Archive for the ‘media justice’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/02/08: World Press Freedom Day

May 3, 2008

“Broadcasting, Voice, and Accountability”
Book Offers Tools to Foster Independent Broadcast Media in Developing Countries
The World Bank

People from the foothills of the Himalayas to small communities in Benin listen to the radio or watch TV. Now a new book seeks to help developing countries foster a diverse broadcasting sector that truly informs and empowers their citizens.

“Broadcasting, Voice and Accountability,” published this week by the World Bank Institute, is a best-practices guide to the kinds of policies, laws and regulations that result in a free, independent and responsible media, greater transparency in government, and more open public debate.

“The enabling environment for the media is crucial to the type of media we have, and that, in turn, has a critical role in development,” says co-author Steve Buckley, President of the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters. “The media can play a role as checks and balances ensuring good governance and accountability.”

The 400-page book, the culmination of five years of research by six media experts, was presented just ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3, in Maputo, Mozambique, at a conference on freedom of expression hosted by the United Nations Educational and Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). —>,,contentMDK:21753143~pagePK:64257043~piPK:437376~theSitePK:4607,00.html

Broadcasting, Voice, and Accountability
Steve Buckley, Kreszentia Duer, Toby Mendel and Seán Ó Siochrú
World Bank Institute
05/02/08 [?]

This book provides guidelines, tools, and real world examples to help assess and reform the enabling environment for media development that serves public interest goals. It builds on a growing awareness of the role of media and voice in the promotion of transparent and accountable governance, in the empowerment of people to better exercise their rights and hold leaders to account; and in support of equitable development including improved livelihoods, health, and access to education. The book provides development practitioners with an overview of the key policy and regulatory issues involved in supporting freedom of information and expression and enabling independent public service media. Country examples illustrate how these norms have been institutionalized in various contexts.

* Introduction (PDF 54KB)
* Chapter 1 (PDF 215 KB) –
* Table of Contents (PDF 35 KB) –
* Podcast Interview with Steve Buckley (co-author and President of the WACRB)
Real Media ; MP3,,contentMDK:21747844~pagePK:209023~piPK:207535~theSitePK:213799,00.html

World Press Freedom Day (Malaysia)
Little Garden of Joy


World Press Freedom Day is an annual and global event dedicated to press freedom. What is press freedom? Press freedom is a guarantee by the government of free public press for its citizens, and extending to journalists, even bloggers. With respect to governmental information, the government chooses which materials are revealed to the public and which materials that should be protected from disclosure. The purpose of this is to protect national interest as to conceal matters of sensitivity and controversy. Sadly, in Malaysia, much is being concealed from public interests despite continuous appeals from the public for the government to be as transparent as possible. [ … ]

The role of community media
Even though many media outlets have made provisions for audience participation and have therein become more accessible to the people they serve, nowhere is accessibility and specificity of purpose so well defined as with community media. Currently radio is the most widespread form of community media in the developing world because it is cheap to produce and to access, can cover large areas, and overcomes illiteracy. —>

World Press Freedom Day: Not there yet, say Hungarian media reps
MTI Daily Bulletin (Hungary)

Budapest – Hungary essentially has a free press, but needs improvement, Hungarian media organisation chiefs told MTI on the eve of May 3, UN World Press Freedom Day. “Freedom of the press is the product of democracy and societal operations: always a conflictive area,” said Pal Eotvos, chairman of the National Association of Hungarian Journalists (MUOSZ). Still unresolved problems include restrictions on court reporting and the manner in which the law determines slander. In addition, he said, the media is at the intersection of two conflicting constitutional rights: the rights of ownership and freedom of speech, adding that most Hungarian media are foreign-owned. —>

Liberia: Three Draft Media Laws Advance Through Legislature; CEMESP Urges Their Approval As World Press Freedom Day Approaches
Center For Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP) (Toronto)

On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day, CEMESP welcomes the introduction in the House of Representatives of three draft media laws, presented to that body on 17 April 2008 by a coalition of media and civil society organisations. Liberia’s House of Representatives introduced three draft Liberian media laws (An Act to Transform the Liberia Broadcasting System into a Public Service Broadcaster, An Act to Establish an Independent Broadcast Media Regulatory Commission and a Freedom of Information Act) during its regular plenary session on 29 April.

The laws, produced under the banner of the Liberia Media Law and Policy Reform Group, itself an outgrowth of the internationally sanctioned Partnership for Media Development and Conflict Prevention in West Africa, have been four years in the making, during which there was a series of consultations involving civil society, the media, government and the international community. —>

Southern Africa: SADC Sliding Down Media Freedom Scale
by Kaitira Kandjii
Financial Gazette (Harare)

The Media Institute of Southern Africa, a regional media and freedom of expression advocacy organisation, based in Windhoek and working through national chapters in 11 Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries joins the rest of the world in marking the World Press Freedom Day on Saturday.

MISA commemorates May 3 under the theme “Press Freedom, Access to Information and empowering the people.” This theme captures all we expect from our media, and the role our governments should play in promoting media and freedom of expression rights.

The 2008 World Press Freedom Day comes at a time when the enjoyment and respect for media and freedom of expression rights in Southern Africa is on the slide. We mark May 3 under the shadow of a crisis in Zimbabwe and the deterioration of media freedoms throughout the region notably in Lesotho, Angola and Swaziland. May 3 comes at a time when the international spotlight is once again on Southern Africa, home to some of the world’s archaic and repressive media environments with Zimbabwe taking the lead.

We mark May 3 with mixed feelings, while we have made substantive strides since the Windhoek declaration in 1991, the last three years have witnessed a steady deterioration of media freedom, reminiscent of Africa’s one party state era of the 70’s and early 80s, characterised by the suppression of the basic fundamental rights of freedom of expression, assembly and human dignity. —>

USAID Supports World Press Freedom

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) salutes the bravery and professionalism of journalists throughout the world and condemns all actions to suppress press freedoms.

May 3 marks World Press Freedom Day, a date set aside to reflect upon the key importance of freedoms of media and information. Free media perform critical checking functions on governments, raising the quality of governance. A free press also provides voice to citizens, creates public forums to discuss key issues, and contributes to social-economic development. But journalism can be a challenging, even dangerous profession, as witnessed by the killings of over one hundred journalists during 2007.

The U.S. government, through USAID, has supported enabling conditions for media to freely provide objective news and information to citizens in more than 50 countries. USAID will continue to support those individuals and organizations that are committed to freedom of the press and looks forward to the day when independence throughout the media can be found worldwide. Examples of USAID efforts include: —>

[ The communications infrastructure is not unrelated to the content capable of flowing over it. Hence, the relevance of broadband policy to world press freedom… ~ rm ]

Explaining International Broadband Leadership
by Robert D. Atkinson, Daniel K. Correa and Julie A. Hedlund
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Executive Summary (PDF)

It is hard to follow broadband telecommunications policy without hearing almost weekly that the United States ranks 15th out of 30 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations in broadband adoption. But it is much less apparent why the United States is behind. Indeed, relatively little work has been done to understand why some nations are ahead, and why some, like the United States, are lagging. By examining OECD nations through statistical analysis and in-depth case studies of nine nations, including the United States, this report attempts to do just that.

In identifying factors that have spurred broadband performance in other nations, we present key findings that government and the technology industry must recognize if we are to find the right course for the United States. And we propose key policy recommendations that will drive greater broadband performance. —>

[ Technology may always dazzle and divert, promising grace and glory, but in human nature lies our salvation or curse, if either there be. ~ rm ]

In Medias Res: Brilliant, Scary, Visionary, and Strange
The Parasitic Meme
by Rob

[ comments invited ]

Russell has some thoughts about a speech by Clay Shirkey in which he discusses his observations about social surpluses. He makes a certain case there by recounting a conversation with a person who couldn’t understand where the people who edit wikipedia articles find the time to do so. And in a speech which likens television sitcoms of the mid to late 20th century to gin pushcarts of the late 19th to early 20th century, he points out that those people have found that kind of time by not watching as much television as they used to.

I confess to being weary of tech visionaries. I don’t agree with Clay Shirkey about the transcendence of what he’s seen. Either that or I simply can’t get excited about tech progress any longer. Or I see his anecdotes as data points in much larger trends which have “changed the world” in superficial ways, but not in fundamental ones.

Consider, for example, the rhetoric that used to swirl around the invention of various devices we now take for granted. Perhaps the telephone is a good example. At first, people were shocked and appalled at a device, essentially the very first automation network, which could utter sounds made before then only by a human throat. Leave aside the notion that a human was still required to make the sound, he was still making a machine imitate it an appreciable distance away.

So, looking “from 30,000 feet” at the growth of the phone network, first, there was resistance, sometimes lots of resistance, then embrace by the wealthiest or most technologically inclined of the population, followed by a general acceptance of the tool by commercial interests, followed by general acceptance by all the population, followed by a worldwide build-out of the network.

But during those first years, the rhetoric was of a revolution in the way humans interacted. Some even declared that it would end wars, because people could then talk to one another more easily and misunderstandings could be resolved with the new gizmo far easier than with the old.

Since then the human race has fought the bloodiest wars in the history of civilization, and endured the most brutal tyrannies, alongside some of the highest and most noble expressions of lovingkindness and humanitarianism. Good and bad, but no fundamental change in human behavior, because there were now telephones.

The same sorts of things can and have been said about any subsequent innovation. Television was supposed to be a premier educational tool, bringing teachers to far-flung places. Hopefully the primary use of television today illuminates the absurdity of that assumption.

FM Radio was supposed to supplant AM Radio as a better technology than before. But RCA undertook to destroy its inventor personally, rather than buy shares in its technology.

The attitude towards the computer was that it would eventually become “machines that make big decisions / Programmed by fellows with compassion and vision” with the promise that “we’ll be clean when their work is done / We’ll be totally free, yes, and totally young, mmmm…”

What a beautiful world that will be, indeed. Donald Fagin’s “IGY” (for the International Geophysical Year declared by world scientists) captured the rhetoric of the revolutionary, common when we Americans were reaping the low-hanging fruit of the second large network to be built after the telephone, namely, the electric power grid. It was the attitude that got my American society to agree to send a man to the Moon and return him home again. [ … ]

It is ironic that Fagin released “IGY” in 1982, when the shine had come off the electric grid, after one energy crisis and during the tail end of a second, and when pollution, global climate change (then called global cooling, actually!), and peak oil were starting to be on everyone’s mind. By then the Internet was a connection network for large computers owned by the military and the universities affiliated in one way or another with DARPA.

Ten years from that point I would be of age, and be participating in a small way in the build out of that fourth internetwork, following the voice, power, and transistor networks which had already been designed and built. At that time I was fully enraptured by the revolution the Internet and computers could provide.

Since then, I’ve seen the same things happen “over the Web” that happened with the first telephone network, and the upheavals of the power grid and the rollouts of various, faster, and smaller computers. Resistance to the new technology is most often followed by attempts by established powers to own the new technology and shape it to their benefit. Witness the fights between Western Union and Alexander Graham Bell. Farnsworth and RCA. Steve Jobs and Microsoft. Any number of music publishers and the anarchists who use the Internet to duplicate their intellectual property against all laws. Efforts by movie companies to control through the DMCA. The “Net Neutrality” debates.

That ought to be enough of a body of examples to showcase what I think is true: Visionaries can’t see the future. Bell’s prognostications about the phone network, Kurzweil’s and Gates’ about computers, Roosevelt’s about the power grid, all were partly true and partly appallingly false. The telephone network was built, the power grid, television broadcast networks, but we are not “totally free” nor “totally young”.

Instead, basic human nature continues to rule. Now, Shirken talks about a tiny fraction of all the people participating in media interactivity, blogs and online votes and Web 2.0 stuff. As a revolution, because people were choosing to “wake up” from the 20th century’s equivalent to the gin cart, namely, broadcast television entertainment.

He isn’t alone in this kind of thinking, obviously, both since it is plain to see the ease with which young people obtain cheap computers and use them to communicate with one another, and to see how baffling these new approaches to communication are to those of us who are used to older technologies.

Hopefully, though, I’ve been able to demostrate why I don’t see those things as “revolutionary” or even very important for changing society or the world. Instead of sudden, the changes he highlights appear to me to flow apace, as society behaves the same about every new innovation as it did about all the old ones. As a very early adopter of what people now call text messaging and of the power of the so-called “social networks” (I used Unix “talk” and still use Usenet, for two examples), coupled with my study of modern history (for which I am not lettered, merely educated), I claim armchair expertise in the field as a social observer.

Hence, the observation he offered is pedestrian, and not terribly inspiring to me. I claim this even as I buy new iPhones and flat screens and computers for my own use, because they are dead useful tools. But they will not help us transcend ourselves. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/01/08

April 2, 2008

Louisiana Lawmakers Mull Video Franchising Bills
Pending Bills Would Give Franchising Authority To Secretary Of State
by Linda Haugsted
Multichannel News

Legislators in Louisiana will take on the issue of state franchising of video providers this session, a regulatory change that was shot down by then-governor Katherine Babineaux Blanco in 2006 due to her fear it would “interfere with the contractual rights of local governments.”  But the legislative session opened March 31 under a new governor, Bobby Jindal, and two bills have been introduced in the House and one in the Senate that contain several of the operational points that were in the bill rejected by Blanco two years ago.

For instance the bills would move franchising authority to the Secretary of State, which would have 10 days to authorize a certificate for a new provider.  Under the bills to be pondered in committee in both the state House and Senate, incumbent operators would be held to their current franchise agreements. Current video providers may only apply for state authorization when their current franchises expire, or if the local community agrees to let a company out of its agreement in favor of state regulation.

The bills ban build-out provisions and any local fees on new providers. Competitors would pay the same franchise fee amounts as incumbents, or up to 5%; and must provide up to three PEG channels. Local municipalities would be responsible for operating the PEG channels, though.   —>

Lawmakers Push For More Cable Competition
by Catharyn Campbell
WSMV Nashville (TN)

Lawmakers are reviving a plan to allow more cable providers to come to Tennessee to provide more choices to residents and hopefully create competition.  AT&T wants to provide cable television to Tennessee residents and the company may be able to offer that service before the year is up.

Currently state law prevents phone companies from providing cable television service.  However, Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro is trying to change that and is sponsoring a bill that will allow phone companies, electric utilities and cable television companies to sell video services across the state.  “I believe consumers should have the opportunity to pick and chose who they want. Right now if you are with Comcast or Charter, they went up $5 in December. So where do you go?” said Ketron.

A similar bill was put on hold last year, but for the past several months, cable companies, representatives from AT&T and attorneys have been meeting trying to hammer out an agreement.

They’re also proposing that the franchise fee be increased from 3 percent to 5 percent, which would go right back into the local community.  “Whatever is sold within the parameters of that community, they will get 5 percent of the franchise fee,” said Ketron…  The bill will go to committee next week and then still has to pass the House and Senate.   —>

Is the face of public access programming changing?
by Gregory Hyman
West Hartford News (CT)

Could revisions to a bill passed by the House last year change the way West Hartford residents view public access programming?  That’s the question some public access leaders are asking after members of the Connecticut House of Representatives convened to revise the language of a 2007 bill deregulating the cable broadcasting market in the state. Supporters of the bill hoped it would stimulate competition by allowing new entrants into Connecticut’s television broadcasting market.

Recently, members of the House revised provisions of House Bill 5814 to require video franchise providers to interconnect with public access at no cost to public access. Some public access leaders said language in the revisions could negatively effect the future of public access programming.

One of public access leaders’ greatest concerns was a provision that, while stating that service providers must pay for interconnection costs, also stated that service providers “could use the method most economical for them,” said Jennifer Evans, production manager for West Hartford Community Television.

Following testimony by Evans and others at a recent legislative hearing, members of the House removed the phrase “most economical” from the bill. They also removed the bill provision that assured costs for interconnection with public access stations would be paid for by the entrant video broacasting franchises, said Evans.

Rep. Steve Fontana (D-North Haven) said AT&T, a video service franchise making in-roads in Connecticut, has drafted a letter in which the company pledges to pay for all interconnection costs. Although he and his colleagues had not yet received the letter as of March 12, Fontana said that it is legally binding. leaving no need for the bill provision.

In his testimony at a recent legislative hearing, the president of Connecticut Network, Paul Giguere, voiced concerns about the way AT&T has made community access programming available in parts of California and Michgan, the only other states where the AT&T U-Verse platform is currently operational. Giguere said that AT&T’s U-Verse PEG platform, which the company plans to use to transmit public access channels, transmits with much lower video quality than is currently offered on public access channels in Connecticut.   —>

Customers vent frustration about Comcast takeover
Company officials say problems with service will be resolved soon
by Bill Engle (IN)


David Federico hopes he never has another problem with phone or cable service in his Hagerstown law office.  When Comcast replaced Insight as the local provider of cable television, Internet and phone service this year Federico lost his second phone line and the cable television connection to his personal computer.

Federico did what any customer would do, he called the company, he e-mailed, he went on “online chat,” first asking, then begging for help.  Nothing worked. It took almost a month, but Friday a local service technician finally came to his office and corrected the problem.  The experience left him wondering about the future of the new company in Wayne County.

“I have nothing but good things to say about the local service technician. He’s been just wonderful, friendly and knowledgeable,” Federico said. “But he said he had never gotten a work order on this. That’s why he never came to correct the problem.  “It was terribly frustrating to me. Obviously, this company has bollixed this whole transition.”

Comcast said problems like those experienced by Federico will be short-lived, but some customers aren’t quite ready to accept that promise. For them, Comcast’s move into the market has been anything but seamless.  Richmond City Clerk Karen Chasteen said her office has received more than 100 calls from customers complaining mostly about billing problems, but also about lost service and the cable television rate increase.

“It’s been awful. People are really upset,” she said. “One lady called up and screamed at us, but it’s not our fault. We had nothing to do with it.”  The city of Richmond prior to 2008 had governance over the cable provider, but that changed with the Indiana General Assembly’s adoption of the Telecommunications Reform Bill of 2006.  Now that governance falls to the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.   —>

Comcast denies violations
Selectmen plan to seek legal advice
by John Laidler
Boston Globe (MA)

Comcast has denied allegations by the Rowley Board of Selectmen that the cable firm is violating its contractual obligation to provide the town with a studio and an access channel, and to cablecast town-produced programs.  The company’s position, outlined in a letter to the town last Monday, came in response to the selectmen’s decision nearly three weeks earlier that Comcast was violating its license terms. Comcast’s letter does not address suggestions made by selectmen, in a letter accompanying their March 4 decision, on how the firm could come into compliance.

Selectmen chairman David Petersen said the board has forwarded Comcast’s letter to its legal counsel and at an upcoming meeting plans to discuss with him how to proceed. The board in its March 4 decision said it would pursue legal avenues if Comcast did not fully comply with the contract or reach an agreement with the town on a remedy within 21 days.   —>

Verizon working to grant public access channels
by Lydia Mulvany
Marshfield Mariner (MA)

[ comments invited ]

Marshfield residents who signed onto Verizon, which came into town in November, have been deprived of Marshfield’s public access channel — but not for much longer.  Rick Colon, regional director of Verizon for Southeastern Massachusetts, said public access channels should be up and running in about 30 days, and perhaps less.  “In Marshfield the service has been received with great fanfare, and people in the town love it,” Colon said. “We’re working hard to provide the public access channels because we realize more people will subscribe to FiOS TV if we have that.”   —>

Petition seeks to ensure access to analog OTA viewers post transition
Broadcast Engineering

The Community Broadcasters Association (CBA) last week asked an appeals court in Washington, D.C., to force the FCC to stop distribution and marketing of NTIA coupon-qualified converter boxes without analog-receive capability.  The move has the potential to derail the nation’s transition to DTV in February 2009. If the court agrees with the association that it is illegal to distribute TV receive equipment without the ability to receive all legal channels transmitted, it’s difficult to envision how the deadline will be met.

HD Technology Update spoke with Greg Herman, CBA VP of technology, to learn why the association has taken this extraordinary step.

HD Technology Update: Why has the Community Broadcasters Association (CBA) petitioned the court for a writ of mandamus to order the FCC to halt distribution and marketing of DTV converter boxes without analog tuners?

Greg Herman: First of all, we believe converter boxes lacking analog reception capability are in violation of the All Channel Receiver Act. Further, we believe the converter boxes that are being distributed are ill-conceived and are going to disadvantage those very individuals they were designed to help by blocking reception of the thousands of remaining analog televisions stations across the United States.   —>

The Medium is Still the Message
by Rev. Tony
Sunflower Chalice

[ 1 comment ]

In the April 8 issue of The Christian Century (the print issue gets out to me well in advance of the website being updated) there’s an interview with the pastor of Barack Obama’s church. No, not Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but Otis Moss III, who has recently taken over the day-to-day leadership of Trinity United Church of Christ from Wright.  Moss is 36 and the son of a man who served at Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta with MLK.  One question put to Moss was: How is pastoring different for you than it was for your father’s generation?

“My dad’s generation did not embrace television the way it might have. It left that medium to the prosperity gospel preachers. That means that an entire generation has been raised and educated by the Benny Hinns and the Creflo Dollars of the world. If my father’s generation had embraced television, then the standard bearers of that medium would be preachers who emphasize hope for the poor instead of those who treat Jesus as a cosmic bellhop.  Now we have to play catch-up. They have both the microphone and the megaphone…..The Kingian idea of the beloved community is one that we pull out now only for King Day, I guess. Otherwise it is lost. We have to struggle with it. Love will force you to change your doctrine and to engage those who hate you. People don’t want to do that.”

Moss’s answer to this question is something I think about every week. I see the local Assembly of God, Seventh Day Adventist, and Brazilian Pentecostal church on my local cable access television.  Not to mention some guy who sits in a coffee shop and quotes from the Bible (out of context) and rails against liberals and how unpatriotic anyone is who dares question the war in Iraq. Their worship services run two and three times a week.  I see them, and sometimes watch for while, as I am searching for PBS or the Red Sox (again, thankfully), or the NASCAR race (you have no IDEA how huge a fan my son is) or just turning on the television to get the DVD ready.  These churches are on constantly.  And the message they are preaching is not Kingian beloved community.  It is not inclusive, it is not welcoming, and it is very dogmatic and creedal.

What if, just suppose, a Unitarian Universalist preacher were on local cable access every week? It doesn’t take much.  Most local cable access station require a yearly membership fee, usually in the $50 range, some as high as $100, but most lower.  With membership comes the opportunity to borrow the equipment and use the studio.  Even a digital camcorder can now make something that can be turned into a half-hour program with just a little editing.

The TIME magazine advertising is great and all, but I wonder if our money and energy wouldn’t be better spent investing in camcorders and computer equipment and money at the congregational level so that each congregation had the hardware, training and know-how, and funding to:
1. produce and air worship service or at least sermons on local cable television and then post them on the Internet on services such as YouTube.
2. have well designed and user friendly websites (many do, but many still do not)

More people, especially younger people, get their news and information today from the Internet than from newspapers or television and in local communities, it never ceases to amaze me how many people watch local cable television.   —>

James River Film Festival
Fan District Hub (VA)

[ comments invited ]

The all volunteer run Richmond Moving Image Co-op presents the 15th James River Film Festival this week, March 31-April 6, 2008.  Writer/director Richard Kelly, father-son filmmakers Ken and Azazel Jacobs, filmmaker and community media advocate DeeDee Halleck, the Richmond Indigenous Gourd Orchestra, assistant editor/producer Emily Doe from McSweeney’s DVD magazine Wholphin, and David Williams will headline the 15th edition of the James River Film Festival at the Firehouse Theatre, the Byrd Theatre, the Richmond Public Library Main Branch and the Camel.  For a detailed schedule of what happens when, where and how much, click here.   —>

Knights News Challenge has 17 finalists to transform community news through digital innovation
by Carolyn Lo
The Editors Weblog

[ comments invited ]

For the second year in a row, the Knight News Challenge asked the public for ideas to transform community news through digital innovation, and 17 projects were chosen for funding. The projects will be announced on May 14, 2008, at the E&P Interactive Media Conference in Las Vegas.  The top finalists are projects that have the potential to “inform, empower and engage citizens and help them participate in the decision-making process of their neighborhoods, their communities and their countries,” according to the Knight News.
Some projects are:   —>

African Day Parade Founder Seeks to Unify Compatriots
by Heather Robinson
New York Daily News

[ comments invited ]

—>  Still in high school, he completed an internship in video production at Manhattan Neighborhood Network, a public access TV channel. After producing the award-winning documentary “Carpe Diem,” about a young New York woman struggling with drug addiction, he helped found The Youth Channel, a public-access TV station for teenagers.   —>

All charged up over Comcast’s quadruple play
by Ed Foster


Today’s announcement of CHARGES, Comcast’s new home energy management system that will be combined with its TV, phone, and Internet services in a new “Quadruple Play” offering, has generated a lot of excitement. To help customers get charged up about this new service, following is a transcript from a Q&A session at Comcast’s press conference.

Q: What is the CHARGES program all about?
Comcast: We see CHARGES (Comcast Harvesting Additional Revenues Generating Electricity Surcharges) as a terrific opportunity to tap the potential of our cable set-top boxes to enhance our quality of life. Oh, and maybe yours, too.

Q: How will it work?
Comcast: Comcast will manage home energy the same great way our customers have come to know from our other offerings. Basically, all your lights and appliances will be wired through the set-top box. When you want to turn a device on or off, you go to the console and indicate it on the list. Then you walk to the device itself and throw the switch as desired.   —>

Entertainment and the Suburban Condition
by Scott B

[ 1 comment ]

Finally (!) delving back into Robert Putnam’s Bowling Alone, I want to dig into a phenomenon that Putnam argues is the most significant shaping influence in terms of social capital in modern American life – namely, electronic forms of entertainment and, specifically, television. This particular chapter of the book is both enlightening and depressing, if not entirely surprising. Putnam offers devastating analysis and commentary that relentlessly links television with civic disengagement in measure after measure. In conclusion, he writes:

“Americans at the end of the twentieth century were watching more TV, watching it more habitually, more pervasively, and more often alone, and watching more programs that were associated specifically with civic disengagement (entertainment, as distinct from news). The onset of these trends coincided exactly with the national decline in social connectedness, and the trends are most marked among the younger generations that are…distinctively disengaged. Moreover, it is precisely those Americans most marked by this dependence on televised entertainment who were most likely to have dropped out of civic and social life – who spent less time with friends, were less involved in community organizations, and were less likely to participate in public affairs.” (p. 246)

I suppose I should be clear that what Putnam is discussing here -and in the book generally speaking – is not in any way isolated to suburbanites. Obviously the influence of electronic media pervades all demographics and communities in our society. Putnam, in fact, relates a story from a town in northern Canada where, due to a topological anomaly, television signals were unavailable until the mid-1970’s. This community was studied alongside two neighboring communities that had ready access to television signals. Once television became available, this community demonstrated an immediate, measurable decline in residents’ participation in community activities. The other two communities were used as a control to demonstrate that the only variable in play was, in fact, television.

But my concern is specifically with the way in which electronic media interact with suburban culture. —>      

Venezuelan Media Terrorism Conference Denounces Negative Role of Private Media
by James Suggett

Journalists, communications specialists, and other participants in the Latin American Meeting against Media Terrorism in Caracas last weekend demanded that political leaders in the region put the issue of media terrorism on the agenda of all international forums and meetings in which they participate, according to the “Caracas Declaration,” the final collection of the resolutions produced at the conference.

Endorsed by participants from 14 countries, the Caracas Declaration denounces the role of the private media in the toppling of democratic governments across the region, and asserts that “media terrorism is the first expression and necessary condition of military terrorism that the industrialized North employs in order to impose its imperial hegemony and neo-colonial dominion on humanity.”…

Community Media Event

While the meeting against media terrorism was going on in Caracas, CONATEL hosted a “Bolivarian Forum” for over 30 alternative community media outlets in the western state of Trujillo aimed at assessing the progress of community media and strengthening the capacity of these outlets to serve the needs of their communities.   —>

Information is not a commodity
by MissMachetera

[ comments invited ]

“Not only the IAPA, but shock troops such as Reporters Without Borders, are responding to Washington’s dictates of disinformation and global defamation. In this context, the European Union is fulfilling a shameful role which contradicts the heroic struggle of its people against Nazi fascism.”
Caracas Declaration, March 30, 2008
Latin American Meeting Against Media Terrorism

Journalists, communicators and scholars of communication in Latin America, the Caribbean and Canada, meeting in Caracas in this First Latin American Meeting Against Media Terrorism, denounce the use of disinformation by international news agencies, as a huge and permanent aggression against people and governments fighting for peace, justice, and social inclusion.

Media Terrorism is the first expression and condition necessary for the industrial North’s exercise of military and economic terrorism in order to impose imperial hegemony and neo-colonial dominion on humanity. As such, it is an enemy of freedom, democracy and open society and ought to be considered a plague of contemporary culture.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/31/08

April 1, 2008

Cable TV Options To Widen For Tennesseans (TN)

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

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

This year, lawmakers revisited the issue. Private negotiations took place in a conference room, sometimes three times a week since January.  “Comcast, Charter, the cable guys on one side, AT&T on the other side, all the attorneys, working out the details,” Ketron said.  Sources said a deal has been worked out, one that lawmakers will eventually approve.   —>

Tennessee Utility Does IPTV With Kasenna
by Todd Spangler
Multichannel News

[ comments invited ]

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

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

“Kasenna stood out among the IPTV companies we considered because its LivingRoom middleware solution allows us to easily brand and customize the TV user interface and to add valuable services such as RSS feeds for local news,” CDE Lightband telecommunications marketing manager Christy Batts said, in a prepard statement.

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

AT&T announced that U-verse TV and Internet services are now available to more than 150,000 living units in and around the Austin area, stepping up competition with incumbent Time Warner Cable.  AT&T launched U-verse TV services in Austin in November 2007.   —>

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

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

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

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

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

NPA-TV goes live in April
Norwood Bulletin (MA)

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

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

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

The explosion

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

Shaping Canadian Web Access Revisited
by Connie Crosby


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

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

What has helped me understand this better is a post by Toronto business technology expert Sandy Kemsley on her blog Column 2: Jason Laszlo gives Bell Canada a(nother) Black Eye.   —>

Canadian union decries ISP bandwidth issues
by Etan Vlessing
The Hollywood Reporter

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

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

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

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

WAM Addresses Inequalities In Media Representations, Access
Global Wire

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

• More media justice lobbyists in DC to work on these issues
• Universal internet access
• Community training on web tools
• More internet cafes, especially in low income communities

Dar summit to discuss role of media in conflict prevention
by Francis Ayieko
The EastAfrican

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

Taking the theme Role of the Media in Addressing the Causes of Conflict and Instability and Their Prevention, the summit, which will be held in Dar es Salaam from April 11-12, comes in the wake of post-election violence that hit Kenya recently following announcement of disputed presidential election results.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Death. Resurrection? A Timely Meditation on US Corporate Media

March 21, 2008

Are US Media Violating the 1st Amendment?
by Fatin Bundagji
Arab News

[ comments invited ]

Last week Arab News printed in the “Letters to the Editor” column a letter by Ms. Lin Hansen Petro from Portland, Oregon, commenting on my article, “Peace & Stability: Pre-requisites for Reform” (March 7). Ms. Petro wrote that while writing her article, “Fatin Bundagji conveniently forgot, as Arab writers usually do, that the US was attacked by Arab terrorists which led to retaliatory action in the Middle East and out of America. All those glorious outreach programs she was describing that America used to do would still be in effect and there would be no war waging at the moment if the radical Arabs kept their opinions and hatred of American policies in the academic or political arena… the majority of Americans are getting pretty fed up with handling out billions of dollars in aid, education, medical care, technological advancements, and religious tolerance and so on to a world of egocentric ingrates”.

Ms. Petro has every right to her opinion. But as a citizen of a nation built on the values of liberty, equality and justice; a nation that regards a free press to be as important as its three independent arms of government, Ms. Petro also has the right to an accurate and unbiased media beaming into her home on a daily basis. This basic American right, the right to a free press, she, and most American citizens are systematically denied.

To most average hardworking and law-abiding Americans, their view of the international community is severely shortsighted and impaired. It is a worldview that is craftily fine-tuned, filtered and controlled by media outlets that are biased in favor of the sources that fund them.

In his article “None dare call it Censorship”, Jack Douglas, a retired professor of sociology from the University of California, writes: “All serious and intelligent journalists today know that the US government has massive media management brigades to carefully control what Americans see and, thus, what they are very likely to believe about things of which they have no direct experience, such as high-level politics, finance and foreign affairs. They also know that the government is extremely effective in secretly censoring the news by using devices such as ‘embedded reporting’ in nations like Afghanistan and Iraq which the US government invades, occupies, and governs. (If you do not know what ‘embedded reporting’ is, I strongly advise you to ‘Google’ it).”

Today, almost all media in the US are owned by for-profit corporations that by law are obliged to put the profits of their investors ahead of all other considerations. This goal of maximizing profit both jeopardizes the practice of responsible journalism and violates what the founding fathers of the US Constitution paid in blood to preserve: A free press — a free press that is protected by law in the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights; a free press that is regrettably being compromised by the elite on a daily basis.

The reasons for this compromise may vary but at the core, is the need for power and control. Power and control by US corporations, advertisers, and official agendas to name but a few. FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting), a US national media watch group. states that not only are most US major media owned by corporations, but that these corporations are becoming larger and fewer in number as the bigger ones absorb their rivals thereby reducing the diversity of media voices and putting greater power — and a narrow debate — in the hands of few.

According to FAIR, most of the income of for-profit media outlets does not come from the audiences, but rather from commercial advertisers who are interested in selling products to that audience. This gives corporate sponsors influence over what people see and read and all in favor of information that does not criticize the sponsors’ products or discuss any corporate wrongdoing.

As for the official agenda, FAIR states that despite the claims that the press has an adversarial relationship with the government, in truth US media generally follow Washington’s official line. This is particularly obvious in wartime, foreign policy coverage, and with domestic controversies. The owners and managers of dominant media outlets generally share the background, worldview, and income bracket of political elites.

Top news executives and celebrity reporters frequently socialize with government officials; and the most powerful media companies routinely make large contributions to both major political parties, while receiving millions of dollars in return in the form of payments for running political ads.

For true democracy to work, people need easy access to independent, diverse sources of news and information. The last two decades the US has seen a record corporate media consolidation. Whereas in the 1980s there were more than 50 media outlets nationwide, by 2000 they shrank down to a mere 6.

Big money buys big media and at the expense of the 1st Amendment. But luckily for the average American, the story does not have to end here. Independent news and media outlets are actively working at preserving a balanced coverage of the news so as to give the American public a broad and multidimensional aspect of what is being covered. FAIR, the one I mentioned above, is one of them, and Democracy Now is another. In addition, there are many more available online, and they are increasing in number and in national reach.

I urge Ms. Petro to Google “US media watchdogs” to empower herself to learn firsthand of whatever she chooses to be informed on.

This is her right, and I have to add her responsibility to her country, and to the world at large.

She may not know it, but by the sheer power and might of her country, any opinion she forms, however innocently, will by default affect the lives of millions of people in countries she may never have heard of.

I will conclude my article with a quote from Lee Atwater who masterminded media bias back in the 1980s and who created the most powerful Republican Media Propaganda Grand Strategy for controlling US pubic thinking. On his deathbed he said, “my illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: A little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The ’80s were about US acquiring wealth, power, and prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.”

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/20/08

February 21, 2008

Fifth Annual NYC Grassroots Media Conference: March 2, 2008
Co-Sponsored by Film and Media Studies Department at Hunter College/CUNY

Download Conference Information Packet (PDF) here

For the past four years, we’ve come together to explore the political dimensions of media and how it shapes our lives. By developing relationships between community and media organizations, the NYC Grassroots Media Coalition is working to re-imagine issues of access to, control of, and power over our media system. That means defining our struggle as a struggle for Media Justice.

Media Justice recognizes the need for a media that comes from, and is responsive to, the people, a media that addresses systemic marginalization and discrimination and that speaks truth to power. Media Justice asserts that our communities and airwaves are more than markets, and that our relationship to the media must be more than passive consumption. Media Justice recognizes that the form of our current media system is not inevitable, but the result of an interplay of history, technology, power, and privilege. Media Justice seeks to integrate efforts to reform our media system with a social justice agenda, in order to create not just a better media, but a better world.

We invite you to join us at the 2008 NYC Grassroots Media Conference as we seek to define our understanding of and relationship to Media Justice as a community, and explore how we can not only envision an ideal world, but to make this vision a reality.   —>

Editorial: Telling our story
The Daily Journal (IL)

[ comments allowed ]

Kankakee County’s Comcast users could be creeping closer to getting public access television.  A recent meeting of the Development and Operations Committee of the Kankakee County Board heard testimony from two strong supporters of the idea. One is Marc Wakat. Wakat is the Democratic precinct committeeman for Limestone 3 and fondly remembers the good old days of Kankakee Valley Prime Time Live, a tongue-in-cheek news magazine of 15 years ago. The other is Kankakee Community College. President Jerry Weber wrote a letter to the board, indicating that the college could make use of a public access channel to show lectures and classes…

The essence of public access is to set aside a cable channel for use by the general public, providing an outlet for educational and community happenings. Detractors worry about putting material on the air that might somehow be indecent or offensive.  Our view is that hundreds of wholesome community events could be aired. Each would help build a sense of local pride. It would bring the community home to people who are shut in. It would bring local government out into the open.

Here is just a sample of some of the programs that could easily be put up on a local access channel: parades for the Bourbonnais Friendship Festival and at Christmas in Bradley; meetings of the Kankakee City Council, Kankakee County Board and the Kankakee School District; programs at the Kankakee Public Library and the Kankakee County Museum; and the YMCA Living and Learning series.

Would it not be a plus to be able to broadcast the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast? The Kankakee County spelling bee? The Memorial Day ceremony from the steps of the Kankakee County Courthouse lawn?

The County Board appears to be increasingly sympathetic to the idea and now appears to be ready to push out to other governments.  Cable has created a whole bunch of channels. We have shopping channels, Spanish channels, sports channels, golf, Animal Planet and the Eternal Word. Surely, room can be found for community events.  “We should tell the great stories that our community holds,” Wakat says.  We couldn’t agree more.

It’s time for schools to budget for taped meetings
by Abbi Swanson
Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun (IA)

An open letter to the school boards and superintendents of Lisbon and Mount Vernon from the League of Women Voters:

As you prepare your budgets for the upcoming fiscal years, the League of Women Voters of Mount Vernon-Lisbon is calling upon the school districts in our communities to add a line item for payment to KMVL TV, in order for Dean Traver’s company to tape school board meetings and work sessions.

Dean has provided residents in this area with coverage of local events for decades as a public service.  The league is urging this taping expand, and begin something we have advocated for years but which has met with occasional resistance.   —>

Knology to finish work
Cable firm agrees to invest $750K in citywide services
by Hayes Hickman
Knoxville News Sentinel


* PDF: Draft contract amendment to Knology’s Knoxville franchise agreement

After years of stalled progress, Knology Inc. has agreed to invest $750,000 this year toward completing its citywide Internet, cable and phone services network, under a renegotiated franchise agreement with the city of Knoxville.

Knology’s services were within reach of barely half of all city residences in 2006 when City Council members last raised the issue with the West Point, Ga.-based company. Knology was required to complete its build-out within four years after the city franchise took effect in April 2000, with noncompliance penalties of $5,000 per month.

Under terms of the new draft contract amendment, to be voted on by council members at their next meeting Feb. 26, the penalties would be waived as Knology agrees instead to apply 80 months’ worth of such damages, totaling $400,000, plus another $350,000 toward expanding its local network infrastructure this year.

Although the new agreement does not impose a revised, absolute deadline for completion, the bundled media services provider would agree to commit 5 percent of its annual gross revenues in Knoxville each year toward the continued network expansion, or at least $2.1 million total over the remainder of its contract through April 2015…

Knology also agrees to begin carrying local community access television in its channel lineup within 90 days of the amendment’s approval by City Council, and to equip several city recreation and community centers with cable service at no cost.   —>
also reported by WBIR


Deerfield Twp. prepares for new cable providers
by Eric Bradley
Community Press & Recorder (OH)

Residents here will soon have more options for cable TV, and Deerfield Township is making sure those providing it pay to use the public right of way.  Trustees passed a resolution Feb. 13 assessing a 5 percent fee on new cable and video service providers in the township.   —>

Buck Center to host seminar
Novato Advance (CA)

[ comments allowed ]

—>  And for friends of Sustainable Novato, Novato Public Access Television (NPAT) Channel 26 TV (Novato) will rebroadcast Sustainable Novato’s highly successful “Green Schools Coalition” Community Forum every Wednesday and Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. through the month of February.  Here’s a review of the Forum by Novato’s Annie Spiegelman in a Marin newspaper’s Feb. 8 letters to the editor:   —>

Latina Voices
by Sandra Fernandez
Sandra Says

[ comments allowed ]

Minerva Perez, formerly on KTRK ABC Channel 13, has a new project. Latino Talk TV is currently on public access TV. The show has become so popular that a national network is discussing syndication rights.  Here’s the premiere episode of her newest project, Latina Voices. It’s sure to be another success. (Can you tell I’m a fan?)

St. Patrick’s parade faces TV blackout
Time Warner asking $3,500 to cover costs
by Brian Meyer
Buffalo News (NY)

This year, the only chance to see marchers in the St. Patrick’s Day in Buffalo may be in person.  Time Warner Cable is ending the tradition of providing free production for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade so the popular event can be later aired on the cable system. It wants parade sponsors to pay $3,500 for production costs or find their own video crews.

Organizers of one of downtown’s biggest events are furious, as are some city officials.  “It’s very sad,” said Brigid A. Knott, the parade’s chief of staff. “[Time Warner] certainly makes enough money from the people of the City of Buffalo, not to mention people in the suburbs.”   —>

Burma’s Media completely under military dictatorship
by Zin Linn
Asian Tribune

[ comments allowed ]

The press is the fourth pillar of democracy after parliament, the legislature and the judiciary. Not so in Burma, where parliament has been silenced by the military. As a result, the legislature and the judiciary are automatically defunct under the military autocracy. As a necessary outcome of the iron rule, the fourth estate also comes under the grip of military-dictatorship.

The Burmese military junta has enforced stringent censorship rules and regulations the world has ever known on the media. Every piece of text has to be scrutinized by military’s PSRD before being published. Burma achieved certain notoriety as predator of the press. No information is allowed to flow or be published/ broadcast without the junta’s prior approval.

The latest repressive attacks against the media took place on February 15, 2008. According to Burma Media Association (BMA), military intelligence officers carried out a four-hour search of the offices of the Myanmar Nation Journal and confiscated many documents, including a copy of Human Rights Report on Burma by Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, videos of last anti-government protests in September, and hand-written poems. Police arrested editor, Thet Zin and manager, Sein Win Maung. The two journalists were taken to the Thin-gan-gyun township police station.   —>

BBC plans to sustain citizenship and civil society. Please tell us how
by Pete Clifton
Designing for a Civil Society


Here’s a story about how the BBC is developing new local multi-media services, its Charter remit for “sustaining citizenship and civil society”, the closure of BBC Action network, development of citizen (or networked) journalism, and how the BBC Trust consults us on what the BBC is for.

These developments and issues may be related … I don’t know …. but I think we should be told. But by whom? Maybe on the BBC Internet blog where they are exploring Digital Democracy.

My interest in these issues was re-awakened by a couple of e-mails in the UK and Ireland E-Democracy Exchange. E-democracy guru Steven Clift asked whether anyone has an update on the BBC Action Network, which has been hailed as a civic media success story, but as I had noted earlier is due to close soon. Steven wondered if future developments related to a Press Gazette story about Regional newspapers’ fury at BBC local web plan.   —>

SuzeMuse on Community TV and the Web
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition

[ comments allowed ]

—>  Sue wrote some really nice things about our conversation, including some thoughts on CCTV and our community there.  I wanted to highlight Sue’s post in particular because of her description of the possibilities she sees in community television and the social web working together, not apart.

“There has been some talk about the relevance of true community access television, with the advent of YouTube and other video services going online. If anyone can now make a video and post it for the world to see, why do community TV stations even need to exist any longer? The reason is simple. It’s about community. It’s about people physically coming together and producing valuable content, and the relationships that are formed when people are in this kind of environment. You can’t get that by hitting ‘Submit’ on your YouTube page.

“I think the Internet is going to be an extremely valuable outlet for those community television stations who choose to embrace its potential. By taking the power of community and sending it out to the world, everyone stands to benefit. Now, we not only have the power of being able to bring the community to the world…we have the possibility of linking these communities to make something even greater.”

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

New Voices Grant App Deadline; LSE Conf Call for Papers

February 17, 2008

Apply Now: Funding to Start Community News Projects
Contact Kira Wisniewski – (301) 985-4020  kira [at] j-lab [dot] org
New Voices

APPLY NOW! Applications due: Feb. 20, 2008.

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – J-Lab: The Institute for Interactive Journalism invites U.S. nonprofit groups and education organizations to apply for funding to launch community news ventures in 2008 and to share best practices and lessons learned from their efforts.

The New Voices project will help fund the start-up of 10 innovative local news initiatives next year. Each project may receive as much as $17,000 in grants over two years. Thirty New Voices projects have been funded since 2005.

Eligible to receive funding are 501(c)3 organizations and education institutions, including civic groups, community organizations, public and community broadcasters, schools, colleges and universities – and individuals working under the sponsorship of a nonprofit fiscal agent.

Grant guidelines and online application can be found at Project proposals are due February 20, 2008.   —>

Community and Humanity Conference
by Charlie Beckett

[ 1 comment ]

In celebration of the LSE Department of Media and Communication’s 5th year, my colleagues are inviting critical thinking about how the media and communications environment is implicated in shaping our perceptions of the human condition. How is it mediating human values, actions and social relations? We welcome proposals for papers and panels offering theoretical insight and/or empirical work on this theme. Abstracts or panel proposals may focus on one or more of the areas below.

* Communication and Difference
* Democracy, Politics and Journalism Ethics
* Globalisation and Comparative Studies
* Innovation, Governance and Policy
* Media and New Media Literacies

The conference is at London School of Economics and Political Science, London, Sunday 21st – Tuesday 23rd September 2008.  Abstracts should be submitted by 1st March 2008. Go here to submit abstract and/or register.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/03/08

February 4, 2008

AT&T’s stand against franchising rules is potentially discriminatory
by Bishop George Price
The Tennessean

Almost a half-century ago, the battle for civil rights and equal opportunity raged throughout the communities of Tennessee.  Leaders like Maxine Smith, Z. Alexander Looby and NAACP counsel Thurgood Marshall fought to level the legal playing field so that the minority children of the north Nashville neighborhood had merely the chance to compete with the wealthier children of Belle Meade.

Fifty years later, the challenges to fairness and equality in Tennessee have taken on a new light. For young boys and girls of all groups, having the skills necessary to compete in the 21st-century information age and its rapidly changing economy is today’s greatest challenge. Every day, those skills are being delivered through information technology and high-speed Internet.

It is all the more critical that we do everything in our power to ensure that deployment of new broadband technologies is carried out in a fair, equitable and expeditious manner, so that the boys and girls of north Nashville get a chance to compete alongside other young Tennesseans, and the rest of the world, in the ever-expanding global marketplace.

As we speak, the legislature is set to take up a bill aimed at rewriting how new broadband and video technologies offered by cable and telephone companies are deployed.  AT&T and its army of well-paid lobbyists want to eviscerate the local franchising rules that authorize cities and towns to require that, when new video and broadband providers come into town, they commit to offering service to all residents and every neighborhood, without discrimination and within a reasonable and enforceable amount of time.   —>

Cable, AT&T debate revs up
Many fear new franchise deal would weaken school TV aid
by Kevin McKenzie
Commercial Appeal (TN)

As executive director of Germantown Community Television and a teacher at Germantown High School, E. Frank Bluestein keeps repeating a question that’s vexed him for a year.

AT&T, the Texas-based telecommunications giant, in 2007 began pushing legislation in Nashville that would smooth the way for a new video service that would compete with cable television. AT&T’s proposal is aimed at the local government control that has nurtured high school television stations in Germantown and Collierville since the dawn of cable TV.  The company, which absorbed BellSouth a year ago, is pushing for legislative change again this year. That prompts Bluestein’s question:

“In this country, does the public not realize that AT&T is writing the legislation to benefit themselves?” Bluestein asked.  “There is something wrong with this picture, that big business has control over the state legislature to the point they are writing the bills.”

Meanwhile, for the past three Wednesdays, representatives of AT&T, the cable television industry, Tennessee legislators who would sponsor a bill and others have gathered to mull the very legislation that concerns Bluestein.  In Nashville, House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, called the stakeholders together and said he would like them to seek a solution, said Bill Ray, assistant vice president, external affairs for AT&T in Memphis.  “It’s not entirely written by AT&T” Ray said.

Civics lessons aren’t usually what Bluestein teaches, but he’s a potent voice for “PEG” stations — those providing programming for cable channels set aside for public, educational or governmental access.  Local cable franchises, which allow cities to levy fees and regulate cable companies as the price of using public rights of way, provide the foundation for PEG stations.

In Germantown, city hall’s insistence through the years for strong cable company support for the Shelby County School’s GHS-TV Channel 17 has helped produce stellar results training students and winning awards.  Collierville High also operates a cable television station, Channel 19, supported by the local franchise agreement between town hall and Comcast.   —>

San Jose prepares to shift public-access channel to non-profit
Non-Profit to Run Public-Access TV
by Stephen Baxter
San Jose Mercury News (CA)

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

A Comcast studio at 1900 S. 10th St. has been the main production center for Channel 15 for at least 15 years. In December 2006, Comcast agreed to get the non-profit group on its feet with more than $3 million, and Comcast pledged to continue with annual payments of roughly $1.2 million – or about 1 percent of its quarterly gross revenue.  To run Comcast’s studio, the city collected money from franchise fees tacked to Comcast subscribers’ bills each month. With the city council’s approval Tuesday, that money will be directed to the non-profit group.

Participants say the Comcast studio provided little training for budding TV producers, and only about 100 people consistently participate in making shows.  Comcast spokesman Andrew Johnson indicated that a non-profit group dedicated to public TV would be more focused on producing community television and providing training.  “We certainly value the important part that public access plays in the community, but we feel that it’s best handled by a non-profit group,” he said.

Similar non-profit groups have been set up in San Francisco, Petaluma and other cities, and leaders of the new public-access TV non-profit plan to hold fundraisers and seek private donors. None of its money comes from San Jose’s general fund.  Some cities have had success with the non-profit model, while others, such as Petaluma and the Tri-Valley area of San Ramon, Dublin and Pleasanton, have struggled with funding.   —>

Unsung Heroes Heralded
Media Center airs series on 7 Bay Area residents
by Jason Greene and Jamie Casini
San Mateo Daily News (CA)

They operate under the radar, assisting the families of the mentally ill, organizing peace marches, setting up scholarships for immigrant high school students.  They promote socially conscious educational products, help the homeless get back on their feet and beat the odds doctors said they couldn’t overcome.

And though these individuals might prefer to remain out of the limelight, they are being recognized for their achievements and contributions to society. Beginning today, the Midpeninsula Community Media Center of Palo Alto will air its second “Faces of Local Heroes,” a series that focuses on extraordinary people who don’t make headlines day-in and day-out, creator Louise Pencavel said.   —>

Your alt media experiences await
by Professor T
Media for All –  University of Regina School of Journalism

List of mini-internships. The sign-up book is on Shelley’s desk.

Access 7

Be a part of community television and you’ll discover the most interesting news is close to home. The type of work you do will depend on your interests and schedule – Access 7’s volunteer coordinator will meet with you to develop a workplan. You will have opportunity to do both studio and remote work, with full training offered. Interns may also undertake documentary projects with community agencies. The main thing asked is that you follow through with commitments to be in a certain place at a certain time: no no-shows. Special note: you will enjoy the luxury of not having to pack your stories into 30 seconds or less. This is a good opportunity to dig deeper and learn more about the world just outside your door.

Media Justice: Community Media
by brownfemipower
La Chola

From an interview with Amy Goodman about progressive community media…

“We just did an hour with Lou Dobbs, who could probably be compared to Father Coughlin, though he denied that. I did the interview with my co-host Juan Gonzalez, who writes for the New York Daily News, a great journalist. We tried to stick to the facts.

“We asked Dobbs about assertions he continually repeats, like a third of our prisoners are illegal aliens. Well, it’s just not true: 6 percent of prisoners in the state and federal systems are immigrants. And that’s divided between legal and undocumented, well below their representation in the population. If you keep hammering away that a third of the prisoners in this country are illegal aliens, then people are going to feel that they shouldn’t be here.

“It’s the litany of misinformation, of lies, that really makes people afraid and turns fear into full-blown hate. I think that has to be exposed.

“The beauty of community media is that we break the sound barriers, that we open up the microphones for people to speak for themselves. And then it’s harder to call people labels. I think it’s an epithet to talk about illegal aliens. They don’t sound human. You can set any kind of policy on a population when you don’t talk to them as human beings.   —>

From Imagining the (Un)thinkable
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition (MA)

In 2007, the Funding Exchange Media Justice Fund published a journal, entitled “Imagining the (Un)thinkable” which as the website explains:

“This collection of essays pushes the boundaries of current research on media policy and provides critical information on the potential power of the internet, radio, and community-access TV to enhance social justice movements. Written from perspectives of people of color, low-income people, women and other marginalized communities, the report offers useful tools and strategies for media justice advocates.”

In their chapter on “Owning the Airwaves through Community-Access TV,” authors Lyell Davies and Betty Yu write about how community access TV centers can support social justice organizations through “effective outreach and assistance” to ensure that marginalized communities, such as “LGBTQ, low-income, immigrant, youth, differently-abled, or communities of color,” are not excluded from the “first-come-first-serve” model of community access television.

Through this process, community access TV centers – as “community media centers” – can help connect social justice organizations to the “media multi-purposing” possibilities that Internet distribution tools, like blogs and podcasts, provide in helping them reach “multiple audiences in multiple ways” about their work in the community:

“To meet the needs of this expanding communications arena, community-access TV centers need to reinvent themselves as ‘community media centers’ and provide services supporting the varied media platforms now in use. This may mean engaging in conventional cable-access TV production, but it may also mean assisting in the production of a short video for web vlogging or in the creation of an interactive website . . .

Also, local community-access TV centers have a role to play in building a ‘physical’ community; while the Internet has led to the creation of new ‘virtual’ communities, the kind of intimate networks fostered by local TV making and viewing—and the presence of a ‘bricks-and-mortar’ meeting center like an access TV station—are still central to many political struggles, community empowerment efforts, and campaigns for social justice.”

To download the full report, visit the Funding Exchange Media Justice Fund

Challenging Corporate Media
by ShiftShapers
Wild Resistance

Independent media has a rich, long history. Linchpin is following in and updating a tradition known for dissent, diversity, and the creation, cultivation and communication of new and challenging ideas, writes Greg Macdougall.
From Linchpin #2 (Canada)

While there may be longstanding problems with the way mainstream media works, what doesn’t have such a long and storied history is the rise of ‘mega-media’, the mass corporate media institutions that put control of ever more of our society’s means of communication into the hands of fewer and fewer for-profit companies. It is only in the past decade or two that this problem has reached critical levels, yet it’s been ushered in as if this is ‘business as usual.’

But it isn’t business as usual. Laws regulating media have been changed, media companies have been bought up and/or merged at an alarming rate, and the media landscape is vastly different now than it was a generation ago.

Not only does this result in a distracting ‘if it bleeds it leads’ monoculture that delivers a worldview encouraging non-action and the acceptance of an insane status quo, but there is the continuing problem of an inherent conflict of interest between what is good for society and what makes money. We need to seriously consider the fundamental purpose of our society’s communication tools and structure.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media