Archive for the ‘Michael Copps’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/07/08

April 8, 2008

Don’t Downgrade Public Channels
by Scott Hanley
Hartford Courant (CT)
04/07/08

[ 3 comments ]

I applaud The Courant’s decision to encourage the General Assembly to protect the Connecticut Television Network from substandard delivery on AT&T’s U-verse video system [editorial, April 4, “Don’t Downgrade CT-N”].

The editorial did not mention that this “downgrade” will also have a significant impact on the many community-based public, education and government channels throughout the state. Just as CT-N has built a loyal following, these channels have become valued sources of information about community issues, school events and government services.

On cable systems, subscribers can find local channels without difficulty and easily monitor long-duration programming, such as meetings, by tuning away and back with the touch of a single button on the remote. The ability of subscribers to select and view community programming in a convenient manner is critical. Unfortunately, this might become a casualty of AT&T’s preference for an economical form of signal transmission.

Connecticut residents should not be penalized by the legislature’s efforts to ease the entry of AT&T, or any new competitor, into the cable TV market. These competitors should be required to deliver CT-N and all community access channels in a manner equal to that used for commercial channels.

AT&T will make money using the streets and poles throughout our neighborhoods. Good corporate citizenship is the least we should expect from them in return.
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/letters/hc-digedlets0407.art0apr07,0,4319893.story
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AT&T, cable rivals agree on rules for TV
Phone giant will have quota for offering statewide access
by Naomi Sntyder
The Tennessean
04/07/08

[ 13 comments ]

After months of secret negotiations between AT&T and the cable industry, both sides have agreed on many of the ground rules for AT&T’s entry into the television service business in Tennessee — including how many customers must get access and how many households must be in low-income neighborhoods.  Legislators set a deadline for today for both sides to come up with draft legislation so they could present it to the media this afternoon.  Under draft legislation that was still being negotiated over the weekend, AT&T would have to offer TV service to a minimum of 30 percent of its telephone territory within 3½ years after it begins offering television, according to people involved in negotiations.   —>
http://www.tennessean.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080407/NEWS0201/804070370/1009/NEWS01
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Announcement expected today for compromise AT&T, cable bill
by John Rodgers
Nashville City Paper (TN)
04/07/08

[ 3 comments ]

Leading lawmakers in the cable/AT&T negotiations over statewide television franchising will roll out their compromise legislation today.  The compromise bill marks the culmination of months of negotiations between the involved parties, dating back to late last year. House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh (D-Covington) spearheaded the effort.   —>
http://www.nashvillecitypaper.com/news.php?viewStory=59416
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Compromise legislation expected today on competitive cable issue
Knox News (TN)
04/07/08

Tennessee lawmakers are expected to present compromise legislation today that would create a statewide system for permitting cable TV franchises.  The measure is supported by AT&T Inc., which wants to avoid having to seek hundreds of municipal permits as it enters the cable TV business.  Similar legislation stalled last year. But lawmakers have scheduled a news conference today to roll out legislation that is the result of behind-the-scenes negotiations between AT&T, the cable industry and local governments.   —>
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2008/apr/07/compromise-legislation-expected-today-on-cable/
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Some school subcommittee meetings to be broadcast on local TV station
by Gerry Tuoti
Taunton Gazette (MA)
04/06/08

Some of the School Committee’s subcommittee meetings are returning to the airwaves.  A month after voting to no longer televise its subcommittee meetings, the School Committee passed a motion Wednesday that calls for any subcommittee meetings held the same night as a regularly scheduled full committee meeting to be televised on local access television.  The regularly scheduled full committee meetings are held on the first and third Wednesday of each month. The camera crew, which consists of high school audio/visual students and their teacher, is already present on those nights.   —>
http://www.tauntongazette.com/homepage/x637725022
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GenderVision Releases First Video Program, “Sex & Gender” (MA)
by Nancy Nangeroni
Trans Group Blog
04/07/08

[ comments invited ]

Now available: the first show of the long-awaited video program, “GenderVision.” Produced and hosted by GenderTalk radio producers Nancy Nangeroni and Gordene MacKenzie, GenderVision continues the ground-breaking work of challenging and expanding our vision of gender and progressive politics. Cablecast in Beverly, it is also available for viewing and downloading at http://www.gendervision.org.

This first program in the half-hour monthly show focuses on “Sex & Gender.” Nancy and Gordene speak candidly with their guest, medical sociologist, author and intersex activist Esther Morris Leidolf, about bodies and gender that differs from cultural expectations. Esther observes that intersex is more common than cystic fibrosis and Down syndrome combined. Their lively conversation explores the “medical normalization” of intersex bodies and the dangers of simplistic assumptions about sex and gender. Fans of “Raving Raven,” an animal issues commentator and regular on GenderTalk radio, will also enjoy a brief appearance by the “Bird with the Word” (not included in cable version due to time restraints).   —>
http://transgroupblog.blogspot.com/2008/04/gendervision-releases-first-video.html
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Wallingford public access TV available on Internet
by George Moore
MyRecordJournal.com (CT)
04/07/08

Wallingford public access TV is still local, but its availability is now global, due to a new live video streaming arrangement.  Channel 18’s video is now being broadcast at http://www.vbricktv.com/wpa, thanks to technology upgrades donated by Wallingford-based VBrick Systems Inc. The company is also providing the Web site.

VBrick, on Beaumont Road, is known worldwide for hardware that converts video and audio signals into digital data accessible over the Internet.  The company’s founder, Richard Mavrogeanes, is a Wallingford native and has lent support to the Wallingford Public Access Association’s effort to create a new headquarters. Mavrogeanes said it is important for WPAA and other public television groups to think beyond cable.
http://www.myrecordjournal.com/site/tab1.cfm?newsid=19461780&BRD=2755&PAG=461&dept_id=592708&rfi=6
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Not Your Father’s FCC
by Michael J. Copps
The Nation
03/20/08

“To the extent that the ownership of and control of…broadcast stations falls into fewer and fewer hands,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) concluded, “the free dissemination of ideas and information, upon which our democracy depends, is threatened.” With those words, the FCC ordered the breakup of the leading broadcast network and banned a single company from owning more than one station per city.

Is this an FCC you recognize? Probably not. That’s because it’s not your FCC–it’s your father’s FCC (maybe even your grandfather’s). These media reforms were the work of James Lawrence Fly, the FCC chairman appointed by Franklin Roosevelt in 1939. A card-carrying New Deal trustbuster with good access to the President, Fly was a relentless opponent of “chain broadcasting”–the domination of local broadcasting by the CBS and NBC Red and Blue radio networks.

What a far cry from the media regulation we have today. In 1981 President Reagan appointed an FCC chairman who described a television set as nothing but a “toaster with pictures.” The commission went on to dismantle nearly every public-interest obligation on the books and to enable a tsunami of media consolidation. The results have been disastrous–reporters fired, newsrooms shuttered and our civic dialogue dumbed down to fact-free opinions and ideological bloviation.   —>
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080407/copps
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We won’t know what we never got
by David Isenberg
isen.blog
04/05/08

[ comments invited ]

Damian Kulash of the band OK Go, in Op-Ed in today’s New York Times:

. . . When the network operators pull these stunts [violations of neutrality — David I], there is generally widespread outrage. But outright censorship and obstruction of access are only one part of the issue, and they represent the lesser threat, in the long run. What we should worry about more is not what’s kept from us today, but what will be built (or not built) in the years to come.

We hate when things are taken from us (so we rage at censorship), but we also love to get new things. And the providers are chomping at the bit to offer them to us: new high-bandwidth treats like superfast high-definition video and quick movie downloads. They can make it sound great: newer, bigger, faster, better! But the new fast lanes they propose will be theirs to control and exploit and sell access to, without the level playing field that common carriage built into today’s network.

They won’t be blocking anything per se — we’ll never know what we’re not getting — they’ll just be leapfrogging today’s technology with a new, higher-bandwidth network where they get to be the gatekeepers and toll collectors. The superlative new video on offer will be available from (surprise, surprise) them, or companies who’ve paid them for the privilege of access to their customers . . .

Exactly. Outright censorship is way too visible for them to get away with. Creeping proactive censorship built into a new infrastructure is a MUCH harder story to tell. And a MUCH bigger danger.  And they’re building it. And at first it will look exactly like legitimate network management.
http://isen.com/blog/2008/04/we-won-know-what-we-never-got.html
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At Freedom to Connect, Isenberg Asks Tech Industry to Save the World
by Alex Goldman
ISP-Planet.com
April 14, 2008 [sic]

Isenberg likes the people who make up the technology industry and knows most of the important ones, but at the conference, he pointed out that an epic global disaster is a possible outcome, and asked us all to work together to avoid it.

David Isenberg opened his Freedom to Connect conference with unusually passionate remarks, recorded in full here in his blog. He ditched the rhyming from previous years.  That’s because there’s a new sense of urgency. It’s not peak oil or the closing of the internet frontier. It’s this:

“Our planet is in danger of becoming hostile to life. I’m not talking about the flooding of Miami and New York and Bangladesh. I mean that because of the carbon we humans put in the air, Earth could become Venus, a place where life can’t live. So I believe—and I put this forward as a hypothesis—I believe that we can use the Internet to conserve more atmospheric carbon than its infrastructure generates. Furthermore, I believe we can use the Internet for global participation that transcends tribalism and nationalism to end war . . . for discussion! ”

So it’s no longer the fight against the telcos for the freedom to connect. It’s no longer the fight for democracy against governments like China and Pakistan that want to restrict it.  The most important thing we can use the internet for, Isenberg believes, is to save the world. And there’s not much time to do it.  Isenberg, an opponent of the current AT&T monopoly strategy who hails from Bell Labs as if it were his birthplace said, “It is the story of a Goliath composed of a thousand Davids. I am one of them.”   —>
http://www.isp-planet.com/perspectives/2008/isenberg_f2c.html
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

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Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/11/08

March 11, 2008

[blip.tv ?posts_id=741828&dest=-1]Media Center Interns – Yeah, we rock.
Midpeninsula Community Media Center (CA)
03/11/08

[ comments allowed ]

Check out what the Media Center’s interns are up to: Videos! Editing! Office Assistance!
A short promo featuring interviews with campers and examples of their work. (03:00)
http://mcmcinternship.blogspot.com/2008/03/digiquest-2008-digital-media.html
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AT&T rolling out U-verse, a new TV, Internet service
by Kristie Swartz
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)
03/11/08

AT&T considers its Internet-based television service, U-verse, to be its next multibillion-dollar product, but the company has been rolling out the service in some parts of Atlanta with little fanfare and won’t say when the entire metro area will have access to it.

U-verse, which AT&T hopes will be another way to snag customers from cable companies such as Comcast, has captured 231,000 subscribers in 43 markets nationwide, Michael Antieri , senior vice president for consumer marketing, told investors at Bear Stears annual media conference in Palm Beach on Tuesday. The San Antonio-based telecom giant wants to increase that number to more than 1 million customers by the end of the year, he said. “We believe video is truly a game changer for AT&T,” Antieri said via a Web cast.

AT&T quietly started selling U-verse in some Atlanta neighborhoods last December. Spokesman Steven Smith offered few details as to which neighborhoods have U-verse now as well as which ones were next in line, saying the company didn’t want to tip off the competition. “We’re looking forward to expanding the service into the Southeast,” Smith said. “We’re very committed to this product and very committed to the Southeast.”

But there’s been little, if any, advertisement for U-verse, which costs $44 to $154 per month depending on the package. What’s more, AT&T did not announce that Georgia granted the company a statewide franchise last month, allowing it to offer U-verse across the entire state. —>
http://www.ajc.com/business/content/business/stories/2008/03/11/ATT_0312.html
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Verizon hearts suburbs
by Jasonix
(remix) feat. Elevato (MA)
03/11/08

[ comments allowed ]

As you might already know, the Boston Metro has a regular feature where people write in to Mayor Menino. On March 6, there was a letter about Verizon’s FiOS fiber optic cable/internet service and why we in Boston (or Cambridge or other big city in the metro area) are bombarded with ads about it, but can’t actually get the service. Turns out its because we aren’t in the suburbs.

Menino:
“Thank you for this question. My Office of Cable Communications monitors cable TV franchises and mediates consumer issues regarding cable TV service. I have recently written to Verizon asking them to bring FiOS to the entire City of Boston. To date, Verizon has declined the City’s repeated encouragement to enter a cable franchise negotiation, opting instead to slowly build in the suburbs. Meanwhile, the cities and towns of Boston, Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge, Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Medford, Melrose, Watertown and Quincy are left without this service.

“Verizon has said in the past that their business plans do not include urban areas, but how do they explain their FiOS builds in New York City and Washington, D.C.?”

I don’t know, man. —>
http://elevato.blogspot.com/2008/03/verizon-hearts-suburbs.html
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Public access TV may be on ropes
by Lewis Delavan
Saline County Voice (AR)
03/11/08

Public access television’s future may be threatened. No, not really from an irate alderman upset with programming, although backers of Benton’s public access Channel 12 may think so. The greatest threat to Channel 12 and community public access stations across the country is state, rather than local, control of content. AT&T, Verizon and other phone providers are lobbying state legislators to grant broadcasting rights for an entire state, an article in the February issue of Governing magazine says.

Local public access stations began appearing in the 1970s, but this threat arose in the past three years. In fact, 20 states have granted statewide broadcasting licenses in only three years. (Backers of constitutional amendments often could only dream of such fast action from legislators). Often with scant public notice before the legislation, local public access, education and government stations are being squeezed off the air. It could happen in Arkansas, so advocates of local public stations should take notice. —>
http://www.salinecountyvoice.com/news/2008/0312/news/018.html
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VON TV Webcast on Net Neutrality Features Leading Experts, and Intro Remarks by FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps
by PR Newswire
Sys-Con Media
03/11/08

Pulvermedia today announced that the live Net Neutrality webcast on the Internet TV Channel VON TV (http://www.vontv.net/) will take place today, March 11th, at 2 PM ET. As the Net Neutrality battle heats up in Washington D.C., today’s debate, featuring policy experts and industry professionals, promises to be an intense exchange of views on this controversial subject. To access this webcast, or for more information, please visit: http://www.vontv.net/events/080311/.

In introductory remarks pre-recorded for playback just prior to the debate, FCC Commissioner Michael J. Copps calls on the FCC to adopt “a specific and enforceable principle of non-discrimination” that “should allow for reasonable network management, but make crystal clear that broadband network operators cannot twist reasonable network management into a not-so-reasonable mechanism for blatant network discrimination.” According to Copps, where “the line between discrimination and reasonable network management” is drawn should be determined through “a systematic, expeditious, case-by-case approach for adjudicating” discrimination claims.

Joining the debate will be Harold Feld, senior vice president of Media Access Project, Ken Ferree, president of the Progress & Freedom Foundation, Marvin Ammori, general counsel for Free Press and Lawrence J. Spiwak, president of the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal and Economic Public Policy Studies. The discussion will be moderated by VON TV legal commentator Marty Stern. The webcast will also include a special pre-recorded feature with Paul Gallant, Senior Vice President and policy analyst with the Stanford Group, discussing reactions on Wall Street to recent developments in the net neutrality debate, and how various potential outcomes may impact industry performance. —>
http://www.sys-con.com/read/516917.htm
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[ As “community” media moves inexorably onto the internet, its practitioners are faced with fresh questions and possibilities. Andrew Keen raises a couple good ones here. – rm ]

Anonymity: The Enemy of Civil Online Discourse
by Andrew Keen
The Independent
03/11/08

[ comments allowed ]

When it comes to the destructive consequences of online anonymity, Wikipedia is actually quite tame compared to the latest generation of open source information sites such as GossipReport.com, AutoAdmit.com and Wikileaks.org. GossipReport.com, for example, encourages its contributors to anonymously rate people — especially politicians — in terms of their personality, looks and skills in the bedroom.

Ten days ago, I coheadlined a Commonwealth Club of San Francisco debate with Jimmy Wales, the founder of the hugely popular open source Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia Latest News about Wikipedia. Held at the Bubble Lounge, a fashionable downtown San Francisco martini bar, this was a much-hyped dialectical wrestling match — pitting wiki-crusader Wales, the wannabe slayer of the Encyclopedia Britannica, against me, a wiki-skeptic lovingly described, by my Internet critics, as the Antichrist of Silicon Valley.

But, as so often happens at this type of staged gladiatorial contest, it transpired that Wales and I actually agreed more than we disagreed. So the debate, I suspect, might have tasted disappointingly bland for those in the Bubble Lounge audience thirsting for a splash of intellectual bloodshed to spice up their early evening martinis.

Naming Names

But the one issue over which Wales and I did profoundly disagree was Internet anonymity. Wiki technology undermines the authority of professional editors and enables anyone with an Internet connection to automatically become an author. But when you do away with editorial gatekeepers, there is no way of checking the identity of your contributors. Thus, Wikipedia’s content is created by a nameless and faceless army of potentially corrupt or ignorant contributors. Unlike Wales, I simply can’t trust information when I don’t know the identity of its authors. Rather than a right, I think Wikipedian editors have a responsibility to reveal who they are. As I told Jimmy Wales at our debate, I believe that Wikipedia will only become a genuinely reliable information resource when he changes the site’s rules to force Wikipedians to reveal their real identities.

When it comes to the destructive consequences of online anonymity, Wikipedia is actually quite tame compared to the latest generation of open source information sites such as GossipReport.com, AutoAdmit.com and Wikileaks.org. GossipReport.com, for example, encourages its contributors to anonymously gossip and rate people — especially politicians — in terms of their personality, looks and amorous skills in the bedroom. This site is, of course, just a way of legitimizing unverified and unverifiable witch-hunts against elected officials. Meanwhile on AutoAdmit.com, a notice board for law students, anonymous correspondents have posted so much abusive content about a couple of Yale University law students that the two women have been forced to take out a lawsuit against the site (Doe versus Ciolli). Meanwhile, Wikileaks.org — a Wikipedia-style site that encourages the anonymous leaking of corporate and political documents — recently posted content from a Swiss bank (the Julius Baer Bank) that revealed personal information from some of its clients.

So how, exactly, does the American law limit the rights of anonymous Internet users to post personal details about individuals, corporations or governments? It’s a highly complex set of legal issues around which American courts are struggling to legislate. Take the Wikileaks.org case for example. In mid February, Jeffrey S. White, a judge at San Francisco District Federal Court, ordered that Wikileaks.org should be disabled as punishment for its anonymous posting of confidential information about clients of the Swiss bank. But on March 1, White withdrew his order and so today Wikileaks.org is free to continue to publish its anonymous leaks.

A Challenge

The Wikileaks.org case shows the curse of Internet anonymity can’t be cured in the courts. As I told Jimmy Wales at our debate, discouraging anonymity is our collective responsibility. The solution to incivility of anonymous posts is education rather than legislation. We — parents, teachers, employers and policy makers — need to educate Internet users in to understanding that anonymity is the refuge of scoundrels and cowards. Wikipedia, GossipReport.com, AutoAdmit.com and Wikileaks.org are all fostering an ugly climate of personal irresponsibility.

Internet companies are also responsible for developing Web sites that actively discourage anonymous posts. Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Latest News about Google is setting an excellent example here. Knol, Google’s open source encyclopedia, has been set up to bar anonymous entries. I publicly challenge Wales to follow Knol and force Wikipedian editors to reveal their identities. Come on Jimmy! Join the war against anonymity on the Internet and I’ll buy you a martini next time I run in to you at the Bubble Lounge…

Could the Internet Be Africa’s Savior?

Another week, another wrestling match. Last week, I was in London, at the swanky Holborn headquarters of the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) debating Charles Leadbeater, the author of We-Think — likely to be the most controversial book about the Internet to be published in Britain this year.

Leadbeater, once a Tony Blair’s Internet maven, is Britain’s leading digital visionary, and We-Think is an optimistic take on our digital future. A highly readable British synthesis of James Surowiecki’s Wisdom of the Crowds and Chris Anderson’s Long Tail, Leadbeater’s We-Think is definitely an important book, even for skeptics like me who are suspicious of the seductive techno-utopian promises of the Web 2.0 revolution.

The Internet will revolutionize innovation, Leadbeater argues in We-Think. Collaborative Web sites will transform innovation from a selfish, individual preoccupation into the socially responsible activity of the community. The Internet will prioritize public interest over individual interest. The old Cartesian principle of “I think therefore I am” will be replaced by the communitarian credo of “We-Think therefore we are.” The consequences of this technological revolution on the future of capitalism, private property, the law and politics will be epochal, Leadbeater promises us.

We-Think is inspiring in its analysis of the impact of the Internet on the less developed world. Leadbeater suggests that the collaborative Internet will foster democracy, economic equality and social justice in Africa. For this insight alone, We-Think is thoughtful. I urge you to read it.
http://www.linuxinsider.com/story/Anonymity-The-Enemy-of-Civil-Online-Discourse-62042.html?welcome=1205284058
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/13/08

February 17, 2008

Bush asked to use Olympics to push for media freedom
AFP
02/13/08

Reporters Without Borders, a global media watchdog, on Wednesday called on US President George W. Bush to use his attendance of the Olympic Games in Beijing to push for press freedom and other democratic reforms in China.  Bush should “push for change and urge the Chinese authorities to release political prisoners and end censorship,” Lucie Morillon, director of Reporters Without Borders USA, told a forum in Washington where the group’s annual report was released.  “This could be an important part of his legacy,” she said, referring to Bush’s last year in office after being first elected in 2000.

The annual report said 2007 was a tough year for the media with 87 journalists killed, the highest since 1994.  Eighty-two journalists, Internet users and bloggers are currently imprisoned in China, according to Reporters Without Borders.  Chinese authorities promised “total press freedom” when awarded the Olympic Games, which will officially open on August 8, “but none of their promises were kept,” Morillon said.  Chinese journalist He Qinglian, author of “How the Chinese government controls the media,” told the forum that even journalists who wrote on health and pollution issues were not spared in her country.  “The government is shameless. China is not a respectable member of the international community,” she said.   —>
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5irUNO7Nis-3k2Sttpn2tds1cir2g
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Hope may be dimming for public access TV
by Alicia Petska
The News & Advance (VA)
02/13/08

[comments allowed]

The possibility of lending city support to Lynchburg’s public access station is still on the table, although City Council unanimously approved a contract that could have the channel off the air as early as this week.  On Wednesday, Ward II Councilman Ceasor Johnson said he was willing to champion community television’s cause during this year’s budget hearings if there was interest in keeping the programming.  He made no promises of success, though, noting the city was facing a tight financial year.  “Kaine, he’s got a $1 billion loss right now,” Johnson said, referring to the state’s budget deficit. “That trickles down to local government and everyone’s going have to tighten their belts. I don’t know what people will be willing to do for public access.”

City Manager Kimball Payne, who’s finishing his budget proposal now, told council members at Tuesday’s meeting that support for public access will not be included.  At the meeting, City Council unanimously approved a new franchise contract for cable provider Comcast. Under the terms of that deal and in compliance with recent changes to state law, Comcast will no longer be required to support local public access programs, which run on Channel 7.  Hosts still have the right to broadcast their programs, but will now have to pay to produce them – a possibility that could spell the end of Lynchburg’s 30-year public access  tradition.   —>
http://www.newsadvance.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=LNA%2FMGArticle%2FLNA_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173354602451&path=!news!archive
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New Lynchburg cable franchise drops public access
by Alicia Petska
The News & Advance (VA)
02/13/08

[comments allowed]

Lynchburg City Council has unanimously approved a new cable franchise contract that drops support for public access programming.  Council, which previously voted against stepping in to save the city’s public TV station, did leave the door open for possible city funding in the future.  Ward II Councilman Ceasor Johnson asked that the issue be brought up again during this year’s budget talks, which kick off next month.

Prior to council’s vote, which was cast Tuesday night, 15 people came forward during a hearing to speak in support of public access. Lynchburg’s had public access TV since 1978.  In the past, its been supported by the city’s cable provider, currently Comcast. Changes to state law approved in 2006 no longer require companies to carry that burden.
http://www.newsadvance.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=LNA%2FMGArticle%2FLNA_BasicArticle&c=MGArticle&cid=1173354593364&path=!news!archive
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Mayor leans toward state licensing on cable TV
by Andy Sher
Chatanooga Times Free Press (TN)
02/12/08

[1 comment]

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said Monday he is “basically comfortable” with legislation that would create a statewide cable licensing process although he noted he will need to see final language before making a definite commitment.  “I know a lot of maneuvering, a lot of writing and rewriting is going on and so when I see the final bill we’ll decide,” Mr. Littlefield said. “But right now I’m basically comfortable with AT&T’s latest proposal.”  Mr. Littlefield’s comments came as he and mayors from Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville visited with House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, D-Covington, and Gov. Phil Bredesen on a variety of issues.   —>
http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2008/feb/12/littlefield-leans-toward-t-state-cable-fight/
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League of Women Voter Returns – LWV discusses internet issues
by Kara O’Connor
Stamford Times (CT)
02/13/08

The Connecticut League of Women Voters gathered at Ferguson Library Monday to discuss the openness of the Internet.  In June 2007 the LWV began a state-level study on the emerging media issues, their relevance to democracy and the importance to Connecticut residents.  Cheryl Denson, the vice president for public affairs and Carol Young, the vice president for communications put together a presentation on the collected data for the members of the LWV.  “You don’t have to be an Internet wiz to care about this issue,” said Denson. “The media has changed so much in the 21st century, there is a whole array of electronic media that we all depend upon.”

The LWV spoke about three different issues; Internet neutrality, universal Internet access for Connecticut and community access TV and public affairs programming. The LWV asked their members if they agreed or disagreed with these three issues.  There are three levels of the LWV, the local, the state and the national level and all three levels conduct studies, according to Yara Burnett the President of the Connecticut LWV. These particular issues are state-level studies.   —>
http://www.thestamfordtimes.com/stamford_templates/stamford_story/292808632528005.php
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Medway officials fuming over Comcast contract
by Aaron Wasserman
Milford Daily News (MA)
02/11/08

Comcast has overcharged its 3,600 cable subscribers in town about $150,000 total in the last 10 years for a station manager who did not exist, said Selectman John Foresto yesterday.  Additionally, negotiations with Comcast on a new 10-year cable contract with the town have stalled, Foresto informed selectmen at their meeting last night, in part because the town wants a settlement for the $150,000. He is leading the talks for the town.

The current contract expires Feb. 22. It will not affect subscribers’ cable service, said Foresto, but will determine how much money the town receives to run its public access channel and studio at the high school.  The main hurdle is how much Comcast contributes for those operations. Verizon, in a 10-year contract negotiated last September, paid about $160,000 for equipment and gives 4 percent of revenue to the town for public access – costs it passes on to consumers, Foresto said. The town wants Comcast to agree to the same conditions, but the cable company wants to tie its payment entirely to revenues, Foresto said.   —>
http://www.milforddailynews.com/homepage/x1282062004
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City Receives $300,000 in Comcast Payment
Decatur Tribune (IL)
02/12/08

The City of Decatur recently received almost $300,000 in payments from the local cable company to help maintain local cable service and provide residents better access to government and the community.  City staff in recent months successfully negotiated a new cable franchise agreement with cable provider Comcast after years of delay from Insight, the city’s former provider.  Terms of the agreement call for Comcast to pay about $750,000 over the next 10 years to fund public programming in addition to its regular access fee. The city on Feb. 4 received a payment of $296,500, which includes a portion of the franchise fee and a payment of $75,000 as part of the settlement agreement with Comcast.

“Staff from day one has realized the importance of television and video in providing useful information to the public in this day and age,” said City Manager Steve Garman. “We fought very hard with Insight to make sure that they would provide funding for this service for our residents, city government and the school district and Comcast has been exceptional to work with as we’ve moved forward with the specifics of this agreement.”   —>
http://news.mywebpal.com/news_tool_v2.cfm?show=localnews&pnpID=469&NewsID=876290&CategoryID=7026&on=1
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On Radio: Independent Bellevue station turns 35
Variety of music, local news, keeps KBCS-FM going
by Bill Virgin
Seattle Post-Intelligencer (A)
02/13/08

[2 comments]

As a radio station manager and programmer, Steve Ramsey knows all about the distractions that “take me away from our signal.” He’s got an iPhone, and through his computer and an Internet connection, he can listen to a friend’s station in California.  So what will motivate listeners to tune in to a small radio station such as KBCS-FM/91.3, out of all the media choices — or distractions — available?  Ramsey believes the answer is a combination of the latest technology and an old-fashioned radio model. “We’ve focused pretty intently on making KBCS the community radio station for Seattle,” he says.

As it marks its 35 birthday this month, KBCS, based at Bellevue Community College, seems to be having some success with that combination. Ramsey, KBCS’ general manager, says the station’s weekly audience has been growing.  Although dwarfed by such noncommercial/public-radio stations in this market as KUOW-FM and KPLU-FM, KBCS-FM still manages to draw enough listeners to show up in the quarterly ratings tables (behind the two NPR stations, KEXP-FM and KNHC-FM in fall quarter, according to the Radio Research Consortium).

KBCS hopes to build on that by rolling out new technology. This year it started an audio archive featuring programs from the previous two weeks that can be streamed an hour at a time, as well as a real-time playlist.  Next up is its digital transmitter, which the station hopes to have operating by the end of this summer. That will enable KBCS to use HD technology’s capabilities to provide three channels of programming — two for KBCS itself, the third a student-run channel tied to a curriculum program to be developed with BCC.

But lots of stations boast the same technology. What will set KBCS apart, Ramsey says, is its community focus, with a rich mixture of specialty music programs (featuring everything from vintage jazz to bluegrass, zydeco and Hawaiian) and public-affairs programming (nationally syndicated as well as local).  The local content is produced by about 200 volunteers who come through the station each month. KBCS has built that army of volunteers with training courses through BCC’s continuing education program to turn almost anyone into a radio producer.  “What I tell my students is, that piece of music you’re in love with, listeners can access from 10 different sources,” Ramsey says. What makes them and KBCS unique is their ability to weave that piece of music together with others, as well as conversation and information, “to tell a story.”   —>
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/tv/351195_radiobeat14.html
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MEDIA-INDIA:  Community Radio Stifled With Red Tape
by Keya Acharya
IPS
02/13/08

BANGALORE – Aspiring community radio operators from various parts of the country are complaining of long delays, frustration and bureaucratic red tape in obtaining licenses to run radio stations.  Following a landmark Supreme Court judgment in 1995 that declared airwaves to be public property for public good, members of civil society organisations as well as United Nations agencies such as UNESCO and UNDP held several consultative meetings to expand the eligibility criteria for community radio.

In 2006, the Indian government amended its broadcasting rules to allow independent radio operators set up non-commercial, community-based stations in rural and urban areas.  But the new rules do not allow community radio stations to network with one another and limited broadcast range; no news content is allowed and only five minutes per hour is allowed for advertisements.

“The low 100-watts capacity is fit only for a 10-km distance while urban community radio does not come about because of a lack of frequency,’’ says Stalin K, founder-member of a networking organisation called Community Radio Forum and of the Drishti Media Collective in Gujarat.  The radio frequency allowed by the government in urban areas has to be shared with commercial FM radio, wireless and cell phone operators, leaving community radio with very little frequency bandwidth to operate.

“It is clearly better to have specific frequencies to be allocated for community radio, like other countries such as Thailand or the United States,” says Stalin.  Steve Buckley, Asia-Pacific president of the World Association of Community Radio, (AMACR) says Australia has an active and lively tradition of community-based radio, while Indonesia follows as actively despite political upheavals.  The Philippines too has active community-radio, but with legal constraints, says Buckley.

In India, the Community Radio Forum, a network of NGOs in community radio had been advocating for some years for the Indian government to free the airwaves, still under State control, in spite of the Prasar Bharati Act 1990 which set up an ostensibly independent broadcasting corporation in India.  Though the government had intentions of allowing 4,000 community radio stations by 2008, no operators have yet been given licenses to broadcast. Seven community radio stations have been given a ‘letter of intent’ by the government to operate, pending final approval.   —>
http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41174
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North Carolina Democrats Go After FCC Chair Kevin Martin
by Matt Stoller
OpenLeft.com
02/13/08

[1 comment]

There’s some really interesting news on the open internet front.  First of all, FCC Chair Kevin Martin is now under genuine political attack.  He’s been setting himself up for a political run with his current tenure at the FCC for some time, buttering up powerful industries and acting as a Bush loyalist.  And so this criticism from the North Carolina Democrats is a big deal.  “The North Carolina Democratic Party today filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Office of the Inspector General to obtain a detailed list of Chairman Kevin Martin’s recent travel.”   —>
http://openleft.com/showDiary.do;jsessionid=03D3B5D31C0E661A436F43E3F69DEC25?diaryId=3899
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He’s Had Enough of You
FCC’s Copps Wants His Media Smaller, Newsier — and Less Cluttered With Ads
by Mya Frazier
02/11/08

[2 comments]

It’s Jan. 12, 2007, in Memphis, Tenn., and Mr. Copps, preaching to the proverbial choir of nearly 3,500 self-described “media-reform activists,” proceeds to tell them what taxpayers get for that half trillion: “Too little news, too much baloney passed off as news. Too little quality entertainment, too many people eating bugs on reality TV. … Too much brain-numbing national playlists. Too little of America, too much of Wall Street and Madison Avenue.”

It’s not the kind of fiery rhetoric you’d expect from a 38-year Washington insider with a job title that can basically be summed up in one word — bureaucrat. Is this the same guy who dons a suit and tie each day and heads to a rather boring and morose building that wouldn’t look out of place in the middle of an office complex in, say, suburban Iowa?

Worthy adversary

Yes, but it’s also likely that few things keep Rupert Murdoch and Sam Zell up at night more than the prospect of Michael Copps becoming FCC chairman. Unlike Chairman Kevin Martin, Mr. Copps surely would not be a friend to Big Media.  So far, as one of only two Democratic commissioners — outvoted at practically every turn by three Republicans — he’s had little ability to actually push his vision of “media democracy” and has instead been limited to writing scathing dissents and firing up activists outside the Beltway. But it’s been an effective strategy nonetheless.

“He has been, by far, the most effective FCC commissioner in a minority role that I have seen in 37 years of working with the FCC,” said Andrew Schwartzman, president-CEO of the Media Access Project, which has fought media consolidation via the courts. “I have never seen anyone play a bad hand as well as he has.” He added: “I would hate to be in a poker game with him.”

Come 2009, the new president will appoint his or her own FCC chairman. And a Copps appointment would give him power to set the agenda, block media mergers with some help from Congress and overhaul the license-renewal process for broadcasters, a process he has called “slipshod.” (He proposed shortening the eight-year cycle to three in a New York Times editorial last year.) In other words, every three years the likes of Messrs. Murdoch and Zell would be asked if they were serving the public interest and should keep their broadcast licenses.   —>
http://adage.com/article?article_id=124973
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ACA: A La Carte Would Be Status Quo
Group Says Many Content Providers Already Offer This Option
by Ted Hearn
Multichannel News
02/12/08

[comments allowed]

Big cable programmers shouldn’t have a worry if the Federal Communications Commission adopts so-called wholesale a la carte rules because many content owners claim they make their channels available in that manner today, the American Cable Association said Tuesday.  “Many programmers say they already offer channels on a stand-alone basis. ACA’s proposals would simply codify this practice, and give a remedy in case stand-alone channels were not offered on reasonable terms,” ACA told the FCC in a filing. “As programmers and broadcasters claim they already do this, they should have no legitimate objection to the [FCC’s] incorporating this into its regulations.”

ACA – which represents 1,100 cable companies with 8 million customers – has been battling Viacom, The Walt Disney Co. and other big programmers for many years on the wholesale distribution of cable programming. Small MSOs complain that the bundling of channels, also called tying, forces them to buy more programming than they want and pass along unwanted costs to unhappy consumers.   —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6531815.html?nid=4262
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Academic Community Takes a Long Look at Archival Project
by Avi Webb
Chabad.org News
02/13/08

For an academic body studying the nexus between religion and the media, a Chabad-Lubavitch archive and production outfit have become something of a test case of how a Chasidic Jewish community has embraced modern technology to document and preserve its modern legacy.

At their regular gathering in late December, 20 members of New York University’s Working Group on Jews, Media and Religion examined Jewish Educational Media, which controls an archive of 4,000 hours of audiotapes and video footage of the Sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory, and the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, dating back to the 1920s.

In its research, the working group – part of the university’s Center for Religion and Media – struggles with a conspicuous gap in available resources. Chasidic communities tend to hold out against technological advances, making it difficult to find documentation of their early growth in America. Until recently, the consensus was that, save for a burst of activity in the 1990s among young Jewish artists who took up various mediums to explore several Chasidic communities from the outside looking in, documentary evidence of such group’s early development in the United States was lacking.

Then Jewish Educational Media embarked on a preservation effort called “The Living Archive,” which over the past two years has attracted the interest of academics and such bodies as the National Endowment for the Humanities.  “There is absolutely nothing to compare with the video and audio documentation of a religious Jewish community that [JEM] has collected,” said Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, a professor of performance studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and a co-convener of the religion and media working group at NYU.   —>
http://www.chabad.org/news/article_cdo/aid/637543/jewish/Looking-Ahead-in-Preserving-the-Past.htm
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Brookline Access TV show mixes current events with hometown humor
by Neal Simpson
Brookline Tab (MA)
02/13/08

[comments allowed]

You can call him the Jon Stewart of public access television.  For more than a decade, Mike Sallen has bought his own brand of political humor to the Brookline airwaves. Although the production has gotten smaller over the years, Sallen and two friends still meet every Monday night to poke fun at politicians and tease celebrities on “The Fun Show.”  “We’re having a good time,” said Sallen, a Thorndike Street resident. “We’re trying to get people to sit back and have some fun.”

A former public school superintendent, Sallen launched his TV career in 1997 with a black-comedy skit show called “Shorties” that involved props, costumes and a rotating cast of actors. The show was scrapped when the station changed studios.   “The Fun Show,” which airs live every Monday at 7 p.m., is a much simpler production. Sallen rarely leaves his chair, and his two co-hosts, actor Archer O’Reilly and radio journalist Kevin McNicholas, read from paper scripts in their lap.

The highlight of the show is Sallen’s scripts, which O’Reilly introduces each week as a production of the “BATV Unrehearsed Thespian Society.” O’Reilly and McNicholas rarely see the script before Sallen hands it to them minutes before the show.  “What Mike loves to do is put words in my mouth that I would never on earth have said,” said O’Reilly, Sallen’s neighbor on Thorndike Street.  “The Fun Show” starts each week with playful banter between the three men. Then, when Sallen signals, they begin to read, taunting each other and trading snappy responses that are never more than a few words long.   —>
http://www.wickedlocal.com/brookline/fun/x182025778
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
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