Archive for the ‘interconnection’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/20/08

April 21, 2008

Video franchise bills all take; where’s the give?
by Mike Stagg
Lafayette Pro Fiber (LA)
04/20/08

[ comments invited ]

The statewide video franchise bills up for consideration in the Louisiana Legislature are, in fact, bad news as John and the LMA (pdf) have made clear. But, based on the 2006 experience where only Governor Blanco’s veto prevented a version of this legislation from becoming law, I also believe it is clear that some form of this legislation is going to pass again this year and Governor Jindal will sign it into law.

First, let’s make clear that while AT&T is the prime mover of this legislation, the cable industry is on board. That’s because this legislation or a subsequent package will ultimately give cable companies the same freedom to cherry-pick and red-line neighborhoods that the phone company is seeking with these bills. They’ll demand a level playing field.

It was no accident that Cox Communications announced its latest rate increase just as the Legislature was heading into its Regular Session. That enabled the various astroturf movements to begin flooding newspaper editorial pages with letters to the editor, condemning the cable companies and singing the praises of competition.  Think of this as a choreographed fight for the benefit of the viewing audience, rather than a brawl. The cable companies and AT&T are partners in this dance. Cox stepped on a lot of consumer toes in order to make them receptive to the competition paeans that the phone company allies would produce.

Cherry/Red

That ability to selectively deploy new network technology is the heart of the issue.  How do I know this? Because John and I sat in on the 2006 negotiations on that year’s version of these bills when the phone company (still called BellSouth at the time) flatly refused to deal on offers that did not free them from community-wide build-out obligations.   —>
http://lafayetteprofiber.com/Blog/2008/04/video-franchise-bills-all-take-wheres.html
~

Westborough: Verizon Now Has Access
by John Dyer
Boston Globe (MA)
04/20/08

Cable television customers in Westborough who subscribe to Verizon’s service can now see local-access channels 24, 26, and 28, said Maria Sheehan, Westborough TV’s general manager. Since January, Sheehan said, Verizon had been promising it was going to provide viewers with the local access channels, which cover municipal meetings, school events, and locally produced programming. Late last month, Verizon subscribers still couldn’t see the channels, so Town Counsel Gregory Franks sent Verizon a letter saying its contract to operate in Westborough would be revoked if it didn’t provide the channels, as its contract stipulates, Sheehan said. Verizon had been in negotiations with rival cable provider Charter Communications on the issue. Charter owns the connections between Westborough TV and the wires that deliver the cable signal to homes.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/04/20/marble_scholarships/?page=4
~

Bolton: Candidates Night
by Matt Gunderson
Boston Globe (MA)
04/20/08

Local candidates running for election this spring will square off at a candidates forum tomorrow at 7 p.m. in Davis Hall. The two candidates vying for a seat on the Board of Selectmen, Stan Wysocki and Connie Benjamin, have said they will attend the event, which is sponsored by the Friends of the Bolton Public Library.  Bolton Access Television will televise the candidates night.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/04/20/marble_scholarships/
~

Shrewsbury: Candidates to Debate
by Lisa Kocian
Boston Globe (MA)
04/20/08

Seniors for Responsible Taxation will host a debate for selectmen candidates to be aired live Tuesday at 7 p.m. on Channel 28. —>
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/04/20/marble_scholarships/?page=3
~

Cable show celebrates five years
Eagle Tribune (MA)
04/20/08

METHUEN — “Call To Serve,” a locally run television show on Methuen Community Television, celebrated its fifth anniversary with a special show taped last week.  “Call to Serve” has interviewed 56 veterans as part of its effort to preserve oral history of Methuen veterans. The show is hosted by Kathleen Corey Rahme and co-produced by Albert Grant and Corinne LaCharite. The show won third place in the 2004 Alliance for Community Media annual northeast fall video festival.   —>
http://www.eagletribune.com/punews/local_story_111010647.html
~

More Government on TV: WOOOOOOOO!
by Melissa Griff
Sweet Melissa (CA)
04/20/08

[ 3 comments ]

As you may know, this past Tuesday an ordinance passed on its first reading that will require more San Francisco political commissions, committees and conversations to be filmed and made available for public viewing. Now, there appears to be some fuzzy math surrounding the funding source for one of the part-time positions that this ordinance will create (according to Ron Vincent from DTIS, it will otherwise be paid for by the “cable franchise fund”), but you know I am generally all for more government on TV. And, while I know that watching it is doing nothing for my love life, every so often I get to see something truly great.

Take this video below (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrAe21fi_4c), for example, in which professional rassler Nature Boy Ric Flair was finally given his due on April 15 in the US House of Representatives.  I just love that the phrase “Figure Four Leglock” is now in the Congressional Record.   —>
http://sweetmelissa.typepad.com/sweet_melissa/2008/04/woooooooo.html
~

Our children will never know refreshment
by christa t
Pecanne Log (GA)
04/20/08

[ 2 comments ]

Everyone knows what an unmitigated disaster New Coke was. What most people don’t realize is that it was RuPaul and his Atlanta public access television friends who saved generations of children around the world from perhaps never knowing the taste of a Coca-Cola Classic.  The day New Coke was introduced in 1985, RuPaul and The American Music Show host Potsy Duncan took to the streets of Atlanta, leading other protesters in pouring out bottles of the new concoction and waving signs that said things like, “We want the real thing” and “Our children will never know refreshment.”   —>
http://pecannelog.com/2008/04/20/our-children-will-never-know-refreshment/
~

Students demand greater transparency in the legislature
by Loa Iok-sin
Tapei Times
04/20/08

“No more blindfolds! We want a transparent legislature,” students representing schools and student organizations shouted yesterday as they demonstrated in front of the legislature.  “We are here to demand public access to the video-on-demand [VOD] system, so that everyone can monitor the legislature from home,” Lin Pin-chun, president of Citizen Congress Watch’s (CCW) youth caucus and a sophomore at National Taiwan University (NTU) told a press conference.

Although legislative committee meetings are recorded and broadcast live online through the VOD system, it can only be viewed from within the legislature.  “As a concerned citizen, I only see lawmakers when their physical or verbal clashes are broadcast on TV — I want to know what they’re doing the rest of the time,” another NTU student, Lee Shao-tang said.

However, current restrictions make their wishes impossible.  “The time allowed for sitting on the balcony to hear the general assembly meeting is limited to 30 minutes per person,” said Ho Tsung-hsun, executive director of the CCW. “As for committee meetings, you must have the convener’s permission to be allowed into the meeting room.”   —>
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2008/04/20/2003409773
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/06/08

March 10, 2008

NATOA Survey: Impact of State Video Services Legislation
Early Results Do Not Evidence Sufficient Competitive Benefits
NATOA.org
03/05/08

Alexandria, VA – The National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) today released results of a preliminary survey it conducted among its members to obtain a snapshot of the impact state video services legislation has had to date on communities and subscribers. While state video franchising is still a relatively new concept, the survey posed questions regarding its effects on competition, rates and services, PEG (Public, Educational and Governmental) access, and consumer complaints. Responses came from 14 of the states which have adopted state video legislation. A total of 139 Local Franchising Authorities (LFAs), representing 10 million cable subscribers (15% of cable subscribers nationwide), participated in the survey.

The results of the survey indicate that incumbent cable providers are taking advantage of the change in law, with one third of respondents indicating that the incumbent had abandoned its local franchise for one issued by the state. New entrants are seeking only state franchises. In franchise areas affected by state legislation, 27% of participants report one new entrant, and 6% report more than one new entrant in operation. Thirty-five percent (35%) of LFAs report the new entrant has not built anything; 48% report the new entrant has built out to part of the community; while only 18% report that the new entrant is in the process of or has built out to the entire community.

…Read the Executive Summary of the Survey Here (pdf).
Contact: Libby Beaty, Executive Director, 703-519-8035
http://www.natoa.org/2008/03/natoa-survey-impact-of-state-v.html
~

Middleboro seeks answers from cable companies
by Eileen Reece
Enterprise (MA)
03/06/08

Comcast and Verizon representatives have been invited to meet March 17 with selectmen.  Verizon and Comcast officials have been invited by selectmen to address numerous complaints from residents.  Although Verizon began installing FIOS cable two years ago, selectmen Chairwoman Marsha L. Brunelle said some residents had questions as to when they would receive coverage and selectmen wanted to know when the town would have access to public education and government (PEG) coverage.   —>
http://www.enterprisenews.com/news/x1240624402
~

Video system would cost Taneytown at least $72,000
by Carrie Ann Knauer
Carroll County Times (MD)
03/06/08

[ 2 comments ]

If the Taneytown City Council chooses to purchase its own video system to tape and broadcast city meetings on the county’s municipal channel on Comcast, it can expect to pay at least $72,000.  Tony Hooper, operations manager from the Community Media Center, explained that each bid package included two video cameras, a new audio system for City Hall, two LCD televisions to display presentations and a control board that would allow someone in the building to operate the cameras. The bids ranged from $72,000 to $84,000, with the prices varying for different quality levels of cameras.   —>
http://www.carrollcountytimes.com/articles/2008/03/06/news/local_news/newsstory6.txt
~

Glitch puts hitch in JoCo’s cable television debut
by Finn Bullers
Prime Buzz: Kansas City Star (KS)
03/06/08

[ 2 comments ]

Some local government junkies were disappointed today when they were unable to tune in this morning’s Johnson County commission meeting from the comfort of their own home televisions.  Time Warner cable subscribers were unable to find the commission meeting on Channel 2 after technical and equipment glitches blocked the public access signal from being aired, county officials said. Time Warner covers much of northern and central Johnson County.  But Comcast Channel 7 in Olathe carried the signal, as did the county’s Web site.

The county spent more than $650,000 on technology and remodeling in an effort to better communicate with residents and become more transparent in showing the public how decisions are made. The idea has been kicked around for at least three years.  The problems are expected to be worked out by next week’s meeting.   —>
http://primebuzz.kcstar.com/?q=node/10374
~

Flaherty proposes comment rules
by Bobby Gates
Beverly Citizen (MA)
03/06/08

[ comments allowed ]

Changes to the 15-minute public comment period at the start of each City Council meeting would bar personal attacks — including on City Council members — and political speech supporting or opposing candidates for public office.  Those are among several rules being considered to regulate, and make official, a tradition of allowing the public to speak at the beginning of City Council meetings.  When possible changes were discussed in January, councilors said the most common problem with the public comment period is that speakers do not keep to the time limit.

The proposed rules allow each person to speak up to 2-½ minutes and limit the entire public-comment period to 15 minutes. The time would be filled on a first-come, first-served basis by signing up beforehand with City Clerk Fran Macdonald. The deadline to sign up would be noon on the Thursday before the City Council meeting.  The rules also would prohibit turning the comment time into a question-and-answer period and would limit the topics to issues that are pending before the City Council or are likely to come before the Council.

When Council President Tim Flaherty took over the council’s leadership earlier this year, he proposed moving the comment time to 6:45 p.m., which is 15 minutes before the usual start and before the broadcast begins on BevCam public access television.  But some councilors objected, saying the public time should be included in the meeting and be on TV.  Flaherty then said that the public-speaking time would be included within the meeting, but that he hoped to come up with a set of rules and procedures to handle it.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/beverly/news/x1775725559
~

Chicago Net2 Tuesdays – Starting March 11th
MoveSmart.org (IL)
03/06/08

[ comments allowed ]

Join us, so Chicago can grow more technology savvy social change organizations that benefit our local communities.  Staff and volunteers of non-profits, web innovators, and any individuals pushing for change are encouraged to attend. Come tell us about your effort, your concerns, and what you need and want from a collective of like-minded individuals and organizations.

“Net Tuesday” meetings are a program of NetSquared whose mission is to spur responsible adoption of social web tools by social benefit organizations.  NetSquared is a project of TechSoup (http://www.techsoup.org) the technology place for nonprofits.   —>
http://movesmart.org/WordPress/?p=32
~

FCC Hearing, February 25, 2008
SCAT Staff Vlog (MA)
03/05/08

[ comments allowed ]

An open hearing of the Federal Telecommunications Commission on the future of the Internet at Harvard Law School. Footage of the hearing and testimony of individuals about net neutrality. A project of Free Press and Somerville Community Access Television.
http://www.scatstaffvlog.blogspot.com/
~

Access Somerville and Boston and Cambridge
Why we can’t stop watching cable access TV
by Carmen Nobel
The Boston Globe (MA)
03/06/08

It used to be that the thought of cable access shows garnered visions of shaky cameras, sewer commission meetings, school lunch menus, and that “Wayne’s World” skit from “Saturday Night Live.” We’ve always known the shows were there, we just didn’t think they were good for much.

But in November, the Hollywood writers’ union went on strike, and suddenly, there was a dearth of new material on our favorite commercial stations. So, resourceful couch potatoes that we are, we ventured into the vast world of community television. And lo and behold, we found entertainment.

Thousands of cable access programs are produced in Greater Boston each year. There are news shows, like Boston’s “What’s up in Trinidad and Tobago?”; how-to shows, like Watertown’s “Drawing With Fred”; art review shows, like Cambridge’s “Bitchin’ About Movies”; and yes, hundreds of hours of droning talk shows that double as insomnia cures.   —>
http://www.boston.com/ae/tv/articles/2008/03/06/access_somerville_and_boston_and_cambridge?mode=PF
~

Hungry Critics
by Rob Kendt
The Wicked Stage
03/06/08

[ comments allowed ]

From my erstwhile LA Weekly colleague Steven Mikulan comes an alternately hilarious and horrifying piece about critics who eat, drink, and otherwise embarrass themselves at openings. There’s too much dirt in it to quote much, but this is a typical anecdote:

“I had a classic message on my machine when I was representing a free holiday celebration,” says one longtime publicist. “This somebody asked for backstage passes so he could go into the greenroom, where the refreshments were. And for this, he’d write 300 words on his Web site. He used the word ‘refreshments’ three times.”

Apropos Playgoer’s recent point about the proliferation of under-qualified online amateurs crowding the field, Mikulan sums up the culprit(s) here:

Stuck at the bottom of what is literally a journalistic food chain are the writers whom publicists routinely describe as B-list or “second-tier” critics — reviewers for a vast, unincorporated territory of neighborhood broadsheets, ethnic tabloids, ad-for-review papers, student newspapers, public-access TV and radio programs, vanity zines, theater Web sites, and blogger-critics. This “B-list” has dramatically expanded its theater clout with the Internet, and, while the World Wide Web has democratized such formerly elite realms as political journalism, it has paradoxically reinforced the authority (some would say tyranny) of theater critics by increasing their numbers. The proliferation of reviewers has started a conversation in theater circles (as it has in film) as to who, exactly, is a legitimate critic and whether this proliferation weakens critical credibility.
http://thewickedstage.blogspot.com/2008/03/hungry-critics.html
~

STUDIO ONE: Applications for fall 2008 internships
School of Communication at the University of North Dakota
03/06/08

[ comments allowed ]

STUDIO ONE: Applications for fall 2008 internships are now being accepted for Studio One! UND students are encouraged to check out internship opportunities at http://www.studio1.und.edu or call 701-777-4346. Job descriptions and applications are available on the website. Applications for the fall 2008 semester are due March 19th at 4:30 p.m.

There are several positions available at Studio One including reporter, web designer, photographer, TV production crew, marketing staff, teleprompter operator, graphics and more. Studio One offers credit for students that are interested in the internship. Working at Studio One is a fantastic opportunity to build your resume, learn networking skills and gain professional experience.
http://undscomm.blogspot.com/2008/03/scomm-e-community-week-of-march-10-2008.html
~

Two New Versions of Miro: Sliced by Genre
by Dean Jansen
03/04/08

[ 13 comments ]

We have just launched two new versions of Miro: Food Edition and Christian Edition!  Each of the downloadable players comes pre-loaded with a handful of channels that relate to the respective community. With over 3,500 free channels in the Miro Guide, we think now is the perfect time to introduce a content-centered approach to internet TV.

These players make it really easy for a community to recommend internet TV that is totally relevant to its members. Furthermore, because Miro is free and open source software that empowers independent creators, these players are beneficial to both the viewers and the creators in the community.   —>
http://www.getmiro.com/blog/2008/03/two-new-versions-of-miro-sliced-by-genre/
~

Many restrictions on media coverage of campaign for 9 March general elections
Reporters Without Borders
03/05/08

Reporters Without Borders calls on Spain’s political parties to respect press freedom and to stop imposing conditions that restrict journalists’ ability to gather, process and disseminate news in an independent manner. “Journalists should not be regarded as mere auxiliaries and news should not be regarded as political communication,” the organisation said.  The Spanish media have a long list of complaints about the restrictions imposed on their coverage of the 9 March general elections, ranging from limited access to candidates and bans on recording candidates’ addresses at rallies, to news conferences without questions.

Many Spanish journalists organisations are saying their freedom to report the news is being violated. In particular, they are criticising the control exercised by the two leading political parties, the Spanish Socialists Workers Party (PSOE) and the Popular Party (PP), over the way the press covers their election campaigns. Both state and privately-owned TV stations are allowed to film political rallies but not candidates. “We are puppets,” a journalist who follows PSOE told El País on 1 March.   —>
http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=26036
~

Zambia: Media Houses Lobby MPs
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)
03/06/08

[ comments allowed ]

Fourteen media organisations have appealed to members of Parliament (MPs) to reject the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) Bill if it is not made public before being taken back to parliament.

The media organisations have also petitioned the Speaker of the National Assembly Amusaa Mwanamwambwa to order the Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Mike Mulongoti to present to Parliament the names of Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) board for ratification.

Press Association of Zambia (PAZA) vice -president, Amos Chanda who was speaking at the media briefing yesterday said the MPs and individuals needed to support the cause for FOI . The 14 media organisations included the Press Association of Zambia (PAZA), Press Freedom Committee of The Post, Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) – Zambia chapter, Zambia Media Women Association (ZAMWA), Zambia Union of Journalists (ZUJ) and Zambia Community Media Forum (ZaCoMef).

Others were Society for Senior Journalists, Catholic Media Association, PANOS Institute of Southern Africa, Commonwealth Press Union – Zambia Chapter, Southern African Editors Forum – Zambia chapter, Media Trust Fund (MTF) and Media Council of Zambia (MECOZ).

Mr Chanda further appealed to parliamentarians to repeal and amend other pieces of legislation that impinged on media freedom.   —>
http://allafrica.com/stories/200803060522.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 – 02/27/08

February 27, 2008

Verizon still not carrying BCAT
by Patrick Ball
Bedford Minuteman (MA)
02/27/08

[ comments allowed ]

Bedford Community Access Television programming might be the best it has ever been, but Verizon subscribers wouldn’t know it because they can’t watch the PEG Access programming they pay for.

“I want my BCAT,” is a complaint often heard by Bedford Community Access Television’s Executive Director Madeleine Altmann. “Now that BCAT is getting a lot more popular, and it’s 24 hours, people are bumming,” she said.  Bedfordites are disappointed because Verizon, eight months after becoming Bedford’s second cable provider, is still not carrying the town’s PEG Access channels broadcast from BCAT.

A technically separate but intrinsically related issue is that Verizon has also failed thus far to connect its FiOS to the PEG access points of origination – Town Hall, Bedford High School, the Bedford Free Public Library, the Town Center building and First Church of Christ, Congregational – on the Town Center campus.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/bedford/homepage/x374196492
~

More TV Choice and Competition Near for Residents of Abington, Mass.
TMCnet
02/26/08

[ comments allowed ]

Residents of Abington are a major step closer to having another choice for their cable television services, thanks to a newly approved agreement authorizing Verizon to offer its FiOS TV service via the most advanced all-digital, fiber-optic network straight to customers’ homes… The Board of Selectmen in Abington granted a cable franchise Monday (Feb. 25) to Verizon, paving the way for video choice for approximately 5,000 more Massachusetts households…

The Abington franchise agreement contains provisions for the network’s future growth; financial support and capacity for educational and government access channels; cable service to government buildings; and other important benefits to the town, including insurance, indemnification and enforcement protections.   —>
http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2008/02/26/3292479.htm
~

They’re Back! Prometheus Asks Court to Vacate Ownership-Rule Change
Group Says Decision Was Arbitrary and Capricious and Beyond the FCC’s Authority
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
02/26/08

[ comments allowed ]

As promised, anti-media consolidation activists asked a federal court to throw out the Federal Communications Commission’s recent media-ownership decision.  Media Access Project Tuesday filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on behalf of Prometheus Radio Project and in opposition to loosening the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules, which the FCC did Dec. 18.

Tribune already took aim at the cross-ownership rules in a separate suit against an FCC decision granting it waivers from the rules — it asked for more regulatory relief than it got. But it is coming at the agency from the other direction: It saw the decision as a chance to try to get the cross-ownership ban lifted entirely by the courts.

MAP was instrumental in getting the FCC’s 2003 ownership-rule rewrite remanded to that court in the first place when it represented Prometheus in a filing to block that deregualtory effort. The result of that, after years of legal maneuvers and rule reviews, was eventually that December 2007 decision to loosen, but not lift, the newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership rules. But there is more for MAP to like in the rule rewrite this time around.

The group supported the FCC majority’s decision not to loosen the local TV or radio ownership caps. “We are going to be very supportive of some of the things the commission did,” MAP president Andrew J. Schwartzman said. But loosening newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership was not one of them and it made that clear in no uncertain terms. In its petition, the group called the decision “contrary to law” and “otherwise arbitrary and capricious, an abuse of discretion and in excess of statutory authority.”  MAP asked the court to “vacate, enjoin and set aside the report and order and order such other relief as may be just and proper.”   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6535600.htm
~

Voices for the voiceless: Young Latinos are speaking out on air
by Ali Reed
Medill Reports – Northwestern University (IL)
02/27/08

A group of Chicago Hispanic teenagers say they are tired of how underrepresented their community is in mainstream media.  They have turned their frustration into action and are now vocal journalists on a mission to provide a voice for the underrepresented.

These youth, or “producers” as they are called at work, get their voices heard on the radio for an hour every Monday through Thursday evening.  They are volunteer journalists at Radio Arte, 90.5 FM, a nonprofit Latino public radio station based in Pilsen. The 10-year-old station has made a place for teen producers since it was founded.  “Our voices are oftentimes disenfranchised by larger public media and commercial media,” said Silvia Rivera, general manager of Radio Arte.  “So what we’re trying to do in our small slice of the world is to try to be as representative as possible of our community.”

Radio Arte’s small slice of the world covers a 14-mile broadcast radius stretching southwest from Pilsen, an area with more than 500,000 residents.  Each year a group of 30 youth journalists, ages 15 to 21, are chosen from applicants for the station’s 10-week training program. They learn to write, research, interview and hone their on-air delivery skills.   —>
http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=79597
~

Missing: Minorities in Media
by Laura S. Washington
In These Times
02/26/08

[ 3 comments ]

In the wake of racial upheaval, the 1968 “Riot Report” concluded the media had to improve its coverage of Black America. Has it?

America was burning. The riots unleashed by the April 4, 1968 assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. were terrorizing cities across the nation.  Chicago was no exception. Warner Saunders got a desperate call from WLS-TV, the local ABC affiliate. They needed blacks on the air, and they needed them now. So Saunders, who was a community activist and executive director of Chicago’s Better Boys Foundation, signed up as co-host of a hastily arranged television special, “For Blacks Only.”

The special, which aired in 1968, snared such high ratings that the station gave it a regular slot and kept it going for 10 years. Saunders eventually became a full-time reporter. Today he’s the top news anchor at Chicago’s NBC station.

Saunders’ foray into TV news came weeks after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Kerner Commission report declared, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.”  The report, also known as “The Riot Report,” released 40 years ago this month, was a response to the urban riots of the late ’60s. Blacks, outraged over poverty and racism, took to the streets and shook up America’s powers that be.

The commission produced an exhaustive look at media coverage of communities of color and responded with a key recommendation: if the United States hoped to cool down the searing anger in its inner cities across the nation, it must do a better job of covering African-Americans.  The report’s authors slammed the media, writing, “the journalistic profession has been shockingly backward in seeking out, hiring, training and promoting Negroes.”

Four decades later, there has been undeniable progress. Our cities are no longer burning. Yet in many ways, we are running on ice.   —>
http://www.alternet.org/rights/77789/
~

Is it finally time for a national broadband policy?
by Carol Wilson
Telephony Online
02/20/08

There seems to be a consensus growing that the U.S. should (finally) have a national broadband policy. Now the question is, what will that policy include?

I think now is the best possible time to start answering that question, and here is why: We are in the midst of a presidential election campaign that promises to be hard-fought, and one of the major issues will be the U.S. economy. There is nothing more central to our economic problems than the ability to have true broadband access everywhere, and to make it affordable to consumers and businesses alike.

I’m far from the first person to say this. As manufacturing jobs have increasingly gone overseas, what is replacing them? Supposedly we have become a service economy, but digital communications enables service jobs to be shipped abroad as well, as many in the customer service and software development industries know all too well. The only way to ensure that the U.S. workforce remain employable is to give that workforce the best possible tools in the digital age, and that starts with broadband.   —>
http://telephonyonline.com/broadband/commentary/national-broadband-policy-0220/
~

Williamstown faces broadband, water, tax break issue at Town Meeting
by David Delcore
Times Argus (VT)
02/26/08

[ comments allowed ]

—>  Among the forward-looking items on the Town Meeting Day warning is a proposal to enter an inter-local contract with other area communities for the purpose of establishing “a universal, open-access, financially self-sustaining broadband communications system.” That system would provide residents of participating communities with services ranging from high-speed Internet access to telephone and cable television.   —>
http://www.timesargus.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080226/NEWS02/802260346/1003/NEWS02
~

Social Media Challenge: Telling a life story
by Jake McKee
Community Guy
02/26/08

[ 7 comments ]

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my grandmother recently passed away at the age of 83. During the festivities (and I do use that word specifically… we are, and she was Irish Catholic, after all), I volunteered to take Grandma Pat’s photo albums and some other keepsake books home to archive digitally. The theory went, if I took them, I could scan them so they could be easily reproduced for all six kids to do what they wanted with the content.

Pat was nothing if not an organizer, and so I find myself with a wealth of wonderful, decades old content, including recipes, household tips collection, photos, and baby books. I’ve been thinking a lot about the opportunities that this content presents when combined with the tools that exist both on my Mac and on the Web.  Honestly, I’m a bit overwhelmed.

The most obvious solution goes something like this:

* Scan the photos
* Upload the photos to Flickr, allowing family members to comment on each photo
* Use iPhoto to create a slideshow, then export the slideshow to a DVD or Web video
* Share the Web video on YouTube or Blip.tv
* Send an email to friends and family alerting them that the photos and videos are live.

The thing is, I want to do more than simply digitize the content, and hope that someone leaves a comment on the public version. I want to do something with the content…. and more importantly, I want my family and her friends to do something too. I want stories to be told. I want to create opportunities for her kids and grandkids to share their own memories, photos, videos. I want to involve the extended family (which again, Irish Catholic – no small feat).

So I turn to you, my internet social media friends. What processes & methods (technical or otherwise), software, Web apps, or anything else would you suggest? How can I use the tools at hand to help me tell stories as vibrant as she was and always will be?   —>
http://www.communityguy.com/1384/telling-a-life-story/
~

Code4Lib 2008: The Internet Archive
by Nicole Engard
Blogging Section of SLA-IT
02/27/08

[ comments allowed ]

What a great way to open a conference like Code4Lib.  The first keynote was presented by Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive.  Brewster started by reminding us that the reason he was there talking to us and the reason he is working on the Internet Archive is because the library metaphor easily translates to the Internet – as librarians we’re paid to give stuff away!  We work in a $12 billion a year industry which supports the publishing infrastructure.  With the Internet Archive, Brewster is not suggesting that we spend less money – but that we spend it better.

He started with a slide of the Boston Public Library which has “Free to All” carved in stone.  Brewster says that what people carve in stone is take seriously – and so this is a great example of what libraries stand for.  Our opportunity now is to go digital.  Provide free digital content in addition to the traditional content we have been providing.  I loved that he then said that this is not just a time for us to be friendly together as librarians – but to work together as a community and build something that can be offered freely to all!

He went on to say that what happens to libraries is that they burn – they tend to get burned by governments who don’t want them around.  The Library of Alexandria is probably best known for not being here anymore.  This is why lots of copies keeps stuff safe. Along those lines, the Internet Archive makes sure to store their data in mirror locations – and by providing information to the archive we’re ensuring that our data is also kept safe and available.  This idea of large scale swap agreements (us sharing with the Internet Archive, us sharing with other libraries, etc) in different geographical regions finds us some level of preservation.

How it started — The internet archive started by collecting the world wide web – every 2 months taking a snap shot of the web.  Brewster showed Yahoo! 10 years ago – ironically a bit of data that even Yahoo! didn’t have – so for their 10 year anniversary they had to ask the Internet Archive for a copy of what their site looked like!  He showed us the first version of Code4Lib’s site and exclaimed “Gosh is that geeky!” because it was a simple black text on white background page.

While it may have seemed a bit ambitious to archive the web, the Wayback Machine gets about 500 hits a second.  And it turns out that the out of print materials on the web are often just as valuable as the in print information on the web.  People are looking for the way things were for historical or cultural research reasons and this tool makes it possible.   —>
http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/itbloggingsection/2008/02/code4lib-2008-t.html
~

TV coverage is factor in Southington BOE venue decision
by Jason R. Vallee
MyRecordJournal.com (CT)
02/27/08

[ comments allowed ]

SOUTHINGTON – When the Board of Education meets tonight, it will be asked to determine whether to continue meeting at the John V. Pyne Meeting Center or consider moving to Town Hall. The decision is based on what would most effectively allow the board to improve the quality of its cable broadcasts, and the panel appears to be leaning toward technological changes rather than a physical move.  Three weeks ago, Southington High School Television Coordinator Rit Campbell said the district made a broadcast conversion from VHS to DVD format. The conversion, in which Cox Cable replaced all public access equipment with digital simulcast technology, immediately helped improve the video quality by 80 percent, though sound has remained a problem.   —>
http://www.myrecordjournal.com/site/tab1.cfm?newsid=19339338&BRD=2755&PAG=461&dept_id=592708&rfi=6
~

Midterm
by Erin Semagin Damio
Erin Semagin Damio
02/27/08

[ comments allowed ]

—>  Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a vegan living in Brooklyn, New York, offered her own solution. In 2006 she started a public access cooking show called the Post Punk Kitchen. In an interview with Gothamist magazine, she described the show, which she cohosted with Terry Hope Romero, as a response to the lack of vegan cooking shows on Food Network. Today, episodes of the show are available on Google Video. Moskowitz’s easy-to-make vegan cupcakes and other delicious dishes have earned her the distinction of “America’s Most Popular Vegan Chef” in her Barnes and Noble biography. She and Romero have written three bestselling cookbooks, including Vegan With A Vengeance, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Veganomican. She also maintains a website, which includes forums and her own blog.   —>
http://ensd113.blogspot.com/2008/02/when-lauren-ulm-of-boston-started.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 – 02/07/08

February 8, 2008

Cable Franchise Hearings Follow Up (6 comments)
Manhattan Neighborhood Network (NY)
02/07/08

What happens when you mix devoted MNN producers, with an opportunity once every 10 years to testify to Time Warner on why they should continue to produce. The heartfelt testimonies of yesterdays Franchise Hearings at Borough of Manhattan Community College in Tribeca. If you weren’t able to make the event but you still want to testify on behalf of public access or other Time Warner consumers then mail your testimonies to:

Care Of:  Stanley Shor, Assistant Commissioner Franchise Administration
New York City Department of Information, Technology and Telecommunications
75 Park Place-9th Floor; New York, NY 10007

Include your position on cable access, expansion of cable access resources, the strength of independent media to represent stories excluded from national or local news programs. What you want to see from Time Warner in terms of service requests, responses to customer service and services offered through Time Warner, such as movies on Demand and DVR options.

Make your voices heard!
http://www.mnn.org/en/cable-franchise-hearings-follow
~

Huntington makes public access TV deal
by Deborah S. Morris (3 comments)
Newsday (NY)
02/07/08

The Huntington Town Board unanimously approved an agreement Tuesday with Five Towns College for the school to administer and operate public and educational access cable television channels.  Under the town’s cable franchise agreement with Verizon, the telecommunications company must provide one full-time public access cable channel and one full time educational access cable channel for the sole use of residents.

The town currently has an agreement with Cablevision that provides $50,000 for educational and public access channels and studios in Woodbury to the town for residents use.  Because Verizon did not want to provide such facilities, they agreed to pay the town $10,000 for public access and $20,000 for educational access channels provided the town find the facilities.

With the Verizon agreement the company will also pay the town $50,000 for a government access channel, but Huntington Town spokeswoman Fran Evans said those funds are being putting aside for now.  According to town officials, Five Towns College has agreed to provide facilities, services and professional expertise in connection with the operation and administration of the public access channels. The agreement will be in effect until Nov. 9, 2016.  According to Evans the channels can begin broadcasting as early as the spring.   —>
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/suffolk/ny-litv0208,0,3713711.story
~

Supervisor rips state leaders
Local officials give update on their cities, township
by Gordon Wilczynski
Macomb Daily (MI)
02/07/08

In his closing remarks during the annual State of the Communities Luncheon sponsored by the Sterling Heights, Utica and Shelby Township Chamber of Commerce, outspoken Shelby Township Supervisor Skip Maccarone praised his colleagues but came down hard on state politicians.  “I must say that the state has failed us all,” said Maccarone. “I cannot fathom the devotion to partisanship we continue to see overriding one’s oath of office to discharge their duties faithfully and for the common good.”…

… He also pointed to the 2007 Michigan Cable Franchise Act, which was to stimulate competition and lower cable rates. He said cable rates have risen in historic proportions.  Maccarone also said that Comcast Cable is intent on disenfranchising 500,000 of its low-profit customers in Michigan. —>
http://www.macombdaily.com/stories/020708/loc_n1001.shtml
~

Cable TV Oversight Could Shift To State  (4 comments)
WHTM-27 (PA)
02/07/08

The State House Consumer Affairs Committee is considering a bill that would eliminate the local franchise agreements for cable TV companies. Instead the State Public Utility commission would deal with cable.   —>
http://www.whtm.com/news/stories/0208/494405.html?020708
~

Community Media Strategy Session 2/17
by Gordon Smith (4 comments)
BlogAsheville (NC)
02/07/08

—>   The Community Media Strategy Session will take place on Sunday, February 17th from 1pm – 3:30pm. I think we’ll be at the West Asheville Library, but I haven’t yet nailed the room down. Come back later this week to confirm the location.  I’m very excited to get together and formulate a common, actionable agenda. With our disparate media and intentions, it’s going to be an exercise in give, take, and creative problem solving. Please bring your brains.

At this time, we’re accepting nominations for a Strategy Session Moderator. Anyone can be nominated, though whether that person accepts will be up to them. We’ll need someone who knows how to run a tight meeting, make sure everyone gets heard, synthesize ideas and information, and move us towards a common agenda. Leave your nominations in the comments.   —>
http://blogasheville.blogspot.com/2008/02/community-media-strategy-session-217.html
~

The Big “Digital Conversion”- What’s it mean?
by Laurie Cirivello
Grand Rapids Community Media Center (MI)
02/07/08

The word digital is everywhere. The government is offering coupons to buy digital TV converter boxes. Access stations are griping about threats to move channels to the digital tier on cable. Commercials featuring well-spoken seniors are talking about a February 2009 digital deadline after which time, some TV’s won’t work at all. If you are like most folks, this is very confusing. Should you care? Should you be doing something?   —>
http://www.grcmc.org/about/news.php?news_item_id=274
~

Texas Cable Law Challenge Reinstated
State Cable Association Lawsuit Can Proceed After Appeals Court Ruling
by Kent Gibbons
Multichannel News
02/07/08

Cable operators in Texas, through their trade association, can proceed with a federal lawsuit against a statewide franchising law that excludes incumbent cable companies.  The Texas Cable & Telecommunications Association sued over the new law – known as “SB5” – the day after it was signed into law in September 2005.  A federal judge in Austin, Texas, tossed out the lawsuit in September 2006, determining the cable group hadn’t demonstrated injury against the cable companies and that “the case was not yet ripe for litigation.”

A four-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit overturned that judge’s decision, in an order filed on Thursday.  The appeals court judges determined that the exclusion of incumbent cable operators was a direct injury, as the incumbent companies miss out on an economic benefit by being unable to obtain a statewide franchise. New entrants, the appeals court said, benefited by avoiding the licensing costs of obtaining franchises with individual municipalities.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6530264.html
~

Cable and Broadcasters Align to Fight FCC
by Stacey Higginbotham (3 comments)
GigaOm.com
02/07/08

The switch to digital cable isn’t just yielding a multibillion spectrum auction, it’s also prompting cable companies and broadcasters to join forces and fight against a government mandate.

The government’s been worried about how cable subscribers would get their less-watched local broadcasts once the analog signals go dark next February. Enter the dual-carriage rules, which were put forth by the Federal Communications Commission last fall.

The rules dictated that unless a cable carrier was really small, and paid the legal fees to get an exemption, operators needed to carry certain programming (such as public access channels and local niche programming) in both dual and analog versions until all subscribers had a digital set-top box or TV capable of converting digital signals.

Cable companies don’t mind doing this for popular local broadcast channels, but smaller ones will take up twice the space on a cable network under these rules. Obviously cable companies, which already face capacity constraints, would like to choose how they allocate their capacity, rather than have the government mandate it.

The major cable operators represented by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association grudgingly agreed to the rules, but the American Cable Association, which represents smaller cable firms, came out against it. On Monday, six programmers representing cable channels including C-SPAN, Discovery Communications, The Weather Channel and Scripps Networks sued to stop the rules from going forward, saying that if it did, cable operators might have to dump their channels to make room for the duplicative signals.
http://gigaom.com/2008/02/07/cable-and-broadcasters-align-to-fight-fcc/
~

Martin Plan: Cable Must-Carry For Class A TV
FCC Commissioner Calls For Industry To Distribute Hundreds Of Low-Power TV Stations
by Ted Hearn
Multichannel News
02/07/08

Opening a new front in his battle with cable operators, Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin wants to force the industry to begin carrying hundreds of low-power local TV stations that up to now have not had such access, except in the most rural parts of the country.  According to two FCC sources, Martin, a Republican, circulated his proposal Tuesday to the other four FCC members. Under Martin’s plan, the process would begin with adoption of a notice of proposed rulemaking at the FCC’s public meeting Feb. 26.  If Martin is planning to exit with the Bush administration next January, he is probably looking for quick action by the agency. An FCC spokeswoman did not have an immediate comment.

For decades, the cable industry has fought attempts by the federal government to force carriage of local TV stations. The last attempt to fight carriage mandates ended in a 5-4 Supreme Court victory for TV stations in 1997.  Adoption of the Martin-backed plan could be a windfall for the owners of Class A TV stations as the regulations would provide those broadcast outlets with instant access to about 60% of TV homes in a typical market.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6530237.html?desc=topstory
~

On Politics:  Spam Media Versus Social Media
by Matt Stoller
OpenLeft.com
02/07/08

I gave a speech today at UConn Law School about the internet, free speech, and a new framework for campaign finance regulation.  Basically I divided the world up into spam media (TV, radio, mail) and social media, and said that the former should be regulated and the latter not so much.  A description of the event and a copy of my speech is on the flip.

I spent all day at a conference at University of Connecticut Law School put on by the Connecticut Public Interest Law Journal.  Unlike most of these conferences, which are law professors teaching law students about how they think about the world, the organizers of this conference decided that practitioners ought to be represented.  I was on a panel with Adam Bonin and former FEC Commissioner Robert Lenhard discussing political speech and the internet.  I followed panels with netroots activists Tim Tagaris, Matt DeBergalis, and Melissa Ryan, as well as scholar Diana Cohen.

I heard an exciting keynote speaker by NYU Law Professor Beth Noveck who is doing some important practical work on egovernment and the patent office that will probably become a model for progressive governance.  Noveck seems to be searching for a new liberal foundation for governance that moves beyond the traditional liberal orthodoxy of expert-driven policy making.  Individuals should be involved in government, not equally, but based on their own passion and interest and a decentralized model where officials break up work into small discrete chunks that citizens can work on.  She emphasizes passion and fun as key motivators in making a progressive state work; I’ll try to get the text of her speech, I think her ideas are important.

Thanks very much to Symposium editors Sandy Costa, Olga Konferowicz, and especially Katrina Goyco for helping organize this event.  I’d also like to give a shout-out to Julia Dunlop, Michelle Helmin, Gabe Rosenberg, Leslie Levin and Paul Schiff Berman.

And without further ado, here’s my speech.   —>
http://www.openleft.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=3739
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/04/08

February 6, 2008

Cable Franchise Hearing is this Thursday !
by Zenaida Mendez
Manhattan Neighborhood Network (NY)
02/04/08

On Thursday, February 7, 2008 all those who support Free Speech, the First Amendment and alternative media need to attend a hearing from 3pm-7pm at the Borough of Manhattan Community College.

As part of the Franchise renewal process between the City of New York and TimeWarner Cable, a public hearing will be held to allow NYC residents an opportunity to voice their views and concerns regarding the cable franchise we will all be living with for the next 10 to 15 years. It is extremely important that our public officials hear loud and clear that Public Access provisions are critically important to our community and that continued and expanded support for the needs and interests of Manhattan residents must be included in any franchise agreement that is reached.   —>
http://www.mnn.org/en/cable-franchise-hearing-thursday
~

Cable Hearing Reveal Strong Support for BRONXNET
by Osjua Newton
Lehman College Meridian (NY)
02/04/08

A panel from the New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) assembled at Hostos Community College on January 17. They sought public testimony regarding Cablevision, the current cable company in The Bronx, for the first of several hearings throughout the city to discuss cable television franchise renewals.

As Cablevision nears the end of their 10-year agreement with the city to provide service in the borough, the 5-hour hearing was aimed at gathering feedback on four key subjects: first, whether Cablevision has been operating within the terms of its contract; second, whether their signal quality and billing were adequate; third, whether they could meet the community’s future cable-related needs; and last, whether they are fiscally and technologically capable of providing services for future projects.

However, the topic most echoed at the podium was a call to increase funding and support for The Bronx based public access television network, BRONXNET.  “Certainly it was helpful for us to see how the community feels about BRONXNET,” said DoITT panel member Radhika Karmarkar. She added that the topics discussed during this, and future hearings, will be considered during the negotiations.   —>
http://media.www.lcmeridian.com/media/storage/paper806/news/2008/02/04/News/Cable.Hearing.Reveal.Strong.Support.For.Bronxnet-3182355.shtml
~

Naifeh rebuts Bredesen’s AT&T/Cable comments
by John Rodgers (3 comments)
Nashville City Paper (TN)
02/04/08

House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh today appeared to refute comments from Gov. Phil Bredesen that the speaker’s approach to finding a compromise between AT&T and the cable industry over television franchising wouldn’t work.  “I respectfully disagree,” Naifeh (D-Covington) said after being read Bredesen’s comments during a hastily called news conference this afternoon.   —>
http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/news.php?viewStory=58715
~

New laws aim to help TV customers get good service
Providers face competition, fines
by Laura Girresch (9 comments)
News-Democrat (IL)
02/04/08

Under two state laws passed last summer, companies can get a statewide license to provide television service — creating competition for local cable companies — and metro-east communities now can use the threat of fines to ensure customers are treated right.  Hoping to make protecting television customers easy, Belleville passed an ordinance last month that gave the city direct power to enforce good customer service, in accordance with the state laws.

One state law, the Cable and Video Customer Protection Law, says local governments and the Illinois attorney general can fine television companies for not telling customers how their rates will change after a promotion, disconnecting service for repairs for more than 24 hours, and only providing service where they can make the most money.  “It gives us an extra avenue to enforce or review or have some leverage to get customers the service they deserve,” Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said.   —>
http://www.bnd.com/business/story/246478.html
~

Unscripted Ending
The picture gets blurry for public access television.
by Josh Goodman
Governing
02/08

Every Monday evening for more than a decade in Portage, Indiana, Gordon Bloyer stirred up trouble. The middle-aged, mustachioed Bloyer used his 6:30 p.m. television talk show to lambast elected officials in the city of 35,000 on the shore of Lake Michigan. Not only were Portage politicians powerless to cancel the Gordon Bloyer Show — although at times they tried — they also were, in a sense, subsidizing Bloyer’s attacks on them: His show appeared on public access television. “People would get all upset,” Bloyer says, sounding satisfied. “So I figured that’s good.”

Now, Bloyer is up against a foe he can’t beat. AT&T, looking for a fast track into the TV business, recently persuaded the Indiana legislature to move most aspects of cable regulation from the local level to the state level. A little-noticed byproduct of the new law is that independent local voices such as Bloyer’s are being squeezed off the air. In fact, late last year many public access channels in northwest Indiana went dark.

Public access TV now faces a more uncertain future than at any time since its inception in the 1970s. In the past three years, some 20 states have, like Indiana, switched to statewide franchises for cable TV. In the process, public, educational and governmental channels — the so-called “PEGs” — are getting hammered. Many are losing funding or studio space, and in a few places PEGs are being shut down altogether. The wild sandbox that gave political gadflies, aerobics instructors, sex therapists and many others a place to hone their video skills, while entertaining those who dared to watch, may never be the same.   —>
http://www.governing.com/articles/0802tv.htm
~

Leaving Localism Behind
StopBigMedia.com
01/31/08

In the January 7th issue of Broadcasting and Cable, Gene McHugh, general manager of Fox TV station WAGA in Atlanta, is quoted as saying, “We’ve determined that localism is the future for TV stations.” The article reported that WAGA and other Fox TV stations are adding an extra half hour of late night news to their schedules in 2008. More local news, however, may mean little if it is just more of the same sensational journalism and celebrity gossip that dominates both national and local news.

Yet, McHugh’s statement does represent a rare admission that stations could be doing more to serve the local public. Not only could they do more, but people are hungry for it. The statement strikes at the heart of the myth that the junk news that is so prevalent is just “giving people what they want.” McHugh recognizes that the citizens of Atlanta and people across the country are desperate not only for more local news, but also for better local news that addresses the critical issues like health care, the economy, safety, and the environment.

Just two weeks after this article appeared, the Federal Communications Commission took action on a long- overdue localism debate that dates back to the previous chairman, Michael Powell. Unfortunately, the FCC did not come to the same conclusion as Gene McHugh and WAGA. It seems the FCC, whose mission is in part to foster localism, thinks stations are doing just fine. The report, released on January 24th, concludes a proceeding that included six public hearings and thousands of comments from concerned citizens. While the comments submitted and the testimony given overwhelmingly suggest that the American people are dissatisfied with the way their local media are serving their community, the FCC barely acknowledged these complaints in their report. —>
http://www.stopbigmedia.com/blog/2008/01/31/leaving-localism-behind/
~

An FCC watcher’s guide to Super Tuesday
by Matthew Lasar
Lasar’s Letter on the FCC
02/03/08

Super Tuesday is coming on, well, Tuesday. Twenty four states and American Samoa will hold primary elections or primary caucuses for Democrats and Republicans. And while the horse-race watchers obsess over which candidate will be most electable, LLFCC has kept track of their positions on broadcasting and telecommunications related issues.  Of all of the contenders for the Democratic nomination, John Edwards had the most clear and comprehensive set of positions on Federal Communications Commission related matters. Unfortunately, the former United States Senator has withdrawn from the race.

Candidate Edwards repeatedly pledged to strengthen rather than weaken the FCC’s media ownership rules. “Edwards believes extreme media consolidation threatens free speech,” his media page declares, “tilts the public dialogue towards corporate priorities and away from local concerns, and makes it increasingly difficult for women and minorities to own a stake in our media.”  Edwards also promised to strengthen public interest requirements for broadcasters, including disability access requirements. Edwards said that he supports net neutrality. And he assured voters that he would lift restrictions on the licensing of Low Power FM radio stations.

Congressmember Dennis Kucinich, who has also withdrawn from the race, also supported net neutrality and opposed the relaxation of the agency’s media ownership rules. Kucinich has been a strong supporter of locally controlled, public access television and Low Power FM radio.

Four candidates with clear records on the issues remain in the field.   —>
http://www.lasarletter.net/drupal/node/551
~

Prescott considers new channel  on access television (1 comment)
Daily Courier (AZ)
02/03/08

A possible change in the city’s public access television programming and an engineering contract for levee analysis will be among the issues the Prescott City Council will discuss this week….  On the agenda will be discussion and possible direction from the council on the creation of a government channel through the Prescott Community Access Channel, Inc.’s Access13.

City Manager Steve Norwood explained on Friday that officials with Access13 approached him recently with the proposal for adding another access channel for Prescott television viewers.  While City Council meetings and other programs currently air on channel 13, Norwood said the change would move that programming to channel 15. Channel 13 would remain as the channel for other access programming.   —>
http://www.dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&subsectionID=1&articleID=52166
~

Waiting on FiOS Until It Can Deliver LMC-TV
by Judy Silberstein
Larchmont Gazette (NY)
01/30/08

Less than 24 hours after the Larchmont Village Board approved door-to-door sales of Verizon’s new FiOS (fiber optic) television service on January 7, the salesmen were at our door, and we eagerly signed on. (See: Verizon & Cable Board Agree on TV Franchise Terms and Verizon FiOS Ready for Sale but Not for LMC-TV.) We were lured by the promise of faster broadband, more reliable phone service, better digital picture and lower prices.

There was a hitch – a deal breaker for us. Verizon was not yet ready to provide local access television stations, including LMC-TV, and no one knew when that part of the service would begin. The salesmen and their supervisor had no clue.  Nevertheless, we signed up – having been assured that we could just delay installation until Verizon was ready to deliver LMC-TV.

Unhappily, we learned later that Verizon’s franchise agreement allows four months to conclude whatever process is necessary to enable broadcast of local access stations over FiOS. According to a Verizon spokesperson, the work is a priority – but it’s not easy. The likely completion date is April 10.  And, much to our regret, we learned that pushing off installation of our FiOS television and telephone was also not easy. The system could barely handle a short delay; multiple delays led to chaos…

…But, for us, the biggest problem was the specter of being without LMC-TV for months. Why do we care? For the Gazette, LMC-TV is our back-up for all the government meetings we cover. We rely on the live broadcasts when we can’t be at a session and on the replays when we need to review exactly what was said.

And why should you care? Judging from the number of citizens attending most sessions, very few of you actually turn up at Village Hall or the Town Center or Mamaroneck High School for board meetings. Many more of you – without a rating service, we don’t know how many – watch from home. We try to cover the highlights in our reporting, but if you want all the details, LMC-TV is the only source.  And then there are all the other LMC-TV shows that are hosted by community members and that feature our neighbors and our neighborhood.   —>
http://www.larchmontgazette.com/2008/techtalk/index.html
~

City seeks to regulate its cable TV channel
by Angela Daughtry
News-Leader (FL)
02/04/08

Fernandina Beach – If City Manager Michael Czymbor has his way, the city’s local public access channel will have a new regulatory policy.  Czymbor has asked city commissioners to consider adopting a Public, Educational, and Government Channel Broadcasting, or PEG, policy for the channel the city has with cable television franchisee Comcast.  The PEG policy would designate what types of programs the city would allow to be broadcast. Any religious, political or commercial shows would have to pay Comcast for airtime and would not be allowed on the city’s public access channel.

“Our quandary is that we don’t have any rules and regulations,” Czymbor told commissioners at a Jan. 22 commission meeting. He pointed out that if the city allows churches to have free programming, it must also allow any organization, no matter how controversial, to run programs on the channel.

Commissioner Ron Sapp said the progression of public access cable “has been interesting to watch.” He noted that the cable company used to be “equal access,” providing free equipment and a studio for the public to air its own shows. “Now the taxpayers have to provide the equipment,” he said. “The First Amendment didn’t apply to Comcast, but it applies to us.”

Commissioner Bruce Malcolm asked Czymbor if there had been a problem with misuse of the channel. Czymbor answered that the channel had not been misused but without the PEG policy, the city would have to broadcast any program, “whatever the organization’s mission.”  He added that he thought the city should be doing “a lot more programs that would interest the general public,” such as tours of Egans Creek Greenway and the lighthouse.

Commissioner Ken Walker said he could not understand why the channel hasn’t been used more, but to “keep some form of civility to the channel we have to adopt some sort of rules.”  Sapp noted there has been community access programming since the early ’70s, with “no conflict, no controversy.”  “If there begins to be a concern, then we start to look at that,” he added. “So why pass some exclusionary kinds of rules?”   —>
http://www.fbnewsleader.com/articles/2008/02/04/news/00newscitycable.txt
~

Town television offers new programs this month
Greenwich Post (CT)
02/04/08

In February, Greenwich Community Television Channel 79 will feature three programs on topics of public interest this election year: climate change, civil rights and equal education.

“The Economics of Climate Change: Risk, Ethics and a Global Deal,” a lecture by Lord Nicholas Stern, is part of The Walter E. Edge Lecture series at Princeton University…
…“Jim Crow’s Last Stand:  The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Suburban North,” a lecture by Thomas J. Sugrue, was given at Case Western University in 2007 as part of its Cityscapes Lecture Series…
…“A View From the Top:  A Conversation with Former Governors About Abbott v. Burke,” a 2007 program featuring former New Jersey governors Brendan Byrne, Jim Florio and Donald DiFrancesco, was held at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.   —>
http://www.acorn-online.com/news/publish/greenwich/28465.shtml
~

Seeing is believing — or is it?
by Rick Siefert (1 comments)
The Red Electric
02/03/08

—>   Last week two Media Think colleagues (Joan Rutkowski and Matt Stockton) and I presented a televised discussion about television advertising.  We examined four ads for the above products in some detail.  In the course of the Metro East cable access program, “Community Hotline,” we considered several questions:

Who made these ads? How were they made and at what cost?  For whom were they made?  What devices were used to appeal to the “target audience”?  How successful were the ads in appealing to the audience?  What were the ads NOT telling viewers that they needed to know about the product.”

One hour wasn’t enough time to do justice to the questions or the answers, but we made a start. (The program will be rebroadcast, and I’ve listed the times below if you are interested in seeing what we had to say.)

The ability to “read” visual images critically (yes, I know, words are also visual images) is a necessity in our media-saturated culture. The field of media literacy tries to address that need. Media Think, one of dozens of groups around the country, is lobbying to make media literacy a “life skill” and a required subject in our schools.  Without the skill, we will be increasingly vulnerable media messages aimed not at our minds but at our emotions and basest instincts—never mind the cost to us, our society or the planet.

As I’ve done my own critical thinking about our on-air ad analysis, I wish we had shared some key concepts of media literacy and applied them to the ads.  Better late than never.  You can find varying lists of these concepts, but here are the ones that the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA) circulates. After each. I’ve included my own parenthetical comments in hopes of giving you a sense of the concept’s significance.   —>
http://theredelectric.blogspot.com/2008/02/seeing-is-believing-or-is-it.html
~

Kenyan Expatriates Access Live African Television Coverage of Crisis in their Homeland
by Howard Lesser
VOA News
02/04/08

A leading broadcaster of African television over broadband internet has noticed a surge in the number of Kenyan viewers and others around the world avidly following disturbing political developments in Kenya.  Africast-TV streams real-time and archived programming over the internet from more than 40 public and independent channels in 25 African countries to subscribers in 50 countries, who can also sign up to watch it on their television sets.  From its US headquarters in Westport, Connecticut, founder and CEO John Sarpong says that the contentious campaign and its violence-filled aftermath has stirred more than 120-thousand anxious new viewers to tune in, looking to fill a void in global media coverage of Africa.   —>
http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2008-02-04-voa4.cfm
~

Broadcasters, cable operators blasted for bottom-line approach to content
The Canadian Press
02/04/08

GATINEAU, Que. – Actors, directors, writers and producers described Canadian private broadcasters as greedy capitalists who care little about Canadian programming, as week-long hearings on the future of domestic television programming began Monday.  “Our problem in this country is the broadcasters who have been demonstrating a slavish devotion to lowest common denominator U.S. shows and simulcast them at bargain-basement prices,” said Richard Hardacre, president of ACTRA, the Canadian writer’s guild.

The comments came at a news conference in conjunction with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearings, which are examining recommendations to change the way Canadian-produced television and films are financed.  The federal regulator will be hearing arguments throughout the week on a proposal that would divide the $288 million fund essentially into two streams – one for commercial shows paid for by private broadcasters, and another supported by the government to produce culturally significant programming.   —>
http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5h9GJLN0K4Oxy0PZVNvs1MrTFm4pQ
~

Survey: More Internet Users Watch Web TV Than Cable VOD
20% Of Internet Users Watches A Show A Week On The Web
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News
02/04/08

Internet users are more likely to watch TV shows on the Web than access cable video-on-demand services, according to a survey by research firm Solutions Research Group.  The survey found that about 20% of Internet users in the United States said they watch TV episodes on the Web every week, compared with 14% who use a cable operator’s VOD.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6528505.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 – 02/01/08

February 2, 2008

Broadcasting a warning for television
Media advocate: Public programming needs to be protected
by Kristina Peterson
Palo Alto Daily News (CA)
02/01/08

Congress got a taste of Palo Alto’s civic engagement this week when a local media coordinator flew across the country to testify about the importance of preserving public access programming.  Annie Folger, executive director of the Midpeninsula Community Media Center, told the nation’s lawmakers Tuesday about the threats a new AT&T service poses to public, educational and government access channels in the Palo Alto area.

Folger said she testified before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet to “let Congress know about the erosion of support for PEG (public, educational and government) access” from various video providers.  “These companies are trying to make business decisions to save money and bandwidth so they can make commercial profit,” Folger said Thursday in a phone interview from Washington, D.C. “If they’re not checked, public access could be lost.”

Congress has been involved in protecting public programming since the Cable Communications Policy Act of 1984 established that cable companies must provide public access channels in exchange for using the public right of way, Folger said.  “It’s like reserving a public park – a place for people to gather so it’s not all commercial real estate,” Folger said.

The subcommittee’s chairman, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said in his opening statement Tuesday that without such structures in place, “the vast majority of this programming would otherwise not exist on the dial.  “It is important that cable operators, programmers and communities work together to ensure that consumer welfare is protected,” Markey said.

But when AT&T rolls out its new “U-verse” video service in Palo Alto at a date still to be determined, the system will probably pose some problems for community access programs, Folger said.   —>
http://www.paloaltodailynews.com/article/2008-2-1-pa-cable
~

Leaders fight move of government channels to upper end of cable TV dial
by David Damron
Orlando Sentinel (FL)
02/01/08

Orange County Commissioner Teresa Jacobs is launching a statewide fight to stop cable companies from pushing government channels to the higher reaches of their digital-channel lineups.  Jacobs, head of the Florida Association of Counties, wants her group to battle a national trend of moving public channels onto what critics call the “second class” tier of the dial.

Orange TV, which airs county, city and School Board meetings, moved from channel 9 to 199 earlier this month on Bright House Networks. The change was part of a programming shuffle that also rolls out new channels today.  Other cable companies across the region and state are making similar moves.  People “are far more likely to tune in when it’s in the lower channels,” said Jacobs, adding that some residents actually have stumbled onto issues important to them while channel surfing. “We ought to guard that.”   —>
http://www.orlandosentinel.com/orl-cable0108feb01,0,6654254.story
~

Bredesen questions tactics in cable-permitting fight
Governor says he may get involved in contentious proposal
Associated Press (1 comment)
Knox News (TN)
02/01/08

Gov. Phil Bredesen is questioning the approach by House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh in the fight to change cable-permitting rules in Tennessee to encourage broadband access around the state.  In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Thursday, Bredesen said he doesn’t “think what Speaker Naifeh is trying to do can be successful” because the two sides are taking opposite positions on the franchising authority request.

Bredesen, a Democrat, reiterated comments he said earlier this month that he may get involved in the contentious cable proposal.  “Last year and so far this year, it’s shaping up into what AT&T wants versus what the cable TV companies want,” Bredesen told the newspaper. “Maybe at some point, we ought to consider what Tennesseans want. It’s something I am taking a look at how I might have an influence on.”    —>
http://knoxnews.com/news/2008/feb/01/bredesen-questions-tactics-in-cable-permitting/
~

Grumblings All Around About AT&T
But 10Mbps U-verse starts today
by KathrynV (10 comments)
Broadband Rports
02/01/08

AT&T is irking people all around with problems in different areas of its service. Yesterday’s outage was one source of irritation for 3G and EDGE customers who weren’t able to get online for much of the day. A more ongoing problem for some customers is the inexplicable reduction in size of pictures sent by MMS; some of those messages aren’t going through at all. And making headlines this week is a complaint filed by the Alliance for Community Media which attacks AT&T for providing sub-par service to public, educational and government (PEG) channels.   —>
http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Grumblings-All-Around-About-ATT-91521?nocomment=1
~

So When Are We Going To See Some Of That Net Neutrality?
by djtyg
Blogging for Michigan
02/01/08

In what seems like eons ago (2006), the Legislature passed what was known as HB6456, a.k.a. The Cable Franchise Reform Bill, bloggers became worried about the lack of net neutrality that would result from the bill.  National bloggers even got angry with the Governor, causing a short lived fight between the local and national bloggers.  The local bloggers (i.e., us) asked “where were you when we were trying to make heads or tails of this bill months ago?” while the national bloggers conceded that we should’ve been working together on this earlier.

Governor Granholm promised us later that net neutrality would be brought to the legislature as “stand alone” legislation.  Well, it’s been over a year now.  And while Comcast hasn’t decided to start charging blogs like ours money so we won’t be censored by them (unlike a certain Republicon Senator we all know), it’s highly likely that without legislation we could be seeing it in the future given Comcast’s recent actions.   —>
http://www.bloggingformichigan.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=1490
~

IGE Talks: Community Peace and Justice
Media Mouse (MI)
02/01/08

The Institute for Global Education (IGE) in Grand Rapids has started uploading its monthly IGE Talks show to the Internet following a decision by Comcast to move public access channels to digital cable. Starting with this episode, Media Mouse will be posting the show online in order to expand its audience in West Michigan and to support independent/do-it-yourself media.  The topic for January’s show is “Community Peace and Justice” and the show can be watched below.   —>
http://www.mediamouse.org/briefs/020108ige_t.php
~

Are you laughing with your cable provider?
Media Mouse (MI)
02/01/08

About a year ago, Comcast ran an ad called the “Laugh Riot” which had the look of a Seattle style WTO protest, featuring cops in riot gear, people throwing things at the cops, and even street puppets. Unlike real confrontations between cops and street protesters where people get beat up and arrested, this commercial invited viewers to get Comcast cable and enjoy all the wonderful comedy programs they offered.

Like other Comcast ads, this commercial tried to entice young audiences with visual messages that make their company seem edgy and lots of fun. Other ads have featured talking turtles-the Slowskys, a guy dressed in a Spiderman outfit, and the frequent Triple Play ad. The Triple Play commercial tries to seduce viewers with the idea that Comcast can provide all your communication needs – cable, Internet and phone service. Wow! You mean Comcast can do all that? So, how did this cable company become such a huge media player and why is that relevant to Joe and Josephine Citizen?

According to the group Free Press, “Comcast is the largest cable and broadband communications provider in the United States, owning about 28.9% of the U.S. market. Comcast gained 1.8 million subscribers from its joint acquisition of Adelphia with Time Warner. Comcast now has 23.3 million cable customers (plus 3.5 million) held in various partnerships.” Since Comcast is so large, it can wield a tremendous amount of power in the political arena. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Comcast is the 2nd largest campaign donor in the telecommunications industry in the 2008 Election cycle. As of mid-January Comcast had already donated over $1 million to candidates, with about 65% going to Democrats.

So what does Comcast stand to gain by funding politicians?   —>
http://www.mediamouse.org/commentary/020108are_y.php
~

Verizon to soon offer TV-34
by Erica Zarra
Montclair Times (NJ)
02/01/08

Verizon FiOS subscribers will no longer be deprived of viewing municipal government proceedings or local festivities.  The cable provider has recently installed equipment that will enable it to carry Montclair’s free local cable access station, TV-34, which broadcasts news updates, emergency notices, and airs taped meetings and presentations.

By Valentine’s Day, Verizon subscribers will be able to watch the recently revamped station, which also offers chat programs, performances and cooking shows.  “Verizon is still fielding-testing it,” TV-34 Station Manager Sharon Colucci said. “Everything so far looks great.”

This development should placate residents who had left the municipally licensed Comcast Cable Television Service for Verizon FiOS, and soon discovered they did not have access to their local station.  “We’ve been waiting for a while,” Township Manager Joseph Hartnett said. “We’re happy that Verizon came in to make technical installations so that the citizens of Montclair can get our access channel no matter what service they have. We have been getting several complaints when people switched and weren’t getting TV-34.”   —>
http://www.montclairtimes.com/page.php?page=16665
~

Small Town Cable cuts some customers
by Bill Grubb
The Rogersville Review (TN)
02/01/08

SURGOINSVILLE — Small Town Cable (STC) has cut off service to some residents in the Surgoinsville area and others may soon be losing their connection because it is no longer “cost effective” for the company to serve those customers.  Vincent King, chief executive officer of Small Town Communications, the parent company of STC, met with the county commission’s TV Cable Committee Wednesday to discuss the local cable provider’s actions.   —>
http://hawkins.xtn.net/index.php?template=news.view.subscriber&table=news&newsid=147860
~

San Jose paves way for new public access TV studio
by Stephen Baxter
San Jose Mercury News (CA)
02/01/08

San Jose’s public access TV channel is preparing for a surge of new participants, facilities and a fresh multimedia approach.  The San Jose City Council on Jan. 29 approved channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars from Comcast Corp. to San Jose Media Access Corp., a nonprofit group that will manage Channel 15 beginning July 1. The group also plans to open a new TV studio at a location to be decided and try to bring in new volunteers to improve its programs.

A Comcast studio at 1900 S. 10th St. has been the main production center for Channel 15 for at least 15 years. In December 2006, Comcast agreed to get the nonprofit group on its feet with more than $3 million, and Comcast pledged to continue with annual payments of roughly $1.2 million – or about 1 percent of its quarterly gross revenue.   —>
http://www.mercurynews.com/valley/ci_8141715?nclick_check=1
~

Early Winner in FCC Auction: Choice
by Dibya Sarkar
AP.google
02/01/08

WASHINGTON (AP) — No matter who winds up winning a large chunk of the public airwaves, consumers aching for wireless choice won’t be on the losing end.  When a $4.7 billion bid came in for that swath on Thursday, it effectively kicked open the gate on beachfront wireless property, allowing consumers to come in and use any cell phone or service they want on the resulting network.  A $4.6 billion minimum bid was needed to trigger the so-called “open-access” requirement.

While bidding is anonymous, analysts speculate that Google Inc. and Verizon Wireless, a joint venture between Verizon Communications Inc. and Vodafone Group PLC, are likely bidding against each other for that block, which is about one-third of the total spectrum currently being auctioned…

…Several consumer and public interest groups, including the Consumer Federation of America and U.S. Public Interest Research Group, also hailed the open-access benchmark.  “We hope that the freedom that will develop as the new spectrum opens up will carry over into the existing cellular network,” the groups said in a statement.   —>
http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5iyVJ1qW6rZpN-bPn8lQ-8uEWYpawD8UH8C0O0
~

Viewers Question Infomercial’s Airing
by Marcia Chambers
New Haven Independent (CT)
02/01/08

What belongs on a town or a city’s public access television?  In the aftermath of the infomercial “New England Estates v. the Town of Branford,” starring the lawyers who won a huge $12.4 million verdict and “reporters” Duby McDowell and Tanya Meck, residents in Branford have asked if an infomercial that pretends to be a news show should be allowed on public access television.

The 30-minute video, accepted for airing by the seven Comcast towns that make up a shoreline franchise, ran in December and January. Its run ended in East Haven on Jan 26. The video is a thinly disguised advertisement for the law firm’s positions on a variety of topics that go far beyond the Tabor land trial. It was designed to serve the interest of the sponsor, Shipman & Goodwin, one of the state’s best known law firms. Branford’s community cable station, BCTV, has received complaints from viewers.

Yet it was aired. Why?   —>
http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2008/02/lawyers_lobby_o.php
~

Black New Yorker: Veronica Keitt
by Demetria Irwin
AmNews (NY)
02/01/08

“I just love to talk,” said Veronica Keitt when asked about what prompted her to become a cable access television personality. The ageless beauty and mother of two is well-known to New Yorkers who tune in to her half-hour show, “VK News.”  As lead correspondent on her nine-year-old self-titled show and producer of the hour-long “Community Cop,” hosted by the 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement, Keitt is a veteran of public access television.  “My comrades and I all have cable access shows and we document history. That’s what we do. Cable access television is very important because we control that. The mainstream media is not for us Black folks,” said Keitt.

Raised in the Astoria projects in Queens and currently living in Harlem, Keitt says her natural curiosity is what determines her show’s content. Tune in on any given night and you could find footage from an Obama campaign event, feedback from a rally about the drummers in Marcus Garvey Park or any number of topics.

“Being in the studio is fine, but I love being in the field the best. Everyone has a story to tell,” said the John Jay graduate. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in public administration. Keitt utilizes her education and professional experience to run 360 Media, a multi-media consulting firm she co-owns.

One major project 360 Media is currently promoting is “365 Days of Marching, ” a documentary about the community reaction to Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant who was slaughtered in a hail of 41 NYPD bullets in 1999 as he returned home to his Bronx apartment. The murder of the 23-year-old received international attention and rocked not only the Bronx community where it occurred, but also the entire New York City population.

Keitt explained how the Diallo case united activists in different areas. “New York doesn’t normally come together as a unit, but this brought everyone to the streets. People marched and protested about racial profiling, police brutality, poverty and a lot of other important issues. People were fed up. This story needs to be told.”

The name for the film comes from the fact that New Yorkers marched for the year’s time it took between the crime and the not-guilty verdicts delivered by an upstate jury. Footage from rallies, demonstrations, marches and forums are included in “365 Days of Marching. “ There are interviews with politicians, activists and regular people on the street.

A screening of the film will take place on February 4th at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (515 Malcolm X Boulevard).   —>
http://www.amsterdamnews.com/News/article/article.asp?NewsID=85748&sID=4
~

Imagine Raises the Bandwidth Bar
by Jeff Baumgartner
Cable Digital News
01/14/08

The customer is always right.  That business axiom appeared to be in play Monday when Imagine Communications introduced a digital video processing platform designed to cram 50 percent more MPEG-2-based broadcast channels into a slice of 6 MHz cable spectrum. (See Imagine Unveils Platform.)  Imagine’s ICE Broadcast System, introduced here at the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers Conference on Emerging Technologies, aims to pack three high-definition linear video networks or as many as 15 standard-definition networks into a single 6 MHz channel. Those improvements are boosted by a variable bit rate (VBR) video quality engine called the ICE-Q. —>
http://www.lightreading.com/document.asp?doc_id=143076&print=true
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/31/08

February 1, 2008

AT&T Knocked for ‘Inferior’ PEG Channels
Alliance for Community Media Complains About U-verse TV to House Subcommittee
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News
1/31/08

The Internet-based technology AT&T touts as giving it an edge over the cable industry was criticized this week by the Alliance for Community Media as providing an “inferior” platform for public, educational and government channels.  The ACM, which represents some 3,000 PEG organizations, singled out AT&T’s U-verse TV PEG access as “sub-par, low resolution [and] cumbersome” in testimony at a Jan. 29 meeting of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet.

“PEG channels are confined to a separate system inferior to commercial channels on AT&T’s system in virtually every way that matters to a viewer,” said Annie Folger, executive director of the Palo Alto, Calif.-based Midpeninsula Media Center, representing the ACM.

Among the deficiencies Folger cited: AT&T’s PEG channels do not allow closed-captioning; the telco’s own digital video recorders cannot record the PEG channels; video resolution is as much as 25% lower than commercial channels; and the channels take anywhere from 45 to 90 seconds to load.  On the lack of closed-captioning, ACM executive director Anthony Riddle said in a statement that AT&T’s “willingness to sacrifice the needs of disabled students in a race for profit certainly makes them the poster child of corporate irresponsibility.”   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6527813.html
~

[ This lengthy article is noteworthy, not because of any new details about Comcast’s channel slamming plans in Michigan, but because it provides a huge amount of detail about some of the channels and the programming that would be affected by the Comcast action. – rm ]

Cable battle over local access placement now shifts to courts
by Andrew Sawmiller
Spinal Column Weekly (MI)
01/30/08

—>  Most of the lakes area is represented on cable television service issues by the Western Oakland County Cable Communications Authority (WOCCCA), which covers the lakes area communities of Wixom, Walled Lake, Wolverine Lake, Commerce, Milford village and township, White Lake, and Highland.

The Greater West Bloomfield Cable Advisory Board represents West Bloomfield and Orchard Lake, and the Waterford Cable Advisory Board represents cable customers in Waterford.  Each body typically has the ability to show and host public access shows, educational or school-related programming, and local government programming.   —>
http://www.spinalcolumnonline.com/1editorialbody.lasso?-token.folder=2008-01-30&-token.story=54617.113117&-nothing
~

Bredesen Questions Approach To Fight Over Cable Permitting
Associated Press
News Channel 5 (TN)
01/31/08

Gov. Phil Bredesen is questioning the approach by House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh in the fight to change cable permitting rules in Tennessee to encourage broadband access around the state.  In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Thursday, Bredesen said he doesn’t “think what Speaker Naifeh is trying to do can be successful” since the two sides are taking opposite positions on the franchising authority request.  Bredesen, a Democrat, reiterated comments he said earlier this month that he may get involved in the contentious cable proposal.   —>
http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=7805800
~

Wisconsin: A case study in how corporations get the legislation they want
by Bruce Kushnick
Nieman Watchdog – Questions the Press Should Ask
01/31/08

In my first piece on the corporate-sponsored American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), I described a network of special interest groups working with big business to peddle so-called “model bills” to state legislators across the country. The state of Wisconsin is a classic example of how ALEC operates. At the 2001 ALEC national convention, Tommy Thompson, former Wisconsin governor and then U.S. Secretary of Health And Human Services, stated:

“It’s wonderful to see so many of my friends from the great state of Wisconsin. There are 29 members of the  Wisconsin State Legislature who were so eager to come to New York for this conference that they rushed to get the state budget passed last week….My good friend Scott Jensen is among them. Scott holds the only job I ever wanted and never reached – Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly.”

In addition to the 29 state legislators that Thompson claimed as ALEC members, I and others working with me found at least three currently sitting Wisconsin politicians who have sponsored bills with ties to ALEC – Wisconsin Senator Ted Kanavas, Senator Jeff Plale and Representative Phil Montgomery, who was given ALEC’s 2005 “Legislator of the Year” award.

Like ALEC members around the U.S., these legislators have some clout. In 2003, Kanavas and Montgomery were part of Wisconsin’s “Special Committee on Public and Private Broadband”. Plale chairs the influential Wisconsin Senate Committee on Commerce, Utilities and Rail, the committee considering the most recently introduced telecommunications bill. Jensen, the former Speaker of the State Assembly, co-sponsored one of the bills in question.

These Wisconsin lawmakers are responsible for at least four bills that appear to correspond to ALEC-generated “models” that mainly help only the state’s major phone incumbent, AT&T. (Only ALEC members have access to the full text of the group’s model bills, but bill titles are listed on its Web site and are suggestive of the contents.) Let’s examine these four AT&T-friendly bills.

1) The Broadband Deployment Act of 2003: Kanavas & Jensen (ALEC model: Broadband and Telecommunications Deployment Act)…
2) Municipal broadband bill, co-sponsored by Kanavas & Montgomery; 2004 (ALEC model: Municipal Telecommunications Private Industry Safeguards Act)…
3) Video Competition Act, co-sponsored by Montgomery & Plale; 2007 (ALEC model: Cable and Video Competition Act)…
4) Telephone Deregulation Bill, co-sponsored by Montgomery & Plale; 2007 (ALEC model: Advanced Voice Services Availability Act of 2007)   —>
http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=background.view&backgroundid=00226
~

Northborough: Cable Negotiations Underway
by John Dyer
Boston Globe (MA)
01/31/08

Town officials are negotiating separate agreements with two cable-television providers, said Kathleen Dalgliesh, director of Northborough Cable Access Television. The town’s 10-year contract with Comcast expires in October, and the town is seeking a new five-year contract with the company, she said. The town has also received a formal application from Verizon, which has wired Northborough for telephone and Internet service but is seeking to expand its offerings to include cable television. Verizon wants a 15-year contract but the town favors a shorter agreement, Dalgliesh said. Important issues in the negotiations with Verizon include making sure all residents have access to cable television, and determining the amount of funding local public-access facilities will receive, she said. The Board of Selectmen is expected to consider Verizon’s application again in a few weeks, Dalgliesh said.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/01/31/superintendent_finalists/?page=3
~

Pair offers TV show to bridge Brazilian divide
by Tanya Pérez-Brennan
Boston Globe (MA)
01/31/08

A couple active in Framingham’s Brazilian community has created a bilingual television program meant to serve as a cultural bridge between Brazilians and Americans.  The hour show, “Maraberto TV,” premiered Sunday on the public-access cable television system, airing on Comcast Channel 9, RCN Channel 3, and Verizon Channel 43 in Framingham. It will be on Sundays at 6 p.m., rerun Mondays at 3 and 10 a.m.   —>
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/01/31/pair_offers_tv_show_to_bridge_brazilian_divide/
~

What day works for you?
PATV (IA)
01/31/08

Howdy PATV Producers –  In the quest to find the perfect day and time to host the return of PATV’s live monthly soapbox, that is, “Open Channel Live”, we want to hear from you.  What days and times would YOU prefer to be on live tv to make an announcement, sing a song, broadcast your outrage or whatever?  Mondays? Fridays?  Or perhaps Saturdays?  Let us know!  Email us at contact[at]patv[dot]tv or do it the ol’ fashioned way and call us at 319-338-7035.  We’d love to hear from you.
http://patv.tv/blog/2008/01/31/what-day-works-for-you/
~

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