Archive for the ‘media reform’ 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 – 04/23/08

April 27, 2008

La. Senate panel OKs TV change (LA)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — State government, not police juries and city councils, should control the franchise fee process for television service around the state, a Senate panel voted on Wednesday.  The chief supporter of the bill [Senate Bill 422 – ] , AT&T Inc., said the change would encourage more companies to begin offering TV service in Louisiana, heightening competition and lowering prices for consumers.

The Senate’s commerce committee approved the measure 6-1 despite opposition from parish and city government officials who complained that the state was trying to snatch control over a significant part of their income.  The loss of control would likely mean a drop in revenue, said Dan Garrett, a lobbyist for the Police Jury Association.  “This bill strips local governments of franchise authority,” Garrett said.   —>

Despite compromise bill, cable ads bashing AT&T still ran
by John Rodgers
Nashville City Paper (TN)


When a compromise was reached between AT&T, the cable industry and local governments over television franchising legislation two weeks ago, House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh made a simple request.  Naifeh (D-Covington), who was instrumental in forging the compromise, urged the parties involved to stop running advertisements bashing AT&T or the cable industry over the legislation, which AT&T says it needs to start offering television programming and competing with cable.

Tennesseans have been exposed to those ads — from both sides but primarily the cable industry — for a good portion of the past two years.  But despite the compromise legislation being agreed upon, the cable industry has continued to run advertisements during the last two weeks bashing AT&T’s effort to get into the television programming business. […]

By: HokeyPokey on 4/23/08
Government meetings are actually quite popular on cable, witness the popularity of C-Span in addition to the PEG channels.  One does not have to think long and hard to understand why neither cable nor telco want you to see what the government’s doing.  Also, those of you in Nashville who enjoy the “Arts” channel on Channel 9 better load up on it, ’cause it’s likely to go far, far away when Comcast gets thrown into the briar patch.

Book Report Raises Questions About Texas’ SB5
by Jon Kreucher
Blogging Broadband (MI)

[ comments invited ]

Those keeping score know that the Texas legislature really started the state-mandated video franchise train down the tracks.  SB5 was passed in Texas at the end of 2005.  It was a natural place for the phone companies to get the ball rolling, as SBC, now the new AT&T, called Texas home.  Since SB5 passed, a likely-unprecedented wave of states adopted some form of “shall issue” video franchising — all of it aimed at helping the phone companies get into the cable business.

The idea of creating competition for cable companies was worthwhile.  But now that a little time has passed, some are starting to look at whether this chain of state laws has really served the intended purpose.  One of the more comprehensive reviews has been assembled by Dr. Connie Ledoux Book (Ph.D.) of Elon University. During the fall of 2006 and spring of 2007, students in Elon’s Broadcasting and the Public Interest began to assemble information about the impact of SB5 in Texas.  According to Dr. Book’s draft summary of the work:

“The project started with a simple question: Has SB5 created competition that resulted in lower cable costs for customers in Texas?  What should be a simple yes or no response is actually quite complex and after weighing the variable addressed in this paper, one could argue the following:

“SB5 has created competitive markets in more affluent, wealthier areas of Texas. These residents benefit from having choice between cable providers and the hope that a competitive environment will bring about better customer service and pricing benefits. However, none of the newly established pricing plans ultimately save these Texans more money on a monthly basis (although they may receive more services). At the same time this competitive cable scenario exists for a few communities in Texas, the passage of SB5 has resulted in every Texan subsidizing competition for the few through telecom taxes and regulatory fees.”

This work, unfortunately, confirms many of the fears raised by those who originally opposed state-wide franchising bills — among them, that the pace at which competition develops is dependant on market forces, not regulatory treatment; that the wealthy will be the primary beneficiaries of any competition that does eventually develop; that the benefits of competition manifest themselves in things other than substantially lower cable prices; and that the potential for phone customers to unwittingly pay for their phone company’s foray into video is real.

Many thanks to Dr. Book for sharing her draft report — if you’d like to see a copy, you can download it here.

U-Verse Rollout Continues — But Slowly
by Jon Kreucher
Blogging Broadband (MI)

[ comments invited ]

AT&T reported its first quarter 2008 earnings yesterday.  As with all such calls, the U-Verse rollout was an active topic for discussion.  AT&T noted that it remains on plan to meet its current 2008 U-verse subscription target — but the rollout must nevertheless appear to be painfully slow to regulators.  Not too long ago, AT&T told every state in its operating area that the need to obtain a service franchise from each local government was the only impediment to the widespread deployment of its new video product.  Time is now proving that the representation wasn’t altogether accurate.    —>

(sob) All that work on the public access TV bill and then this…
by Larry Geller
Disappeared News (HI)

[ comments invited ]

Lots and lots of testimony in support of SB1789 just went down the drain, as reported by the Maui News in New rules governing public-access TV die at Legislature:

HONOLULU — Despite widespread statewide support, including from those associated with Akaku: Maui Community Television, legislation to clarify rules for public-access television stations has died this legislative session. …  Senate Bill 1789 — drafted by Maui Sens. Roz Baker, Shan Tsutsui and J. Kalani English — would have required the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to create rules for how it awards contracts to “public-access, education and government” (PEG) cable television organizations.

…  The bill was passed from the Senate to the House, and passed out of the Finance Committee in March. But the committee report apparently was never filed, and that inaction prevented the bill from being sent back to the full House for a vote. […]

It’s not just the hours spent testifying (and those coming in from other islands over and over had it worse than I did). There were also hours testifying before the Procurement Policy Board and on and on and on. This bill would have fixed everything.  And it just fell into a crack someplace? Gone, just like that? What can I say?

How come it’s never the manini bills that die by clerical oversight?
by Doug White
Poinography (HI)


What a bummer. The Maui News reports that a bill to exempt PEG (Public, Educational, and Government) cable access from the procurement code died this year when the House Finance Committee heard the bill, voted to amend the bill, and then failed to file the Committee Report and amended bill by the Second Decking deadline.  Sheesh. I know, I know, Committee staff, and especially the Finance Staff, are responsible for handling huge amounts of clerical minutiae under a tight deadline. I was a Committee Clerk for a few years and at deadlines there is a lot of pressure. It’s a staffer’s nightmare, but mistakes are going to happen. But still…

What’s left unanswered by this article, however, is what the failure of this legislation means for the PEG providers we currently know (Olelo, Akaku, etc.). Will the Department award (or has it already awarded) the PEG contracts to new groups?

Buckland, Shelburne: cable for all
by Jeff Potter
Shelburne Falls Independent (MA)

With the blessing of Shelburne and Buckland selectmen, cable television advisory boards from the two towns will kick off negotiations for a new contract by asking Comcast, current holder of the cable franchise, to offer service to every resident and business in the two towns.  A 22-page document — Cable License Renewal Findings, Report and Recommendations — prepared for the towns by attorney William August of Boston, results from the work of the joint board and reflects comments gleaned from a survey and a Feb. 27 public hearing.  The report will serve as a request for proposal for the cable company, which has until May 22 to submit a new draft agreement to the towns.

Mike Duffy of Shelburne and Glenn Cardinal of Buckland, representatives from the two respective cable advisory boards, appeared before Shelburne selectmen to discuss the document and its findings. Cardinal chairs the joint committee.  “We find, based on extensive testimony at extraordinary public ascertainment hearings, and based on review of more than 40 ascertainment exhibits, there is a compelling and great need for service area expansion and cable system build-out in the towns of Buckland and Shelburne,” reads the document in its introduction. “The overwhelming sentiment expressed at the hearings was that cable service in all its forms is no longer a luxury, but is now an absolute necessity for the long-term viability of our towns, and that no resident should be deprived of such services.”   —>

Films: Preserving ‘Everyday People’ History
Celluloid archaeologists are striving to preserve a fast-decaying historical resource and, at the same time, show the world what they’ve got.
by Barbara Hesselgrave

[comments invited ]

A treasure trove of cultural history is deteriorating at this very moment. All across the world, in attics, basements, warehouses and abandoned storerooms, the clock against celluloid is ticking — for the dust-covered boxes and rusting cans of 8mm, Super 8 and 16mm film.  Countless films are languishing forgotten and untended; their very existence often unknown, yet these “orphan films” are valuable documentary and historical evidence of our society and culture. Championing their discovery, preservation and access for the past decade is Dan Streible, film historian and associate professor of cinema studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Video: Watch 10 “orphan films

Streible describes these neglected artifacts as “any film that doesn’t have any commercial value.”  “At one time, archivists informally used the term orphan film to describe any film that had been abandoned, or for which the identity of the filmmaker was unknown,” he said. However, since the 1993 congressional hearings on film preservation, which led to both the National Film Preservation Board and National Film Preservation Foundation, the term is used more often and broadly.

“These are films that can be anything from newsreels to short films, home movies, industrials, independent documentaries, silent movies, surveillance film, outtakes — anything you can imagine,” Streible explained. The problem, he says, is that while we know that film can and does last at least a century, when stored under proper conditions, most orphan films are forgotten or abandoned and can deteriorate quickly.

But that’s just film.  While materials science research affirms the longevity of film, Streible said research on magnetic videotape media is just beginning, and there is still less understood about the life span of digital copies. As our images become increasingly miniaturized, the effect of dirt specks and small scratches become magnified and easily render a DVD unplayable.  Technology’s evolution reinforces the need for ongoing preservation of all, even recent, moving images to insure public access. As an example, the events of the Olympics captured on 2-inch videotape that was state-of-the-art in the 1970s are today virtually unwatchable — trapped on a medium for which there is essentially no technology to view them.

While many orphan films might not have commercial value — i.e., they are not a theatrical film for public distribution — Streible said many have tremendous historical value. As “orphans” are discovered, he and his colleagues’ mission is to preserve the images and make the information known to others.  He has a slogan that “most of the films ever made no longer exist” (because of deterioration). Of those that do, the majority are not preserved, and those that have been preserved are often known only to a handful of archivists or researchers.   —>

Los Gatos Rotary event will raise funds for KCAT, charities
by Marianne Lucchesi Hamilton
Los Gatos Weekly-Times (CA)

[ comments invited ]

KCAT TV-15 in Los Gatos will be among the beneficiaries of the Los Gatos Morning Rotary’s upcoming spring fundraising dinner-dance. The event, dubbed “The Party,” will bring together members of the community for an evening of rock ‘n’ roll-themed entertainment, food and drink, and a “Rockin’ Auction,” all staged at the Jewish Community Center in Los Gatos. Attendees are encouraged to come dressed in costumes reflecting the “classic rock” era of the 1960s through 1980s.

The Los Gatos Morning Rotary, whose charter supports the arts and children’s issues in Los Gatos, is joining with the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance to stage the event. LGMR has pledged to distribute a portion of the proceeds to KCAT to help fund the station’s proposed digital literacy center project. This initiative is targeted to encourage proficiency at Los Gatos High School in the areas of visual and electronic media, and to provide students with the types of digital literacy skills needed for success in the 21st century.

The KCAT studio has been situated on the high school campus since 1983, offering students an opportunity to acquire hands-on training in digital media production.  “KCAT’s staff and board of directors are thrilled to be identified as a beneficiary of Los Gatos Morning Rotary’s upcoming fundraiser,” KCAT station manager George Sampson said.   —>

No longer ‘PTTV’: Television for people who don’t like television
by Barney Burke
Port Townsend & Jefferson County Leader (WA)

[ comments invited ]

“People who say, ‘I don’t watch TV,'” says Jonathan Stratman, provide the biggest challenge in programming Port Townsend’s community TV station.  Hired in October as director of Port Townsend Television, formerly known as PTTV, Stratman said the station’s content is being transformed, and not just because of new equipment.  “It’s television for people who don’t like television,” said Stratman of the increase in homegrown media.   —>

City, county plan joint Web site
Times Publications (IN)

[ comments invited ]

Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and the Allen County Commissioners announced that work is underway on the creation of a joint Web site to house information regarding both city and county public meetings. The new Web site will seek to provide information such as meeting dates, times, locations, agendas and minutes.  The Web site will also provide an opportunity for other governmental organizations to make their meeting information available.  The Web site will be fully operational in the near future. […]

“This is an excellent first step in making local government more accessible through the internet,” added Commissioner Nelson Peters.  “We look forward to collaborating with our city partners on similar initiatives such as integrating public access television programming.”

South Africa: IEC Conference Discuss the Role of Media During Elections
BuaNews (Tshwane)

A conference discussing the role of the media during the elections is currently underway in Pretoria.  Hosted by the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), under the theme “the role of the media in promoting electoral democracy,” the national conference on Media and Electoral Democracy is bringing together relevant stakeholders to discuss these issues.   —>

Kazakhstan: Media Forum Focuses Attention on Stifling Journalistic Environment
by Joanna Lillis

The opening of the annual Eurasian Media Forum in Kazakhstan stands to highlight a discrepancy in the government’s sweeping reform pledges and its lack of action, political analysts say.  The forum, organized by the president’s daughter, Dariga Nazarbayeva, is scheduled to run from April 24-26. Some local observers express hope that the gathering might revive efforts to liberalize the country’s mass media legislative framework. During their successful lobbying effort to secure the chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Kazakhstani leaders gave assurances that they would implement wide-ranging reforms. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Since then, however, little has been accomplished, prompting some foreign experts to question Kazakhstan’s commitment to fulfilling its pledges before assuming the OSCE helm in 2010.

The guarded optimism expressed by some members of the journalistic community as last year’s Eurasian Media Forum opened subsided long ago. A new, more liberal press law that was then in parliament has been shelved, and slow progress on drafting another version essentially precludes the possibility of new legislation being in place before the start of 2009, when Kazakhstan will join the OSCE Troika of past, present and future chairs.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

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 – 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

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 – 02/12/08

February 16, 2008

LWV urges ‘neutrality’ on access to Web sites
by Wynne Parry
Stamford Advocate (CT)

The state League of Women Voters reached out to its members last night in a discussion at the Harry Bennett Branch of the Ferguson Library, asking them to consider supporting the position that Internet service providers not interfere with users’ ability to access Web sites.  The issue, known as “Net neutrality,” was one of three the league put before members of its newly revived Stamford chapter. If approved, the league will formally adopt these positions.

“Internet service providers should not serve as gatekeepers,” said Cheryl Dunson, advocacy director of the state league. “If you get online, you should have access to the full and entire scope of the Internet.”  In other words, the Christian Coalition Web site should load as fast as Planned Parenthood…

League representatives also asked members to endorse the position that government should encourage efficient and affordable high-speed Internet access, including free access at libraries and other public buildings…

The league is also considering a position that community access television must be protected.  New legislation allowing phone companies to compete with cable companies to provide cable service may affect community access channels, according to Carole Young-Kleinfeld, the state league’s vice president of communications.   —>,0,1371935.story

County Board meetings to be shown on cable TV
by Jorge Sosa
Hutchinson Leader (MN)

[comments allowed]

Hutchinson Community Video Network will soon add a new reality show to its lineup — the McLeod County Board meetings.  County Commissioner Sheldon Nies said the County Board supports telecasting of their meetings, with HCVN’s help, beginning Feb. 19.  The local cable channel already airs Hutchinson City Council meetings, but HCVN Board Member Barry Anderson said the channel received many requests to see the County Board in action.   —>

Mayors meet with Bredesen, lawmakers
State of economy discussed during courtesy visit
by Bonna Johnson
The Tennessean

[comments allowed]

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, along with the mayors of Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga, made a courtesy call to Gov. Phil Bredesen and legislative leaders Monday.  “We went in to talk about the interest of the cities and to see if there is anything we can do to help the governor and basically talked about the state of the economy,” Dean said.

Dean said he did not talk to the governor about any issues specific to Nashville.  But outside the governor’s office, Dean did talk with reporters about his position on a few state issues….He is staying neutral in the battle between AT&T and Comcast on cable franchising.  “We’ll see what happens before we take a position,” he said. Without taking sides though, he said, he is “generally pro competition.”   —>

There’s Nothing Mainstream About the Corporate Media
by Harvey Wasserman
Huffington Post


As we stumble toward another presidential election, it’s never been more clear that our political process is being warped by a corporate stranglehold on the free flow of information. Amidst a virtual blackout of coverage of a horrific war, a global ecological crisis and an advancing economic collapse, what passes for the mass media is itself in collapse. What’s left of our democracy teeters on the brink.

The culprit, in the parlance of the day, has been the “Mainstream Media,” or MSM.  But that’s [the] wrong name for it. Today’s mass media is Corporate, not Mainstream, and the distinction is critical.  Calling the Corporate Media (CM) “mainstream” implies that it speaks for mid-road opinion, and it absolutely does not.

There is, in fact, a discernable, tangible mainstream of opinion in this country. As brilliant analysts such as Jeff Cohen, Norman Solomon and the Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) organization have shown, the “MSM” is very far to the right of it.   —>

Flashback to 2002: Is U.S. Big Media Still Brainwashing Us?
Pepperspray Productions’ “Indymedia Presents”
02/12/08 (?)

[comments allowed]

In the last few years many Americans have come to believe that the war in Iraq is wrong.  Fewer it would seem, have the same opinion about the war against Afganistan.  You decide.  Let’s go back with US Representative Jim McDermott.   —>

Nonprofit journalism on the rise
At a time of layoffs and budget cuts at traditional newspapers, foundations and donors are funding new journalism ventures.
by Randy Dotinga
Christian Science Monitor

San Diego – The police chief’s rosy crime statistics were a lie, it turned out. The councilman who urged water conservation was discovered to use 80,000 gallons a month at his home, more than five of his colleagues put together. And the school board president, according to an investigation, spent a full third of his time out of town and out of touch.

The Voice of San Diego, a nonprofit online media outlet, doesn’t have enough journalists to field a softball team. Yet it has managed to take on the powerful with the panache of a scrappy big-city paper.  It provides “the best coverage of city politics that we’ve had in years,” raves Dean Nelson, a journalism professor at San Diego’s Point Loma Nazarene University.

The success of the tightly focused Voice, which relies on donors, offers a ray of hope for a troubled industry. Plagued by shrinking circulations and advertising, newspapers are shedding staff and downsizing their offerings. Even the pages have gotten smaller.  By contrast, several nonprofit newspapers – though rare and often tiny – have sprung up in recent years both online and in print, funded largely by foundations and individual donors.  The strategy of nonprofits like the Voice “may be one of the ways to preserve the integrity of journalism,” says Mr. Nelson.   —>

When A Bunch of People Become Community
by Jim Benson
Evolving web

[comments allowed]

No matter how far removed my daily life gets from Urban Planning (I was a real-life urban planner for about 20 years), it still amazes me how I’m still right in the middle of it. Today on Twitter, Shel Israel sent out a note about a great post by Laura Fitton called “Twitter is my Village.”  Her posts cover the basic aspects of community.  Transportation, Culture, Commerce, and Continuity.   —>

ITP in Wikipedia
by Jon Swerdloff
Swerdloff Version 5.0

[comments allowed]

I have had a lot of people ask me – “Swerdloff” they say, because that’s what people call me, “Swerdloff, what the hell are you doing?” And I say “I’m at ITP!” and they say “um OMG WTF ITP?” or they say “What’s that” depending on whether it’s an IM or an in-person thing. Invariably, I point them to the ITP website and then describe a project or two or three if they still don’t get it. Maybe a fourth if they ask “what do you plan to do with this degree, exactly?”

I try metaphor – “It’s art for technologists” “technology for artists” “We’re building the future” “Second wave technologies built on things we tear up” “Hogwarts for hackers” or as Clay described it to me yesterday, “the center for the recently possible” which I like.

It’s very difficult going to a not-product-based incubator, a space that’s not art school but aims at artists, that’s not engineering but aims at engineers, and that’s not really definable. Particularly when you are studying identity! Also when your friends are lawyers, writers, bankers, bloggers, and other -ers that are easily defined.

I’ve copied and pasted the Wikipedia entry on ITP, strangely listed within the Tisch School page. I say strangely because despite having space there and sharing elevators (hello ladies of the drama department…) we really don’t interact with them much. Doubly ironic, since we’re the Interactive telecommunications program, and we don’t interact. Get it? Not in the 10,000 spoons way… ok shut up.  So, I reproduce this here for your pleasure. With luck, it’ll start to give you a sense of what I’m doing. And as you can see, after many years away – I’m back.

Tisch School of the Arts – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:  “The Interactive Telecommunications Program is a pioneering graduate department focused on the study and design of new media, computational media and embedded computing under the umbrella of interactivity.

“Founded in 1979, the origins of the program date back to 1971 when George Stoney and Red Burns created the Alternate Media Center (AMC). ITP grew out of the work of the AMC, and set the stage for the experimentation which would follow as well as the informing spirit of collaboration, and the ongoing emphasis on crafting social applications and putting the needs of the user first. A pioneering center for application development and field trials, the AMC initially focused on exploring the then-new tool of portable video made possible by Sony’s introduction of the Portapak video camera.”   —>

Better Than Free
by Kevin Kelley
The Technium


The internet is a copy machine. At its most foundational level, it copies every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In order to send a message from one corner of the internet to another, the protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied along the way several times. IT companies make a lot of money selling equipment that facilitates this ceaseless copying. Every bit of data ever produced on any computer is copied somewhere. The digital economy is thus run on a river of copies. Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age, these copies are not just cheap, they are free.

Our digital communication network has been engineered so that copies flow with as little friction as possible. Indeed, copies flow so freely we could think of the internet as a super-distribution system, where once a copy is introduced it will continue to flow through the network forever, much like electricity in a superconductive wire. We see evidence of this in real life. Once anything that can be copied is brought into contact with internet, it will be copied, and those copies never leave. Even a dog knows you can’t erase something once it’s flowed on the internet.


This super-distribution system has become the foundation of our economy and wealth. The instant reduplication of data, ideas, and media underpins all the major economic sectors in our economy, particularly those involved with exports — that is, those industries where the US has a competitive advantage. Our wealth sits upon a very large device that copies promiscuously and constantly.

Yet the previous round of wealth in this economy was built on selling precious copies, so the free flow of free copies tends to undermine the established order. If reproductions of our best efforts are free, how can we keep going? To put it simply, how does one make money selling free copies?

I have an answer. The simplest way I can put it is thus:

When copies are super abundant, they become worthless.
When copies are super abundant, stuff which can’t be copied becomes scarce and valuable.

When copies are free, you need to sell things which can not be copied.

Well, what can’t be copied?

There are a number of qualities that can’t be copied. Consider “trust.” Trust cannot be copied. You can’t purchase it. Trust must be earned, over time. It cannot be downloaded. Or faked. Or counterfeited (at least for long). If everything else is equal, you’ll always prefer to deal with someone you can trust. So trust is an intangible that has increasing value in a copy saturated world.

There are a number of other qualities similar to trust that are difficult to copy, and thus become valuable in this network economy.  I think the best way to examine them is not from the eye of the producer, manufacturer, or creator, but from the eye of the user. We can start with a simple user question:  why would we ever pay for anything that we could get for free? When anyone buys a version of something they could get for free, what are they purchasing?

From my study of the network economy I see roughly eight categories of intangible value that we buy when we pay for something that could be free.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/05/08

February 7, 2008

Preserve PEGs in Hawaii
by Cynthia Thomet
Akaku (HI)

HB3417 & SB1789 are two bills in the Hawaii State Legislature that would help preserve PEG access and ensure that community access cable channels answer to you. Public access channels (made up of content-contributors and cable subscribers like you) need your support in the Hawaii State Legislature House of Representatives! You can help by taking action two ways!   —>

To attend or not to attend
by Andy Sher
Times Free Press (TN)

Tennessee House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh held a news conference today about private negotiations he is helping oversee that involve AT&T and the cable television industry.  AT&T wants state lawmakers to adopt a franchising process that would allow the company to offer cable television anywhere it wants across the state. Local governments currently control franchising.

When questioned about the gatherings, Rep. Naifeh said the behind-the-scenes meetings among AT&T, cable interests and a handful of lawmakers have been “transparent” although reporters have not been invited to attend.  “Do you want to go in there and sit through those meetings?” Rep. Naifeh asked a reporter.  “No you don’t,” Rep. Naifeh replied when the reporter answered yes to the speaker’s initial inquiry.

Lawmakers meet with reps on cable bill (TN)
Associated Press
MSN Money

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh on Monday denied there’s been a lack of transparency in the handling of a contentious proposal to change cable permitting rules in Tennessee to encourage broadband access around the state.  Naifeh, a Covington Democrat, told reporters Monday legislative leaders from both parties have been meeting with representatives from AT&T Inc. and other cable businesses for the past five weeks to work on compromise legislation, but the media has not been invited to any of the meetings.

Naifeh said about 15 representatives from AT&T and other cable businesses and several lawmakers have been present during the meetings.  When questioned about the matter, Naifeh said there’s no hidden agenda but that all parties want to first work out the “technical issues” of the proposal.  “Let’s get it all worked out … then let us as legislators go over it and determine what we want to be the bill,” said Naifeh, who was joined by Republican sponsors of the legislation from both chambers.   —>

Naifeh wants AT&T, Comcast to agree
Governor doubts rival cable businesses will compromise
by Naomi Snyder  (11 comments)
The Tennessean

House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and a bipartisan group of legislators vowed Monday to press ahead on legislation to allow AT&T to sell video services across Tennessee, despite doubts that a deal can be worked out with rival cable providers.   —>

CWA Calls on Pennsylvania Legislators to Support High Speed Broadband Buildout
Communications Workers of America

A broad coalition of labor, consumers and community groups strongly supports The Consumer Choice Cable Franchising and High-Speed Broadband Promotion Act, H.B 1490, and the Communications Workers of America is urging members of the House Consumer Affairs Committee to approve this measure.  CWA research economist Debbie Goldman will testify before the committee at a hearing on Thursday, February 7.   —>,269776.shtml

Public Access Channel goes on without county funds
by Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Evening News Tuesday (FL)


After attempting to cut funding for years, the Hillsborough County Commission last fall pulled the plug on financing the county’s Public Access Channel.  Forced to reduce the budget dues to mandates from the state Legislature last year, the board also cut in half funding of the county’s Education Channel, and warned station operators that there may not be any funding at all next year. The third channel, the county’s Government channel, also saw its budget cut by more than $200,000 – but it’s entire budget is just a little less than $2-million.

Now comes the possibility that the channel may try to allow commercial ads on the channel. At their board meeting tomorrow, Hillsborough commissioners are scheduled to receive a report from the County Attorney’s office regarding a proposal to allow commercials on HTV.   —>

Public access TV still relevant
by Doug Moe
The Capital Times (WI)

A Wisconsin state senator has done a grave disservice to one of the true stars of Madison television. And in a national magazine, at that.  The February issue of Governing magazine contains an article on what it calls the “blurry” future of public access television in the United States due to the many states, including Wisconsin, that have passed laws shifting much of the regulation of cable television from individual cities to the state.

“In the process,” the article notes, “public, educational and government 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 situation in Wisconsin is discussed toward the end of the article and includes this: “Wisconsin state senator Jeff Plale, who sponsored that state’s new cable franchise law, has seen some public access shows that left him unimpressed. ‘We have a channel in Madison of a guy grilling a chicken; sometimes he grills lamb chops,’ says Plale. ‘Should the ratepayers really pay for that?'”

The answer to that question is an unequivocal yes.  Yes to helping fund public access TV in general and yes to the particular show, which airs on Madison’s WYOU-TV, referenced by Plale in his quote.  I will return to that show momentarily. First, let me put in a good word for public access TV as a concept. Actually, the Governing article does a pretty good job of summing up its appeal, and why these new laws are potentially harmful.   —>

City to pay out $200,000 a year for CAT operating costs
by Emilie Rusch
Columbia Missourian

Funding problems could finally be a thing of the past for Columbia Access Television after the City Council voted early Tuesday morning in favor of a five-year contract that would pay out $200,000 a year for operating costs starting next fiscal year.  But the council stopped short of guaranteeing any capital funding to renovate CAT’s studio at Stephens College and went ahead with plans to create a competitive application process for any additional public communications funding.

“CAT has worked with very minimal funds, but they could accomplish a lot more,” Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said. “I think we owe them the funds to get a good second start.”  The contract, which will not go into effect until both sides sign, will provide CAT with $150,000 for the rest of fiscal 2008 and $200,000 a year through fiscal 2013.

The money comes from the extra revenue generated by the 2 percent increase of the city’s cable franchise fee, approved in September by the council. The city estimates the increase will generate an additional $300,000 to $400,000 in fiscal year 2009.  Before the increase, the franchise fee, which the city charges video providers in exchange for use of public right-of-way, was 3 percent of the provider’s gross receipts within city limits. In 2004, the city’s Cable Task Force recommended to raise the franchise fee to the federal maximum of 5 percent to help fund the public access channel.

CAT members approached the contract with mixed feelings. Without guaranteed capital funding, it will be hard to attract any candidates for the staff positions the city-funded operating budget creates, said Beth Pike, CAT volunteer and member of the Cable Task Force, before the meeting. It just doesn’t make sense to have operating funds without the money to buy equipment, she said.  “We would be spending the money from the city foolishly if we spent what they gave us for operating costs without having any capital,” she said.   —>

AT&T U-verse rolls into Chicago

AT&T remains committed to its aggressive IPTV roll out and this week comes to Chicago for its biggest ever deployment and remains on track to hit one million users by the end of the year. The launch of the U-verse TV service in parts of 175 suburbs is the largest single rollout in the history of the U-verse service, which currently has 230,000 users. —>

League of Women Voters of Portland To Host Media Reform Forum (OR)
by davy
Open Sources

The League of Women Voters of Portland is hosting a media and democracy forum on Wednesday, February 13, 2008. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Board Room of the Multnomah Building, 501 SE Hawthorne, Portland. The event is free, and the public is invited to attend.

The democratic ideal of informed public participation in government can be enhanced by a vibrant media that values diverse voices and in-depth discussion of the many issues facing our society. Do we have such a media? Have you heard enough about movie stars and want to learn more about community concerns on TV news? Do you want radio stations to play more tunes by local artists? Those are some of the issues the panel will address.

Andrea Cano, board member of OC, Inc. (Office of Communications of the United Church of Christ), will discuss last December’s hearing of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in Seattle and explore opportunities for public involvement in broadcast media policy development…

Rob Brading, CEO of MetroEast Community Media, will discuss challenges facing local access cable providers that air programs produced by local organizations and individuals…

David Olson, Director of Portland’s Office of Cable Communications & Franchise Management, will discuss the future of broadband in the metro region…

League member Janice Thompson, Executive Director of Democracy Reform Oregon, will moderate the discussion. —>

Non-profit media: Bread for the City’s ambitious community vision
We Media Miami 2008

One of the perks of my new job as communications editor at iFOCOS is listening in on conversations that Andrew and Dale are having. Yesterday, Andrew told a colleague he sees a dynamic future for non-profit media. He pointed out that for years, human rights and advocacy organizations have been producing in-depth investigative reports that journalists then publicize. Digital media, of course, opens the door for non-profits orgs to actually become media-creators themselves: no need to wait around for journalists to call.

One project in iFOCOS’ own Washington, D.C., metro area that has caught Andrew’s attention is Bread for the City, which is planning to launch a Community Media Project. Luckily for all of us, Bread for the City’s development associate, Adrienne Ammerman, will be at We Media Miami to share her thoughts and experience. Here’s what she has to say about her work:   —>

Government-only access  channel in Prescott’s future
by Paula Rhoden (1 comment)
The Daily Courier (AZ)

Prescott city officials are looking into a government-only public access television channel. City Manager Steve Norwood told the city council Tuesday afternoon the city has the opportunity to break away from Channel 13 and move to Channel 15.  Norwood said Prescott Access 13 is a Public Education and Government (PEG) channel.   —>

Mayor plans cable TV show on zoning law
by Jack Encarnacao
The Patriot Ledger (MA)

WEYMOUTH – Weymouth Mayor Sue Kay said she likes the idea of rezoning a Middle Street property under a state law that would put about $200,000 into the town’s coffers and allow 46 condos to be built there under a design process the town would control.  Kay said she plans to explain the law, called Chapter 40R, which allows the dense development in a single-family neighborhood, as the first topic of a new roundtable television show she plans to launch on local access WETC Channel 11.   —>

Viewers Question Infomercial’s Airing
by Marcia Chambers (3 comments)
New Haven Independent (CT)

What belongs on a town or a city’s public access television?  In the aftermath of the infomercial “New England Estates v. the Town of Branford,” starring the lawyers who won a huge $12.4 million verdict and “reporters” Duby McDowell and Tanya Meck, residents in Branford have asked if an infomercial that pretends to be a news show should be allowed on public access television.

The 30-minute video, accepted for airing by the seven Comcast towns that make up a shoreline franchise, ran in December and January. Its run ended in East Haven on Jan 26. The video is a thinly disguised advertisement for the law firm’s positions on a variety of topics that go far beyond the Tabor land trial. It was designed to serve the interest of the sponsor, Shipman & Goodwin, one of the state’s best known law firms. Branford’s community cable station, BCTV, has received complaints from viewers.  Yet it was aired. Why?

The short answer is that short of obscenity, pornography or outright commercialism in which a program sets out to make money, anything goes. Public access television encourages viewers to learn how to put on television programs that are of interest to viewers. It is the very essence of First Amendment speech. By and large it works.   —>

Tracking Durham’s capital bond projects: You wanted your new park when?
by KS Davis (5 comments)
Bull City Rising (NC)

—>   In Monday’s Council meeting, a $121,000 contract with Time Warner for RoadRunner business Internet service was postponed to Thursday’s work session while the administration continues to duel with TWC over the fate of church programming on community access TV. The RoadRunner contract amount is higher than Baker’s current $100,000 spending limit but below the proposed new $150,000 threshold. But I digress.   —>

Public Works and Government Services Canada: House of Commons Launches Innovative Captioning Service

OTTAWA, ONTARIO– Did you know that the House of Commons is one of the first parliamentary institutions in the world that, in addition to televising its proceedings, now provides live closed captioning simultaneously in two languages? Since the fall of 2007, the Translation Bureau of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Canada (PWGSC), with its recognized expertise as a provider of language solutions, has provided French captioning through voice recognition for the television broadcast of Question Period in the House. The new service enables Canadians who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing to participate more fully in the political process by virtue of this renewed civic commitment.   —>

SNCAT spin-off targets business
by Pat Patera
Northern Nevada Business Weekly

Business needs a controlled-access version of the popular social networking sites, says Les Smith, executive director of SNCAT.  He figures Interactive Media Technologies, a planned spin-off from SNCAT, could provide it. SNCAT— the shorthand name for Sierra Nevada Community Access Television, a not-for-profit television and Internet production company — derives 80 percent of its funds from contracts with Reno, Sparks and Washoe County.

Smith sees a greater demand, and the carrier would be the Internet rather than the cable television wires that carry SNCAT programming.  For example, he points to global behemoths such as International Game Technology that could build a company-wide community. Or multilevel marketers that would build community among customers and sales associates — they could both blog and post videos. He points to business colleges that could offer self-contained social education networking systems.

Interactive Media Technologies will be funded by equity shares or preferred stock, says Smith, with SNCAT among the investors. A slim staff, marketing and administration, will hand off jobs to the existing production staff at SNCAT studios. The company should be operational within the year.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media