Archive for the ‘leased access’ category

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)

[ 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.   —>

Editorial: Comcast Cable changes channels again
The Journal Newspapers (MI)

[ 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.   —>

Bill provides for cable channel compromise
by Scott Spielman
The Journal Newspapers (MI)

[ 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 ]

Is Public TV In Peril?
by Todd Morehead
Columbia City Paper (SC)

[ 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.

Editorial: County Board meetings on TV
by Terry Davis
Hutchinson Leader (MN)

[ 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.   —>

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


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.   —>

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

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.   —>

Cable access group reports latest findings
East Oregonian

[ 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.    —>

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


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.   —>

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

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.   —>

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


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.   —>

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


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.   —>

Media watchdog sends appeal to Samak
Bangkok Post

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.

Even Without Technology Youth Media Thrives
by Sharese Bullock and Rhea Mokund
Youth Media Reporter

[ 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.   —>

Interview: Salome Chasnoff | Beyondmedia
by Ingrid Hu Dahl
Youth Media Reporter

[ 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.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/26/08

January 27, 2008

Live Blogging during PEG Congressional Hearing
Free Press Action Network

On Tuesday, Jan. 29 [at 1:00 PM], the Free Press Action Network will hold a live-blogging session during the congressional hearing, “Public, Educational, and Governmental (PEG) Services in the Digital TV Age”.

Activists and community leaders will be discussing the hearing as it unfolds.  Listen to the Audio Webcast and add your comments below.   —>

City to ask Legislature to revisit Sunday alcohol sales, annexation expansion
by Robert DeWitt
Tuscaloosa News (AL)

Issues ranging from Sunday alcohol sales to extra-territorial zoning will be topics for discussion Monday when the Tuscaloosa City Council meets with members of the Tuscaloosa County legislative delegation.  City Council members will sit down with 10 legislators who represent portions of Tuscaloosa County to discuss its legislative agenda over breakfast at the Jemison Mansion. The city will ask legislators to tackle issues it lacks the power to address…

…The city opposes any blanket statewide franchising for video delivery systems. The law currently requires cable television companies to obtain franchises from cities. Now telephone companies and others are developing alternative delivery systems.  City officials want these companies subject to the same franchising regulations, Maddox said.  “If the telephone companies can provide cable service, they should have to enter into a franchise agreement like the cable companies,” he said.   —>

If you value public access TV, speak up
Bainbridge Island Review (WA)

Do you watch Bainbridge Island Television?  More precisely, do you watch it for programming besides the City Council meetings?  It’s neither a flippant question nor an idle one. BITV’s  regular viewership is surely amongst the questions in play as the station management and the city wrangle over revenue from a cable franchise agreement and other sources.

As reported Wednesday, station manager Scott Schmidt wants BITV to get a bigger slice – actually, the whole pie – of the approximately $190,000 in franchise fees paid by Comcast to the city for the right to do business on Bainbridge Island. BITV presently gets about $120,000 of that revenue, and half of the $54,000 generated by a dollar-per-month surcharge to subscribers to support public access programming. The balance disappears into the city’s general fund, although some of the money is earmarked for better lighting, cameras and other improvements to the chambers from which public meetings are broadcast.

Schmidt says the station needs more money to pay for services either requested by the city itself (adding a second channel; providing online “streaming” of council meetings) or the community at large. Some of the planned programming is Schmidt’s own inspiration, like the weekly news program BITV hopes to roll out in April. While it’s ambitious, it’s not unprecedented; back in the early 1990s when Texas-based Northland Cable still held the island franchise, news was actually integral to the programming. At one point the station boasted a three-person news team and showed footage from local events almost daily. The presentation could be somewhat clunky; we remember a rash of broadcasts in which colors swirled around like a light show at Bill Graham’s Fillmore. But despite the technical limitations, “Northland Cable News” showed the possibilities of local access television and laid the groundwork for today’s programming. Schmidt believes a new, more professional news show would attract both viewers and – at least as important – underwriting dollars from local businesses.

Thinking back 15 years, it is remarkable how far what was then known as “Bainbridge Island Broadcasting” has come. Modern equipment and a dedicated studio on High School Road mean new opportunities to learn videography. Volunteers contribute countless hours to support daylong programming. City Council coverage has grown into the station’s bread and butter, the point at which the interests of station, city and community most clearly intersect.

Yet in some ways, its profile is unchanged. Schmidt says some people still come into the office thinking they can pay their cable bill. (You can’t; BITV and Comcast are separate entities.) It’s also no easier to gauge what the viewership really is. Schmidt approached the Nielsen folks about tracking the ratings but found costs were prohibitive. With no way to precisely measure just who’s watching, and how often, now’s the time for Bainbridge Island Television viewers to speak up on behalf of the station.

Do you like what you see on our local access station? Do you even watch? What’s the value to you? We’d like to hear from viewers on that point. As their contract negotiations roll on, we suspect BITV and the city would, too.

The Winds of Change
Potential Reform of FCC Could Go in Many Directions
by Ted Hearn
Multichannel News

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is shining a spotlight on FCC chairman Kevin Martin’s management of the agency. (See “Watching the Martin Watch,” page 18, Jan. 21, 2008).  But it hasn’t been made clear to him precisely why.

The basis of the investigation has been stated only in vague terms. And there could be something of a public payback involved: Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) is evidently upset that Martin gave the public just 28 days to review the FCC plan to relax the newspaper-TV station cross-ownership ban.

But there is always more than meets the public eye when the winds of change blow in. Privately, Dingell has heard repeatedly from regulated industries — including cable operators and programmers — that Martin has failed to state proposed rules in clear terms, producing a process that lacks transparency and due process.

“I think time is overdue for a serious look at the reform of how the FCC conducts itself,” National Cable & Telecommunications Association president Kyle McSlarrow told reporters in December. “I think everybody recognizes that there is something different about how the [Martin] FCC conducts its business.”

In 2007, an annus horribilis for cable at the FCC, Martin at least twice demonstrated his fondness for hide-the-ball tactics. He gave no indication in June that he planned to slash rates that programmers pay cable operators to lease time, and he gave no indication that he supported allowing the NFL Network and other independent programmers to haul cable operators before an FCC-authorized arbitrator to settle their disputes without even a finding of discrimination by cable operators.

Now, Martin is trying to impose wholesale a la carte regulations on cable programmers, forcing The Walt Disney Co. and Viacom to sell their channels at individual prices. That could mean price regulation by the FCC, if Heritage Foundation analyst James Gattuso is right that wholesale a la carte mandates can’t work without government price controls. Since that’s the case, programmers are wondering if Martin plans to regulate wholesale a la carte prices but, as he’s done in the past, hasn’t told anybody.

Cable’s frustration with Martin has made an issue of how the agency is run. From Dingell to Sen. John D. (Jay) Rockefeller (W.Va.) on the Democratic side to Rep. Joe Barton of Texas on the Republican side, attention is now focused on how much power does and should accrue to an FCC chairman, an unelected bureaucrat with the ability to inflict pain on selected opponents, almost with impunity.

NCTA’s McSlarrow goes so far as to call for the FCC to be turned into a forum that adjudicates complaints, with its rulemaking authority taken away in five years.  Rockefeller has indicated support for structural reform, perhaps reducing the five-year terms of commissioners and refocusing its mission toward consumer protection.  But, as the following examples illustrate, reforming the FCC is not a simple task.   —>

The Other India and Media
Mainstream Weekly
by Suhas Borker

—>   We know about BPL—Below Poverty Line—but let us also know about Below Media Line—BML. The poor, oppressed, marginalised millions in this country are Below Media Line. If the media does not look at 840 million Indians who do not have more than Rs 20 a day or is not concerned about their future, it is abetting a “Second Partition”,4 which will burst forth like a tsunami of agony and pain, engulfing the whole country. It will be more dehumanising than the one 60 years ago.

Many see it as a wake-up call to the so-called present National Media to connect with the voiceless. To rise above the glitz and razzmatazz of film stars, fashion shows and elitist gizmos that unwrap on advertising which mocks the poor for their poverty, is a choice now. The people’s movements and grassroots organisations which represent the Other India are anyway going to move on regardless. And with them will be a new emerging media—an inclusive media empowered by new technologies encompassing community press, radio, TV and web. It may take some time to link up. Mainstream media or alternative media? It will be the media of the Other India of 840 million Indians.   —>

Decision to Shut Down AZN Television a Huge Loss to Asian American Community

The Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA) today expressed disappointment at the decision by Comcast to shut down AZN Television in April this year, calling it a big loss of yet another important venue through which the American public can learn more about Asians and Pacific Islanders through community-specific news and entertainment.

While understanding that this was primarily a business decision, AAJA lamented the fact that the demise of AZN is the second big blow to the AAPI community in less than six months. In October last year, KQED in San Francisco discontinued its nationally syndicated public radio program, “Pacific Time,” developed to provide news about Asia, Asian American communities and connections across the Pacific Ocean. Like “Pacific Time,” AZN offered broad education through broadcast and online media.

In many ways, “AZN is to the Asian American community just like Univision is to the Latino and BET is to the African American communities, respectively,” said Rene Astudillo, AAJA executive director. He added that AAJA “has partnered with AZN in many ways to ensure that more Asian Americans are given the opportunity to use their journalism and new media skills to enhance the delivery of news and information to the American public.” AAJA’s most recent partnership with AZN involved internship opportunities for students to post journalism-style news and editorial commentary on the network’s Web site.  Astudillo said that AAJA is happy and ready to offer its resources to Comcast and other broadcast networks to develop major programming specifically addressing issues and stories of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.    —>

University of Miami: February 26-68
We Media Forum to Explore and Celebrate Innovation in a Connected Society

More than two hundred thought leaders, social entrepreneurs and media pioneers are expected to gather next month in Miami, Fla., for the fourth-annual We Media Forum and Festival from February 26 to 28. The two-day event, organized and produced by iFOCOS, the Reston, Va.-based media think tank, will bring together leaders from across industry sectors to jumpstart innovative thinking and new media ventures.  For more details and to register, go to:

“We Media is not just an industry conference. It’s a knowledge-sharing network. It’s about being inspired,” says Dale Peskin, co-founder of iFOCOS, which also organizes the We Media Community, an online network of companies and individuals.

The University of Miami School of Communication is co-hosting the conference, which kicks off with a reception on Tuesday night. The Associated Press, an iFOCOS global partner, is sponsoring the conference, along with Washington.Post.Newsweek.Interactive, Reuters, NewsGator, Topix, Humana and AARP. Additional media sponsors include BlogHer, the Association for Alternative Newsweeklies, Daily Me, the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet, LatinVision Media,, SourceForge, and the Innovators Network.   —>

French Media Reforms
by Rizwan Ghani
American Chronicle

Reportedly, President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided to reform French media. The media shakeup details include scrapping up of Arabic and English languages services of Channel 24 and restricting the Channel to French language, only. The reports show that French National TV will be disallowed annual advertisements worth 800 million Euros.

Keeping French as the only language on Channel 24 in presence of Arab and handful of other minorities in France will add another item to the minorities discontentment list. In wake of 2007 standoff with minorities Paris could used state media to develop better relations with minorities instead of doing away with programs in other languages on Channel 24.

The independent observers are waiting for details of planned shakeup but there is a consensus that the direction of changes does not bode well for the media independence. It is believed that French media´s coverage of Sarkozy´s Egypt tour may have precipitated the reform plan. Otherwise, also there is a growing perception that it is the start of love-hate relationship between Sarkozy and French media.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 10/22/07

October 23, 2007

Internet Freedom and Burmese Bloggers
by Matt Stoller

—>   It’s become clear that dissidents are getting better at using the internet to spread information, while governments are getting better at shutting them down.  It’s not going to be long before human rights organizations begin to understand that global net neutrality and a free internet are a proxy for violations of human rights.  Even in poor, repressed, and violent areas, small bits of internet access can have a positive impact on repression.  And as we’re seeing, even in wealthy relatively open societies, excessively tight ties between media companies, communications networks, and the government are extremely dangerous.

Groups Want New Leased Access Rate From Martin
Broadcast Newsroom

(Multichannel News) _ In a private meeting with Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin, public interest groups sought adoption of new rules designed to reduce the rates that third-party programmers pay to lease channel capacity from cable operators.

The call for a new leased access payment formula came from representatives of the Media Access Project and Public Knowledge in an Oct. 18 meeting with Martin, his media adviser Michelle Carey and Media Bureau chief Monica Desai, according to FCC records.

In the meeting, MAP senior vice president Harold Feld endorsed a rule that would determine a single, national leased access rate “using price information from Los Angeles and New York City, currently the two most competitive leased access markets.”   —>

Problem-Solving Reaches New Level For 20-Year-Old Education Channel
by Walt Belcher
The Tampa Tribune (FL)

—>   This month marks the 20th anniversary of The Education Channel, which has been honored eight times as one of the best education-related channels in the country.  But the celebration has been muted by funding cuts that threaten the channel’s future.  Also, a proposed relocation to a digital tier on Bright House Networks could make it harder to find and more costly for viewers. The Educational Channel is on channel 18 on Bright House. The cable company plans to announce the relocation in December.   —>

Media Center helps student movies shine
Palo Alto teen center offers students tools for success for future careers in the media
by Yelly Bitton of the Campanile
The Paly Voice (CA)

The studio is silent. The lighting is perfectly set. The sound check is done. Three, two, one, action.  Palo Alto High School senior Adam Shore is ready to shoot a television show at Palo Alto’s Media Center’s television studio. Shore has been involved with activities at the Media Center for over two years.   —>

The Media Center is a non-profit public access television station. The local cable provider, currently Comcast Corporation, is required by California state law to give back to the community and does so in the form of public access media centers, such as the one on San Antonio Blvd. in Palo Alto.   —>

Driving public right-of-way
by Andrea Domaskin
The Forum (ND)

When Pat Zavoral started working for the city of Fargo, telephone and electricity were the only companies that used public right-of-way to provide services to consumers.  Fast-forward 25 years and now eight companies have franchise agreements with the city to provide power, phone, cable or other communication services.

As technologies advance, more services are likely, and they could be provided in nontraditional ways, Zavoral, who is the city administrator, and others say.  That means more options for consumers.  But it’s also expected to challenge Fargo’s ability to regulate companies and manage its right-of-way.  As a result, Fargo is revamping its communications regulations. Currently it has a series of ordinances and agreements based on individual requests.   —>

Milwaukee Biz Blog
Telecom bill is greased for AT&T
by Bob Chernow
Small Business Times (WI)

Dear Wisconsin Legislators:

The 35 cities, towns and villages of the Regional Telecommunications Commission oppose the Plale-Montgomery bill. Here are some of the problems we see.   The justification for this bill is to generate competition among cable and video providers. This is a goal that our organization has fought to achieve for years.  For example, before the high-tech bust we fast tracked Digital Access, a new cable-Internet-phone provider. In six months we had an agreement that was fair for our communities and our cable provider, Time Warner.

In late 2005, we contacted AT&T Wisconsin and began a year’s negotiations for a model agreement that we thought all of Wisconsin’s communities could adopt. AT&T stopped negotiations when they thought they could get a “better” deal from you in Madison. The Pale-Montgomery bill obstructed our negotiations.  Indeed, AT&T could have had a model agreement by mid-2006. Today we would happily agree to the Milwaukee-AT&T agreement. AT&T refuses to talk.

Let us make clear that we want competition to improve service and lower costs for our consumers. We just do not think that this bill accomplishes this goal.  Let us look at why:

Many of our communities use PEG for governmental and educational purposes, servicing those who live in our cities, villages and towns. PEG operates on a shoestring but produces value. PEG is supported by volunteers. Yet the bill forces PEG to “raise” its own funding after three years, according to Senator Plale. This will kill PEG.  The elimination of PEG does not help competition. The modest pass-through costs are by paid by subscriber. What it does is to allow the provider to raise its own rate. This is exactly what Time Warner did when it won concessions from Milwaukee for PEG.

On a different issue, we think that it is fair for new providers to carry PEG once they have reached a certain thresh hold of subscribers and to connect PEG to their system. This is what current providers do.

We want our citizens to receive service on a neutral basis and not based on race or wealth. While the bill makes accommodations, enforcement is inadequate. A weak department, with no consumer experience, has purposely been assigned this task. But to insure non-enforcement, its “budget” was cut to less than $70,000.

The RTC just finished an audit of one of our providers. We are claiming fees that were not paid. Other communities have had success with their audits. The Plale-Montgomery bill restricts our audits. What does this have to do with competition?  The answer is nothing.  The Plale- Montgomery bill is about power in an industry to control and dominate the market. This is bad business and bad government.

The argument also has been made that AT&T will not invest capital or manpower if this bill fails. But reality shows that they are competing now. Moreover, AT&T has no other choice. They have lost 1/3 of their telephone market to cable and VOIP providers. They have no other choice!  On the other hand, Time Warner is investing $20 million in a new building in Appleton and will hire 300 workers over the next five years.

We are also concerned that we have been systematically excluded from this process.  Representative Montgomery made clear that the RTC and other municipalities would “not have a seat at the table.”  As they say, “When you don’t have a seat at the table, you are liable to be part of the meal.”

AT&T likes this bill. Our communities oppose it. AT&T- Wisconsin lobbyists helped write this bill. They have hired a battalion of lobbyists, set up a phony advertising campaign and contributed over $100,000 to members of the Senate and Assembly. The members of our organization, the RTC, are all volunteers and local officials. We are not sophisticated lobbyists, nor do we have funds to contribute to your campaigns. We are just trying to keep our rights of way and represent the best interests of our citizens.

These citizens believe that their rates will go down. They are wrong.  AT&T has been up front that their current rates are only for promotional purposes. They originally project a 20 percent increase to $120. Now they are projecting an increase of 45 percent to $145.

We ask that you either reject this bill or change it to be in accord with the Milwaukee-AT&T agreement.


Bob Chernow
Chairman of the Regional Telecommunication Commission

Knight’s citizen media blog is go
by Jemima Kiss
PDA: The Digital Content Blog

The Knight Foundation’s News Challenge in the US is a $5m fund for new community media projects, variously supporting a mobile political news project by MTV, a New York-based game to encourage interest in news stories and the creation of a “Center for Future Civic Media” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Idea Lab is latest Knight project to come to fruition in the form of a collaborative blog on reinventing community news for the digital age, as they say…

The latest post by degree student Dan Schultz lays out seven goals for “the perfect news system”, which could direct and inform development of an aggregated news service and the tools used to set it up.

– It should maintain credibility and journalistic values in all articles.
– Empower consumers to find news relevant to them.
– Allow individuals publish information relevant to their communities.
– Connects people with common interests and develops those networks.
– Allow information to be shared and distributed efficiently and without distortion.
– Eliminate the rift between mainstream news and major blogs.
– Distinguish between news, opinion and entertainment.

Sounds like a tall order, but Schultz’s solution is simple – tagging. He imagines that tagging stories by subject, location and so on, is enough to build complex, international, collaborative communities of news consumers, and I suspect his own plans around this will be built up in more detail on the Idea Lab blog over the next few months.

compiled By Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media