Archive for the ‘media literacy’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/04/08

April 5, 2008

Announcement of cable/AT&T deal set for Monday
by John Rodgers
The City Paper (TN)

[ comments invited ]

Leading lawmakers in the cable/AT&T negotiations over statewide franchising will roll out their compromise legislation Monday in a press conference, the House Democratic Caucus announced today.  The compromise bill marks the culmination of months of negotiations between the involved parties.  The deal is expected to have AT&T agree to “build out” its television service to a certain percentage of a town or city, as well as offer the services to some low-income residents.   —>

Legislators Say Bill Sought By AT&T Finally Ready
The Chattanoogan (TN)

Legislative leaders said they have finally reached agreement on a statewide franchise bill sought by AT&T that is expected to result in a new cable TV option for Chattanooga residents and others throughout Tennessee.  On Monday afternoon, House and Senate members working directly in talks with AT&T and Tennessee’s cable companies are due to hold a press conference to announce the completion of a new telecommunications bill.  Officials said copies of the agreement will be provided after the Nashville press conference.

Set to take part are Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington), Rep. Charlie Curtiss (D-Sparta), Rep. Steve McDaniel (R-Parkers Crossroads), Rep. Ulysses Jones, Jr. (D-Memphis), Rep. Randy Rinks (D-Savannah), Sen. Lowe Finney (D-Jackson) and Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro).
The bill was introduced last year, but has gone through a number of revisions before the compromise measure was reached.   —>

Comcast, AT&T work together on new bill for franchising rights
Memphis Business Journal (TN)
by Einat Paz-Frankel

After vociferously contending an AT&T, Inc.-backed bill on the state’s Capitol Hill last year, Comcast Corp. is now working with the telecom giant behind closed doors to create a new bill that will assuage both parties while changing the way video franchising rights are granted in Tennessee.  A resolution is expected this month, according to the Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association and the Tennessee Municipal League, which has also opposed the proposed Competitive Cable and Video Services Act. The bill would allow television service to be provided through a single statewide franchise agreement, instead of negotiating with each municipality separately.   —>

SEE ME, HEAR ME, PICK ME: Endorsement video of Dems for House Seat 1
by Ian Gillingham
Willamette Week (OR)

[ comments invited ]

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve been inviting candidates to sit down with WW and make their case for your vote—and our friends at Portland Community Media have been there to catch it all on video. Every day for the next month, we’ll post a new video of our endorsement interviews on WWire.  Today and tomorrow, we’ve got the candidates for U.S. House of Representatives, First District .  First up: Democrats (incumbent David Wu, Will Hobbs).

For footage of more WW endorsement interviews, tune your TV to Channel 30, see Portland Community Media’s site, or just check back on WWire tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after….  Tomorrow: House Seat 1—the Republicans.

Cable Increases, Franchise Renewal Up for Questions
by Bernice Paglia
Plainfield Plaintalker (NJ)

[ comments invited ]

—>  The notice reminded Plaintalker of another issue, the cable franchise renewal process. According to a BPU report, more than 12,000 households had cable in 2005. The three-year process to determine how well Comcast has served Plainfield should have begun in August of 2006, with a report due in August of this year. The franchise expires in August 2009.  The Plainfield Cable Television Board was supposed to hold monthly meetings during the ascertainment period, make annual reports, report regularly to the mayor and council and generally to be involved in any activities having to do with local cable television, including the city’s own Channel 74.

Plaintalker has harped on this subject since December 2005 but there is not much progress to report. Click here for a file of past stories.   —>

Cable Access TV and the Arts
by Salma
Souldish (NJ)

[ comments invited ]

Monday, April 7 – A repeat of the successful 2 hr. forum will be held at SCAN covering topics on: a) Arts and cable access TV: how to get on TV for free b) The WIN-15 TV show & publicity c) Special TV production training for those in the art.  (7p, Free) SCAN Learning Center, Monmouth Mall, Rt 35 and 36, Eatontown, NJ; 732-938-2481

Great Falls TV station needs home
by Matt Austin

Many Great Falls departments are asking for more money in the next budget, and on Friday city commission members will talk about its budget priorities.  One group which always keeps an eye on commission meetings will also be watching the budget talks as a Great Falls television channel is looking for a home.  The community access channel, Cable 7, has become a nomad in Great Falls, moving four times in just five years.

The group is currently using the waiting area at the Central Avenue office of former  KRTV anchor Cindy Cieluch. Staff members tell us that the area works well for a studio and they use another office for the director and to store equipment. The non-profit films its six studio shows at the office, and also films government meetings.  “Cable 7 provides a public service, local events” explains Executive Producer Kevin Manthey. “This is something I feel is very important to the community of Great Falls and surrounding area.”   —>

PEG pact is unclear
by Alan Lewis Gerstenecker
Rolla Daily News (MO)


Steve Leonard, former President of Rolla Video Productions — the company that operated Channel 16 for the best part of seven years — has some concerns about an educational and governmental television channel currently considered by city and school officials and Fidelity Communications.  The PEG (Public Educational and Governmental) channel, which is in discussion stages, would be a partnership between Rolla city government, Rolla Public School District, and Fidelity Communications, Rolla’s cable television franchise holder.

Leonard, 28, expressed some of those concerns during a recent City Council meeting and then again Wednesday.  “In its current state, the contract with the city doesn’t say what they’re going to get for that $50,000,” Leonard said. “As someone who used to do programming, I’d like to think that it would spell out just what the residents of Rolla are going to get.”…

“Don’t get me wrong. I’ve moved on with my life,” Leonard said. “But if they would have offered me $50,000 for programming, I would have told them exactly what I’d have given them. In addition to City Council, I’d have televised the Planning & Zoning meetings, the RMU (Rolla Municipal Utilities) meetings, done more spring (high school) sports. I’d have done it right,” Leonard said.  “If you turn on Channel 6 now, you hear a buzz. You can’t listen long, or at least I can’t without getting a headache. I don’t know if $50,000 is going to fix that or not,” said Leonard, who is now a full-time business student at Missouri University of Science & Technology.

For his part, Leonard said he is supportive of Fidelity.  “Don’t get me wrong. I’m not knocking Fidelity. They offer some great programming, and I think they offer more basic channels for the best price. I just want to see what they’re going to offer for the $50,000,” Leonard said. “I think anyone who reviews that contract will want to know what they’re going to offer.”

John Paul, Fidelity Communications Director of Sales and top official in Rolla, said Thursday the contract with the city, Rolla Public Schools, and his company, still is a work in progress.  “I can tell you we intend cover all City Council and School Board meetings. I can also tell you we’re not just going to cover those two and then run a community bulletin board the rest of the time,” Paul said.   —>

State PEGs Tune Into “Same Channel” to Support Free Speech
by Cynthia Thomet
Akaku: Maui Community Television (HI)

Hawaii People’s Fund Media Justice review panel granted $7,400 to Akaku in mid-March to launch the Free Speech Hawaii Coalition, a collaborative effort to build community and ensure diverse points of view on issues of free speech across the state. The coalition is made possible by the commitment of all of Hawaii’s public, educational and governmental (PEG) access organizations, including Akaku for Maui County, `Ōlelo Community Television on O`ahu, Na Leo O Hawaii on Big Island and Ho`ike: Kaua`i Community Television.

“We’re very grateful to Hawaii People’s Fund for their commitment to media justice to fund this public awareness coalition,” says Jay April, President/ CEO of Akaku, who invited `Ōlelo, Na Leo and Ho`ike to lead the coalition’s public education messages with their respective island audiences

The grant will cover some of the expenses required for the core coalition members to work together and reach out to their respective islands’ viewers about preserving public, educational and governmental (PEG) access services in Hawaii. Some outreach measures include a vibrant website, advertising to build community awareness and localized public education campaigns to get island residents engaged in protecting their right to public access cable television and other mass media venues.   —>

Participatory Media for a Global Community: BAVC’s Producers Institute 2008
by Wendy Levy
Bay Area Video Coalition (CA)

[ comments invited ]

With continued support from the MacArthur Foundation, the Producers Institute for New Media Technologies will happen May 30 – June 8 here at BAVC in San Francisco. The new crop of projects coming into this year’s Institute are part of a documentary-driven conversation focused on finding and engaging diverse audiences, creating social and political networks of participation, the notion of global community, the viability of Web 2.0 social change, emerging mobile media applications, games for change, and interactive strategies for multi-platform storytelling.

Check out full project descriptions from the recent press release.

The first panel of the Producers Institute will be open to the public this year, and it revolves around marketing social justice media. The always dynamic and uber-literate B. Ruby Rich will moderate. I’ll follow up with details of the where and when, but here’s the panel description. We are hoping to see if its possible for change-the-world stories to expand You Tube sensibilities, to rock CreateSpace, to shock iTunes, to blow out XBOX. And, of course, we want to know if you can actually make money while making a difference?   —>

US kept in slow broadband lane
by Ian Hardy
> Click

We all know that America is the technology hub of the universe. It is home to Intel, Microsoft, Apple, Sun, Google, YouTube, Yahoo, MIT – the list is endless. So why, when it comes to the basics, like delivering the internet to its citizens, has it fallen way behind many other nations?

In Manhattan people pay about $30 (£15) a month for a download speed of three megabits per second (Mbps) via a DSL line. Many people are very happy with that, until they realise what is going on elsewhere in the world.  US broadband speeds are much slower than in many countries  “In Japan you can get 100 megabits for $35,” says Selina Lo of Ruckus Wireless.  “I think that has penetrated some 30% of subscribers. The government is targeting for 100 megabit services to penetrate 60% plus of the subscriber base in a few years…

Today most New Yorkers have two choices for home net – via their phone or cable TV company.  But in New York state 52% of residents do not have any internet access, especially rural areas and low income families.  “We haven’t been able to overcome those barriers in terms of increasing the technology adoption rate of those households that are on or below the poverty level,” explains Dr Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, New York State’s chief information officer.  “I think if you look at where the US is compared to other countries, given our speed, we’re not competitive with other countries.”

The lack of competition has had other consequences. Comcast, the nation’s largest residential cable TV and net company was recently accused of interfering with the downloading of video files.  Internet video directly threatens the popularity of traditional TV, so Comcast’s answer is to curtail download speeds for its biggest users.

“As we get more and more things that tie us into the internet – Xbox 360, IPTV services, all sorts of broadband gaming – we’re all getting online more and more,” says Jeremy Kaplan executive editor of PC Magazine.  “And rather than opening up and getting better service, most of these cable and DSL companies are really trying to limit what we do, put caps on what we do. As consumers we’re suffering from that.”

Public wi-fi efforts have also been held back. Several city governments have given up or reduced efforts to provide blanket coverage for their residents.  This is because they have been worn down with lawsuits and lobbyists working for the telephone companies, who want consumers to rely on expensive cell phone plans to access the net on the go.  “Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore – they all have wi-fi in public areas. People can access broadband internet when they’re out in public,” says Ms Lo.  “It is the cheapest way to offer public access. As a quality of life, as a city service, I don’t know why our city government just don’t do that.”   —>

More questions than answers
by Mark Jones
Reuters Editors

[ 1 comment ]

I was invited to a gathering of activists, academics and media practitioners by the Berkman Centre’s Media:Republic program in LA last weekend. Exhilarating to be in such exalted company but depressing to find them so anxious about the future of political engagement and so negative about big Media’s future.

The context of the meeting was to establish what we don’t understand about the emerging media landscape in order to inform the direction of future research programmes.  So, in the spirit of Donald Rumsfeld, what do we know that we don’t know?

How distributed can the production of meaning be?
An academic question from John Zittrain of Berkman but very much with real world concerns in mind. He’s worried about where the atomisation of media consumption and production will take society. In an elitist world, one in which communication channels (including media) are controlled by the few, then it is relatively easy to see how the politics of consensus and compromise can be pursued. But many felt that the new social technologies were creating new silos, reducing the quality of public discourse, accelerating disengagement from politics and, possibly, creatng the conditions for extremist politics.

How can we get the public to eat their broccoli?

Traditionally, nearly all media has followed a public service remit to some degree and mixed content with public policy relevance with the really popular stuff. So you get a smattering of Darfur in a diet of domestic news, celebrity and sports. But that only works when publishers control the medium.

I know I wasn’t the only one to squirm as David Weinberger, co-author of the seminal Cluetrain Manifesto, described how increasingly anachronistic the Big Media model of editors deciding what it was appropriate for readers to read was beginning to seem. What seemed to worry this group more than anything else was that if consumers control their ‘DailyMe’ — a personalised news service — then how will the public service stuff get through?   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/15/08

February 17, 2008

Candidates to provide public with answers
by Julio Tejeda
Derry News (NH)

LONDONDERRY — This weekend, voters will have their first chance to get answers from the candidates running for office.  The town’s annual Candidate Forum will take place Saturday, Feb. 16, at 9 a.m. in the Moose Hill room at Town Hall. It will be broadcast live on Public Access TV.   —>

Minneapolis bridges the digital gap
by Anna Ewart, Minnesota Daily
Twin Cities Daily Planet (MN)

[ comments allowed ]

The Digital Inclusion Fund awarded $200,000 in grants to help provide technological access to low-income families.  As part of its contract to build a citywide wireless network, US Internet Wireless agreed to help bridge the “digital divide” in Minneapolis.

Last month, the Digital Inclusion Fund awarded $200,000 in grants to nine organizations working to improve technology access and education. The fund, which is part of a community benefits agreement financed by the wireless company, was designed to support programs that work with new users of technology who historically might not have had access, such as immigrants and low-income families…

The other eight organizations that received Digital Inclusion Fund grants are the Minneapolis Public Library, Phyllis Wheatley Community Center, Plymouth Christian Youth Center, Project for Pride in Living, the St. Paul Neighborhood Network, the Bridge for Runaway Youth, TVbyGIRLS and the Twin Cities Media Alliance…

Rebecca Richards Bullen, associate director of TVbyGIRLS, said her organization will use grant money to pay for staff, technology and supplies for media workshops for girls.  The workshops would focus on media literacy and technical training for the participants, girls from diverse communities across the city, she said.   —>

The Jammies on Rapid Growth Media
Grand Rapids Community Media Center (MI)

Not only did this year’s WYCE Jammies garner some positive attention in print and on TV, but we also got some nice coverage from the online media — specifically our friends at Rapid Growth Media. Take a look at the video highlights they put together from this year’s Jammies.

FREE Jammies music downloads!
Grand Rapids Community Media Center (MI)

Whether or not you made it out for WYCE’s 9th Annual Jammies celebration at Wealthy Theatre, you have a chance to enjoy the music. Thanks to our sponsor,, music from Jammies artists will be available to download for FREE! That includes some songs recorded live at the Jammies, as well as tracks off the local award winners’ albums.

Just go to, type WYCE in the search box, and pick out your favorite songs by local artists.

Note: Songs will be posted over a period of time, starting this week. The entire Jammies collection should be online within a week of the event (by Tuesday, Feb. 19).   —>

New game show seeks crew
by Laura Power
Northern News Services (Canada)

Yellowknife – If Chris White at Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP) has his way, a few new shows will be added into the mix on community access television (channel 20).

White came up with the idea for a new cooking game show one day in the supermarket, and has since brainstormed a few possibilities involving live music and local film broadcasts.  “We’re just looking to encourage more production here in Yellowknife,” White said. “Why not try and revive the age-old custom of community access television?”   —>

December 1977 : QUBE TV
by Zartan
LiveJournal: Pacific Novelty


A couple of years ago, I was thumbing through an old (1981) reading textbook called Rainbow Shower. One piece that really caught my eye, both for the artwork and its content, was called “QUBE TV”; it described an interactive television system that, at first, I thought had been made up as some sort of fanciful, imagination-stoking “what if?” for kids to read and discuss.  Turns out it wasn’t….

…Just found a six-part YouTube series of QUBE footage and demos! The first part is here, and for once, the comments threads are not a complete wasteland.   —>



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 – 02/04/08

February 6, 2008

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

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.   —>

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

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.   —>

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

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.   —>

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

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.   —>

Unscripted Ending
The picture gets blurry for public access television.
by Josh Goodman

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.   —>

Leaving Localism Behind

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. —>

An FCC watcher’s guide to Super Tuesday
by Matthew Lasar
Lasar’s Letter on the FCC

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.   —>

Prescott considers new channel  on access television (1 comment)
Daily Courier (AZ)

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.   —>

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

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.   —>

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

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?”   —>

Town television offers new programs this month
Greenwich Post (CT)

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.   —>

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

—>   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.   —>

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

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.   —>

Broadcasters, cable operators blasted for bottom-line approach to content
The Canadian Press

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.   —>

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

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.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/05/07

December 5, 2007


[ I took a pass on that ‘hammer’ story a few weeks back. To borrow from James Goldman’s Alais in “Lion in Winter”, there’s no sport in slamming Comcast; it’s so easy. This, though, if true, deserves shaming attention. – rm ]

Comcast Owes Leesburg $200 (and counting)
Leesburg Tomorrow (VA)

One of the arcanities of local government is the fact that the companies that provide Cable TV service to residents (Verizon and Comcast) are required to enter into “franchise agreements” with localities to have the right to offer that service. The state limits what Towns and Counties are and are not allowed to include in their franchise agreements, and as a result the companies have fairly expansive rights when it comes to the actions they can take to provide service.

But localities like the Town of Leesburg do have some recourses when cable providers are in gross violation of the Franchise agreement. For example, if a cable in town were to remain unburied sixty days after Comcast was notified of it, Comcast would owe the Town $200 for each unburied day that follows.

The cable pictured above has been unburied for more than 60 days, and its unburied condition was reported to Comcast on October 3, 2007. This note was forwarded to Comcast, with details, on that day.

From: [Leesburg Resident]
Sent: Wednesday, October 03, 2007 10:33 AM
To: [Cable TV Commissioner]
Importance: High

In my neighborhood there is roughly a 15foot expanse of cable exposed which occurred after the town of Leesburg re-surfaced the handicap accessible street corners. The cross roads are Country Club Drive and Foster Place SW on the south side.

There are children in my neighborhood and I am concerned that childhood curiosity could lead to a bigger problem of children playing with unknown cables.

As such, today, Comcast owes Leesburg $200 for non-compliance with the franchise agreement with the Town. That bill increases by $200 each day. By the end of December, Comcast could owe Leesburg $5,600 in penalties if the cable is still unburied.

While I am certain the Town and its taxpayers will be happy to collect this money from Comcast to help the budget in a time of revenue tightening for the Town, Leesburg’s citizens would be much better served by having this cable buried as soon as possible. —>

Community media center on wheels
by rachelpultusker
Community Information Corp (MI)

—> In communities that lack the funding to maintain school media centers in the traditional sense, rooms that were once thriving school libraries are now often auxiliary, empty rooms that no longer serve their purpose. Therefore, instead of attempting to revive the old model of a school media center in a school, let’s think of a new model that can serve more than one group within a community (not just school-age students), more than one community, and exponentially more people.

The other idea at work here is that communities need community centers – for recreational sports, for social events, for classes, for meetings, etc. – and too often, existing community centers (for a myriad of reasons) are not serving the communities that need them most to their fullest capacity.

Combining these two ideas, we’ve come up with a community media center on wheels that would potentially serve all members of as many different communities as possible. Our goal would not be to replace school media centers or existing community centers. However, our goal would be to bring people back to their school media centers and community centers through the possibilities created by the school media center bus. In other words, we want to get people excitied about existing media/community centers and think about those places in a fundamentally new, exciting way. —>

Funny How That Works
by A.C. Kleinheider (TN)

Blake Farmer reports that AT&T is having the toughest time trying to air ads on cable stations arguing they should be able to bypass the current local franchise system and get a statewide franchise authority: AT&T’s Tennessee president Gregg Morton says the company has been trying to air informative ads about its desire to ink a statewide franchise agreement to provide cable TV services. That would take a change in current state law that now requires cable companies to negotiate individual contracts with cities and counties.

Morton told business leaders at Lipscomb University (this morning/yesterday) that so far, cable companies haven’t agreed to air any of AT&T’s ads. “I’m not sure what we can do about that. When we advertise on network television, it’s much more expensive so it limits our reach. But that right now is our only option.” Spokespeople for local cable companies have not returned phone calls seeking comment.

Be on Portland Community Television and Dance – Watch This AWESOME Clip
by Julian Chadwick
PDX Pipeline (OR)

Ok, well I watched the trailer and I don’t know where to begin. I’m still a bit in shock actually, and I took a bunch of screenshots that you can see on flickr. Watch the teaser trailer for Episode 2

From Nickey at

Saturday, December 8, 2007; 5:30 PM; Portland Community Media; 2766 NE MLK Boulevard

Description: The Politics of Dancing is a cable-access dance show with a conscience. Produced by Nickey Robo and directed by Dave Slay, TPOD aims to educate the audience about radical politics while a cast of local youth cut a rug on the dance floor. The show airs on various Portland Metro cable access channels.

In light of the recent string of bike/car collisions and cyclist fatalities in the Portland area, this episode of TPOD will be “The Bike Show.” Featured performers and guests will include:

The Online Romance
The Sprockettes
BMX tricks by Blake and Lee
Bikes to Rwanda
The Bike Farm

This event is free to attend and is open to all ages. Though dancing is not absolutely mandatory, it is highly encouraged, and everyone is made welcome. (Be prepared for your friends to ask you, “Was that you I saw grooving on cable access?” for months afterward.) Taping begins promptly at 5:30 PM and will continue for a few hours, so please show up on time!

Encourage young girls to be savvy media critics
by Andrea Otanez
Seattle Times

This is not, I promise, a column about how one generation’s Soulja Boy is another generation’s Eminem, another’s AC/DC or another’s Elvis. This is a question in search of a simple answer: Do you let the young people in your lives “Crank Dat (Soulja Boy)”?

The song hit teen mainstream in August and now airs about every 15 minutes in clean and not-so-clean versions. The performer, Soulja Boy Tell Em, aka DeAndre Way, 17, first recorded the song on his PC, made up a dance to it and posted both online. They went viral and he ended up with a record deal and on the radio in your kid’s bedroom.

The tune is repetitive, punctuated with a tin-drum plink, and the dance is just complicated enough that front-room performers have to listen and watch it multiple times to get all the moves.

And the lyrics? The word “ho” (sometimes spelled “hoe” on the Internet) appears at least 31 times in the unclean version. “Ho,” of course, is another word for prostitute, which often is another word for woman, which, given the target audience of this song, is another word for girl. And in “Crank Dat,” the word is often accompanied by descriptions of various things done to that “ho.”

If you are a woman or a girl, or if you are related to a woman or a girl, the insipid words should make your lip curl and your temper flare. More to the point, the song’s target audience seems to be 12- to 17-year-old kids; at least that’s who is on YouTube dancing the Soulja Boy in their front rooms. The dance seems to have made the lyrics a second thought, if even a thought, for all those parents who record the under-10 set and proudly post the performances on the Web.

The disciplinarian in me has one thought: Pull the plug and climb the pulpit to rail against degrading lyrics. But unless I want to be in my kids’ lives every second, which is impractical and unhealthy, any bans I declare are unenforceable and perhaps encouragement to “Crank Dat” right along with everyone else.

Plus, a scroll through my own playlists makes me wonder if I’d be protesting too much: Lucinda Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Beck, Johnny Cash, the Rolling Stones and, for a while there, Shakira.

Now, if I kept my music to myself, all would be fine; after all, I am an adult. But, we are a family of road-trippers, a crew that turns up the music whether we are traveling to the swimming pool or grandmother’s house two states away. I’m the DJ because my hands are on the wheel, and sometimes the lyrics in my music are not always kid fare. Let’s just say I’m quick on the skip button. Usually.

“Crank Dat” and some of my music have one thing in common: They can encourage (ignite?) healthy conversations between adult and kid. Those conversations can then add up to media literacy.

When figuring out how to talk to my kids about lyrics — and trying to decide for myself whether any harm can come from them — I came across an interesting Web site called, which was created by researchers and media professionals at the Media Education Lab at Temple University.

The creators encourage young girls to critically evaluate media messages. In particular, “My Pop Studio is a creative play experience that strengthens critical thinking skills about television, music, magazines and online media directed at girls,” they say. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/09/07

November 11, 2007

Cable bill passes Senate, sent back to Assembly over changes
by Charles Brace
The Daily Cardinal (WI)

A contentious bill dealing with the cable industry passed the state Senate Thursday, though it will have to go back to the state Assembly before the governor approves it. The state Senate passed a bill hoped to encourage competition in the cable television industry Thursday, though only after an exhaustive series of amendments were debated that often passed or failed due to one vote. —>

Mayor’s Statement re: Video Franchising Bill (WI)
by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz made the following statement regarding last night’s action on Assembly Bill 207:

The video franchising bill passed last night by the state Senate is bad for Wisconsin consumers, school districts and municipalities. The nine senators who fought the good fight – including the entire Madison delegation of Senators Risser, Miller and Erpenbach – to improve this deeply-flawed bill deserve our thanks. This proposal eliminates funding for public access programming, awards perpetual video franchises with minimal review, hampers the ability of local communities to control their rights of way, and provides no meaningful consumer protection or regulatory oversight.

It is truly a sad commentary on Wisconsin politics that our legislative process compares poorly to that of Illinois. In that state, parties from all sides developed a win-win compromise that paved the way for statewide video franchising, without sacrificing public access programming, consumer protection and other priorities. That was sadly not the case in Wisconsin.

This bill has been falsely described as opening the door to video competition. In fact, that door was already wide open, as Milwaukee showed earlier this year when it successfully negotiated a local franchise agreement with AT&T. This legislation simply saves video providers from the annoyance of dealing with local governments that might insist upon strong consumer protection, service to the entire community, and other basic pro-consumer principles.

It is my hope that Governor Doyle will take steps to improve this flawed proposal.

AT&T vs. the cable industry
Another bout looms over TV market in Tennessee
by Andrew Eder
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)

Tennessee’s telecommunications heavyweights are gearing up for round two of the bout over competition in the TV market that began in the last state legislative session. In the blue corner, sporting a new state president and a strong desire to get in the digital television business, is AT&T. “It’s about competition, choice, better prices, jobs and investment,” AT&T Tennessee President Gregg Morton said of his company’s renewed push to change state law and roll out video services under a statewide agreement.

In the red corner, arguing that the country’s largest phone company is trying to gain an unfair advantage and circumvent local control, is Tennessee’s cable industry, backed by local governments. “They’re behind,” Stacey Briggs, president of industry group Tennessee Cable Telecommunications Association, said of AT&T. “Now they want to pick their customers, and they’ve got to change the law to do it.” —>

AT&T gets OK to sell TV service
by Amy Saunders
The Columbus Dispatch (OH)

AT&T is closer to becoming the new cable TV competitor in town after being granted Ohio’s first state-issued cable contract yesterday. The company will be able to offer its U-verse TV service in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties, the same territory in which the company provides phone service, according to the Ohio Department of Commerce. —>

Localism and diversity should be FCC’s priority
by Scott McCaughey
Reclaim the Media

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin has a lot on his plate, what with his rush to alter existing media-ownership rules in favor of giant media conglomerates. He’ll be in Seattle on Friday for the sixth and final public hearing on media ownership, which will examine the prudence of relaxing current stipulations. Jet lag is tough, but the crowd Martin will encounter here is likely to be even tougher.

The Seattle proceedings were announced at the last minute, giving citizens little time to prepare arguments. Many question whether Martin is sincere in his assessment of public opinion — which, when it comes to further media consolidation, is decidedly negative.

As a longtime member of the Seattle music community, I know firsthand how important radio is for musicians. My bands, Young Fresh Fellows and the Minus 5, both preceded and participated in the alternative music explosion of the 1990s, and got a major boost from college stations. Other prominent Seattle acts, such as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden and Presidents of the United States of America, benefited tremendously from both local and national airplay. Of course, this was before the Federal Communications Act of 1996 ushered in an era of unprecedented consolidation. Since then, we’ve been left with ever-shrinking playlists and a lack of ownership diversity. —>

Meet Kevin Martin, a very influential guy you’ve never heard of
He walks the path of a long line of chairmen of the Federal Communications Commission — an institution itself that is really powerful and virtually unknown.
by O. Casey Corr

The Federal Communications Commission might be the most powerful unknown agency of the federal government — a backwater that happens to influence a huge slice of our economy. We get a glimpse on Friday, Nov. 9, of the FCC and its boyish chairman, Kevin Martin, at a hearing on “localism and access to public airwaves” [124K PDF] at Seattle’s Town Hall, from 4-11 p.m.

Of late, our own Seattle Times has been putting a deserved spotlight on the FCC through a series called “The Democracy Papers” and a blog by Ryan Blethen, son of Publisher Frank Blethen, that tells us the American press is being decimated by consolidation. Civic debate, at least in and on the mainstream media outlets, is controlled by fewer and fewer players.

I wish I could be optimistic on this topic. Years ago, desktop publishing was going to offset the power of “big media.” Now blogging is the hope. MySpace is cool, but more so before Rupert Murdoch bought it. Facebook just got valued at $15 billion — it, too, is now big business. It’s all a bit weird when we’re rooting for Google in a contest over spectrum. —>

Jena 6, the Black netroots & the importance of media literacy
by Chris Rabb

Recently, a storm has brewed over allegations by popular radio host Michael Baisden that progressive advocacy group,, has defrauded one of the Jena 6 families. It is a serious, unsubstantiated and ridiculous charge from a man who took the lead in the corporate radio community to advocate for and promote the Jena 6. But that said, while we’re all entitled to differing opinions, we’re not entitled to different facts.

Afro-Netizen unequivocally supports They represent the future and power of renewed civic engagement in our communities. They honor the spirit of generations of Blackfolk and other freedom-fighters who organized around the message instead of merely venerating a given messenger. promotes and thrives on decentralization, diffusing influence and resources to individuals from all walks of life to get involved in ways that the cults of charismatic leadership discourage and corporate media fear.

I do not know Micheal Baisden, nor listen to his show (and rarely listen to corporate radio). So, this is really not a counter-attack. Because, really, this is not about whether Baisden is “good or bad”. It’s analogous to the common expression, “Do you see the glass as half-full or half-empty?”. Because in actuality, any many contexts, the best answers come from related, but unasked questions like, “What’s in the glass?” and “Who’s glass is it?”

…This is why media literacy is so important to disadvantaged communities who do not genuinely control their own media. Because if we knew who owns what and what they are are about, the current and future Baisden-like fiascoes would be taken for what they are: distractions from the much larger threat of media consolidation at the expense of widening and amplifying the diverse, autonomous voices of communities color.

And for all the good things Baisden may have said or done around Jena and other salient issues, if you haven’t heard him mention “media literacy”, “media consolidation” or “media justice”, now you know why.

I Want My iTV
by Cliff Edwards
Business Week


But I won’t be getting it soon. While the technology is mostly in place, the players—from cable companies to film studios—can’t agree on how to make it happen. It all started when my TiVo let me down. For years this little device has been like an old friend. It sat next to my big-screen TV to record shows and movies when I wanted, without a lot of questions, and with no judgments on what I wanted to see. But on a lazy late summer day, I came to view TiVo in a whole new light.

There’s a collision, you see, between the boob tube and the Internet. TV is all about instant gratification. The Net is about me having control. Put the two together, and the result should be personalized TV, or iTV, which lets me watch what I want, when I want it. That sounds a lot like TiVo. The recorders, which the company claims deliver “television your way,” also allow you to connect to the Net and do things like check freeway traffic before your daily commute, buy movie tickets from your couch, and listen to Web radio, all on your TV. In July, TiVo even became the first device that lets you search easily for programs from cable outfits along with movies and other content delivered off the Web from Amazon’s (AMZN ) Unbox video service.

So when my editors asked me to explain how TV and the Internet were intersecting, my first thought was to grab TiVo’s peanut-shaped remote control. I had a hankering to see 1949’s White Heat, the Jimmy Cagney flick where he plays gangster Cody Jarrett. Cornered by cops on top of a burning oil tank, he laughs maniacally and shouts: “Made it, Ma! Top of the world!” just before being obliterated. Calling up a neat bit of TiVo search software, I typed in the movie’s name.

No luck. It offered me White Men Can’t Jump on cable, or Single White Female off the Web. I tried typing in “gangster” to let TiVo troll program descriptions that might fit. There was the Gangsta Girls documentary or 1944’s Gangsters of the Frontier to rent at Amazon. No… White… Heat.


Experiences like this just make it painfully clear how far we still are from having truly personal TV. All the technology to do this is basically in place: fast broadband connections, personal media recorders, instant Web-searching software, high-definition sets. So why can’t I press a button or two and see whether the tribe has spoken, root for the next top chef, pull up a YouTube (GOOG ) clip of Ellen DeGeneres breaking down in tears over a dog—or even watch Cagney rise from small-time hood to the top of the world? I want to listen to music, have a box pop up on my screen telling me who’s phoning my home, or watch a vacation-themed slide show before forwarding it on to bore my friends on Facebook—all while sitting in front of the set in my living room. No one has yet put this wish list together in one nice, easy-to-use package.

To find out why so many have tried and failed to deliver my TV nirvana, I got up off the couch and hit the road to talk to technology wizards and top industry executives. I discovered that Hollywood, cable, satellite, phone, and consumer-electronics companies are all screaming “Go! Go! Go!” as they lay out ambitious plans to conquer the market.

But what’s holding up the transition from network TV to networked TV is that any company with a little piece of control in the way things work today is unwilling to jeopardize its power and revenues until it becomes clear how the new model will pay. Every time you hear about some product that sounds great but just has one strange limitation, follow the money to understand why. Hollywood worries digital downloads could lead consumers to stop buying $24 billion of DVDs annually, and broadcasters are nervous about the fate of the $185 billion-per-year TV advertising kitty. So studios and networks alike limit how long programs are available on Web sites or restrict the shows that play on various devices.

Cable and satellite providers worry that they will lose customer loyalty to the Web, so they impose tight controls on what content you see and have moved painfully slowly to offer advanced TV services. The people who make electronics gear fret that if they don’t lock up agreements for exclusive music or videos, consumers won’t pay top price. “You’ve got device manufacturers, content providers, service providers, networks, software makers, security providers all trying to sort out how big their piece of the pie should be,” says former Comcast (CMCSA ) executive Kip Compton. He is now senior director and general manager of video and content networking at Cisco Systems (CSCO ), which is trying to merge TV and the Web. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media