Archive for the ‘localism’ category

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

September 21, 2008

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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/ .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.”
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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.”

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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?”

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

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15: Michael Max Knobbe Answers Chairman Serrano

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

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

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Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/21/08

April 22, 2008

State video franchising: Where are the competitors?
by Bill Callahan
Callahan’s Cleveland Diary (OH)
04/21/08

[ comments invited ]

This post and comments at BFD got me wondering: How’s that brave new world of competitive IPTV and sizzling broadband that Ohioans were promised last summer — when the General Assembly overwhelmingly approved and the Governor happily signed SB 117, AT&T’s “cable franchise reform” bill — coming along?
[…]
Here’s a PUCO map of Ohio’s local telephone service areas. The colored-in areas are covered by VSAs held by telephone companies (”Local Exchange Carriers”) as of yesterday. The uncolored areas — not.

Since the map doesn’t show them, it’s probably useful to name (again) some of the cities and villages in that uncolored area — communities that now have neither local government oversight nor the prospect of IPTV competition for their cable services any time soon, thanks to all those fine folks who voted for SB 117. Here are a couple of dozen: Cincinnati, Athens. Newark. Mansfield. Ashtabula. Brunswick. Portsmouth. New Philadelphia. Lorain. Elyria. Norwalk. Hudson. Medina. Marion. Wapakoneta. Lima. Defiance. Bryan. Van Wert. Oregon. Bowling Green. Ashland. Wooster. Carrollton. Piketon. Lorain. Amherst. Oberlin.

If you live in one of these places — or in Cleveland, for that matter — it’s probably time to call your State Representative and Senator and ask them when you can expect that cable competition they promised you.
http://www.callahansclevelanddiary.com/?p=559
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So about that Washington State news outlet…
by Aneurin
Politics Is a Blood Sport (WA)
04/21/08

[ comments invited ]

State Rep. Deb Wallace makes a good observation regarding lack of basic news information in Southwest Washington, after the demise of Comcast Channel 14 and broadcast of KIRO Seattle news:

The College Bound scholarships paid for by the state Legislature should be a dream come true.  After all, up to 56,000 seventh- or eighth-grade students who sign up by June 1 will be eligible to receive free college tuition and $500 for college books when they are ready for higher education.  But Rep. Deb Wallace, D-Vancouver, was concerned to find out that just 4,000 students have signed up so far.  “People’s lives are so busy, particularly when you’re working a job or two, and it’s really difficult to get information out to people,” Wallace said. “I also think that so much of our media comes from Oregon, so information about programs like this don’t get out as they do in the Seattle area.”

That’s a great point, and it reminded me of promises made to get KIRO or some other Seattle news outlet on basic cable. Why this isn’t in the local franchise agreement between CVTV and Comcast is a bit odd, especially knowing the unique media condition of Clark County.  Tracie Looney at CVTV informs me that there are discussions with KIRO to get broadcast permission on to Channel 21, one of the government channels in the basic cable range. I asked her if there’s a time limit for them to respond and she indicated that they’ll open it up to other Seattle news stations, most likely KOMO, unless KIRO responds by this week.   —>
http://aneurinsblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/so-about-that-washington-state-news.html
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What The Heck…Local News?
by Alan
A Round World Through Square Glasses (OH)
04/21/08

[ comments invited ]

Here in Cincinnati, there is a census being taken on whether or not a local t.v. station should drop sports from their newscast. Having worked in the news industry for awhile (14 years), there are also a few things that can definately be changed about local news…but dropping sports ain’t one of them. Of course I have to give my 2 cents worth. I did it when I worked in news and no one cared. I see the same thing happening here…so here I go.
[…]
For years stations have been depleting their sports departments. Most have, at best, a sports director and maybe a photographer that is dedicated to sports. My feeling is you’ve dropped the ball here. Look at the thousands of fans who go to a Reds/Brewers game every night? Granted, 25,000 ain’t a lot compared to the Cubs who sell out every night, but still it’s 25,000 viewers who might not have watched your newscast that night. But you send a photog and a reporter down there, interview about 20 people, edit something together and you set yourself up as a presence at that stadium.

At your local high school, nothing garners more excitement than the possibility that you might end up on t.v.. There are high school games being broadcast on local Fox Sports Network programming. There are local games being broadcast on public access. People want to see their kids play sports on t.v. The same goes for highlights. You send a tv crew to a few games a night, you get viewers.

Of course, this is just my opinion…but you got it all backwards. Maybe local news should start figuring out that it’s not about what’s killing us that we’re interested in these days. It’s what is keeping us alive that matters…and we like our sports and weather and feel good stories.   —>
http://alntv.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/what-the-hecklocal-news/
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The Poets & the Party at Luminaria
by South Texas Media Access
And Media Access for All (TX)
04/21/08

[ comments invited ]

Footage from the Poets Corner at the 2008 Luminaria Arts Event in San Antonio Texas. This clip was for San Antonio Public Access TV.  —>
http://txmediaaccess.blogspot.com/2008/04/poets-party-at-luminaria.html
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Chatting with Eva
by Eva the Deadbeat
Dead Beat Club (VT)
04/21/08

[ 1 comment ]

The very talented Winooski photographer and videographer Dan Higgins was kind enough to make a little documentary about me. I have to admit, watching it makes me blush…  THANKS DAN!

“Chatting With Eva” will broadcast Wednesday, April 23, at 6:00 pm on Channel 17, Town Meeting Television, on Comcast Cable and Burlington Telecom systems.  This 21-minute video, by Dan Higgins, looks at behind-the-scenes working methods of Eva Sollberger, videographer and editor extraordinare, as she prepares her weekly web feature “Stuck in Vermont”. Eva also talks about the origins of her visually creative Public Access TV show, “The Deadbeat Club”.   —>
http://deadbeatdirt.blogspot.com/2008/04/chatting-with-eva.html
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Could the BBC co-design its new community services?
by David Wilcox
Socialreporter (UK)
04/21/08

[ 5 comments ]

Here’s a try-out for socialreporter as collaboration co-ordinator, on the lines of “wouldn’t it be a good idea if…” rather than “here’s a problem, let’s stir things up”.  I wonder if it’s possible to organise a get-together between people interested in how new BBC services may support social action, local democracy and online communities.

It seems timely because the BBC is planning something substantial which could, for the first time, link their “professional” services to online material produced by citizen journalists and other local community media projects. Proposals will soon be put to the BBC Trust, which has to approve the plans.  Before that happens it seems to me important that all parties take a realistic look at what’s possible, and think out how to co-design something useful to local democracy.

The problem is that the community side of the deal may not hold up. Recently Charlie Beckett, champion of networked journalism, raised the issue of what happens if no-one comes … that is, the citizen journalists don’t materialise in the form the professionals hope. The BBC’s Robin Hamman offered some useful insights from the Manchester blogging experiment, including: “People don’t necessarily blog or post content about the topics, stories and events that media organisations might hope they would – and, in our experience anyway, rarely post about news and current affairs.”

Now another media commentator, Martin Moore, has trawled through the Annex 8 of OFCOM’s Public Service Broadcasting Review similarly trying to work if there’s a future for local news, community and social action on the web. —>
http://socialreporter.wordpress.com/2008/04/21/could-the-bbc-co-design-its-new-community-services/
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/16/08

April 20, 2008

Saving tctv2 a true service
Editorial: Traverse City Record Eagle (MI)
04/16/08

The Land Information Access Association is a local nonprofit that up to now has specialized in putting land use, resource and environmental information into easily-accessible formats to help residents, planners and governments make better land-use decisions.  Now — just in time, it appears — the LIAA is broadening the scope of its educational mission to include rescuing public-access television station tctv2 from the trash heap.

It’s going to need some financial help; hopefully, some of that will come from area governments still meeting their obligations under old franchise agreements and some from a few townships that essentially reneged on old promises. Other funds are expected from services such as production assistance and studio rentals.

Back in the day, tctv2 was sitting pretty. It had a decent revenue flow, it had pretty good facilities at Northwestern Michigan College and there was a steady, if low-key, flow of locally produced programs. Some were exactly what the term public access TV brought to mind — tepid discussions on arcane subjects or variations on the home movie theme. Others, however, were creative and informative, exactly what a lot of people hoped public-access television would be.

Probably the most popular offerings were the live broadcasts of Traverse City commission meetings on Monday nights. The deathly dull always seemed to be offset by some bit of local politics that kept people watching.  Those broadcasts were a great precedent for the region. They brought local politics into area living rooms and helped raise awareness of local issues. They also led directly to similar efforts by Traverse City schools, Grand Traverse County (finally) and some local townships.   —>
http://www.record-eagle.com/opinion/local_story_107100152.html
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NB considers public access arts channel
by Jessica Musicar
The World (OR)
04/15/08

[ 2 comments ]

NORTH BEND — Coos County viewers looking to make a stronger connection to the local arts scene won’t have to leave their living rooms to do so, if the city of North Bend supports an area television station’s effort to start up a new channel.  Officials from Coos Bay-based PEG Broadcasting Services Inc., which records and televises governmental meetings on Channel 14, plan to take up a public access channel dedicated to arts and education, said Don Van Dyke, the president of PEG Broadcasting.

“There’s just tons of things we could cover and we’re talking about the whole county, not just North Bend or Coos Bay,” Van Dyke said.  He added he plans to feature local school bands, debating clubs, science fairs, and shows in a variety of Bay Area theaters. “There’s a lot of talent in this area, especially among the youth, that the public just doesn’t know about.”   —>
http://www.theworldlink.com/articles/2008/04/15/news/doc4804e67f7f4a8358850505.txt
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Democrat Steve Beshear Killing Telecom Subsidy Connect Kentucky?
by Matt Stoller
OpenLeft.com
04/15/08

[ 2 comments ]

I’ve written a fair amount about corruption and the telecom lobby.  One of the nastiest tricks the telecoms use is the notion of universal buildout to grab subsidies and then not do the buildout, which of course creates the need for more subsidies to do universal buildout.  It’s a neat trick.  Connect Kentucky is their current malignant model for doing that, a ‘public-private’ partnership funded by the cash strapped state of Kentucky.  Art Brodsky did a devastating take-down of the nonprofit, and subsequently Hillary Clinton’s internet platform has removed its references to the program which was slated to go national.

As Brodsky’s piece percolated, it generated momentum against the program, which had previously only been subjected to hagiographic pieces about how wonderfully Connect Kentucky spread broadband access.  Fortunately, Governor Steve Beshear just vetoed the program’s funding.   —>
http://openleft.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=75B2A78C4C668FC689D65C7C47D5778E?diaryId=5170
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Squabble over net neutrality resumes
by Brooks Boliek
The Hollywood Reporter
04/16/08

When the FCC convenes its second hearing on what it calls “network management” Thursday, it will have covered both coasts and the universities that played midwife to the Internet.  Thursday’s hearing at Stanford University in California and February’s at MIT in Boston complete an arc that could be described as the Internet’s Fertile Crescent.  These campuses are the staging ground for what could be the government’s foray into the Internet’s next phase. While the commission calls it network management, most of the people with a stake in the hearing call it network neutrality — a hotly debated policy notion that likely will define just how far a company can go to control what and how fast information flows over the Internet’s backbone.   —>
http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/business/news/e3i94a671a1b94ff736b514c84ce14c5d2e
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Verizon FiOS proposes citywide buildout
by Joshua Breitbart
Civil Defense (NY)
04/16/08

[ comments invited ]

Yesterday, Verizon proposed to build a fiber optic network covering all of New York City. The proposal comes just one day after the City’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) published notification of the RFP for cable television providers, which is how you know DoITT’s RFP (request for proposals) and Verizon’s proposal were worked out in tandem over months of closed-door negotiations.

Verizon is offering to finish the installation by midyear 2014, provide a public safety INET (institutional network), pay franchise fees equivalent to five percent of gross revenues on cable TV service, channels for public access. As the precise details emerge and once I’ve had a chance to read the RFP, I’ll give you my assessment on the fine points, but that doesn’t sound like enough off the bat given the scope of the deal.   —>
http://breitbart.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/verizon-fios-proposes-citywide-buildout/
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The Power and Responsibility of our Nation’s Broadcasters
by Tim Robbins
Huffington Post
04/16/089

[ 232 comments ]

The following is my opening keynote speech for the National Association of Broadcasters Show in Las Vegas, which I delivered Monday night.

[ audio at Huffington Post ]

Hello, I’m Tim Robbins. I’d like to thank you for the invitation to address you here at the National Association of Broadcasters. When I first received the invitation I was a little confused because the last time I had contact with the national media I seem to remember them telling me to shut the hell up.

I would like to start with an apology. To Rush and Sean, and Billo and Savage and Laura what’s-her-name. A few years ago they told America that because I had different opinions on the wisdom of going to war that I was a traitor, a Saddam lover, a terrorist supporter, undermining the troops. I was appealing at the time for the inspectors to have more time to find those weapons of mass destruction. I was a naïve dupe of left wing appeasement. And how right they were. If I had known then what I know now, if I had seen the festive and appreciative faces on the streets of Baghdad today, if I had known then what a robust economy we would be in, the unity of our people, the wildfire of democracy that has spread across the Mideast, I would never have said those traitorous, unfounded and irresponsible things. I stand chastened in the face of the wisdom of the talk radio geniuses, and I apologize for standing in the way of freedom.

So when they asked me to come speak to you I said, “Are you sure? Me?” And they said, “Yes.”  And I said, “You know, I have a tendency to say things that I believe at the time to be well-intentioned but that are actually traitorous.” And they said, “Sure, cool.” And then I read the press release and it said, “Mr. Robbins will be speaking about the challenges of new media and delivery systems.” Oh, OK. But I just want you to know I’m not sure I know what that fucking means.  But it is an honor to be speaking to you here at this years National Association Broadcasting convention even if I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.   —>
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tim-robbins/addressing-the-national-a_b_96836.html
Also posted at AlterNet – 25 comments: http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/82510/
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Legislators Take Aim at FCC Localism Proposals
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin Receives Letter from More than 120 Legislators
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
04/16/08

[ comments invited ]

The National Association of Broadcasters got support Wednesday in its fight against proposed new localism obligations.  More than 120 legislators signed onto a letter to Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin asking him not to impose any localism mandates on broadcasters.  A copy of the letter was released by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), but included Democrats, as well.  The letter said the FCC is considering a “radical reregulation” of broadcasting and takes aim at FCC proposals to create community-advisory boards, to require broadcasters to report on programmning in a variety of categories and to locate their studios in their community of license and have their stations staffed at all times.   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6552169.html?display=Breaking+News&referral=SUPP&nid=2228
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The Future of Community Radio
by Greg Guma
Toward Freedom
04/16/08

Will audiences keep tuning in to radio if the information and music they want can be more easily accessed by other means? Can FM compete with the quality and reliability of new portable devices? And will listeners continue to pay attention to long fund drive pitches? These are some of the difficult questions public and community radio must answer in the near future.

At the moment blogs are undermining newspapers, DVRs and TiVo are allowing viewers to skip commercials and time-shift the viewing of their preferred shows, and iPods are revolutionizing the way we access and consume music. The good news is that there are traits and features specific to radio that can help. But broadcasters need to open themselves to the inevitable convergence with new media and the Internet.

So, how can community radio prepare for the future? Three ways: embrace convergence, focus on unique and thematic content, and use radio’s traditional strengths while combining them with the power of new technologies. This can lead to a new form of radio that doesn’t abandon the airwaves, but also brings quality programming that can’t be found elsewhere to new audiences and emerging media platforms.

What are Radio’s strengths, especially those can be leveraged and integrated with some of the new opportunities?   —>
http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1283/1/
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Teletubbies, Digital Zapatistas, Viral Marketing, Sign “Bombing”
by Elizabeth Coffman
elizabeth coffman’s guerilla media weblog (IL)
04/16/08

[ comments invited ]

Guerilla Media Class is nearing the end of the Spring 08 semester. Students are preparing their final community media projects and updating their blogs. I will report on the final projects soon.  The projects range from persuading Loyola Chicago’s Public Safety office to donate ‘found’ or abandoned bikes on campus to the student Bike Club, (who will place them for free around campus), to unconventional promotional efforts for a new musician, who is giving away his music online for free, to sign ‘bombings’ on a variety of issues, including guerilla support for 3rd Party Political candidates, as well as a project that documents “random encounters” on the Chicago El by the women’s rugby team, in full uniform and covered with mud.

Our readings on guerilla media, our guest speakers, our field trip to CANTV and LUC’s new Information Commons have helped us to see the digital spectrum as ranging from political activism to viral marketing, and to think through Habermas’s ideas of the ideal public sphere. The public, the market and participatory culture redefine how politics, economy, art, and pop culture interweave and overlap in old and new media arenas. From blogging in Ethiopian elections to radio listening clubs in Malawi, from the Guerilla Girls to Second Life, the participatory power of new media is obvious.   —>
http://ecoffman.wordpress.com/2008/04/16/teletubbies-digital-zapatistas-viral-marketing-sign-bombing/
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Zambia: No Politicians on Community Radio Boards – Nyirenda
The Times of Zambia
04/16/08

The Government has said that politicians should not be on the board of directors for community radio stations to avoid political interference in the editorial content of such institutions.  Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Nyirenda yesterday told the Parliamentary Watchdog Committee chaired by Namwala member of Parliament (MP) Robbie Chizhyuka (UPND).  Mr Nyirenda appeared before the Committee on Information and Broadcasting Services to explain the role of community radio stations in the promotion of governance and national programmes.

He said community radio stations were cardinal to the country’s democracy and should therefore be supported. Mr Nyirenda said that the Government through his ministry was planning to establish a Media Development Fund. The goal of the fund was to enable community media houses become sustainable and operate without any hindrances. Mr Nyirenda said even if politicians were stopped from sitting on community radio boards, they could still be allowed to participate in their formation and contribute financially.

On the establishment of the Media Development Fund, he said the decision was arrived at after the realisation that the Media Trust Fund (MTF), some donor institutions and religious organisations only supported most community stations. The Media Development Fund would focus on resource mobilisation, funding and supporting both existing and new media organisations and funding capacity building for such organisations.  He said that the funds would ensure the establishment of community radio stations in far flung areas as opposed to them being situated on the line of rail. Mr Nyirenda said this when he addressed concerns raised by Mpika Central MP, Mwansa Kapeya (PF) who wanted to know whether there were any plans to ensure that community radio stations were not only located on the line of rail.   —>
http://allafrica.com/stories/200804160434.html
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/17/08

March 18, 2008

U-Verse’s Sorry Excuse For Public Access TV
CT’s version of public access CSPAN a little annoyed….
by Karl
Broadband Reports
03/17/08

[ 27 comments ]

As Verizon and AT&T lobbyists worked to eliminate the local video franchise system, consumer advocates pointed out that such moves resulted in the death of public access. In States where lawmakers insist, AT&T has to carry public access — but localities haven’t been all too thrilled with the results. In Connecticut, AT&T is trying to pass preferred “franchise reform” legislation that would change how PEG channels are offered. The free, 24-hour local government policy public access channel (Connecticut Network), worried that the bill would kill off viewership, has created a video showing what locals have to do in order to access the channel in Michigan.   —>
http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/UVerses-Sorry-Excuse-For-Public-Access-TV-92721
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Franchise, Phone Bills Percolate In Pa.
Cable, Verizon Put Lobbying Voice Behind VoIP Deregulation
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News
3/17/08

Pennsylvania lawmakers may consider a state franchising-reform bill, but the industries most affected by that bill, the cable and telephone companies, are teaming up to put their lobbying muscle behind deregulating voice-over-Internet protocol phone service.

Cable operators and Verizon officials testified last week before the state Senate’s consumer affairs committee in favor of SB 1000, which would prevent any government agency from trying to regulate the product.  Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware have already written into law that VOIP can be deployed without regulatory hurdles.

The state video franchising proposal — HB 1490 — was drafted in part by labor groups and neither cable operators nor phone companies like the bill.  “HB 1490 is a bad idea. You don’t amend or negotiate a bad idea,” Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania president Dan Tunnell said.

Most states adopting statewide franchise require a new provider to submit the names of executives, state office locations and a description of the intended franchise area. Pennsylvania’s draft bill goes further, requiring an applicant demonstrate the legal, financial, technical and managerial qualities needed to build and operate a system — much like the deep level of operating data local communities demand for cable franchises.

HB 1490 would also give the state Public Utility Commission up to four months to act on an application, a period during which three public hearings must be held. At the end of that period the PUC has the option to deny the application.

The bill also would establish:
• A six-year franchise;
• A requirement incumbents can’t be state franchised until their current pacts expire, unless the local franchiser consents;
• A build-out schedule that requires new providers to reach 35% of their declared franchise areas within three years of launch. A quarter of those customers would have to meet a low-income test. By year six, 70% of the franchise would have to be served, including 30% low-income households. If the franchise is renewed for another six years, the provider would have to serve the all households in the franchise by the end of year 12;
• And a rule that all installations, maintenance and customer service be done within the state.
—>
http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2008/03/17/3331198.htm
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Bridgeport schools showcased on TV
by Linda Conner Lambeck
Connecticut Post
03/17/08

[ comments invited ]

BRIDGEPORT — “Great Expectations,” a 30-minute news magazine showcasing all the good things happening in city schools, premieres this week on public access television.  The Bridgeport Public Education Fund is bankrolling the program, along with seven others, at a cost of about $5,000 per episode.

The program is hosted by Gina LeVon Simpson, a school system outreach worker with a background in television, and is produced by Borres Productions of Bridgeport.  Others involved in the production include students working in front of and behind the camera. They include: Justin Flores and Ahlaam Abdul, both students in Bassick High Schools Arts and Media Academy; and Rondique McLeon and DeSheena Kinney from Harding High.

The first episode features Hernan Illingsworth, parent of a fifth-grader at Classical Studies Academy and president of the citywide Parent Advisory Council.  “I hope this TV show starts to change expectations,” Illingsworth said. “Sometimes the expectations are bad. I hope this TV show shows a lot of the good stuff.”

A camera crew followed Illingsworth around for about three hours one day, filming him at work, during school and community activities, and at home.  “I believe the message was to get the aspect of me as a parent leader,” Illingsworth said. He hopes the show will get more parents involved and show the general public that Bridgeport parents care.   —>
http://www.connpost.com/breakingnews/ci_8601676
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Does Big Media’s One-Two Punch Knock Out the Internet?
by Jonathan Rintels
SavetheInternet.com
03/17/08

[ one comment ]

Last week saw Big Media deliver a powerful one-two combination of punches that may knock out today’s wide open Internet. First, in a speech delivered by Motion Picture Association of America President Dan Glickman, the nation’s media conglomerates vowed to fight increasingly vocal calls from policymakers and the public for “network neutrality” — a requirement that broadband Internet consumers be permitted to access the lawful content of their choice.

That’s hardly a revolutionary concept, unless you’re a broadband gatekeeper like Comcast that makes its customers’ choices for them by discriminating against some websites and favoring others.

To justify allying with Comcast, ATT, and their ilk in a mega-million dollar lobbying campaign to beat back government action that might prevent such anti-competitive, anti-consumer discrimination, the media congloms cited the need to combat piracy of their valuable content over broadband networks.

But as much as we also support fighting piracy, the MPAA’s invoking that fight here is a diversionary smoke screen for what’s really going on. The existing FCC policy principles that call for network neutrality, as well as every proposal to turn those principles into enforceable rules, speak to ensuring that broadband providers allow consumers “to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.”

By definition, pirated content is not “lawful content.” Big Media’s claim that Net Neutrality rules will prevent it from combating piracy goes way too far, as evidenced by Comcast’s recent blocking and slowing of its customers’ access to content distributed by BitTorrent. In kneecapping BitTorrent, Comcast didn’t just block pirated content, but all BitTorrent content, including legitimate un-pirated content such as a file containing the text of the King James Bible, and video that BitTorrent was distributing on behalf of its clients Fox, Time Warner, and Viacom – all card-carrying members of the MPAA!

Now consider the second powerful blow Big Media leveled against the open Internet last week. On Wednesday, Hulu.com went “live” after months in beta, streaming video of film and television produced by most of the media congloms that make up the MPAA.

[BTW, as Nikki Finke asked, how is it that this NBC-Universal and News Corp. (FOX) “joint venture” to distribute via Internet content owned by these companies, plus that of Sony, Warners, MGM-UA, and others, doesn’t violate antitrust laws? After all, not even the Bush administration’s “anything goes” antitrust regulators would allow these same alleged competitors to create a “joint venture” to distribute their content via movie theaters or a Dish Network-type satellite system.]

Allowing Comcast, ATT, and other broadband gatekeepers to discriminate against video content delivered by the BitTorrents of the Internet world vastly strengthens Hulu’s competitive position as the leading and “safe” web distribution method for video.

And can there be any doubt that as a condition of Big Media’s allying with the broadband providers to fight net neutrality that there is a clear understanding between them that Hulu will never be discriminated against in the way BitTorrent was? Look for all the Big Media companies currently using BitTorrent and other distribution over the Internet to sign up soon with Hulu.

Following that, to ensure they are not discriminated against by broadband gatekeepers and placed at a competitive disadvantage, look for many more video content creators to place their content on Hulu. In a world without Net Neutrality, linking up with Big Media’s Hulu — and its insulation from Comcast-style discrimination and degrading — will be a matter of self-preservation.

Kudos to the Independent Film and Television Alliance (IFTA) for immediately calling out the MPAA and exposing its anti-competitive collusion. Writes the IFTA:   —>
http://www.savetheinternet.com/blog/2008/03/17/does-big-medias-one-two-punch-knock-out-the-internet/
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MIT’s Jenkins, Johnson Talk Community, Creativity
by Jessica Maguire
Gamasutra
03/17/08

[ one comment ]

MIT’s Jenkins, Johnson Talk Community, Creativity Amidst accusations of the dumbing-down of American youth, Henry Jenkins stands as a profound defender of popular culture, and a notable commentator on media and video game-related issues.

The Co-Director of the Comparative Media Studies Program at MIT, author of numerous books including Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture, shared the stage with Steven Johnson, author of Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software, Everything Bad Is Good for You, and other popular books about emerging technology, for the opening remarks at SXSW 2008.

The Decline Of Youth Culture?

To begin their conversation about the impact of new media and gaming culture, Johnson asked Jenkins about the emergence of books like The Dumbest Generation and the big NEA report about the decline of reading among kids today.   —>
http://www.gamasutra.com/php-bin/news_index.php?story=17829
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NCVO: Over 120 MPs demand local TV on freeview
politics.co.uk
03/17/08

Over 120 MPs have signed an Early Day Motion demanding that the Government introduce a local television network on Freeview before switching off the analogue TV signals.

Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum are backing a plan put forward by United for Local Television, a coalition of local TV operators and campaigners. This would see the introduction of “Channel 6” as a new local channel broadcasting on the Freeview platform. No matter where you live in the UK, Channel 6 would be a local channel offering local news, local programming and local advertising. Channel 6 would also carry ‘networked’ public service content covering interests such as the arts, business, industry, rural affairs, tourism, health and social issues.

The Early Day Motion has been proposed by Ian Stewart MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Community Media, and is rapidly gaining support from MPs.  Ian Stewart, MP for Eccles, said:  “UK citizens are amongst the least well served in the entire democratic world for access to local news and information from television. It is vital that at least one channel (out of a potential 30+ channels on Freeview) is protected as a local channel providing a forum to debate and discuss local issues. I feel very strongly that local TV must be extended so that everyone has access to a local channel on Freeview no matter where they live and without the need to subscribe to pay-TV or the internet.”

The Government is committed to the expansion of local TV. Section 244 of the Communications Act 2003 gives the Culture Secretary the ability to enact a Local Digital Television Order which would roll out local TV services across the UK. MPs are now calling on the Government to enact these provisions.   —>
http://www.politics.co.uk/press-releases/ncvo-over-120-mps-demand-local-tv-on-freeview-$1213353.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 – 02/29/08

February 29, 2008

Rowley lobbies for local access channels
by Lynne Hendricks
Newburyport Daily News (MA)
02/29/08

Negotiations have begun for a new cable license with Comcast Cable Co., and town leaders are letting the cable giant know that programming geared specifically toward their local audience will be a high priority moving forward.  In a series of three public meetings that kicked off two weeks ago, selectmen have been collecting testimony from officials and local residents who support the vital role Public, Educational and Governmental access programming plays in small communities.  The last of the three public hearings will take place Monday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. and will primarily address the public component of PEG access, which enables anyone from the public with a creative idea to produce and air content on available local channels.

In neighboring towns like Newburyport and Salisbury, that access includes the airing of local governmental and school board meetings, emergency data related to road closures and extreme weather events, and unique programming locally produced by student and resident film enthusiasts.  Rowley had access to those channels until last summer when Comcast — the only cable licensee in town at the time — sold its Newburyport studio and discontinued PEG access to Newbury and Rowley. The town has since fought unsuccessfully to get Comcast to reinstate PEG access, and it’s likely the matter will end up in court depending on how Comcast responds to the town’s latest legal filing.

In the meantime, Verizon is a new cable player on the scene, having been issued a license in December 2007 to compete with Comcast in Rowley. They’ve launched an aggressive marketing campaign and sent company representatives out across town to garner a share of the local market. They sweetened their deal by offering the town a generous $85,000 grant toward Rowley’s own future PEG access studio, and an additional 5 percent of future revenues to the same end.   —>
http://www.newburyportnews.com/punews/local_story_060064620.html
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Special fund proposed  for cable access
by Tamara Le
SeacoastOnline.com (NH)
02/29/08

NORTH HAMPTON —>   The BOS held a public hearing on the special revenue fund warrant article for the town’s Cable Access Channel. If approved by voters, the establishment of the PEG Access Television fund will allow for the hiring of a staffer for Channel 22 by way of money accumulated through Comcast subscriber fees returned to the town. Further, the board approved a payment of $18,149.45 from the current fund for cameras, microphones and other production equipment.   —>
http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080229/NEWS/802290403/-1/NEWS10&sfad=1
~

Londonderry access channel request gets poor reception
by Trent Spiner
Union Leader (NH)
02/21/08

[ 7 comments ]

A proposed sixth channel for Londonderry’s public access television center has been denied by the town’s cable provider, prompting officials to take action.  Local public access television officials looking to expand their station’s lineup said they cannot air all their programming in a timely fashion with the five channels they currently have. Representatives from Comcast, the town’s sole cable provider, said another channel is unreasonable and would limit other features in higher demand among their customers.  The disagreement is expected to come to a head on March 3 when the town council holds a public hearing on the matter.

“Comcast owes us a sixth channel,” said Dottie Grover, director of cable services for the town. “The sixth channel would be a second public access channel. It is not unusual for us to have 50 to 70 programs waiting to have a turn to get on the air.”  She said a contract with Comcast enables her department to broadcast on a sixth channel by simply asking for it. But their request for the channel — dating back almost four months — has been denied. Town councilors must now hold a public hearing to determine whether Comcast is in breach of contract.   —>
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Londonderry+access+channel+request+gets+poor+reception&articleId=699cb47c-44eb-418f-b768-393766c7226e
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Community group hopes to save WBTN
by John Waller
Bennington Banner (VT)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

A day after Southern Vermont College announced that it was searching for interested parties to take over and operate the radio station WBTN-AM as a community outlet, a group of community leaders has stepped forward to answer the call.  Although still in its early stages, the group made up of town officials, organization directors and media owners and experts met Wednesday to discuss ways to keep WBTN-AM open as a community news source, group spokeswoman and executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce Joann Erenhouse said Thursday.

She said the group formed after locals voiced their concerns over the future of the radio station, urging the college to maintain Bennington’s local AM station as a community asset. “It’s really important for us to keep WBTN-AM locally focused, locally controlled and locally operated,” she said.  “When you listen to other radio stations, you get nice music and national and international news,” she continued, “but there is a huge appreciation in this community from people across the board for being able to turn on the radio and getting to hear people we know talk about local issues, issues we care about and have some influence over. You can’t get that on any other station.”

In early February, the college’s trustees directed President Karen Gross to end the station’s losses by May 15. The station has lost about $450,000 since it was donated by trustee Robert Howe in North Bennington in 2002, college spokesman David Scribner said.  He said he thought it was great that a local group has organized and is interested in saving the station. He said the group is one of many that has been in contact with the college, especially after it gave a March 21 deadline for proposals.   —>
http://www.benningtonbanner.com/headlines/ci_8403226
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Community media center plans expand and change
by Mark Anderson
Kiowa County Signal (KS)
02/29/08

While work on development of the Kiowa County Community Media Center has continued in recent months, its shape and scope has also evolved to the point of now including three other pre-tornado entities in a two-tiered facility tentatively named the Kiowa County Commons, tentatively set to be built on South Main in Greensburg.  The components of the media center have been detailed before on this page, including a WiMAX-based wireless access point atop the grain elevator and free WiMAX-enabled laptops and other portable, handheld WiMAX-enabled devices to help citizens create and receive the web-portal based audio and video programming.  The center is to provide both the technical support and state-of-the-art resources to support both community journalism and creative expression…

Other locals participating are County Extension Agents Carmen Stauth and Pam Muntz, and GHS faculty member Marshall Ballard, who is organizing a group of high school students who will be involved in television and radio production activities through the media center.  Likewise involved are Ray Stegman and Kendal Lothman of the county’s Long Term Recovery Team and Debra Allison, director of county libraries.
http://www.kiowacountysignal.com/homepage/x1637677144
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Community Media and Community-Based Planning
by Tom Lowenhaupt
The Campaign for Community-Based Planning (NY)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

Over my 14 years as a community board member it became ever more apparent that local communication in New York City sucks, sorry, is inadequate. In making the case for the .nyc TLD, I frequently make reference to the quantity of local media in Terre Haute Indiana, where I attended college for a couple of years, and Queens Community District 3, where I served on the community board. Here’s a little chart comparing the dedicated local media serving the two communities:

Also, we do have a few weakly newspapers that cover portions of the district. And should there be a catastrophe in the area (LaGuardia Airport is in our district), we will be inundated with far more media than one reasonably needs. But on a daily basis, to look into why the potholes aren’t filled, to the needs of the homeless guy, to examine the quality of our local schools, etc., local media doesn’t exist. Perhaps I should say “local media is inadequate.”

This is all preliminary to my directing you to a presentation that will be given this Sunday at the Grassroots Media Conference at Hunter College entitled “A Platform for Community Media.” The presenter (that would be me) will explore how the .nyc TLD (other TLDs are .com, .org, .edu…) will facilitate the development of participatory local media – media that we all contribute to and that helps us make decisions. Perhaps it might be thought of as community-based or bottom-up media. Not sure what I’ll call it yet. Come Sunday and find out.

Get a preview of my presentation here and info about the Grassroots Conference and it 40 other sessions, and film screenings, here.
http://communitybasedplanning.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/community-media-and-community-based-planning/
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Interview about alternative media
by Paul O’Connor
Undercurrents Alternative News (UK)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

—>   > Do you think that ethnic minorities, victims of violence or corruption and other social groups feel that the media is falling to give them a voice?

I assume you mean the mainstream media? The alternative media has grown strong over the last 10 years and now campaigners, or any minorities can spread their message wide and coherently. A decade ago Undercurrents videos of a protest against a roadbuilding scheme would gain an audience of around 10,000 by distributing VHS video tapes, now with the internet we reach 160,000 with DVD quality downloads. The videos are then shown to various communities. Very exciting stuff. Many people are (slowly in some cases) that the mainstream media is losing much of it’s power. Following narrow corporate agendas has alienated the public who are seeking real news and stories. Campaigners have a voice within the growing alternative media such as undercurrents video, indymedia,schnews and other outlets.

> Is the public interested in development stories and that of human suffering? Why?

Yes they are but usually only if presented in a way that the public feel they can make a difference. Usually the angle the mainstream media portrays is of victims. The mainstream may say that Homeless people deserve our sympathy and persuade us to give them some money but rarely challenges the reasons why so many people are on the streets in the first place. Alternative media tends to highlight the people actively out there changing the system. Setting up social centres in disused buildings, community cafes, cheap quality food coops etc. When the public sees the issue framed through this lens, people become interested in development stories.   —>
http://undercurrentsvideo.blogspot.com/2008/02/interview-about-alternative-media.html
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Blind Alleys
by Bunny Riedel
Telecommunications Consultant
02/29/08

There are people who have contributed greatly to your personal welfare that you will never hear about. One of those is Marston Bates. He studied mosquitoes in South America and his work improved the understanding of yellow fever. You gotta like a guy like that, somebody who does original and actual research. Bates didn’t take himself too seriously either. He is attributed with saying “Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind.”

It seems that more people just take things as gospel without ever digging any deeper to get to the facts. I do know the more something is repeated, the truer that something becomes. And if you throw a bit of academia on that something you pretty much got yourself a coup.

Take the recent Ball State University white paper put out by the Digital Policy Institute called “An Interim Report on the Economic Impact of Telecommunications Reform in Indiana.” Luckily the report came out just in time for the opening of state legislative sessions because according to that report Indiana is now leading the nation in terms of innovative and creative telecommunications law.

Did you know that there have been over 2,200 jobs created in Indiana as a direct result of the March 2006 statewide video franchising? That’s what the report says alright, over 2,200 jobs created! Of course the citations to support that claim are from AT&T, Verizon and Comcast press releases and a newspaper report regarding other telecom companies. The largest number of these jobs are attributed to AT&T at 1,650. However, even if you take AT&T at their word and believe their press release, the real story is that at least 600 of those jobs have nothing to do with statewide video franchising, they are call center jobs for wireless business customers.

See: http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=4800&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=24607

If we presuppose that the remaining 1,050 AT&T jobs were strictly created as a result of statewide video franchising and their rollout of U-Verse, we would then have to hypothesize that AT&T ain’t so great at workforce management. As of August, AT&T reported offering U-Verse to five cities in Indiana: Kokomo, Indianapolis, Anderson, Bloomington and Muncie. If we assume that AT&T now has 10% of all subscribers in those cities, or over 30,000 subscribers in Indiana, we have to conclude that AT&T has hired one new employee for roughly every 28.5 subscribers. Ergo we can now say with confidence that AT&T ain’t so great at workforce management.

See how I do that? And all without the added benefit of a professorship or an institute.

Nothing can be empirically proven when all one does is rely on press releases from the very companies one is supposedly researching or multiple citations from the very groups that lobbied for the legislation in the first place. What groups? The very same groups that have traveled from state house to state house, coast to coast, across this nation pretending they have conducted nonbiased, consumer interest research. Folks like: The American Enterprise Institute; Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC); FreedomWorks; Heartland Institute; Phoenix Center; and the Reason Foundation. Throw into the mix the National Conference of State Legislators, whose policy platform is pro-statewide franchising, and you’ve got yourself quite a bucket-load of data regarding how fabulously terrific statewide video franchising is and how Indiana is such a leader in broadband deployment.

What’s true is that almost two years after the law passed, fifteen of the Certificates of Authority applicants were incumbent cable operators hoping to relieve themselves of various obligations in existing franchise agreements. Pesky stuff like capital payments for PEG or PEG channels or PEG operations. Somebody ask South Bend, Hammond, Merrillville, Mishawaka, Plymouth, Goshen and Portage about what happened to their production studios and playback facilities. Somebody ask the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) what the penalty should be for Comcast not making their quarterly capital payments to Fort Wayne even though the law clearly says support is supposed to remain the same.   —>
http://riedelcommunications.blogspot.com/2008/02/blind-alleys.html
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Hopes fading for public-safety broadband network
by William Jackson
Government Computer News
02/28/08

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of the 700-MHz portion of the spectrum, now occupied by TV broadcasters, has been a financial success, with total bids of more than $19.5 billion for all five bands, far outstripping the $10 billion reserve set by the FCC.

But the one loser in the ongoing auction, now entering its second month, has been the D block, which includes the chunks of spectrum set aside for a nationwide public safety network.  “It is now becoming clear that the reserve price will not be met,” said Roberta Wiggins, a research fellow at the Yankee Group.

Bidding on that block stalled early in the auction, with one bid at $472 million — far below the minimum price of $1.3 billion set for it. Bidders apparently have been scared off by what Wiggins called the “horrendous cost” and “Herculean task” of building out a single network, a large part of which would be used exclusively by first responders in state, local and public safety agencies around the country. During emergencies, public safety agencies would receive priority on all segments of the D block network.

What the stalled bidding means for the future of the public safety network is not clear.  “We still don’t know what happens if D block doesn’t meet its reserve and what they plan to do with it,” said Berge Ayvazian, chief strategy officer at Yankee Group.

That is just one of many unknowns discussed in a telebriefing Thursday by Yankee Group analysts who summed up the current status of the auction. The open-ended auction could continue for as long as four more months, and for the first time the bidding is anonymous.  “We not only don’t know who the winners are yet, we don’t even know who is bidding,” Ayvazian said.   —>
http://www.gcn.com/online/vol1_no1/45904-1.html
~

Nonline community: freedom, education, the net
by Dougald Hine
openDemocracy
02/20/08

[ comments allowed ]

Both governments and zealous cyber-enthusiasts champion the internet’s educational and political potential. The danger that results is a policy of techno-compulsion that undermines citizens’ autonomy. There is a better way, says Dougald Hine.

There is frequent and widespread criticism of the way that governments around the world attempt to manage or control the internet. The imprint of the global network’s origins in the United States’s cold-war era military-research programmes seems ever present in the tensions between states and citizens that appear in so many of the net’s “civic” contexts – from the Chinese government’s massive monitoring and blocking operations to western authorities’ moral censorship and European Union legislation requiring service providers to retain details of customers’ internet use.

In such cases, those who speak out for the civil liberties of internet users often tend towards a techno-libertarian position: their commitment to individual freedom being matched only by a belief in the “transformative potential” (a key couplet) of the internet…

There is always a danger that the frenetic embrace of new freedom disguises an updated form of old conformity. The benefits facilitated by the internet can be acknowledged, and the threats to online freedoms by states and governments challenged, while other important freedoms that its spread may infringes are neglected. One of these in particular increasingly requires defence: the freedom to remain disconnected, to refuse citizenship of cyberspace, to keep both feet firmly in First Life.

The limits of the possible

This is no longer an academic question. In England, the government announced in January 2008 that it is considering making it compulsory for parents to provide broadband access at home for their school-age children. The initiative is motivated by an honourable desire to ensure that technology is not out of reach of families on low incomes. Ministers hope to reach deals with major IT firms to provide affordable access. However, this would be reinforced by the requirement that parents subscribe to the service – presumably accompanied by some kind of sanction for those who wilfully fail to comply.

The government’s schools minister, Jim Knight, argues that this is no different to the expectation that families provide pupils with a school-uniform, pencil-case and gym-kit. Yet such comparisons serve only to highlight the unprecedented nature of the proposed requirement. When governments begin to oblige people to instal a communications technology in their own homes, this raises serious questions about the role of the state and the rights of citizens.

The now routine references to pupils and students as “consumers of education” highlight what underlies the effort to get every family in England online: that is, a model of the way that new products spread through society, used for decades by marketers in their quest for customers, and increasingly taken up by policy-makers. Everett M Rogers’s “diffusion of innovations” curve plots the take-up of a product over time, mapping consumers into five categories, according to the stage at which they buy in. These range from “innovators” (who make up 2.5% of the overall market) and “early adopters” (13.5%), through the “early / late majorities” (34% each), to the 16% of “laggards” at the back.

The model – first developed by researchers who wanted to know why some farmers were slower than others to adopt agribusiness practices – wears its value judgements on its sleeve (who would prefer to be labelled a laggard than an innovator?) The basic assumption is that the product or technology in question is an uncontested good; that everyone ought to have it; and that its universal spread is only a matter of time.

In the case of a business promoting its product in the marketplace where “customer choice” is meaningful and not just another mantra, this leaves a space for free decision (Coca-Cola may believe that it is “the real thing”, but, if I disagree, it cannot force its authenticity upon me). But governments – even ones claiming democratic authority – are not subject to constant competition; they are granted a temporary monopoly on power, and, where persuasion fails, they may resort to compulsion. This makes it important – in this area as in others – for citizens to demand that politicians’ power is both limited and accountable. There are few things which are so overwhelmingly good that everyone should be forced to adopt them; and, to put the same point from a different angle, people often turn out to have surprisingly good reasons for refusing an innovation that others have decided is without drawbacks.    —>
http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/the_off_grid_internet
~

Junta continues to quash Burma’s media
by Zin Linn
UPI Asia Online
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

BANGKOK, Thailand,  The latest attack on Burma’s media took place Feb. 15, when the military junta raided offices of the Myanmar Nation weekly journal in Rangoon. Editor Thet Zin and manager Sein Win Maung were arrested after officials confiscated a human rights report by U.N. Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a contribution on the Panglong Agreement by a veteran Shan politician, videos of anti-government protests during the Saffron Revolution and handwritten poems. The police also seized hard disks from the computers which stored news reports and photos to be used in the weekly journal.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association condemned the arrest of the two men. The Honolulu Community-Media Council of the United States also joined the BMA, international journalist and human rights organizations in condemning the continued crackdown on the Burmese media by the military regime.

Burma is trapped in a murky era where freedom of expression has been completely lost. The more control the junta has over the media and the Internet, the higher the menace for the civilized exchange of ideas. The junta is abusing the media as its tool to close peoples’ eyes and ears by giving them false news and ideas.

It is sad that this country sees no sign of freedom even in this Global Information Age. The junta controls all media access now. Since the monk-led protests known as the Saffron Revolution of last September, all news media in Burma is strictly censored and tightly controlled by the military junta. All daily newspapers, radio and television stations are under the regime’s supervision.

During the brief Saffron Revolution, people in the former capital of Rangoon and all other provincial cities received up-to-date news footage through Al-Jazeera, the BBC, CNN and DVB TV. Besides, some IT activists put footage of the dissent on compact discs and delivered them to people with no access to satellite dishes. Such actions allowed many Burmese citizens to see news footage of the mass anti-government demonstrations, and the brutal crackdown that ensued.

The military regime has constantly mistreated journalists since Sept. 27. On that day Japanese video reporter Kenji Nagai was killed by a soldier in downtown Rangoon, at the height of the demonstrations. Japanese officials have constantly said that Nagai, 50, was evidently shot at close range, not hit by stray bullets as the SPDC officials explained. The Japanese government has demanded the return of the journalist’s video camera and tapes, which are believed to have captured the shooting, and is investigating his death.

The military censorship branch, known as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, is now harassing editors to publish propaganda produced by the junta in their journals and magazines. Scores of writers and journalists suspected of sympathizing with the Saffron Revolution have been banned from contributing to publications.

Members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association, a junta-backed militia, have kept up their attacks on journalists. Photographers were beaten by USDA thugs while taking photos during the monks’ protests. Numerous civilians holding cameras or mobile phones were temporarily arrested and tortured. More than a dozen journalists were beaten or treated badly during the demonstrations. In addition, several young amateur journalists or civilian journalists were also detained and their cameras and mobile phones were confiscated by the militia.

Burma’s military exercises tight controls over the Internet, banning access to news websites such as Yahoo or Hotmail. The regime was frustrated by bloggers and civilian journalists during the anti-junta protests, as they provided detailed consecutive accounts of the bloodshed and helped spread the news. The junta disconnected the nation’s Internet links at the height of the violence to cut off the information flow about the crackdown.

A popular Myanmar blogger, Nay Phone Latt, was arrested on Jan. 29. His blog was written in Burmese and in a creative writing style. He used it as a forum to discuss the difficulties of daily life, such as the electricity shortages and the swelling cost of living.

In the 1950s, Burma was at the forefront of press freedom in Southeast Asia. The country enjoyed a free press without censorship. As many as three dozen newspapers, including English and Chinese dailies, existed between 1948 and 1962 under the civilian government. Even the prime minister’s office was never closed to journalists in those days. They were also free to set up relations with international news agencies.

The situation changed in 1962, when the military seized power. All newspapers were nationalized by the junta led by Gen. Ne Win. The junta established a Press Scrutiny Board to enforce strict censorship on all forms of printed matter, including advertisements and obituaries. Since then, the military junta’s censorship and self-censorship are commonplace, and have severely restricted political rights and civil liberties.

The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division is a major oppressive tool of the incumbent military regime. Not surprisingly, Burma stands downgraded from a free state to a prison state. No printed matter can be published without the PSRD’s permission. Photos, cassette tapes, movies and video footage also need the censor’s stamp before reaching the people. At the same time, the military concentrates to stop the flow of uncensored radio news in Burmese available from international broadcasting stations.

Moreover, the junta has come to dominate the media industry through publication companies owned by generals and their cronies. The radio, television and other media outlets are monopolized for propaganda warfare by the military regime and opposition views are never allowed. The regime does not even allow religious discourse.

The media is a special tool for the military regime with no space for the opposition party. Political debates are always inhibited, even at the National Convention, which has completely lost its credibility and is regarded as a sham.

Foreign periodicals have not been seen on newsstands since October as the junta has been blocking reports on Burma. The owners of Internet cafes have been forced to sign an agreement to follow restrictions by the authorities, and dare not allow users to breach the regime’s filters. Moreover, the owners have to report details of their customers to military intelligence.

Currently, the situation of the press in Burma is getting worse and worse. Media-related people are feeling defenseless, and the voices of the people are constantly blocked.

The press is the fourth estate of democracy after the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. But in Burma the Parliament has been debarred by the military. The judiciary is automatically defunct under military supremacy. In that case, it is clear that the fourth estate cannot escape from the grip of the military dictatorship.

The lifeblood of democracy is the free flow of information. Burma needs regional cooperation to attain press freedom. Journalists in Burma are hoping for more assistance, morally and practically, from international media groups. Without press freedom a nation cannot enjoy the taste of social equality.

(Zin Linn is a freelance Burmese journalist in exile. He spent nine years in a Burmese prison as a prisoner of conscience. He now serves as information director of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, and is vice-president of the Burma Media Association. ©Copyright Zin Linn.)
http://www.upiasiaonline.com/Politics/2008/02/29/junta_continues_to_quash_burmas_media/2470/
~

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 ]

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House PEG Access Hearing – 20: Closing Statements


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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/04/08

February 6, 2008

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

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

As part of the Franchise renewal process between the City of New York and TimeWarner Cable, a public hearing will be held to allow NYC residents an opportunity to voice their views and concerns regarding the cable franchise we will all be living with for the next 10 to 15 years. It is extremely important that our public officials hear loud and clear that Public Access provisions are critically important to our community and that continued and expanded support for the needs and interests of Manhattan residents must be included in any franchise agreement that is reached.   —>
http://www.mnn.org/en/cable-franchise-hearing-thursday
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Cable Hearing Reveal Strong Support for BRONXNET
by Osjua Newton
Lehman College Meridian (NY)
02/04/08

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

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

However, the topic most echoed at the podium was a call to increase funding and support for The Bronx based public access television network, BRONXNET.  “Certainly it was helpful for us to see how the community feels about BRONXNET,” said DoITT panel member Radhika Karmarkar. She added that the topics discussed during this, and future hearings, will be considered during the negotiations.   —>
http://media.www.lcmeridian.com/media/storage/paper806/news/2008/02/04/News/Cable.Hearing.Reveal.Strong.Support.For.Bronxnet-3182355.shtml
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Naifeh rebuts Bredesen’s AT&T/Cable comments
by John Rodgers (3 comments)
Nashville City Paper (TN)
02/04/08

House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh today appeared to refute comments from Gov. Phil Bredesen that the speaker’s approach to finding a compromise between AT&T and the cable industry over television franchising wouldn’t work.  “I respectfully disagree,” Naifeh (D-Covington) said after being read Bredesen’s comments during a hastily called news conference this afternoon.   —>
http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/news.php?viewStory=58715
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New laws aim to help TV customers get good service
Providers face competition, fines
by Laura Girresch (9 comments)
News-Democrat (IL)
02/04/08

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

One state law, the Cable and Video Customer Protection Law, says local governments and the Illinois attorney general can fine television companies for not telling customers how their rates will change after a promotion, disconnecting service for repairs for more than 24 hours, and only providing service where they can make the most money.  “It gives us an extra avenue to enforce or review or have some leverage to get customers the service they deserve,” Belleville Mayor Mark Eckert said.   —>
http://www.bnd.com/business/story/246478.html
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Unscripted Ending
The picture gets blurry for public access television.
by Josh Goodman
Governing
02/08

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

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

Public access TV now faces a more uncertain future than at any time since its inception in the 1970s. In the past three years, some 20 states have, like Indiana, switched to statewide franchises for cable TV. In the process, public, educational and governmental channels — the so-called “PEGs” — are getting hammered. Many are losing funding or studio space, and in a few places PEGs are being shut down altogether. The wild sandbox that gave political gadflies, aerobics instructors, sex therapists and many others a place to hone their video skills, while entertaining those who dared to watch, may never be the same.   —>
http://www.governing.com/articles/0802tv.htm
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Leaving Localism Behind
StopBigMedia.com
01/31/08

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

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

Just two weeks after this article appeared, the Federal Communications Commission took action on a long- overdue localism debate that dates back to the previous chairman, Michael Powell. Unfortunately, the FCC did not come to the same conclusion as Gene McHugh and WAGA. It seems the FCC, whose mission is in part to foster localism, thinks stations are doing just fine. The report, released on January 24th, concludes a proceeding that included six public hearings and thousands of comments from concerned citizens. While the comments submitted and the testimony given overwhelmingly suggest that the American people are dissatisfied with the way their local media are serving their community, the FCC barely acknowledged these complaints in their report. —>
http://www.stopbigmedia.com/blog/2008/01/31/leaving-localism-behind/
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An FCC watcher’s guide to Super Tuesday
by Matthew Lasar
Lasar’s Letter on the FCC
02/03/08

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

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

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

Four candidates with clear records on the issues remain in the field.   —>
http://www.lasarletter.net/drupal/node/551
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Prescott considers new channel  on access television (1 comment)
Daily Courier (AZ)
02/03/08

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

City Manager Steve Norwood explained on Friday that officials with Access13 approached him recently with the proposal for adding another access channel for Prescott television viewers.  While City Council meetings and other programs currently air on channel 13, Norwood said the change would move that programming to channel 15. Channel 13 would remain as the channel for other access programming.   —>
http://www.dcourier.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&subsectionID=1&articleID=52166
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Waiting on FiOS Until It Can Deliver LMC-TV
by Judy Silberstein
Larchmont Gazette (NY)
01/30/08

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

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

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

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

And why should you care? Judging from the number of citizens attending most sessions, very few of you actually turn up at Village Hall or the Town Center or Mamaroneck High School for board meetings. Many more of you – without a rating service, we don’t know how many – watch from home. We try to cover the highlights in our reporting, but if you want all the details, LMC-TV is the only source.  And then there are all the other LMC-TV shows that are hosted by community members and that feature our neighbors and our neighborhood.   —>
http://www.larchmontgazette.com/2008/techtalk/index.html
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City seeks to regulate its cable TV channel
by Angela Daughtry
News-Leader (FL)
02/04/08

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

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

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

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

Commissioner Ken Walker said he could not understand why the channel hasn’t been used more, but to “keep some form of civility to the channel we have to adopt some sort of rules.”  Sapp noted there has been community access programming since the early ’70s, with “no conflict, no controversy.”  “If there begins to be a concern, then we start to look at that,” he added. “So why pass some exclusionary kinds of rules?”   —>
http://www.fbnewsleader.com/articles/2008/02/04/news/00newscitycable.txt
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Town television offers new programs this month
Greenwich Post (CT)
02/04/08

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

“The Economics of Climate Change: Risk, Ethics and a Global Deal,” a lecture by Lord Nicholas Stern, is part of The Walter E. Edge Lecture series at Princeton University…
…“Jim Crow’s Last Stand:  The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Suburban North,” a lecture by Thomas J. Sugrue, was given at Case Western University in 2007 as part of its Cityscapes Lecture Series…
…“A View From the Top:  A Conversation with Former Governors About Abbott v. Burke,” a 2007 program featuring former New Jersey governors Brendan Byrne, Jim Florio and Donald DiFrancesco, was held at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.   —>
http://www.acorn-online.com/news/publish/greenwich/28465.shtml
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Seeing is believing — or is it?
by Rick Siefert (1 comments)
The Red Electric
02/03/08

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

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

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

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

As I’ve done my own critical thinking about our on-air ad analysis, I wish we had shared some key concepts of media literacy and applied them to the ads.  Better late than never.  You can find varying lists of these concepts, but here are the ones that the Alliance for a Media Literate America (AMLA) circulates. After each. I’ve included my own parenthetical comments in hopes of giving you a sense of the concept’s significance.   —>
http://theredelectric.blogspot.com/2008/02/seeing-is-believing-or-is-it.html
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Kenyan Expatriates Access Live African Television Coverage of Crisis in their Homeland
by Howard Lesser
VOA News
02/04/08

A leading broadcaster of African television over broadband internet has noticed a surge in the number of Kenyan viewers and others around the world avidly following disturbing political developments in Kenya.  Africast-TV streams real-time and archived programming over the internet from more than 40 public and independent channels in 25 African countries to subscribers in 50 countries, who can also sign up to watch it on their television sets.  From its US headquarters in Westport, Connecticut, founder and CEO John Sarpong says that the contentious campaign and its violence-filled aftermath has stirred more than 120-thousand anxious new viewers to tune in, looking to fill a void in global media coverage of Africa.   —>
http://www.voanews.com/english/Africa/2008-02-04-voa4.cfm
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Broadcasters, cable operators blasted for bottom-line approach to content
The Canadian Press
02/04/08

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

The comments came at a news conference in conjunction with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission hearings, which are examining recommendations to change the way Canadian-produced television and films are financed.  The federal regulator will be hearing arguments throughout the week on a proposal that would divide the $288 million fund essentially into two streams – one for commercial shows paid for by private broadcasters, and another supported by the government to produce culturally significant programming.   —>
http://canadianpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5h9GJLN0K4Oxy0PZVNvs1MrTFm4pQ
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Survey: More Internet Users Watch Web TV Than Cable VOD
20% Of Internet Users Watches A Show A Week On The Web
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News
02/04/08

Internet users are more likely to watch TV shows on the Web than access cable video-on-demand services, according to a survey by research firm Solutions Research Group.  The survey found that about 20% of Internet users in the United States said they watch TV episodes on the Web every week, compared with 14% who use a cable operator’s VOD.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6528505.html
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org