Archive for the ‘channel slamming’ 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 – 04/15/08

April 20, 2008

Cable access channels to move in St. Charles County
Charter making room for more high-definition stations
by Kalen Ponche
St. Charles Journal (MO)
04/15/08

[ 1 comment ]

Residents who regularly watch their local city council or board of aldermen meetings on cable soon will have to flip to a new channel. Charter Communications officials are planning to move four local government access stations from their current location on the dial to a new location in the 900s, said Charter spokesman John Miller. The stations for St. Peters, St. Charles, Lindenwood University and O’Fallon would move to channels in a new “government programming corridor” that also would include C-Span 2 and 3 by May 13, Miller said. The St. Charles County government station, channel 18, would move at a later date.The move will free up space for Charter to debut eight new high-definition channels. But Charter customers who do not already subscribe to digital cable would have to rent a converter box for $5 per month for each TV to catch shows broadcast on the government stations.

The potential cost to consumers has raised concerns amongst government officials who also worry about losing audience members because of the move. St. Charles city officials have questioned Charter’s ability to move the stations under the current franchise agreement. In August, a new state law went into effect giving Charter the ability to operate under a state franchise agreement rather than honoring local franchise agreements with each municipality. City Attorney Mike Valenti said he is looking into the legality of the issue. A representative from Charter was expected to discuss the matter with City Council members during their meeting Tuesday. —>
http://stcharlesjournal.stltoday.com/articles/2008/04/15/news/sj2tn20080415-0416stc-charter0.ii1.txt
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Don’t shortchange our public access (Conn. Post)
SimsburyTV.org (CT)
04/15/08

[ comments invited ]

Why is it that public affairs and public access channels get such short shrift and lack of attention from cable companies and Internet Protocol-based television purveyors? It was only a few years ago that cable providers in this region made unfathomable attempts to cut back on local public access channels. Now, the Connecticut Television Network, devoted to coverage of state government issues, fears it might receive second-class treatment as AT&T rolls out its newly authorized U-verse service in many communities across Connecticut. CT-N officials are fighting back — and rightfully so. —>
http://simsburytv.org/blog/2008/04/why-is-it-that-public-affairs-and.html
Also in The Stamford Advocate (comments invited): http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/opinion/ci_8927505
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Democracy means aiding participation
Citizen of Laconia (NH)
04/15/08

Gilford selectmen have made the right move in returning to nighttime meetings. While the selectmen have only agreed to try the new schedule for three months, it shows that the board is making a serious attempt to give the public every opportunity to observe and influence the process of town government. Starting at the end of the month the selectmen’s meetings will move from 3 p.m. on Wednesday to 7 p.m.

…It has also been suggested that scheduling meetings when the public can attend has become obsolete with the advent of Public Access cable television. While Cable TV certainly gives greater exposure to local government than was possible before, being able to attend those meetings in person gives the public not only the opportunity to observe what one town board or other is doing, but it also enables the public to offer their input at appropriate times. Most local boards have a designated time when the public is able to raise concerns, ask questions or offer comments. —>
http://www.citizen.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080415/GJOPINION02/237446345/-1/CITNEWS
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Fiber Optics: Bringing the Next Big Thing to New York
by Joshua Breitbart
Gotham Gazette (NY)
April, 2008

[ comments invited ]

On April 15, after months of negotiations, Verizon announced it would file an application with the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications to offer video service throughout the city. If that application is approved, it will be the company’s cue to ramp up its installation of fiber optic cables to every home in New York and start offering its FiOS package of Internet, video, voice and even wireless for those customers who really love a one-stop-shop. Verizon says it could begin offering the video service by the end of the year.

I’m not trying to hype the service – Verizon’s television advertising campaign can take care of that. But the widespread adoption of DSL and cable changed the Internet radically, making photo galleries and short videos commonplace; the next generation of connection speeds will likely yield a similar transformation. An uncompressed feature film will download in a half an hour over a fiber optic connection compared to almost 10 hours on DSL and practically never on dial-up.

… As Juan Gonzalez reported in the Daily News last fall, the Bloomberg administration and Verizon have been conducting secret negotiations for months. Although the application must still clear a number of hurdles, Verizon’s announcement seems to indicate that it and the city have made some progress in the talks. Based on the statements by members of the City Council and the public interest community, there have been a number of key issues. The first is buildout.

… Another issue centered around whether Verizon would commit to funding centers like Manhattan Neighborhood Network and Brooklyn Community Access Television where people can go to use expensive television production equipment and broadcast their programming. Existing cable providers already do this. But the Internet is different. People can upload video content from their homes. Training and equipment access can happen at the neighborhood level. Verizon representatives visited the public access centers recently, andthe company probably is willing to match the incumbents’ support in that realm, but might balk at going further. Its statement did not address this.

“Public access and citywide buildout are a given,” Brewer said, “but Verizon also needs to support the social layer.” That means all of the things in addition to access that people need to use the Internet, especially computers, training and relevant content. There are many groups in the city like Per Scholas in the Bronx and Computers For Youth that provide these kinds of services. Since the Bush administration cut community technology funding in his first term, these programs have relied almost exclusively on foundation support. —>
http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/tech/20080416/19/2493/
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Hook ‘Em with Technology, Keep ‘Em with Relationships
by Kimberlie Kranich
Jouth Media Reporter
04/15/08

[ comments invited ]

Young people build social skills and positive relationships through media technology, specifically the creation of radio and TV programs. It is through these positive relationships that young people begin to see possibilities for themselves beyond the low expectations set by the media and community. “Media. That’s what it took, [to] really get me to ask questions and get to really know other people and what they’re all about,” says Jason, a high school student that participates in the Youth Media Workshop at the University of Illinois based WILL AM-FM-TV.

The excitement of using technology and the possibility of making a TV or radio program prompts young people to apply for the Youth Media Workshop (YMW). After five years of working with youth in the YMW, our experience has shown us that the positive relationships created are as important, if not more important, than the media technology skills gained by young people. Youth media programs must focus on building these positive relationships as the basis of their work and improve upon not only young people’s lives, but those within the community. —>

Related Articles from Youth Media Reporter, April 15, 2008:

The Talking Cure
Practitioners don’t need to be junior therapists to support young people who disclose trauma. Creating media and sharing stories is part of the cure.
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/04/the_talking_cure_1.html

Thinking Outside the Youth Media Box
If youth media wants young people to step outside the box it will have to take its own steps in the same direction.
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/04/thinking_outside_the_youth_med_1.html

Keeping the ‘Youth’ in Youth Media
A youth leader-turned-employee informs how youth media organizations need young people to take the lead.
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/04/keeping_the_youth_in_youth_med.html

http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/04/the_talking_cure.html
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Image fix is planned for FWCS
by Kelly Soderlund
The Journal Gazette (IN)
04/15/08

There is a disconnect between what the public believes is happening in schools and what is actually going on, the Fort Wayne Community Schools communications director told the board Monday night. But the public is not to blame; it’s the district, said Melanie Hall, who oversees the district’s public relations. “We understand that this is a lot our fault,” Hall said. Hall, her staff and the FWCS administration are working to close that gap by reaching out to the community, educating parents and Fort Wayne residents and trying to enhance the district’s image.

… FWCS officials also produced an annual report and fact sheet to distribute to the public and developed videos and documentaries about students and the district to be aired on the public-access channel. Hall plans to add community members to the communications team, develop an electronic newsletter and expand television productions. —>
http://www.journalgazette.net/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080415/LOCAL04/804150307/1002/LOCAL
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Production Manager Karen Adams Nominated for an Emmy!
by Stan Ng
Midpeninsula Community Media Center (CA)
04/14/08

The Midpeninsula Community Media Center proudly announces that Riding the Storm, the independent production of Karen Adams, our production manager and staff producer, has been nominated for an EMMY! The 37th Annual Northern California Area EMMY® Award Nominations were announced Thursday, April 10th. Riding The Storm: Landslide Danger in the San Francisco Bay Area, that first aired on KTEH 54, was submitted by U.S. Geological Survey in the Informational/Instructional category. Besides Adams’ leadership as Producer/Director/Editor, credits go to Douglas DeVore, Videographer; Bryan Coleman, Motion Graphics/Animation; and Wendy Van Wazer, Editor.

About the program – Although well aware of the region’s earthquake threat, many San Francisco Bay Area residents are perilously uninformed about another dangerous geologic hazard: landslides triggered by heavy rainfall. In January 1982 a single, catastrophic rainstorm triggered 18,000 landslides throughout the Bay Area. During the drenching winter of 1997-98, El Nino-driven storms triggered a range of landslides in the Bay Area from deadly debris flows to destructive deep-seated slides. Riding the Storm documents these tragic events, the lessons learned from residents, and explores the science behind the hazard with U.S. Geological Survey researchers. It is the first documentary of its kind to detail the landslide hazard in the Bay area. —>
http://midpen-media-center.blogspot.com/2008/04/production-manager-karen-adams.html
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Council hears concerns about Urbana Public TV
by Mike Monson
The News-Gazette (IL)
04/15/08

URBANA – Members of the local Jewish community Monday night denounced what they call hate speech that they say has been regularly broadcast on Urbana Public Television. The overflow crowd, in excess of 60 people, endured a meeting that lasted more than four hours for the chance to tell city council members how anti-Semetic public-access programming had deeply upset them. “We get free speech,” said Rona James. “We love free speech. We are talking about something that is not free speech. It is hate speech.” “This is KKK stuff,” said Lee Melhado of Champaign, executive director of the Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation. “It doesn’t happen to be directed at African-Americans … but it is directed at Jews.” —>
http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2008/04/15/council_hears_concerns_about_urbana
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Distribution: Public Access Television
by Randy Hansen
Videomaker
May 2008

How to produce video productions with someone else’s gear and get them broadcast – for free!

It’s a federal mandate to local cable companies (the Federal Cable and Telecommunications Acts of 1984, 1992 and 1996, to be exact): depending on your city or county’s franchise agreement with your local cable company, there may be an entire video production organization at your disposal – everything from video gear, video editing computers, studio space and even a way to broadcast your finished masterpiece at no cost to you. All you have to do is provide the labor and brainpower. In the Beginning… —>
http://www.videomaker.com/article/13870/
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This concludes our broadcast…
by Helder Mira
Mira Hartford (CT)
04/14/08

[ comments invited ]

While not as long as the 11 seasons of M*A*S*H*, my broadcasting days at Hartford Public Access Television have now concluded. I have officially resigned from the organization to pursue my own endeavors. It’s been an interesting ride over 7 years, despite the last seasons having ‘jumped the shark’, but it was still the place to be. And it is still the place to tune to find out what’s happening in Hartford. After a brief hiatus, I will be producing programs again (right now, just acting as sponsor on Saturday Fright Special). —>
http://www.mirahartford.net/2008/04/this-concludes-our-broadcast.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 – 03/01/08

March 8, 2008

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

[ 4 comments ]

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

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/22/08

February 23, 2008

Another Chance to Preserve PEG!
by Cynthia Thomet
Akaku: Maui Community Television (HI)
02/22/08

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. —>
http://www.akaku.org/?p=58
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[ State laws on cable franchises ]
by Derek Hodges
The Mountain Press (TN)
02/22/08

[ 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.
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1211&dept_id=169689&newsid=19316137&PAG=461&rfi=9
~

Clearing up the DTV Transition
Cable Tech Talk
02/22/08

[ 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.   —>
http://www.cabletechtalk.com/2008/02/22/clearing-up-the-dtv-transition/
~

Local Self Reliance (CA)
Mother Earth News
02/22/08

[ 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.”   —>
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/1983-05-01/Cable-TV.aspx
~

Net Neutrality Is a Civil Rights Issue
by Mark Lloyd
Save The Internet
02/22/08

[ 3 comments ]

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.   —>
http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2008/02/22/net-neutrality-is-a-civil-right-issue/
~

Media community calls upon Somali government to change media laws
ijnet – International Center for Journalists
02/22/08

[ 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 nusoj@nusoj.com.
http://www.ijnet.org/Director.aspx?P=Article&ID=307285&LID=1
~

Liberia: Community Radio Station Closed Down
Media Foundation for West Africa (Accra)
AllAfrica.com
02/21/08

[ 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.
http://allafrica.com/stories/200802220778.html
~

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.   —>
http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25611
~

Stories from the Global Grassroots
by Amy Wolf
The Indypendent
02/24/08

[ 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.   —>
http://www.indypendent.org/2008/02/22/stories-from-the-global-grassroots/
~

Verizon FiOS Wins Local Video Franchise in Chesapeake, Virginia
Telecommunications Industry News
02/22/08

[ 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.
http://www.teleclick.ca/2008/02/verizon-fios-wins-local-video-franchise-in-chesapeake-virginia/
~

‘Captain Curling’ is in the house
by Keith Uhlig
Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
02/22/08

[ 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.   —>
http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080222/WDH04/802220403/1619
~

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
02/22/08

[ 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.   —>
http://www.contracostatimes.com/business/ci_8334161
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/21/08

February 22, 2008

An Emmy for Euille?

by Michael Lee Pope
Alexandria Gazette Packet (VA)
02/20/08

Members of the Alexandria City Council are frequently recognized when they are about town. But are they television stars?

According to a recent survey of Comcast users, viewership of City Council meetings has increased 60 percent from last year to an all-time high. A whopping 86 percent of Comcast subscribers responded that they had watched a City Council meeting during the last year. Only 58 percent of respondents, by comparison, said they watched a School Board meeting in the last year.  “We should get an Emmy,” cracked Mayor Bill Euille during last week’s City Council meeting.   —>
http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?paper=59&cat=104&article=93798
~

Where is the Love
The “Reel” and Visible Truth about Pleasant Prairie (WI)
02/21/08

[ 5 comments ]

—>   The Lt. Gov suggested per Mr. Babcock that municipalities LIKE PLEASANT PRAIRIE take action to put videotaping of Board Meetings, etc, so that citizens have a source of news.  This is nothing new, and I have been preaching this idea for around 2 years now. In order to show that it is not a TECHNICALLY DIFFICULT effort, we have begun videotaping and putting unedited clips of board meetings since 11/19/2007 onto YOUTUBE at http://www.youtube.com/PleasantPrairieWI.

The village leaders such as Trustee Mike Serpe have justified NOT HAVING MEETINGS ON CH25 as being “BORING”, and classified them as a good sedative if they were to make it onto CH25.   —>
http://pleasantprairiewi.blogspot.com/2008/02/where-is-love.html
~

Student volunteers help cable TV programs happen
by Bev Wax
Dover-Sherborn Press (MA)
02/21/08

[ comments allowed ]

DOVER and SHERBORN – To get a taste of what young people think about Boston sports teams, Dover-Sherborn residents of all ages may want to tune into “The Roundtable” on DSCTV. Four students and three faculty members make up the talk show panel that comes across as personable, opinionated, entertaining and often quite funny.

The monthly show is part of a course taught by Mike Sweeney, media coordinator for Dover-Sherborn High School. The first episode covers a short summary of high school sports team standings; Curt Schilling’s ability to pitch for the Red Sox; the Celtics’ wins; the Patriots’ loss; and the recent testimony of Roger Clemens on steroid use.

Sweeney hopes the program “will show the students the benefit of their hard work” in a studio setting. The program is part of Video/Media II class focusing on basic script writing, camera technique and digital editing. A requirement is the completion of Video/Media I, where “students work together as a team, learn about media literacy and ethics, and how to produce and direct.”

Two other DSHS programs are currently produced: the monthly “Raider Report” for Video/Media II and “Spinners” for Video/Media I that is produced every two to three weeks. Sweeney said, “ ‘Raider Report’ is a news magazine that showcases events, faculty and student achievement in the high school. ‘Spinners’ is a game show that is our longest running program and has produced about 200 episodes.”   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/dover/news/education/x1637670682
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Ready for prime time: Niagara Falls students run cable-access channel
by Emma D. Sapong
Buffalo News (NY)
02/20/08

It’s just 7:30 a.m., but the students of “High School Live” are already energized, hurling TV production jargon at each other, as they prepare for the morning newscast. Upbeat, chatty anchors assemble before the cameras for a practice run, while other students ready the cameras and review the show’s script on the teleprompter. When 8:15 rolls around, the three anchors announce sports scores, upcoming school events, mix in some world news, college scholarship opportunities and the SAT word of the day. “It’s really neat to have something like this in our school,” said junior Kelly O’Brien, one of the rotating anchors of “High School Live,” the TV show that replaced traditional morning announcements at Niagara Falls High School.

The morning newscast is just the start of the enthusiasm and passion students maintain throughout the day while upholding their unique responsibility of creating more than two dozen shows from the school’s studio for Niagara County educational access channel and a potential viewership of 45,000 people.

“It’s my life, honestly,” said junior Anthony Wright, who produces, directs and hosts multiple shows. “It’s really what makes me happy. If there were no media studies program, it would just be another day at school.”  Anthony, 17, is one of 140 students enrolled in the school’s media studies elective, which trains them in TV production with their work airing on Our Schools Channel 21, the Niagara County’s educational access station on Time Warner.   —>
http://www.buffalonews.com/185/story/280722.html
~

Cinemat celebration showcases student work
by Rosemary Pennington
Indiana University School of Journalism
02/21/08

Last year, Bloomington residents nominated almost 100 area volunteers for the City of Bloomington Volunteer Network’s Heart and Hand award, a handful of whom were profiled at a video showcase at the Cinemat Thursday evening.

“I’d like to thank you all for being here tonight,” BVN Director Bet Savich said to a crowded room of School of Journalism graduate students and area volunteers. “We hope that tonight is a celebration of volunteerism as well as inspiration for those who aren’t already involved to become involved.”

The Volunteer Video Showcase was the culmination of assistant professor Mike Conway’s J520 Video Storytelling class. The class, offered last semester, was designed to teach graduate students the skills needed to create rich, textured stories using video.

“We at the School of Journalism are trying to adapt to the changing media world,” Conway told the crowd. “We’re training the next generation of journalists and we want them to have the skills they need to work in this new environment.”

One of the class assignments last semester was to profile the Heart and Hand nominees. The students combed through 89 essays written about the nominees; from those essays, they chose several to profile. The BVN then connected the students and volunteers.   —>
http://journalism.indiana.edu/news/cinemat-celebration-showcases-student-work/
~

Have your say about Verizon
by Ron Cox
Malden Observer (MA)
02/21/08

[ comments allowed ]

On Thursday, Feb. 28 beginning at 6 p.m., there will be a public hearing regarding the current negotiations with Verizon Communications to become a second provider of cable television for Malden residents. This is good news for consumers because it means our city will have someone other than Comcast and satellite dishes to choose from, and that brings more competition to viewers.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/malden/news/lifestyle/columnists/x257793913
~

TV Party and Unmasked at the New Museum
by B. Blagojevi
The Zine (NY)
02/21/08

Tomorrow night at the New Museum, non-commercial, art television variety show host Glenn O’Brien will present various selected clips form his well known New York public access show TV PARTY, active from 1978 through 1982. The show hosted many bands and musicians of note who would visit to perform or to be interviewed, not the least of which was David Byrne and Debbie Harry.   —>
http://zine.artcal.net/2008/02/tv-party-and-unmasked-at-the-n.php
~

Stayton Discusses Skate Park During City Council Meeting
by Ken Cartwright
KENC Radio (OR)
02/20/08

[ 1 comment ]

—>   Council and audience has had trouble for years hearing the council meetings. It was also suggested that with the forthcoming Community Access Television and the community radio wanting to broadcast council meetings live, and other media needing a media audio port, it was time for the council to take action and replace the system.

A proposal was made that an adequate system would cost about $10,000 and would not only serve the community center, but the new city hall if and when the city is able to build one. It is further proposed that the city pay for it from future revenue that the city collects from television cable franchise fees. It was indicated that the city collects a 5% fee from the cable company and has for at least 16 years but has never invested any of that money in community cable access or audio for the city council.   —>
http://salem-news.com/articles/february202008/stayton_2-20-08.php
~

Time Warner agrees to cover taping of St. Patrick’s Day Parade
by Brian Meyer
Buffalo News (NY)
02/21/08

In an earlier era, the former Rita O’Leary would trek downtown to watch her dad march in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  Now in her 70s, Rita Smith enjoys watching the event from her living room couch when it’s aired on Buffalo’s cable television system.  “It’s too cold for me to sit outside that long,” the Old First Ward resident said.  Smith’s heart sank when she read Wednesday that the March 16 parade might not be taped for later viewing. Time Warner Cable informed the not-for-profit parade sponsor that it would no longer provide free production services.

She was thrilled to hear that the company did an about-face and agreed to provide video crews for one more year.  “When you’re home and not able to go out, you’re always looking for something different,” she said. “I like to watch for people I know who march in the parade.”

Time Warner’s reversal came after the city’s cable franchise faced blistering criticism for insisting that parade organizers either pay a $3,500 production fee or find their own video crews. Some Common Council members assailed the city’s cable television franchise, saying it can afford to absorb the costs.

One day after lawmakers criticized the decision, Time Warner sent a follow-up letter to the United Irish-American Association of Erie County.  “In this one instance, we will supply you with a crew to film your parade,” wrote Robin L. Wolfgang, vice president of public and government relations.

She said parade sponsors should work with the city to secure time slots on one of Buffalo’s public access channels. In past years, the parade was aired on Time Warner’s Channel 13. But last November, the company launched Time Warner Sports Net on the channel. It carries a heavy schedule of college and high school games.

“This compromise should accomplish your goals of broadcasting the parade for the widest viewing audience,” Wolfgang wrote. “We hope you also recognize this donation and sacrifice Time Warner Cable is making in order to ensure that followers and participants of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade have a resource to view it in their home.”

Wolfgang made it clear that in future years, the company’s ability to cover such events will be “limited” and that parade organizers should work with video crews from the city’s public access channels to secure production services. The public access channels are funded through money provided by Time Warner as part of its franchise agreement.   —>
http://www.buffalonews.com/home/story/281413.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 – 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
~

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
~

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
~

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
~

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

“PEG Access in the Digital Age”: The Entire Congressional Hearing, in Order, in YouTube Clips

February 15, 2008

Here are clips of the January 29 hearing held by the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee, “PEG Services in the Digital Age.” The clips are in chronological order, beginning with opening statements (1-7), witnesses testimony (8-11), and representatives’ questions (12-20).

The hearing was called largely in response to Comcast’s recent attempt at ‘channel slamming’ in Michigan (moving PEG access channels into the 900 digital-tier range) but also included a look at AT&T’s U-Verse and its second-class-citizen treatment of PEG access channels. Witnesses represented the City of Dearborn, Comcast, AT&T, and the Alliance for Community Media.

In addition to Annie Folger’s testimony on behalf of the ACM (11), PEG access advocates will be especially cheered by the questions asked by Markey, Dingell, Gonzalez, Rush, and Solis (12, 14, 16, 18, 19), as well as by Chairman Markey’s closing remarks (20).

PEG access advocates should write their representatives, whether or not they are supportive of PEG access protections, and whether or not they are on this Committee, and let them know how much you and your communities value these channels. Then, plan to make an appointment to visit them during our national conference in Washington this July.

(It also wouldn’t hurt if you commented on these clips as you see fit over at YouTube. Though the clips are presented in order here on “Clippings”, over there you can help stimulate and broaden participation in the discussion. Soon these will also be on blip.tv, and archive.org, so there will be even more opportunities for creating and pursuing public conversations on these topics.)

[ The witnesses written testimony can be downloaded from this page. ]
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House PEG Access Hearing – 01: Anna Eshoo (D-CA)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 02: Cliff Stearns (R-FL)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 03: Ed Markey (D-MA)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 04: Fred Upton (R-MI)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 05: John Dingell (D-MI)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 06: Jane Harman (D-CA)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 07: Lois Capps (D-CA), Hilda Solis (D-CA), & Gene Green (D-TX)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 08: John O’Reilly, Dearborn Mayor

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House PEG Access Hearing – 09: David Cohen, Comcast VP

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House PEG Access Hearing – 10: Gail Torreano, AT&T Michigan President

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House PEG Access Hearing – 11: Annie Folger, Alliance for Community Media; Midpenisula Community Media Center Executive Director

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Here is the silent video the Alliance presented, showing how long it takes to select a PEG access channel on a U-Verse system.

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House PEG Access Hearing – 12: Ed Markey (D-MA) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 13: Fred Upton (R-MI) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 14: John Dingell (D-MI) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 15: Joe Barton (R-TX) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 16: Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 17: Cliff Stearns (R-FL) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 18 : Bobby Rush (D-IL) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 19 : Hilda Solis (D-CA) questions

[ Representative Solis hits on two of the many problems with the U-Verse approach – inability to handle closed captioning and SAP programming. AT&T’s Gail Torreano seems to misunderstand Solis’ SAP question; her ‘yes we can’ answer is not true. – rm ]

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House PEG Access Hearing – 20: Closing Statements


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