Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/12/08

Don’t shortchange our public access
Editorial: Connecticut Post

[ comments invited ]

Why is it that public affairs and public access channels get such short shrift and lack of attention from cable companies and Internet Protocol-based television purveyors? It was only a few years ago that cable providers in this region made unfathomable attempts to cut back on local public access channels.

Now, the Connecticut Television Network, devoted to coverage of state government issues, fears it might receive second-class treatment as AT&T rolls out its newly authorized U-verse service in many communities across Connecticut. CT-N officials are fighting back — and rightfully so.

Connecticut residents who avail themselves to AT&T’s new service, where it is available, should be able to get the same high quality viewing that they would if they continued to subscribe to a cable provider. Officials at CT-N say AT&T may assign them to a substandard channel in their system that will be difficult for viewers to locate and won’t provide that high quality viewing.

CT-N officials have been viewing what U-verse offers through public access in other regions and maintain it’s not a pretty sight. In fact, CT-N officials set up a comparative U-verse/cable viewing of a public access channel in Michigan ( and there was a noticeable difference in quality.

That mustn’t happen here and AT&T must be held to the promises they made when they sought approval last year for their new video services and access to the Connecticut market. They won a franchise that doesn’t have all the regulatory restrictions cable franchises do. The Connecticut Network is supported through taxpayer funds and provides a valuable public service for citizens to be informed about their state government and the decisions being made in it. Its quality must not be compromised.

Censorship unlikely on public TV
by Mike Monson
News-Gazette (IL)

URBANA – The city council will consider Monday night a revised policies and procedures manual for Urbana Public Television that, in general, opposes censorship of objectionable public access programming – despite controversy about locally shown anti-Semitic programming. One member of the Jewish community, Judy Checker of Urbana, says she’s unhappy that more isn’t being done to screen out public-access programming that she considers to be hate speech.

The Urbana Public Television manual update is the first since 2004 and was brought about, in part, because of a controversy last year about broadcasting of a public-access program that some members of Champaign-Urbana’s Jewish community, including Checker, considered to be anti-Semitic. That programming was submitted by an elderly Urbana resident, Timothy Brumleve. Checker said the program was put together by the Rev. Ted Pike of the National Prayer Network, an Oregon-based minister.

“They were airing a program that was something like would appear in Nazi Germany,” she said. “It said old Jews were molesting babies. It was very extreme stuff, very offensive, very upsetting to the Jewish community. “By showing these, you’re creating an environment conducive to violence,” she said. Checker said that the programs have upset her so much, she has considered moving out of the community after living here for 42 years. “I’m no longer happy about this community,” she said.

But Urbana City Attorney Ronald O’Neal said that if Urbana wants to be able to continue to show public access programming (UPTV shows both governmental and public access programming), the city will have to put up with sometimes obnoxious programs. He said the city can legally block programs that are obscene or promote violence. “But we cannot not air something because we don’t like the political content,” he said. “If we say we’re not going to air his (Ted Brumleve’s) videos, we’d have to say we can’t air anybody’s political videos. You’re opening a Pandora’s box.”

O’Neal said that if Brumleve’s sponsored programs were blocked, the city would likely not be able to show outside programs like “Democracy Now,” or sermons from Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrahkan, whose sermons have been showing on UPTV. Farrahkan also has a history of anti-Semitic remarks. O’Neal said he did tell the Urbana Public Television Commission that they could solve the problem by only accepting locally produced public access programming, and no longer accepting third-party produced programs. But the commission declined to take that step.

Defining hate speech is the difficulty that most cities run into when they try and regulate content for public access channels, O’Neal added. In most cases, those ordinances have been struck down by the courts, he said. —>

[ Think local media hate speech is only a concern in the US? ~ rm ]

Kenya: Lessons for African and International Media
by Charlie Beckett (UK)

[ comments invited ]

The recent violence following Kenya’s elections was a profound challenge to journalism in and about Africa. On the one hand there were accusations that foreign media were exaggerating the violence and simplifying a complex political struggle into cliches about tribal hatred. On the other hand there were fears of a Rwanda-style media hate campaign fanning the flames of community conflict. Now James Dean, a highly-respected “media for development” analyst at the BBC World Service Trust has published a report on all aspects of the media and the Kenya crisis.

Polis is launching a major programme of debate and research on media and humanitarian and development communication next year, so this work is highly relevant to us. Dean and his co-author Jamal Abdi have talked to a lot of people inside Kenya. They give a very balanced and thorough account of the mistakes, problems and successes of journalism during that dangerous period. It deals with some big issues in international media that go way beyond Kenya:

o How do you encourage local media without it being used for propaganda or hate speech?
o How can foreign media convey the complexity of a crisis without making it worse?
o How can you support public service media without the state taking it over?
o How do you promote media diversity without fostering community fragmentation?

The report concludes that “the problem is not an excess of media freedom but a lack of it”. That’s braver than it sounds. Too often aid agencies and governments end up accepting a decline in media freedom as the price to be paid for keeping the lid on things. History tells us that that is a recipe for an eventual explosion. On specific issues the report found: —>

State Rep. Roberta Willis leads the way in Connecticut

State Rep. Roberta Willis wants to get Connecticut up to speed, and after years of witnessing the slow progress of expanding high speed Internet access in her state, Rep. Willis is taking matters into her own hands. In March, she introduced HB 5682, “An Act Concerning High Speed Broadband Access.” The legislation would foster the build-out of high speed Internet access for Connecticut’s underserved communities and allow local residents to fully take part in the digital age. As Willis declared, “There is a digital divide. This is not a luxury anymore, it’s a necessity.” —>

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De-Interlaced 1
Round Point Movies
04/12/08 [?]

[ comments invited ]

Part 1: This is the film that inspired the creation of the Maine Video Activists Network. It deconstructs the forces that shape our mainstream media system — politics, advertising, government, and technology. Understanding these forces helps explain why some issues are covered (Tsunami, Martha Stuart, Paris Hilton, Street Crime), why some issues are not covered (gentrification, Free Trade Agreements, Third World Genocide), and why only the most homogenized content makes it through the Hollywood system.

It then highlights what alternative forms of media are resisting these trends. Interviews include: Scott Beibin (Lost Film Fest), Penny Lane (Indymedia), Richard Rhames (Biddeford Public Access), Steve Thaxton (Gannet Broadcasting), Mary Caroline Powers (Broadcast Journalism), Noam Chomsky (Co-author of Manufacturing Consent), and more… Running Time: 29:00

The World According to Monsanto
Hawaii Community Television

The World According to Monsanto by the CBC presented by the Hemo Wai Bros.

Portland Anyone?
by Ernesto Aguilar
urban unrest

Portland Community Media Seeks Executive Director

The Opportunity: Founded in 1981, PCM serves greater Portland, Oregon, with a mission of promoting broad participation in civic and cultural life by encouraging effective use and understanding of community media. As the public face of PCM, the Executive Director serves as the organization’s primary spokesperson, builds relationships with diverse partners, leads the staff, and works in partnership with the Board of Directors on planning, resource development and advocacy. PCM’s FY 2008-2009 operating budget is approx. $1.6 million plus a capital budget of approx. $650,000. Primary funding is provided through a contract with the City of Portland. PCM is governed by a Board of 9 to 11 community members and has a staff of 22.

Compensation: Annual salary range is $70,000-$80,000 depending on qualifications, plus benefits. Apply by May 8. For details:

Journalists, Citizens, and the Media Conversation
by Dan Schultz
Mediashift Idea Lab

[ comments invited ]

In my first post to this blog I said that the professional/citizen journalist debate was a “topic best left for another day.” It seems that the time has finally come for me to put my two cents out there, and I’ll be doing it by exploring what it means to be a journalist and a citizen in this digital world. Ultimately, though, I hope to convince everyone that although it may seem difficult, there doesn’t have to be a tradeoff between quality and democracy: we can have it all. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, PEG access TV, public access television, video franchising


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