, this expectation does not exist for most low-income students in Chicago and other urban areas. How do we improve attendance at low-income schools where the current incentive of “a better future” is not sufficient?

According to high school junior Mark Hill, “One special class can make the difference. I know people who come to school just because they are involved in a sport or a certain extracurricular program or they have one great class that they are interested in.”

When rap superstar Kanye West explained the purpose of his education foundation, he stressed that music production classes could inspire “at-risk” kids to attend and remain in school in the same manner as athletics often do. “We have to involve kids in their education,” he told the reporters. “Kids will go to school if they have the opportunity to study something they love. Right now, they are not motivated by the curriculum.”

In my own nine years of teaching, students enrolled in my photography class boast a 90% daily attendance rate while students enrolled in my English classes maintain a daily attendance rate of only 70%. However, an even better example of the positive effect of a single class is Jeff McCarter’s Free Spirit Media video production program at North Lawndale College Prep.

McCarter’s students produce the insanely popular television show “Hoops High,” which features play-by-play game coverage of Chicago high school athletic events. The students are responsible for all aspects of production: they shoot, edit, and announce all of the action themselves. The students even conduct sideline interviews. “Everything you see is us — we’re doing it all,” brags freshman Daryl Jackson. “Most kids’ programs are run by adults where they control the final project, but here we are in charge.”

The final product is telecast every Saturday night on public access T.V. (CAN-TV) and is one of the station’s most popular shows with over 70,000 regular viewers. Students and faculty at my own school regularly watch the telecast. “First of all, they shoot all the best games, they know which games we want to see. But also, the announcers know what’s going on in the schools so you get all these side stories about the players and the fans,” explains student Lazzerick Allen. —>

Media Re:public Forum Panel on Participatory Media: Defining Success, Measuring Impact
by Victoria Stodden
Victoria Stodden

[ comments invited ]

Margaret Duffy is a Professor from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and she is speaking at Berkman’s Media Re:public Forum. She leads a Citizen Media Participation project to create a taxonomy of news categories and get a sense of the state of citizen media via sampling news across the nation. They are interested in where the funding in coming from, the amount of citizen participation, and getting an idea of what the content is. They are also creating a social network called connecting seekers and posters to bring together people interested in the same sorts of things…

Duffy is followed by Carol Darr, director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet (ipdi) at George Washington University. She is discussing the “Media Habits of Poli-fluentials” and building on work from the book, “The Influentials” by Ed Keller and Jon Berry. The idea is that one person in ten tells the other nine how to votes, where to eat, etc. The interesting thing Darr notes is that poli-fluentials (her term) are not elites in the traditional sense but local community leaders and ordinary folk who appear to be knowledgable to their peers. She notes that people who seem to know a lot of people tend to be these poli-fluentials. —>

Media Re:Public, part 7
by Nathaniel James
Phase Transitions

[ comments invited ]

Media Re:public is hosting this back channel. I got into this conversation with Sasha Costanza-Chock.

Nathan: For Ron C: how can cable access centers reach out to, connect, and collaborate with the world of new media and user generated content? There’s a tradition there that needs to connect!
schock: Check out Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and Denver Open Access. They are great examples of public access connecting to new media.
Nathan: Absolutely! But why are MNN, etc the exception? How can we port those models to PEG/access more universally?
schock: Well there’s one thing the funders might think about 🙂 Support extending those models around the country.

Comcast admits it can do the impossible
‘We will stop busting BitTorrents’
by Cade Metz
The Register (UK)

[ 16 commemnts ]

Faced with continued scrutiny from the US Federal Communications Commission, Comcast has agreed to release its choke hold on BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer traffic. It says it will soon adopt an alternative method of controlling upload traffic on its cable-based internet service. This also means that Comcast has acknowledged there’s an alternative method of controlling upload traffic on its cable-based internet service.

Today, with an early morning press release, the big-name American ISP and cable television provider said it would switch to “a capacity management technique that is protocol agnostic” by the end of the year. “We will have to rapidly reconfigure our network management systems, but the outcome will be a traffic management technique that is more appropriate for today’s emerging Internet trends,” Comcast Cable CTO Tony Werner said in a canned statement. “We have been discussing this migration and its effects with leaders in the Internet community for the last several months, and we will refine, adjust, and publish the technique based upon feedback and initial trial results.” Werner did not point out that Comcast also spent the last several months publicly defending its right to bust BitTorrents. —>

Liberating the Electromagnetic Commons
by Andrew Back (UK)

[ comments invited ]

I’ve always been fascinated with radio and it’s many applications: from Rugby’s MSF time signal and long-wave broadcast radio, through HF amateur radio and VHF PMR, to television, wireless networks and satellite navigation systems. Yes, I’m a radio geek.

So it should be of no surprise that I take a keen interest in how our incredibly scarce resource – the electromagnetic spectrum – is managed. And let’s be clear it is our resource as it truly belongs to the people and is not the product of the labours of an organisation or state, despite what some would rather have us believe. But since it is a finite resource and one of such value there is no avoiding the fact that it must be carefully managed. And this comes down at a top level to government agencies such as the FCC in the USA and Ofcom in the UK.

Up until now such agencies have largely done a good job of managing this resource and ensuring that spectrum is shared fairly and amongst a diverse range of users with varying needs. Of course for this thankless task they have not gone short of a bob or two, as has been demonstrated most visibly via the auctions for spectrum required for operating a 3G mobile service in the UK, which raised in excess of £22billion. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: BitTorrent, cable franchising, cable vs telco, citizen journalism, citizen media, high school television, media theory, media use, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, social media, spectrum auction, telecommunications policy, U-Verse, video franchising, youth media

One Comment on “Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/28/08”

  1. […] to cut a broadband deal with massachusetts – and Mayor Thomas Menino signaled yesterday he??s wi Comcast blocking was widespread InfoWorld Comcast’s slowing of peer-to-peer traffic appeared to […]

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