Archive for the ‘I-Net’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/14/08

April 14, 2008

Slidell, Pearl River councils oppose cable and tax bills in Legislature
by Erik Sanzenbach
St. Tammany News (LA)
04/14/08

[ comments invited ]

One proposed bill affecting tax collection and a bill vetoed by former Gov. Kathleen Blanco that has been revived and would change the way cable franchise negotiations are handled have incurred the displeasure of both the Slidell City Council and the Pearl River Board of Aldermen.  The Slidell Council voted Tuesday night to accept two resolutions that oppose the passage of the legislations in the state Legislature.

The first piece of legislation is the Competitive and Video Services Act passed by the Legislature in 2006 and vetoed by Blanco. The act would prohibit local governments from negotiating cable television franchise contracts. The state would negotiate all cable television contracts and would set franchise fees.

This would mean a substantial loss of revenue for local municipalities. Slidell City Attorney Tim Mathison told the council the state would set up franchise fees that were 5 percent of the net revenues of a cable company.  In Blanco’s veto message in July 2006, the governor said the proposed revenue losses to local municipalities would force town to either cut back on essential services, or they would have to increase taxes.   —>
http://www.slidellsentry.com/articles/2008/04/14/news/doc48037209cc286191238178.txt
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Community Information Needs and Access to be Studied by New Commission from the Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute
by Erin Silliman
Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy
04/14/08

First Study on Comprehensive Information Availability and Engagement; Theodore B. Olson and Marissa Mayer, Commission Co-Chairs

Washington, D.C. – The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Aspen Institute today announced the launch of the Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.  The high-level Knight Commission will look into whether the information needs of 21st century American citizens and communities are being met and make recommendations for public policy and private initiatives that will help better meet community information needs.

“The Commission will look at the issues of information, news and society from the perspective of communities across the nation,” said Alberto Ibargüen, Knight Foundation president and CEO. “We want to assess their information needs, then take a snapshot to see how they are being met. The Commission will offer creative recommendations to improve democratic problem-solving at the local level through more and better engagement with relevant news and information.”   —>
http://www.knightcomm.org/?q=node/5
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Comcast deal boosts ORCTV
by Don Cuddy
Standard-Times (MA)
04/14/08

[ comments invited ]

MARION — Community television in the tri-town area received a boost last week with the news that ORCTV and Comcast have reached an agreement that will result in all of the community access channels operating from the ORCTV studios at the Captain Hadley House in Marion.  “Comcast has agreed to transfer the I-net hubs from their customer service building in Marion and install them in the studio here,” ORCTV director Kim Miot said. “The town technically owns the equipment but Comcast will manage and maintain it. It will be good for us to have the technical equipment operating right next to our playback system.”

The I-net hubs are a series of switches that “operate like a traffic cop” to manage input and control the flow of information, according to a Comcast spokesman. What this will mean for viewers of local cable will be more programs on more channels and greater variety, Ms. Miot said.  “We will be able to finally light up Channel 18 EDTV, the educational channel, which has been dark for a long time, as well as constructing Rochester’s government access channel,” she said. “Up to the present we have been functioning out of the Marion town house but these things can now begin to happen because of this agreement.”   —>
http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080414/NEWS/804140342/-1/NEWS
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BATV plan includes two new TV studios at BHS
By Elana Zak
Brookline Tab (MA)
04/14/08

[ comments invited ]

Brookline High students might soon be giving Conan O’Brien a run for his money.  The School Committee is considering a proposal from BATV to build two new television studios in the high school’s Unified Arts Building. One of the studios would be designated an educational studio for high school students, allowing them to create content that would be shown on air.

BATV, Brookline public access television, presented the plan last week and said it would foot the bill for the approximately $1.8 million renovations.  “We need a new home,” said William Slotnik, president of BATV, at the April 10 School Committee meeting. “It seemed natural that we would move deeper into the schools.”

The plan involves moving BATV from its current home at the old Lincoln School to the UA building. The public-access station has been there since 2004, after leaving its former offices with Comcast on Amory Street. BATV would take over the third floor of the building and concentrate all art classes and studios on the second floor. They would use one of the two studios for BATV broadcasting.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/brookline/news/education/x1148173393
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New soundstage for Tucson?
Ambitious plan aims to boost local filmmaking, plus build a media center and 300-seat theater
by Rob O’Dell
Arizona Daily Star
04/14/08

[ 34 comments ]

Once known has “Hollywood in the Desert,” Tucson has been relegated to more of a low-budget, direct-to-video status in the hierarchy of show business.  But a group of community organizations and city officials wants to restore some of our former glitz by building a state-of-the-art soundstage to attract more A-list movies and television shows.  The $10 million package would include a media center that local groups could use and a 300-seat theater. Tucson hasn’t had a first-class soundstage since the one at Old Tucson burned down in 1995.

The idea is for Access Tucson, radio station KXCI, the Loft Cinema and possibly city-owned TV station Tucson 12 to pool their resources and save costs by sharing facilities.  The effort is being led by Sam Behrend, executive director of Access Tucson, which provides public-access television. Behrend used a grant from City Councilman Steve Leal’s office for preliminary schematic work on a new “community media center.”

A soundstage, to attract some of the films that now bypass Tucson for Albuquerque and Austin, Texas, was added to broaden the appeal of the media center.  Mayor Bob Walkup, for example, said he doesn’t know whether he would support a media center, but he’s solidly behind bringing in a soundstage.  “I do strongly support a soundstage to be back in motion picture, the TV and the commercial business,” Walkup said. “That’s got some traction, and I would really like to see that re-established in Tucson.”  Leal said he supports both a stand-alone community media center and one with a soundstage.   —>
http://www.azstarnet.com/dailystar/234215
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A local Rite of spring
BCTV Cable Channel 2: Belfast — Searsport (ME)
04/14/08

[ comments invited ]

Recently the Waldo County YMCA staged two River races. The St. George and Paasagassawakeag races have been held every spring for almost 30 years. This year, for the first time ever, the YMCA decided to have the races filmed to not only be shown on area public access channels, but also to provide each race paricipant with a DVD. There was still snow along the river banks and the weather was brisk, but it was a lively event to watch and the one hour program that was produced should be entertaining to see. There were many local participants, and you may just recognize a neighbor. It is wonderful that the Y has provided us with this program and we hope other organizations in our community will do the same.
http://belfastcommunitytv.blogspot.com/2008/04/local-rite-of-spring-recently-waldo.html
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New approach to community broadcasting
by Kevin
Australian-Media.com.au
04/14/08

[ comments invited ]

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has announced a new approach and a number of ongoing initiatives to improve its interactions with the community broadcasting sector.  The new approach will be more proactive, entail a review of processes and procedures and have a focus on improved information, consultation and transparency.

“This sector is incredibly diverse and its several hundred members vary widely in their size and resources and the quality of their governance arrangements. We have gone back to first principles and are looking for better ways to do business with the sector. The aim is to ensure sector members continue to serve the community while at the same time making the regulator more accessible and more accountable,” said Chris Chapman, ACMA Chairman.

The first step of ACMA’s new approach to interaction with the community broadcasting sector is the establishment of a new ACMA team, the Community Broadcasting Group (CBG). One aim of the CBG is to interact with the community broadcasting sector and, in particular, its peak bodies in a highly consultative manner.

The CBG’s work encompasses all licence allocations and renewals, complaints and investigations, compliance and enforcement, and the monitoring and review of the codes of practice that govern community radio and community television broadcasting services. A single group dealing with this range of matters will deliver efficiencies and ensure a more consistent approach across the range of issues experienced by the community broadcasting sector. This, in turn, should minimise overlap or delay.

As at 30 June 2007, there were 358 community radio broadcasting services, compared to 274 commercial radio broadcasting services.  “This is a large number of community radio broadcasting services. As they obtain access to valuable free-to-air spectrum at little cost, it is important for ACMA to administer the legislative provisions in accordance with the public interest and in the manner intended by Parliament,” said Mr Chapman.   —>
http://www.australian-media.com.au/index.php?c=home&p=news&article=9565&from=rss
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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 – 03/10/08

March 11, 2008

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

[ 4 comments ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ 1 comments ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

[ 2 comments ]

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

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

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

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

[ 2 comments ]

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

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

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

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/03/08

January 4, 2008

[ NB: “…Bright House won’t force the county to meet mandated hours of original programming” – rm ]

County seeks cable ad deal
Hillsborough wants free advertising if stations are moved.
by Bill Varian
St. Petersburg Times (FL)
01/03/08

TAMPA – St. Petersburg and Tampa sued Bright House Networks when the cable provider bumped government television from basic service last month.  But Hillsborough County government is taking a different approach.

The region’s dominant cable company is requiring customers to rent digital converter boxes at $1 a month to keep getting four government channels.  In exchange, the county wants Bright House to give it $150,000 in free advertising over the next two years to promote county government.  That’s the highlight of an agreement commissioners will consider today. The proposal is on the commission’s consent agenda, usually reserved for noncontroversial items…

In addition to the advertising, the county would get:
-$5,000 to “rebrand” the county station, which moved from channel 22 to 622.
-Free digital conversion equipment for the county’s TVs.
-Guarantees that for the five years residents will not be charged more than $1 dollar monthly per television for converter boxes.
-A promise that Bright House won’t force the county to meet mandated hours of original programming.
-Access to programming on demand and to instant polling systems that the county expects to be available soon.
http://www.sptimes.com/2008/01/03/Hillsborough/County_seeks_cable_ad.shtml
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Comcast rings in ’08 with higher cable rates
by Anthony Westbury (with comments)
TCPalm.com (FL)
01/03/08

Happy New Year. Now pay your (bigger) cable TV bill.  That seems to be the message from cable provider Comcast to former Adelphia customers in Port St. Lucie, who’ll see rates rise by a couple of bucks a month in 2008.

“We have made a huge investment in the Palm Beach and Treasure Coast market,” said Comcast spokeswoman Marta Casas-Celaya in mid-December. “A lot of that is to make sure customers can receive state-of-the-art services and any new products in the future when they are offered.”

Thousands of Comcast customers in PSL and a much smaller group in north St. Lucie County (who’d really like to be Comcast customers) might take issue with that.  That’s because folks who live inside PSL city limits receive only very limited local-access channel programming provided by St. Lucie County.

For instance, while viewers of PSLTV 20 this month will be able to watch the county commission meeting of Dec. 18, they could do so only on Jan. 1 and 3 — at 1 a.m and 1 p.m. PSL viewers are able to watch school board or city council meetings, but very little county-produced programming and none at prime time.

In fact, only about 20,000 out of an estimated 240,000 total county residents are able to receive the county channel. Why? —>
http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2008/jan/03/30comcast-rings-in-80-with-higher-cable-rates/
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Avon: Public access tv signal muddy
by Joan Wilder
Boston Globe (MA)
01/03/08

The fate of public-access television in Avon is up in the air since Comcast plans to close the Easton-based studio that Avon shares with four other towns. The station will not close until the contracts with all five towns – Avon, Easton, Holbrook, Raynham, and Stoughton – expire, sometime late this year. Avon uses cable to televise selectmen’s meetings and other public and educational events. – Joan Wilder
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/01/03/public_access_tv_signal_muddy/
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Cable firm, town agree to new pact
by Calvin Hennick
Boston Globe (MA)
01/03/08

Officials from Comcast and the town of Millis say they’ve worked through the main sticking points of a new contract for cable TV services and will finalize the agreement before the current contract expires on Jan. 16.  “We feel that we will be ready to deliver,” said James Neville, president of Millis Community Access Television.

The chief hurdle in the negotiations was the amount of the surcharge – currently 4.5 percent – added to customers’ bills to fund the local public-access station, which televises public meetings and other community events for Millis residents. Comcast had proposed lowering the surcharge to 4 percent for the upcoming 10-year contract but ultimately relented…

Another point of concern was the contention by town officials that the local station’s broadcasts were spotty, with interruptions in both the sound and picture. Particularly worrisome, officials said, were complaints by residents that reception went out during the last two Town Meeting sessions.

Officials blamed the dicey reception on the 25-year-old infrastructure of the institutional network, or INET, responsible for carrying the local signal.  “The age of the INET is such that it can’t sustain operating without failure,” Neville said.  “There are times we can go months without interruption, and there are others where we get four calls in a two-week period,” he said.  “As soon as we do a remote, all bets are off. Every time we touch the INET . . . to shoot a live function, be it a Town Meeting or a graduation, we lose the INET.”

Comcast has agreed to replace the network by May 1, which would ensure that it is up and running before the annual Town Meeting scheduled for that month. If Comcast misses the deadline, the tentative contract would require it to pay the town $400 per day until the network is replaced.   —>
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/01/03/cable_firm_town_agree_to_new_pact/
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WCCA TV 13 to Air the Inauguration 2008
by Tracy
Worcester Community Cable Access TV (MA)
01/03/08

WCCA TV 13 will cablecast the 2008 Inauguration of the Mayor, City Council and School Committee…  The hour long special presentation will also stream live at wccatv.com during the above times and will be uploaded soon to our website.  Congratulations to all the candidates!
http://www.wccatv.com/node/11839
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Audio Documentary on Community Media in the YouTube Age
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition (MA)
01/03/08

For his graduate audio production course at Emerson College, my fellow grad student and CCTV colleague John Donovan sat down with staff and members at Cambridge Community Television to find out “why community media still matters” in a YouTube age.

In this 11-minute podcast, John first spoke with members of the staff who told him that “access to professional production equipment” and “affordable training” are among two of the many benefits of belonging to an access center.   —>
http://cmediachange.net/blog/2008/01/03/audio-documentary-on-community-media-in-the-youtube-age/
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Fuzzy Deans
by Charles Warner
Media Curmudgeon
01/03/08

On December 22, seven deans of prestigious university journalism programs signed an op-ed piece in the New York Times titled “A License for Local Reporting” that was fuzzy in its writing and thinking. Their hearts are in the right place, but their heads weren’t.  I read the piece several times, and here are some of the main points I think the deans were making:

1. That local television and radio stations should (my emphasis) “be doing their own news gathering, rather than merely serving as support systems for news gathering by newspapers.”
2. That the F.C.C. “ought to treat a broadcast licensee’s commitment of resources to original local reporting on public affairs as a key factor…” when renewing a station’s license and that “Companies should be required to make a persuasive case that they will increase their commitment to local reporting…”
3. That broadcast license renewal is too easy and that “…the pretense that there is a connection between the grant of a broadcast license and a promise to report on one’s community is all but gone.”

As Jeff Jarvis wrote in his Buzz Machine blog, “The deans sound like union organizers trying to protect headcount.”

But let’s go deeper and look at the basic assumption for the government regulating broadcasting. In 1927 Congress created The Federal Radio Commission, the predecessor to the F.C.C., to regulate radio “as the public convenience, interest, or necessity requires” and to bring order to the chaos of overlapping radio frequency usage. The assumption at the time was that the electromagnetic spectrum, which included frequencies used at no cost by radio stations, was a common asset belonging to the public and, therefore, should be used to benefit the public in some way.

Government regulations worked as long as stations had to demonstrate how they were assessing community needs and serving those needs in order to renew their licenses. But the F.C.C. changed those regulations in 1996 after intense lobbying by broadcasters and license renewals became virtually automatic. Broadcasting went from being a public trust to a private trust to benefit station owners, not the community.

And now, the F.C.C. is going to auction off a big piece of the electromagnetic spectrum which will become available when TV stations go all digital, HDTV in 2009. Don’t ask me how it works, because it’s too complicated for me to understand. But I do know that an auction will take place and that Google is considering bidding at a price that might be around $7 billion.

But if the electromagnetic spectrum is a community asset – an asset that the public, in a sense, owns – then how can the government sell it (or, rather, sell access to it) if we own it? If the government sells this community property for $7 billion, will I get my $20 share? Of course not, but I should get something that benefits me. Therefore, I think if the government is going to sell access to the electromagnetic spectrum to Google, then it ought to require that Google do something that benefits the entire community and has consequences built in if Google doesn’t do it (unlike the current no-consequences system for broadcasters).

The rumor is that Google wants the electromagnetic spectrum to create a nationwide wireless network – a reliable network from which Google cell phones could access the Internet free. Such a system would essentially put Verizon and ATT Wireless out of business, a situation that most citizens, especially me, would be thrilled about. Free cell phone service would be a terrific community service – a much better community service than I’m getting from my commercial radio and television stations.   —>
http://www.mediacurmudgeon.com/archives/2008/01/#000440
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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 – 06/21/07

June 21, 2007

Cities Seek Stay Of FCC Video Franchise Changes
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
6/20/07

Groups representing local governments and nonprofit organizations have gone to court to try to block changes to the FCC’s video franchising rules. In a motion filed with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday to stay enforcement of the FCC order, the groups said the changes will “severely restrict the ability of local governments to protect their citizens, rights-of-way, community channels, and public safety networks.” —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6454291.html
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Illinois to become latest state to give telecoms statewide video franchise
by Eric Bangeman
Ars Technica
06/20/07

Illinois has become the latest state to give new entrants into the cable television market a statewide franchise. Passed by the Illinois State Senate yesterday and sent to Gov. Rod Blagojevich for signature, the High Speed Internet Services and Information Technology Act will give AT&T a green light to deploy its U-Verse broadband and IPTV service throughout the state, regardless of the wishes of local municipalities. —>
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070620-illinois-to-become-latest-state-to-give-telecoms-statewide-video-franchise.html
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Community Radio Heads Up to the Hill, But Needs a Push
by Nancy Scola
MyDD.com
06/21/07

Yeah, I’m a weekend writer but I’m going to use my free pass to post on legislative topics during the week, because this one’s important. Today is a huge day for those of us interested in community radio. Back in 2000, Congress passed the Radio Broadcasting Preservation Act that put the kibosh on the issuing of new licenses for low-power FM radio stations. LPFM stations are low-watt community-based radio stations that serve local areas by providing targeted information and acting as community hubs. They’re a way of injecting a bit of diversity into a local news market and can serve some of the functions that the Internet/blogs do for people that can’t afford a computer or Internet access. In fact, having an LPFM station with staff who have access to one computer and high-speed broadband hook-up can greatly open up the information available in local communities that might otherwise be off the news grid.

In January of 2000, the FCC began issuing LPFM licenses for (what I believe was) the first time. The National Association of Broadcasters objected, and in response Congress called for a study that would investigate whether LPFM frequencies interfered with existing radio stations, as NAB was concerned about. The MITRE corporation did that study and found that, technically, LPFM and full-power broadcasting can live together in almost perfect harmony: —>
http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/6/21/13024/5742
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Adelstein Steps Up on Open Access
by Matt Stoller
MyDD.com
06/21/07

As we build our new blog, I’m going to keep you updated on the FCC 700 auction on MyDD. There’s some seriously important news out – Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein has come out for open access (last week he was pushing for business models for larger national chunks of spectrum). Telecom wonk extraordinaire Harold Feld is feeling good:

“Commissioner Adelstein publicly supported some kind of open access requirement for the 700 MHz auction licenses. Wooo Hoooo! For us policy geeks, it’s kind of like the moment when the Millenium Falcon comes out of nowhere and blasts the Imperial tie fighters targeting Luke as he barrels down toward the access port. Not that I had any doubt where Adelstein’s heart was, but it’s always reassuring to see him commit himself.”
http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/6/21/114054/182
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FCC’s Adelstein Takes Up Open Spectrum Cause
by Jason Lee Miller
WebProNews
06/21/07

One down, four to go. That’s the count supporters of open airwaves and neutral networks are holding up as Federal Communications Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein publicly voices his support for requiring winners of the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction to keep a chunk of it open to competition. This slice of the airwaves is currently used by television networks, but will come available again in 2009 as they switch from analog to digital signals.

Open-airwaves supporters like Google, SaveTheInternet.com, MoveOn.org, and some high profile politicians like Senator John Kerry and former running mate John Edwards, say that the spectrum is ideal for wireless broadband access, especially because of its ability to travel just about anywhere. —>
http://www.webpronews.com/topnews/2007/06/21/fccs-adelsteins-takes-up-open-spectrum-cause
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Civil-liberties tug-of-war
State politicians take a national stand
by Deidre Fulton
The Phoenix (ME)
06/20/07

An amazing thing about legislative bodies is their ability to take stands on just about anything — from what type of fish can be used as bait, to promotion of alternative fuels, to plumbing licensure. It’s a wide range, and those examples just skim the surface. But while many legislative actions are focused on specific niches of the community, there are times when state politicians dip their toes into more all-encompassing waters — and here in Maine, such a time is now.

State politicians recently acted on behalf of us little guys on two issues of national importance — Internet regulation and a sweeping identification system. In doing so, the Legislature set precedents for other states. When it rejected Real IDs (the standardized system of national identification cards that Congress approved in 2005 and that’s set to go into effect in 2009), Maine started a domino effect through states near (like New Hampshire) and far (like Montana). In the case of so-called “net neutrality” (more on that later; for now we’ll describe it as Internet equality), they’re hoping to do so. —>
http://thephoenix.com/article_ektid42262.aspx
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Rockport signs 10-year cable contract with Comcast
Gloucester Daily Times (MA)
06/21/07

ROCKPORT – Selectmen have unanimously approved renewal of a 10-year contract with Comcast, the town’s cable provider. As part of the deal, Comcast paid $125,000 to buy out of its obligation to operate the town’s Institution Network (I-Net) and residents will pay a 31/4 percent franchise fee to the town to support a new, local access nonprofit corporation and other cable-related costs. —>
http://www.gloucestertimes.com/punews/local_story_172093913?keyword=secondarystory+page=0
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Police and Fire Disciplinary Hearings Will Be Aired on Live TV
My Fox Austin (TX)
06/21/07

AUSTIN — The Austin City Council voted to start broadcasting Austin Police and Firefighter disciplinary hearings on public access television. The hearings will be broadcast on channel 6, where the council meetings and other city events are currently aired. City officials say Austin is the first city to air such hearings. —>
http://www.myfoxaustin.com/myfox/pages/News/Detail?contentId=3559607&version=3&locale=EN-US&layoutCode=TSTY&pageId=3.2.1
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Hardly camera shy
Summit City alive with moviemakers
by Steve Penhollow
The Journal Gazette (IN)
06/21/07

When area residents decide that they want to learn about videography and filmmaking, many of them end up at the downtown Allen County Public Library. And all of those people get to know Erik Mollberg. Mollberg has been coordinator of Access Fort Wayne, the Summit City’s public access channels, since 1981. The downtown library offers free instruction and equipment, and it is where most programming that airs on the aforementioned channels is produced. —>
http://www.fortwayne.com/mld/journalgazette/living/17398880.htm
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Free Speech TV in Fresno
by Mike Rhodes
indy bay – Central Valley (CA)
06/21/07

—> When I asked for a comment last week about the status of the negotiations, [City Manager] Rudd said “Nothing has really changed. Comcast is unwilling to provide PEG funding for ongoing operations.” Buske says that local negotiations are moving slowly and that she would not be surprised if Fresno ends up, by default, with a state franchise agreement that would start on January 2, 2008. One thing is clear, Comcast is not motivated to make a deal with the City of Fresno if it would cost them more than the state franchise agreement. The City of Clovis, who has also hired Buske as a consultant, is waiting to see what happens in Fresno. They plan to ride the coattails of whatever agreement Comcast and the City of Fresno negotiate.

If we default to the state franchise agreement, which seems likely at this point, there will be funding for PEG access. 1% of the gross revenues that Comcast generates in this area will be used to fund PEG. Buske says that revenue stream will be about $550,000 a year. The expectation is that this money will be used to support the CMC facility and PEG access channels. The CMC will provide training in video production techniques and will make the equipment (video cameras, digital editing equipment, studios, etc) available for all interested community members and organizations. Programs will be pre-recorded or produced live. The Education channel will be used by area schools and the Government channel will be used to broadcast the Board of Supervisor’s, City Council, and other important government meetings.

The Community Media Access Collaborative (CMAC) was set up by a broad coalition of community, education, and government representatives to oversee the CMC and PEG access channels. Randy Reed is the chairperson of CMAC. Reed expects the City of Fresno and Clovis to recognize the CMAC as the group that will oversee the PEG access channels and CMC.. —>
http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2007/06/21/18429183.php
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
http://ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/23/07

April 23, 2007

New legislation, same old phone company
by Brad Ashwell
Florida Voice
Daytona Beach News Journal (FL)
04/23/07

Among the things that never seem to change in Florida: The Gators and Seminoles will always feud and our local Bell phone company will always be lobbying Tallahassee for a new rate hike, deregulation bill or clever tax loophole.

In 2003, BellSouth used a phone deregulation bill to raise rates on Florida consumers by $300 million — the biggest price hike in history. And in 2006, it exploited a regulatory loophole to stick consumers with a $34 million bill for repairing their phone network because the company failed to purchase storm insurance. Each time, the details might be different, but the tale is as old as a dial tone — raise rates and reduce consumer value, all while avoiding real competition.

Now, AT&T (formerly BellSouth) wants us to believe that it has become the bulwark of competition, but only for the cable TV and broadband markets. A quick look at the legislation being pushed through the Legislature reveals that this competition flag-waving is really a game; AT&T’s real agenda, it seems, is to eliminate the widely supported non-discrimination laws by allowing the giant telephone monopoly to offer services exclusively to the rich side of town, thus severely limiting competition but fattening its bottom line. —>
http://www.news-journalonline.com/NewsJournalOnline/Opinion/Editorials/opnOPN08042307.htm
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[ This Bill Callahan post merits reposting in full. – rm ]

Lev Gonick: SB 117 vs. I-Nets
by Bill Callahan
Callahan’s Cleveland Diary (OH)
04/13/07

A very important point yesterday at Bytes From Lev:

“Missing from almost all the analysis is the single most important part of existing franchise agreements and those are the provisions that relate to so-called I-Nets (Institutional Networks). In the first round of franchise agreements with Cable providers, the City template franchise agreement for providing rights to lay out fiber included a public set-a-side of 6 or more fiber pairs to be used to connect public institutions like schools, government buildings, public health care services, and other public institutions. The provision was slightly ahead of its time but in the past 10 years or so, enlightened Cities (and Counties) are significantly leveraging their negotiated rights to use I-Net infrastructure.

“The current language in Bill 117 is entirely silent on the right of the State or any local jurisdiction to conclude a franchise agreement that will provide public set aside access of fiber pairs to enable communities and their elected officials to use fiber to create connected communities around the country. Make no mistake about it, while cities like Cleveland and Dayton stand to loose $250,000 per year or so through certain changes in the proposed formulas for the franchise agreements, the real economic loss will come from giving up the provisioning of I-Nets as part of the entitlement of cities and the State of Ohio. The long term impact will be measured in hundreds of millions of dollars not to mention public capacity to participate in framing a public agenda for public benefit in the Internet Age.

“…Looking back 20 years from now, a decision to miss bringing forward the provisions of I-Nets will be seen by future pundits as the key legislative miss (while cable television will likely be a largely irrelevant issue). While Europe, Asia, and many other countries in Latin America, Canada, and elsewhere are leveraging public access to fiber to position their countries to be leaders in the emerging Internet Age, U.S. and Ohio legislators are losing the opportunity to leverage legislative authority in the public interest.”

Unfortunately, Lev is in error about SB 117 being “silent” on this issue (but that only makes his point more important). Here’s Section 1332.30 (B):

No municipal corporation or township shall require a video service provider to provide any institutional network or equivalent capacity on its video service network.

I hope Lev is planning to submit testimony. It would be nice if the Energy and Public Utilities Committee got to hear from an actual recognized expert on the future of networks.
http://www.callahansclevelanddiary.com/?p=255
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Why Change What Already Works? How SB 117 Is Unfair & Unwarranted
by Doug Fritz
Uncommon Sense (OH)
04/22/07

The question someone should be asking in regards to the current telco legislation in Ohio, Senate Bill SB 117, is this…. Is TimeWarner profitable? I believe the answer is yes.

So if they have been able to make a profit under the current law, why should we assume another company could not be as equally profitable? Why would we modify a law that is working for business and for consumers? —>
http://www.ustvmedia.org/corporate-democracy-and-usa-inc/2007/04/22/why-change-what-already-works-how-sb-117-is-unfair-unwarranted/

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Protecting the spectrum for media freedom
By Nalaka Gunawardene
Matchstick Steps
04/23/07

On May 3, the annual World Press Freedom Day will once again be observed worldwide, focusing public attention on a multitude of threats to freedom of expression through the mass media. But amidst the extremely relevant and necessary slogans, we are unlikely to hear this slogan: Hands off our spectrum. Yet saving our spectrum is critical for ensuring media freedom.

The electro-magnetic spectrum has been called the ‘invisible wealth of nations’, and all broadcasting using the airwaves relies on the fair, equitable and sound management of this common property resource. And as economic and cultural practices move more and more into the digital realm, the spectrum’s value is only set to increase.

But few people -– even within the media profession and industry -– appreciate our dependence on this finite resource. Out of sight does seem to push it out of most people’s minds. Therein lurks a danger: what we don’t see and value can be quietly taken away, without many of us realising it.

Evolving into an information society requires that frequencies are allocated in a balanced way amongst community, commercial and public service media. But that’s just what has not happened in a large number of countries — some developed and many developing ones among them. —>
http://jhybeturtle.livejournal.com/69556.html
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Nonprofits benefit from new media organization
By Joanne Fox
Sioux City Journal (IA)
04/23/07

> “I started thinking about what I had done in Denver and how positive it was that these nonprofits were getting their message out,” he said. “In the back of my head, I got the idea that it could be done here in Sioux City.”

Rouse brought the idea from the back to the front of his head and researched the concept. He discovered CableOne was offering nonprofits air time, but for the most part, production was the nonprofits’ responsibility. He found Morningside College had a television studio and equipment that could be used. “The first year, I set up Siouxland Community Media, it was a fairly loose operation,” Rouse admitted. “Gradually, we set up a board of directors and were incorporated with the state in 2007.”

Rouse began making phone calls inviting nonprofits to be a part of this new endeavor. Organizations, agencies and schools may use the volunteers with Siouxland Community Media to produce a message about the services and programs they provide and/or to announce upcoming events. —>
http://www.siouxcityjournal.com/articles/2007/04/23/news/top/78be5f43a45d3d64862572c6000cf372.txt
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Learn How To Create, Publish And Promote Your Online Video: Make Internet TV
by Robin Good
04/23/07

Make Internet TV is a long-overdue resource that does a great job of tackling the entire web video process, from beginning to end. Until now there have been lots of great articles, tools and services put together to make your web-video-making life easier, but finding them isn’t always easy when they are scattered across the web.

The most significant thing about Make Internet TV is that everything the budding web-videographer might want to know has been gathered in one place, and made both accessible to beginners, yet modular enough that more experienced visitors can skip to the exact information they are looking for.

Each of the six chapters that make up the Make Internet TV guide are further subdivided into sections, and it is possible to follow them one-at-a-time, building up your knowledge in a linear way, or just skip to the exact resource that matches your needs. This is a well-thought-through approach to information design, and there is little chance of anyone getting lost in what is a very easy-to-navigate website. —>
http://www.masternewmedia.org/video_internet_tv/internet-tv-online-video-web-tv/internet-television-resource-20070423.htm
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Dir., Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650