Archive for the ‘community journalism’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/21/08

April 22, 2008

State video franchising: Where are the competitors?
by Bill Callahan
Callahan’s Cleveland Diary (OH)
04/21/08

[ comments invited ]

This post and comments at BFD got me wondering: How’s that brave new world of competitive IPTV and sizzling broadband that Ohioans were promised last summer — when the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved and the Governor happily signed SB 117, AT&T’s “cable franchise reform” bill — coming along?
[…]
Here’s a PUCO map of Ohio’s local telephone service areas. The colored-in areas are covered by VSAs held by telephone companies (”Local Exchange Carriers”) as of yesterday. The uncolored areas — not.

Since the map doesn’t show them, it’s probably useful to name (again) some of the cities and villages in that uncolored area — communities that now have neither local government oversight nor the prospect of IPTV competition for their cable services any time soon, thanks to all those fine folks who voted for SB 117. Here are a couple of dozen: Cincinnati, Athens. Newark. Mansfield. Ashtabula. Brunswick. Portsmouth. New Philadelphia. Lorain. Elyria. Norwalk. Hudson. Medina. Marion. Wapakoneta. Lima. Defiance. Bryan. Van Wert. Oregon. Bowling Green. Ashland. Wooster. Carrollton. Piketon. Lorain. Amherst. Oberlin.

If you live in one of these places — or in Cleveland, for that matter — it’s probably time to call your State Representative and Senator and ask them when you can expect that cable competition they promised you.
http://www.callahansclevelanddiary.com/?p=559
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So about that Washington State news outlet…
by Aneurin
Politics Is a Blood Sport (WA)
04/21/08

[ comments invited ]

State Rep. Deb Wallace makes a good observation regarding lack of basic news information in Southwest Washington, after the demise of Comcast Channel 14 and broadcast of KIRO Seattle news:

The College Bound scholarships paid for by the state Legislature should be a dream come true.  After all, up to 56,000 seventh- or eighth-grade students who sign up by June 1 will be eligible to receive free college tuition and $500 for college books when they are ready for higher education.  But Rep. Deb Wallace, D-Vancouver, was concerned to find out that just 4,000 students have signed up so far.  “People’s lives are so busy, particularly when you’re working a job or two, and it’s really difficult to get information out to people,” Wallace said. “I also think that so much of our media comes from Oregon, so information about programs like this don’t get out as they do in the Seattle area.”

That’s a great point, and it reminded me of promises made to get KIRO or some other Seattle news outlet on basic cable. Why this isn’t in the local franchise agreement between CVTV and Comcast is a bit odd, especially knowing the unique media condition of Clark County.  Tracie Looney at CVTV informs me that there are discussions with KIRO to get broadcast permission on to Channel 21, one of the government channels in the basic cable range. I asked her if there’s a time limit for them to respond and she indicated that they’ll open it up to other Seattle news stations, most likely KOMO, unless KIRO responds by this week.   —>
http://aneurinsblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-about-that-washington-state-news.html
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What The Heck…Local News?
by Alan
A Round World Through Square Glasses (OH)
04/21/08

[ comments invited ]

Here in Cincinnati, there is a census being taken on whether or not a local t.v. station should drop sports from their newscast. Having worked in the news industry for awhile (14 years), there are also a few things that can definately be changed about local news…but dropping sports ain’t one of them. Of course I have to give my 2 cents worth. I did it when I worked in news and no one cared. I see the same thing happening here…so here I go.
[…]
For years stations have been depleting their sports departments. Most have, at best, a sports director and maybe a photographer that is dedicated to sports. My feeling is you’ve dropped the ball here. Look at the thousands of fans who go to a Reds/Brewers game every night? Granted, 25,000 ain’t a lot compared to the Cubs who sell out every night, but still it’s 25,000 viewers who might not have watched your newscast that night. But you send a photog and a reporter down there, interview about 20 people, edit something together and you set yourself up as a presence at that stadium.

At your local high school, nothing garners more excitement than the possibility that you might end up on t.v.. There are high school games being broadcast on local Fox Sports Network programming. There are local games being broadcast on public access. People want to see their kids play sports on t.v. The same goes for highlights. You send a tv crew to a few games a night, you get viewers.

Of course, this is just my opinion…but you got it all backwards. Maybe local news should start figuring out that it’s not about what’s killing us that we’re interested in these days. It’s what is keeping us alive that matters…and we like our sports and weather and feel good stories.   —>
http://alntv.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/what-the-hecklocal-news/
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The Poets & the Party at Luminaria
by South Texas Media Access
And Media Access for All (TX)
04/21/08

[ comments invited ]

Footage from the Poets Corner at the 2008 Luminaria Arts Event in San Antonio Texas. This clip was for San Antonio Public Access TV.  —>
http://txmediaaccess.blogspot.com/2008/04/poets-party-at-luminaria.html
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Chatting with Eva
by Eva the Deadbeat
Dead Beat Club (VT)
04/21/08

[ 1 comment ]

The very talented Winooski photographer and videographer Dan Higgins was kind enough to make a little documentary about me. I have to admit, watching it makes me blush…  THANKS DAN!

“Chatting With Eva” will broadcast Wednesday, April 23, at 6:00 pm on Channel 17, Town Meeting Television, on Comcast Cable and Burlington Telecom systems.  This 21-minute video, by Dan Higgins, looks at behind-the-scenes working methods of Eva Sollberger, videographer and editor extraordinare, as she prepares her weekly web feature “Stuck in Vermont”. Eva also talks about the origins of her visually creative Public Access TV show, “The Deadbeat Club”.   —>
http://deadbeatdirt.blogspot.com/2008/04/chatting-with-eva.html
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Could the BBC co-design its new community services?
by David Wilcox
Socialreporter (UK)
04/21/08

[ 5 comments ]

Here’s a try-out for socialreporter as collaboration co-ordinator, on the lines of “wouldn’t it be a good idea if…” rather than “here’s a problem, let’s stir things up”.  I wonder if it’s possible to organise a get-together between people interested in how new BBC services may support social action, local democracy and online communities.

It seems timely because the BBC is planning something substantial which could, for the first time, link their “professional” services to online material produced by citizen journalists and other local community media projects. Proposals will soon be put to the BBC Trust, which has to approve the plans.  Before that happens it seems to me important that all parties take a realistic look at what’s possible, and think out how to co-design something useful to local democracy.

The problem is that the community side of the deal may not hold up. Recently Charlie Beckett, champion of networked journalism, raised the issue of what happens if no-one comes … that is, the citizen journalists don’t materialise in the form the professionals hope. The BBC’s Robin Hamman offered some useful insights from the Manchester blogging experiment, including: “People don’t necessarily blog or post content about the topics, stories and events that media organisations might hope they would – and, in our experience anyway, rarely post about news and current affairs.”

Now another media commentator, Martin Moore, has trawled through the Annex 8 of OFCOM’s Public Service Broadcasting Review similarly trying to work if there’s a future for local news, community and social action on the web. —>
http://socialreporter.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/could-the-bbc-co-design-its-new-community-services/
~

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

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Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/01/08

April 2, 2008

Louisiana Lawmakers Mull Video Franchising Bills
Pending Bills Would Give Franchising Authority To Secretary Of State
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News
04/01/08

Legislators in Louisiana will take on the issue of state franchising of video providers this session, a regulatory change that was shot down by then-governor Katherine Babineaux Blanco in 2006 due to her fear it would “interfere with the contractual rights of local governments.”  But the legislative session opened March 31 under a new governor, Bobby Jindal, and two bills have been introduced in the House and one in the Senate that contain several of the operational points that were in the bill rejected by Blanco two years ago.

For instance the bills would move franchising authority to the Secretary of State, which would have 10 days to authorize a certificate for a new provider.  Under the bills to be pondered in committee in both the state House and Senate, incumbent operators would be held to their current franchise agreements. Current video providers may only apply for state authorization when their current franchises expire, or if the local community agrees to let a company out of its agreement in favor of state regulation.

The bills ban build-out provisions and any local fees on new providers. Competitors would pay the same franchise fee amounts as incumbents, or up to 5%; and must provide up to three PEG channels. Local municipalities would be responsible for operating the PEG channels, though.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6546718.html
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Lawmakers Push For More Cable Competition
by Catharyn Campbell
WSMV Nashville (TN)
04/01/08

Lawmakers are reviving a plan to allow more cable providers to come to Tennessee to provide more choices to residents and hopefully create competition.  AT&T wants to provide cable television to Tennessee residents and the company may be able to offer that service before the year is up.

Currently state law prevents phone companies from providing cable television service.  However, Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro is trying to change that and is sponsoring a bill that will allow phone companies, electric utilities and cable television companies to sell video services across the state.  “I believe consumers should have the opportunity to pick and chose who they want. Right now if you are with Comcast or Charter, they went up $5 in December. So where do you go?” said Ketron.

A similar bill was put on hold last year, but for the past several months, cable companies, representatives from AT&T and attorneys have been meeting trying to hammer out an agreement.

They’re also proposing that the franchise fee be increased from 3 percent to 5 percent, which would go right back into the local community.  “Whatever is sold within the parameters of that community, they will get 5 percent of the franchise fee,” said Ketron…  The bill will go to committee next week and then still has to pass the House and Senate.   —>
http://www.wsmv.com/politics/15760641/detail.html
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Is the face of public access programming changing?
by Gregory Hyman
West Hartford News (CT)
04/01/08

Could revisions to a bill passed by the House last year change the way West Hartford residents view public access programming?  That’s the question some public access leaders are asking after members of the Connecticut House of Representatives convened to revise the language of a 2007 bill deregulating the cable broadcasting market in the state. Supporters of the bill hoped it would stimulate competition by allowing new entrants into Connecticut’s television broadcasting market.

Recently, members of the House revised provisions of House Bill 5814 to require video franchise providers to interconnect with public access at no cost to public access. Some public access leaders said language in the revisions could negatively effect the future of public access programming.

One of public access leaders’ greatest concerns was a provision that, while stating that service providers must pay for interconnection costs, also stated that service providers “could use the method most economical for them,” said Jennifer Evans, production manager for West Hartford Community Television.

Following testimony by Evans and others at a recent legislative hearing, members of the House removed the phrase “most economical” from the bill. They also removed the bill provision that assured costs for interconnection with public access stations would be paid for by the entrant video broacasting franchises, said Evans.

Rep. Steve Fontana (D-North Haven) said AT&T, a video service franchise making in-roads in Connecticut, has drafted a letter in which the company pledges to pay for all interconnection costs. Although he and his colleagues had not yet received the letter as of March 12, Fontana said that it is legally binding. leaving no need for the bill provision.

In his testimony at a recent legislative hearing, the president of Connecticut Network, Paul Giguere, voiced concerns about the way AT&T has made community access programming available in parts of California and Michgan, the only other states where the AT&T U-Verse platform is currently operational. Giguere said that AT&T’s U-Verse PEG platform, which the company plans to use to transmit public access channels, transmits with much lower video quality than is currently offered on public access channels in Connecticut.   —>
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19443000&BRD=1646&PAG=461&dept_id=11035&rfi=6
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Customers vent frustration about Comcast takeover
Company officials say problems with service will be resolved soon
by Bill Engle
pal-item.com (IN)
04/01/08

[ 5 comments ]

David Federico hopes he never has another problem with phone or cable service in his Hagerstown law office.  When Comcast replaced Insight as the local provider of cable television, Internet and phone service this year Federico lost his second phone line and the cable television connection to his personal computer.

Federico did what any customer would do, he called the company, he e-mailed, he went on “online chat,” first asking, then begging for help.  Nothing worked. It took almost a month, but Friday a local service technician finally came to his office and corrected the problem.  The experience left him wondering about the future of the new company in Wayne County.

“I have nothing but good things to say about the local service technician. He’s been just wonderful, friendly and knowledgeable,” Federico said. “But he said he had never gotten a work order on this. That’s why he never came to correct the problem.  “It was terribly frustrating to me. Obviously, this company has bollixed this whole transition.”

Comcast said problems like those experienced by Federico will be short-lived, but some customers aren’t quite ready to accept that promise. For them, Comcast’s move into the market has been anything but seamless.  Richmond City Clerk Karen Chasteen said her office has received more than 100 calls from customers complaining mostly about billing problems, but also about lost service and the cable television rate increase.

“It’s been awful. People are really upset,” she said. “One lady called up and screamed at us, but it’s not our fault. We had nothing to do with it.”  The city of Richmond prior to 2008 had governance over the cable provider, but that changed with the Indiana General Assembly’s adoption of the Telecommunications Reform Bill of 2006.  Now that governance falls to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.   —>
http://www.pal-item.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080401/NEWS01/804010303
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Comcast denies violations
Selectmen plan to seek legal advice
by John Laidler
Boston Globe (MA)
03/30/08

Comcast has denied allegations by the Rowley Board of Selectmen that the cable firm is violating its contractual obligation to provide the town with a studio and an access channel, and to cablecast town-produced programs.  The company’s position, outlined in a letter to the town last Monday, came in response to the selectmen’s decision nearly three weeks earlier that Comcast was violating its license terms. Comcast’s letter does not address suggestions made by selectmen, in a letter accompanying their March 4 decision, on how the firm could come into compliance.

Selectmen chairman David Petersen said the board has forwarded Comcast’s letter to its legal counsel and at an upcoming meeting plans to discuss with him how to proceed. The board in its March 4 decision said it would pursue legal avenues if Comcast did not fully comply with the contract or reach an agreement with the town on a remedy within 21 days.   —>
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/03/30/comcast_denies_violations/#
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Verizon working to grant public access channels
by Lydia Mulvany
Marshfield Mariner (MA)
04/01/08

[ comments invited ]

Marshfield residents who signed onto Verizon, which came into town in November, have been deprived of Marshfield’s public access channel — but not for much longer.  Rick Colon, regional director of Verizon for Southeastern Massachusetts, said public access channels should be up and running in about 30 days, and perhaps less.  “In Marshfield the service has been received with great fanfare, and people in the town love it,” Colon said. “We’re working hard to provide the public access channels because we realize more people will subscribe to FiOS TV if we have that.”   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/marshfield/homepage/x125182490
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Petition seeks to ensure access to analog OTA viewers post transition
Broadcast Engineering
04/01/08

The Community Broadcasters Association (CBA) last week asked an appeals court in Washington, D.C., to force the FCC to stop distribution and marketing of NTIA coupon-qualified converter boxes without analog-receive capability.  The move has the potential to derail the nation’s transition to DTV in February 2009. If the court agrees with the association that it is illegal to distribute TV receive equipment without the ability to receive all legal channels transmitted, it’s difficult to envision how the deadline will be met.

HD Technology Update spoke with Greg Herman, CBA VP of technology, to learn why the association has taken this extraordinary step.

HD Technology Update: Why has the Community Broadcasters Association (CBA) petitioned the court for a writ of mandamus to order the FCC to halt distribution and marketing of DTV converter boxes without analog tuners?

Greg Herman: First of all, we believe converter boxes lacking analog reception capability are in violation of the All Channel Receiver Act. Further, we believe the converter boxes that are being distributed are ill-conceived and are going to disadvantage those very individuals they were designed to help by blocking reception of the thousands of remaining analog televisions stations across the United States.   —>
http://broadcastengineering.com/hdtv/petition_seeks_ensure_access_0401/
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The Medium is Still the Message
by Rev. Tony
Sunflower Chalice
04/01/08

[ 1 comment ]

In the April 8 issue of The Christian Century (the print issue gets out to me well in advance of the website being updated) there’s an interview with the pastor of Barack Obama’s church. No, not Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but Otis Moss III, who has recently taken over the day-to-day leadership of Trinity United Church of Christ from Wright.  Moss is 36 and the son of a man who served at Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta with MLK.  One question put to Moss was: How is pastoring different for you than it was for your father’s generation?

“My dad’s generation did not embrace television the way it might have. It left that medium to the prosperity gospel preachers. That means that an entire generation has been raised and educated by the Benny Hinns and the Creflo Dollars of the world. If my father’s generation had embraced television, then the standard bearers of that medium would be preachers who emphasize hope for the poor instead of those who treat Jesus as a cosmic bellhop.  Now we have to play catch-up. They have both the microphone and the megaphone…..The Kingian idea of the beloved community is one that we pull out now only for King Day, I guess. Otherwise it is lost. We have to struggle with it. Love will force you to change your doctrine and to engage those who hate you. People don’t want to do that.”

Moss’s answer to this question is something I think about every week. I see the local Assembly of God, Seventh Day Adventist, and Brazilian Pentecostal church on my local cable access television.  Not to mention some guy who sits in a coffee shop and quotes from the Bible (out of context) and rails against liberals and how unpatriotic anyone is who dares question the war in Iraq. Their worship services run two and three times a week.  I see them, and sometimes watch for while, as I am searching for PBS or the Red Sox (again, thankfully), or the NASCAR race (you have no IDEA how huge a fan my son is) or just turning on the television to get the DVD ready.  These churches are on constantly.  And the message they are preaching is not Kingian beloved community.  It is not inclusive, it is not welcoming, and it is very dogmatic and creedal.

What if, just suppose, a Unitarian Universalist preacher were on local cable access every week? It doesn’t take much.  Most local cable access station require a yearly membership fee, usually in the $50 range, some as high as $100, but most lower.  With membership comes the opportunity to borrow the equipment and use the studio.  Even a digital camcorder can now make something that can be turned into a half-hour program with just a little editing.

The TIME magazine advertising is great and all, but I wonder if our money and energy wouldn’t be better spent investing in camcorders and computer equipment and money at the congregational level so that each congregation had the hardware, training and know-how, and funding to:
1. produce and air worship service or at least sermons on local cable television and then post them on the Internet on services such as YouTube.
2. have well designed and user friendly websites (many do, but many still do not)

More people, especially younger people, get their news and information today from the Internet than from newspapers or television and in local communities, it never ceases to amaze me how many people watch local cable television.   —>
http://www.sunflowerchalice.com/?p=66
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James River Film Festival
Fan District Hub (VA)
04/01/08

[ comments invited ]

The all volunteer run Richmond Moving Image Co-op presents the 15th James River Film Festival this week, March 31-April 6, 2008.  Writer/director Richard Kelly, father-son filmmakers Ken and Azazel Jacobs, filmmaker and community media advocate DeeDee Halleck, the Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra, assistant editor/producer Emily Doe from McSweeney’s DVD magazine Wholphin, and David Williams will headline the 15th edition of the James River Film Festival at the Firehouse Theatre, the Byrd Theatre, the Richmond Public Library Main Branch and the Camel.  For a detailed schedule of what happens when, where and how much, click here.   —>
http://fdhub.net/james-river-film-festival/
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Knights News Challenge has 17 finalists to transform community news through digital innovation
by Carolyn Lo
The Editors Weblog
04/01/08

[ comments invited ]

For the second year in a row, the Knight News Challenge asked the public for ideas to transform community news through digital innovation, and 17 projects were chosen for funding. The projects will be announced on May 14, 2008, at the E&P Interactive Media Conference in Las Vegas.  The top finalists are projects that have the potential to “inform, empower and engage citizens and help them participate in the decision-making process of their neighborhoods, their communities and their countries,” according to the Knight News.
Some projects are:   —>
http://www.editorsweblog.org/multimedia/2008/04/knights_news_challenge_has_17_finalists.php
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African Day Parade Founder Seeks to Unify Compatriots
by Heather Robinson
New York Daily News
03/05/08

[ comments invited ]

—>  Still in high school, he completed an internship in video production at Manhattan Neighborhood Network, a public access TV channel. After producing the award-winning documentary “Carpe Diem,” about a young New York woman struggling with drug addiction, he helped found The Youth Channel, a public-access TV station for teenagers.   —>
http://www.heatherrobinson.net/profiles/2008/04/01/african-day-parade-founder-seeks-to-unify-compatriots/
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All charged up over Comcast’s quadruple play
by Ed Foster
InfoWorld
04/01/08

[ 5 comments ]

Today’s announcement of CHARGES, Comcast’s new home energy management system that will be combined with its TV, phone, and Internet services in a new “Quadruple Play” offering, has generated a lot of excitement. To help customers get charged up about this new service, following is a transcript from a Q&A session at Comcast’s press conference.

Q: What is the CHARGES program all about?
Comcast: We see CHARGES (Comcast Harvesting Additional Revenues Generating Electricity Surcharges) as a terrific opportunity to tap the potential of our cable set-top boxes to enhance our quality of life. Oh, and maybe yours, too.

Q: How will it work?
Comcast: Comcast will manage home energy the same great way our customers have come to know from our other offerings. Basically, all your lights and appliances will be wired through the set-top box. When you want to turn a device on or off, you go to the console and indicate it on the list. Then you walk to the device itself and throw the switch as desired.   —>
http://weblog.infoworld.com/gripeline/archives/2008/04/all_charged_up.html
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Entertainment and the Suburban Condition
by Scott B
theopraxis
04/01/08

[ 1 comment ]

Finally (!) delving back into Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, I want to dig into a phenomenon that Putnam argues is the most significant shaping influence in terms of social capital in modern American life – namely, electronic forms of entertainment and, specifically, television. This particular chapter of the book is both enlightening and depressing, if not entirely surprising. Putnam offers devastating analysis and commentary that relentlessly links television with civic disengagement in measure after measure. In conclusion, he writes:

“Americans at the end of the twentieth century were watching more TV, watching it more habitually, more pervasively, and more often alone, and watching more programs that were associated specifically with civic disengagement (entertainment, as distinct from news). The onset of these trends coincided exactly with the national decline in social connectedness, and the trends are most marked among the younger generations that are…distinctively disengaged. Moreover, it is precisely those Americans most marked by this dependence on televised entertainment who were most likely to have dropped out of civic and social life – who spent less time with friends, were less involved in community organizations, and were less likely to participate in public affairs.” (p. 246)

I suppose I should be clear that what Putnam is discussing here -and in the book generally speaking – is not in any way isolated to suburbanites. Obviously the influence of electronic media pervades all demographics and communities in our society. Putnam, in fact, relates a story from a town in northern Canada where, due to a topological anomaly, television signals were unavailable until the mid-1970’s. This community was studied alongside two neighboring communities that had ready access to television signals. Once television became available, this community demonstrated an immediate, measurable decline in residents’ participation in community activities. The other two communities were used as a control to demonstrate that the only variable in play was, in fact, television.

But my concern is specifically with the way in which electronic media interact with suburban culture. —>                http://www.theopraxis.net/archives/2008/04/entertainment_a.html
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Venezuelan Media Terrorism Conference Denounces Negative Role of Private Media
by James Suggett
Venezuelanalysis.com
04/01/08

Journalists, communications specialists, and other participants in the Latin American Meeting against Media Terrorism in Caracas last weekend demanded that political leaders in the region put the issue of media terrorism on the agenda of all international forums and meetings in which they participate, according to the “Caracas Declaration,” the final collection of the resolutions produced at the conference.

Endorsed by participants from 14 countries, the Caracas Declaration denounces the role of the private media in the toppling of democratic governments across the region, and asserts that “media terrorism is the first expression and necessary condition of military terrorism that the industrialized North employs in order to impose its imperial hegemony and neo-colonial dominion on humanity.”…

Community Media Event

While the meeting against media terrorism was going on in Caracas, CONATEL hosted a “Bolivarian Forum” for over 30 alternative community media outlets in the western state of Trujillo aimed at assessing the progress of community media and strengthening the capacity of these outlets to serve the needs of their communities.   —>
http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/3315
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Information is not a commodity
by MissMachetera
Machetera
04/01/08

[ comments invited ]

“Not only the IAPA, but shock troops such as Reporters Without Borders, are responding to Washington’s dictates of disinformation and global defamation. In this context, the European Union is fulfilling a shameful role which contradicts the heroic struggle of its people against Nazi fascism.”
Caracas Declaration, March 30, 2008
Latin American Meeting Against Media Terrorism

Journalists, communicators and scholars of communication in Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, meeting in Caracas in this First Latin American Meeting Against Media Terrorism, denounce the use of disinformation by international news agencies, as a huge and permanent aggression against people and governments fighting for peace, justice, and social inclusion.

Media Terrorism is the first expression and condition necessary for the industrial North’s exercise of military and economic terrorism in order to impose imperial hegemony and neo-colonial dominion on humanity. As such, it is an enemy of freedom, democracy and open society and ought to be considered a plague of contemporary culture.   —>
http://machetera.wordpress.com/2008/04/01/information-is-not-a-commodity/
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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 – 03/10/08

March 11, 2008

Sevierville BOMA among opponents of AT&T proposal
by Derek Hodges
The Mountain Press (TN)
03/10/08

[ comments allowed ]

That vote was conveyed to state lawmakers representing the area and was done immediately following a request from AT&T representative Dennis Wagner that the Board of Mayor and Aldermen support the move.  It was Wagner’s second appearance before BOMA; both times he got a negative reaction. Mayor Bryan Atchley said he expects the board’s opinion won’t change.

“Cities across the state have taken the position that it is not unreasonable to ask AT&T to follow the rules as they have applied to the other companies for 25 or more years,” Atchley said. “It is a little more difficult for them, but it’s not something they can’t do.”  Atchley says the current system does not inhibit competition. To illustrate that, he points out the city itself is studying the idea of offering cable service. The very fact the city can do it shows state laws don’t limit where cable companies can offer their services, Atchley said.  Further, the mayor said city leaders have other concerns. Chief among them: losing franchise fees and local channels…

While Sevierville city leaders may not be pleased with the proposal, AT&T has offered compromises that seem to have appeased established cable companies, which started out as the bill’s biggest opponents.  The sticking point for the cable companies was not that the move will introduce competition, but that the first bill didn’t give cable companies the same statewide franchise license. However, a provision has been added to the bill that would allow for equal treatment.

With that compromise, the cable companies seem resigned to accept what they now see as an inevitability.  “It’s the will of the General Assembly that they’re going to have that law in place after this session,” said Nick Paulis, state director of government relations for Charter Communications. “At the end of the day, what we want is a level playing field.”   —>
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19376352&BRD=1211&PAG=461&dept_id=169689&rfi=6
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County’s legislators support change to help AT&T
by Derek Hodges
The Mountain Press (TN)
03/10/08

[ comments allowed ]

“I’ve gotten more correspondence from voters on this one issue than I have about anything else since I got elected,” State Sen. Raymond Finney, R-Maryville, said. “I’ve been amazed at just how strongly people feel about this.”  State Rep. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, notes Finney wasn’t in Nashville as officials debated the creation of an income tax, an issue that drew response from every corner of the state. Still, Montgomery said he, too, has gotten a lot of response on AT&T’s proposal to allow state-issued cable franchising.

“I have had a lot of citizens call me, write me and talk to me about this,” Montgomery said. “Most of them have been in favor of the change. The way we do cable now, it’s like saying we’re only going to allow one grocery store to operate in Sevier County. It doesn’t really make sense for them to go to every county for licenses when they’ve got the ability to serve the whole state. At the end of the day, we have to listen to both sides of the issue and decide what’s best for the 80,000 people living in Sevier County.”   —>
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19376349&BRD=1211&PAG=461&dept_id=169689&rfi=6
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[ Here’s an article on a community’s cable franchising process that spends more than the usual amount of time on PEG access and related concerns. – rm ]

Town specifies its cable needs
by Donna Boynton
Worcester Telegram & Gazette (MA)
03/10/08

[ 4 comments ]

GRAFTON— The town has advanced in the cable licensing process with Verizon, issuing a detailed report outlining the town’s needs weeks ahead of schedule.  The Board of Selectmen initiated licensing proceedings with Verizon New England Inc. in October, and Verizon submitted an application for a cable license Nov. 29.

The Issuing Authority Report approved by the Board of Selectmen last week is the town’s response to Verizon’s initial application and is a detailed account of what the town’s needs are, according to Robert Hassinger, chairman of the Cable Advisory Committee. The committee worked to draft the report with Town Administrator Natalie T. Lashmit.

The report was due March 21. Verizon now has 30 days to respond to the report, and then the negotiating period begins. The Board of Selectmen approves and issues the license.  If negotiations are successful, Verizon cable services could be offered in Grafton in the fall, said Mr. Hassinger.

The specifications in the report are based on the existing license with Charter Communications, in keeping with the legal requirement to negotiate “on a level playing field.” The report also recognizes that some of the terms of the Charter contract are outdated, such as the needs of the public access TV channels, and contains additional specifications.  Mr. Hassinger said Verizon’s recently completed negotiations with Westboro will serve as a model for how Verizon and Charter can work together.

Grafton’s pact with Charter is seven years old, and the town has initiated the renegotiation process with Charter. That process is different from the licensing process with Verizon.  The town has told both Charter and Verizon that, among other things, it will need a new, larger cable studio and new equipment.

The Issuing Authority Report also states that the town is interested in a 10-year contract, though the town can be flexible on that term. Verizon initially indicated it was interested in a 15-year contract, Mr. Hassinger said  The report states the town will need one-time payments of $375,000 for public access capital for the 10-year license or $562,500 for a 15-year license. The new cable studio is among the capital needs.

The report also asks that Verizon support public, educational and government access programming, also known as PEG access, by providing at least three channels. The report asks Verizon to detail how those channels will work in concert with those already provided by Charter. Additionally, the town asks Verizon to define how digital cable will affect PEG access broadcasts, given that current PEG access programs are broadcast in analog format.

The town also is asking that Verizon keep existing channels at the same channel numbers, making it more convenient for subscribers and the public, as well as a detailed explanation of the packages to be offered to subscribers.

In addition, the town is requesting detailed explanations of the construction, installation and overall subscriber network. Verizon is being asked to offer free service and outlets to the municipal buildings and the schools, and free or discounted Internet service to those buildings.

The report also discusses the town’s need for a fiber-optic institutional network, or I-Net, for high-speed data, video and voice transmission. The existing I-Net was built in 1983 and is outdated and unreliable. That service will be for all town buildings, including the Community Barn on Wheeler Road, which is often used for municipal purposes.  The report notes that the School Department is particularly concerned with having the ability to broadcast from the high school, and having the capability to offer archived, “on demand” educational access programming.   —>
http://www.telegram.com/article/20080310/NEWS/803100550/1101
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Cable Deals, cont’d
by Jeff
Wormtown Taxi (MA)
03/10/08

[ comments allowed ]

Grafton is not at all like Worcester when it comes to the process of negotiating with a cable company. Today’s article in the T&G describing the current point in that process between Grafton and Verizon certainly illustrates that.

Where the process in Grafton is transparent and easily understood, the so-called process in Worcester is thoroughly opaque and pretty much in the secretive hands of only one person (the city manager). Where the concerns of the public access, educational, and government access channels are an important and openly addressed issue in Grafton, any specific attention on the PEG channels in Worcester appears to have been completely downplayed in any public discussion, and apparently omitted from the contract so that the city can use whatever funding they get for whatever they feel like spending it on… whenever they feel like spending it.

I sincerely hope that the city will, at some point, allay my fears that the community access TV station in Worcester is on the chopping block. I look forward to some point in Worcester’s new cable contract faux process that will reveal what so far has been hidden, …namely, what the community access station has to look forward to over the next five years of this new contract with Charter, as well as what lies beyond.

Quite frankly, the utter lack of any definitive public utterances from City Hall on this particular subject has reached the point where I, for one, find this whole thing mostly (and very offensively) indicative of there being something to hide.    —>
http://www.wormtowntaxi.com/2008/03/cable-deals-contd.html
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Siouxland Community Media gives students hands-on training
by Earl Horlyk
Sioux City Journal (IA)
03/10/08

[ comments allowed ]

Moments before he was due to go on the air, Tony Ullrich discovered he couldn’t read the TelePrompTer.  “Lemme see your eyeglasses,” he motioned to Tonya Woehler.  “We share everything around here,” Woehler, a volunteer member of the skeletal television crew, joked. “Even eyewear, apparently.”  Welcome to public-access television.  And welcome to Siouxland Community Media.

Started in 2006, Siouxland Community Media produces programming that is either produced or sponsored by local nonprofit organizations or individuals. It can be seen by CableONE subscribers in Sioux City, North Sioux City and Sergeant Bluff daily from 6 a.m. to noon and from 8 p.m. to midnight.  The programming can also be accessed on YouTube.

“Things like this have a way of happening on ‘Series Night,'” production manager Ben Rouse said of the eyeglass snafu. “I see things are just going according to plan.”  “Series Night” is when the production company tapes Ullrich’s weekly “Focus On The Community” as well as the monthly “Extension Connection” (also hosted by Ullrich and sponsored by Woodbury County’s Iowa State University Extension Office), “It’s Someone You Know,” produced by the Council On Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence and “Workers Have Rights Too,” hosted by labor activist Dick Sturgeon.

“This is our marathon night,” noted Deanna Dirks, who’s acting as the evening’s technical director. “This is when we tape the shows back to back to back.”  For not-for-profit organizations such as the domestic violence council, free or reduced-rate exposure on cable public access has proved to be invaluable.  “Our marketing budget is getting tighter all the time,” development director Brooke Goodwin said. “Knowing that our organization has a regular TV presence has been very exciting.”

So has the Internet exposure.  “Knowing that folks from around the world can access our videos on YouTube is a little bit nerve wracking,” Goodwin admitted, “but it certainly helps us to get our message out.”  For Siouxland Community Media, it’s important to give nonprofit organizations the tools they need to produce programming.

Equally important to Rouse is the company’s commitment to providing his all-student crew with the nuts-and-bolts experience of television production.  “We’ve had students from both Morningside College and Western Iowa Tech Community College,” he explained. “We’ve even had kids from East High School seek us out for internships.”   —>
http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2008/03/10/news/top/02bfa4b4346666b886257408000504ac.txt
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Postal inspectors in Chicago target scams with public-access TV show
by Jeff Coen
Chicago Tribune (IL)
03/10/08

[ 1 comments ]

In a bid to counter the growing number of fake-check scams, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service in Chicago is branching out to a new medium: public-access television.  Inspectors plan to air a new show at least each month offering advice to consumers. “Don’t Fall For It” will be hosted by Tom Brady, the inspector-in-charge for Chicago.  The agency launched its new effort this month on CAN-TV, focusing the first show on what investigators say is the leading scam in Chicago. The scams involve con artists sending out counterfeit checks, trying to persuade victims to wire back part of the money before realizing the checks have bounced.

Postal inspectors are producing the show inexpensively at their Chicago headquarters in a studio they typically use to make in-house training videos. They hope to reach a new audience as they try to educate the public.  “Whatever we can do to put the scammers out of business is what I want to do,” Brady said.   —>
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-postal-tv-showmar10,1,1206369.story
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Local TV show sheds light on mental illness
UU minister conducts mental health ministry via public access TV (CA)
by Jane Greer
uuworld.org
03/10/08

Kathryn Lum was describing what it was like as a person with mental illness to first feel the positive affects of medication. “I remember for the first time lying in bed feeling like I had just been thrown up on the shore,” she told the cameras. “I had been shipwrecked and the waves had been crashing over me and I had been struggling to keep afloat. Then I found myself on the beach and resting. Feeling peace for the first time.”

Lum, who has schizoaffective disorder, was a guest on a new public access cable TV program called “Mental Health Matters—Alameda County,” which debuted last fall. The show is trying to counter the stigma and prejudice often attached to mental illness by talking with people who actually suffer from various conditions as well as with family and loved ones who live with them.

The monthly TV show is the brainchild of the Rev. Barbara Meyers, a UU community minister associated with Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont, Calif. As a community minister, Meyers’ work takes her outside the church and into the community. Her own particular ministry centers on mental health issues. “With as many as 20 percent of the populace living with a mental health problem at any one time, there is a lot of needless suffering that could be alleviated with more information and understanding,” she wrote in a press release for the show.

The series of 30-minute programs is broadcast on Comcast public access channels in Alameda County, Calif. The first show focused on the stigma frequently attached to mental illness. Succeeding programs have been devoted to suicide, schizophrenia, recovery, bipolar disorder, and African American mental health. Each show concludes with a list of resources for people interested in finding out more.   —>
http://www.uuworld.org/news/articles/102032.shtml
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Journalism in the Hands of the Neighborhood (PA)
by Noam Cohen
New York Times
03/10/08

PHILADELPHIA — “We are uncomfortable with the term ‘citizen journalism,’ ” said Todd Wolfson, 35, a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania and one of the organizers of the Media Mobilizing Project in Philadelphia. “We prefer the term ‘community journalism.’ ”

Citizen journalism has become the faddish name for the effort to encourage regular folk to use the Internet to report the news directly, but Mr. Wolfson had a point: many of the people whom his organization and an immigrant rights group, Juntos, are teaching to make video reports for streaming on the Internet are not citizens. Many are not even legal residents.  The hope, however, is that they can be journalists.

The classes are supported by a $150,000 news challenge grant from the Knight Foundation in Miami, which is donating a total of $25 million over five years “for innovative ideas using digital experiments to transform community news.”   —>
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/10/technology/10link.html?_r=1&oref=slogin
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We’re Not All ‘Citizen Journalists’
by Sara Melillo
McCormick Media Matters (MN)
03/10/08

[ comments allowed ]

—>   The Media Mobilizing Project isn’t the only initiative trying to train and disseminate news from community members and ethnic media. Check out Twin Cities Daily Planet (www.tcdailyplanet.net), an MTF grantee, which has been training and disseminating content from ethnic and community media in the Twin Cities for several years. The Daily Planet’s recently re-designed Web site features some new multimedia options and its network of contributors continues to grow.
http://mccormickmediamatters.blogspot.com/2008/03/were-not-all-citizen-journalists.html
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Report from the Queens hearing of the Broadband Advisory Committee
by Joshua Breitbart
Civil Defense – a weblog (NY)
03/10/08

[ 2 comments ]

The NYC Broadband Advisory Committee held its fourth public hearing on Monday, March 3, at LaGuardia Community College in Queens. Much thanks to Joly MacFie of the New York Greater Metropolitan Area chapter of the Internet Society for documenting the hearing. His detailed summary and a full audio recording is available on the ISOC-NY website (scroll to the bottom for the audio).

The highlight for me was when former Senator Larry Pressler, who authored the 1996 Telecommunications Act said, “If it is found that in New York City the spectrum and the broadband is not totally out there, that would be a tale that needs to be told.” Indeed.

Councilmember Brewer asked him a question about E-Rate, the federal program to fund Internet access in schools and libraries, and he agreed that it needs to be revisited. As it is now, the federal government tightly restricts E-Rate funds so they can’t even be used to cover access for administrators; they can’t pay for necessary hardware or training; and they can’t support public access, even though schools pay for bandwidth to be available 100% of the time while school is only in session about 15% of the time. In other words, E-Rate is easy money for the big Internet service providers.

If the BAC, or even just Brewer, is pondering reforms to federal policy, that is an extremely positive development. To date, very few municipal broadband task forces have addressed themselves to this area, even though there are many current regulations that hamstring their efforts to improve local infrastructure and expand high speed Internet access. Any worthwhile municipal broadband plan must include policy reform at the federal level.   —>
http://breitbart.wordpress.com/2008/03/10/bac-in-queens/
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FCC chief Martin hasn’t lost focus on cable
by Paul Davidson
USA TODAY
03/10/08

[ 2 comments ]

WASHINGTON — If Kevin Martin, the Republican chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, is smarting from bruising battles last year with fellow commissioners, Congress and the cable industry, he’s showing no signs of it.

Last November, commissioners of both political parties accused him of concealing key information that undercut his push for a finding that could have led to sweeping regulation of the cable TV industry. Following other complaints that Martin doesn’t give commissioners enough time to vote on certain proposals, a House committee launched an investigation into whether the agency conducts its business openly and fairly.

Generally known as a shrewd consensus-builder, Martin seems undaunted by the ruckus. And he still has the cable industry in his sights. In an interview, he said he’s determined as ever to do something about soaring cable TV prices. And he says the agency doesn’t need to pass new rules to crack down on Comcast (CMCSA) if it determines the cable giant unfairly impedes Internet traffic.  “Working with all the commissioners is always difficult and always challenging,” the soft-spoken 41-year-old says of the turmoil as he sips tea. “But you always have to regroup and say, ‘OK, how do we now try to move forward?’ ”

As for criticism about his communication style, Martin, whose tenure could be in its final months with a new president taking office next January, says he’s not “doing anything differently than what any other chairman has done.”  Still, in recent months, Martin has arranged daily meetings between his staff and those of commissioners and started publicizing agenda items three weeks before a meeting. Previously, an agenda came out a week before the meeting.   —>
http://www.usatoday.com/money/media/2008-03-10-fcc-martin_N.htm
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org