Archive for the ‘democracy’ category

Death. Resurrection? A Timely Meditation on US Corporate Media

March 21, 2008

Are US Media Violating the 1st Amendment?
by Fatin Bundagji
Arab News

[ comments invited ]

Last week Arab News printed in the “Letters to the Editor” column a letter by Ms. Lin Hansen Petro from Portland, Oregon, commenting on my article, “Peace & Stability: Pre-requisites for Reform” (March 7). Ms. Petro wrote that while writing her article, “Fatin Bundagji conveniently forgot, as Arab writers usually do, that the US was attacked by Arab terrorists which led to retaliatory action in the Middle East and out of America. All those glorious outreach programs she was describing that America used to do would still be in effect and there would be no war waging at the moment if the radical Arabs kept their opinions and hatred of American policies in the academic or political arena… the majority of Americans are getting pretty fed up with handling out billions of dollars in aid, education, medical care, technological advancements, and religious tolerance and so on to a world of egocentric ingrates”.

Ms. Petro has every right to her opinion. But as a citizen of a nation built on the values of liberty, equality and justice; a nation that regards a free press to be as important as its three independent arms of government, Ms. Petro also has the right to an accurate and unbiased media beaming into her home on a daily basis. This basic American right, the right to a free press, she, and most American citizens are systematically denied.

To most average hardworking and law-abiding Americans, their view of the international community is severely shortsighted and impaired. It is a worldview that is craftily fine-tuned, filtered and controlled by media outlets that are biased in favor of the sources that fund them.

In his article “None dare call it Censorship”, Jack Douglas, a retired professor of sociology from the University of California, writes: “All serious and intelligent journalists today know that the US government has massive media management brigades to carefully control what Americans see and, thus, what they are very likely to believe about things of which they have no direct experience, such as high-level politics, finance and foreign affairs. They also know that the government is extremely effective in secretly censoring the news by using devices such as ‘embedded reporting’ in nations like Afghanistan and Iraq which the US government invades, occupies, and governs. (If you do not know what ‘embedded reporting’ is, I strongly advise you to ‘Google’ it).”

Today, almost all media in the US are owned by for-profit corporations that by law are obliged to put the profits of their investors ahead of all other considerations. This goal of maximizing profit both jeopardizes the practice of responsible journalism and violates what the founding fathers of the US Constitution paid in blood to preserve: A free press — a free press that is protected by law in the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights; a free press that is regrettably being compromised by the elite on a daily basis.

The reasons for this compromise may vary but at the core, is the need for power and control. Power and control by US corporations, advertisers, and official agendas to name but a few. FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), a US national media watch group. states that not only are most US major media owned by corporations, but that these corporations are becoming larger and fewer in number as the bigger ones absorb their rivals thereby reducing the diversity of media voices and putting greater power — and a narrow debate — in the hands of few.

According to FAIR, most of the income of for-profit media outlets does not come from the audiences, but rather from commercial advertisers who are interested in selling products to that audience. This gives corporate sponsors influence over what people see and read and all in favor of information that does not criticize the sponsors’ products or discuss any corporate wrongdoing.

As for the official agenda, FAIR states that despite the claims that the press has an adversarial relationship with the government, in truth US media generally follow Washington’s official line. This is particularly obvious in wartime, foreign policy coverage, and with domestic controversies. The owners and managers of dominant media outlets generally share the background, worldview, and income bracket of political elites.

Top news executives and celebrity reporters frequently socialize with government officials; and the most powerful media companies routinely make large contributions to both major political parties, while receiving millions of dollars in return in the form of payments for running political ads.

For true democracy to work, people need easy access to independent, diverse sources of news and information. The last two decades the US has seen a record corporate media consolidation. Whereas in the 1980s there were more than 50 media outlets nationwide, by 2000 they shrank down to a mere 6.

Big money buys big media and at the expense of the 1st Amendment. But luckily for the average American, the story does not have to end here. Independent news and media outlets are actively working at preserving a balanced coverage of the news so as to give the American public a broad and multidimensional aspect of what is being covered. FAIR, the one I mentioned above, is one of them, and Democracy Now is another. In addition, there are many more available online, and they are increasing in number and in national reach.

I urge Ms. Petro to Google “US media watchdogs” to empower herself to learn firsthand of whatever she chooses to be informed on.

This is her right, and I have to add her responsibility to her country, and to the world at large.

She may not know it, but by the sheer power and might of her country, any opinion she forms, however innocently, will by default affect the lives of millions of people in countries she may never have heard of.

I will conclude my article with a quote from Lee Atwater who masterminded media bias back in the 1980s and who created the most powerful Republican Media Propaganda Grand Strategy for controlling US pubic thinking. On his deathbed he said, “my illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: A little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The ’80s were about US acquiring wealth, power, and prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.”


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/20/08

February 21, 2008

Fifth Annual NYC Grassroots Media Conference: March 2, 2008
Co-Sponsored by Film and Media Studies Department at Hunter College/CUNY

Download Conference Information Packet (PDF) here

For the past four years, we’ve come together to explore the political dimensions of media and how it shapes our lives. By developing relationships between community and media organizations, the NYC Grassroots Media Coalition is working to re-imagine issues of access to, control of, and power over our media system. That means defining our struggle as a struggle for Media Justice.

Media Justice recognizes the need for a media that comes from, and is responsive to, the people, a media that addresses systemic marginalization and discrimination and that speaks truth to power. Media Justice asserts that our communities and airwaves are more than markets, and that our relationship to the media must be more than passive consumption. Media Justice recognizes that the form of our current media system is not inevitable, but the result of an interplay of history, technology, power, and privilege. Media Justice seeks to integrate efforts to reform our media system with a social justice agenda, in order to create not just a better media, but a better world.

We invite you to join us at the 2008 NYC Grassroots Media Conference as we seek to define our understanding of and relationship to Media Justice as a community, and explore how we can not only envision an ideal world, but to make this vision a reality.   —>

Editorial: Telling our story
The Daily Journal (IL)

[ comments allowed ]

Kankakee County’s Comcast users could be creeping closer to getting public access television.  A recent meeting of the Development and Operations Committee of the Kankakee County Board heard testimony from two strong supporters of the idea. One is Marc Wakat. Wakat is the Democratic precinct committeeman for Limestone 3 and fondly remembers the good old days of Kankakee Valley Prime Time Live, a tongue-in-cheek news magazine of 15 years ago. The other is Kankakee Community College. President Jerry Weber wrote a letter to the board, indicating that the college could make use of a public access channel to show lectures and classes…

The essence of public access is to set aside a cable channel for use by the general public, providing an outlet for educational and community happenings. Detractors worry about putting material on the air that might somehow be indecent or offensive.  Our view is that hundreds of wholesome community events could be aired. Each would help build a sense of local pride. It would bring the community home to people who are shut in. It would bring local government out into the open.

Here is just a sample of some of the programs that could easily be put up on a local access channel: parades for the Bourbonnais Friendship Festival and at Christmas in Bradley; meetings of the Kankakee City Council, Kankakee County Board and the Kankakee School District; programs at the Kankakee Public Library and the Kankakee County Museum; and the YMCA Living and Learning series.

Would it not be a plus to be able to broadcast the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast? The Kankakee County spelling bee? The Memorial Day ceremony from the steps of the Kankakee County Courthouse lawn?

The County Board appears to be increasingly sympathetic to the idea and now appears to be ready to push out to other governments.  Cable has created a whole bunch of channels. We have shopping channels, Spanish channels, sports channels, golf, Animal Planet and the Eternal Word. Surely, room can be found for community events.  “We should tell the great stories that our community holds,” Wakat says.  We couldn’t agree more.

It’s time for schools to budget for taped meetings
by Abbi Swanson
Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun (IA)

An open letter to the school boards and superintendents of Lisbon and Mount Vernon from the League of Women Voters:

As you prepare your budgets for the upcoming fiscal years, the League of Women Voters of Mount Vernon-Lisbon is calling upon the school districts in our communities to add a line item for payment to KMVL TV, in order for Dean Traver’s company to tape school board meetings and work sessions.

Dean has provided residents in this area with coverage of local events for decades as a public service.  The league is urging this taping expand, and begin something we have advocated for years but which has met with occasional resistance.   —>

Knology to finish work
Cable firm agrees to invest $750K in citywide services
by Hayes Hickman
Knoxville News Sentinel


* PDF: Draft contract amendment to Knology’s Knoxville franchise agreement

After years of stalled progress, Knology Inc. has agreed to invest $750,000 this year toward completing its citywide Internet, cable and phone services network, under a renegotiated franchise agreement with the city of Knoxville.

Knology’s services were within reach of barely half of all city residences in 2006 when City Council members last raised the issue with the West Point, Ga.-based company. Knology was required to complete its build-out within four years after the city franchise took effect in April 2000, with noncompliance penalties of $5,000 per month.

Under terms of the new draft contract amendment, to be voted on by council members at their next meeting Feb. 26, the penalties would be waived as Knology agrees instead to apply 80 months’ worth of such damages, totaling $400,000, plus another $350,000 toward expanding its local network infrastructure this year.

Although the new agreement does not impose a revised, absolute deadline for completion, the bundled media services provider would agree to commit 5 percent of its annual gross revenues in Knoxville each year toward the continued network expansion, or at least $2.1 million total over the remainder of its contract through April 2015…

Knology also agrees to begin carrying local community access television in its channel lineup within 90 days of the amendment’s approval by City Council, and to equip several city recreation and community centers with cable service at no cost.   —>
also reported by WBIR


Deerfield Twp. prepares for new cable providers
by Eric Bradley
Community Press & Recorder (OH)

Residents here will soon have more options for cable TV, and Deerfield Township is making sure those providing it pay to use the public right of way.  Trustees passed a resolution Feb. 13 assessing a 5 percent fee on new cable and video service providers in the township.   —>

Buck Center to host seminar
Novato Advance (CA)

[ comments allowed ]

—>  And for friends of Sustainable Novato, Novato Public Access Television (NPAT) Channel 26 TV (Novato) will rebroadcast Sustainable Novato’s highly successful “Green Schools Coalition” Community Forum every Wednesday and Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. through the month of February.  Here’s a review of the Forum by Novato’s Annie Spiegelman in a Marin newspaper’s Feb. 8 letters to the editor:   —>

Latina Voices
by Sandra Fernandez
Sandra Says

[ comments allowed ]

Minerva Perez, formerly on KTRK ABC Channel 13, has a new project. Latino Talk TV is currently on public access TV. The show has become so popular that a national network is discussing syndication rights.  Here’s the premiere episode of her newest project, Latina Voices. It’s sure to be another success. (Can you tell I’m a fan?)

St. Patrick’s parade faces TV blackout
Time Warner asking $3,500 to cover costs
by Brian Meyer
Buffalo News (NY)

This year, the only chance to see marchers in the St. Patrick’s Day in Buffalo may be in person.  Time Warner Cable is ending the tradition of providing free production for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade so the popular event can be later aired on the cable system. It wants parade sponsors to pay $3,500 for production costs or find their own video crews.

Organizers of one of downtown’s biggest events are furious, as are some city officials.  “It’s very sad,” said Brigid A. Knott, the parade’s chief of staff. “[Time Warner] certainly makes enough money from the people of the City of Buffalo, not to mention people in the suburbs.”   —>

Burma’s Media completely under military dictatorship
by Zin Linn
Asian Tribune

[ comments allowed ]

The press is the fourth pillar of democracy after parliament, the legislature and the judiciary. Not so in Burma, where parliament has been silenced by the military. As a result, the legislature and the judiciary are automatically defunct under the military autocracy. As a necessary outcome of the iron rule, the fourth estate also comes under the grip of military-dictatorship.

The Burmese military junta has enforced stringent censorship rules and regulations the world has ever known on the media. Every piece of text has to be scrutinized by military’s PSRD before being published. Burma achieved certain notoriety as predator of the press. No information is allowed to flow or be published/ broadcast without the junta’s prior approval.

The latest repressive attacks against the media took place on February 15, 2008. According to Burma Media Association (BMA), military intelligence officers carried out a four-hour search of the offices of the Myanmar Nation Journal and confiscated many documents, including a copy of Human Rights Report on Burma by Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, videos of last anti-government protests in September, and hand-written poems. Police arrested editor, Thet Zin and manager, Sein Win Maung. The two journalists were taken to the Thin-gan-gyun township police station.   —>

BBC plans to sustain citizenship and civil society. Please tell us how
by Pete Clifton
Designing for a Civil Society


Here’s a story about how the BBC is developing new local multi-media services, its Charter remit for “sustaining citizenship and civil society”, the closure of BBC Action network, development of citizen (or networked) journalism, and how the BBC Trust consults us on what the BBC is for.

These developments and issues may be related … I don’t know …. but I think we should be told. But by whom? Maybe on the BBC Internet blog where they are exploring Digital Democracy.

My interest in these issues was re-awakened by a couple of e-mails in the UK and Ireland E-Democracy Exchange. E-democracy guru Steven Clift asked whether anyone has an update on the BBC Action Network, which has been hailed as a civic media success story, but as I had noted earlier is due to close soon. Steven wondered if future developments related to a Press Gazette story about Regional newspapers’ fury at BBC local web plan.   —>

SuzeMuse on Community TV and the Web
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition

[ comments allowed ]

—>  Sue wrote some really nice things about our conversation, including some thoughts on CCTV and our community there.  I wanted to highlight Sue’s post in particular because of her description of the possibilities she sees in community television and the social web working together, not apart.

“There has been some talk about the relevance of true community access television, with the advent of YouTube and other video services going online. If anyone can now make a video and post it for the world to see, why do community TV stations even need to exist any longer? The reason is simple. It’s about community. It’s about people physically coming together and producing valuable content, and the relationships that are formed when people are in this kind of environment. You can’t get that by hitting ‘Submit’ on your YouTube page.

“I think the Internet is going to be an extremely valuable outlet for those community television stations who choose to embrace its potential. By taking the power of community and sending it out to the world, everyone stands to benefit. Now, we not only have the power of being able to bring the community to the world…we have the possibility of linking these communities to make something even greater.”

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

New Voices Grant App Deadline; LSE Conf Call for Papers

February 17, 2008

Apply Now: Funding to Start Community News Projects
Contact Kira Wisniewski – (301) 985-4020  kira [at] j-lab [dot] org
New Voices

APPLY NOW! Applications due: Feb. 20, 2008.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism invites U.S. nonprofit groups and education organizations to apply for funding to launch community news ventures in 2008 and to share best practices and lessons learned from their efforts.

The New Voices project will help fund the start-up of 10 innovative local news initiatives next year. Each project may receive as much as $17,000 in grants over two years. Thirty New Voices projects have been funded since 2005.

Eligible to receive funding are 501(c)3 organizations and education institutions, including civic groups, community organizations, public and community broadcasters, schools, colleges and universities – and individuals working under the sponsorship of a nonprofit fiscal agent.

Grant guidelines and online application can be found at Project proposals are due February 20, 2008.   —>

Community and Humanity Conference
by Charlie Beckett

[ 1 comment ]

In celebration of the LSE Department of Media and Communication’s 5th year, my colleagues are inviting critical thinking about how the media and communications environment is implicated in shaping our perceptions of the human condition. How is it mediating human values, actions and social relations? We welcome proposals for papers and panels offering theoretical insight and/or empirical work on this theme. Abstracts or panel proposals may focus on one or more of the areas below.

* Communication and Difference
* Democracy, Politics and Journalism Ethics
* Globalisation and Comparative Studies
* Innovation, Governance and Policy
* Media and New Media Literacies

The conference is at London School of Economics and Political Science, London, Sunday 21st – Tuesday 23rd September 2008.  Abstracts should be submitted by 1st March 2008. Go here to submit abstract and/or register.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/24/07

November 26, 2007

episode 22. drishti media & video volunteers
by noneck
On the Luck of Seven (India)

(T)he journey into understanding participatory culture doesn’t start with digital technology. the study of participatory culture should arise from the understanding that one shoe doesn’t fit all. since my time in ahmedabad, i’ve come to see drishti and video volunteers as the premier example of interactivity between online/offline, between old media/new media, between bitching and getting things done. the prime directive should not exist on earth. if we truly care about a participatory society, we must embrace tools as forms of technology and work hard to impart their use among all. i hope you check out more of video volunteers work.

Weapons of mass distraction
by asterix786
Straight from the Gut (India)

There’s a looming threat of misinformation in the Indian subcontinent. Most media houses are either run by businessmen with strong links to politicians or worse, run by the khaki-clad themselves. If it was a covert operation earlier, today the ownership is out in the open. Every political party worth its salt is trying to gather as much media steam to envelop the country. Knowledge is power, but when the power of disseminating it is at the hands of netas, you have to take every information from their media vehicles with much introspection. —>

Why the Maghreb needs community radio (Morocco)
by Hélène Michaud and Andy Sennitt
Radio Netherlands Worldwide

All that’s needed to create a community radio station is a low-powered transmitter and antenna, a small studio and a microphone. Yet this phenomenon, considered irreversible and essential to development and democratisation elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, has not spread to the countries of the Maghreb. However, there are increasing calls, in particular in Morocco, to introduce community radio.

One of the main proponents is Professor Jamal Eddine Naji, who holds the UNESCO Chair in Public and Community Communication in Rabat. The reforms announced by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to fight corruption and improve the country’s human rights records must be extended to the media, he says, in order to be successful.

Professor Jamal has been trying to mobilise Morocco’s burgeoning civil society to consider using community radio as a tool. Many private radio and television networks have recently been launched in Morocco, but “we need to go much further in the direction of the appropriation of the media by Moroccan citizens.” And this means opening up the media landscape to community radio. —>

Wired resistance in Pakistan
by Amber Vora
Rabble News

It should come as no surprise that on the fateful night of Musharraf’s first coup in 1999, one of the only showdowns occurred at the state-run PTV television station. The offices were stormed by armed men, some backing Musharraf and others backing then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. At the time PTV was the only news station in Pakistan, so controlling its broadcast meant controlling the news. PTV went off the air for 3 hours that night. When it returned, it was to announce the dismissal of Sharif’s government.

Loss of access to communications has become a warning sign to Pakistanis that trouble may be brewing. In September 2006, a massive power outage caused an interruption of television broadcasts, spurring rumors that another coup had transpired. In that instance a technical failure, not the Army, was to blame.

This time around, when Musharraf declared de facto martial law on November 3, there were many more television stations to shut down – ironically the very same private stations that were allowed to flourish under his rule. He also placed severe restrictions on print media, leaving most Pakistanis with limited information about what is happening inside their own country. However, such measures no longer control the flow of information as effectively as they did eight years ago…

Several LUMS students I interviewed spoke with the giddiness of those who have only recently discovered their power. Their sentences were peppered with the parlance of blackberries, blogs, facebook and flickr. A senior named Ayesha described how SMS’s spread faster than wildfire across the campus, announcing and coordinating meetings and rallies.

Photos of a favourite professor being arrested by police were circulated over the Internet, outraging previously apolitical students. Cricket star turned political party leader Imran Khan, who temporarily escaped arrest, issued YouTube appeals from hiding encouraging students to mobilize. —>

Cable bill proves campaign reform need urgent
by Dave Zweifel, editor
Capital Times (WI)

On Sunday the State Journal ran a front page story that suggested the new “cable reform” legislation might not save consumers money after all. So what else is new? The story confirmed what opponents of the legislation had been repeatedly saying as loudly as they could for months and months while AT&T and others filled campaign coffers in the state Legislature.

It’s what we said in numerous editorials leading up to the final vote in the state Senate earlier this month and what several in-depth reports by our reporter Judith Davidoff revealed several weeks ago. Not only is this new law unlikely to save cable TV customers any money, it severely weakens the consumer safeguards that have been in place in Wisconsin since cable TV arrived on the scene.

A majority of the state Senate thumbed its nose at the consumer advocates, who wanted some safeguards written into the bill. Those advocates wanted to protect things like the funding of public access channels, which cable TV firms are required to provide now.

If the Assembly concurs in a few changes made by the Senate and Gov. Jim Doyle signs the measure, and the betting is that he will, local control of cable will be taken away. The state’s Department of Financial Institutions, a department led by political appointees, will provide oversight instead.

In what has to be the irony of ironies, the supposedly corrupt state of Illinois enacted a much more consumer-friendly cable law when that issue came before its Legislature earlier this year. It remains a mystery why Wisconsin legislators couldn’t insist on at least the same safeguards.

And when the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the organization that monitors campaign contributions, detailed the largess senators received from AT&T and others supporting the legislation, there were howls of indignation from the politicians. It’s irresponsible, one Senate staffer wrote me, after we printed the WDC’s report that the 23 senators who voted in favor of the bill received $1.2 million in contributions from the special interests backing the legislation.

No, what’s irresponsible is the Legislature’s continued failure to fix this system that allows special interests to ply government officials with huge sums of money and, in the end, get what they want at the expense of the public interest. Even if this were all somehow just a coincidence, the public perception is clear — our government is for sale to the highest bidder. —>

AOC & LUS’ Franchise
by John St. Julien
Lafayette Pro Fiber (LA)

This morning’s Advocate has a story focusing on one benefit from Tuesday’s approval of the LUS’ cable franchise: Acadiana Open Channel (AOC) will benefit to the tune of $50,000 dollars and a new capacity to offer on-demand programming.

As Blanchard points out, most of the franchise agreement is, for legal reasons relating to the (un)Fair Competition Act, a clone of Cox’s 2000 agreement. There are some differences, however, including the way the LUS agreement deals with the Acadiana Open Channel:

Each year, the Cox franchise agreement requires Cox to pay $50,000 to the open channel to run a public access channel, although that figure can go down if the city-parish doesn’t match funds up to a certain amount.

The LUS agreement calls for the open channel to get a flat $50,000 regardless of any conditions.

While there is a dark lining on this silver cloud, my guess is that Ed Bowie over at AOC’s Lee Avenue offices regards this as a good thing. After all, the perennially cash-strapped organization is getting a new, solid, continuing funding source for the next 10 years. With new federal regulations threatening to further erode the principle of local control of cable media by telling localities that they can’t demand much of anything other than cash for letting cable corporations rent their rights-of-way all public access groups are facing a bleak future. Likely LUS’ commitment will make it politically difficult for Cox to back out of its commitments just because the Feds say they can renege. Cox appears to have a good relationship with AOC. The corporation recently extended AOC’s reach into the surrounding communities recently (you can see AOC’s programming in X, Y, Z now) and provides AOC with net connection. (LUS should certainly match that.)

Even as AOC programming has solidified—it now really fills the two channel slots it has been allocated—and in part because of increased demand for its services AOC’s staffing problems have increased. This is especially true in the critical technical area that will be its future and the additional shot of money will no doubt be helpful there.

But there is a downside to the LUS’ unconditional gift to AOC. It’s unconditional. That means that should the council decide it doesn’t want to match LUS’ contribution in the same way it matches Cox’s then their decision to be chintzy doesn’t let LUS off the hook. With the Cox money the local government has to continue to support AOC or let Cox walk away with money that could be returned to the community. The way LUS has set up its contribution the city is freed from that responsibility. Of course that doesn’t free it from the moral obligation to help pay for valuable community resources. AOC is a magnet for creative types and AOC’s broadcasting of public meetings is an essential public resource. The city-parish should do the right thing. —>

Mark Cuban upset with P2P freeloaders
by PelicanKiss

In a blog titled “An Open Letter to Comcast and Every cable/Telco on P2P” Mark Cuban urges broadband Internet providers to “BLOCK P2P TRAFFIC , PLEASE.”

Calling P2P users “freeloaders” he urged internet service providers to charge commercial rates to users Seeding or relaying P2P traffic. He said “The last thing I want slowing my internet service down are P2P freeloaders. Thats right, P2P content distributors are nothing more than freeloaders. The only person/organization that benefits from P2P usage are those that are trying to distribute content and want to distribute it on someone else’s Bandwidth dime.”

The outspoken billionaire arguably has an interest in freeing up bandwidth currently being used for P2P traffic. His 2929 Entertainment venture is working to implement a distribution plan that includes simultaneously releasing movies theatrically at the same time they’re available in home video formats. No doubt he’d benefit from reduced P2P traffic as it would free up bandwidth that could be used to deliver quality hi-def content. However, rival content providers are testing P2P technology, most notably BitTorrent, for their own content delivery. Even the music industry is looking at the potential of a P2P distribution model. No doubt they’re less than thrilled with his proposal. —>

More cities broadcasting their business on the Web
In effort to increase transparency, more municipalities air meetings, offer services online
by Elizabeth Langton
The Dallas Morning News

Two decades ago, broadcasting city council meetings on cable access was cutting edge. But not in the age of wireless Internet, YouTube and podcasts. Now people expect information on demand, and government is responding by putting more and more of its business on the Web.

Municipalities across the Dallas-Fort Worth area offer a variety of online services, such as ways to report tall grass and broken streetlights or to pay parking tickets and water bills. Some have posted videos on YouTube and set up podcasts on iTunes. And a growing number provide on-demand video of council meetings. “It’s fast food, immediate gratification,” said Laura Hallmark, assistant to the city secretary in DeSoto. “Everybody is in a hurry. They want what they want, and they want it right away.”

The Texas Legislature first offered online video of proceedings in 1999. A handful of state boards offer webcasts of their meetings. When New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer took office in January, he ordered that all of the state’s public meetings be broadcast on the Internet to make government more accessible. —>

The Role of Ethnic Media and Ways to Report on Minorities
by Andrew Lam
New America Media

It is very difficult to frame the picture of the US media because we’re in a period of great turmoil. We have cable, DSL, bloggesphere, major, alternative, youth, and ethnic media, just to name a few. More fragmentation is sure to happen as more individuals have the power to be broadcasters and reporters and entertainers than ever before. We’re also in the age of citizen reporters- people who have a mobile phone and tape and take pictures and film events and break news before any professional journalist can arrive to the scene.

Major news organisations are losing viewers/listeners/readers while small news providers sometime discover that they can reach far wider audiences than they ever dreamed before. The mainstream press is shrinking and many are putting their resources on-line. This is where it’s still dynamic and vibrant.

Ethnic media, however, are growing and there’s still room to grow as the US demographic shift is changing very quickly, toward more a pluralistic society. In California, one out of 4 persons is an immigrant and 40 % of California households speak a language other than English. Our news organization has a directory of ethnic media and so far we identified more than 2500 news outlets that serve ethnic communities in the US. We think the real number may be more than double of what we chronicled.

When we did a poll as to how many American adults access ethnic media, the results were astounding: 51 million American adults access one form of ethnic media or another. That’s about one sixth of the general population. Half of them use ethnic media as their primary source of information. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the white population in the US will be under the 50% mark. This means that there’ll no longer be a majority. It also means that we should all prepare ourselves to find good viable models for our very pluralistic society. —>

Finding their own voice
by Matthew Ricketson
The Age (Australia)

HERE are two snapshots of the ways young people engage with the media: the first is from the shootings in April at Virginia Tech in the US, where, as Cho Seung-hui went on a rampage over several hours, students sought information and sent out news by using their mobile phones and laptop computers wirelessly connected to the internet.

They sent text messages to reassure their parents; they called friends, asking if they had heard of anything untoward at their college; they urgently searched online news websites for official confirmation, and they used their mobile phones to film the terrifying events as they happened.

In this snapshot, young people performed not only the traditional role of eyewitness to newsworthy events but used modern communication technologies to act as news-gatherers. When the mainstream media arrived, desperate to find out what had led one student to shoot 32 of his classmates and teachers, many young people showed an acute awareness of the media’s modus operandi and a savvy regard for the value of controlling their own “story”.

These young people are not just consumers of the media, but “pro-sumers”; that is, producers as well as consumers, who in the world of web 2.0 interact with media outlets and even create their own media.

The second snapshot comes from a survey, released in the same month as the shootings, that tested young people’s knowledge of news and current affairs. Conducted by the Pew Research Centre, a philanthropically funded nonpartisan “fact tank” based in the US, the survey showed that 56% of people aged 18 to 29 performed poorly on its test. Only one in six performed well. The test asked Americans to identify various public figures and tested their knowledge of recent events such as the Democrats gaining a majority in the House of Representatives, as well as their understanding of issues such as whether more civilians than troops have died in the Iraq war. The Pew Centre found that only one in four young people could identify Nancy Pelosi, who this year became the first female Speaker of the House, but that 95 per cent could identify Arnold Schwarzenegger — they got a tick if they identified him as either California Governor or a former action movie star.

What are we to make of these seemingly contradictory snapshots? When it comes to media, are today’s young people free-thinking innovators or self-centred escapists? Are we looking at a possibly disastrous decline in public knowledge, or a youth-led backlash against elitist and increasingly irrelevant traditional media?

Discussion of the issue is fraught, both because young people act as a lightning rod for society’s anxieties and because the media are a conductor for those anxieties. Further complicating the picture are the changes blowing through the media — the biggest since the introduction of television more than 50 years ago. So how, exactly, are young people using the media? —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/20/07

November 21, 2007

Countrywide protests against media curbs (Pakistan)
Dawn – The Internet Edition

KARACHI –  Police on Tuesday baton-charged journalists protesting against media curbs and arrested over 100 demonstrators when they tried to march towards the Governor’s House from the Karachi Press Club.  Hundreds of policemen deployed outside the press club sealed all link roads and used batons to stop journalists from taking out a procession. About six media personnel were injured.   —>

Media can transform a country (Rwanda)
by Joseph Quesnel
Winnipeg Sun

KIGALI, Rwanda — News media has the potential to transform this country and the evidence is on the ground.  Recently, I attended an organizational meeting for a newspaper called Ibanga. In the local Kinyarwanda language, the name means “secret.”  The choice of title was not intended to convey some sort of subversive meaning. The idea is to publish the “secrets of success” for grassroots initiatives. Usually, the paper profiles some successful business idea or highlights a promising local project.

The newspaper is quite well-publicized and typifies the growth of community journalism in Rwanda as a way to promote peaceful relations within the community. The project calls itself “news for peace” and many of the reporters involved with it are local students affiliated with the National University of Rwanda in Butare.

The project has received guidance from journalism students affiliated with the School of Journalism at Carleton University. What is encouraging about the project is the grassroots publication is subject to what appears to be professional standards of accuracy, objectivity and balance.  This is very interesting as the media in Rwanda has been justifiably criticized for inciting hatred among the Hutu militias during the genocide. Carleton University professor Allan Thompson compiled an entire book documenting the prominent role of the media in encouraging genocide among the masses.

Instead, these reporters intend to use the media to promote peace.  While this project is cause for celebration, it should not always be considered the norm. Journalists in Rwanda still face challenges in practising their craft, although this should be considered in perspective.   —>

As consumer anger heats up, legislators consider steps to increase competition
by Heather Stanek
Fon Du Lac Reporter (WI)

These days, cable TV not only airs drama, it creates it.  Television has become a hot topic in recent months, especially among consumers who’ve had it with their bills.  It has drawn so much attention that Wisconsin legislators are considering a bill aimed at creating more competition. If approved, providers of programming would need franchise agreements with the state, rather than individual communities. Under current law, providers must adopt an agreement and pay fees to local governments.

Fond du Lac City Attorney Jim Flader said the bill has bounced around Madison several times. It passed the Assembly, but the Senate tweaked it so companies would pay $2,000 per year instead of a one-time fee of $2,000.  He said the Assembly may consider it again in mid-December. Gov. Jim Doyle probably won’t consider it until late December or early January.

But will the bill really reduce prices or improve the industry? Those questions have programming providers and public officials speculating.  To uncover the facts, myths and as yet unknowns about cable TV prices and practices, The Reporter spoke to representatives of Charter Communications, market newcomer AT&T and Flader.   —>

Highland Park homeowners bristle at bulky AT&T utility boxes
Residents bristle at AT&T utility boxes
by Susan Kuczka
Chicago Tribune (IL)

In a North Shore town known for promoting a “green” approach to city services, the recent appearance of bulky AT&T utility boxes near the manicured lawns of pricey homes has some Highland Park residents seeing red.  Homeowners recently complained to city officials that the 5-foot-tall metal cabinets, which contain the fiber optics necessary for AT&T to enter the television market, are eyesores that have not only ruined the view from their living room windows but also could hurt their property values.  “We’ve received several complaints from residents who don’t like the size or the look of the boxes,” said Patrick Brennan, Highland Park’s assistant city manager.

Although Highland Park is one of the first communities in the area to receive the new equipment, an AT&T spokesman said the utility has plans to install them throughout the area in the wake of a new Illinois law that gives AT&T statewide franchising rights. The new rules allow the company to install the “Project Lightspeed” utility containers without seeking permission from individual municipalities.   —>,1,655556.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

LUS Franchise Goes to Council Vote
by John St. Julien
Lafayette Pro Fiber (LA)

LUS’ cable franchise agreement is on the agenda to be approved this evening during the 4:30 LPUA meeting before the regular council meeting.  Now this little story doesn’t rate so much as a mention in local media since various tempest in a teapot issues are distracting us from this more fundamentally important issue…  If you poke around a bit and use Google you can actually find the text of the agreement on the council website. (The links in the agenda document do not work…a common problem, I have found. Someone needs to show the folks uploading them how to redirect the links.)

It makes for interesting reading. Well, ok, maybe not really interesting reading. But it makes interesting points. For instance here’s my top ten (in no particular order):

1) No Censorship. LCG denies itself the right to censor any content that flows over the LUS system   —>
2) Yearly Surveys. Consolidated government reserves the right to do yearly surveys of LUS’ telecommunications.   —>
3) In the Public Interest   —>
4) Updating the Agreement   —>
5) Privacy   —>
6) Universal Service   —>
7) Public Service   —>
8) PEG Channels (aka AOC)   —>
9) AOC support   —>
10) 21st Century Public Access   —>

All in all not a bad document. Not the document of my dreams however. That one would have had glorious clauses pushing a real digital divide program, extended public obligations, funding for a commons portal and a 21st century version of AOC. Sigh. Still, I have to say not a bad document. Just not worthy of the full vision I think most of Lafayette shares.

Indian Shores urges cable company to hold off on conversion
by Bob MacPherson
Beach Beacon (FL)

The Town of Indian Shores is among other barrier island cities concerned that citizens will lose access to TV programs dealing with local issues.  The Town Council on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution Nov. 13 supporting fellow Pinellas County municipalities opposed to Bright House Networks’ proposed relocation of government access channels to the lowest digital tier of service.

Town officials said that change, which will move local Channel 15 up into the digital tier, will negatively impact residents’ access to important information on local channels particularly during an emergency – information not readily available on commercial channels.   —>

Cable channel switch coming
by Michael D. Bates
Hernando Today (FL)

BROOKSVILLE – In three weeks, Bright House Network customers will have to be more creative with their remote control to find their government access channels.  On Dec. 11, the company is relocating channels 14, 19 and 20 from the easily-found lower basic tier to the upper digital channel tier, where some people may have trouble finding them.  Also, customers whose television isn’t digital-ready will have to pay $1-a-month for a converter box to receive the channels.

County commissioners have joined their counterparts in the Tampa Bay area to protest the move, which they believe will restrict residents’ access to government meetings and create a budgetary hardship.  They directed their legal staff to fire off a letter to Bright House expressing that concern and asking the company to do its civic duty in leaving the channels where they are.  So far, Bright House has not changed its mind.  But that hasn’t stopped the county from trying.   —>

Elmwood to pay TCTV2 bill after all
by Alan Campbell
Leelanau Enterprise (MI)

With the future of a public access television channel serving northwest Michigan in the balance, the Elmwood Board Tuesday voted to pay a $7,600 bill representing a six-month commitment by the township to help pay for operations.  The board voted 4-3 at its October meeting to withhold payment of the bill to help run TCTV2, on which township meetings are broadcast. Questions have been raised about the future viability of the public access channel, and the content of programs submitted by Traverse City area residents for broadcast on Channel 2.

But the board voted 7-0 Tuesday to pay the bill amid reports from members who had voted the opposite way a month earlier that they support the channel.  “I’ve decided I like it,” said treasurer Debbie Street. “But I do have some questions…”   —>

Lobbying costs hit $11M in AT&T, cable TV industry battle
by Tom Humphrey (TN)

NASHVILLE – Lobbying expenses in Tennessee’s legislative war between AT&T and the cable television industry reached the $11 million plateau this year, according to reports filed with the Tennessee Ethics Commission by major participants.  The reports, required under an ethics law passed by the Legislature last year, mark the first time that lobbyist employers have had to publicly disclose their expenditures for a full year. Two reports were required for 2007, the last due on Nov. 15.

AT&T, which pushed legislation that would have allowed the company to obtain a statewide franchise to operate cable television, reported spending between $3.45 million and $3.55 million in its effort during the two reporting periods combined.  Between $600,000 and $700,000 of that total came in direct payments to the 26 lobbyists registered for AT&T. The rest went for advertising and mailings that urged Tennesseans to contact their legislators and urge them to vote for the bill.

TV4US, which bills itself as a consumer advocacy group seeking more competition in the cable television industry and a supporter of the AT&T bill, reported spending between $1.6 million and $1.7 million – almost all for advertising. AT&T is listed among several organizations sponsoring TV4US on the group’s Web site,  Thus, total spending by the major supporters of the bill in the 2007 legislative session was between $5.05 million and $5.25 million. The measure failed, but AT&T Tennessee President Gregg Morton says the telecommunications giant will renew its push in the 2008 session.

Spending on the opposing side was somewhat higher.  The Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association reported spending between $5.5 million and $5.6 million in the two reports combined. That included $400,000-$500,000 in compensation to lobbyists, with most of the rest going to cable television advertising.  The association also operates a Web site devoted to the issue at  Comcast Cable Inc. filed separate reports showing between $175,000 and $350,000 in expenditures – most in direct payments to lobbyists.   —>

KOCT wins award
North County Times (CA)

OCEANSIDE — KOCT-TV producer Russell Ferguson recently attended a conference in Ventura to accept an award for KOCT programming. The 2007 Western Access Video Excellence Award was presented at the Alliance for Community Media Western States Region Conference.  The award was presented to KCOT for “Climate TV #2,” a program for young teens that shows their peers enjoying fun and positive after-school activities. “Climate TV #2” won first place in the category of Programs for Youth/Pro.

Another KOCT program, “Living Legacies featuring Paul Tanner,” produced jointly by Ted Smit and Tom Morrow and hosted by Tom Morrow, was named as a finalist in the Programs by or for Seniors/Pro category.  WAVE Awards recognize the work of community access volunteers and professionals in the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada and New Mexico.

Winooski documentary is first place winner
Burlington Free Press (VT)

The locally-produced video, “Winooski: City of Reinvention” is the first place winner in the Documentary Profile category at the 10th annual Alliance for Community Media-Northeast Region Video Fest.  Jess Wilson, director of CCTV Productions at the Center for Media & Democracy, wrote, edited and photographed the project.  “I grew up in Vermont, lived in Winooski for several years, and have always felt a connection to that community,” Wilson said.

The video was funded through the city of Winooski and tells the story of downtown Winooski from the days of the Abenaki Indians and Ira Allen through Vermont Vermont’s largest downtown revitalization.  An awards ceremony took place in White Plains, N.Y. last weekend.  To watch the video online, go to

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/19/07

November 19, 2007

[ Here’s a status report on electronic news sources in Pakistan – rm ]

Satellite Channels, Blogs, Criticize Musharraf
by Juan Cole
Informed Comment – Thoughts on the Middle East, History, and Religion

The USG Open Source Center surveys electronic media in and about Pakistan, reporting on the situation with regard to closure or blocking of television channels, as well as making remarks toward the end on Pakistani blog sites. —>

Crisis calls for special session now
by John Nichols, Associate Editor
The Capital Times (WI)

Common Cause in Wisconsin says it all with a new declaration:

“Whereas Wisconsin has not significantly modified its state campaign finance law in approximately 30 years and;

“Whereas the current laws and systems governing campaign finance in Wisconsin are outdated, unenforceable, or both, and;

“Whereas systemic corruption in the state Legislature has increased as a direct and indirect result of the current inadequacy and weakness of Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws, leading to criminal charges against five former legislative leaders of both houses and both political parties and the conviction of four of those leaders thus far;

“Be it resolved that the undersigned members of the state Governing Board of Common Cause in Wisconsin, on behalf of 3,000 citizen-members, call upon Gov. Jim Doyle, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch and state Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker to publicly support a call for a special session of the Legislature before the end of 2007 to consider campaign finance reform measures in advance of the 2008 election cycle.”

… The recent debate over the video franchising bill, a priority of the telecommunications industry that wreaks havoc with consumer protections and nonprofit community stations, illustrates the crisis. There is no way that this bill would have been considered in the Assembly or the Senate without the push from AT&T, an out-of-state corporation that stands to benefit from its enactment. The campaign accounts of legislators were slathered with dollars linked to the telecommunications industry prior to the vote, as were the campaign committees of the Republican and Democratic leadership of the two chambers.

In such a circumstance, there is so much blame to go around that pointing fingers becomes pointless. It is better to simply say, as Common Cause wisely has, that the time for accusations and excuses has passed. The only thing that matters is addressing the crisis. And the only way to do it is with a special session that does not finish until reform has been achieved.

El Paso to expand cable government channel
by David Crowder
El Paso Times (TX)

When Time Warner gets out of the business of broadcasting local government meetings on cable Channel 15 in January, El Paso’s City Hall will take over and has big plans for a full-time government TV channel. “It’s kind of exciting because we have 24 hours to fill, seven days a week, and we’re starting from the ground up,” city spokes woman Juli Lozano said.

The city will be picking up the six local government meetings that Time Warner now handles — including the El Paso City Council, County Commissioners Court and Thomason Hospital and Central Appraisal District boards. Broadcasts of the El Paso, Socorro and Ysleta school district board meetings and the El Paso Community College board were moved to cable Channel 14 two months ago. —>

Local TV chef demystifies fine cooking for the holiday
by Betty Jespersen
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel (ME)

FARMINGTON — Stan Wheeler is your everyman kind of chef. An unassuming guy in the kitchen, Wheeler, the star of a new food show on local cable access TV in Farmington and Wilton, believes anyone can cook a great meal once the mystique is demystified. By day, Wheeler works in the high-stress job of dispatcher at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department. Planning and preparing a good meal on his time off is what he loves to do.

With a dish towel flung casually over his shoulder and wearing regular clothes, Wheeler might be showing his viewers how to make sushi and spring rolls, sauteed chicken breasts in a delicate white wine sauce, assemble an elegant salad and cook risotto. “The goal of the show is to show different techniques and different recipes that people might not use every day,” he said as he prepared for the filming in the kitchen of his home. For the show that will be aired today at 2 and 8 p.m. and also in streaming video online at, Wheeler’s focus is easy to prepare Thanksgiving side dishes.

The selections are curry pumpkin soup with sauteed onions; crisp brussel sprouts sauteed and baked with Italian bacon called pancetta; mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup; and blanched fresh green beans sauteed with almonds and flavored with minced ginger. “The Thanksgiving meal centers on traditional foods — things like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. I want to show people some new ways to make familiar food that might become a new tradition,” he said. —>

Better than Monday night Football: 14th CD candidate Lauzen on cable and streaming
by Jeff Berkowitz
Public Affairs (IL)

Tonight’s City of Chicago and City of Aurora editions of Public Affairs features State Senator and 14th Cong. District Republican Primary Candidate Chris Lauzen (R-Aurora). Senator Lauzen debates and discusses, tonight, with show host and Executive Legal Recruiter Jeff Berkowitz, a broad range of domestic, foreign and cultural public policy issues (For a list of topics discussed, a partial transcript and some commentary about tonight’s show, go here.

The show with Senator Lauzen airs throughout the City of Chicago tonight [Nov. 19] at 8:30 pm on Cable Ch. 21 [CANTV] and at 7:30 pm tonight [Nov. 19] on Aurora Community Television, on Comcast Cable Ch. 10 in Aurora and some surrounding areas. That is, the Aurora station reaches all of Aurora, Bristol, Big Rock and parts of Oswego, Sandwich, Sugar Grove and Montgomery.

You may also watch the show with 14th Cong. Dist. Republican Primary candidate Lauzen, along with other recently posted shows, including State’s Attorney Candidates Ald. Allen, Comm. Suffredin, Ald. Brookins and First Ass’t Bob Milan, Rep. Hamos (D-Evanston), 14th CD Republican Primary candidate Mayor Kevin Burns and 14th CD Democratic Primary Candidates Jotham Stein and John Laesch on your computer at [For all of the shows on the Public Affairs podcast page, other than Sen. Lauzen and Bob Milan, please click the Archives icon to bring up those shows].

In addition to those shows, prior shows on the “Public Affairs,” podcast page feature Presidential candidates Obama, Giuliani, Richardson, McCain and Cox, and many other pols, including Obama-Bean in April, 2006, Congresswoman Bean in January, 2006 and Congresswoman Schakowsky in October, 2005 and opinion makers. You may also watch these “Public Affairs,” shows and others at —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/16/07

November 17, 2007

A million video cameras to change the world!
by Nalaka Gunawarden
Moving Images, Moving People

Something remarkable is happening with online public video sharing platforms: progressive non-profit groups worldwide are seizing their power to do good. YouTube started off more like the people’s version of funniest home videos. But it’s no longer confined to that category. Activist and social groups are increasingly uploading their videos. As broadband Internet rolls out around the world, more people are actually able to watch these videos online.

In response, YouTube, owned by search giant Google, is creating a special section for nonprofits to air their videos and link them to its Google Checkout online payment system to receive funds directly. “Nonprofits understand that online video isn’t just a way to broadcast public service announcements on a shrunken TV set,” Reuters quoted Steve Grove, head of news and politics at YouTube, as saying. “It’s a way to get people to do more than just absorb your message but to engage with their user generated content as well.”

Pure Digital, maker of the Flip video camera, has said it plans to give away a million video cameras to non-profit organizations around the world to capture images and moments in places traditional media outlets might not be able to reach. “Video has power and media has power but the challenge is that the media is limited to telling stories that are controlled by a very small number of people,” Jonathan Kaplan, chief executive of Pure Digital, told Reuters. “This program along with YouTube and other sites will expand the media universe for learning what’s really going on in the world,” he said. Visit FlipVideo website on support for non-profit groups —>

Chinese Dissidents Take On Beijng Via Media Empire
by Kathy Chen
Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — Most days, Xiang Dong leads a life typical of this city’s suburban office worker. But at nights, he takes on another persona: China dissident. The bespectacled Mr. Xiang, a 38-year-old father of two, hosts a pair of weekly talk shows for a U.S.-based satellite-TV broadcaster called New Tang Dynasty Television. Setting up at a bare-bones studio at a high school one night, he fiddled with his laptop-cum-teleprompter. “I forgot my power cord,” sighed Mr. Xiang, who works as a database manager. “I’ll just have to rely on batteries.”

Making do is the modus operandi for the largely volunteer staff of New Tang Dynasty TV. Yet they are helping build one of the most significant overseas dissident movements to challenge China in decades. Most staffers belong to Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual-and-meditation movement banned by Beijing as an “evil cult.” What started as an effort by U.S.-based Falun Gong practitioners — many immigrants from China — to speak out against a government crackdown back home has evolved into a broadcaster with big aspirations.

…New Tang Dynasty’s revenues were $4.7 million in 2005, according to its Internal Revenue Service filings as a nonprofit. Mr. Lee says last year’s revenues were about $5 million, and that they will increase to $6 million or $7 million this year. For Chinese officials and other Falun Gong opponents, the growing influence of NTD is evidence of their longstanding assertion that the group was never just a spiritual movement. NTD and its sister organizations report frequently on Falun Gong-related news and often focus on negative news out of China. They have also sometimes played up stories discredited by Western media and human-rights groups, such as China’s alleged systemic harvesting of the organs of detained Falun Gong practitioners for use in transplants.

At the same time, NTD’s programs, broadcast in Chinese and English, address issues that remain largely off-limits to China’s state-controlled media, from political corruption to the spread of the infectious disease SARS in the country in 2003. During elections in the U.S. and Taiwan, NTD beamed live feeds to show democracy in action, and is gearing up to do the same for the 2008 U.S. presidential race. The broadcaster also airs movies, cooking shows, a sports program and other entertainment.

… Mr. Xiang decided to focus on producing TV shows. In July 2000, he enrolled in evening classes offered by Fairfax Public Access, a nonprofit organization providing media-production facilities. One of his first programs to air on Fairfax Public Access’s Channel 10 was a minidocumentary about Falun Gong adherents. “Our teacher watched it and said it could be more professional,” Mr. Xiang says. Undeterred, he produced more programs featuring Falun Gong followers. —>

Participatory Journalism in the USA: My Talk
by Amy Gahran

Next Tuesday in Barcelona, Spain, I’ll be teaming up with J-Lab’s Jan Schaffer to give a talk on Participatatory Journalism in the USA: Opportunities and Challenges. This is part of the fourth Online Media Week. I’m really excited about it. I wish Jan could actually be there, but she ended up not being able to attend in person so she’ll be giving her talk via webcast.

Here’s Jan’s presentation (streaming video), and here are her slides (PowerPoint). It’s a great overview, check it out.

After Jan gets to answer some questions live (technology permitting), I’ll expand this discussion by talking about the bigger picture: Why participatory journalism matters, why it isn’t new, and how the news landscape might evolve because of participatory journalism.

What follows is merely my best guess about how my part of the talk will go. Of course, I don’t really do speeches; I prefer to engage groups in conversation so we can explore issues and think things through together. That’s much more fun for everyone. So I will most definitely stray from this script at some point during the talk. (So translators, be forewarned!) With that, here’s what I’d like to be able to cover —>

New television studio will put more community access shows on the air
by Scott Benjamin
Brookfield Journal (CT)

The guests at the Nov. 7 ribbon cutting for the facility, located in the BHS media center, included two superintendents-John Goetz, who retired from that position in August, and his successor, Anthony Bivona. Departing First Selectman Jerry Murphy also attended the event to celebrate the opening of the studio, which was the brainchild of Carol Dores, a parent and the founder and president of the BEF. “They were using the equipment as it came out of the boxes,” she said in an interview regarding how the facility has already generated student interest.

During the 35-minute ceremony, the audience viewed a video produced by a student that highlighted the civic programs that the BEF has helped fund since it was established in 2004. Another video included an interview with Cherrie Wilhelm, the head of the guidance program at BHS. …Mrs. Dores said that the studio would provide more programming on municipal- and school-related events for community access channels 17 and 21. —>

Hillsboro Argus
TVCTV wins pair of public access awards
The Hillsboro Argus (WA)

Tualatin Valley Community Television recently received two top prizes at the 22nd Annual Government Programming Awards presented by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors. TVC-TV won a first-place trophy for community events coverage for its video following Lake Oswego’s Rivergrove Elementary Schools Lego Robotics team through the 2006 Lego-Robotics tournament in Hillsboro. Coverage of the 2007 North Plains Garlic Festival program placed third in the same category. The festival showcases garlic and garlic infused foods and activities. —>

Waycross wins Farnsworth awards
The Community Press & The Community Recorder (OH)

Volunteers and staff from Waycross Community Media took top honors in the 2007 Philo T. Farnsworth Access Awards. Awards were presented in a ceremony Nov. 9 at the annual Alliance for Community Media Central States Fall Regional Conference, held this year in Fort Wayne, Ind. Volunteers and staff from Waycross received awards for the following productions:

2007 OHSAA Wrestling Tournament Finals in the category of Sports-Event Coverage, non-pro.
Elder vs. Withrow Regional Final Tournament Basketball in the category of Sports-Event Coverage, pro.

Waycross has received an award in the sports category for 13 consecutive years; this is the first year the center received top honors in both the pro and non-pro categories.

2007 Finneytown High School Graduation in the category of Community Even-Student. Waycross has received an award in this category for the past four years. Waycross volunteers, producers and staff were also honored with the PEG Access Compilation award, for best overall Public, Education and Government access center. This is the ninth year in a row Waycross has received this honor. —>

Physician Focus, August 2007: Gastroenterology
Massachusetts Medical Society Podcasts

Gastroenterology is the medical specialty dealing with the function and diseases of the esophagus, stomach, small intestine, colon and rectum, pancreas, gallbladder, bile ducts, liver, and all the digestive organs. It treats conditions such as colon polyps and cancer, hepatitis, gastroesophageal reflux, ulcers, colitis, gallbladders, irritable bowel syndrome, and pancreatitis. When should a patient see this kind of specialist? What kind of symptoms may signal a problem? Are there preventive steps a patient can take for good “GI” health?… Co-produced with Hopkinton Community Access Television, HCAM-TV, Hopkinton Mass.

Duke Ellington Round Table
Eric Jackson, host, WGBH Radio
WGBH Forum Network (MA)

Eric Jackson discusses Duke Ellington’s A Sacred Concert with a panel on Winthrop, MA community access television.

Conversations Show with Harold Channer and Jon Hammond MNN TV
Jon Hammond TV Show

[ Watch Video Here ]

Hear Harold and Jon discuss Public Access Television and play a clip from Jon’s very first broadcast on MCTV Channel C ‘The Jon Hammond Show’ with original music and graphics from BackBeat Productions that aired for first time Feb. 2, 1984. Jon’s TV show is now in it’s 24th year and he is hosting daily radio show ‘HammondCast Early Edition’ on KYOU & KYCY Radio 1550 AM. Enjoy! —>

Where Science and Religion Intersect
PolkVoice (FL)

How do you go from being a University of Southern California All American baseball player to becoming a mystic? It’s a far-reaching and fascinating joinery, one that Dr. Bud Hollowell discusses in this week’s Tampa Rocks, Public Access Television, broadcast throughout the Bay area Saturday, Nov. 17. —>

Staff Cut Proposal Causes Controversy
Fayetteville Reorganization Touches Off Budget Discussion
by Dug Begley
The Morning News (AR)

Two reorganizations proposed for Fayetteville city departments have raised a ruckus among supporters of public television and City Council members. Susan Thomas, public information and policy advisor for the city, said the reorganizations essentially merge the jobs of cable administrator and neighborhood coordinator. The new position, called a public information officer, would report to Thomas.

A memo sent to council members earlier this week said the reorganization would reduce production staff for the government channel by three-quarters of a full-time job. Thomas said that could mean part-time producers work less hours, or some part-time staff could be dismissed. An office worker in the cable administration department would also be reduced from full-time to part-time, according to the memo.

The loss of the two full-time jobs, one in cable administration and one in long-range planning, have garnered the most attention. Cable Administrator Marvin Hilton and Neighborhood Coordinator Julie McQuade — who works in the city’s long-range planning division — would lose their jobs if the budget is passed by the City Council. Both would be eligible to apply for the new position, Thomas said.

Some council members said after reading the memo they remain committed to not cutting any full-time positions. “I’m not going to do it,” said Alderman Lioneld Jordan. “How’s that for a clear answer?” —>

New FCC rule could mean less franchise fee revenue for Peoria
by C.J. Summers
The Peoria Chronicle (IL)

I’ve been trying to keep up on how cable franchise negotiations are going. You may recall that the city’s franchise agreement with Insight expired in April 2006. After several months, the city finally signed a temporary extension with Insight/Comcast through January 1, 2008. That’s not very far away now, and there’s still no permanent franchise agreement.

No doubt part of the reason it’s so hard to nail down a final contract is because the rules keep changing. With other players (read: AT&T) entering the cable market, state and federal authorities (e.g., the FCC) are constantly changing the landscape, trying to make it easier for telecommunications companies to get into the cable market. Most of the those changes negatively affect municipalities. —>

Cable and video franchising: We deserve better
by Senator Vinehout
The Altoona Star (WI)

Imagine a world in which only a machine answered the phone when you went to complain about your cable service, or your service was turned off even though your bill said you owed nothing. Where large refrigerator-size boxes were placed in your front yard and you had no say over them, or your street was torn up by a private company and local taxpayers had to pay to clean up the mess.

We are about to enter a world in which, under the guise of “competition”, a few very large cable and video companies write the rules and consumers and local government are the poorer because of it. Most of us in western Wisconsin will never see the promised competition and yet, as soon as the new video bill goes into effect, the old rules that protected consumers will be gone for everyone in the state. —>

Ramsey, Commission Endorse AT&T Bill
The Chattanoogan (TN)

County Mayor Claude Ramsey and county commissioners on Thursday indicated their support for a franchising bill sought by AT&T in the Tennessee Legislature as the firm makes plans to get in the cable TV business. —>

Cable / phone fight heats up again
by Brian Mosely
Shelbyville Times Gazette (TN)

The cable television industry is gearing up for another fight in the Tennessee State Legislature against AT&T, which is planning to promote a bill next year that the cable industry claims would hurt consumers by dismantling the local franchise law. However, AT&T claims that a handful of cable companies continue to enjoy a monopoly on video service and that the current method of obtaining local cable franchises is “a lengthy, expensive process that just doesn’t make sense.” —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media