Archive for the ‘DTV transition’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/19/08

April 20, 2008

Radiohead Video

Grassroots Media to Support Local Community TV
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition
04/19/08

[ comments invited ]

The following message is from a post to the Action Coalition for Media Education e-list from Liza Dichter (Center for International Media Action):

“FROM: Chrissy Harmon: mom, teacher and brand-new community media maker….

Can you take 4 minutes to watch some grassroots media and help me fight for my local community TV center? And please, Pass It On! I’d never made creative media before. And until now, I’ve never written an email asking folks to ‘take action.’

PLEASE WATCH & RATE: http://www.aniboom.com/Player.aspx?v=198688
“Reckoner Video by Tired People”– BEFORE APRIL 27!

My name is Chrissy Harmon, I’m a mom of three, a public-schoolteacher, and just 3 months ago, I became a producer and volunteer with Franklin Public Access — and it truly changed my life.

I walked into my public access station because I had to speak out against domination of media and education by corporate institutions and ended up 3 months later, producing an animation that we entered in a national music-video competition for the band Radiohead.

We need your vote! High ratings is how to win the contest. The winner of the contest creates the actual video for Radiohead, and will receive international promotion. Most entries are done by professional production companies and animators. We have the idea that our little homemade piece could gain some attention for Public Access and might help light a fire under the negotiation process happening with Comcast here in our town.

We are asking friends and allies who believe in Public Access to view our video, rate and leave a supportive comment.

While Steve Russo, the only staff here at our Public Access station, was teaching me to make media, and I was discovering a new feeling of empowerment I didn’t expect, I also learned that our Public Access station is endangered. I learned that Public Access and community media everywhere is under threat from big-profit cable and phone companies. I am now committed to help community media resist and thrive.

Please pass on this email– and if you have any advice, tools or support you can offer us, isolated here in our tiny town up against big Comcast, I’d love to hear from you.

Thank you,
Chrissy Harmo chrissyjane {at} gmail {dot} com”
http://cmediachange.net/blog/2008/04/19/grassroots-media-to-support-local-community-tv/
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A Raw Deal From AT&T?
by David Lay
Brewed Fresh Daily (OH)
04/19/08

[ 5 comments ]

When AT&T started pitching its Project Lightspeed, marketed as U-Verse, it was touted as the ‘next generation’ of High Speed Internet, Cable TV and Phone Service.

As AT&T’s competitors eclipse U-Verse’s current maximum speed offering of 6Mbps, some residents in cities like Lakewood are thinking AT&T has seriously overpromised and underdelivered. Not to mention, the 50+ VRAD boxes (more than the originally planned 43) that are all over Lakewood are a serious eyesore. There have also been comments that U-Verse’s Fiber-To-The-Node structure, compared to all-fiber networks like Verizon’s FiOS, have some major limitations.

Meanwhile, back in November AT&T won a state-wide franchise agreement to offer Cable TV service in Ohio. Are cities starting to have buyer’s remorse?
http://www.brewedfreshdaily.com/2008/04/19/a-raw-deal-from-att/
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Cable To TV Rescue
Comcast Throws Broadcaster Raycom A ‘Lifeline’
by Ted Hearn
Multichannel News
04/19/08

[ comments invited ]

Cable operators and TV stations are starting to cooperate on ways to help minimize consumer disruption resulting from the legally mandated cutoff of over-the-air analog TV signals next February. Comcast announced an agreement last Monday with Raycom Media, a broadcast company with TV stations in 12 Comcast markets. Both plan to air ads informing viewers about the DTV transition — and that signing up for cable can prevent any analog TV set from going dark. The effort, unveiled at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas this past week, will feature the marketing of a low-cost “lifeline” programming tier limited to just local TV signals in analog format, public-access channels and perhaps a few cable networks.

“We’ve come to an agreement with Raycom to advertise the DTV transition and help [its] stations retain their viewers in our markets,” said Brad Dusto, president of Comcast’s Western Division. “We would encourage other station owners to consider that as well. Any Comcast system would be happy to make that same offer.” —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6553082.html
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Rumford BOS Give WVAC (Ch 7) $17,000 From Cable Franchise Fees
Rumford Reporter (ME)
04/19/08

[ comments invited ]

The Rumford Board of Selectmen approved giving WVAC, Channel 7, $17,000 from the Cable Franchise Fees Account. The Selectmen also addressed why the Finance Committee meetings were not taped. According to Joe Volkernick, he reports that the volunteer requested the camera for all the Finance Committee meetings but he denied the request because he was unable to air the meetings due to a “lack of air time.” Mr. Volkernick explained why he was having a hard time fitting in all the meetings on Channel 7. He stated that he airs meetings for Mexico and Dixfield, too, and that he is required to keep the same programs on a seven day rotation.

The Rumford Board of Selectmen expressed their support for the station given the way that it brings the government process out to the community but they would like to be given priority since they give the station the most amount of money. The Rumford Board of Selectmen also discussed getting their own Live Feed system so that their government processes would be more transparent and reach out to the community in a more timely fashion.
http://www.therumfordreporter.com/2008/04/rumford-bos-give-wvac-ch-7-17000-from.html
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Martha Ma: Food for Thought Film Festival
feministing.com
04/19/08

[ 1 comment ]

Martha Ma is a food and media educator and producer, community chef and health counselor. She is the host and producer of “The Tasty Life,” a bi-weekly television show on Manhattan Public Access channel 57, and the editor of the e-newsletter, “Eater’s Digest.” Martha is also executive producer of the Food for Thought Film Festival. If you’re in the NYC area this weekend, check out the last weekend of the festival at Cooper Union’s Wollman Auditorium, 51 Astor Place at Third Ave. Feature films include King Corn, Black Gold, and Life and Debt. Shorts include The Meatrix I, II and II 1/2 and The True Cost of Food. Here’s Martha… —>
http://feministing.com/archives/009042.html
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

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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/
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/19/08

March 21, 2008

City Council Moves Closer To Backing AT&T Bill
Littlefield Says He Welcomes Cable TV Competition
The Chatanoogan (TN)
03/18/08

The City Council is moving closer to backing a bill sought by AT&T allowing it statewide franchise rights leading to development of a cable TV system. The council heard an endorsement from Mayor Ron Littlefield, then directed that a resolution of support be prepared for later action. Mayor Littlefield said some concerns he had about the bill appear to be cleared up. —>
http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_124164.asp
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CBC to release TV broadcast as high-quality, no-DRM BitTorrent download
by Cory Doctorow
Boing Boing
03/18/08

[ 18 comments ]
[ 31 comments at original post site: Michael Geist – 2nd link below ]

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is about to follow Norway’s NRK and become the first major North American broadcaster to release one of its shows as a DRM-free torrent:

“Sources indicate that the CBC is set to become the first major North American broadcaster to freely release one of its programs without DRM using BitTorrent. This Sunday, CBC will air Canada Next Great Prime Minister. The following day, it plans to freely release a high-resolution version via peer-to-peer networks without any DRM restrictions. This development is important not only because it shows that Canada’s public broadcaster is increasingly willing to experiment with alternative forms of distribution, but also because it may help crystallize the net neutrality issue in Canada.

“The CBC’s mandate, as provided in the Broadcasting Act, requires it to make its programming “available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means.” Using BitTorrent allows the CBC to meet its statutory mandate, yet with ISPs such as Rogers engaging in non-transparent traffic shaping, millions of Canadians may be unable to fully access programming funded by tax dollars. If the CBC experiment is successful, look for more broadcasters to do the same and for the CRTC to face mounting pressure to address net neutrality concerns. ”
http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/18/cbc-to-release-tv-br.html
http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2767/125/
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FCC Debates Open Internet at April 17 Stanford Hearing
Free Press
03/19/08

Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will hold a second public hearing on the future of the Internet on April 17 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. The Stanford hearing promises to bring consumers and producers of innovative online content together to educate the FCC about the future of video on the Internet. The field hearing is also linked to the FCC’s ongoing investigation into the blocking of legal content by Comcast and other Internet service providers. At the first hearing last month at Harvard, Comcast admitted hiring seat-fillers, blocking interested citizens from attending the event.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, which coordinates the SavetheInternet.com Coalition, issued the following statement: “Just as the Internet benefited from widespread public participation, so will the debate over its future. The hearing at Stanford — the birthplace of our Internet economy — gives Web innovators a chance to weigh in on the policies that will shape the industry for a generation.

“We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that all interested parties are accommodated. With the future of the Internet at stake, no one should be shut out of the conversation. At this defining moment in the Internet’s history, the threat posed by would-be gatekeepers like Comcast is very real and getting worse. Open Internet policies are urgently needed. We hope this important hearing will lead to immediate and accelerated action at the FCC.” —>
http://freepress.net/node/37696
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Clearing the air on digital TV converters
by Jonathan Takiff
Philadelphia Daily News
03/19/08

Last week’s column scooped the nation with the first hands-on review of low-cost, digital TV tuners/converters. These set-top boxes will become essential to receive over-the-air TV on older, pre-digital television sets next year, after broadcasters are required (on Feb. 17, 2009) to shut off their analog signals. Not surprisingly, I got a flood of reader comments and questions. Today, let’s deal with some of them…

Q: I’ve got cable TV. Some of my sets are hooked up to cable boxes, others just use the TV’s cable-ready tuner to receive non-scrambled cable channels. Will I be able to connect one of the new digital boxes to a cable line to bring in digital TV channels?

A: There’s been a whole lot of concern and misinformation about cable TV reception after the Feb. 17, 2009, conversion/cut-off. Locally, I’ve heard stories of Comcast phone reps telling customers they MUST upgrade to a digital cable box or they won’t get any TV signals come 2009.

THAT’S JUST NOT SO!

It is true that cable companies are eliminating as many analog channels as they can – even public access channels – by moving them to a digital transmission “tier” that requires an upgraded cable box and higher monthly fee for reception. This is being done because digital signals use much less bandwidth, so cablers can increase the number of channels they offer on a system.

But at the urging of the Federal Communications Commission, cable companies have committed to continue delivering an essential core of local broadcast stations to customers in a down-converted fashion that can still be tuned by an old, analog cable box or directly by a cable-ready TV, for “at least three years,” Comcast senior executive David L. Cohen assured me. —>
http://www.philly.com/dailynews/columnists/jonathan_takiff/20080319_Jonathan_Takiff__Clearing_the_air_on_digital_TV_converters.html
~

Marlboro council meetings to air on cable TV channel
by Rebecca Morton
News Transcript (NJ)
03/19/08

Sometime in the near future, residents are expected to be able to watch Township Council meetings from the comfort of their own home. Council members adopted an ordinance on March 6 that will allow municipal cable channel 77 to broadcast regular or special public meetings. Channel 77 is available for Marlboro residents who subscribe to Cablevision for their cable television service.

Prior to the adoption of the ordinance on March 6, the local cable television ordinance prohibited council meetings from being broadcast. The municipal channel has aired special events and public information from the township and from the Marlboro K-8 School District, including notification of school closings. Having council meetings aired on the local access channel was one of 50 goals set by Mayor Jonathan Hornik in his 100- day plan upon taking office Jan. 1. —>
http://newstranscript.gmnews.com/news/2008/0319/Front_Page/004.html
~

Assessing success in the FCC’s 700MHz auction
by Marguerite Reardon
CNet News
03/19/08

[ 10 comments ]

The Federal Communications Commission generated $19.6 billion in the 700MHz spectrum that ended Tuesday, but the true success of the auction will take months or even years to assess. There’s no question that the auction, which began on January 24, was a monetary success for the government–it raised a record $19.6 billion in 261 rounds of bidding. During a conference call with reporters Tuesday after the bidding closed, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the 700MHz auction was the most successful auction the agency has ever conducted, raising more money than all previous auctions put together, excluding the Advanced Wireless Services, or AWS, auction in 2006.

“The $19.6 billion generated by the auction nearly doubled congressional estimates of $10.2 billion,” Martin said. “All other 68 auctions conducted by the FCC in the past 15 years collectively generated a total of only $19.1 billion in receipts. Even with open-platform and aggressive build-out obligations, each of these blocks sold for more than AWS-1 blocks with comparable bandwidth and license areas.”

Despite the obvious financial success of the auction, it will be a long time before it’s clear whether the FCC was successful in achieving some of its broader policy goals, such as creating a more open wireless marketplace and a nationwide interoperable public safety wireless network. —>
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9897722-7.html?tag=newsmap
~

Redrawing the Map
Consolidation Continues to Change Cable’s Local System Landscape
by George Winslow
Multichannel News
03/17/08

Despite efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to put limits on the footprint of cable companies, the impact of consolidation and clustering continues to redraw the Multichannel News list of the 100 largest cable systems. Several Insight Communications systems have disappeared into nearby Comcast divisions and the large cable operators continue to consolidate some of their divisions into larger groups. Time Warner Cable, for example, has 22 systems on this year’s list, down from 31 in 2005. As a result, only 88 systems from last year’s list appear this year with the same name and a similar footprint. —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6541250.html
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/25/08

February 26, 2008

FCC Online Digital Television (DTV) Conversion Workshop for People with Disabilities – Feb. 28
by Darrell Shandrow
Blind Access Journal
02/25/08

[ comments allowed ]

Marlaina from ACB Radio reminds us all about an upcoming FCC workshop (Feb. 28) covering the impact of the impending digital television (DTV) conversion on people with disabilities.  This subject arose on my show this evening, and i promised to post this far and wide. Here is a copy of the e-mail I received from Jill Pender of the FCC regarding their upcoming workshop on conversion from analog to digital tv.  Let’s keep asking why our video description has not been restored. Or, when might we expect it to be restored.   —>
http://blog.blindaccessjournal.com/2008/02/fcc-online-digital-television-dtv.html
~

Iraq Vets Against the War organize the second Winter Soldier: March 13-16
by Leslie Dreyer
Art Threat
02/25/08

[ comments allowed ]

Mark your calendars and organize a screening in your community. Let this Winter Soldier gathering March 13-16 in Washington D.C. be the most observed and talked about event this year.  The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan – and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans’ health benefits and support…

For those interested in watching or organizing around the proceedings at Winter Soldier, there will be a number of ways to watch and listen to the event.
* Live television broadcast via satellite TV, accessible through Dish Network as well as public access stations that choose to carry our broadcast – Friday and Saturday only
* Live video stream on the web – Thursday through Sunday
* Live radio broadcast via KPFA in Berkley California and other Pacifica member stations – Friday through Sunday
* Live audio stream via KPFA’s website – Friday through Sunday   —>
http://www.artthreat.net/2008/02/iraq-vets-against-war-organize
~

GH leaders unhappy with cable project
Muskegon Chronicle (MI)
02/25/08

GRAND HAVEN — Telecommmunications giant AT&T is making good on promises to deliver competition in the cable television market to West Michigan this year by proposing franchise agreements with area governmental units.  But not everyone is happy about it.

The company has sent letters to local governments in West Michigan requesting franchise agreements for delivering television service over its fiber optic and telephone lines.  Under a 2006 state law backed by phone companies AT&T and Verizon, the agreements are a take-it or leave-it proposition. Local governments have 30 days to accept the terms laid out by AT&T or risk having an agreement imposed on them without receiving any franchise fees.

In Muskegon and Oceana counties, AT&T is not the historic telephone company. In these Verizon Communications communities, similar requests to provide television services are not being made at this time, a Verizon official said.

In Holland, Mayor Al McGeehan said he was “very angry.”  Grand Haven City Manager Patrick McGinnis said the 2006 state law limits local control over public rights of way.  “We were adamantly opposed to it. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean the people of the state of Michigan. It was a real bad deal,” he said.   —>
http://www.mlive.com/news/chronicle/index.ssf?/base/news-6/1203952516283700.xml&coll=8
~

Congressmen seek media coverage of Asian vote
India Post
02/24/08

Several Members of Congress have sent letters to CNN and MSNBC to highlight the lack of coverage of the Asian American and Pacific Islander vote during the 2008 presidential campaigns. In the letter, Members of Congress said, “We are deeply concerned that the lack of coverage of Asian voters in the 2008 presidential race by media unfairly suppresses a growing and significant political constituency. We request a meeting to discuss these matters.   —>
http://indiapost.com/article/usnews/2145/
~

Task force approves proposal from public access programming
Group plans to take ideas to city council
by Phil Wright
The East Oregonian
02/25/08

[ comments allowed ]

A city task force examining how a public access channel would function for Pendleton has approved a proposal to launch government and education programming.  The city council created the task force in November 2007. The task force members include Councilman John Brenne, chamber of commerce Executive Director Leslie Carnes, Pendleton Arts Councilman Jack Sanders and Pendleton residents Peter Walters, Ben Talley and Robert Tally, who manages Internet technology systems for Blue Mountain Community College…

Channel 5 is the Pendleton area’s public access channel. Charter primarily uses to deliver product advertisements.  Task force members recently visited Richland CityView Cable 13, the public cable access channel of the city of Richland. CityView provides free programming and coverage of public meetings. From what the task force learned, it created a proposal to deliver initial programming.

The proposal calls for education and local government programming six hours a day, from 3-9 p.m. That would include 4 1/2 hours of the Classic Arts Showcase, a free cable television program featuring classic arts, including musical and ballet performances. A scrolling calendar noting public meetings and events would fill the other 90 minutes, with the scroll running in 30-minute segments.

The chamber would generate and control the calendar scroll and BMCC would download and transmit programs to Charter. The rest of the day would be public access and whatever advertisements Charter would run. The proposal also calls for the Pendleton Arts Center Board to appoint and oversee a local access channel advisory committee, which could include representatives from the Pendleton Public Library, BMCC, the Pendleton Center for the Arts and possibly city government.

The task force plans to bring its proposal to the city council’s March 4 meeting.  But, before that, members said they still have some bridges to build, including who would handle the work at BMCC, which Tally estimated could come to about 4 hours per week at the start.  He suggested two BMCC audio-visual technicians could handle it, but he would have to mull that over with the college’s human resources department. That’s because wages could run as much as $80 per week, or about $4,000 per year. Benefits could add another $2,000.  Sanders said he would approach the city, the Pendleton Chamber of Commerce and the Umatilla-Morrow Education Service District to contribute funds.

City Councilwoman Marjorie Iburg said this beginning level seems “pretty doable,” but to really move forward, the right person needs to head up this process. And finding that person could take some time, she said.  While locals would handle the government and education side, City Attorney Pete Wells said Charter would run the public access side.  Well said at City View, the public access side is independent of the government and education side, which is also how the task force wants to start.   —>
http://www.eastoregonian.info/main.asp?SectionID=13&SubSectionID=48&ArticleID=73872&TM=64865.39
~

Our 20th Anniversary Membership Drive
WCTV Journal (IN)
02/25/08

[ comments allowed ]

2008 marks the twentieth anniversary of Whitewater Community Television serving Richmond and Wayne County. It has been a tremendous journey, starting with just a couple of VHS decks and some borrowed cameras, growing to the full broadcasting facility with editing suites and a three-camera studio that we enjoy today.

From just a few programs on one channel, we have grown to more than sixteen hours a day of original, first-run programming across three channels, airing more than 75 programs a week and supporting more than 40 local producers. Richmond currently enjoys the third largest public access television operation in the state of Indiana.

Along the way we became a critical source for local information in Wayne County, offering gavel-to-gavel coverage of city and county government meetings, educational programs and sporting events from area high schools and colleges, election results and weather alerts and more, as well as acted as an outlet for local producers to provide their own original content to the public.   —>
http://wctvjournal.blogspot.com/2008/02/our-20th-anniversary-membership-drive.html
~

PAC 14 preserves Shore history
by Brice Stump
The Daily Times (MD)
02/24/08

[ 1 comment ]

SALISBURY — History will go high-tech soon, as Public Access Channel 14 launches a campaign to digitally capture the Shore’s present and past.  In an unprecedented venture, PAC 14 has garnered the support of more than a dozen history-oriented organizations to preserve Delmarva’s past on video using the best of today’s electronic technology.

Called Digitizing Delmarva’s Heritage and Traditions, the project is being developed by Mike Goodson, manager of PAC 14, in conjunction with Salisbury University and the Lower Eastern Shore Heritage Council and other historical organizations.  Alarmed that much of Delmarva’s oral history by older residents in particular is being lost, Goodson appealed to various group to support the undertaking. “Time is working against us. Our people, places and traditions are fading away before our eyes. In some cases our history is being washed away with the tides,” he said. “Time is not on our side.”

From the lives of watermen, artists and ball players to farmers recalling days of homemade sausage, scrapple and hams, Goodson and others want to save the charm and history of the old Eastern Shore.  Under Goodson’s direction, PAC 14 has created a temporary part-time position that will deal exclusively with the production of “historical videos.”  Tom Taylor, author and videographer, will handle production assignments now through July. By July, Goodson hopes that DDHT, as administered through Salisbury University, will have a SU history graduate on staff to continue the project.   —>
http://www.delmarvanow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080224/LIFESTYLE/802240335
~

TV show focuses on mental health issues
Fremont minister Barbara Meyers hosts local cable program
by Andrew Cavette
The Argus (CA)
02/25/08

The Rev. Barbara Meyers sat in a makeup chair Wednesday night in the corner of a small, public-access cable-TV studio, ready for her show to start.  Meyers, a minister for the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation, is the host of “Mental Health Matters,” a program shown in the Tri-City area and other parts of the East Bay.

Cecelia Burk, who volunteers her cosmetological talents for the show, touched up Meyers’ cheeks before letting her rejoin the small group of enthusiastic Bay Area residents buzzing around the studio’s equipment. They adjusted the cameras, fixed the lighting, checked the sound, and then the show began.

After working for IBM for 25 years, Meyers went back to school and, in 2004, earned a master’s degree in divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley. Her ministry focuses on mental health issues.  One day Paul Clifford, a member of Meyers’ congregation, approached her about a project.  At the time, Clifford was producing another public-access cable-TV show and thought Meyers should produce a program about mental health. Clifford loaned Meyers his crew and his studio time to do a pilot episode.

In that episode, Meyers talked about the stigma attached to mental illness. It was recorded last March.  “I got a fair number of people who told me they had seen it,” Meyers said after the show premiered. “I could see that it was something positive.”  She recruited a crew from her congregation, some of whom have someone in their family with a mental illness or have mental health issues themselves. Other crew members simply want to learn more about television work.

Gwen Todd, a member of Meyers’ congregation,produces her own public-access cable-TV show for Toastmasters International and had contacts with Comcast in Fremont. When she heard Meyers’ idea for the show, she offered her services.  “It’s a very good show and is very much needed,” Todd said. “The crew is getting a lot better as we all develop our skills.”   —>
http://www.insidebayarea.com/argus/localnews/ci_8357715
~

Community access TV programming
Post-Bulletin (MN)
02/26/08

[ comments allowed ]

Belau Report:  A proposal to expand Mayo Civic Center, how it would be paid for and community benefits will be discussed by Brad Jones, executive director of the Rochester Convention and Visitor’s Bureau; Donna Drews, executive director of the civic center; and Dennis Hanson, president of the Rochester City Council, on the Belau Report at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday on Charter Cable channel 10.
http://news.postbulletin.com/newsmanager/templates/localnews_story.asp?a=330094&z=2
~

BOF & BOS Meetings on Metrocast Channel 22
by Wtfd Nuc Sailor
Waterford Political Blog (CT)
02/25/08

[ comments allowed ]

According to today’s, February 25, 2008, New London DAY Public Access TV Schedule the February 12, 2008 Board of Finance Meeting will be on Metrocast Channel 22 Thursday, FEB 28, 2008 at 7:00 PM.  This meeting was relatively short for BOF meetings.  The February 19, 2008 Board of Selectmen meeting will be on Channel 22 on Friday, FEB 29, 2008 also at 7:00 PM.  This is the meeting where the BOS approved $95,000 for architect design services for the Municipal Complex Phase II.   —>
http://waterford.ctlocalpolitics.net/?p=189
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Viewers could be seeing more of Fort Erie council
by Ray Spiteri
Niagara Falls Review (Canada)
02/24/08

There is a growing number of citizens with an active interest in local government.  Town council is taking notice.  Elected officials recently approved a report asking staff to take steps to broadcast council-in-committee meetings on TV Cogeco and to investigate the feasibility of broadcasting real-time council and council-in-committee meetings online for future budget deliberations.

Regular council meetings, held every second and fourth Monday of the month, are televised by the local network, however, council-in-committee sessions, held on the first and third Mondays of the month, are not.  Coun. Bob Steckley, who has been pushing for such an intiative since he was elected at the tail end of 2006, said broadcasting all of council’s meetings will provide citizens more of an opportunity to see their elected representatives at work and make politicians accountable to the public.  “It’s nice to see that we are investigating the possibility of this because it will enhance the openness of government and public access to how we conduct our business,” he said.   —>
http://www.niagarafallsreview.ca/ArticleDisplay.aspx?e=915311
~

Brooklyn Paper, Daily News, Brooklyn Eagle, Courier Life at Reporter Roundtable
mcbrooklyn (NY)
02/25/08

[ comments allowed ]

BCAT (Brooklyn Community Access Television) brings us what promises to be a rousing Reporter Roundtable today at 1 p.m. (also Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. and more showings Thursday and Friday).  In this episode, editor Gersh Kuntman of the Brooklyn Papers is joined by Jotham Sederstrom of the NY Daily News, Sarah Ryley of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle and Tom Tracy of Courier Life. The panel discusses Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s recent State of the Borough address, Atlantic Yards, Super Tuesday in Brooklyn, the Gowanus canal development and residential parking permits.
http://mcbrooklyn.blogspot.com/2008/02/brooklyn-paper-daily-news-brooklyn.html
~

York public TV an outlet for free speech
Pennsylvania Nonbelievers
02/25/08

[ comments allowed ]

If you are in the York area, try out the local public access station, Comcast channel 16 for a selection of Atheist, Humanist and free thinking opinions.  Here is the link to the station. White Rose Community Television Check out the schedule and tune in!
http://panonbelievers.blogspot.com/2008/02/york-public-tv-outlet-for-free-speech.html
~

The FCC, Mickey Mouse & Media Cross-ownership
by Norman Horowitz
Huffington Post
02/25/08

[ 2 comments ]

The FCC has now done the “dirty deed” of eviscerating the long standing Cross Ownership rules. I looked back on something I wrote on the subject over five and a half years ago and decided to “re-issue” it.  The “they” who control the system in this regard who are to serve in the public interest, serve only in the interests of the mega media companies, and lest we forget, the interests of the incumbent administration.  How sad for our country.

The FCC, Mickey Mouse & Media Cross-ownership – July 23, 2002
A former senior FCC staff member told me years ago that virtually all FCC rulings are based on the politics of the issue rather than the merits of the issue. I believe that this is a fair assessment, and I have seen nothing that the FCC does as being in the public interest.   —>
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/norman-horowitz/the-fcc-mickey-mouse-m_b_88285.html
~

[ Here’s is a very detailed look at Verizon’s FiOS services, with performance comparisons with cable modem service from a number of US Cities. – rm ]

Verizon FiOS Installed: Macintosh Compatible, Free and Fast
by Adsense Turkiye
Photoshop & Adsense – Art of devil free blog
02/25/08

[ comments allowed ]

FiOS on MacsWell Verizon FiOS Internet became available in my town in New Jersey and I had it installed last week. I ordered the 15MB/2MB (15MB downstream, 2MB upstream) package in our home. Since the Internet is probably more important to us than TV, air, and maybe even food sometimes this was a big decision. Well not that big really, since our cable modem service provided by Cablevision’s Optimum Online has not exactly been great. No matter what the cable company claims about speed our experience was never all that good. More about this later as I will compare Cablevision’s Optimum Online and Verizon FiOS Internet.   —>
http://artofdevil.blogspot.com/2008/02/verizon-fios-installed-macintosh.html
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/22/08

February 23, 2008

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

If you want another opportunity to help preserve PEG access in Hawaii, now’s your chance to make a difference ! Support SB1789 now and submit your testimony. Deadline is Monday, Feb. 25 at 8:45 a.m. (And in case you didn’t know!… SB1789 & HB3417 are two bills in the Hawaii State Legislature that would help preserve PEG access and ensure that community access cable channels answer to you. —>
http://www.akaku.org/?p=58
~

[ State laws on cable franchises ]
by Derek Hodges
The Mountain Press (TN)
02/22/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

Wagner’s search for support for the proposed law change may be a tough one. During the session, Sevierville Alderman Barry Gibbs questioned Wagner as to whether the service would be available to all Sevier County residents.  Wagner conceded the service will only be available to those who already have access to the company’s broadband service, though he said AT&T hopes to expand those lines in the future.  Statewide, many have expressed concerns the company may not work to serve everyone like local cable franchises are asked to do. Some have also questioned why the company can’t comply with the state’s current rules.
http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?BRD=1211&dept_id=169689&newsid=19316137&PAG=461&rfi=9
~

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

[ 1 comment ]

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

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

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

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

Bottom line: If you have cable service, you should be fine, with the set-top box as an irrelevant factor. However, if you want to get access to cable’s newer services, such as hi-def TV or digital video recorders, or if you want to see the hundreds of programming choices available through the digital cable platform, you’ll need to have the appropriate set-top box. You can avoid having a box by purchasing a Digital Cable Ready television, but the current sets are only one-way, which means you won’t have access to interactive services. However, the tru2way standard will address this issue.   —>
http://www.cabletechtalk.com/2008/02/22/clearing-up-the-dtv-transition/
~

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

“Cable cooperatives do exist, but not in major markets,” explains Robert Kahn, a DCC board member. “They’ve sprung up in the upper Midwest primarily because no one wanted to invest in those areas. But the industry wanted our market. In fact, several large companies that were bidding on a cable system for nearby Sacramento offered to tie Davis into it … but our community preferred a co-op.”   —>
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Nature-Community/1983-05-01/Cable-TV.aspx
~

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

[ 3 comments ]

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

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

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

For communities of color, the Internet offers a critical opportunity to build a more equitable media system. It provides all Americans with the potential to speak for themselves without having to convince large media conglomerates that their voices are worthy of being heard.   —>
http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2008/02/22/net-neutrality-is-a-civil-right-issue/
~

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

[ comments allowed ]

Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein has received a letter from the international media community urging the Somali government to change its media laws and work toward ending the oppression of journalists and members of the media. The letter encourages freedom of expression and freedom of press.  The action to write the letter was led by the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ) and other members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX).  To learn more, contact nusoj@nusoj.com.
http://www.ijnet.org/Director.aspx?P=Article&ID=307285&LID=1
~

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

The MFWA correspondent said for fear of losing their influence on the station, the authorities dissolved the Board which had been constituted by the community.
http://allafrica.com/stories/200802220778.html
~

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

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

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

Lack of rights for journalists to protect sources was demonstrated in June 2007 when two journalists working for the The West Australian in Perth were threatened with prison unless they revealed how they had obtained a confidential report of an anti-corruption commission which the newspaper had used to point the finger at a political figure.   —>
http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=25611
~

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Garcia also partnered with Providad, a pro-transparency and anti-corruption organization, to hold a nationwide conference aimed at opening dialogue between political opposition media, the radio stations and their listenership. The conference specifically addressed “how journalists see the public, how they see institutional power and how they report on them,” she said.   —>
http://www.indypendent.org/2008/02/22/stories-from-the-global-grassroots/
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Verizon FiOS Wins Local Video Franchise in Chesapeake, Virginia
Telecommunications Industry News
02/22/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

Verizon began deploying FiOS in Chesapeake in December under a default franchise set by state law, and currently offers the next-generation TV service to more than 6,400 homes in the area. This number will swell to approximately 22,000 within the next three years.
http://www.teleclick.ca/2008/02/verizon-fios-wins-local-video-franchise-in-chesapeake-virginia/
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‘Captain Curling’ is in the house
by Keith Uhlig
Wausau Daily Herald (WI)
02/22/08

[ 1 comment ]

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

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

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

Tillisch and curling have been a fixture of local public access television ever since. He covers curling for the Badger State Games, the Tietge Bonspiel (curling lingo for tournament) and high school state championships.  The Wausau public access coverage has won state awards, Jordan said. Curlers love the coverage, and even folks outside the sport have been drawn in. And Tillisch has become the face and voice of the sport for the viewing audience.   —>
http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080222/WDH04/802220403/1619
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Internet-TV connection still far off, experts say
New sets allow users to watch Web videos from the couch, but many say technology isn’t there yet
by Alex Pham and Dawn C. Chmielewski
Los Angeles Times
02/22/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

But the Web connections eventually could upend the way TV programs have been distributed. The goal one day is to replace every set-top device — cable boxes, TiVos, media center computers, stereos and game consoles — so all you need is a TV set that does it all via the Internet.   —>
http://www.contracostatimes.com/business/ci_8334161
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/21/08

February 22, 2008

An Emmy for Euille?

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

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

According to a recent survey of Comcast users, viewership of City Council meetings has increased 60 percent from last year to an all-time high. A whopping 86 percent of Comcast subscribers responded that they had watched a City Council meeting during the last year. Only 58 percent of respondents, by comparison, said they watched a School Board meeting in the last year.  “We should get an Emmy,” cracked Mayor Bill Euille during last week’s City Council meeting.   —>
http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?paper=59&cat=104&article=93798
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Where is the Love
The “Reel” and Visible Truth about Pleasant Prairie (WI)
02/21/08

[ 5 comments ]

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

The village leaders such as Trustee Mike Serpe have justified NOT HAVING MEETINGS ON CH25 as being “BORING”, and classified them as a good sedative if they were to make it onto CH25.   —>
http://pleasantprairiewi.blogspot.com/2008/02/where-is-love.html
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Student volunteers help cable TV programs happen
by Bev Wax
Dover-Sherborn Press (MA)
02/21/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s my life, honestly,” said junior Anthony Wright, who produces, directs and hosts multiple shows. “It’s really what makes me happy. If there were no media studies program, it would just be another day at school.”  Anthony, 17, is one of 140 students enrolled in the school’s media studies elective, which trains them in TV production with their work airing on Our Schools Channel 21, the Niagara County’s educational access station on Time Warner.   —>
http://www.buffalonews.com/185/story/280722.html
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Cinemat celebration showcases student work
by Rosemary Pennington
Indiana University School of Journalism
02/21/08

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

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

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

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

One of the class assignments last semester was to profile the Heart and Hand nominees. The students combed through 89 essays written about the nominees; from those essays, they chose several to profile. The BVN then connected the students and volunteers.   —>
http://journalism.indiana.edu/news/cinemat-celebration-showcases-student-work/
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Have your say about Verizon
by Ron Cox
Malden Observer (MA)
02/21/08

[ comments allowed ]

On Thursday, Feb. 28 beginning at 6 p.m., there will be a public hearing regarding the current negotiations with Verizon Communications to become a second provider of cable television for Malden residents. This is good news for consumers because it means our city will have someone other than Comcast and satellite dishes to choose from, and that brings more competition to viewers.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/malden/news/lifestyle/columnists/x257793913
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TV Party and Unmasked at the New Museum
by B. Blagojevi
The Zine (NY)
02/21/08

Tomorrow night at the New Museum, non-commercial, art television variety show host Glenn O’Brien will present various selected clips form his well known New York public access show TV PARTY, active from 1978 through 1982. The show hosted many bands and musicians of note who would visit to perform or to be interviewed, not the least of which was David Byrne and Debbie Harry.   —>
http://zine.artcal.net/2008/02/tv-party-and-unmasked-at-the-n.php
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Stayton Discusses Skate Park During City Council Meeting
by Ken Cartwright
KENC Radio (OR)
02/20/08

[ 1 comment ]

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

A proposal was made that an adequate system would cost about $10,000 and would not only serve the community center, but the new city hall if and when the city is able to build one. It is further proposed that the city pay for it from future revenue that the city collects from television cable franchise fees. It was indicated that the city collects a 5% fee from the cable company and has for at least 16 years but has never invested any of that money in community cable access or audio for the city council.   —>
http://salem-news.com/articles/february202008/stayton_2-20-08.php
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Time Warner agrees to cover taping of St. Patrick’s Day Parade
by Brian Meyer
Buffalo News (NY)
02/21/08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/19/08

February 20, 2008

New service lacks the CTN channels
by Tom Gantert
The Ann Arbor News (MI)
02/18/08

[ comments allowed ]

Ann Arbor residents who choose AT&T U-verse – an Internet-based alternative to Comcast’s cable TV – won’t find Ann Arbor’s community-access channels on the service.  Ann Arbor’s Community Television Network hasn’t connected with AT&T’s signal because the city has a problem with how the communications company is presenting public, educational, government – or PEG – access channels.

AT&T’s service lets subscribers turn to a channel where they can reach a menu of all available public-access channels. From that list, subscribers select their city. Then the channels load. Ann Arbor’s CTN offers four channels.  So far, AT&T is only carrying one community-access channel, one that originates in Clinton Township.

Linda Badamo, director of Clinton Township’s cable TV division, said local officials aren’t satisfied with the way AT&T is handling PEG channels, but are working with the company to come to a compromise.  Badamo said the problem is that it can take as long as 20 to 90 seconds for a channel to load once selected. “I don’t think people are going to wait,” she said.
http://blog.mlive.com/annarbornews/2008/02/new_service_lacks_the_ctn_chan.html
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Editorial: State cable TV law needs a tune-up
Detroit Free Press (MI)
02/19/08

[ 10 comments ]

The end of analog TV signals a year from now is shaking up viewers in more ways than one. The biggest impact will fall on those with old, non-digital sets who get their signals over the air. Their TVs will simply not show a picture next year unless they get a converter box.

But Comcast’s counterproductive actions in Michigan suggest that even cable customers may be pressured by their suppliers into getting new cable converter boxes as well. Michigan lawmakers should follow through on bills that would prevent cable companies from rearranging basic service cable channels, made possible in part by the confusion over the coming change in the airwaves.

Public or community access channels need to remain just that — freely accessible to the community and public.

When over-the-air TV networks begin broadcasting exclusively in digital formats on Feb. 17, 2009, cable companies will convert those signals back into an analog transmission for those who still have analog TVs. Every viewer with a routine analog cable package should continue receiving the same service indefinitely.

Comcast, however, at least as its strategy initially emerged in Michigan, appears eager to rearrange its programming at the low end of the “dial” — presumably still the best spot for catching channel surfers. That’s where broadcast channels are now, along with local access channels that federal law requires to be in the same cable “tier” as the over-the-air stations.

But, until stopped by two courts earlier this winter, Comcast planned to move all local public access channels in Michigan to 900-level channels — out of reach of analog equipment, which 40% of its 1.3 million subscribers still use.   —>
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080219/OPINION01/802190336
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Analog is Dead. Long Live Analog
Why Cable Won’t Go All-Digital By Feb. 18, 2009, Even If Broadcasters Will
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News
02/18/08

[ 1 comment ]

Is analog TV an albatross for cable?  Or — with just 365 days to go until over-the-air broadcasts from local stations go wholly digital — is it a critical near-term asset?  The short answer: It’s both.

Analog service, which has formed the foundation of the cable-TV industry since its inception, chews up an inordinate amount of space on its wires. A single analog channel requires a 6 Megahertz slice of spectrum. The same slice can carry 10 or more standard-definition channels delivered digitally.

And the future, in an increasingly high-definition world, is all-digital. “You can’t get anything but a digital TV set these days … and analog doesn’t look very good on a 50-inch LCD TV,” RCN vice president of engineering Rick Swiderski said.  In fact, cable operators are moving to eliminate fat analog signals to “reclaim” bandwidth, so they can introduce new high-definition channels, offer faster Internet access and expand video-on-demand services.

The industry would seem to have the motivation to make the break, exactly one year from now. At midnight on Feb. 17, 2009, the 1,760 full-power broadcast television stations in the United States are going all-digital.  By law, they will be required to relinquish the spectrum they’ve used for decades to transmit analog TV signals over the air. Starting at 12:01 a.m. on Feb. 18, all stations must be all-digital, all the time.

But just a handful of smaller cable systems, such as RCN Chicago and Bend Broadband in Bend, Ore., plan to be delivering 100% of the channels they supply customers in digital form by next February. And their reasons for doing so are only indirectly related to the transition to digital broadcasting by TV stations.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6533127.html?nid=4262
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This Could Be The End of Public Access in Austin . . .
Save Texas Access
02/15/08

. . . if Time Warner successfully sues to get out of the franchise agreement with the City.  The following article “Court allows Texas Cable Industry to Challenge State Law” appeared in last week’s Austin American Statesman (Feb. 8, 2008).

Currently, the City’s franchise agreement with Time Warner Cable is set to expire in 2011.  Time Warner still owes more than $1 million in capital equipment funds for public access. If Time Warner gets out of the franchise agreement now, that money will be lost.

Please email the City’s Telecommunications Officer Rondella Hawkins at rondella.hawkins AT ci.austin.tx.us and demand that the remainder of all capital equipment funds be drawn down now.  Plus, with no City franchise agreement with Time Warner, there will be no more guaranteed operating funds. Any future funding from the City will be at the City Council’s discretion.

Public access needs you. Now is the time.  Save this date. The Telecommunications Commission is having a public hearing on public access on Wednesday, March 12, at 7:30 pm, at Austin’s City Hall.  Sign up to speak and tell the commission why you think public access has value and that the City must continue to support it.
http://www.savetexasaccess.org/node/27
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Knology and Knoxville near agreement on cable dispute
by Hayes Hickman
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)
02/19/08

[ 16 comments ]

Knology Inc. has agreed to invest $750,000 this year toward completing its citywide Internet, cable and telephone 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 council members last raised the issue with the West Point, Ga.-based company, which was required to complete its build-out within four years after the city franchise took effect in April 2000. The contract also held Knology liable for noncompliance penalties of $5,000 per month…

Knology also agrees to begin carrying local community access television in its channel lineup and to equip several city recreation centers with Internet and telephone service at no cost.   —>
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/feb/19/knology-and-knoxville-near-agreement-cable-dispute/
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Broadband still a local concern
by Patrick Marshall
GCN – Government Computer News
02/18/08

If the federal government hadn’t stepped in to build the interstate highway system in the 1950s, it’s unlikely that the country’s subsequent economic boom would have been as robust as it was.  It is equally important, some say, that government get involved in building broadband infrastructure.

It seems the federal government isn’t going to step in, so municipal governments would be well advised to pick up the slack. At least that’s the recommendation of Christopher Mitchell, a research associate at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), a nonprofit research group.

“People need broadband so badly,” Mitchell told GCN. “To just sit around and say, ‘Well, we should rely on someone else to bring it in and keep us competitive with other cities in the region,’ that’s not really a good policy for a city that is trying to encourage economic development.”

Many cities have in recent years initiated programs to provide public Wi-Fi, and although a number of them have given up those programs, Mitchell said, cities shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Offering free Wi-Fi is not the only model cities should consider, nor is it the most likely to be self-sustaining, he said. “There have been some cases in which people have gotten into trouble by offering free services [without] having enough revenues from somewhere to cover it.”

A recent ILSR report written by Mitchell warns against relying on private service providers.  Some communities still are not served by those providers, and others cannot count on continuing services.  “Too many cities are currently reliant on private providers for essential infrastructure — a point brought home to Michigan when Comcast chose to stop supplying some police and fire stations with free broadband and television services,” the report stated.

The report examines all available technologies for delivering Internet connectivity and recommends a combination of fiber optic and wireless for most cities.   —>
http://www.gcn.com/print/27_4/45836-1.html
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Your Internet: Open or Closed?
by Timothy Karr
Huffington Post
02/16/08

[ 2 comments ]

During a Friday briefing in the chambers of the House Commerce Committee Tim Wu, Ben Scott, Marvin Ammori, Jef Pearlman and Markham Erickson laid out the central struggle in our campaign to save a free-flowing Internet.

At stake is whether the Internet will be open, neutral and accessible to all or a closed network — controlled by a handful of gatekeepers with monopoly tendencies.  The speakers laid out this conflict in clear, concise and often chilling terms. Their comments are drawn into relief against a backdrop of abuses by network giants Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.

The stage was also set by Reps. Ed Markey and Chip Pickering, who earlier in the week introduced the “Internet Freedom and Preservation Act” a forward-thinking piece of legislation that would write baseline Net Neutrality protections into the Communications Act, and give the FCC the teeth to stop incidents of discriminatory blocking and censorship over the Internet.  (And let’s not forget efforts by many of these same actors to gain immunity from prosecution for unwarranted spying on Americans.)

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, often calls this conflict a “clash of civilizations.”   —>
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/your-internet-open-or-cl_b_86972.html
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Net Neutrality Fight Heats Up
Miro
02/19/08

[ 2 comments ]

The fight for net neutrality is intensifying with the recent confirmation that Comcast and other internet providers are restricting BitTorrent traffic. ‘Net neutrality’ is the basic principal that all traffic on the internet should be transmitted equally. Unfortunately, corporations like Comcast believe that they should be able to slow down or block certain types of traffic while accelerating other types (including their own).   —>
http://www.getmiro.com/blog/2008/02/net-neutrality-fight-heats-up/
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Cable and telcos side with Comcast in FCC BitTorrent dispute
by Matthew Lasar
Ars Technica
02/19/08

[ 49 comments ]

The race is on to get the last word in on the Comcast/BitTorrent controversy. With ten days left to file, telcos, trade, and advocacy groups are sending the Federal Communications Commission their statements on whether Comcast and other ISPs purposefully degrade peer to peer traffic, and if so, what to do about it. Not surprisingly, the debate pits broadband content providers and advocacy groups against the big telcos, cable companies, and their trade association backers.

Free Press and other net neutrality advocates asked for an FCC proceeding after Associated Press completed an investigation last year concluding that, in some instances, Comcast “hindered file-sharing by subscribers who used BitTorrent,” a popular P2P application. The comment cycle requests input on whether the practices with which Comcast and others have been accused trigger the FCC’s authority to ensure that IP services operate in a “neutral manner.” Also open for comment is video program provider Vuze’s request that the Commission put “reasonable boundaries on the operators’ ‘gatekeeper’ power over applications and content.”   —>
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080219-cable-and-telcos-side-with-comcast-in-fcc-bittorrent-dispute.html
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Aldermen candidates interviewed on Peg TV
Rutland Herald (VT)
02/19/08

[ comments allowed ]

City voters can tune in to public access channel 21 today to keep track of the candidates in this year’s Board of Aldermen race.  Starting today and continuing until Monday, Rutland Community Access and Peg TV will air interviews between Rutland Herald reporter Brent Curtis and the four incumbents and three challengers running for the board this year.   Candidates David Allaire, Sharon Davis, Henry Heck, William Notte, Roy Thomas, Joe Tilden and Daniel White are vying for five seats on the board.

Voters can tune in at noon today, 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 a.m. on Thursday, 5 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and noon on Monday.
http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080219/NEWS01/802190332/1002/NEWS01
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Letter to the Editor: Marshfield Community Television update
Marshfield Mariner (MA)
02/19/08

[ comments allowed ]

As of Jan. 1, 2008, the Public Access, Education and Government (PEG) cable television stations are no longer under the auspices of Comcast cable. Instead, a nonprofit organization has been created by the Marshfield Cable Access Board. This new entity is called Marshfield Community Television (MCTV) and is charged with oversight of the three branches of the PEG stations.

Volunteers were solicited and selected by the Marshfield selectmen to form the board of directors of MCTV. This board consists of seven members who meet regularly to manage the finances and other issues relating to the administration of the public access channels. One of the first tasks the board faces is to hire an executive director, who will be responsible for the daily operation of the station.

Over the past few months, many Marshfield households have begun to switch from Comcast to Verizon for their cable coverage. Verizon is not presently connected to the town’s cable system, and therefore does not air MCTV programs. This situation will be changing soon.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/marshfield/homepage/x774164730
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Town hires cable manager
by Andrea Bulfinch
Ipswich Chronicle (MA)
02/18/08

[ 1 comment ]

The town has hired a new temporary station manager to continue running the cable access channel.  Donald Berman of Beverly Farms, president of the BevCam Board of Directors, was recently hired on a consulting basis to oversee the Ipswich studio. Berman designed and built the studio in Beverly.

Channel 9, the station on which Ipswich broadcasts, has been run by volunteers since the closing of Comcast’s Newburyport studio during the summer.  “It’s been held together by the generosity of Scott Ames,” Town Manager Bob Markel said. Ames has been cable casting programming from the High School.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/ipswich/news/x374191050
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org