Archive for the ‘IPTV’ category

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government September 17th Hearing on PEG Access TV, in YouTube Clips

September 21, 2008

~~~

We thank the House staff and the staff of DCTV for their work in making this footage available.  Persons interested in cablecasting this hearing on their communities’ PEG access channels may obtain a copy by contacting the Alliance for Community Media at 202-393-2650 x 12.  Also, the whole hearing is available for viewing in one online file at http://blip.tv/file/1278920/ .

~~~

01: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D) Opening Statement (pdf)

In his opening statement Chairman Serrano expressed support for PEG access, explaining the purpose of the 1984 federal law that gave local franchising entities the authority to require PEG access channels.  “By granting this authority,” Serrano said, “Congress recognized that PEG programming is in the public interest and essential to our communties as an outlet for free speech, local information and opinions, and emergency communications.  PEG supports our democratic ideals by helping to develop a well-informed and educated society.  It benefits all of us to support and encourage PEG programming.”

Chairman Serrano also explicitly took AT&T to task for declining to attend the hearing.  “AT&T’s recent action relating to PEG channels goes to the heart of many of the concerns that will be raised today.  Let the record show that I consider their decision not to send a witness to be indicative of the company’s apparent disregard of the importance of PEG to local communities.”
~~~

Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D) & Acting Ranking Member Mark Kirk (IL-R)

02: Acting Ranking Member Mark Kirk (IL-R) Opening Statement

In the absence of the Subcommittee Ranking Member Ralph Regula (OH-R), Rep. Mark Kirk (IL-R) made the opening statement for the minority.  He strongly reinforced the Chairman’s comments on AT&T, and the importance of PEG access.  “If there was any thought by AT&T that the Republican member here at the hearing would help them out, let me disabuse them now,” Kirk said.

Kirk continued, “I think this committee should take some action on this.  It does appear that AT&T is in direct violation of Illinois law, and so, whether it is in Springfield or in Washington, we should fix this to make sure that there is a very convenient place, especially for our seniors, to find what’s happening in their local community… I breeze through local access cable like everyone else does, except when we’re doing a zoning or other issue related to my neighborhood, and then we are locked on this like everyone else.”
~~~

03: Monica Desai, FCC Media Bureau Chief, Testimony (pdf)

~~~

04: Barbara Popovic, Alliance for Community Media, Testimony – (Written-pdf) (Oral-pdf)

~~~

05: Howard Symons, National Cable Television Assoc., Testimony (pdf)

~~~

06: Michael Max Knobbe, BronxNet, Testimony (pdf)

~~~

07: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D); Questions – Territories

~~~

08: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D); Questions

~~~

09: Acting Ranking Member Mark Kirk (IL-R); Questions

Rep. Kirk asked Monica Desai, “What are your plans to implement your testimony from the Commission, to make sure that AT&T is forced to bring PEG back to the basic – so that they have a channel, somewhere between 1 and 100, on the basic service tier, and are not exiled to on-demand?”  Desai replied, “I would be anxious to place this issue in front of the Commissioners for them to decide, with our view that this would be a violation of the statute.  But what we would need is to have a specific and formal complaint filed in front of us.  We would need something to act on.”
~~~

10: Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (MI-D); Questions

Rep. Kilpatrick made mention of the Michigan law suit enjoining Comcast from channel slamming, then said, “I don’t want to see PEG relegated to some substandard something.  It ought to be right up there with the other major channels.  And whatever we have to do to get it there — it sounds like it’s a regulatory something, as well as a people something — and if we have to mobilize America to educate them to what it is, I think we have to do that.”

~~~

11: Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY-D); Questions

Rep. Hinchey asked about possibly establishing minimum levels of support for PEG access.  “I have a public access station back in my district, in the city of Binghamton,” Hinchey said, “that unfortunately is not provided with the facilities and training by its cable service providers.  So I’m wondering what you think could be done so that the Federal Communications Commission would have the authority to enforce perhaps a federal minimum of financial support that could be provided by cable service providers, so that rural areas generally have the same capability for public access as do larger cities?”

~~~

12: Rep. Peter Visclosky (IN-D); Questions

"Oh, don't say that!"

Rep. Peter Visclosky to NCTA's Howard Symons: "Oh, don't say that!"

Rep. Peter Visclosky (IN-D) asked questions of Howard Symons about the cable industry’s commitment to community service.  In response to a question about Comcast’s closing of studios following passage of Indiana’s statewide video franchising law, Symons said: “You know, Congressman, the cable industry didn’t ask the state legislatures to change the law.”  Visclosky instantly replied, “Oh, don’t say that!  Don’t say that! I would suggest that that is not a correct statement — to be polite.”
~~~

13: Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-D); Questions

Rep. Adam Schiff (CA-D) questioned Ms. Desai’s mention of the FCC’s requiring a formal complaint

“I’m surprised that it really requires that.  I would think if you have an oversight responsibility in this area, and you see major companies who are not complying with the statute, that you have the authority on your own to take action, to communicate with the companies that this does not meet the requirements of the statute.”
~~~

14: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D); Questions, Round 2

~~~

15: Michael Max Knobbe Answers Chairman Serrano

~~~

16: Acting Ranking Member Mark Kirk (IL-R); Questions, Round 2


Rep. Kirk asked Ms. Desai if a joint letter from the Committee would help the FCC expedite an inquiry into these matters.  “I would be willing to sign a letter, with the Chairman, to you, saying, ‘Hey, get on the case here.’  Is that enough for you to get rolling?”

Ms. Desai answered, “I’m sure a letter from you and Chairman Serrano would be taken… act on it post haste.”
~~~

17: Rep. Maurice Hinchey (NY-D); Questions, Round 2

~~~

18: Chairman Jose Serrano (NY-D) Closing Statement

“We stay committed to the commitment I made before to Mr. Kirk and the Committee that the issues that have been discussed here will be placed by this Committee officially in a formal fashion before the FCC, to make sure that we begin to look at the whole issue and how best we can stick to the intent of the law, notwithstanding some changes that have taken along the way.”
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
http://alliancecm.org

Advertisements

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/31/08

April 1, 2008

Cable TV Options To Widen For Tennesseans
NewsChannel5.com (TN)
03/31/08

State lawmakers are close to passing a bill to give consumers more choices for cable television providers.  Last year, AT&T tried to enter the Tennessee market. There was a lot of resistance from the cable industry, which didn’t want the phone company to just come in and do business wherever they wanted.  Cable providers have spent millions laying the infrastructure and negotiating deals in each of the areas they serve.

It appears that company and lawmakers have worked out a deal.  Last year, state Sen. Bill Ketron tried to pass a bill that would let other cable companies compete in Tennessee.  “I think it would be wonderful,” the Republican from Murfreesboro.  Public support existed, but the bill died.

This year, lawmakers revisited the issue. Private negotiations took place in a conference room, sometimes three times a week since January.  “Comcast, Charter, the cable guys on one side, AT&T on the other side, all the attorneys, working out the details,” Ketron said.  Sources said a deal has been worked out, one that lawmakers will eventually approve.   —>
http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=8096231
~

Tennessee Utility Does IPTV With Kasenna
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News
03/25/08

[ comments invited ]

Tennessee’s Clarksville Department of Electricity has deployed a new digital video service based on Kasenna’s LivingRoom IPTV middleware and MediaBase video servers.  The new video service, called CDE Lightband, is a triple-play offering that features 200 channels of digital video, an interactive programming guide and video on demand service along with 10-Megabit-per-second Internet and telephony services.

The Clarksville Department of Electricity began offering the services early this year and the service is now available to about 5,000 homes. Full deployment to all of the city’s 55,000 homes and businesses is expected by the end of 2008.

“Kasenna stood out among the IPTV companies we considered because its LivingRoom middleware solution allows us to easily brand and customize the TV user interface and to add valuable services such as RSS feeds for local news,” CDE Lightband telecommunications marketing manager Christy Batts said, in a prepard statement.
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6544725.html?nid=2734&rid=1465924339
~

AT&T Offers U-verse TV To More Austinites
Telco Ratchets Up Competition On Time Warner Cable In Lone Star State
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News
03/25/08

AT&T announced that U-verse TV and Internet services are now available to more than 150,000 living units in and around the Austin area, stepping up competition with incumbent Time Warner Cable.  AT&T launched U-verse TV services in Austin in November 2007.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6544687.html?nid=2734&rid=1465924339
~

Gardiner should use cable fees for public access
by Bob Demers
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel (ME)
03/31/08

In “Web Site Seeks Community Involvement,” (March 24), City Manager Jeff Kobrock doesn’t seem to grasp the basics of Public Access TV.  For one thing, he says public access would not be cost-effective for Gardiner. Let’s examine that.

More than 10 years ago, Gardiner received a $30,000 grant from the then-cable operator to set up a Public Access TV studio in Gardiner. The city gave the funds to School Administrative District 11 for its media program.  Later, the city mandated a 5 percent cable franchise fee that collects about $57,000 per year from cable subscribers who have never benefited from this fee in any way related to Public Access TV.

If the cable franchise fees were used as proposed by the Federal Cable Act, the cost of public access could, if well managed, be a wash for the city. You can’t get more cost-effective than that. Of course, it would be awkward to have to move the franchise fee revenue from the general fund to a public access channel fund where it should have gone in the first place. Maybe that’s what Kobrock had in mind as “not being cost-effective.”

Finally, Kobrock says the area already has an Augusta-based channel that serves the area.  Technically true. Functionally, not so. Augusta Channel 9 is a local origination operation, completely commercial, operated by Time Warner solely for profit with no access by the public in any way equivalent to public access.
http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/view/letters/4903576.html
~

NPA-TV goes live in April
Norwood Bulletin (MA)
03/31/08

[ comments invited ]

Norwood Public Access TV is excited to announce a series of live broadcasts during the month of April. Tune in on Monday, April 7, at 7:30 p.m. on NPA’s Town Channel and join Joe Curran, Jack McCarthy, and Tim McDonough for NPA’s traditional live coverage of the election results.

Also in April, a Special NPA Sports Edition of Norwood Digest will be broadcast live from the Coakley Soccer Fields on Norwood Youth Soccer’s Opening Day; Saturday, April 12. Starting at 9 a.m., host Jack McCarthy will be interviewing representatives from Norwood’s Spring Youth Sports Programs. NPA-TV’s new Digest reporter Katelyn MacLean will be speaking with NHS Athletics Director Brian McDonough about the upcoming spring season.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/norwood/calendar/x1012436171
~

It’s Not a Movement Without a Movie
New York City’s activist and advocacy communities are putting themselves and their interests on video like never before.
by Karen Loew
City Limits WEEKLY #633
03/31/08

[ comments invited ]

At a community gathering in Chinatown one stifling hot evening last August, a man sat on a chair holding a stack of newspapers, thrusting the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association bulletin at passersby, exhorting them to take one.

Whether turned off by the man’s sweaty frustration, or not up for a long read about the latest struggles of low-wage Chinatown workers, the crowd gathered at Roosevelt Park for an outdoor movie night moved on. Children headed for the popcorn and soda table. Women sat on the folding chairs arranged before a screen. Men milled and smoked, their t-shirts pulled up their backs or over their bellies to catch a little relief from the heat.

The occasion was a “digital garden screening” arranged by Manhattan Neighborhood Network, which runs the public access TV channels in the borough and promotes media-making by regular folks. Convened for the purpose of “celebrating community produced social justice media,” the event unspooled – and the surrounding city blocks fell away – as short videos by New Yorkers about local lives and issues were projected on the screen. Homeless people talked about being homeless, teenage girls interviewed teenage boys about notions of femininity, and public housing residents revealed how to participate in public housing decision making. Never quite professional grade, the quality of the sound, camera work and storytelling varied. Some movies felt endless. Attention flickered.

Then two videos about the worker’s life in Chinatown were played back to back. The first, called “Chinatown: Immigrants in America,” was produced by Downtown Community Television and portrayed kitchen staff and seamstresses discussing their overlong work weeks: inhumane schedules allowing for barely any rest or recreation. The second film was made by the Chinese Staff & Workers’ Association – the same group that was having trouble unloading its free newspapers. Called “Celebrating CSWA Victories of 2006,” it showed exactly that – footage of workers alongside politicians announcing advances for neighborhood laborers.

In the mostly Chinese audience, the women watched. The men stopped talking. Children were still. Everyone was rapt, and at a little after 9 p.m. when it was over, they applauded for the first time of the night.

The explosion

Videos made by grassroots documentarians – who often are not professional filmmakers – about local issues and aimed at raising consciousness have risen to a more prominent, even ubiquitous, place in city movements for social change.  Name a cause, and you’ll find an advocacy video on the subject – or you’ll find a few, or at least be told there’s one in the works. With the tools of video production more affordable and accessible than ever before, and more people reflexively turning to video for expression, New York City finds itself awash in a sea of video by the people, about their concerns, for the purpose of affecting the discourse.   —>
http://www.citylimits.org/content/articles/viewarticle.cfm?article_id=3531&content_type=1&media_type=3
~

Shaping Canadian Web Access Revisited
by Connie Crosby
slaw.ca
03/31/08

[ 2 comments ]

Last week Simon Fodden caught all of us up on the issue of “throttling” of web access by Bell Canada that broke in the news in his post When It All Goes Peer Shaped. This issue has continued to be the talk of the tech industry all week with no indication of letting up.

The crux of the story is that Canadians are being denied access to certain aspects of the Internet with ISPs Bell and Rogers making the decisions as to which parts are denied, including access to peer-to-peer downloads of CBC TV episodes to which Canadian taxpayers are legally entitled. This story is quickly making us realize that Canada may not have the web infrastructure we thought we had, and this is one way these companies are trying to deal with it; however, it feels like there has been a lack of transparency in the way they are dealing with it and presenting it to the public.

What has helped me understand this better is a post by Toronto business technology expert Sandy Kemsley on her blog Column 2: Jason Laszlo gives Bell Canada a(nother) Black Eye.   —>
http://www.slaw.ca/2008/03/31/shaping-canadian-web-access-revisited/
~

Canadian union decries ISP bandwidth issues
by Etan Vlessing
The Hollywood Reporter
03/31/08

A major Canadian media union on Monday urged the country’s TV regulator to investigate online “traffic shaping” by Internet service providers after an attempt last week by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. to upload a DRM-free TV program to online users via BitTorrent was severely hampered.

“On behalf of the National Union of Public and General Employees … I am asking the CRTC to conduct an investigation into these practices and the implications for Canadian consumers,” NUPGE president James Clancy said in a letter to CRTC chairman Konrad Von Finckenstein that was released to the public Monday.

The NUPGE cited high-speed Internet access provider Bell Sympatico for recent efforts to control its customers’ use of peer-to-peer download and upload technology like BitTorrent.  The union said attempts by online users to upload the CBC TV show “Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister” from BitTorrent were greatly slowed by ISPs, which limited the available bandwith for the file-sharing.  “This means that those Canadians, who are Bell or Rogers Internet service subscribers, wishing to download this show from their public broadcaster will be hampered in their efforts,” NUPGE’s Clancy told the CRTC.

The union head argued that BitTorrent represents legal technology for which “there are many legitimate uses.”  The CBC became the first North American broadcaster to make a TV show available for free and without DMR restrictions for download via BitTorrent.  NUPGE pointed to an ongoing FCC investigation into online traffic shaping by U.S. cable giant Comcast, and urged the CRTC to do likewise with ISPs north of the border.  “Our neighbours to the south are taking this form of interference in Internet service very seriously,” the Canadian media union said.
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/international/news/e3i37a2ec580927b428616680073085fe0b
~

WAM Addresses Inequalities In Media Representations, Access
Global Wire
03/31/08

[ comments invited ]

The Women, Action and the Media Conference (WAM) began five years ago with a mandate to improve news coverage of women, people of color and other marginalized groups through grassroots media reform. With the advent of popular social networks like My Space, Facebook, You Tube and a deluge of blogs, opportunities has been provided for traditionally shut out voices to get a spotlight…

While there is a revolution taking place in cyberspace, there are still large segments of American society that are being left out of the new digital frontier. With nearly half of Americans not having high speed internet access in their homes and a larger number being forced to switch from analog to digital television by next year, there were also workshops on how to close the digital gap.  In a workshop called “Media, Technology and Social Justice,” attendees had an interactive discussion about what needs to be done to make technology available to all….

What are the key trends preventing Media Justice?
• Lack of diversity
• Equality in access to all mediums
• Fairness and accountability
• Media obsession with celebrity
• Entertainment posing as news
• Mass media appeal to large groups rather than community building
• Privacy at risk
• Glamorization of violence
• Devaluing poor people

Solutions
• More media justice lobbyists in DC to work on these issues
• Universal internet access
• Community training on web tools
• More internet cafes, especially in low income communities
—>
http://globalwire.blogspot.com/2008/03/wam-addresses-inequalities-in-media.html
~

Dar summit to discuss role of media in conflict prevention
by Francis Ayieko
The EastAfrican
03/31/08

The role of the media in providing early warning signs of potential political conflicts in East Africa is to be the subject of a major media summit to be held in Tanzania this April.  Jointly organised by the East African Business Council and the East African Community, the two-day regional summit is to discuss the role of media in the prevention of conflicts and instability, which have the potential to affect business in the region.

Taking the theme Role of the Media in Addressing the Causes of Conflict and Instability and Their Prevention, the summit, which will be held in Dar es Salaam from April 11-12, comes in the wake of post-election violence that hit Kenya recently following announcement of disputed presidential election results.   —>
http://www.nationmedia.com/eastafrican/current/News/news310320084.htm
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/19/08

February 20, 2008

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

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

Editorial: State cable TV law needs a tune-up
Detroit Free Press (MI)
02/19/08

[ 10 comments ]

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

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

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

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

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

But, until stopped by two courts earlier this winter, Comcast planned to move all local public access channels in Michigan to 900-level channels — out of reach of analog equipment, which 40% of its 1.3 million subscribers still use.   —>
http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080219/OPINION01/802190336
~

Analog is Dead. Long Live Analog
Why Cable Won’t Go All-Digital By Feb. 18, 2009, Even If Broadcasters Will
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News
02/18/08

[ 1 comment ]

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

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

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

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

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

This Could Be The End of Public Access in Austin . . .
Save Texas Access
02/15/08

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

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

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

Public access needs you. Now is the time.  Save this date. The Telecommunications Commission is having a public hearing on public access on Wednesday, March 12, at 7:30 pm, at Austin’s City Hall.  Sign up to speak and tell the commission why you think public access has value and that the City must continue to support it.
http://www.savetexasaccess.org/node/27
~

Knology and Knoxville near agreement on cable dispute
by Hayes Hickman
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)
02/19/08

[ 16 comments ]

Knology Inc. has agreed to invest $750,000 this year toward completing its citywide Internet, cable and telephone services network, under a renegotiated franchise agreement with the city of Knoxville.  Knology’s services were within reach of barely half of all city residences in 2006 when council members last raised the issue with the West Point, Ga.-based company, which was required to complete its build-out within four years after the city franchise took effect in April 2000. The contract also held Knology liable for noncompliance penalties of $5,000 per month…

Knology also agrees to begin carrying local community access television in its channel lineup and to equip several city recreation centers with Internet and telephone service at no cost.   —>
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/feb/19/knology-and-knoxville-near-agreement-cable-dispute/
~

Broadband still a local concern
by Patrick Marshall
GCN – Government Computer News
02/18/08

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

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

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

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

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

The report examines all available technologies for delivering Internet connectivity and recommends a combination of fiber optic and wireless for most cities.   —>
http://www.gcn.com/print/27_4/45836-1.html
~

Your Internet: Open or Closed?
by Timothy Karr
Huffington Post
02/16/08

[ 2 comments ]

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

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

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

Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, often calls this conflict a “clash of civilizations.”   —>
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/timothy-karr/your-internet-open-or-cl_b_86972.html
~

Net Neutrality Fight Heats Up
Miro
02/19/08

[ 2 comments ]

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

Cable and telcos side with Comcast in FCC BitTorrent dispute
by Matthew Lasar
Ars Technica
02/19/08

[ 49 comments ]

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

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

Aldermen candidates interviewed on Peg TV
Rutland Herald (VT)
02/19/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

Voters can tune in at noon today, 2 p.m. on Wednesday, 10 a.m. on Thursday, 5 p.m. on Friday, 6 p.m. on Saturday, 7:30 p.m. on Sunday and noon on Monday.
http://www.rutlandherald.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080219/NEWS01/802190332/1002/NEWS01
~

Letter to the Editor: Marshfield Community Television update
Marshfield Mariner (MA)
02/19/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

Over the past few months, many Marshfield households have begun to switch from Comcast to Verizon for their cable coverage. Verizon is not presently connected to the town’s cable system, and therefore does not air MCTV programs. This situation will be changing soon.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/marshfield/homepage/x774164730
~

Town hires cable manager
by Andrea Bulfinch
Ipswich Chronicle (MA)
02/18/08

[ 1 comment ]

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

Channel 9, the station on which Ipswich broadcasts, has been run by volunteers since the closing of Comcast’s Newburyport studio during the summer.  “It’s been held together by the generosity of Scott Ames,” Town Manager Bob Markel said. Ames has been cable casting programming from the High School.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/ipswich/news/x374191050
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/14/08

February 17, 2008

AT&T’s TV plans don’t click, advocates say
Changes to public channels worry Media Center, city
by Becky Trout
Palo Alto Online (CA)
02/13/08

[ comments allowed ]

Within months, AT&T Inc. plans to begin offering television service in Palo Alto over phone lines, introducing a new format for local programming that has the cable experts at the Midpeninsula Community Media Center and City of Palo Alto concerned.

When AT&T introduces its television service — called U-verse — public, educational and government (PEG) channels will have a lower resolution and be harder to find than its commercial channels, Community Media Center Executive Director Annie Folger said.  “They don’t want to spend the money,” Folger said…  Among the problems, Folger said, the programs are hard to get to and the shows only fill one-quarter of the screen. It can be blown up to fill the entire television, but then appears blurry, she said.

All PEG channels are available on AT&T’s Channel 99, Peterson explained.  Viewers click “OK,” which triggers a list of cities to appear, according to AT&T documents. After scrolling through the cities, and selecting one, viewers than select which PEG channel they wish to watch.

Folger said the Channel 99 menu takes 45 to 90 seconds to load and burdens viewers with scrolling through dozens of city names.  “You’ll have to be very, very motivated and extremely patient to actually find the channel you are looking for,” Folger said…

Comcast also doesn’t approve of AT&T’s PEG format.  Vice President of Communications Andrew Johnson said AT&T’s Channel 99 plan violates PEG regulations.  “We certainly hope the new competitor will be forced to operate under the same rules and regulations,” Johnson said Monday.  He said Comcast has no plans to change its delivery of PEG channels.   —>
http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/story.php?story_id=7708
~

Editorial: Comcast Cable changes channels again
The Journal Newspapers (MI)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

After apologizing for a widely criticized attempt to move PEG (Public Education and Government) channels out of range of most viewers, officials from Comcast Cable tried another approach on Friday.  They told members of the Conference of Western Wayne that they were trying to do them a favor.

The criticized change was to move PEG channels to the 900 range, where they would be seen in digital high definition. Everything would look better, according to Comcast officials, and it preceded a mandated change that would happen in a year or so anyway. Plus, it would allow the company to remain competitive with satellite dish services, which already provide more digital programming than most cable providers.

The problem with it was that it would leave some 400,000 customers unable to view the channels, since most televisions are not capable of accessing the channel—without a digital converter box, anyway. That box, which initially would be provided for free, would ultimately cost customers an additional $4 a month.

Not surprisingly, the members of the Conference of Western Wayne were unconvinced by this new line.

Representatives from other video franchises were on hand, too.  Throughout this public relations debacle, they have taken the right approach. They’ve sat back and watched the reaction to the Comcast move, probably to see if they should give it a shot or not. The answer? Not yet.

Competition will remain an important part of this emerging industry. In theory, that was the goal of the state wide video franchise legislation when it was introduced and approved last year. It just hasn’t worked out to the benefit of residents, yet, and that’s been our concern all along.   —>
http://www.journalgroup.com/Opinion/7002/comcast-cable-changes-channels-again
~

Bill provides for cable channel compromise
by Scott Spielman
The Journal Newspapers (MI)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Legislation has been introduced that will keep Public, Educational and Government (PEG) channels available to all cable viewers—for now.  House Bills 5693 and 5667 would address a recent proposal from the Comcast Cable company to move those channels up into the 900 range—and out of easy access to hundreds of thousands of cable subscribers….

House Bill 5693 would amend the act to dictate that cable providers must keep their government channels available to subscribers without requiring them to need additional equipment.  —>

[ There is a very serious confusion taking place here and elsewhere, no doubt being promoted by the cable industry.  The story goes on to say, “HB 5667 would make the stipulation that it is only until February, 2009, when federal mandates require all cable to be digital, anyway.”

However, there is *no* federal mandate requiring cable to be digital in February 2009.  It is *broadcast* television that is facing this DTV transition deadline.  Cable operators’ plans to convert to digital are driven entirely by economics, and have nothing to do with any federal requirements.  – rm ]
http://www.journalgroup.com/Belleville/6974/bill-provides-for-cable-channel-compromise
~

Is Public TV In Peril?
by Todd Morehead
Columbia City Paper (SC)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

—>   Lost in the fray, so far, have been the implications for public television. Some large cable companies are using the digital transition as a means to remove public television channels from their basic cable packages and are lobbying for legislation that may remove license fee funding for those channels.

Late last month, John Dingell (D-Mich.) went before the congressional Commerce Telecommunications Subcommittee in response to cable giant Comcast’s actions in his home state. The hearing centered around the public, educational and governmental (PEG) channels in Michigan that were slated to be removed from basic cable packages, since the company switched to an all digital format.   PEG channels consist of public access programming, cover local government and schools—like the Columbia city council meetings that Time Warner Cable airs locally on channel 2 and the Richland school district information aired on channel 12.

In Michigan, Comcast planned to bump the PEG channels—still broadcasting in analog until next year—up near the 900 channel range thus making them no longer accessible to the general public and only available to subscribers of the more expensive digital cable service tier, an action that would have effected an estimated 1.3 million viewers…

Nancy Horne, president of the S.C. Cable TV Association, says PEG channels in South Carolina should continue to be available to all cable subscribers, both basic and high end.  “Our state law requires that PEG channels be carried on the lowest tier [or subscriber package] available to the consumer,” she says. “So, you might get a PEG channel with a high number, but it would still be carried through the basic tier.”

According to Horne, under the state law there is no requirement for PEG support. Before the law was passed, individual PEG channels may or may not have made agreements with the cable company and the local or municipal franchising authorities. If those deals included support for PEG channels prior to the 2006 bill, those contracts should be honored until they expire, according to the new legislation.         http://www.columbiacitypaper.com/2008/2/14/is-public-tv-in-peril
~

Editorial: County Board meetings on TV
by Terry Davis
Hutchinson Leader (MN)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Showing public meetings on TV is good for democracy. McLeod County has an opportunity to make sure taxpayers never miss a single meeting.  The Hutchinson Community Video Network will begin taping and showing McLeod County Board meetings starting next week. That’s good news for taxpayers who want to see how county decisions are made.

The tapings are a generous gesture by HCVN, which has agreed to do the tapings on a trial basis for six months. It will cost a good deal of money for Hutchinson’s local public access channel to send an employee to each board meeting.

We believe the county should pay HCVN for its costs. And we believe the tapings should continue indefinitely beyond the initial six months.  That should not surprise anyone who has read this page for the past several years. Repeatedly, we have asked the County Board to set aside money for the taping to its meetings. Repeatedly, the board has chosen to ignore our recommendation…

— Almost every other major public body in our region is already demonstrating its transparency to taxpayers. Almost every county surrounding McLeod County — Stearns, Kandiyohi, Renville, Sibley and Carver — videotape their meetings for taxpaying viewers at home. The Hutchinson City Council and District 423 School Board wouldn’t think of conducting a regular meeting without having the public access television cameras there.   —>
http://www.hutchinsonleader.com/news/opinion/editorial-county-board-meetings-tv-6614
~

Town of Ulster Steps Up to the Plate
by Richard Cahill
Cahill on Kingston (NY)
02/14/08

[ 11 comments ]

Blaber News and Commentary has broken a huge story concerning Public Access Television. Nick Woerner, the Supervisor for the Town of Ulster, announced earlier this evening that he is proposing to the Town of Ulster Board that $5,000.00 be given to save public access!!!  This is wonderful news. Kudos to Nick Woerner and the Town of Ulster for their generosity and sense of public duty.

Jim Sottile and the Common Council did not step up, but the Town of Ulster did. Perhaps now Kingston will recognize its part and do the right thing.   —>
http://cahillonkingston.blogspot.com/2008/02/town-of-ulster-steps-up-to-plate.html
~

Augusta: Cable costs rankle clients
by Keith Edwards
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel (ME)
02/14/08

City councilors grilled the “cable guy” recently over Time Warner’s rate increase and other concerns… Through the franchise agreement, Time Warner pays the city about $200,000 a year, half of which funds a multimedia program at Capital Area Technical Center. The remainder helps cover the cost of broadcasting City Council and other meetings, and some goes into the city’s general fund, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.   —>
http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/news/local/4763821.html
~

Cable access group reports latest findings
East Oregonian
02/13/08

[ comments allowed ]

Pendelton – The local cable access task force will discuss its latest findings on creating a public access television channel for Pendleton at 3 p.m. Thursday in the administrative Conference Room at city hall, 500 S.W. Dorion Ave.  The city council approved the task force in November last year to examine how a public access channel would function for Pendleton.    —>
http://www.eastoregonian.info/main.asp?SectionID=13&SubSectionID=48&ArticleID=73207&TM=26493.6
~

BITV Says Budget Dispute Will Suspend Programming
by Tristan Baurick
The Kitsap Sun (WA)
02/14/08

[ 3 comments ]

Coverage of local government may soon disappear from TV screens across Bainbridge Island.  The public access station Bainbridge Island Television announced on Thursday it may suspend its cable and Internet coverage of city meetings. BITV and the city are deadlocked over the conditions for renewing a service contract that ended Dec. 31. BITV wants a larger share of cable fees to fund expanded and basic services. The city says it’s cash strapped and plans to reduce its financial support for the station by 10 percent.   —>
http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2008/feb/14/bitv-says-budget-dispute-will-suspend/
~

Eshoo Takes Martin to Task Over Cable Policies
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Defends His Treatment of Industry at House Hearing
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
02/13/08

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin defended his cable-regulation policies in a House hearing Wednesday after Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) peppered him with a list of what appeared to her to be anti-cable efforts.  She said she did not know what cable had done to enrage Martin but they needed to have a conversation about it, sounding like a schoolteacher telling a student he did not get along well with others.   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6532120.html?rssid=193
~

Cox Communications Can Put Leased-Access Channels on Digital Tier
Leased Access Programmers Association President Charlie Stogner Disagrees with FCC Order
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
02/14/08

[ 2 comments ]

The Federal Communications Commission concluded that Cox Communications can place the content of leased-access programmer RETV (Real Estate TV) on its digital tier.  That’s according to Charlie Stogner, president of the Leased Access Programmers Association, who said he received an e-mail to that effect from the FCC Thursday.

Stogner had been pushing the FCC for a response to the complaint, which was filed in March of last year, but it was not the response he was looking for. He said he wants the commission to reconsider the decision.  According to a copy of the order Stogner supplied to B&C, the FCC concluded that because Cox’s New Orleans system has more than 50% digital subscribership, it does not violate the leased-access rules.   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6532683.html?industryid=47170
~

Fans of open access not optimistic on 700MHz auction results
by Thomas Wilburn
Ars Technica
02/14/08

[ 6 comments ]

Meeting in a panel for journalists and Senate staffers in Washington DC, open network advocates expressed their apprehension in the days leading up to the completion of the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction. That auction, which covers 62MHz of broadcast frequency in the 700MHz band, comes as television broadcasters are vacating their analog channels for the federally-mandated transition to digital, which must occur by 2009. Two of the channel “blocks,” labeled the C and D blocks, will be licensed on a national basis—Block C with open access requirements—making them very interesting to companies looking to build or expand high-speed wireless broadband services.

“We feel like the 700MHz auction was probably the most significant event at the FCC in the decade, and certainly the most significant spectrum auction in history,” said Ben Scott, Policy Director for Free Press, “and yet most citizens are clearly unaware that it happened at all. In fact many citizens are unaware that the public owns the airwaves.”

Attempting to summarize the argument for open-access regulations in the auction, Michael Calabrese, Vice President for the New America Foundation, reiterated the markers of an open network, as originally stated by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps: pricing that does not include connection charges and which is cheaper for non-subsidized devices; fast, cheap, and independent equipment and software certification; no lock-in; the ability to use third-party applications and access any legal Internet content; and no prioritization or degradation of traffic, as Comcast sometimes does with P2P traffic.

Gigi Sohn, President of Public Knowledge, took a slightly more optimistic view of the upcoming auction results. She noted indications that a larger array of diverse bidders have likely been involved, thanks to the anonymous bidding that prevents collusion and back-room dealing. However, Sohn was also critical of events that had taken place during the auction of the smaller D block of frequencies, and drew attention to allegations of misconduct and conflict-of-interest. Congress and the FCC must investigate, she said, and pointed out that since the reserve price for that auction was not met, the opportunity exists to do so before it is put up for sale again.   —>
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080214-fans-of-open-access-not-optimistic-on-700mhz-auction-results.html
~

Media watchdog sends appeal to Samak
Bangkok Post
02/14/08

The Europe-based Committee to Protect Journalists has written to new Prime Ministeer Samak Sundaravej, urging him to “right the wrongs of your predecessors” by protecting freedom of the press.  The CPJ note said it was apprehensive that the Samak administration was getting off on the wrong foot.  The letter said:

“We were alarmed to learn that earlier this month your office announced plans to establish a task force charged with monitoring the ‘news balance’ of the broadcast media. CPJ is concerned that the task force’s creation could presage a return to the previous government’s order to broadcasters to report only positively about its administration and threats to censor any news reports it deemed critical or seen as a threat to national unity or security.”

But Robert Dietz, the Asia Programme Director, wrote that it hopes that Mr Samak and his administration will protect the media, including the 3,000 community radio stations across the country.  “In light of the damage successive administrations have wrought upon Thailand’s tradition of press freedom, your government has a unique opportunity to right the wrongs of your predecessors and, in the process, firmly re-establish the country’s credentials as a proudly democratic nation,” it concluded.  The full text of the CPJ letter is here.
http://www.bangkokpost.com/breaking_news/breakingnews.php?id=125942
~

Even Without Technology Youth Media Thrives
by Sharese Bullock and Rhea Mokund
Youth Media Reporter
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

In May of 2006, while presenting at a conference hosted by what some consider the top university (Harvard) in the country, the question that makes the list of “most dreaded in youth media” was asked to virtual audience of mostly graduate students and young people.

“Why would youth media organizations be necessary in this age of technology? Young people now have access to the means of production at home—doesn’t this make youth media organizations redundant?”

It was not the last time the question has been asked about the relationship between youth media and developing technologies. To begin to address this question as a field, we must first examine the precise concept of what youth media is. In the growing pantheon of youth media scholarship fine distinctions exist, but at its core, youth media is a process of engaging young people in an artistic enterprise that is based in young people’s experience and exploration of the world. Young people endeavor to carve a space for real participation in the public sphere, and forge more balanced meaningful relationships with the larger community—skills necessary for successful participation in civil society.

No young person exists in isolation. Regardless of the means of transmission, youth media practitioners create an infrastructure of support, bringing layered expertise and insight to the practice of educating youth media producers…

[ lengthy report follows, leading to this conclusion – rm ]

When asked to justify our existence, “Why would youth media organizations be necessary in this age of technology?” we can simply and confidently reply, “Well, Yes.” Youth leading peers through the multi-leveled process of creating media—from premise to post production and ultimately exhibition and distribution—integrates each aspect of interactive modeling. Youth media processes extend far beyond the technology tool itself—determining the need for youth media organizations to preserve and facilitate these cultural practices. Indeed, technology is not the end goal, but rather the means of greater expression for young people defining next decade of collective learning.   —>
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/02/even_without_technology_youth.html
~

Interview: Salome Chasnoff | Beyondmedia
by Ingrid Hu Dahl
Youth Media Reporter
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Beyondmedia Education is a Chicago-based 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to collaborate with under-served and under-represented women, youth and communities to tell their stories, connect their stories to the world around us, and organize for social justice through the creation and distribution of media arts.

Recently, Chicago Public Television station WTTW’s Image Union refused to air Beyondmedia Education’s award-winning documentary Turning a Corner, claiming that the content is inappropriate. As part of the award, Turning a Corner was to be screened on WTTW’s Image Union program. Created in a media activism workshop with members of Prostitution Alternatives Round Table (PART)—15 women who had been street-level sex workers in Chicago—the film recounts their battles with homelessness, violence and discrimination and provides insight into Chicago’s sex industry. Beyondmedia Education recently won the Chicago Reporter’s John A. McDermott Documentary (short) Film Competition for Turning a Corner. WTTW’s refusal to air the program cites the sensitive subject matter—sex workers in Chicago—as the reason for their decision.

In response, and due to other recent events that have challenged access to free press in Chicago (including Loyola’s takeover of WLUW and the buyout of the Chicago Reader and the firing of key writers) on January 17th Beyondmedia Education organized a meeting at Columbia College for community and independent media makers to come together to build a media justice plan for action addressing issues of censorship, inequality in media access, and the increasing corporate control of media in Chicago.

In January, YMR interviewed Salome Chasnoff, Executive Director of Beyondmedia.

YMR: In your own words, please discuss the important issue of community access to public media as it relates to the youth media field.   —>
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/02/interview_salome_chasnoff_beyo_3.html
~

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

“PEG Access in the Digital Age”: The Entire Congressional Hearing, in Order, in YouTube Clips

February 15, 2008

Here are clips of the January 29 hearing held by the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee, “PEG Services in the Digital Age.” The clips are in chronological order, beginning with opening statements (1-7), witnesses testimony (8-11), and representatives’ questions (12-20).

The hearing was called largely in response to Comcast’s recent attempt at ‘channel slamming’ in Michigan (moving PEG access channels into the 900 digital-tier range) but also included a look at AT&T’s U-Verse and its second-class-citizen treatment of PEG access channels. Witnesses represented the City of Dearborn, Comcast, AT&T, and the Alliance for Community Media.

In addition to Annie Folger’s testimony on behalf of the ACM (11), PEG access advocates will be especially cheered by the questions asked by Markey, Dingell, Gonzalez, Rush, and Solis (12, 14, 16, 18, 19), as well as by Chairman Markey’s closing remarks (20).

PEG access advocates should write their representatives, whether or not they are supportive of PEG access protections, and whether or not they are on this Committee, and let them know how much you and your communities value these channels. Then, plan to make an appointment to visit them during our national conference in Washington this July.

(It also wouldn’t hurt if you commented on these clips as you see fit over at YouTube. Though the clips are presented in order here on “Clippings”, over there you can help stimulate and broaden participation in the discussion. Soon these will also be on blip.tv, and archive.org, so there will be even more opportunities for creating and pursuing public conversations on these topics.)

[ The witnesses written testimony can be downloaded from this page. ]
~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 01: Anna Eshoo (D-CA)

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 02: Cliff Stearns (R-FL)

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 03: Ed Markey (D-MA)

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 04: Fred Upton (R-MI)

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 05: John Dingell (D-MI)

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 06: Jane Harman (D-CA)

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 07: Lois Capps (D-CA), Hilda Solis (D-CA), & Gene Green (D-TX)

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 08: John O’Reilly, Dearborn Mayor

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 09: David Cohen, Comcast VP

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 10: Gail Torreano, AT&T Michigan President

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 11: Annie Folger, Alliance for Community Media; Midpenisula Community Media Center Executive Director

~~~

Here is the silent video the Alliance presented, showing how long it takes to select a PEG access channel on a U-Verse system.

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 12: Ed Markey (D-MA) questions

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 13: Fred Upton (R-MI) questions

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 14: John Dingell (D-MI) questions

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 15: Joe Barton (R-TX) questions

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 16: Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) questions

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 17: Cliff Stearns (R-FL) questions

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 18 : Bobby Rush (D-IL) questions

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 19 : Hilda Solis (D-CA) questions

[ Representative Solis hits on two of the many problems with the U-Verse approach – inability to handle closed captioning and SAP programming. AT&T’s Gail Torreano seems to misunderstand Solis’ SAP question; her ‘yes we can’ answer is not true. – rm ]

~~~

House PEG Access Hearing – 20: Closing Statements


~

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

Perverse U-Verse

February 3, 2008


How long does it take U-Verse to change to a PEG access channel from a commercial channel? This silent video shows.

This video, prepared by Ross Braver of the City of San Jose, was presented by the Alliance for Community Media at the House Telecommunications Subcommittee Hearing, “PEG Services in the Digital Age,” January 29, 2008.

Chairman Ed Markey (D, MA-07) responded:

“I think every guy who is here knows – and every woman who sees a guy with a clicker in his hand – knows that that guy can watch the news, a sporting event, and a movie simultaneously, clicking back and forth – and no guy waiting a minute and thirty seconds for any station to come on, so that has to get fixed.”

Written testimony from the ACM, the Mayor of Dearborn, MI, AT&T, and Comcast, is available here.

The hearing video can be streamed and downloaded from here.

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