Archive for the ‘cable regulation’ category

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government September 17th Hearing on PEG Access TV, in YouTube Clips

September 21, 2008

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We thank the House staff and the staff of DCTV for their work in making this footage available.  Persons interested in cablecasting this hearing on their communities’ PEG access channels may obtain a copy by contacting the Alliance for Community Media at 202-393-2650 x 12.  Also, the whole hearing is available for viewing in one online file at http://blip.tv/file/1278920/ .

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01: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D) Opening Statement (pdf)

In his opening statement Chairman Serrano expressed support for PEG access, explaining the purpose of the 1984 federal law that gave local franchising entities the authority to require PEG access channels.  “By granting this authority,” Serrano said, “Congress recognized that PEG programming is in the public interest and essential to our communties as an outlet for free speech, local information and opinions, and emergency communications.  PEG supports our democratic ideals by helping to develop a well-informed and educated society.  It benefits all of us to support and encourage PEG programming.”

Chairman Serrano also explicitly took AT&T to task for declining to attend the hearing.  “AT&T’s recent action relating to PEG channels goes to the heart of many of the concerns that will be raised today.  Let the record show that I consider their decision not to send a witness to be indicative of the company’s apparent disregard of the importance of PEG to local communities.”
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Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D) & Acting Ranking Member Mark Kirk (IL-R)

02: Acting Ranking Member Mark Kirk (IL-R) Opening Statement

In the absence of the Subcommittee Ranking Member Ralph Regula (OH-R), Rep. Mark Kirk (IL-R) made the opening statement for the minority.  He strongly reinforced the Chairman’s comments on AT&T, and the importance of PEG access.  “If there was any thought by AT&T that the Republican member here at the hearing would help them out, let me disabuse them now,” Kirk said.

Kirk continued, “I think this committee should take some action on this.  It does appear that AT&T is in direct violation of Illinois law, and so, whether it is in Springfield or in Washington, we should fix this to make sure that there is a very convenient place, especially for our seniors, to find what’s happening in their local community… I breeze through local access cable like everyone else does, except when we’re doing a zoning or other issue related to my neighborhood, and then we are locked on this like everyone else.”
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03: Monica Desai, FCC Media Bureau Chief, Testimony (pdf)

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04: Barbara Popovic, Alliance for Community Media, Testimony – (Written-pdf) (Oral-pdf)

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05: Howard Symons, National Cable Television Assoc., Testimony (pdf)

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06: Michael Max Knobbe, BronxNet, Testimony (pdf)

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07: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D); Questions – Territories

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08: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D); Questions

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09: Acting Ranking Member Mark Kirk (IL-R); Questions

Rep. Kirk asked Monica Desai, “What are your plans to implement your testimony from the Commission, to make sure that AT&T is forced to bring PEG back to the basic – so that they have a channel, somewhere between 1 and 100, on the basic service tier, and are not exiled to on-demand?”  Desai replied, “I would be anxious to place this issue in front of the Commissioners for them to decide, with our view that this would be a violation of the statute.  But what we would need is to have a specific and formal complaint filed in front of us.  We would need something to act on.”
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10: Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-D); Questions

Rep. Kilpatrick made mention of the Michigan law suit enjoining Comcast from channel slamming, then said, “I don’t want to see PEG relegated to some substandard something.  It ought to be right up there with the other major channels.  And whatever we have to do to get it there — it sounds like it’s a regulatory something, as well as a people something — and if we have to mobilize America to educate them to what it is, I think we have to do that.”

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11: Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY-D); Questions

Rep. Hinchey asked about possibly establishing minimum levels of support for PEG access.  “I have a public access station back in my district, in the city of Binghamton,” Hinchey said, “that unfortunately is not provided with the facilities and training by its cable service providers.  So I’m wondering what you think could be done so that the Federal Communications Commission would have the authority to enforce perhaps a federal minimum of financial support that could be provided by cable service providers, so that rural areas generally have the same capability for public access as do larger cities?”

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12: Rep. Peter Visclosky (IN-D); Questions

"Oh, don't say that!"

Rep. Peter Visclosky to NCTA's Howard Symons: "Oh, don't say that!"

Rep. Peter Visclosky (IN-D) asked questions of Howard Symons about the cable industry’s commitment to community service.  In response to a question about Comcast’s closing of studios following passage of Indiana’s statewide video franchising law, Symons said: “You know, Congressman, the cable industry didn’t ask the state legislatures to change the law.”  Visclosky instantly replied, “Oh, don’t say that!  Don’t say that! I would suggest that that is not a correct statement — to be polite.”
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13: Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-D); Questions

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-D) questioned Ms. Desai’s mention of the FCC’s requiring a formal complaint

“I’m surprised that it really requires that.  I would think if you have an oversight responsibility in this area, and you see major companies who are not complying with the statute, that you have the authority on your own to take action, to communicate with the companies that this does not meet the requirements of the statute.”
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14: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D); Questions, Round 2

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15: Michael Max Knobbe Answers Chairman Serrano

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16: Acting Ranking Member Mark Kirk (IL-R); Questions, Round 2


Rep. Kirk asked Ms. Desai if a joint letter from the Committee would help the FCC expedite an inquiry into these matters.  “I would be willing to sign a letter, with the Chairman, to you, saying, ‘Hey, get on the case here.’  Is that enough for you to get rolling?”

Ms. Desai answered, “I’m sure a letter from you and Chairman Serrano would be taken… act on it post haste.”
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17: Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY-D); Questions, Round 2

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18: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D) Closing Statement

“We stay committed to the commitment I made before to Mr. Kirk and the Committee that the issues that have been discussed here will be placed by this Committee officially in a formal fashion before the FCC, to make sure that we begin to look at the whole issue and how best we can stick to the intent of the law, notwithstanding some changes that have taken along the way.”
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
http://alliancecm.org

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Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/14/08

February 17, 2008

AT&T’s TV plans don’t click, advocates say
Changes to public channels worry Media Center, city
by Becky Trout
Palo Alto Online (CA)
02/13/08

[ comments allowed ]

Within months, AT&T Inc. plans to begin offering television service in Palo Alto over phone lines, introducing a new format for local programming that has the cable experts at the Midpeninsula Community Media Center and City of Palo Alto concerned.

When AT&T introduces its television service — called U-verse — public, educational and government (PEG) channels will have a lower resolution and be harder to find than its commercial channels, Community Media Center Executive Director Annie Folger said.  “They don’t want to spend the money,” Folger said…  Among the problems, Folger said, the programs are hard to get to and the shows only fill one-quarter of the screen. It can be blown up to fill the entire television, but then appears blurry, she said.

All PEG channels are available on AT&T’s Channel 99, Peterson explained.  Viewers click “OK,” which triggers a list of cities to appear, according to AT&T documents. After scrolling through the cities, and selecting one, viewers than select which PEG channel they wish to watch.

Folger said the Channel 99 menu takes 45 to 90 seconds to load and burdens viewers with scrolling through dozens of city names.  “You’ll have to be very, very motivated and extremely patient to actually find the channel you are looking for,” Folger said…

Comcast also doesn’t approve of AT&T’s PEG format.  Vice President of Communications Andrew Johnson said AT&T’s Channel 99 plan violates PEG regulations.  “We certainly hope the new competitor will be forced to operate under the same rules and regulations,” Johnson said Monday.  He said Comcast has no plans to change its delivery of PEG channels.   —>
http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/story.php?story_id=7708
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Editorial: Comcast Cable changes channels again
The Journal Newspapers (MI)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

After apologizing for a widely criticized attempt to move PEG (Public Education and Government) channels out of range of most viewers, officials from Comcast Cable tried another approach on Friday.  They told members of the Conference of Western Wayne that they were trying to do them a favor.

The criticized change was to move PEG channels to the 900 range, where they would be seen in digital high definition. Everything would look better, according to Comcast officials, and it preceded a mandated change that would happen in a year or so anyway. Plus, it would allow the company to remain competitive with satellite dish services, which already provide more digital programming than most cable providers.

The problem with it was that it would leave some 400,000 customers unable to view the channels, since most televisions are not capable of accessing the channel—without a digital converter box, anyway. That box, which initially would be provided for free, would ultimately cost customers an additional $4 a month.

Not surprisingly, the members of the Conference of Western Wayne were unconvinced by this new line.

Representatives from other video franchises were on hand, too.  Throughout this public relations debacle, they have taken the right approach. They’ve sat back and watched the reaction to the Comcast move, probably to see if they should give it a shot or not. The answer? Not yet.

Competition will remain an important part of this emerging industry. In theory, that was the goal of the state wide video franchise legislation when it was introduced and approved last year. It just hasn’t worked out to the benefit of residents, yet, and that’s been our concern all along.   —>
http://www.journalgroup.com/Opinion/7002/comcast-cable-changes-channels-again
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Bill provides for cable channel compromise
by Scott Spielman
The Journal Newspapers (MI)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Legislation has been introduced that will keep Public, Educational and Government (PEG) channels available to all cable viewers—for now.  House Bills 5693 and 5667 would address a recent proposal from the Comcast Cable company to move those channels up into the 900 range—and out of easy access to hundreds of thousands of cable subscribers….

House Bill 5693 would amend the act to dictate that cable providers must keep their government channels available to subscribers without requiring them to need additional equipment.  —>

[ There is a very serious confusion taking place here and elsewhere, no doubt being promoted by the cable industry.  The story goes on to say, “HB 5667 would make the stipulation that it is only until February, 2009, when federal mandates require all cable to be digital, anyway.”

However, there is *no* federal mandate requiring cable to be digital in February 2009.  It is *broadcast* television that is facing this DTV transition deadline.  Cable operators’ plans to convert to digital are driven entirely by economics, and have nothing to do with any federal requirements.  – rm ]
http://www.journalgroup.com/Belleville/6974/bill-provides-for-cable-channel-compromise
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Is Public TV In Peril?
by Todd Morehead
Columbia City Paper (SC)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

—>   Lost in the fray, so far, have been the implications for public television. Some large cable companies are using the digital transition as a means to remove public television channels from their basic cable packages and are lobbying for legislation that may remove license fee funding for those channels.

Late last month, John Dingell (D-Mich.) went before the congressional Commerce Telecommunications Subcommittee in response to cable giant Comcast’s actions in his home state. The hearing centered around the public, educational and governmental (PEG) channels in Michigan that were slated to be removed from basic cable packages, since the company switched to an all digital format.   PEG channels consist of public access programming, cover local government and schools—like the Columbia city council meetings that Time Warner Cable airs locally on channel 2 and the Richland school district information aired on channel 12.

In Michigan, Comcast planned to bump the PEG channels—still broadcasting in analog until next year—up near the 900 channel range thus making them no longer accessible to the general public and only available to subscribers of the more expensive digital cable service tier, an action that would have effected an estimated 1.3 million viewers…

Nancy Horne, president of the S.C. Cable TV Association, says PEG channels in South Carolina should continue to be available to all cable subscribers, both basic and high end.  “Our state law requires that PEG channels be carried on the lowest tier [or subscriber package] available to the consumer,” she says. “So, you might get a PEG channel with a high number, but it would still be carried through the basic tier.”

According to Horne, under the state law there is no requirement for PEG support. Before the law was passed, individual PEG channels may or may not have made agreements with the cable company and the local or municipal franchising authorities. If those deals included support for PEG channels prior to the 2006 bill, those contracts should be honored until they expire, according to the new legislation.         http://www.columbiacitypaper.com/2008/2/14/is-public-tv-in-peril
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Editorial: County Board meetings on TV
by Terry Davis
Hutchinson Leader (MN)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Showing public meetings on TV is good for democracy. McLeod County has an opportunity to make sure taxpayers never miss a single meeting.  The Hutchinson Community Video Network will begin taping and showing McLeod County Board meetings starting next week. That’s good news for taxpayers who want to see how county decisions are made.

The tapings are a generous gesture by HCVN, which has agreed to do the tapings on a trial basis for six months. It will cost a good deal of money for Hutchinson’s local public access channel to send an employee to each board meeting.

We believe the county should pay HCVN for its costs. And we believe the tapings should continue indefinitely beyond the initial six months.  That should not surprise anyone who has read this page for the past several years. Repeatedly, we have asked the County Board to set aside money for the taping to its meetings. Repeatedly, the board has chosen to ignore our recommendation…

— Almost every other major public body in our region is already demonstrating its transparency to taxpayers. Almost every county surrounding McLeod County — Stearns, Kandiyohi, Renville, Sibley and Carver — videotape their meetings for taxpaying viewers at home. The Hutchinson City Council and District 423 School Board wouldn’t think of conducting a regular meeting without having the public access television cameras there.   —>
http://www.hutchinsonleader.com/news/opinion/editorial-county-board-meetings-tv-6614
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Town of Ulster Steps Up to the Plate
by Richard Cahill
Cahill on Kingston (NY)
02/14/08

[ 11 comments ]

Blaber News and Commentary has broken a huge story concerning Public Access Television. Nick Woerner, the Supervisor for the Town of Ulster, announced earlier this evening that he is proposing to the Town of Ulster Board that $5,000.00 be given to save public access!!!  This is wonderful news. Kudos to Nick Woerner and the Town of Ulster for their generosity and sense of public duty.

Jim Sottile and the Common Council did not step up, but the Town of Ulster did. Perhaps now Kingston will recognize its part and do the right thing.   —>
http://cahillonkingston.blogspot.com/2008/02/town-of-ulster-steps-up-to-plate.html
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Augusta: Cable costs rankle clients
by Keith Edwards
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel (ME)
02/14/08

City councilors grilled the “cable guy” recently over Time Warner’s rate increase and other concerns… Through the franchise agreement, Time Warner pays the city about $200,000 a year, half of which funds a multimedia program at Capital Area Technical Center. The remainder helps cover the cost of broadcasting City Council and other meetings, and some goes into the city’s general fund, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.   —>
http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/news/local/4763821.html
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Cable access group reports latest findings
East Oregonian
02/13/08

[ comments allowed ]

Pendelton – The local cable access task force will discuss its latest findings on creating a public access television channel for Pendleton at 3 p.m. Thursday in the administrative Conference Room at city hall, 500 S.W. Dorion Ave.  The city council approved the task force in November last year to examine how a public access channel would function for Pendleton.    —>
http://www.eastoregonian.info/main.asp?SectionID=13&SubSectionID=48&ArticleID=73207&TM=26493.6
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BITV Says Budget Dispute Will Suspend Programming
by Tristan Baurick
The Kitsap Sun (WA)
02/14/08

[ 3 comments ]

Coverage of local government may soon disappear from TV screens across Bainbridge Island.  The public access station Bainbridge Island Television announced on Thursday it may suspend its cable and Internet coverage of city meetings. BITV and the city are deadlocked over the conditions for renewing a service contract that ended Dec. 31. BITV wants a larger share of cable fees to fund expanded and basic services. The city says it’s cash strapped and plans to reduce its financial support for the station by 10 percent.   —>
http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2008/feb/14/bitv-says-budget-dispute-will-suspend/
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Eshoo Takes Martin to Task Over Cable Policies
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Defends His Treatment of Industry at House Hearing
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
02/13/08

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin defended his cable-regulation policies in a House hearing Wednesday after Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) peppered him with a list of what appeared to her to be anti-cable efforts.  She said she did not know what cable had done to enrage Martin but they needed to have a conversation about it, sounding like a schoolteacher telling a student he did not get along well with others.   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6532120.html?rssid=193
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Cox Communications Can Put Leased-Access Channels on Digital Tier
Leased Access Programmers Association President Charlie Stogner Disagrees with FCC Order
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
02/14/08

[ 2 comments ]

The Federal Communications Commission concluded that Cox Communications can place the content of leased-access programmer RETV (Real Estate TV) on its digital tier.  That’s according to Charlie Stogner, president of the Leased Access Programmers Association, who said he received an e-mail to that effect from the FCC Thursday.

Stogner had been pushing the FCC for a response to the complaint, which was filed in March of last year, but it was not the response he was looking for. He said he wants the commission to reconsider the decision.  According to a copy of the order Stogner supplied to B&C, the FCC concluded that because Cox’s New Orleans system has more than 50% digital subscribership, it does not violate the leased-access rules.   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6532683.html?industryid=47170
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Fans of open access not optimistic on 700MHz auction results
by Thomas Wilburn
Ars Technica
02/14/08

[ 6 comments ]

Meeting in a panel for journalists and Senate staffers in Washington DC, open network advocates expressed their apprehension in the days leading up to the completion of the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction. That auction, which covers 62MHz of broadcast frequency in the 700MHz band, comes as television broadcasters are vacating their analog channels for the federally-mandated transition to digital, which must occur by 2009. Two of the channel “blocks,” labeled the C and D blocks, will be licensed on a national basis—Block C with open access requirements—making them very interesting to companies looking to build or expand high-speed wireless broadband services.

“We feel like the 700MHz auction was probably the most significant event at the FCC in the decade, and certainly the most significant spectrum auction in history,” said Ben Scott, Policy Director for Free Press, “and yet most citizens are clearly unaware that it happened at all. In fact many citizens are unaware that the public owns the airwaves.”

Attempting to summarize the argument for open-access regulations in the auction, Michael Calabrese, Vice President for the New America Foundation, reiterated the markers of an open network, as originally stated by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps: pricing that does not include connection charges and which is cheaper for non-subsidized devices; fast, cheap, and independent equipment and software certification; no lock-in; the ability to use third-party applications and access any legal Internet content; and no prioritization or degradation of traffic, as Comcast sometimes does with P2P traffic.

Gigi Sohn, President of Public Knowledge, took a slightly more optimistic view of the upcoming auction results. She noted indications that a larger array of diverse bidders have likely been involved, thanks to the anonymous bidding that prevents collusion and back-room dealing. However, Sohn was also critical of events that had taken place during the auction of the smaller D block of frequencies, and drew attention to allegations of misconduct and conflict-of-interest. Congress and the FCC must investigate, she said, and pointed out that since the reserve price for that auction was not met, the opportunity exists to do so before it is put up for sale again.   —>
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080214-fans-of-open-access-not-optimistic-on-700mhz-auction-results.html
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Media watchdog sends appeal to Samak
Bangkok Post
02/14/08

The Europe-based Committee to Protect Journalists has written to new Prime Ministeer Samak Sundaravej, urging him to “right the wrongs of your predecessors” by protecting freedom of the press.  The CPJ note said it was apprehensive that the Samak administration was getting off on the wrong foot.  The letter said:

“We were alarmed to learn that earlier this month your office announced plans to establish a task force charged with monitoring the ‘news balance’ of the broadcast media. CPJ is concerned that the task force’s creation could presage a return to the previous government’s order to broadcasters to report only positively about its administration and threats to censor any news reports it deemed critical or seen as a threat to national unity or security.”

But Robert Dietz, the Asia Programme Director, wrote that it hopes that Mr Samak and his administration will protect the media, including the 3,000 community radio stations across the country.  “In light of the damage successive administrations have wrought upon Thailand’s tradition of press freedom, your government has a unique opportunity to right the wrongs of your predecessors and, in the process, firmly re-establish the country’s credentials as a proudly democratic nation,” it concluded.  The full text of the CPJ letter is here.
http://www.bangkokpost.com/breaking_news/breakingnews.php?id=125942
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Even Without Technology Youth Media Thrives
by Sharese Bullock and Rhea Mokund
Youth Media Reporter
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

In May of 2006, while presenting at a conference hosted by what some consider the top university (Harvard) in the country, the question that makes the list of “most dreaded in youth media” was asked to virtual audience of mostly graduate students and young people.

“Why would youth media organizations be necessary in this age of technology? Young people now have access to the means of production at home—doesn’t this make youth media organizations redundant?”

It was not the last time the question has been asked about the relationship between youth media and developing technologies. To begin to address this question as a field, we must first examine the precise concept of what youth media is. In the growing pantheon of youth media scholarship fine distinctions exist, but at its core, youth media is a process of engaging young people in an artistic enterprise that is based in young people’s experience and exploration of the world. Young people endeavor to carve a space for real participation in the public sphere, and forge more balanced meaningful relationships with the larger community—skills necessary for successful participation in civil society.

No young person exists in isolation. Regardless of the means of transmission, youth media practitioners create an infrastructure of support, bringing layered expertise and insight to the practice of educating youth media producers…

[ lengthy report follows, leading to this conclusion – rm ]

When asked to justify our existence, “Why would youth media organizations be necessary in this age of technology?” we can simply and confidently reply, “Well, Yes.” Youth leading peers through the multi-leveled process of creating media—from premise to post production and ultimately exhibition and distribution—integrates each aspect of interactive modeling. Youth media processes extend far beyond the technology tool itself—determining the need for youth media organizations to preserve and facilitate these cultural practices. Indeed, technology is not the end goal, but rather the means of greater expression for young people defining next decade of collective learning.   —>
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/02/even_without_technology_youth.html
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Interview: Salome Chasnoff | Beyondmedia
by Ingrid Hu Dahl
Youth Media Reporter
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Beyondmedia Education is a Chicago-based 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to collaborate with under-served and under-represented women, youth and communities to tell their stories, connect their stories to the world around us, and organize for social justice through the creation and distribution of media arts.

Recently, Chicago Public Television station WTTW’s Image Union refused to air Beyondmedia Education’s award-winning documentary Turning a Corner, claiming that the content is inappropriate. As part of the award, Turning a Corner was to be screened on WTTW’s Image Union program. Created in a media activism workshop with members of Prostitution Alternatives Round Table (PART)—15 women who had been street-level sex workers in Chicago—the film recounts their battles with homelessness, violence and discrimination and provides insight into Chicago’s sex industry. Beyondmedia Education recently won the Chicago Reporter’s John A. McDermott Documentary (short) Film Competition for Turning a Corner. WTTW’s refusal to air the program cites the sensitive subject matter—sex workers in Chicago—as the reason for their decision.

In response, and due to other recent events that have challenged access to free press in Chicago (including Loyola’s takeover of WLUW and the buyout of the Chicago Reader and the firing of key writers) on January 17th Beyondmedia Education organized a meeting at Columbia College for community and independent media makers to come together to build a media justice plan for action addressing issues of censorship, inequality in media access, and the increasing corporate control of media in Chicago.

In January, YMR interviewed Salome Chasnoff, Executive Director of Beyondmedia.

YMR: In your own words, please discuss the important issue of community access to public media as it relates to the youth media field.   —>
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/02/interview_salome_chasnoff_beyo_3.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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/06/08

February 8, 2008

Don’t touch that dial: AccessVision staying put for now
by Nick Schirripa
Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)
02/06/08

If you’re looking in the 900s for AccessVision and other local cable channels, stop.  Although Comcast Cable Communications announced it would be moving PEG — public education government — channels on Jan. 15 to new stations, two judges issued temporary restraining orders stopping the move, at least for now.  “The judges decided there would be enough harm to put off moving the channels until the legal details could be worked out,” said Michelle Reen, assistant to the Battle Creek city manager.   —>
http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080206/NEWS01/302060008
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City’s cable board sends letter of dissatisfaction to Comcast
by Andrea Goodell
Holland Sentinel (MI)
02/06/08

The proposed move of public access channels and complaints about customer service have city officials unhappy with their cable franchise.  “It’s discouraging when people tell you they hung up after 20 minutes on hold,” said Jodi Syens, the city’s cable liaison and member of the Commmunity Access Television Advisory Commission.  The commission voted during a special meeting Tuesday to send a letter to Comcast expressing its dissatisfaction with the company’s customer service and laying out its expectations for the future.   —>
http://www.hollandsentinel.com/stories/020608/local_20080206013.shtml
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Wadsworth irked over funding halt by Time Warner
by Maria Kacik
Medina Gazette (OH)
02/06/08

The city of Wadsworth may take official action against Time Warner Cable after the company halted its funding of a portion of the city’s public education and government (PEG) programming on WCTV.  “There may be an unfunded obligation that Time Warner has in respect to the PEG channels,” said Wadsworth Service Director Chris Easton.

He noted the city has the option of filing a petition with the Ohio director of commerce challenging Time Warner’s actions.  “We’re seeking a legal opinion on that matter and we’re trying to determine if that’s the right course of action,” Easton said.

For 15 years prior to 2008, the city and Time Warner Cable shared the costs of the programming proportionately. Time Warner paid the city a $112,000 operating grant annually, which is 60 percent of the total operating costs of PEG programming. Time Warner holds a 60 percent share of the cable subscribers in the city, Easton said.

However, after the Ohio Cable Act in 2007 passed, cable providers no longer are required to be franchised with the city and are only to be franchised with the state, said Chris Thomas, Time Warner of Northeast Ohio’s director of government and media relations.

Thomas said Time Warner purchased a franchise with the state last year. It no longer holds a franchise with the city, but still pays a franchising fee to Wadsworth. Starting this year, Time Warner will not pay the operating grant for the PEG programming, he said.

In a press release dated Jan. 22, Mayor Robin Laubaugh included the advice of legal counsel: “Section 1332.30 (E) of the new Ohio Cable Act requires all cable and video providers to bear a proportional share of any unfulfilled obligation for PEG Channel facilities that existed on the effective date of the legislation.”   —>
http://wp2.medina-gazette.com/2008/02/06/news/wadsworth-irked-over-funding-halt-by-time-warner/
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Board won’t ask electric system to pay for study
by Jeff Farrell (1 comment)
The Mountain Press (TN)
02/06/08

SEVIERVILLE – The Board of Mayor and Aldermen won’t make Sevier County Electric System foot the bill for a study looking at the feasibility of creating a local broadband franchise. For now, at least, the city won’t be paying for one either.

The board decided Monday to put off any decision on whether to pay for a formal study into the prospects of using Sevier County Electric Service to provide cable television, high speed internet and phone services. They asked city staff to collect more information, and said they will review it at a March workshop and consider funding a formal study during the budgeting process for the upcoming fiscal year.   —>
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1211&dept_id=169689&newsid=19265668&PAG=461&rfi=9
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Access channel not happy with $200,000 a year
CAT TV wants an additional $400,000.
by Kat Hughes
Columbia Tribune (MO)
02/06/08

To keep Columbia Cable Access Television on the air during the past few years, volunteers have been organizing programming, operating cameras, fixing broken equipment and doing what’s necessary to ensure the show goes on even without a steady stream of funding.

But despite the Columbia City Council’s approval Monday night of a contract that provides the public access channel with $150,000 this year and $200,000 a year in operating costs for the next five years, CAT TV says it’s not enough.

Beth Pike, a member of CAT TV’s board and the Columbia Cable Task Force, said the channel’s board might decide not to sign the contract unless it gets additional money for capital expenditures such as professional-grade equipment and studio space.  “Everything we have been doing to this point has just been a Band-Aid,” Pike said. “If we don’t get the capital funds we need, we will be very hard-pressed to continue. We either do this or we don’t.”

Faced with substandard equipment, no paid staff and an obligation to renovate a small studio at Stephens College that will cost about $250,000, Pike said the channel needs an additional $400,000.  That’s $29,000 less than the city said the channel needed for start-up money in its pending 2001 lawsuit with Mediacom about unpaid franchise fees to provide public access. In that lawsuit, the city said the public- access channel required $429,000 in start-up capital and $174,000 to cover yearly operating costs.   —>
http://www.columbiatribune.com/2008/Feb/20080206News006.asp
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Public TV chief heads north
by Chris Bone
Morgan Hill Times (CA)
02/06/08

Avid viewers of Gilroy’s community television station might notice something different March 22.  That’s when Executive Director Suzanne St. John-Crane will end her nearly seven-year career at Community Media Access Partnership and depart for San Jose, where she will hold the same position at that city’s Community Media Access Corporation.   —>
http://morganhilltimes.com/news/235651-public-tv-chief-heads-north
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Coming up next on MATV
by Ron Cox
Malden Observer (MA)
02/06/08

This year, 2008, represents the 20th anniversary of the establishment of MATV, Malden’s Media Center.  In those two decades, Malden Access Television has grown into a vital institution that brings together this very diverse community and provides them with access to electronic media, technology, and training as well as a forum to exchange information and ideas. It is through interaction and cooperation that this incredible resource helps connect members of this City and MATV is committed to broadening this role in the coming years.

The future looks very bright for MATV, and we are encouraged by the support we are given by the variety of community organizations, businesses and citizens who have collaborated with us over the many years of service that our media center has provided.

Last year, the Mayor’s office successfully re-negotiated a new 10-year contract with Comcast and just recently started the process of negotiating an agreement with a second provider, Verizon Communications. This is not only good for consumers but its good for the city of Malden, because soon both providers will be contributing to the success of Malden’s communication needs.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/malden/news/lifestyle/columnists/x469095144

CALL FOR PROPOSALS:

“OURMedia 7: Identity, Inclusion, Innovation – Alternative Communication in a Globalized World”
August 11-15, 2008, Accra, Ghana
PenPlusBytes
02/06/08

CALL FOR PROPOSALS:

“OURMedia 7: Identity, Inclusion, Innovation – Alternative Communication in a Globalized World” will be held in Accra, the capital of Ghana, from 11-15 August 2008…

Founded in 2001, OURMedia/NUESTROSMedios is a global network with the goal of facilitating a long-term dialogue between academics, activists, practitioners and policy experts around citizens’ media initiatives.    OURMedia is about building an alternative world, rooted in local knowledge, anchored in strong identities but also connected to global networks, open to ‘otherness’, diversity and inclusion.

Alternative communication for an alternative world

OURMedia 7 is built on the assumption that alternative communication – a diversity of actors, voices, themes and discourses – needs to flourish and take hold to create alternative worlds.  It sees equity, community and cultural identity as the hallmarks of an alternative world.

Our Media 7 – In Africa, and in the world

OURMedia is coming to Africa for the first time through OM7.  The previous six conferences (OM1-OM6) were held in Washington, D.C., USA; Barcelona, Spain; Barranquilla, Colombia; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Bangalore, India; and Sydney, Australia.

Like the other conferences, OM7 will be shaped by the living experience of its host country and region.  For Ghana and much of Africa, that experience has tended to be portrayed by the world media in terms of deprivation and destruction, or as curiosities.  Yet, this vast, diverse and vibrant continent nourishes many of the values, traditions and practices that can enrich communication in an alternative world.

Like previous  OURMedia conferences, OM7 is an opportunity to dialogue and strengthen initiatives around common causes with the rest of the world.   In the case of OM7, the conference is also an invitation to better understand the complex and dynamic reality of Africa that informs and potentially deepens such dialogue and initiatives…

OM7 has selected three sub-themes – Identity, Inclusion and Innovation – that are key dimensions of alternative communication in, for and towards an alternative world. These may be regarded as different faces of marginalization in a world where expression is becoming increasingly uniform, majorities are being excluded (and even exploited), and certain kinds of knowledge and experience are presented as having more value than others. At the same time, the assertion of identity, inclusion and innovation are the very sources of strength to overcome homogenization, exclusion and relegation.   —>
http://penplusbytes.blogspot.com/2008/02/fwd-call-for-proposals-ourmedia-7.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 – 01/30/08

February 1, 2008

Public Access TV in the Digital Age: Alliance Testifies Before House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet
Alliance for Community Media
01/30/08

The Alliance was represented by today by Ms. Annie Folger, Executive Director of the Midpeninsula Media Center. Ms. Folger’s remarks addressed the difficulties faced by Public, Educational and Government Access (PEG) communities across the country. Many communities are seeing threats to their PEG facilities posed by video providers unwilling to meet the public interest needs required of them in exchange for use of the public rights of ways.

Millions of dollars have been spent by telephone and cable companies in the past two years on ad campaigns and lobbying to influence state cable franchise laws in 17+ states. The FCC has overruled Congress, assigning itself powers that Congress conferred on local communities.

According to Ms. Folger, “This chaos is being used to dismantle PEG support and to damage channel quality and accessibility. We welcome competition. But it cannot be used to gut PEG Access provisions that have provided direct service to the local community.”

Ms. Folger’s testimony made special example of AT&T’s blockage of closed-captioning for PEG channels on its U-Verse system— a function which is found on all of its commercial channels. At DeAnza Community College in Ms. Folger’s home town, this policy results in the inability of hearing impaired students to view classes which they need to improve their lives.

According to Alliance Executive Director, Anthony Riddle, “AT&T’s practice is not the only bad act by a video provider, but their willingness to sacrifice the needs of disabled students in a race for profit certainly makes them the poster child of corporate irresponsibility.”

Another issue raised was the “channel-slamming” engaged in by Comcast. Channel slamming is the practice of relocating PEG channels from desirable locations to inaccessible or unfamiliar “wilderness” locations on short notice and without consulting the communities involved. Additional purchases or steps may be required of viewers to continue viewing PEG channels. This practice isolates the PEG channels and tends to decrease viewership.

Many PEG centers have moved into digital technology for production and transmission. PEG centers are fully engaged in migration to an integrated digital environment when allowed. The primary challenge for PEG access is not digital technology, but how cable providers— whether traditional cable operator or telephone company— provide PEG signal quality, functionality, channel placement and funding support.
http://www.ourchannels.org/?p=116
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Ce n’est pas la science, c’est l’art!
by Bunnie Riedel
Telecommunications Consulting
01/30/08

I do have a passion for two things, Science and Art. Science because I am in awe of those fifty pound brains that can figure out the solar mass of a black hole or the structure and functions of the GNAT superfamily of acetyltransferases; and Art, because I can’t draw anything more complicated than a stick figure and I’m a big fan of Salvador Dali. Ergo I was a wee bit fascinated to find out that Comcast really employs Art, much more than Science, when figuring out what to carry on the analog Basic Tier of Service.   —>
http://www.riedelcommunications.blogspot.com/
~

Public access advocates hoping to hold on to cable channel
by Joe Lawlor
The Flint Journal (MI)
01/30/08

He’s a slouching, white-haired government critic who shouts out of your television set and shakes his hands to make a point.  But Bob Leonard, the former Genesee County prosecutor, no longer appears on Comcast Channel 17.  Public access advocates have reason to hope, though, as recent Michigan court decisions temporarily stopped Comcast from moving public access channels to the 900s as the cable giant undergoes a digital conversion.

Leonard said moving to the 900s would significantly reduce his audience if he ever gets back on the air.  “If you’re going through the TV channels on your clicker, you might stop on 17 and say, ‘There’s that nut again. Let me watch for a few minutes.’ But who the hell is going to make it to channel 950? They’ll never get there,” said Leonard, who suspended production after Comcast closed its public access studio in December.

Public access programs produced at independent studios can still appear on Channel 17.  And while David Cohen, Comcast’s executive vice president, did not indicate whether the company would consider abandoning plans to move the public access channels to the 900s, he did apologize before a U.S. Congress subcommittee on Tuesday.   —>
http://www.mlive.com/business/index.ssf/2008/01/public_access_advocates_hoping.html
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Comcast promises to fix community access channel issue
Associated Press
Detroit News (MI)
01/29/08

WASHINGTON — Comcast Corp. apologized today for the way it handled a proposed shift of community access programming in Michigan that would force customers to get converter boxes or new TVs to continue to watch local government meetings and high school football games.  Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and congressional Democrats criticized Comcast and AT&T Inc. for giving the public, educational and governmental programming, or PEG programming, what they termed “second-class” status.

“PEG programming deserves first-class treatment, not second-class billing,” said Dingell, D-Dearborn.  Dingell sought answers after government and consumer groups complained about Comcast’s plan to move the programming into the 900-level digital channel range in Michigan, part of a larger transition that cable companies are undergoing from analog to digital services.

David L. Cohen, Comcast’s executive vice president, told the panel that “in retrospect, we failed to communicate adequately our goals and to work cooperatively with our local partners to produce a ‘win’ for everyone.”  “That is not the way we want to do business — in Michigan or in the rest of the country — and I want to apologize for that,” he said.

Cohen said Comcast was “now engaged in friendly, and what I am sure ultimately will be fruitful, discussions” with Michigan officials, including Dearborn Mayor John B. O’Reilly Jr., who also testified before the committee’s Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.  O’Reilly said he was hopeful that the parties could reach an agreement that would be “ironclad” for consumers.   —>
http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080129/BIZ/801290460/1361
~

Letter to Tennessee PEG from TATOA
SaveAccess.org
01/30/08

Texas Association of Telecommunication Officers and Advisors (TATOA)
P.O. Box 1088, Austin, Texas 78767
January 22, 2008

Dear Tennessee colleagues:

I understand that you are considering legislation that would undo the current system of local franchising for cable television services in favor of a state-issued certificate for new entrants such as AT&T. Because Texas is frequently referenced by proponents of this legislation (such as AT&T and “astroturf” groups like TV4US) as a “success story” for state-issued franchising legislation, we felt it would be important to correct some popular misconceptions about our experience in the Lone Star State.

While there are those who suggest that usurping the traditional role of local officials in approving local franchises (which include anti-discrimination provisions, customer service standards and the carriage of public, educational and governmental channels) has showered the state of Texas with benefits without any costs whatsoever, the reality is in fact quite different.

For starters, video prices have not decreased anywhere near the 25 to 50 percent suggested by telephone companies. In fact, nearly every video provider operating in Texas has raised its prices in the past two years. This includes AT&T and Verizon, the major proponents of Texas SB 5. AT&T has raised the prices it charges for U-Verse, and Verizon has raised its rates for FiOS twice in the past year and a half, including a most recent price hike of 11.6 percent, leading one major analyst to comment that “the increase should serve as a reminder (in regulatory circles) that the forces driving price increases are not limited to a ‘lack of competition.’*”

Furthermore, in May 2007 the Texas Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors released a survey of cable rates from more than two dozen municipalities throughout Texas. Our results showed that in the more than two years since Texas passed SB 5, the vast majority of Texas residents have witnessed only further increases in the rates they pay for video service from both incumbent operators and new entrants like AT&T and Verizon.

Two and a half years since Texas passed SB 5, AT&T U-Verse service has been deployed in only parts of San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin. Within those regions, we have little to no assurance that low- and middle-income neighborhoods will ever receive service, since state-issued franchise legislation exempted new entrants from anti-discrimination (or “build out”) obligations. We are not permitted to require AT&T to serve all residents or all income categories, and have no access to AT&T’s deployment plans. In short, we have little ability to protect low-income residents from discrimination that would deny them the benefits of competition to which their wealthier neighbors get access.

On top of these alarming trends, PEG channels have been put at risk of going dark. On January 5, 2006, Time Warner under its state-issued franchise dropped the City of San Antonio public access channel based on the argument that the City failed to provide eight hours of daily programming as required by SB5. It took 6 months of negotiations to get the channel back on the air. And when customers suffer from poor customer service or technical problems and place a call to their local municipality for help, state-issued franchise legislation prevents local officials from enforcing any customer service standards whatsoever.

As the first state in the nation to have state issued franchising, we have perhaps the best vantage point to assess the legislation’s strengths and weaknesses. Two and a half years later, there is little evidence of widespread investment throughout the State, competition or price cuts, and much evidence that the role of local officials in protecting consumers has been undermined.

Since day one, we have wholehearted endorsed the prospect of increased competition from telephone companies entering into the video business. Grande Communications has been successful in providing competition to Time Warner since the 1990s and Verizon received a franchise from the City of Keller and began offering its FIOS there before SB5 was passed. There is no evidence that local franchising is standing in their way of providing competition.

Many thanks for your consideration of our experiences, and best of luck in the 2008 legislative session.

Sincerely,
Margaret Somereve, TATOA President
* Bernstein Research, 11/20/2007
http://saveaccess.org/node/2132
~

Why the Airwaves Auction Matters to Progressives
by Tim Karr
Huffington Post
01/30/08

Believe it or not, we’re eight years into the 21st century and more than half of the people in America have either no Internet access at home or are stuck on dial-up. In the meantime, countries in Asia and Europe have outpaced us with faster connections at far cheaper prices.  This situation is unacceptable, but there’s still reason to hope that we can regain our spot as a world leader in Internet services. Much of this rests on the outcome of a complex airwaves auction that began less than a week ago.   —>
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/why-the-airwaves-auction-_b_83979.html
~

Provisions DIY: Miro’s TV Democracy
by Gareth
Signal Fire
01/30/08

When I wrote my book Leo Laporte’s Guide to TiVo (which was really Gareth Branwyn’s Guide to TiVo — I wrote the book, he got his picture and name on the cover), I titled one of the chapters “DIY Network Programming.” I realized that, with TiVo’s ability (especially a hacked Series 1 TiVo) to search through the TV guide data and record only the shows you wanted, you were basically constructing your own TV channel out of all the content available, using Google-lite searches. Miro is that same technology, but applied to all of the video content of the Internet and it’s cross-platform, free and open source.

Miro, which was first named Democracy, was created by the Participatory Culture Foundation. It works on Windows, Macs, and Linux machines. The really amazing thing about it is that it can scoop up pretty much any video content across the Web, from YouTube, Google Video, and mainstream TV content online, to BitTorrent (peer-to-peer file sharing) to any video content that’s attached to an RSS feed, anywhere in cyberspace. I love the way it so seamlessly integrates mainstream commercial content, P2P content, and amateur content so that they all carry the same weight. Democratizing, indeed. The mission of the Participatory Culture Foundation is to bring the power to create, distribute, and view Internet TV to anyone who wants it. It’s TiVo meets Public Access TV meets Google… or something like that. It’s your next download.  Here to download Miro.   —>
http://wiki.provisionslibrary.org/blog/
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/26/08

January 27, 2008

Live Blogging during PEG Congressional Hearing
Free Press Action Network
01/25/08

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.   —>
http://www.freepress.net/actionnetwork/node/401
~

City to ask Legislature to revisit Sunday alcohol sales, annexation expansion
by Robert DeWitt
Tuscaloosa News (AL)
01/26/08

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.   —>
http://www.tuscaloosanews.com/article/20080126/LATEST/690624097/-1/NEWS03
~

If you value public access TV, speak up
Bainbridge Island Review (WA)
01/26/08

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.
http://www.bainbridgereview.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=96&cat=48&id=1145744&more=0
~

The Winds of Change
Potential Reform of FCC Could Go in Many Directions
by Ted Hearn
Multichannel News
01/28/08

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.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6525874.html
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The Other India and Media
Mainstream Weekly
by Suhas Borker
01/26/08

—>   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.   —>
http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article518.html
~

Decision to Shut Down AZN Television a Huge Loss to Asian American Community
PRNewswire
01/26/08

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.    —>
http://sev.prnewswire.com/publishing-information-services/20080126/CLSA01026012008-1.html
~

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

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: www.wemediamiami.org.

“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, PaidContent.org, SourceForge, and the Innovators Network.   —>
http://www.pr-usa.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=61176&Itemid=9
~

French Media Reforms
by Rizwan Ghani
American Chronicle
01/26/08

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.   —>
http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/50291
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-3650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org