Archive for the ‘cable cap’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/22/08

February 23, 2008

Another Chance to Preserve PEG!
by Cynthia Thomet
Akaku: Maui Community Television (HI)

If you want another opportunity to help preserve PEG access in Hawaii, now’s your chance to make a difference ! Support SB1789 now and submit your testimony. Deadline is Monday, Feb. 25 at 8:45 a.m. (And in case you didn’t know!… SB1789 & HB3417 are two bills in the Hawaii State Legislature that would help preserve PEG access and ensure that community access cable channels answer to you. —>

[ State laws on cable franchises ]
by Derek Hodges
The Mountain Press (TN)

[ comments allowed ]

—>  The group also received a request from AT&T representative Dennis Wagner that it endorse the company’s efforts to get state laws on cable franchises changed. Currently, the law requires cable systems to operate franchises in the individual municipalities and counties they want to serve, with fees from that licensure going to local governments. Though a number of other neighboring states follow a similar system, AT&T has asked the rules be changed to allow for statewide franchising.

The proposal has drawn considerable attention from the public, with State Sen. Raymond Finney, R-Maryville, saying he’s gotten more mail on the subject than anything else the Legislature has considered since he was elected. Much of the correspondence has been opposed to the move, Finney says.

Wagner’s search for support for the proposed law change may be a tough one. During the session, Sevierville Alderman Barry Gibbs questioned Wagner as to whether the service would be available to all Sevier County residents.  Wagner conceded the service will only be available to those who already have access to the company’s broadband service, though he said AT&T hopes to expand those lines in the future.  Statewide, many have expressed concerns the company may not work to serve everyone like local cable franchises are asked to do. Some have also questioned why the company can’t comply with the state’s current rules.

Clearing up the DTV Transition
Cable Tech Talk

[ 1 comment ]

There’s no denying that the Digital Television Transition is a complicated issue. Even those of us who work on it all the time sometimes have difficulty keeping all of the technical details straight. Some people seem confused over whether a box is always necessary to keep watching TV…

Here’s another example: In the latest edition of the Bose newsletter, there’s the same error. It says that you’ll need to do nothing for the transition if “You subscribe to digital cable TV.” Further down, it states that it is a “Myth” that cable subscribers are ready for the changeover, suggesting that cable subscribers who receive analog service will be left out.

The source of the confusion seems to be that two topics are combined. It’s important to remember that this DTV Transition is only for the over-the-air broadcast industry. Cable is going through its own “digital transition.” Because of that word “digital,” the two often get confused.

What will cable subscribers need to do in preparation for the DTV Transition next February? The current information is that cable customers – whether or not they have a set-top box – will still be able to watch television after Feb. 17, 2009. At the same time, the cable industry has been moving towards a digital platform; as part of that, sometimes operators will move channels from the analog tier to the digital tier, which then needs a digital set-top box for reception.

Bottom line: If you have cable service, you should be fine, with the set-top box as an irrelevant factor. However, if you want to get access to cable’s newer services, such as hi-def TV or digital video recorders, or if you want to see the hundreds of programming choices available through the digital cable platform, you’ll need to have the appropriate set-top box. You can avoid having a box by purchasing a Digital Cable Ready television, but the current sets are only one-way, which means you won’t have access to interactive services. However, the tru2way standard will address this issue.   —>

Local Self Reliance (CA)
Mother Earth News

[ comments allowed ]

—>    Cable TV is a fast-growing, multibillion-dollar industry, and firms are scrambling to gain municipal franchises that will allow them exclusive rights to wire those territories for decades to come. In fact, one out of every four American homes is already reached by cable, and almost all of the systems that serve such residences are owned by major national corporations.

There are, however, a few exceptions. Several dozen smaller cities (including Conway, Arkansas and Jackson, Minnesota) have decided to finance and build their own cable services. Davis, California, though, will become the first major market to choose a third alternative: customer ownership. As a member of the Davis Cable Cooperative (DCC), each household will be able to vote on the types of programs and services that the system will offer.

“Cable cooperatives do exist, but not in major markets,” explains Robert Kahn, a DCC board member. “They’ve sprung up in the upper Midwest primarily because no one wanted to invest in those areas. But the industry wanted our market. In fact, several large companies that were bidding on a cable system for nearby Sacramento offered to tie Davis into it … but our community preferred a co-op.”   —>

Net Neutrality Is a Civil Rights Issue
by Mark Lloyd
Save The Internet


Decisions made by Congress and the Federal Communications Commission in the next few years — if not sooner — will determine whether we protect free speech online, close the digital divide, and bring a greater diversity of voices to this transformative medium.

The world of technology is rapidly changing. Pretty soon, you’ll get all your media — TV, phone, radio and the Web — from the same high-speed Internet connection. The potential democratic, economic, public safety and educational benefits of the Internet are almost limitless. Wiring our nation with a high-speed Internet connection is now a public necessity, just like water, gas or electricity.

Unfortunately, the powerful cable and telecom industry doesn’t value the Internet for its public interest benefits. Instead, these companies too often believe that to safeguard their profits, they must control what content you see and how you get it. Their plans could have dire consequences for those whose voices are often marginalized by our nation’s media system.

For communities of color, the Internet offers a critical opportunity to build a more equitable media system. It provides all Americans with the potential to speak for themselves without having to convince large media conglomerates that their voices are worthy of being heard.   —>

Media community calls upon Somali government to change media laws
ijnet – International Center for Journalists

[ comments allowed ]

Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein has received a letter from the international media community urging the Somali government to change its media laws and work toward ending the oppression of journalists and members of the media. The letter encourages freedom of expression and freedom of press.  The action to write the letter was led by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and other members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).  To learn more, contact

Liberia: Community Radio Station Closed Down
Media Foundation for West Africa (Accra)

[ comments allowed ]

Following a management dispute, SMILE FM, a community radio station based in Zwedru, a north eastern-town, about 643 kilometres from Monrovia, the police on February 20, 2008 closed down the station.

Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)’s correspondent reported that the Acting Superintendent of police in the area, Tarley Dweh and his Commander stormed the premises and closed the station at about 12 midday.

The station’s Advisory Board had in January suspended the Station’s Manager, Victor Gbeyeah following a recommendation of a committee that probed the station. The committee’s report indicated that Gbeyeah had misappropriated funds of the station.  Gbeyeah rejected the committee’s findings and complained to the local authorities.

The MFWA correspondent said for fear of losing their influence on the station, the authorities dissolved the Board which had been constituted by the community.

Australia – Annual report 2008
Reporters Without Borders for Press Freedom
undated – 2008

The last years of conservative prime minister John Howard’s long period in power – brought to an end with his decisive defeat in elections in November – was marked by a growing battle with the press. The media even formed a coalition called Australia’s Right to Know to combat the administration’s lack of transparency. Meanwhile a journalist’s right to protect sources and the confidentiality of communications were once again under threat.

During the legislative election campaign, the Australia’s Right to Know coalition showed that a lot of news and information was not accessible to the press and public and that this right was obstructed by at least 1,500 legal decrees and rulings. One of the leaders of the campaign, John Hartigan, chairman and CEO of News Limited, said that journalists working for his group had been banned from: accessing information in an audit of politicians’ expenses; obtaining a list of restaurants against which public health authorities had taken action; and accessing ranking of hospitals according to the quality of care. A few days after his election, Labor Party leader, Kevin Rudd promised concrete improvements in access to public information.

Lack of rights for journalists to protect sources was demonstrated in June 2007 when two journalists working for the The West Australian in Perth were threatened with prison unless they revealed how they had obtained a confidential report of an anti-corruption commission which the newspaper had used to point the finger at a political figure.   —>

Stories from the Global Grassroots
by Amy Wolf
The Indypendent

[ comments allowed ]

For a seasoned journalist finding a challenging assignment is no small task — but neither is mentoring journalists and building independent media production in communities around the world. On this assignment however, you are not judged on the merits of the stories you file, but on the work of those you train.

Craig Duff was one of 33 journalists faced with this challenge as a Knight Fellow at the International Center for Journalism (ICFJ) last year. As a former producer of television and web documentaries for CNN, Discovery and The New York Times, Duff wanted to get away from “voice of god” style narrated productions. Through the fellowship, Duff taught documentary production at American University in Cairo in 2007. There he set out to foster his 36 student’s innate story-telling capacity through the production of stories told in the first person.

Seven of these works were shown at a screening at the Tribeca Grand Hotel Feb. 12 with one of Duff’s students, Alaa Al Dajani, a young financier turned filmmaker.

Al Dajani’s film focused on Mustafa Said Mohamed Antar, a master musician on the oud, a pear-shaped, stringed instrument. The fact that the artist was blind from birth was not the point of the film; rather, the story explores the radical act of loving music and delivering it from the realm of the profane. (Music in some conservative Egyptian traditions is considered sinful.)

Another film, Kasr Masr, provides a portrait of the doctors inside Cairo’s over-crowded, under-resourced public charity hospital for which the film is named. Filmed with an arresting degree of access amid bloody chaos, the work hooks the viewer on the story of a small boy, hit by a donkey cart, who has sustained possible brain damage, blood trickling out of his ear. The injustice of his massive suffering unfolds in an abrupt, unresolved ending that leaves the boy’s condition a mystery.

According to Al Dajani, without a cinema dedicated to independent film and adequate investments in the arts, there are limited opportunities to create or watch independent films in Cairo. But with the new Al-Jazeera Documentary channel launched January 2007, the demand may help spur the supply. One or more of the documentaries produced in Duff’s classes will air on this new station. In addition to helping fill the dearth of documentaries produced in Cairo, Duff also mentored and trained professional journalists at Orbit, a premium cable channel broadcasting across the Middle East.

Last year, Knight Fellow Michelle Garcia helped El Salvadoran community radio stations, which are largely run by young volunteer farm workers, advance their programming and content goals. In a nation with an alarming murder rate, Garcia stated that an overall goal in this work was “to figure out a way to talk about violence in a way that the listener is not dulled and desensitized by it.”

Garcia also partnered with Providad, a pro-transparency and anti-corruption organization, to hold a nationwide conference aimed at opening dialogue between political opposition media, the radio stations and their listenership. The conference specifically addressed “how journalists see the public, how they see institutional power and how they report on them,” she said.   —>

Verizon FiOS Wins Local Video Franchise in Chesapeake, Virginia
Telecommunications Industry News

[ comments allowed ]

The City Council of Chesapeake, Virginia, has awarded Verizon Communications with a local video franchise, licensing the telecom giant to provide fiber-optic television service to the city’s 81,000 households.  The 15-year franchise, retroactive to December 10, requires Verizon to roll-out its FiOS TV service to at least 65% of residents within the next seven years. It also makes provisions for three public access channels, and compels the company to supply grants worth $10,000 plus $0.22 per subscriber, to local public programs.

Verizon began deploying FiOS in Chesapeake in December under a default franchise set by state law, and currently offers the next-generation TV service to more than 6,400 homes in the area. This number will swell to approximately 22,000 within the next three years.

‘Captain Curling’ is in the house
by Keith Uhlig
Wausau Daily Herald (WI)

[ 1 comment ]

About 14 years ago, a knee injury kept Cal Tillisch from curling, the winter sport he loves.  It’s an exaggeration to say that curling is Tillisch’s life during the winter. He still eats, goes to work (he’s an attorney) and talks with his wife regularly. But curling never strays too far from his thoughts or actions.

So the knee injury was tough for him to take. Despite the gimp, he went to the opening ceremonies of the Badger State Winter Games that year, and he noticed cameras from public access television there. An idea hit him, and he marched to the public access offices and asked John Jordan, the Wausau public access cable coordinator, if Badger State curling matches could be televised, and if he could be the play-by-play announcer.

Jordan was hestitant at first. But Tillisch, 49, of Wausau can be an exhuberant booster of curling — imagine him as a cheerleader/preacher hybrid for the sport — and he prevailed.

Tillisch and curling have been a fixture of local public access television ever since. He covers curling for the Badger State Games, the Tietge Bonspiel (curling lingo for tournament) and high school state championships.  The Wausau public access coverage has won state awards, Jordan said. Curlers love the coverage, and even folks outside the sport have been drawn in. And Tillisch has become the face and voice of the sport for the viewing audience.   —>

Internet-TV connection still far off, experts say
New sets allow users to watch Web videos from the couch, but many say technology isn’t there yet
by Alex Pham and Dawn C. Chmielewski
Los Angeles Times

[ comments allowed ]

Buyers of this year’s most advanced televisions might notice a curious new feature — a jack that connects the sets directly to the Internet.  For now, the capabilities are modest. Viewers can’t surf the Web as they can on their computers, but they can use their remote controls to receive updated local weather forecasts, personalized stock quotes, on-demand access to a handful of TV shows such as “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and thousands of YouTube videos.

But the Web connections eventually could upend the way TV programs have been distributed. The goal one day is to replace every set-top device — cable boxes, TiVos, media center computers, stereos and game consoles — so all you need is a TV set that does it all via the Internet.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/26/08

January 27, 2008

Live Blogging during PEG Congressional Hearing
Free Press Action Network

On Tuesday, Jan. 29 [at 1:00 PM], the Free Press Action Network will hold a live-blogging session during the congressional hearing, “Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) Services in the Digital TV Age”.

Activists and community leaders will be discussing the hearing as it unfolds.  Listen to the Audio Webcast and add your comments below.   —>

City to ask Legislature to revisit Sunday alcohol sales, annexation expansion
by Robert DeWitt
Tuscaloosa News (AL)

Issues ranging from Sunday alcohol sales to extra-territorial zoning will be topics for discussion Monday when the Tuscaloosa City Council meets with members of the Tuscaloosa County legislative delegation.  City Council members will sit down with 10 legislators who represent portions of Tuscaloosa County to discuss its legislative agenda over breakfast at the Jemison Mansion. The city will ask legislators to tackle issues it lacks the power to address…

…The city opposes any blanket statewide franchising for video delivery systems. The law currently requires cable television companies to obtain franchises from cities. Now telephone companies and others are developing alternative delivery systems.  City officials want these companies subject to the same franchising regulations, Maddox said.  “If the telephone companies can provide cable service, they should have to enter into a franchise agreement like the cable companies,” he said.   —>

If you value public access TV, speak up
Bainbridge Island Review (WA)

Do you watch Bainbridge Island Television?  More precisely, do you watch it for programming besides the City Council meetings?  It’s neither a flippant question nor an idle one. BITV’s  regular viewership is surely amongst the questions in play as the station management and the city wrangle over revenue from a cable franchise agreement and other sources.

As reported Wednesday, station manager Scott Schmidt wants BITV to get a bigger slice – actually, the whole pie – of the approximately $190,000 in franchise fees paid by Comcast to the city for the right to do business on Bainbridge Island. BITV presently gets about $120,000 of that revenue, and half of the $54,000 generated by a dollar-per-month surcharge to subscribers to support public access programming. The balance disappears into the city’s general fund, although some of the money is earmarked for better lighting, cameras and other improvements to the chambers from which public meetings are broadcast.

Schmidt says the station needs more money to pay for services either requested by the city itself (adding a second channel; providing online “streaming” of council meetings) or the community at large. Some of the planned programming is Schmidt’s own inspiration, like the weekly news program BITV hopes to roll out in April. While it’s ambitious, it’s not unprecedented; back in the early 1990s when Texas-based Northland Cable still held the island franchise, news was actually integral to the programming. At one point the station boasted a three-person news team and showed footage from local events almost daily. The presentation could be somewhat clunky; we remember a rash of broadcasts in which colors swirled around like a light show at Bill Graham’s Fillmore. But despite the technical limitations, “Northland Cable News” showed the possibilities of local access television and laid the groundwork for today’s programming. Schmidt believes a new, more professional news show would attract both viewers and – at least as important – underwriting dollars from local businesses.

Thinking back 15 years, it is remarkable how far what was then known as “Bainbridge Island Broadcasting” has come. Modern equipment and a dedicated studio on High School Road mean new opportunities to learn videography. Volunteers contribute countless hours to support daylong programming. City Council coverage has grown into the station’s bread and butter, the point at which the interests of station, city and community most clearly intersect.

Yet in some ways, its profile is unchanged. Schmidt says some people still come into the office thinking they can pay their cable bill. (You can’t; BITV and Comcast are separate entities.) It’s also no easier to gauge what the viewership really is. Schmidt approached the Nielsen folks about tracking the ratings but found costs were prohibitive. With no way to precisely measure just who’s watching, and how often, now’s the time for Bainbridge Island Television viewers to speak up on behalf of the station.

Do you like what you see on our local access station? Do you even watch? What’s the value to you? We’d like to hear from viewers on that point. As their contract negotiations roll on, we suspect BITV and the city would, too.

The Winds of Change
Potential Reform of FCC Could Go in Many Directions
by Ted Hearn
Multichannel News

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is shining a spotlight on FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s management of the agency. (See “Watching the Martin Watch,” page 18, Jan. 21, 2008).  But it hasn’t been made clear to him precisely why.

The basis of the investigation has been stated only in vague terms. And there could be something of a public payback involved: Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) is evidently upset that Martin gave the public just 28 days to review the FCC plan to relax the newspaper-TV station cross-ownership ban.

But there is always more than meets the public eye when the winds of change blow in. Privately, Dingell has heard repeatedly from regulated industries — including cable operators and programmers — that Martin has failed to state proposed rules in clear terms, producing a process that lacks transparency and due process.

“I think time is overdue for a serious look at the reform of how the FCC conducts itself,” National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow told reporters in December. “I think everybody recognizes that there is something different about how the [Martin] FCC conducts its business.”

In 2007, an annus horribilis for cable at the FCC, Martin at least twice demonstrated his fondness for hide-the-ball tactics. He gave no indication in June that he planned to slash rates that programmers pay cable operators to lease time, and he gave no indication that he supported allowing the NFL Network and other independent programmers to haul cable operators before an FCC-authorized arbitrator to settle their disputes without even a finding of discrimination by cable operators.

Now, Martin is trying to impose wholesale a la carte regulations on cable programmers, forcing The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom to sell their channels at individual prices. That could mean price regulation by the FCC, if Heritage Foundation analyst James Gattuso is right that wholesale a la carte mandates can’t work without government price controls. Since that’s the case, programmers are wondering if Martin plans to regulate wholesale a la carte prices but, as he’s done in the past, hasn’t told anybody.

Cable’s frustration with Martin has made an issue of how the agency is run. From Dingell to Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller (W.Va.) on the Democratic side to Rep. Joe Barton of Texas on the Republican side, attention is now focused on how much power does and should accrue to an FCC chairman, an unelected bureaucrat with the ability to inflict pain on selected opponents, almost with impunity.

NCTA’s McSlarrow goes so far as to call for the FCC to be turned into a forum that adjudicates complaints, with its rulemaking authority taken away in five years.  Rockefeller has indicated support for structural reform, perhaps reducing the five-year terms of commissioners and refocusing its mission toward consumer protection.  But, as the following examples illustrate, reforming the FCC is not a simple task.   —>

The Other India and Media
Mainstream Weekly
by Suhas Borker

—>   We know about BPL—Below Poverty Line—but let us also know about Below Media Line—BML. The poor, oppressed, marginalised millions in this country are Below Media Line. If the media does not look at 840 million Indians who do not have more than Rs 20 a day or is not concerned about their future, it is abetting a “Second Partition”,4 which will burst forth like a tsunami of agony and pain, engulfing the whole country. It will be more dehumanising than the one 60 years ago.

Many see it as a wake-up call to the so-called present National Media to connect with the voiceless. To rise above the glitz and razzmatazz of film stars, fashion shows and elitist gizmos that unwrap on advertising which mocks the poor for their poverty, is a choice now. The people’s movements and grassroots organisations which represent the Other India are anyway going to move on regardless. And with them will be a new emerging media—an inclusive media empowered by new technologies encompassing community press, radio, TV and web. It may take some time to link up. Mainstream media or alternative media? It will be the media of the Other India of 840 million Indians.   —>

Decision to Shut Down AZN Television a Huge Loss to Asian American Community

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) today expressed disappointment at the decision by Comcast to shut down AZN Television in April this year, calling it a big loss of yet another important venue through which the American public can learn more about Asians and Pacific Islanders through community-specific news and entertainment.

While understanding that this was primarily a business decision, AAJA lamented the fact that the demise of AZN is the second big blow to the AAPI community in less than six months. In October last year, KQED in San Francisco discontinued its nationally syndicated public radio program, “Pacific Time,” developed to provide news about Asia, Asian American communities and connections across the Pacific Ocean. Like “Pacific Time,” AZN offered broad education through broadcast and online media.

In many ways, “AZN is to the Asian American community just like Univision is to the Latino and BET is to the African American communities, respectively,” said Rene Astudillo, AAJA executive director. He added that AAJA “has partnered with AZN in many ways to ensure that more Asian Americans are given the opportunity to use their journalism and new media skills to enhance the delivery of news and information to the American public.” AAJA’s most recent partnership with AZN involved internship opportunities for students to post journalism-style news and editorial commentary on the network’s Web site.  Astudillo said that AAJA is happy and ready to offer its resources to Comcast and other broadcast networks to develop major programming specifically addressing issues and stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.    —>

University of Miami: February 26-68
We Media Forum to Explore and Celebrate Innovation in a Connected Society

More than two hundred thought leaders, social entrepreneurs and media pioneers are expected to gather next month in Miami, Fla., for the fourth-annual We Media Forum and Festival from February 26 to 28. The two-day event, organized and produced by iFOCOS, the Reston, Va.-based media think tank, will bring together leaders from across industry sectors to jumpstart innovative thinking and new media ventures.  For more details and to register, go to:

“We Media is not just an industry conference. It’s a knowledge-sharing network. It’s about being inspired,” says Dale Peskin, co-founder of iFOCOS, which also organizes the We Media Community, an online network of companies and individuals.

The University of Miami School of Communication is co-hosting the conference, which kicks off with a reception on Tuesday night. The Associated Press, an iFOCOS global partner, is sponsoring the conference, along with Washington.Post.Newsweek.Interactive, Reuters, NewsGator, Topix, Humana and AARP. Additional media sponsors include BlogHer, the Association for Alternative Newsweeklies, Daily Me, the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, LatinVision Media,, SourceForge, and the Innovators Network.   —>

French Media Reforms
by Rizwan Ghani
American Chronicle

Reportedly, President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided to reform French media. The media shakeup details include scrapping up of Arabic and English languages services of Channel 24 and restricting the Channel to French language, only. The reports show that French National TV will be disallowed annual advertisements worth 800 million Euros.

Keeping French as the only language on Channel 24 in presence of Arab and handful of other minorities in France will add another item to the minorities discontentment list. In wake of 2007 standoff with minorities Paris could used state media to develop better relations with minorities instead of doing away with programs in other languages on Channel 24.

The independent observers are waiting for details of planned shakeup but there is a consensus that the direction of changes does not bode well for the media independence. It is believed that French media´s coverage of Sarkozy´s Egypt tour may have precipitated the reform plan. Otherwise, also there is a growing perception that it is the start of love-hate relationship between Sarkozy and French media.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/25/07

December 31, 2007

Local Groups Petition FCC to Stay Ruling on Video-Franchise Reform
Broadcast Newsroom

Local franchise authorities, including the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, have asked the FCC to stay its Oct. 31 decision extending to incumbent cable operators essentially the same video-franchise reforms it gave telco video providers  in an earlier ruling.

In a petition for the stay and reconsideration of the decision, the local government groups “more than a half dozen of them, including the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors” argued that the commission failed to preempt “most-favored nation” clauses (which specify that the a new entrants can’t get better terms than the incumbent) or to base its decision on “appropriate economic impact analysis.” The groups further pointed out that they had filed a lawsuit against the initial decision granting franchise relief to telco video providers.    “In the absence of a stay,” they said in the FCC filing, “petitioners’ members will be irreparably harmed.” The governments have said that the FCC decision will “severely restrict the ability of local governments to protect their citizens, rights-of-way, community channels, and public safety networks.”

They argue in the request for a stay that by not preempting existing most-favored nation clauses, the commission “upended the franchise negotiation process.”   —>

The good FCC
by Matthew Lasar
Lasar’s Letter on the FCC

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission, by a bare majority, voted to lift its over three decade old prohibition against an entity owning a newspaper and a television station in the same market. Most FCC watchers will now shift their visors to Congress and the circuit courts, where media reform activists will doubtless turn in a bid to reverse this ruling.  But the agency also made four important decisions this month and last that deserve a second glance, not only because they could have an impact on broadcasting, but because they illustrate the extent to which the Commission can promote measures that clearly serve the public interest—when it wants to.

Low Power FM…
Diversification of broadcast ownership…
Cable subscriber caps…

Local Network’s Warnings About TV Unheeded
by Louise Thompson
Tampa Tribune (FL)

Regarding the Tribune editorial, “Bright House Snubs Public Good” (Our Opinion, Dec. 13):

In this editorial about Bright House Networks moving local government channels to the 600 tier, you neglected to let your readers know that their own local public access channels have also been moved from Bright House channels 19 and 20 to digital channels 949 and 950 or Outer Mongolia on the TV channel lineup.  To view Tampa Bay Community Network’s programs, which are produced by the local community, Bright House subscribers who don’t currently have digital boxes, will have to rent them for $1 per month.  Or, perhaps, and more likely, make the switch to Verizon FIOS, where they can still view Tampa Bay Community Network on channels 30 and 36.

It is on TBCN that viewers can watch alternative news programming like Democracy Now and Free Speech TV, learn (in both English and Spanish) how to access nonprofit and government services, enjoy University of Tampa sports, take in a sermon or local band, “attend” (via TV) local community events and, perhaps most importantly, watch local debates and political forums that may help them vote in the right people come November.

As we previously told your editorial board, there is no question that our legislators made a huge error when they passed the so-called Consumer Choice Act of 2007, which your paper supported.  As our governor suggested when he signed the bill last May, it needs to be amended to protect the public, education and government channels. Hopefully, that will happen.

And, just maybe, then the county’s Board of County Commissioners, which eliminated residents’ free speech rights on cable when they de-funded the people’s channel, will come to its senses and restore their constitutional rights by reinstating TBCN’s budget.  As your own editorial pointed out in a different context, why would anyone want to “slam shut a wonderful window of public access”?

Daytona may televise more public meetings
by John Bozzo
Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)

Forget about those premium movie channels.  Mayor Glenn Ritchey is considering expanding the city’s telecasts of public meetings on Channel 99.  “There’s a lot of people who can’t get to meetings because of their work schedule or they can’t because of their health, or any reason,” he said.  City Commission meetings began airing on the Bright House cable channel last Jan. 10 after the company provided the city with $300,000 to equip the commission chambers to televise discussions.

“Anything that takes place in the commission chambers — Planning Board, Code Enforcement Board, redevelopment boards, Economic Development Advisory Board — anybody who meets in the chambers, we’re already set up to televise there like we do for the City Commission,” Ritchey said.  The mayor plans to nail down additional costs, such as for employees to operate the equipment, before bringing the issue to the City Commission, possibly Jan. 16.  “The whole thing is to make our government more accessible,” Ritchey said.

Other commissioners appear to like the idea of televising city advisory board meetings, but cost might be an issue.  “I don’t know what the costs are yet,” Commissioner Rick Shiver said. “I like the concept a whole lot.”   —>

PVT wants to enter Carlsbad cable market
by Stella Davis
Current Argus (NM)

CARLSBAD — Artesia-based PVT Networks is seeking a long-term, non-exclusive cable franchise agreement with the city of Carlsbad.  If the Carlsbad City Council approves the agreement, PVT will begin building its multi-million fiber optic network in Carlsbad that, when completed, will offer residents cable television with a “local flavor,” said Terry Mullins, PVT marketing director.

“What we are planning to do is build a fiber network in phases,” Mullins said. “The network will be capable of delivering video, TV cable, local telephone and extremely high-speed Internet for businesses and residences.”  PVT offers video/telephone, video/cable, data Internet, landline and cell phone services to residents in North Eddy County and other rural communities north of Artesia.

“We hope to get the city’s support on this,” Mullins said. “We offer cable TV with a local flavor in Artesia that offers high school sporting events, community theater productions and other community functions. We  also offer the standard channels and special packages and other quality products. The people in Artesia like to see the local stuff on cable and we have received a lot of favorable comments from them. We believe Carlsbad would also like to have the local cable channel, in addition to the standard channels.”   —>

Council adopts public access TV policy
by Dick Broom
Bar Harbor Times (ME)

The Town Council last week adopted a policy governing use of the public access cable television channel, which the town controls.  The policy states that programs distributed on the Public Access System “may be intended for any purpose and may include information, entertainment or the expression of points of view without limitation unless prohibited elsewhere in this document.”  Content that is not allowed includes:

• Advertisements or information concerning lotteries or games of chance;
• Advertising designed to promote the sale of commercial products or services;
• Solicitation of funds;
• Material soliciting or promoting unlawful conduct;
• Statements, pictures or sound that violate town, state or federal laws including those related to obscenity, defamation, slander and libel;
• Sexually explicit material.

The administrator of the Public Access System must be notified if a program contains adult language, images or situations.  “At the sole discretion of the administrator, this material may be cablecast outside of prime time child viewing hours,” the policy states. “Such programs would be cablecast between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.”  Steve Cornell, the town’s technical systems administrator is designated as the Public Access System administrator.   —>

‘Interviews with the Veterans’ public access program lets former GIs tell their stories
by Andrew Schroedter
Chicago Tribune (IL)

Like many in his generation, Larry Littel preferred not to talk about what he saw as a member of the California National Guard during World War II.  Littel, 82, said not even his family heard stories about gun fights in the Pacific Islands or the men he saw wounded and killed.  “I didn’t talk about it for 50 years,” said Littel of Evanston. “But you know, there’s a 1,000 of us dying every day. In 10 years, you won’t know we were around.”

Rushing to capture the stories of Chicago-area veterans before it’s too late is part of what motivates Gerry Boguse to produce his “Interviews with the Veterans” program, broadcast on local public access in 28 communities on the North Shore and in the northwest suburbs.  Since the first show in May 2004, Boguse has filmed 65 interviews with 55 veterans like Littel, who served in World War II, the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  “I’m not glorifying war,” said Boguse, 47, a programming/government access coordinator with the Evanston Community Media Center. “I’m here to record history.”   —>,1,5951320.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

Rhode Island gets a lot more FiOS TV
by Darren Murph

Wondering what Verizon was going to get you for the holidays? If you find yourself a resident of the Ocean State, the answer could be FiOS TV access. Reportedly, the Rhode Island Division of Public Utilities and Carries granted Verizon licenses just this week to operate cable TV services in Charlestown, Cranston, Foster, Hopkinton, Johnston, Narragansett, North Providence, Providence, Richmond, Scituate, South Kingstown and Westerly. Apparently, Verizon had secured a license to operate in Service Area 6 earlier this year, but just now got approval on Areas 2, 3 and 8 covering the locales mentioned above.   —>

Verizon FiOS coming to more Westchester communities
by Sean Gorman
The Journal News (NY)

OSSINING – Several more Westchester communities are moving closer to sealing deals to provide Verizon cable television to their residents.  Last week, Briarcliff Manor, the town of Ossining and Sleepy Hollow signed agreements with Verizon, the company said.  Elected officials in New Castle and the village of Ossining last week voted to give cable franchises to Verizon, but they have yet to reach final agreements.  Verizon has been working to provide its FiOS television services in a market long monopolized by Cablevision.

“I think they (residents) like the idea of competition,” said New Castle Supervisor Janet Wells. “They have felt that when there’s only one franchise, it’s hard to get the service they would like, and also I think people are hoping that it (cable services) will be less expensive.”  The town was still trying to work out some technical concerns with Verizon, such as whether events and meetings held at the library, community center and other buildings in town could be simultaneously broadcast live on both the Verizon and Cablevision systems, said Town Administrator Gennaro Faiella.

In Ossining, the village board last week voted 5-0 to approve a resolution authorizing Village Manager Linda Cooper to sign a deal with Verizon.  “It’s very important, we believe, that the competition exists,” Ossining Mayor William Hanauer said last week.  At that meeting, Verizon officials had committed to speeding up their timetable for paying $62,500 to the village for cable equipment for public access television, Hanauer said.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/19/07

December 19, 2007

Council to fight cable switch
State help sought on CTN channels
by Tom Gantert
The Ann Arbor News (MI)

The Ann Arbor City Council is taking its feud with Comcast to the state level, where it hopes the people it blames for allowing cable providers to move community access TV to undesirable channels in the 900s will fix the problem.  Council Member Marcia Higgins, D-4th Ward, sponsored a resolution that calls on the Legislature to amend the state law to require cable providers to keep offering its public access and government channels in their customary channel slots.

Kirk Profit, a lobbyist retained by the city of Ann Arbor, said state lawmakers are just starting to take notice of the complaints and interest “is just starting to develop.”  Profit told council members on Monday he would take their concerns to state lawmakers in January but said, “I don’t have an answer for you, yet.”  Ann Arbor offers Community Television Network, which has four channels and offers 19,000 hours of programming a year with much of it government related.   —>

GRTV & LiveWire being “booted” to the digital tier on cable
by Laurie Cirivello
Grand Rapids Community Media Center (MI)

I am sad to note that as of January 15th, GRTV (channel 25) and LiveWire (channel 24) will no longer be seen on basic cable TV but instead on channels 917 & 916. Invoking their new options made possible by the State Uniform Video Franchise Act, Comcast has decided to put all community cabel access channels in the State of Michigan in the 900 tier of their digital cable service.

This change was announced with little advance notice to, and no consultation with, public, education or government access stations. It is estimated that nearly half of local cable subscribers do not subscribe to the more expensive digital cable and will need converter boxes to access the local content on GRTV and LiveWire. This is a sad development.   —>

Starting tonight, Mooresville enters the cable business
by Megan Pillow
Mooresville Tribune (NC)

Come 6 p.m. tonight, many area cable customers will see the name of their service provider change, but hopefully, no change to their service.  Tonight, Mooresville and Davidson’s new $80 million cable and Internet system, MI-Connection (pronounced “My Connection”) will take the reins of 13,200 subscribers from its caretaker, Time Warner Cable.  The transition, which has been two years in coming, will provide the two towns with local control of programming and operational decisions for the former Adelphia system, and in time, potentially an additional revenue stream.   —>

JoCo neutralizes reporter’s secret weapon
Kasas City Star (MO)

Johnson County commissioners just spent $650,000 on a new broadcast-ready, third-floor public hearing room in the County Administration Building in downtown Olathe.  That effectively wipes out a reporter’s secret weapon: The old commission chamber’s parabolic, domed ceiling was notorious for amplifying private conversations. But we’ll get to that later.

After equipment testing is completed — planners are shooting for Jan. 7 — the signal carrying the Thursday commission sessions will be streamed on the county’s Web site, Once there, you’ll be able to view the meetings live. Archived footage will show up a day or two after each meeting, and users will be able to click on segments of individual agenda items.  Next, the county will focus on broadcasting the meetings on public-access cable TV channels —Time Warner, Channel 2; and Comcast, Channel 7.   —>

Gilford selectmen make TV debut
The Citizen of Laconia (NH)

The town’s Board of Selectmen premieres on public access television with its meeting taking place today.  For the past few months the Town of Gilford has been working toward getting the Selectmen’s meetings aired on television, and with the equipment in place the goal will finally be reached.  The 3 p.m. meeting will be recorded and the tape forwarded to Lakes Region Public Access for broadcast.  Lakes Region Public Access airs on MetroCast channels 24, 25, 26.   —>

Residents willing to pay for paving of 410th Street
by MaryHelen Swanson
East Central Minnesota Post Review

—>   The council also discussion possible cable usage by the public including city video equipment.They also ideas discussed options or using cable franchise funds for communication improvements.  Suggestions included upgrading the sound system in the council chambers, replacing the community billboard at the intersection of Main Street and Forest Blvd., replacing the banner behind the council table to say North Branch so cable viewers would know right away what they were watching, installing a projector screen in the chambers, purchasing a document camera, and providing each councilor with a laptop computer.

The cost of these items would be around $19,000 and would be paid from cable franchise fees. There is currently over $41,500 in the fund, with 2008 projected revenue of $27,000.

Bismarck, Midcontinent reach agreement
by Grordon Weixel
Bismarck Tribune (ND)

Midcontinent Communications will continue to provide Bismarck cable television services for the next 10 years with the city commission’s approval of its franchise.  Tom Simmons, Midcontinent vice president, visited with commissioners during the hearing held as part of Tuesday’s city commission meeting….

Commissioner Sandi Tabor, who is the commission’s liaison for Community Access Television, asked questions related to the availability of Video On Demand for CATV  and the number of channels available.  Simmons explained that VOD wasn’t available for CATV since more than 150 communities share the same computer server. CATV had requested 20 to 25 hours of VOD time and that amount of space on the server wasn’t available. Simmons added that up to four channels are available for Bismarck pubic access, but only two on the basic analog tier, the other two are on the digital tier.   —>

St. Tammany government access channel wins National Association of Telecommunications award
by Suzanne Parsons Stymiest (LA)

Access St. Tammany, Cable Channel 10, was awarded an honorable mention from the National Association of Telecommunications for “Katrina Remembrance,” a one-hour special documenting St. Tammany’s response and recovery one-year post storm. A special encore presentation of “Katrina Remembrance” will be shown on Channel 10 on Wednesday, December 19 at 8pm in honor of the program’s recent award.   —>

Arizona City Helps Get Military News to State
by Samantha L. Quigley
Blackanthem Military News

PEORIA, Ariz. – Arizona cable subscribers will soon have access to the latest military news from the comfort of their living rooms, thanks to an agreement between an Arizona city and a national cable provider.   The Peoria City Council amended its cable franchise agreement with Cox Communications during a city council meeting last night. The change will allow the cable provider to share the city’s Pentagon Channel broadcast with Cox digital customers in the state.

Peoria was the first city in the state to offer the Pentagon Channel 24 hours a day to Cox cable customers, Peoria Mayor Bob Barrett said.  “We’re not aware of … (another) exchange of a PEG channel, a public education and government channel, for a systemwide broadcast of the Pentagon Channel,” said John Schell, director of intergovernmental affairs, who was instrumental in bring about the agreement between Peoria and Cox. “From that respect, it’s certainly historic for the city of Peoria and the state of Arizona, and it probably is for the rest of the country.”   —>

Let’s See If the FCC Is Serious About Stopping the Next Media Consolidation
by Art Brodsky
Public Knowledge

Public Knowledge wasn’t involved in the hellacious fight at the Federal Communications Commission over media ownership. Our friends in Free Press and Media Access Project, among other groups, put forth heroic efforts and spent uncounted hours at all times of the day and night to make sure that what would turn out to be a bad decision could be less bad than had they not made their presence felt.

While the dust is still flying, however, we do want to call attention to certain comments of FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate and Commissioner Robert McDowell…

We quote them at length because we want these words to be remembered as the chairman and the commissioners contemplate whether they want to allow a second wave of media consolidation to take place – on the Internet.   —>

Action Alert – Stop Big Media
by Robert McChesney
Community Bridge Commentaries

On Tuesday 18 December, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and his two fellow GOP commissioners approved new rules that will unleash a flood of media consolidation across America. The rules will further consolidate local media markets — taking away independent voices in cities already woefully short on local news and investigative journalism.  In 2003, the FCC tried to do the same thing, but millions of people demanded that Congress reject the FCC’s rules. And they did. It’s time to do it again.

We need 100,000 people to get Congress to reverse the FCC’s rules right now.  Sign Our Open Letter to Congress.  Then get three of your friends to do the same.   —>

FCC caps Comcast’s growth
It limited the company to 30% of the pay-TV market. The issue is expected to end up in court.
by Bob Fernandez
Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)

In the face of criticism from members of his own Republican Party and regulatory experts, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin secured a limit on Comcast Corp.’s growth yesterday in a 3-2 vote.  The new regulation will limit Comcast to 30 percent of the pay-TV market in the United States, halting the billion-dollar acquisitions that have made it the largest cable company in the nation and one of the largest companies in Pennsylvania.   —>

Santa Gets a Facelift for International Public Access TV Event
“SANTA AND SONS & daughter!” movie updated for 3rd Anniversary Access Awareness showing.
Florida Emerald Coast

Now in its third year, “SANTA AND SONS & daughter!” the family musical movie is showing throughout December in 26 states – more than 150 cities in the U.S. and internationally in Austria and United Kingdom; plus countrywide in New Zealand and Ireland.  We’re showing in Vienna, Virginia and Vienna, Austria.” adds Producer/Director, Robert Battaile. “I’d love to take a jet and watch the program all over the globe. Hmm, maybe there’s a documentary there.”   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media