Archive for the ‘astroturf’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/01/08

March 8, 2008

Astroturfs, Now Fighting for Cable
Side Cut Reports
03/01/08

[ comments allowed ]

Is there such a shortage of news around telecom public policy that normally respectable information outlets still fall so easily for astroturf announcements? If you are a Comcast lobbyist you just have to love the official sound of the lead graf in this non-news missive from IDG “news” service, which asserts that “a coalition of seven civil rights groups” is now banding together to fight off the resurrection of network neutrality, mainly in reference to the recent FCC hearing about Comcast’s network management practices.

C’mon. Please. Does anyone really believe anymore that the National Black Chamber of Commerce, Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association, League of Rural Voters, and National Council of Women’s Organizations just happen to have the same viewpoints on net neutrality and cable network management? Or maybe, they are all BFF and on Facebook together, and said “hey, we really need to work together to ensure our voices are heard.”

Right.  Or maybe, they are all organizations that get substantial contributions from large telecommunication companies or cable providers, whose legislative agendas just happen to mesh with those of the civil rights groups. (Or maybe they all just use the same policy PR firm, whose prinicpals have been at this a long time.)

C’mon, InfoWorld. C’mon, Mike. Do some digging before you post — the scoop on these outfits is already out there thanks to the fine work of Bruce Kushnick and many others.   —>
http://sidecutreports.com/2008/03/01/astroturfs-now-fighting-for-cable/
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Lawsuit holds back digital cable switch
Public access channel still widely available
by Nicholas Deshais
Times Herald (MI)
03/01/08

[ comments allowed ]

Comcast announced a slate of programming changes Friday, including the removal of some channels from standard cable in order to move them to a high-definition format.  As part of the changes, effective March 27, Channel 900, the simulcast of public access standard-definition Channel 12, has been moved to Channel 901, which carries a digital signal. The announcement says programming available on Channel 12 will remain there but does not indicate if that could change after a lawsuit regarding moving public, educational and government channels is resolved.   —>
http://www.thetimesherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080301/NEWS01/803010308/1002
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Lights, camera, school board
by Stephen Sacco
Times Herald-Record (NY)
03/01/08

The Port Jervis School District now has its own educational public-access television station — Time Warner Cable Channel 20 in the Port Jervis viewing area. The channel was launched Feb. 8 and features live coverage of Port Jervis school board meetings.   —>
http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080301/NEWS/803010323
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Board of Supervisors meetings airing on TV
Residents may now view county Board of Supervisors’ meetings on the city’s public channel, City TV.
SignOnSanDiego.com (CA)
03/01/08

[ comments allowed ]

The meetings take place on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but will be aired in their entirety each Friday morning. The stations, Channel 24 on Cox and Time Warner cable and Channel 99 on AT&T, also air City Council and committee meetings, news conferences by city officials and some county programming.  Until now, television broadcasts of supervisors meetings were available only through the County Television Network, which does not appear on Cox. –J.V.
http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/metro/20080301-9999-1m1b2briefs.html
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City near long-delayed cable deal
by Amelia Flood
Kane County Chronicle (IL)
03/01/08

[ comments allowed ]

ST. CHARLES – A seven-year stalemate over a franchise agreement between St. Charles and its cable provider, Comcast, soon might be over, but it will have little impact on customers.  The new contract still must be approved by the City Council.  The city will continue to collect a 5 percent franchise fee from Comcast. That comes to about $375,000 a year.  In the future, residents could see a 35-cent monthly charge added to their bills. The money would go toward increasing public access programming. The city has no plans to implement the fee at this time, City Administrator Brian Townsend said, and it would require additional council action.   —>
http://www.kcchronicle.com/articles/2008/03/01/news/local/doc47c9330c412b2835593590.txt
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Goodies up for bid to assist GHS-TV
Student-run public-access station sets $40,000 goal
by Lela Garlington
Commercial Appeal (TN)
03/01/08

[ comments allowed ]

Interested in a five-day hotel stay in Orlando? Or getting your closet reorganized? How about VIP passes to the Stanford St. Jude Golf Championship?  This weekend, the award-winning Germantown Community Television hosts its 15th annual auction from 2 to 9 p.m. today and again from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Germantown residents can watch the auction on Channel 17. Viewers outside of Germantown can see a portion of Auction 2008 on Comcast Cable Channel 30 from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday. DirectTV viewers will not be able to see the cablecast, but anyone can bid online at ghstv.org.

“Last year we raised about $35,000 and this year we hope to make $40,000 or more,” said publicity co-chairwoman and student Johnnalee Kutzke. “The money from the auction will benefit the television studio and also contribute to our senior scholarships awarded at the end of the year.”   —>
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2008/mar/01/goodies-up-for-bid-to-assist-ghs-tv/
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Community Organization with Digital Tools
by Dan Schultz
MediaShift Idea Lab
03/01/08

[ 4 comments ]

Last week I took a digital-communication-oriented glance at the war on Scientology being led by the nontraditional online group called Anonymous. I’m not exactly writing a part 2, but I want to start a follow-up discussion on a few of the comments made and questions posed by Anonymous about how digital media affects the dynamics of community organization. That being said, if you haven’t had the chance to browse the comments of that post it’s probably worthwhile.

I have mentioned in the past that I want to see digital media facilitate local impact; to do that well we need to understand some of the nuances of many-to-many digital communication and look at how those nuances might change the way communities can plan, organize, and ultimately act on the issues they find important. This post lists a few traits of online communication and what they might mean for digitally driven movements, including the one being led by Anonymous.   —>
http://www.pbs.org/idealab/2008/03/community-organization-with-di.html
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Cable’s Class Act
CIC Boosts Its Profile as Education Leader
by Stuart Miller
Multichannel News
03/03/08

[ comments allowed ]

After nearly two decades, the Cable in the Classroom educational foundation continues to work closely with networks and operators to provide cable technology and programming to schools and libraries nationwide…

People often thought there was a catch to CIC, said Donna Krache, executive producer of CNN Student News. “They’d look at you sideways and just not believe that it was free.”  Overall, CIC was welcomed with open arms: Peggy Charren, the outspoken president of the advocacy group Action for Children’s Television, said at the time, “I’ve got problems with everything when it comes to children and television. I have no problems with this.”…

CIC is placing a growing emphasis on broadband access to provide schools with study guides, clips and even games. “Teachers are very busy and don’t have time to slog through material,” O’Connell said. “This is something that really works and it’s a good, reliable resource.”

Among CIC’s latest initiatives is eLECTIONS, which offers video from C-SPAN, CNN Student News and The History Channel to teach about the election process and lets students run their own campaigns in a multiplatform game. “The depth of resources with something like this is so great you almost don’t need the textbook,” said Krache.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6537156.html
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Russia: NTV’s Past Points Toward REN-TV’s Future
by Robert Coalson
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
03/01/08

When independent experts this week released their assessment of media coverage of the Russian presidential election, there were few surprises. On Channel One, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev got 32 percent of election-related airtime; on Rossia, he got 26 percent; on TV-Tsentr, he got 35 percent; and on NTV he got 43 percent.

The other three official candidates all got single-digit coverage on all four national networks, with figures ranging from 6.8 percent to 0.1 percent, according to figures released by the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations. Also unsurprisingly, President Vladimir Putin — who isn’t running, of course — got more airtime even than Medvedev, ranging around 50-60 percent.

The one oddity in this bland picture, however, was REN-TV, a small, but still-private national network. REN-TV’s figures are truly startling: 31 percent of the airtime went to Putin, followed by 21 percent for Medvedev, 22 percent for Liberal Democratic Party of Russia head Vladimir Zhirinovsky, 21 percent to Communist candidate Gennady Zyuganov, and 6.3 percent to Democratic Party head Andrei Bogdanov.

Such even-handedness is unheard of in Russian national media these days. The reduced percentage to Bogdanov can easily be justified by the facts that his support consistently polls at about 1 percent, that his party received less than 1 percent of the vote in the December Duma elections, and that his candidacy is widely seen to be a Kremlin-inspired stratagem to create the impression that at least one liberal politician is in the race.

The contrast between REN-TV and NTV is particularly noteworthy. NTV, it should be recalled, is the once-private and once-respected national television network that was taken over by Gazprom in 2000-01 as one of the first major steps in Putin’s dismantling of civil society. At the time, Gazprom claimed the takeover was merely a business dispute and senior managers pledged endlessly the network would be sold off in short order.

Now, seven years later, Medvedev is the chairman of Gazprom’s board of directors and that channel is outdoing even the formally state-controlled Channel One and Rossia in violating the law ensuring equal media access to all candidates and in contributing to what the liberal-posing Medvedev has eloquently described as “legal nihilism.”   —>
http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2008/03/A111BAE5-42D5-4F2E-8AD8-26E4E9D96723.html
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

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Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/29/08

February 29, 2008

Rowley lobbies for local access channels
by Lynne Hendricks
Newburyport Daily News (MA)
02/29/08

Negotiations have begun for a new cable license with Comcast Cable Co., and town leaders are letting the cable giant know that programming geared specifically toward their local audience will be a high priority moving forward.  In a series of three public meetings that kicked off two weeks ago, selectmen have been collecting testimony from officials and local residents who support the vital role Public, Educational and Governmental access programming plays in small communities.  The last of the three public hearings will take place Monday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. and will primarily address the public component of PEG access, which enables anyone from the public with a creative idea to produce and air content on available local channels.

In neighboring towns like Newburyport and Salisbury, that access includes the airing of local governmental and school board meetings, emergency data related to road closures and extreme weather events, and unique programming locally produced by student and resident film enthusiasts.  Rowley had access to those channels until last summer when Comcast — the only cable licensee in town at the time — sold its Newburyport studio and discontinued PEG access to Newbury and Rowley. The town has since fought unsuccessfully to get Comcast to reinstate PEG access, and it’s likely the matter will end up in court depending on how Comcast responds to the town’s latest legal filing.

In the meantime, Verizon is a new cable player on the scene, having been issued a license in December 2007 to compete with Comcast in Rowley. They’ve launched an aggressive marketing campaign and sent company representatives out across town to garner a share of the local market. They sweetened their deal by offering the town a generous $85,000 grant toward Rowley’s own future PEG access studio, and an additional 5 percent of future revenues to the same end.   —>
http://www.newburyportnews.com/punews/local_story_060064620.html
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Special fund proposed  for cable access
by Tamara Le
SeacoastOnline.com (NH)
02/29/08

NORTH HAMPTON —>   The BOS held a public hearing on the special revenue fund warrant article for the town’s Cable Access Channel. If approved by voters, the establishment of the PEG Access Television fund will allow for the hiring of a staffer for Channel 22 by way of money accumulated through Comcast subscriber fees returned to the town. Further, the board approved a payment of $18,149.45 from the current fund for cameras, microphones and other production equipment.   —>
http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080229/NEWS/802290403/-1/NEWS10&sfad=1
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Londonderry access channel request gets poor reception
by Trent Spiner
Union Leader (NH)
02/21/08

[ 7 comments ]

A proposed sixth channel for Londonderry’s public access television center has been denied by the town’s cable provider, prompting officials to take action.  Local public access television officials looking to expand their station’s lineup said they cannot air all their programming in a timely fashion with the five channels they currently have. Representatives from Comcast, the town’s sole cable provider, said another channel is unreasonable and would limit other features in higher demand among their customers.  The disagreement is expected to come to a head on March 3 when the town council holds a public hearing on the matter.

“Comcast owes us a sixth channel,” said Dottie Grover, director of cable services for the town. “The sixth channel would be a second public access channel. It is not unusual for us to have 50 to 70 programs waiting to have a turn to get on the air.”  She said a contract with Comcast enables her department to broadcast on a sixth channel by simply asking for it. But their request for the channel — dating back almost four months — has been denied. Town councilors must now hold a public hearing to determine whether Comcast is in breach of contract.   —>
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Londonderry+access+channel+request+gets+poor+reception&articleId=699cb47c-44eb-418f-b768-393766c7226e
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Community group hopes to save WBTN
by John Waller
Bennington Banner (VT)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

A day after Southern Vermont College announced that it was searching for interested parties to take over and operate the radio station WBTN-AM as a community outlet, a group of community leaders has stepped forward to answer the call.  Although still in its early stages, the group made up of town officials, organization directors and media owners and experts met Wednesday to discuss ways to keep WBTN-AM open as a community news source, group spokeswoman and executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce Joann Erenhouse said Thursday.

She said the group formed after locals voiced their concerns over the future of the radio station, urging the college to maintain Bennington’s local AM station as a community asset. “It’s really important for us to keep WBTN-AM locally focused, locally controlled and locally operated,” she said.  “When you listen to other radio stations, you get nice music and national and international news,” she continued, “but there is a huge appreciation in this community from people across the board for being able to turn on the radio and getting to hear people we know talk about local issues, issues we care about and have some influence over. You can’t get that on any other station.”

In early February, the college’s trustees directed President Karen Gross to end the station’s losses by May 15. The station has lost about $450,000 since it was donated by trustee Robert Howe in North Bennington in 2002, college spokesman David Scribner said.  He said he thought it was great that a local group has organized and is interested in saving the station. He said the group is one of many that has been in contact with the college, especially after it gave a March 21 deadline for proposals.   —>
http://www.benningtonbanner.com/headlines/ci_8403226
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Community media center plans expand and change
by Mark Anderson
Kiowa County Signal (KS)
02/29/08

While work on development of the Kiowa County Community Media Center has continued in recent months, its shape and scope has also evolved to the point of now including three other pre-tornado entities in a two-tiered facility tentatively named the Kiowa County Commons, tentatively set to be built on South Main in Greensburg.  The components of the media center have been detailed before on this page, including a WiMAX-based wireless access point atop the grain elevator and free WiMAX-enabled laptops and other portable, handheld WiMAX-enabled devices to help citizens create and receive the web-portal based audio and video programming.  The center is to provide both the technical support and state-of-the-art resources to support both community journalism and creative expression…

Other locals participating are County Extension Agents Carmen Stauth and Pam Muntz, and GHS faculty member Marshall Ballard, who is organizing a group of high school students who will be involved in television and radio production activities through the media center.  Likewise involved are Ray Stegman and Kendal Lothman of the county’s Long Term Recovery Team and Debra Allison, director of county libraries.
http://www.kiowacountysignal.com/homepage/x1637677144
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Community Media and Community-Based Planning
by Tom Lowenhaupt
The Campaign for Community-Based Planning (NY)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

Over my 14 years as a community board member it became ever more apparent that local communication in New York City sucks, sorry, is inadequate. In making the case for the .nyc TLD, I frequently make reference to the quantity of local media in Terre Haute Indiana, where I attended college for a couple of years, and Queens Community District 3, where I served on the community board. Here’s a little chart comparing the dedicated local media serving the two communities:

Also, we do have a few weakly newspapers that cover portions of the district. And should there be a catastrophe in the area (LaGuardia Airport is in our district), we will be inundated with far more media than one reasonably needs. But on a daily basis, to look into why the potholes aren’t filled, to the needs of the homeless guy, to examine the quality of our local schools, etc., local media doesn’t exist. Perhaps I should say “local media is inadequate.”

This is all preliminary to my directing you to a presentation that will be given this Sunday at the Grassroots Media Conference at Hunter College entitled “A Platform for Community Media.” The presenter (that would be me) will explore how the .nyc TLD (other TLDs are .com, .org, .edu…) will facilitate the development of participatory local media – media that we all contribute to and that helps us make decisions. Perhaps it might be thought of as community-based or bottom-up media. Not sure what I’ll call it yet. Come Sunday and find out.

Get a preview of my presentation here and info about the Grassroots Conference and it 40 other sessions, and film screenings, here.
http://communitybasedplanning.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/community-media-and-community-based-planning/
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Interview about alternative media
by Paul O’Connor
Undercurrents Alternative News (UK)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

—>   > Do you think that ethnic minorities, victims of violence or corruption and other social groups feel that the media is falling to give them a voice?

I assume you mean the mainstream media? The alternative media has grown strong over the last 10 years and now campaigners, or any minorities can spread their message wide and coherently. A decade ago Undercurrents videos of a protest against a roadbuilding scheme would gain an audience of around 10,000 by distributing VHS video tapes, now with the internet we reach 160,000 with DVD quality downloads. The videos are then shown to various communities. Very exciting stuff. Many people are (slowly in some cases) that the mainstream media is losing much of it’s power. Following narrow corporate agendas has alienated the public who are seeking real news and stories. Campaigners have a voice within the growing alternative media such as undercurrents video, indymedia,schnews and other outlets.

> Is the public interested in development stories and that of human suffering? Why?

Yes they are but usually only if presented in a way that the public feel they can make a difference. Usually the angle the mainstream media portrays is of victims. The mainstream may say that Homeless people deserve our sympathy and persuade us to give them some money but rarely challenges the reasons why so many people are on the streets in the first place. Alternative media tends to highlight the people actively out there changing the system. Setting up social centres in disused buildings, community cafes, cheap quality food coops etc. When the public sees the issue framed through this lens, people become interested in development stories.   —>
http://undercurrentsvideo.blogspot.com/2008/02/interview-about-alternative-media.html
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Blind Alleys
by Bunny Riedel
Telecommunications Consultant
02/29/08

There are people who have contributed greatly to your personal welfare that you will never hear about. One of those is Marston Bates. He studied mosquitoes in South America and his work improved the understanding of yellow fever. You gotta like a guy like that, somebody who does original and actual research. Bates didn’t take himself too seriously either. He is attributed with saying “Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind.”

It seems that more people just take things as gospel without ever digging any deeper to get to the facts. I do know the more something is repeated, the truer that something becomes. And if you throw a bit of academia on that something you pretty much got yourself a coup.

Take the recent Ball State University white paper put out by the Digital Policy Institute called “An Interim Report on the Economic Impact of Telecommunications Reform in Indiana.” Luckily the report came out just in time for the opening of state legislative sessions because according to that report Indiana is now leading the nation in terms of innovative and creative telecommunications law.

Did you know that there have been over 2,200 jobs created in Indiana as a direct result of the March 2006 statewide video franchising? That’s what the report says alright, over 2,200 jobs created! Of course the citations to support that claim are from AT&T, Verizon and Comcast press releases and a newspaper report regarding other telecom companies. The largest number of these jobs are attributed to AT&T at 1,650. However, even if you take AT&T at their word and believe their press release, the real story is that at least 600 of those jobs have nothing to do with statewide video franchising, they are call center jobs for wireless business customers.

See: http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=4800&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=24607

If we presuppose that the remaining 1,050 AT&T jobs were strictly created as a result of statewide video franchising and their rollout of U-Verse, we would then have to hypothesize that AT&T ain’t so great at workforce management. As of August, AT&T reported offering U-Verse to five cities in Indiana: Kokomo, Indianapolis, Anderson, Bloomington and Muncie. If we assume that AT&T now has 10% of all subscribers in those cities, or over 30,000 subscribers in Indiana, we have to conclude that AT&T has hired one new employee for roughly every 28.5 subscribers. Ergo we can now say with confidence that AT&T ain’t so great at workforce management.

See how I do that? And all without the added benefit of a professorship or an institute.

Nothing can be empirically proven when all one does is rely on press releases from the very companies one is supposedly researching or multiple citations from the very groups that lobbied for the legislation in the first place. What groups? The very same groups that have traveled from state house to state house, coast to coast, across this nation pretending they have conducted nonbiased, consumer interest research. Folks like: The American Enterprise Institute; Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC); FreedomWorks; Heartland Institute; Phoenix Center; and the Reason Foundation. Throw into the mix the National Conference of State Legislators, whose policy platform is pro-statewide franchising, and you’ve got yourself quite a bucket-load of data regarding how fabulously terrific statewide video franchising is and how Indiana is such a leader in broadband deployment.

What’s true is that almost two years after the law passed, fifteen of the Certificates of Authority applicants were incumbent cable operators hoping to relieve themselves of various obligations in existing franchise agreements. Pesky stuff like capital payments for PEG or PEG channels or PEG operations. Somebody ask South Bend, Hammond, Merrillville, Mishawaka, Plymouth, Goshen and Portage about what happened to their production studios and playback facilities. Somebody ask the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) what the penalty should be for Comcast not making their quarterly capital payments to Fort Wayne even though the law clearly says support is supposed to remain the same.   —>
http://riedelcommunications.blogspot.com/2008/02/blind-alleys.html
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Hopes fading for public-safety broadband network
by William Jackson
Government Computer News
02/28/08

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of the 700-MHz portion of the spectrum, now occupied by TV broadcasters, has been a financial success, with total bids of more than $19.5 billion for all five bands, far outstripping the $10 billion reserve set by the FCC.

But the one loser in the ongoing auction, now entering its second month, has been the D block, which includes the chunks of spectrum set aside for a nationwide public safety network.  “It is now becoming clear that the reserve price will not be met,” said Roberta Wiggins, a research fellow at the Yankee Group.

Bidding on that block stalled early in the auction, with one bid at $472 million — far below the minimum price of $1.3 billion set for it. Bidders apparently have been scared off by what Wiggins called the “horrendous cost” and “Herculean task” of building out a single network, a large part of which would be used exclusively by first responders in state, local and public safety agencies around the country. During emergencies, public safety agencies would receive priority on all segments of the D block network.

What the stalled bidding means for the future of the public safety network is not clear.  “We still don’t know what happens if D block doesn’t meet its reserve and what they plan to do with it,” said Berge Ayvazian, chief strategy officer at Yankee Group.

That is just one of many unknowns discussed in a telebriefing Thursday by Yankee Group analysts who summed up the current status of the auction. The open-ended auction could continue for as long as four more months, and for the first time the bidding is anonymous.  “We not only don’t know who the winners are yet, we don’t even know who is bidding,” Ayvazian said.   —>
http://www.gcn.com/online/vol1_no1/45904-1.html
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Nonline community: freedom, education, the net
by Dougald Hine
openDemocracy
02/20/08

[ comments allowed ]

Both governments and zealous cyber-enthusiasts champion the internet’s educational and political potential. The danger that results is a policy of techno-compulsion that undermines citizens’ autonomy. There is a better way, says Dougald Hine.

There is frequent and widespread criticism of the way that governments around the world attempt to manage or control the internet. The imprint of the global network’s origins in the United States’s cold-war era military-research programmes seems ever present in the tensions between states and citizens that appear in so many of the net’s “civic” contexts – from the Chinese government’s massive monitoring and blocking operations to western authorities’ moral censorship and European Union legislation requiring service providers to retain details of customers’ internet use.

In such cases, those who speak out for the civil liberties of internet users often tend towards a techno-libertarian position: their commitment to individual freedom being matched only by a belief in the “transformative potential” (a key couplet) of the internet…

There is always a danger that the frenetic embrace of new freedom disguises an updated form of old conformity. The benefits facilitated by the internet can be acknowledged, and the threats to online freedoms by states and governments challenged, while other important freedoms that its spread may infringes are neglected. One of these in particular increasingly requires defence: the freedom to remain disconnected, to refuse citizenship of cyberspace, to keep both feet firmly in First Life.

The limits of the possible

This is no longer an academic question. In England, the government announced in January 2008 that it is considering making it compulsory for parents to provide broadband access at home for their school-age children. The initiative is motivated by an honourable desire to ensure that technology is not out of reach of families on low incomes. Ministers hope to reach deals with major IT firms to provide affordable access. However, this would be reinforced by the requirement that parents subscribe to the service – presumably accompanied by some kind of sanction for those who wilfully fail to comply.

The government’s schools minister, Jim Knight, argues that this is no different to the expectation that families provide pupils with a school-uniform, pencil-case and gym-kit. Yet such comparisons serve only to highlight the unprecedented nature of the proposed requirement. When governments begin to oblige people to instal a communications technology in their own homes, this raises serious questions about the role of the state and the rights of citizens.

The now routine references to pupils and students as “consumers of education” highlight what underlies the effort to get every family in England online: that is, a model of the way that new products spread through society, used for decades by marketers in their quest for customers, and increasingly taken up by policy-makers. Everett M Rogers’s “diffusion of innovations” curve plots the take-up of a product over time, mapping consumers into five categories, according to the stage at which they buy in. These range from “innovators” (who make up 2.5% of the overall market) and “early adopters” (13.5%), through the “early / late majorities” (34% each), to the 16% of “laggards” at the back.

The model – first developed by researchers who wanted to know why some farmers were slower than others to adopt agribusiness practices – wears its value judgements on its sleeve (who would prefer to be labelled a laggard than an innovator?) The basic assumption is that the product or technology in question is an uncontested good; that everyone ought to have it; and that its universal spread is only a matter of time.

In the case of a business promoting its product in the marketplace where “customer choice” is meaningful and not just another mantra, this leaves a space for free decision (Coca-Cola may believe that it is “the real thing”, but, if I disagree, it cannot force its authenticity upon me). But governments – even ones claiming democratic authority – are not subject to constant competition; they are granted a temporary monopoly on power, and, where persuasion fails, they may resort to compulsion. This makes it important – in this area as in others – for citizens to demand that politicians’ power is both limited and accountable. There are few things which are so overwhelmingly good that everyone should be forced to adopt them; and, to put the same point from a different angle, people often turn out to have surprisingly good reasons for refusing an innovation that others have decided is without drawbacks.    —>
http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/the_off_grid_internet
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Junta continues to quash Burma’s media
by Zin Linn
UPI Asia Online
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

BANGKOK, Thailand,  The latest attack on Burma’s media took place Feb. 15, when the military junta raided offices of the Myanmar Nation weekly journal in Rangoon. Editor Thet Zin and manager Sein Win Maung were arrested after officials confiscated a human rights report by U.N. Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a contribution on the Panglong Agreement by a veteran Shan politician, videos of anti-government protests during the Saffron Revolution and handwritten poems. The police also seized hard disks from the computers which stored news reports and photos to be used in the weekly journal.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association condemned the arrest of the two men. The Honolulu Community-Media Council of the United States also joined the BMA, international journalist and human rights organizations in condemning the continued crackdown on the Burmese media by the military regime.

Burma is trapped in a murky era where freedom of expression has been completely lost. The more control the junta has over the media and the Internet, the higher the menace for the civilized exchange of ideas. The junta is abusing the media as its tool to close peoples’ eyes and ears by giving them false news and ideas.

It is sad that this country sees no sign of freedom even in this Global Information Age. The junta controls all media access now. Since the monk-led protests known as the Saffron Revolution of last September, all news media in Burma is strictly censored and tightly controlled by the military junta. All daily newspapers, radio and television stations are under the regime’s supervision.

During the brief Saffron Revolution, people in the former capital of Rangoon and all other provincial cities received up-to-date news footage through Al-Jazeera, the BBC, CNN and DVB TV. Besides, some IT activists put footage of the dissent on compact discs and delivered them to people with no access to satellite dishes. Such actions allowed many Burmese citizens to see news footage of the mass anti-government demonstrations, and the brutal crackdown that ensued.

The military regime has constantly mistreated journalists since Sept. 27. On that day Japanese video reporter Kenji Nagai was killed by a soldier in downtown Rangoon, at the height of the demonstrations. Japanese officials have constantly said that Nagai, 50, was evidently shot at close range, not hit by stray bullets as the SPDC officials explained. The Japanese government has demanded the return of the journalist’s video camera and tapes, which are believed to have captured the shooting, and is investigating his death.

The military censorship branch, known as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, is now harassing editors to publish propaganda produced by the junta in their journals and magazines. Scores of writers and journalists suspected of sympathizing with the Saffron Revolution have been banned from contributing to publications.

Members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association, a junta-backed militia, have kept up their attacks on journalists. Photographers were beaten by USDA thugs while taking photos during the monks’ protests. Numerous civilians holding cameras or mobile phones were temporarily arrested and tortured. More than a dozen journalists were beaten or treated badly during the demonstrations. In addition, several young amateur journalists or civilian journalists were also detained and their cameras and mobile phones were confiscated by the militia.

Burma’s military exercises tight controls over the Internet, banning access to news websites such as Yahoo or Hotmail. The regime was frustrated by bloggers and civilian journalists during the anti-junta protests, as they provided detailed consecutive accounts of the bloodshed and helped spread the news. The junta disconnected the nation’s Internet links at the height of the violence to cut off the information flow about the crackdown.

A popular Myanmar blogger, Nay Phone Latt, was arrested on Jan. 29. His blog was written in Burmese and in a creative writing style. He used it as a forum to discuss the difficulties of daily life, such as the electricity shortages and the swelling cost of living.

In the 1950s, Burma was at the forefront of press freedom in Southeast Asia. The country enjoyed a free press without censorship. As many as three dozen newspapers, including English and Chinese dailies, existed between 1948 and 1962 under the civilian government. Even the prime minister’s office was never closed to journalists in those days. They were also free to set up relations with international news agencies.

The situation changed in 1962, when the military seized power. All newspapers were nationalized by the junta led by Gen. Ne Win. The junta established a Press Scrutiny Board to enforce strict censorship on all forms of printed matter, including advertisements and obituaries. Since then, the military junta’s censorship and self-censorship are commonplace, and have severely restricted political rights and civil liberties.

The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division is a major oppressive tool of the incumbent military regime. Not surprisingly, Burma stands downgraded from a free state to a prison state. No printed matter can be published without the PSRD’s permission. Photos, cassette tapes, movies and video footage also need the censor’s stamp before reaching the people. At the same time, the military concentrates to stop the flow of uncensored radio news in Burmese available from international broadcasting stations.

Moreover, the junta has come to dominate the media industry through publication companies owned by generals and their cronies. The radio, television and other media outlets are monopolized for propaganda warfare by the military regime and opposition views are never allowed. The regime does not even allow religious discourse.

The media is a special tool for the military regime with no space for the opposition party. Political debates are always inhibited, even at the National Convention, which has completely lost its credibility and is regarded as a sham.

Foreign periodicals have not been seen on newsstands since October as the junta has been blocking reports on Burma. The owners of Internet cafes have been forced to sign an agreement to follow restrictions by the authorities, and dare not allow users to breach the regime’s filters. Moreover, the owners have to report details of their customers to military intelligence.

Currently, the situation of the press in Burma is getting worse and worse. Media-related people are feeling defenseless, and the voices of the people are constantly blocked.

The press is the fourth estate of democracy after the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. But in Burma the Parliament has been debarred by the military. The judiciary is automatically defunct under military supremacy. In that case, it is clear that the fourth estate cannot escape from the grip of the military dictatorship.

The lifeblood of democracy is the free flow of information. Burma needs regional cooperation to attain press freedom. Journalists in Burma are hoping for more assistance, morally and practically, from international media groups. Without press freedom a nation cannot enjoy the taste of social equality.

(Zin Linn is a freelance Burmese journalist in exile. He spent nine years in a Burmese prison as a prisoner of conscience. He now serves as information director of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, and is vice-president of the Burma Media Association. ©Copyright Zin Linn.)
http://www.upiasiaonline.com/Politics/2008/02/29/junta_continues_to_quash_burmas_media/2470/
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

FCC En Banc Hearing on Broadband Network Management Practices

February 27, 2008

A lot has been written about this hearing already.  Here are a just a few blog and press accounts. Net neutrality advocates, stay tuned to SavetheInternet.com, and help line up co-sponsors for the Markey/Pickering Internet Freedom Protection Act of 2008 – rm


FCC Hearing Video Webcast:
http://www.fcc.gov/realaudio/mt022508v.ram
Commissioners Statements: http://fcc.gov

Comcast, net neutrality advocates clash at FCC hearing
by Matthew Lasar
Ars Technica
02/25/08

[ 29 comments ]

A civil but tense tone prevailed at today’s Federal Communications Commission’s hearing on how to address concerns that Comcast and other ISPs degrade P2P traffic. Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen was the star of the show, and he knew it. “It’s a pleasure to be here as a participant and hopefully not the main course for your meal,” Cohen told all five Commissioners and a lively audience during the event’s first panel discussion, held at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.   —>
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080225-comcast-and-net-neutrality-advocates-clash-at-fcc-hearing.html
~

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Ed Markey
by David Weinberger
JOHO the Blog
02/25/08

[ 26 comments over 16 posts ]

NOTE: I am live-blogging. Not re-reading for errors. There are guaranteed to be errors of substance, stand point and detail. Caveat reader.  Rep. Ed Markey opens it. He’s been one of the staunchest and most reliable defenders of an open Internet. He recalls his long standing on the Internet’s behalf. He asks us to keep users in mind, preferring their needs to that of the carriers. What a concept!   —>
http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/2008/02/25/fccboston08-fcc-hearing-ed-markey/
~

FCC chief says Net providers can’t block access ‘arbitrarily’
Delays by Comcast are focus of hearing
by Hiawatha Bray
Boston Globe
02/26/08

CAMBRIDGE – Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin warned yesterday that Internet service providers can’t block consumers from using lawful Internet activities in the name of providing better service.  “While networks may have legitimate network issues and practices,” Martin said, “that does not mean that they can arbitrarily block access to certain network services.”   —>
http://www.boston.com/business/technology/articles/2008/02/26/fcc_chief_says_net_providers_cant_block_access_arbitrarily/
~

The FCC holds a hearing on Net Neutrality, and YOU! ARE! THERE!
by John Sundman
WetMachine.com
02/26/07

[ 2 comments ]

So yesterday morning over coffee I was doing what most people do over their first daily cup o’ joe, which is bring up technorati and see if anybody’s talking about me. That process took me to Joho’s page, from which I learned that the FCC was to be holding an hearing on why Comcast sucks, I mean Net Neutrality broadband network management practices only hours thence. Now although to my surprise & delight, Wetmachine, thanks to the work of my fellow wetmechanics Harold Feld and Greg Rose has become quite the FCC policy site with a side-order of net neutrality, I had never been to an FCC hearing. A quick check of the boat and bus schedules showed that I could probably make it to Hahvahd in time for most of the festivities. I decided to go. So, after securing the blessings of Dear Wife and throwing a few things in a bag, off I set to lose my FCC-hearing virginity.

Below the fold, some totally subjective impressions of the day, told in that winsome wetmachine way that you’ve come to treasure, or if you haven’t yet, which you soon will. More sober-styled reports have surely appeared by now, and I’ll dig up some links & post them at the end for those of you who like a little conventional reportage to ballast what you get from me.   —>
http://www.wetmachine.com/item/1084
~

FCC En Banc: Annals of the Battle for the Last Mile
by Fred Johnson
Media-Space-Place-Network
02/26/08

[ 1 Comment ]

Harvard Law School was “Markey Country” today as Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey defended net neutrality in his opening remarks before the FCC’s Public En Banc Hearing on broadband network management practices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Markey declared the US “no country for old bandwidth” and hung around to observe, with the rest of us, the FCC, “en banc” and securely enclosed in Harvard space droning through a tedious day of testimony and q&a, comfortably surrounded by an audience packed with polite but bored Comcast employees trained to provide applause on cue.   —>
http://fredjohnson.mwg.org/?p=65
~

Network neutrality: code words and conniving at yesterday’s FCC hearing (Part 2 of 2)
by Andy Oram
O’Reilly Radar
02/26/08

[1 comment ]

Yesterday I summarized the public FCC hearing about bandwidth at the Harvard Law School, and referred readers to a more comprehensive background article. In this article I’ll highlight some of the rhetoric at the meeting, which shows that network providers’ traffic shaping is no more sophisticated or devious than the shaping of public perceptions by policy-makers and advocates.   —>
http://radar.oreilly.com/archives/2008/02/network-neutrality-code-words.html
~

Comcast Paid Shills To Attend FCC Hearing
by Wendy Davis
Online Media Daily
02/27/08

The Federal Communications Commission hearing about net neutrality this week was so crowded that police had to turn away an estimated 100 people from the Harvard Law School classroom where the event was held.  The large audience even seemed to surprise some of the organizers, who did not have an overflow room available on site.

But now, it’s come out that the packed room wasn’t just filled with concerned citizens. Comcast paid shills to arrive early and save seats so that employees and other supporters could attend and cheer on executive vice president David Cohen.

The move came to light after the net neutrality advocacy group Free Press posted an MP3 file (http://www.freepress.net/docs/paid_to_hold_seat.mp3) of an interview with an unidentified line-stander on its site.  “Honestly, I’m just getting paid to hold somebody’s seat,” a man said on the recording. “I don’t even know what’s going on.”  Pictures also surfaced online showing audience members sleeping during the hearing.   —>
http://publications.mediapost.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.san&s=77363&Nid=39790&p=909427
~

Comcast Manipulating NAACP on Net Neutrality
by Matt Stoller
OpenLeft.com
02/27/08

[ 4 comments ]

By now you’ve probably heard that Comcast hired a crowd to sit in an FCC hearing on net neutrality so interested citizens couldn’t get a spot to speak.  The gist of Comcast’s excuse is that they hired people to hold spots for Comcast employees, though those people accidentally fell asleep and stayed in their seats throughout the entire hearing.  Nuts.

Interestingly, there’s a bit more to the story, and it involves the cozy relationship between the NAACP and Comcast.  Corporate funding of civil rights groups has been a quiet and dank hallmark of liberal politics for decades.  Most of the time these partnerships are innocent, but they lead to some coincidentally problematic situations.  For example, here’s what else was going on in Boston around the FCC the day before the rent-a-crowd incident.   —>
http://openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=4209
~

The FCC and ISPs talk about BT while FP demands “Net Neutrality!”
by thecrazedman
The Crazed Man’s Words
02/27/08

[ comments allowed ]

Yesterday I attended the public hearing held by the FCC at Harvard Law School that was addressing allegations lodged against Comcast and other ISPs that they deliberately have (and continue) to delay and block P2P applications to and from their users, whom are paying customers. No matter if the files being shared are legal or not, these ISPs have been accused of managing their networks unfavorably to the file-sharers all across the United States.

I was invited to the event by my Professor, David Monje, whom shares a friendship, academic and otherwise, to the members of FreePress.net. From FreePress’ perspective this was billed as an attemp “To Save The Internet” as Net Neutrality is a major lobbying issue for this non-profit organization. I was really excited to be there and hear what both sides had to say.

There was a lot of enlightening information from both panels, specifically panelists Marvin Ammori, Yochai Benkler, Timothy Wu, Richard Bennet, David Clark, and Eric Klinker. These men are all from different backgrounds surrounding the internet and this issue of net neutrality. I am going to follow from the notes I took and expand from what kind of discussion developed.   —>
http://thecrazedman.wordpress.com/2008/02/27/the-fcc-and-isps-talk-about-bt-while-fp-demands-net-neutrality/
~

In Comcast vs. Verizon, Comcast is Down Two Counts
by Drew Clark
DrewClark.com
02/27/08

[ comments allowed ]

Dominance in the broadband market is a battle of both technology and politics. Right now Comcast, America’s leading cable company, is losing on both counts.  Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen emerged from the Federal Communications Commission’s hearing on Internet practices in Cambridge, Mass., as unable to defend himself and his company against charges of blocking the peer-to-peer (P2P) Internet application BitTorrent.  Comcast also came out looking like the kind of bullying corporation that resorts to packing the auditorium with its own employees.   —>
http://www.drewclark.com/in-comcast-vs-verizon-comcast-is-down-two-counts/
~

For the Clueless Among Us: Why Comcast Paying Folks to Attend FCC Hearing Is Wrong.
by Harold Feld
Wetmachine.com
02/27/08

[ comments allowed ]

I can’t believe I actually need to explain this.  Suppose Comcast made the following offer: If you vote “no” on a ballot initiative we like (and agree to take a pocket recording device into the voting booth with you so we can have proof), we will pay you $50.

Most of us would not only say that this is wrong, we would have no problem understanding why that’s a crime. We would not be persuaded by Comcast defending itself by saying “well, Free Press and other organizations have campaigned in support of the bill and are calling people to ask them to go out and vote — they even provide free rides to people likely to vote for the initiative. That’s just like paying people directly to vote the way we want.” In general, we recognize a difference between organizing ad trying to persuade people to vote the way you want and actually paying people for their vote (and wanting a receipt)…

This isn’t some gray area of giving local employees the day off with pay and a free ride while others had to take time off ad make their own way. This is just hiring warm bodies to block others and — if they stay awake long enough — to applaud on cue. The notion that this is in any way comparable to the kind of civic conversation that democracies depend on and the sort of organizing that Free Press engages in — citizens persuading other citizens and urging them to make their voices heard — is worse than ignorant and beyond Orwellian. It is downright insulting. It takes our most fundamental right and responsibility as free citizens and transforms it into a mockery. It is literally to defend the practice of placing democracy up for sale, and to reduce our democracy to the level of a banana republic.   —>
http://www.wetmachine.com/item/1087
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/03/07

December 3, 2007

Comcast stations to shut down
Municipalities are left scrambling to produce broadcasts
by Shannon Murphy
Times Herald (MI)
12/02/07

Local municipalities, such as Port Huron and Marysville, have been scrambling this week to make sure their city council meetings still will be broadcast on public access channels next year.  As part of Comcast’s move to have public access shows broadcast in digital formatting, the company is closing its Michigan studios that tape and broadcast those meetings….

Included in the closings is the Channel 12 studio in New Haven, which broadcasts in St. Clair and northern Macomb counties, Channel 12 station manager Robbin Torrey said.  The station, along with 12 others across the state, will cease operations Dec. 14. That means after that date, Comcast no longer will film board meetings.  Torrey said he and his staff typically tape meetings for the Port Huron City Council, Marysville City Council and the Chesterfield Township Board of Trustees.   —>
http://www.thetimesherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071202/NEWS01/712020302
~

AT&T statewide cable franchise round 2: KNS already in their pocket
by R. Neal
KnoxViews (TN)
12/03/07

The AT&T statewide cable franchise bill is headed back to the Tennessee legislature. Not surprisingly, the Knoxville News Sentinel has once again taken the pro-big business, anti-consumer anti-local government position and endorsed it.  I guess AT&T and the KNS are going to keep at this until they wear down opponents of the bill. But just as AT&T and the KNS can trot out the same old propaganda in favor of the bill, opponents can program hotkeys with the same rebuttals from last time around.

KNS: “AT&T claims the legislation will bring competition for cable TV services, which in turn will lower prices for the average customer because of the choices available.”

REALITY: Comcast, Charter, and Knology already operate in the Knoxville market, generating millions in franchise fees for local governments. These companies were able to negotiate local cable franchises and operate them for years. (And that’s not counting satellite providers, who don’t pay franchise fees but do provide competition.) Why can’t AT&T do the same? What’s stopping them? In fact, AT&T has been invited by local governments to submit proposals. Curiously, they haven’t.

KNS: “AT&T has said, however, that local governments will continue to receive franchise fees of up to 5 percent, they will continue to control access to public rights-of-way, and they will continue to have locally produced programming.”

REALITY: With local franchises, communities can negotiate their own franchise fees and included requirements for build-out, customer service and quality standards, and for making local community access channels available. These negotiations can take into account each community’s unique needs. The statewide franchise legislation proposed last time around did not have these requirements or the requirements weren’t as strict. According to the Tennessee County Services Association, “The proposals would set up a single entity that would grant franchising rights, which include local highway rights-of-way usage provisions. The proposal prohibits build out provisions. It also causes problems with consumer protection, public information channels, emergency notification access opportunities, and services to schools and libraries. It also limits our abilities in verifying the accuracy of payments, and our ability to perform meaningful applicant due diligence.”

KNS: “Another aspect of criticism centered on a charge that AT&T would cherry-pick the wealthiest neighborhoods for service, leaving low-income and rural areas to fend for themselves. AT&T answered that it would apply nondiscrimination standards with regard to new entrants and that it has no reason or incentive to redline low-income or minority areas.”

REALITY: From USA Today: “During a slide show for analysts, SBC (now AT&T) said it planned to focus almost exclusively on affluent neighborhoods. SBC broke out its deployment plans by customer spending levels: It boasted that Lightspeed would be available to 90% of its “high-value” customers — those who spend $160 to $200 a month on telecom and entertainment services — and 70% of its “medium-value” customers, who spend $110 to $160 a month. SBC noted that less than 5% of Lightspeed’s deployment would be in “low-value” neighborhoods — places where people spend less than $110 a month. SBC’s message: It would focus on high-income neighborhoods, at least initially, to turn a profit faster.”   —>
http://www.knoxviews.com/node/6464
~   

Hearing today on ‘cable’ fees
Phone firms say they’re exempt from city control
by John Peck
Huntsville Times (AL)
12/03/07

A high-tech regulatory war is playing out in Huntsville over a revised communications law for cable firms and telecommunication companies wanting to provide service over fiber-optic lines, satellite and other noncable means.  A City Council meeting is scheduled downtown today at 10 a.m. for comment from the companies on the proposed changes.

At issue is whether Huntsville can extend franchise fees and expansion requirements to phone companies hoping to tap into the lucrative video service market. Huntsville cable companies Comcast and Knology already pay franchise fees and operate under expansion requirements to prevent them from “cherry-picking” affluent areas while bypassing others…

The proposal includes a 5 percent franchise fee on gross revenue. It imposes regulatory controls over equipment in city rights of way. It also includes extensive auditing requirements, something that makes both cable and phone companies bristle in a fiercely competitive market. The law would also require free public-access channels for the public, education and government.   —>
http://www.al.com/news/huntsvilletimes/index.ssf?/base/news/1196677288266280.xml&coll=1
~

How much of your state’s legislation is being drafted by industry?
by Bruce Kushnick
Neiman Watchdog
11/30/07

The American Legislative Council, or ALEC, lets corporations cultivate legislators and win support for industry-written bills while not technically breaking lobbying rules – and paying no taxes. (First of two articles)

Q. The American Legislative Council, or ALEC, is a corporate-funded group that gives large donations and other perks to legislators in states across the country. It writes industry-serving bills that those legislators introduce and get enacted. How many legislators in your state are or were members of ALEC?

Q. How many ALEC-drafted bills, if any, were introduced by legislators in your state? How many were enacted?

Q. ALEC is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) group. Should it be?

In previous articles I discussed Astroturf groups (fake grassroots organizations), co-opted groups (activists that bend to serve donors), and think tanks whose research is aimed at serving the special interests that fund them.

This cast of characters churns out corporate-friendly data. But the real action takes place when laws are passed based on this one-two sucker punch of skewed data and high-priced, propaganda-style marketing — a process to which the public is not invited. The drafting of proposed legislation is often a done deal before the public knows it has begun, much less has a chance for input.

Instead of citizen or grass roots participation there is ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-sponsored group that brings together big business and state legislators in an elite environment of favor and privilege. Activist groups have been exposing the mind-bending tactics and activities of ALEC for years but the mainstream press seems to have almost totally ignored it…

In telecommunications and broadband (my main interests)  ALEC’s private sector members include AT&T, BellSouth, the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, SBC Communications (now merged with AT&T), Sprint, Verizon Communications and more. Other prominent industry members of ALEC include Amoco, Chevron, Texaco, R.J. Reynolds, the American Nuclear Energy Council, the Chlorine Chemistry Council, the American Petroleum Institute, and the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America. This article concentrates on ALEC’s telecommunications influence.   —>
http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=00304
~

Airwaves For Sale!
by Elizabeth Woyke
Forbes
12/03/07

It’s deadline time at the Federal Communications Commission.  Monday marks the day designated by the FCC for companies to declare their intention to bid for a portion of the wireless spectrum–in particular, a segment widely described as “beachfront property.” At stake is nothing less than the future of wireless communications in the U.S. And that means it’s worth taking a moment to assess who might be contenders–and what they might do if they win.   —>
http://www.forbes.com/home/technology/2007/12/02/google-att-wireless-tech-cx_ew_1203auction.html
~

Vale Dogma Free America
by Arthur Vandelay
Five Public Opinions
12/03/07

Sad news on the atheism/freethought podcasting front: Dogma Free America is no more. It celebrated its fiftieth and final episode on November 22nd, with producer and host Rich Orman claiming that the podcast was taking up too much of his time. DFA’s shows weren’t theme-based or guest-based like Freethought Radio and The Non-Prophets, and mainly consisted on commentary on the latest news concerning magical thinking and theocracy. DFA also canvassed more international (read: non-US) news than other podcasts, and often ran stories on religious violence in sub-Saharan Africa (usually perpetrated against individuals suspected of “witchcraft”), as well as atrocities perpetrated by theocracies in the Islamic world. Hence, Christian listeners might (I imagine) have found it more even-handed than other non-theist podcasts.

For mine, however, the pick of the podcasts is still The Atheist Experience, which is actually a live cable access TV program screening in Austin, Texas. The Atheist Experience, as the site indicates, is “geared at a non-atheist audience,” with a view to clearing up misconceptions about atheism as well as countering religious apologetics (current host Matt Dillahunty is an ex-fundie and his Biblical knowledge is very effective in this regard), addressing church-state separation issues and commenting on the latest in fundamentalist idiocy. Very entertaining–especially when the presenters engage with religious callers.
http://fivepublicopinions.blogspot.com/2007/12/vale-dogma-free-america.html
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/08/07

November 8, 2007

Make a place for rural Wisconsin
Editorial: The Capital Times
11/08/07

The AT&T-sponsored cable franchise bill now being rushed through the state Senate would have a devastating impact on rural areas, and legislators from those areas want to address the problems with the measure before it expands an already serious “digital divide.”  Unfortunately, the chief sponsor of this deeply flawed bill, state Sen. Jeff Plale, D-South Milwaukee, is trying to block amendments.

Plale is wrong. As state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, notes, Plale’s proposal does not contain needed consumer protections and offers no assurances that rural areas — including the western Wisconsin region that elected her last year — will enjoy the same access to telecommunication services as the Milwaukee County communities that elect Plale.

In proposing to rewrite the cable franchise bill to require AT&T, cable and other companies to contribute up to $7.5 million to a new “digital divide” fund to protect rural areas from being left behind, Vinehout says, “I’m representing the people that weren’t at the table.”  AT&T and the cable companies were given a place at the table by Plale and his Republican allies. Now, space must be made for rural Wisconsinites.
http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion/255772
~

AT&T twists the truth on video competition bill
by Mary Cardona
The Capital Times (WI)
11/08/07

AT&T lobbyists are gifted at twisting the truth. I’ve seen the inspired work of this intense and expensive propaganda campaign; with enough money, you can get people to believe the direct opposite of what is true.

AT&T consultant Joe Mettner says in his column on Nov. 5 that the video competition bill will “provide consumers a choice.”  First, current law allows competition to occur. Second, AT&T only serves about one-third of the state. Third, this law allows AT&T to come in and cherry-pick the “high-value” customers. Fourth, this bill has the potential to leave some areas of our cities completely unserved with land-line cable. After this bill passes, some consumers may not have the choice of any cable service.

Mettner says this bill will not “consolidate control over communications.”  Actually, with this bill, cable and AT&T will have complete control over broadband video roll-out in this state — where it’s offered and when. The public will have no say. Under this bill, large cable and telephone providers are assumed to be qualified to run a system. The application process is less stringent than the one you go through to sign your son up for soccer. If one of these companies decides to sell, the state cannot review the new company’s qualifications.

The bill goes out of its way to make sure that state agencies with “oversight” of video have no funding, no right to assess penalties, and no right to make “rules and procedures” to enforce the law like every other state agency. Will build-out provisions designed to get AT&T video to at least some low-income residents work? Not without any enforcement they won’t.

Mettner characterizes the handful of consumer protections in state law as “tough” and “solid,” but the statute is actually weak and full of holes.  As a former cable television regulator, I am appalled. The Cable Subscribers’ Bill of Rights does not cover standard things like telephone answering times, having a local office, responding to billing disputes, and telling customers how to resolve complaints.

Illinois has a list of 60 consumer protections. In Wisconsin, AT&T will only have to abide by 10. And these are enforced by a toothless agency with no budget. Monopoly cable providers have an additional 10, but these are to be enforced by local governments that have been stripped of all enforcement options.

“Negotiated legislation”? Consumer and PEG advocates had to beg for a few crumbs. Eight amendments restored some consumer protections and saved PEG (public, education or government) channels from complete annihilation. A total of 30 amendments were suggested in the Assembly, but most of them were tabled without any vote or discussion at all.

The bill does not “jeopardize public access channels”? There are no technical standards. AT&T plans to put a region’s PEG channels onto one Web site/channel where subscribers will have to point and click icons to get a small digital stream of their local channel. To add insult to injury, AT&T is making stations pay for the equipment that will degrade our picture and sound. Several access stations will lose their PEG fees immediately and are likely to close.

Those “thorough hearings”? Nearly all PEG supporters were put at the end of the line. Attendees at the single public hearing on March 27 were treated to endless pontification by Rep. Phil Montgomery, and after the first several hours many access advocates had to travel back home without speaking. More than 100 access advocates showed up. The final one spoke nine hours into the hearing.

AT&T wants a license to turn a quick buck and is about to get it.  Cable wants to extract greater profits from Wisconsin by getting rid of community investment and is about to get it.  Residents should be hopping mad.
http://www.madison.com/tct/opinion/column/255770
~

Bill Moyers Journal seeks the ‘teletruth’ about cable deregulation
Show to shadow watchdog group founder today
by Judith Davidoff
The Capital Times (WI)
11/08/07

The cable deregulation bill before the state Senate today is drawing national attention.  A film crew and reporter from Bill Moyers Journal will be in Madison to cover the vote and to shadow Cynthia Laitman, the co-founder of the statewide chapter of TeleTruth, a telecommunications watchdog group.

Moyers’ media correspondent Rick Karr said in a phone interview from New York Wednesday night that he was drawn to the debate in Wisconsin because it forms an evocative backdrop for looking at the “ways in which laws are made these days.”  He said he is especially interested in exploring the impact of “Astroturf” groups on legislative debates and identifying instances where corporate interests are able to co-opt unlikely allies. (Astroturf groups are industry-front groups that work to shape public opinion by appearing to have grassroots support.)

The story that unraveled in Wisconsin over the cable bill is compelling, he added, because it’s not just about “who controls your cable system, it’s also about who controls your Internet.”  Both Moyers and Karr have long been interested in media issues. “The Net at Risk,” a 90-minute documentary by Moyers and Karr on the attempts by corporate America to limit access to the Internet, was recently nominated for an Emmy Award for Business and Financial Reporting.   —>
http://www.madison.com/tct/news/255769
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Senate Democrats divided on new amendment to cable bill
by Sara Lieburn
The Daily Cardinal (WI)
11/08/07

The state Senate will vote Thursday on the video franchise bill, which easily passed the state Assembly but is facing opposition from some Senate and Assembly Democrats concerned about consumer protections.  The primary author of the Senate version of the bill, state Sen. Jeffrey Plale, D-South Milwaukee, argues the bill will provide for greater competition among cable providers and decrease prices.

Opponents, such as state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma, argue the current language of the bill is too vague to sufficiently protect consumer rights.  Vinehout said she would offer a substitute bill Thursday, including 18 pages specifying consumer rights, which she contrasted to the page-and-a-half included in Plale’s bill.

“The bill, as it’s written right now, would not give the protections that exist today. Our bill, the substitute amendment, would give much more consumer protection,” Vinehout said.  Wednesday, 15 Assembly Democrats sent a letter to Plale expressing similar concerns about consumer protections, according to the Capital Times.   —>
http://www.dailycardinal.com/article/1109
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FCC Considering New Media Rules
by John Dunbar
Associated Press
11/08/07

For the second time in four years, the government is rewriting media ownership rules, a process that probably will allow big companies to get even bigger.  While the stakes this time are smaller, the furor surrounding the process has, if anything, grown.

Democratic members of the Federal Communications Commission have accused the chairman, Republican Kevin Martin, of calling public hearings without adequate notice and rushing the review process. Martin wants a vote by year’s end.  Well-organized opponents have staged protests, attacked the FCC’s economic studies as biased in favor of liberalizing the rules and complained that the agency is not doing enough to promote minority ownership.

Congress is getting involved, too. The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee plans to hear testimony on the issues Thursday. A House panel has scheduled a hearing for Dec. 6.  The FCC’s final public hearing on media ownership is set for Friday in Seattle.

Thanks to Congress, the debate this time does not include the issue that galvanized opposition to media consolidation in 2003: a national audience cap on television broadcasters.  “The national ownership cap was really a big, big fight last time,” said Dennis Wharton, spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters. “You had the far right and the far left coalescing around this sort of perfect storm.”

The FCC voted to raise the cap from 35 percent to 45 percent. It followed intense lobbying from Viacom Inc., then-owner of CBS, which was at 38 percent, and News Corp., owner of Fox Broadcasting Inc. which was at 39 percent.  After the vote, Congress set the cap at 39 percent.

The priority for broadcasters now has shifted to two other rules: A prohibition against a radio or television broadcaster from owning a daily newspaper in the same community, and a ban on a single company owning two television stations in the same market, except in certain circumstances.   —>
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hlYj9ojD7umgLJiTK_I0DfwU50iAD8SP3LQG0
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City may get cable channel
Officials seek expanded programming as part of Comcast franchise renegotiation
by Jeff Amy
Press Register (AL)
11/08/07

Mayor Sam Jones probably won’t be sharing his chicken recipe on a cooking show.  And don’t count on a sports talk show where Councilwoman Gina Gregory extols her love for the University of Florida Gators.  But a television channel run by Mobile city government may be coming soon to a TV set near you. The city, as part of its franchise talks with Comcast Corp., is seeking to expand programming beyond twice-a-week reruns of City Council meetings.  “For a city of Mobile’s size, it’s time we get a public access channel,” said Barbara Drummond, who would likely oversee programming.   —>
http://www.al.com/news/press-register/index.ssf?/base/news/119451702320600.xml&coll=3
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Media Democracy – Call to action!
by Mike Rhodes
Central Valley | Indymedia (CA)
11/07/07

The residents of Fresno have the opportunity to establish a Public Access channel in this community. The decision will be made in the next couple of weeks and this “Call to Action” is intended to get you (the reader) to contact your Fresno City Council member, in support of Public Access TV.

If you want Public Access TV in Fresno, the time to act is now. The decision on whether or not the City of Fresno will accept funding from Comcast for a Public Access channel will be made in the next week or two. The Fresno City Council is the body that will make this decision and that decision will probably be made at their Tuesday, November 27 meeting. If you support Free Speech and believe the public, nonprofit organizations, and community groups should have a voice on TV, you need to contact your city council member now.   —>
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/11/07/18458873.php
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Denver 8 TV Programming Schedule: Award-Winning, City-Produced Programming
The City and County of Denver Keeps Residents Informed and Involved (CO)
by Dave Maddox
Associated Content
11/08/07

Denver 8 TV is much more than community access TV. It is “fully programmed and operates on a 24-hour, 7-day-a-week basis,” according to Denver 8, providing information on local politics, events, culture, and more. The station also produces training videos for the city, and both the “Council Matters” program and a disability training video for local election judges won top prizes at a national competition in October. The station is available on cable television in Denver, over the Internet, and portions are broadcast over the air on local PBS station channel 12. Visit their website for more information about viewing options and programming.   —>
http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/441167/denver_8_tv_programming_schedule_awardwinning.html
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Georgia Grapples with Restrricted News Coverage
by Giorgi Lomsadze
EURASIANET.org
11/08/07

One day after the worst political upheaval since Georgia’s 2003 Rose Revolution, a national news brownout has left most Georgians struggling to make sense of the events that shook Tbilisi on November 7, and to predict what lies ahead.  With the exception of government-controlled Georgian Public Television, all television and radio news broadcasts have been ordered off the air for 15 days after President Mikheil Saakashvili’s November 7 declaration of a state of emergency. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archives]. The news brownout has been described as an attempt to defuse tensions.

The decree was preceded by the shutdown of one of the country’s main independent news broadcasters, the pro-opposition Imedi television and radio stations, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Special Forces units took over the property late on November 7, after days of heated allegations by government supporters and the president himself that the station, allegedly working in league with the Kremlin, was encouraging political instability in the country.

In an interview with EurasiaNet, Lewis Robertson, the head of News Media Caucasus, Imedi’s parent company, reported that riot police ransacked Imedi studios, destroying equipment and confiscating computers and hard drives. “They [special forces] pushed people around and used tear gas,” Robertson said. “They did not present a warrant; neither did they offer any explanation.” In a November 5 interview on Imedi, Robertson had earlier dismissed allegations of Russian influence on the station as “completely groundless and divorced from reality.”   —>
http://www.eurasianet.org/departments/insight/articles/eav110807a.shtml
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 10/31/07

November 1, 2007

Jackson Accuses FCC’s Martin of Promoting ‘Anti-Diversity Agenda’
by Ira Teinowitz
TV Week
10/30/07

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is going on the offensive to blast Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin, accusing him of pushing an “anti-diversity agenda..”  On the eve of an FCC local-ownership hearing on Wednesday where the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition founder and president is due to testify, Rev. Jackson, in a letter to Mr. Martin, suggested such an agenda is the only conclusion to be drawn from the chairman’s recent moves. Mr. Martin has been pushing to revise media ownership rules before fully addressing how the changes might reduce minority ownership of stations while also promoting the option of a la carte cable, which could reduce minority channels.   —>
http://www.tvweek.com/news/2007/10/jackson_accuses_fccs_martin_of.php
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FCC Gets Earful on Media Ownership
Testimony from Across the Industry Urges Federal Communications Commission Action vs. Consolidation
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
10/31/07

The Federal Communications Commission got an earful on the effects of media consolidation on broadcast localism at a public hearing Wednesday, including from its two Democratic commissioners.   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6495976.html?industryid=47171
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[ Lies, damned, lies, and statistics.  Here’s an excellent examination of one ‘astroturf’ poll – worth reading in its entirety. – rm ]

AT&T’s Wisconsin Network Finds Broad Support for Video “Choice”
by Diane Farsetta
PRWatch.org
10/30/07

—>   Perhaps more concerning is how the WMF / Mellman poll characterizes opposition to AB 207 / SB 107. This section presents those polled with two statements, one describing why people support the bill and one describing why people oppose the bill. Participants were then asked which of the two statements they agree with.

While the “supporters” statement echoes supporters’ actual arguments, including increased competition and lower costs for consumers, the “opponents” statement is deemed misleading by actual opponents. Mary Cardona, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of PEG Channels, challenged the poll’s “opponents” statement with regard to PEG (short for public, educational and governmental) station funding.

For example, the poll states: “Opponents of this law say that the state legislature should not pass the bill … because community access stations would be required to spend up to $1 million dollars [sic] to upgrade their equipment.” Cardona told PR Watch that this is not what AB 207 / SB 107 would require. Instead, she said, “this bill passes on AT&T costs to PEG stations. In the past, the cable operator has always provided all of the interconnections from our stations to their end. AT&T wants to pass off the price of conversion equipment, which they need to have our normal broadcast signal stream on their systems. … They want us to do that, which is going to be very cost prohibitive, especially for our smaller stations.” Cardona couldn’t say how Mellman might have come up with the $1 million figure used in the poll.

Cardona also listed several major reasons why her group and others oppose AB 207 / SB 107 that are not mentioned in the poll. “We can not add [new PEG] channels. … Local communities will never be able to get a dedicated channel ever again. We can not advertise or do underwriting on PEG channels under AB 207, which means we can’t help ourselves with funding,” she stated. “There’s no enforcement for build-out provisions,” which require video services to be expanded to cover currently unserved, mostly rural communities. “There’s no enforcement for consumer protection that’s at all effective.” Lastly, Cardona said, the bill would establish statewide video “franchises in perpetuity.”

Would most Wisconsin residents support AB 207 / SB 107, after hearing those concerns? It’s impossible to know, just as it’s unclear whether the people who designed the WMF / Mellman Group poll consciously tried to skew its results.   —>
http://www.prwatch.org/node/6635
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 10/01/07

October 1, 2007

Public Access TV Group Sues Fla. County
Tampa Non Profit Cites First Amendment in Suit Over Funding Dispute
by Kent Gibbons
Multichannel News
10/01/07

The non-profit corporation that operates a public-access channel called Speak Up Tampa Bay is suing Florida’s Hillsborough County for cutting channel funds, saying the county used budget woes as a pretext to censor constitutionally protected speech.  Speak Up Tampa Bay Public Access Television Inc. said Monday that it filed the lawsuit in federal court (Case No. 8:07-CV-1782) against the Hillsborough Board of County Commissioners and Hillsborough County.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6485886.html
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Speak Up Tampa Bay doesn’t expect to ride into the sunset quietly
Tampa Bay Business Journal (FL)
10/01/07

The public cable access television company has filed a lawsuit against Hillsborough County Commissioners and the county itself for cutting the organization out of its $2 million government access television budget. The cuts cost the group more than $350,000.  “The vote to terminate Speak Up’s funding was just a pretext for unconstitutional censorship of protected speech,” said David M. Snyder, the legal counsel for Speak Up, in a release.

County Commissioners voted Sept. 20 to end its funding of Speak Up as of Sept. 30. Speak Up officials are asking a court to enjoin the county from terminating the funding.  “Terminating public access funding of $355,443 while maintaining more than $2 million for government access television is the government playing favorites based [on] who is speaking and what they are saying. It’s a violation of the First Amendment,” Snyder said.    —>
http://www.bizjournals.com/tampabay/stories/2007/10/01/daily5.html
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Tampa Public Access Organization Files Lawsuit Against Hillsborough County
by Eric Deggans
TampaBay.com (FL)
10/01/07

I’ve been trying for a while to figure a compelling story on the fight local public access TV producers have been waging in Hillsborough and Pinellas to survive in the face of the decision to end their funding by their respective county governments.  Today, Speak Up Tampa Bay, the Hillsborough-based public access group, made it a whole lot easier, filing a lawsuit against Hillsborough County for its decision to end funding for their program Sept. 20 and bar them from accessing the facility starting last Sunday.   —>
http://blogs.tampabay.com/media/2007/10/tampa-public-ac.html
~

Corporate-funded research designed to influence public policy
by Bruce Kushnick
Nieman Watchdog
10/01/07

Reports by well-known think tanks and individuals funded by telecoms are helping quash competition, increase phone rates and set up a corporate-oriented Internet system. Is there any reason to trust these reports? Or to trust experts who testify before regulators without revealing the sources of their funding?

Whenever I receive new data or a report, the first question I ask is, does it pass the smell test?  It is clear that we are in the age of “stink tanks,” in which corporate-funded think tanks and well-paid, credentialed academics are hired to make corporate arguments and give the appearance of being independent experts.

My field is the telecoms—I’m the chairman of Teletruth, an activist group that often finds itself in opposition to the hired guns of Verizon, AT&T and the cable companies.  In telecommunications, media broadband, wireless and the Internet, think-tank reports have helped quash competition, block municipalities from rewiring their own cities, increase phone rates and obstruct Net neutrality initiatives. This is all done in the name of saving money, creating competition, jobs and economic growth, improving and spreading broadband and helping consumers.   —>
http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=00208
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Sangamon County Online
by Will Reynolds
Where There’s a Will, There’s a Way (IL)
10/01/07

—>   Dillman’s survey included a question asking if videos of county board meetings should be available online. She also has a website. Its nice to see someone on the board embrace web-based communication.

Showing county board meetings online is a good idea but I would call it an icing on the cake measure when we still don’t have the cake. Showing meetings on public access television would reach more people than those who have high-speed internet access.  Also, it only allows people to view what’s being done after its too late to participate. I don’t think anyone is going to rush out of their house to the county board meeting before it ends to speak up about something they see online.

If the county wants to use the internet to involve people, rather than merely informing them after the fact, they should put the committee meeting agendas, minutes and proposed ordinances online. That will give people an easier way to find out what’s going on before an issue goes to the full county board for a final vote.
http://www.thereisaway.us/2007/10/sangamon_county_online.html
~

Your call, would-be sports journalists
by Hattie Bernstein
Nashua Telegraph (NH)
10/01/07

MILFORD – If you’re 15 or older and have knowledge of sports, you could have a future in sports journalism, either behind the camera or as an announcer or statistician.  That’s the pitch Community Media Director David Kirsch is making in an attempt to beef up coverage of local high school sports for the Public Education Government access channel.  Since late August, when the high school football team opened the season, Kirsch has been recruiting volunteers to videotape the action and explain the plays.

“It’s definitely a fantastic opportunity, and so far, it’s only been a situation covering football,” said high school Athletic Director Marc Maurais, who runs the football program. “I’d like to see if we could generate interest among our fans and parents in those other sports.”  Kirsch, who has offered to teach volunteers how to use a camera, said he is hoping to draw enough interest to provide coverage for girls and boys basketball and wrestling, popular winter sports. Depending on how many volunteers sign up, moreover, the local channel could also cover alpine skiing, swimming and indoor track during the next sports season.   —>
http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071001/NEWS01/310010085/-1/news01
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TPWD TV — October Highlights
Passport to Texas (from Texas Parks and Wildlife)
10/01/07

For twenty-two years the Texas Parks and Wildlife television series has aired on PBS stations statewide. This month, series producer, Don Cash helps us kick off the new season… Texas Parks & Wildlife can also be seen on a variety of government, educational and access cable channels in the following communities: Abilene, Allen, Atlanta, Boerne, Collin County Community College, Coppell, Del Mar College, Denton, Flower Mound, Frisco, Garland, Irving, McKinney, North Richland Hills, Plano, Rogers State University, Texarkana College, The Colony, Tyler, Waco and Wichita Falls. Check your local listings for days and times.
http://passporttotexas.org/2007/10/01/tpwd-tv-october-highlights/
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CBS Launches “EyeLab” an Editing Studio for Creating CBS-Based Content across Interactive Platforms
All American Patriots
10/01/07

CBS today announced the launch of “EyeLab,” an editing studio dedicated to creating CBS-based promotional content to be distributed across CBS Interactive platforms. The new short-form video content will be produced by fans, next-generation online content editors, and producers of CBS programming and will be tied to content from CBS News, Sports, Entertainment, Late Night and Daytime, as well as CSTV and Showtime. EyeLab clips will be distributed across the CBS Audience Network, including the newly redesigned CBS.com and CBS Mobile.

EyeLab builds on research demonstrating that short-form clips are among the most viewed videos on the Web. This next-generation studio will be dedicated to creating thousands of original clips that will enable users to easily engage with and sample video tied to CBS’s wide range of content.   —>
http://www.allamericanpatriots.com/48733676_technology_cbs_launches_eyelab_editing_studio_creating_cbs_based_content_across_interactive
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Rejuvenate Your Career
You’re successful but you wonder if all your focus on the bottom line has been worth it. Here are six antidotes to existential angst.
by Marty Nemko
07/11/07

—>   4. Take on an exciting avocation. There is more to life than work. Find a new hobby or resurrect an old one, volunteer for a cause you believe in, make a concerted effort to meet Mr. or Ms. Right, host a TV show on public access TV. I, for one, have recently become a play director. My production of Same Time Next Year opens this Friday. Being a part of something beyond yourself can bring clarity and purpose to your life.
http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/onthejob/archive/2007/job0710.html
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org