Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/07/08

Don’t Downgrade Public Channels
by Scott Hanley
Hartford Courant (CT)


I applaud The Courant’s decision to encourage the General Assembly to protect the Connecticut Television Network from substandard delivery on AT&T’s U-verse video system [editorial, April 4, “Don’t Downgrade CT-N”].

The editorial did not mention that this “downgrade” will also have a significant impact on the many community-based public, education and government channels throughout the state. Just as CT-N has built a loyal following, these channels have become valued sources of information about community issues, school events and government services.

On cable systems, subscribers can find local channels without difficulty and easily monitor long-duration programming, such as meetings, by tuning away and back with the touch of a single button on the remote. The ability of subscribers to select and view community programming in a convenient manner is critical. Unfortunately, this might become a casualty of AT&T’s preference for an economical form of signal transmission.

Connecticut residents should not be penalized by the legislature’s efforts to ease the entry of AT&T, or any new competitor, into the cable TV market. These competitors should be required to deliver CT-N and all community access channels in a manner equal to that used for commercial channels.

AT&T will make money using the streets and poles throughout our neighborhoods. Good corporate citizenship is the least we should expect from them in return.,0,4319893.story

AT&T, cable rivals agree on rules for TV
Phone giant will have quota for offering statewide access
by Naomi Sntyder
The Tennessean


After months of secret negotiations between AT&T and the cable industry, both sides have agreed on many of the ground rules for AT&T’s entry into the television service business in Tennessee — including how many customers must get access and how many households must be in low-income neighborhoods.  Legislators set a deadline for today for both sides to come up with draft legislation so they could present it to the media this afternoon.  Under draft legislation that was still being negotiated over the weekend, AT&T would have to offer TV service to a minimum of 30 percent of its telephone territory within 3½ years after it begins offering television, according to people involved in negotiations.   —>

Announcement expected today for compromise AT&T, cable bill
by John Rodgers
Nashville City Paper (TN)


Leading lawmakers in the cable/AT&T negotiations over statewide television franchising will roll out their compromise legislation today.  The compromise bill marks the culmination of months of negotiations between the involved parties, dating back to late last year. House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington) spearheaded the effort.   —>

Compromise legislation expected today on competitive cable issue
Knox News (TN)

Tennessee lawmakers are expected to present compromise legislation today that would create a statewide system for permitting cable TV franchises.  The measure is supported by AT&T Inc., which wants to avoid having to seek hundreds of municipal permits as it enters the cable TV business.  Similar legislation stalled last year. But lawmakers have scheduled a news conference today to roll out legislation that is the result of behind-the-scenes negotiations between AT&T, the cable industry and local governments.   —>

Some school subcommittee meetings to be broadcast on local TV station
by Gerry Tuoti
Taunton Gazette (MA)

Some of the School Committee’s subcommittee meetings are returning to the airwaves.  A month after voting to no longer televise its subcommittee meetings, the School Committee passed a motion Wednesday that calls for any subcommittee meetings held the same night as a regularly scheduled full committee meeting to be televised on local access television.  The regularly scheduled full committee meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of each month. The camera crew, which consists of high school audio/visual students and their teacher, is already present on those nights.   —>

GenderVision Releases First Video Program, “Sex & Gender” (MA)
by Nancy Nangeroni
Trans Group Blog

[ comments invited ]

Now available: the first show of the long-awaited video program, “GenderVision.” Produced and hosted by GenderTalk radio producers Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene MacKenzie, GenderVision continues the ground-breaking work of challenging and expanding our vision of gender and progressive politics. Cablecast in Beverly, it is also available for viewing and downloading at

This first program in the half-hour monthly show focuses on “Sex & Gender.” Nancy and Gordene speak candidly with their guest, medical sociologist, author and intersex activist Esther Morris Leidolf, about bodies and gender that differs from cultural expectations. Esther observes that intersex is more common than cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome combined. Their lively conversation explores the “medical normalization” of intersex bodies and the dangers of simplistic assumptions about sex and gender. Fans of “Raving Raven,” an animal issues commentator and regular on GenderTalk radio, will also enjoy a brief appearance by the “Bird with the Word” (not included in cable version due to time restraints).   —>

Wallingford public access TV available on Internet
by George Moore (CT)

Wallingford public access TV is still local, but its availability is now global, due to a new live video streaming arrangement.  Channel 18’s video is now being broadcast at, thanks to technology upgrades donated by Wallingford-based VBrick Systems Inc. The company is also providing the Web site.

VBrick, on Beaumont Road, is known worldwide for hardware that converts video and audio signals into digital data accessible over the Internet.  The company’s founder, Richard Mavrogeanes, is a Wallingford native and has lent support to the Wallingford Public Access Association’s effort to create a new headquarters. Mavrogeanes said it is important for WPAA and other public television groups to think beyond cable.

Not Your Father’s FCC
by Michael J. Copps
The Nation

“To the extent that the ownership of and control of…broadcast stations falls into fewer and fewer hands,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concluded, “the free dissemination of ideas and information, upon which our democracy depends, is threatened.” With those words, the FCC ordered the breakup of the leading broadcast network and banned a single company from owning more than one station per city.

Is this an FCC you recognize? Probably not. That’s because it’s not your FCC–it’s your father’s FCC (maybe even your grandfather’s). These media reforms were the work of James Lawrence Fly, the FCC chairman appointed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. A card-carrying New Deal trustbuster with good access to the President, Fly was a relentless opponent of “chain broadcasting”–the domination of local broadcasting by the CBS and NBC Red and Blue radio networks.

What a far cry from the media regulation we have today. In 1981 President Reagan appointed an FCC chairman who described a television set as nothing but a “toaster with pictures.” The commission went on to dismantle nearly every public-interest obligation on the books and to enable a tsunami of media consolidation. The results have been disastrous–reporters fired, newsrooms shuttered and our civic dialogue dumbed down to fact-free opinions and ideological bloviation.   —>

We won’t know what we never got
by David Isenberg

[ comments invited ]

Damian Kulash of the band OK Go, in Op-Ed in today’s New York Times:

. . . When the network operators pull these stunts [violations of neutrality — David I], there is generally widespread outrage. But outright censorship and obstruction of access are only one part of the issue, and they represent the lesser threat, in the long run. What we should worry about more is not what’s kept from us today, but what will be built (or not built) in the years to come.

We hate when things are taken from us (so we rage at censorship), but we also love to get new things. And the providers are chomping at the bit to offer them to us: new high-bandwidth treats like superfast high-definition video and quick movie downloads. They can make it sound great: newer, bigger, faster, better! But the new fast lanes they propose will be theirs to control and exploit and sell access to, without the level playing field that common carriage built into today’s network.

They won’t be blocking anything per se — we’ll never know what we’re not getting — they’ll just be leapfrogging today’s technology with a new, higher-bandwidth network where they get to be the gatekeepers and toll collectors. The superlative new video on offer will be available from (surprise, surprise) them, or companies who’ve paid them for the privilege of access to their customers . . .

Exactly. Outright censorship is way too visible for them to get away with. Creeping proactive censorship built into a new infrastructure is a MUCH harder story to tell. And a MUCH bigger danger.  And they’re building it. And at first it will look exactly like legitimate network management.

At Freedom to Connect, Isenberg Asks Tech Industry to Save the World
by Alex Goldman
April 14, 2008 [sic]

Isenberg likes the people who make up the technology industry and knows most of the important ones, but at the conference, he pointed out that an epic global disaster is a possible outcome, and asked us all to work together to avoid it.

David Isenberg opened his Freedom to Connect conference with unusually passionate remarks, recorded in full here in his blog. He ditched the rhyming from previous years.  That’s because there’s a new sense of urgency. It’s not peak oil or the closing of the internet frontier. It’s this:

“Our planet is in danger of becoming hostile to life. I’m not talking about the flooding of Miami and New York and Bangladesh. I mean that because of the carbon we humans put in the air, Earth could become Venus, a place where life can’t live. So I believe—and I put this forward as a hypothesis—I believe that we can use the Internet to conserve more atmospheric carbon than its infrastructure generates. Furthermore, I believe we can use the Internet for global participation that transcends tribalism and nationalism to end war . . . for discussion! ”

So it’s no longer the fight against the telcos for the freedom to connect. It’s no longer the fight for democracy against governments like China and Pakistan that want to restrict it.  The most important thing we can use the internet for, Isenberg believes, is to save the world. And there’s not much time to do it.  Isenberg, an opponent of the current AT&T monopoly strategy who hails from Bell Labs as if it were his birthplace said, “It is the story of a Goliath composed of a thousand Davids. I am one of them.”   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, educational access, FCC, Michael Copps, municipal programming, net neutrality, PEG access TV, public access television, streaming, televised state legislatures, U-Verse, video franchising

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