Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/25/08

Verizon TV proposal needs tuning
by Juan Gonzalez
New York Daily News


Telecom giant Verizon has finally submitted its long-awaited proposal for a competing cable television franchise for New York City.  If you live in the Bronx, Brooklyn or Queens and you’re eager to ditch Time Warner or Cablevision, take a number.

Verizon plans to offer its FiOS TV service to virtually all Staten Island and nearly 60% of Manhattan residents by the end of this year, according to a copy of the company’s proposal obtained by the Daily News.  On the other hand, FiOS will be available to less than 10% of Brooklyn, the Bronx and Queens this year. Most people in those boroughs won’t be able to buy it until at least 2011.   —>

Commission to tweak cable access agreement
by Steve Bandy
Marshall News Messenger (TX)

Some minor tweaks in an agreement contract between the city of Marshall and First United Methodist Church will allow a non-profit group established by the church to operate the second public access cable channel.  The city’s cable-TV franchise agreement with Charter Communications calls for Charter to provide one channel free of cost for public, educational and governmental information. Charter considers this channel to be channel 20, which is operated by the city as a governmental information channel, Assistant City Manager Janet Cook told commissioners Thursday night.

“Under the franchise agreement, Charter also must provide a second channel at our request or at the request of an approved non-profit institution,” she said. “Charter may charge for the use of that channel.”  Charter operated the second channel — channel 19 — for a number of years, but notified the city in January that its staff would no longer be available. On March 15 Charter ceased operation of channel 19.  “They told us there will not be a charge for someone else to operate the channel,” Ms. Cook said.

The city began seeking proposals for the operation of the second public, educational, governmental (PEG) channel in mid-February.  “One proposal was received from First United Methodist Church,” Ms. Cook said. “The church proposes to incorporate a non-profit ‘The Marshall Channel’ to operate the channel.”   —>

Comcast Expects Automatic Franchise Renewal
by Bernice Paglia
Plainfield Plaintalker (NJ)

[ comments invited ]

When Comcast of the Plainfields’ 10-year city franchise ends in 2009, the company will invoke a 5-year automatic renewal, a representative told the Cable Television Advisory Board Thursday.  Charles Smith III, director of Government and Community Affairs for Northern New Jersey, told the board, “Comcast will exercise that option. That’s the way we look at the franchise.”  […]

While the Comcast franchise is running out, Verizon has gained state approval to hold franchises in many communities, including Plainfield. Smith said that when Verizon’s ability to serve customers reaches 60 percent of the Plainfield market, franchise fees will double from 2 percent to 4 percent due to state legislation. The city currently receives as much as $120,000 in franchise fees to operate the city’s local origination channel.

But while officials wrested the commitment for two local channels from Comcast in the past franchise renewal, the implementation has been spotty. Only one channel, based in City Hall Annex, is currently operating. A studio built at Maxson Middle School has languished.

Besides the operational aspects of the local channels, programming was another topic addressed by the board. Much of the local channel’s content is public service announcements and outside programs such as Democracy Now and White House Chronicles, but Public Information Officer Jazz Johnson said consultant Parris Z. Moore has launched a pilot program called “Hello Plainfield” and has several more in the works. They include “Plainfield at Work,” about day-to-day city activity on behalf of its citizens; “Plainfield Profiles,” about interesting residents; and “Plainfield Update,” a news format program.  […]

Board members asked Johnson when the City Council meetings would be televised. Johnson said Channel 74 was ready to record the meetings, but the council was holding off.   —>

Grand Rapids budget crunch could cost workers, raise parking, court fees
by Jim Harger
The Grand Rapids Press (MI)

[ comments invited ]

GRAND RAPIDS — City Manager Kurt Kimball said the city can balance its budget and spend $1.6 million more on street improvements in the fiscal year beginning July 1.  But that means the city’s 1,700 employees and 470 retirees will be asked to pay more for their health care coverage. It also means higher parking fines and court fees.  […]

The $123 million spending plan also eliminates $355,000 in general local revenue sharing for charities and trims the city’s subsidy to the Community Media Center by $86,000.  Although he expects an outcry, Kimball said the city no longer can afford gifts to local charities after seven years of budget-cutting.  “I didn’t think that pot of money should be a sacred cow,” he said.   —>

County budget $7M short of requests
Wicomico officials work to keep finances within constraints
by Greg Latshaw
The Daily Times (MD)

[ 1 comment ]

SALISBURY — One hard truth is already clear to Wicomico County Council members a week into reviewing next year’s budget proposal.  Charged with making further reductions, the council on Thursday continued scrutinizing a preliminary draft that is 2 percent smaller than last year. County Executive Rick Pollitt’s $129.6 million budget is about $7 million short of department requests from education, Public Safety, county employees and PAC-14 — the county’s public access television station.  […]

As department heads continue to defend their budgets, one popular area nonprofit has already taken a hit.  PAC-14 won’t be celebrating its 10th anniversary with a funding increase.  Pollitt’s proposal adds no extra dollars this year, dismissing a $79,600 department request. That means PAC-14 is set to again receive $131,000 in county funding, an amount that makes up about 60 percent of its operating budget, according to station manager Mike Goodson.   —>

CATV wants to sign up Mandan
by Gordon Weixel
Bismarck Tribune (ND)
04/25/08 (repeat of 4/24 story, but with comments)


When Community Access Television makes its pitch to the Mandan City Commission about televising meetings, it will be more about forming a partnership with Bismarck than numbers of cameras and when the reruns will air.  On Tuesday, CATV’s Mary Van Sickle will respond to the Mandan City Commission’s request for a proposal to cablecast commission meetings. But what Van Sickle will present is an opportunity for Mandan to join with Bismarck in funding of CATV.   —>

St. Louis TV
by Diane Meyer
Respublica (MO)

[ comments invited ]

The city of St. Louis utilizes the public access channel on cable tv to promote events and inform residents of what is happening.  While the rest of us in the metro area do not have this broadcast, it is possible to get a feel for what is going on by checking STLTV on the web.

St. Louis is doing something many local cities should do, using as much public technology as possible to reach the most people.  The STLTV website is colorful and inviting and contains many of the videos broadcast on cable access.   Why more cities aren’t doing something like this is puzzling.  Maybe there is a feeling that the public access channel won’t attract viewers, but if there is local programming done well with frequent additions, people will watch.  And, to continue this on a “tv web page”, well, this seems so obvious.   —>

by Jason McIntos
The Gameshelf (MA)

[ comments invited ]

For folks with access to cable TV in Somerville, MA, I’ll be appearing on an upcoming episode of Inside SCAT, a new show about stuff going on around the community access TV station that helps me produce The Gameshelf. The show airs Tuesday evenings at 7:30 on channel 3. I’m on either next Tuesday or the week after, depending upon how quickly stuff gets edited. Hurrah for community access TV!

I also got a chance to meet Danny Martinez, a Somerville High student who produces a weekly live TV show about video games called S’Ville Games. It airs every Tuesday at 3:30, and features call-in segments. Give it a watch, if you’re in town!

Paramilitaries threaten priest who runs community radio station
Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders is worried about death threats made in the past 10 days against Catholic priest Rafael Gallego, the manager of Ecos de Tiquisio, a community radio station in Tiquisio, in the northern department of Bolívar, and the leaders of other civil society organisations in the region.  The threats were made in two email messages signed by the Black Eagles, a branch of the paramilitary alliance known as the United Self-Defence Groups of Colombia (AUC), which has a strong presence in Colombia’s northern departments.

“Community media such as Ecos de Tiquisio play a very important role in local life in Bolívar and are very popular with the local population,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Black Eagles are using these threats to both intimidate the station’s personnel and undermine their credibility, with the aim of consolidating their own influence in a region wracked by armed violence. We urge the Bolívar departmental authorities to protect Father Gallego and all of the station’s personnel.”

The Network of Community Radio Stations of the Mid-Magdalena Region (AREDMAG), of which Ecos de Tiquisio is a member, reported in a 16 April release that death threats had been made against representatives of several regional organisations including Father Gallego in a message signed by Commander Camilo Mora of the Northern Block of the Black Eagles.  It referred to them as “military targets”and announced an “annihilation plan” in which they would be “exterminated one by one.”   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Explore posts in the same categories: cable franchising, cable vs telco, community radio, free speech, freedom of the press, human rights, municipal programming, PEG access TV, press freedom, public access television, video franchising

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