Help Protect NC Community Media Centers
As many of you know, last session the State Legislature passed a law which allows cable and phone companies to avoid many of the public service requirements that have existed for over 30 years. Those requirements mainly have to do with channel space and support for Community Media Centers, like The Peoples Channel, and Public, Educational, and Government (PEG) Access channels. The bill has turned out to be a very serious blow to local governments and nonprofits like us.
Many of us concerned with the legislation worked together to produce a new piece of legislation that would remedy two major problems with the bill: funding for Community Media Center and PEG channels, and deployment of broadband to rural and economically distressed communities.
The bill, S-1068 moved along quickly in the Senate and is now on the House side, but there is a fear that they won’t take it on before the session ends or at all. We haven’t given a call to action thus far because we thought this bill would have no problems and we know you all have busy lives. However, we really need you to make calls TOMORROW and WEDNESDAY.
This could mean a difference of The Peoples Channel having a budget of $9,000 a year, or $200,000 a year. This is very serious! It is especially important if you have Rep. Luebke (Durham) or Speaker Hackney (Orange County) in your district. These are two very powerful and very important representatives that we have to make sure we communicate with. —>
Not all local residents have broadband access
by John I. Carney
Bedford County lags behind some of its neighbors to the north and east in access to broadband Internet, according to a map published by the Nashville-based non-profit Connected Tennessee… Connected Tennessee, which works to accelerate technology use throughout Tennessee, has released the state’s first broadband inventory map showing current levels of high-speed Internet availability across the state. —>
Clark and Orton: Cable bill proponents fudge facts
by Brad Clark and Barry Orton
Wisconsin State Journal
The facts simply don’t support the State Journal’s July 24 editorial praising the so-called “Video Competition” bill. Everyone favors cable competition. But AT&T (the corporation behind this legislation) has been free to compete with cable providers for over a decade, and has chosen not to.
The agreement AT&T swiftly negotiated with the city of Milwaukee as well as the local franchises Verizon has entered into — more than 700 to date — demonstrate conclusively that local governments have not been holding up competition.
Your claim that the bill would allow competing providers to “negotiate a single contract with the state” shows a misunderstanding of the bill. The state could not negotiate anything: State franchises would be empty boilerplate, held in perpetuity, and freely transferable without state oversight.
No wonder both the cable companies and AT&T find the bill’s relief from “the tedious task of negotiating cable television deals with hundreds of individual communities across Wisconsin” worth the fortune they have spent on lobbyists.
You belittled legitimate concerns over the bill’s financial impact. Franchise fees collected from cable companies are the “rent” that private, for-profit companies like Charter pay for the use of public rights-of-way.
The $2 million that Madison collected from Charter in 2006, far from being a “convenient” and “generous revenue stream,” represents real property tax relief for Madison taxpayers every year.
This bill fails to support the “need for government-related programming” such as Madison City Channel. While the bill preserves channels for such programming, it eliminates the small fee subscribers pay for their operation. For Madison’s Channel 12, city subscribers pay less than $5 annually for access to city government. Compare that to the hidden cost of some $3 per month for ESPN.
Madison will be faced with the choice of either closing this door on local government, or raising property taxes by $250,000 a year. —>
States Play Fair With Franchises
Video franchising bills are on the march, but redlining lately has been given the boot.
by Simon Applebaum
We’re only midway through 2007, and video franchising legislation has already been approved in seven states. That compares with eight states enacting video franchise legislation during all of 2006, and brings the number of states with such laws in play to 16. But this doesn’t necessarily spell bad news for cable operators since the 2007 bills are more equitable.
… Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin are state franchise possibilities this year. New York legislators adjourned last month without voting on a bill, but the matter may be addressed during a special summer session. At stake for Verizon: the opportunity to overbuild any or all of New York City, taking on Time Warner Cable and Cablevision in the largest U.S. city.
… With many state legislatures out of session until January, NCTA doesn’t foresee another big round of franchise legislation until spring 2008.
Trailing in cash, polls, Richardson pounds pavement
by Albert McKeon
Nashua Telegraph (NH)
Bill Richardson got as comfortable as he could in a barebones cable-access television studio. He slid into a tiny folding chair and clasped his hands on a round table. —>
Activists Push Pittsford for Open Government
Rochester Turning (NY)
A video posted on YouTube last week shows local activist Gerry Minerd giving the Pittsford Town Board a hard time. It also shows a clearly irritated Bill Carpenter (the Town Supervisor) asking her about her attendance record. (I wasn’t aware that there was a requirement..)
… Not shown on the video were two other residents who spoke at the meeting. Mike Slade discussed televising town board meetings; there was confusion about whether the town or Time-Warner is responsible for providing public-access television. —>
Citizen Journalism: Who Qualifies?
by Meghan Fisher
HOI 19 Online (IL)
Every Monday, you see bloggers come on our newscast to talk about hot topics in the area. Some of the issues are opinions, some are fact-oriented, and some have made terrific news stories that have brought change to central Illinois. It’s those stories that make some bloggers seem more like citizen journalists. Recently, the definition of blogger, journalist and media in general is becoming a hot topic.
Elaine Hopkins runs a blog called peoriastory.com. She is a retired reporter from the Journal Star and was recently kicked out of a juvenile courtroom because the judge ruled she was not a member of the media. Law states only news media and the crime victim are allowed in court. We asked some local bloggers to submit their opinions on the topic. Here are some responses we received. —>
Hyperlocal is about people, not politics
by Howard Owens
Cory Bergman pulls this quote from an interview with Len Brody, CEO of NowPublic.com:
“I’m not a believer in local anymore,” he said. “I used to think that hyperlocal was what mattered to people, but for 35 and under especially, the concept of local is very different. Like Facebook publishing the news feed… it’s changed from hyperlocal to hyperpersonal.” Brody said weather, traffic and crime are becoming commodities, and while local politics may have some differentiation, nobody cares about it anymore.
Now we can fight over what hyperlocal means.
(Reminds me of a panel I did for Kelsey with Greg Sterling a few months back. I uttered “hyperlocal” and Sterling said, “Please stop using that word.” I said, “No.” For the moment, it’s a useful term because it describes a certain strategic philosophy that has been hot recently; however, I agree, it is ultimately meaningless — the whole idea of hyperlocal is just what good community newspapers should be doing anyway. Hyperlocal only means anything if you’ve been falling down on your community news job.)
Brody is only right if you accept that hyperlocal has only two facets: Weather/traffic and politics.
To me, hyperlocal has never been about politics. In fact, politics is the antithesis of hyperlocal. Hyperlocal is about people. It’s what people do, have done or can do (think, event calendars) where they live. Planning boards and city commissions have very little to do with it.
In fact, where newspapers have lost their way is in getting too wrapped up in the local political game. Too often, the local city hall becomes its own mini-beltway and all the players (including beat reporters) think their actions and their gossip is far more important than anything else in the community.
I’m not concerned that “hyperlocal” is the wrong strategy. I’m more worried about whether we can actually execute on it. Will our editors and reporters ever willingly forsake a few meetings at city hall in favor of a Eagle Scout promotion or volunteer fire department carnival? (And to reach younger readers, those are probably the wrong subjects of coverage, too.)
The other part of a hyperlocal strategy, which includes the hyperpersonal Brody mentions, is part technique and part programming. There’s no reason we can’t do that.
Be sure to read the rest of Brody’s interview. It’s otherwise worthwhile and pretty on track. —>
News tapes expand eclectic Wolfson archive
The Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archive is expanding its collection with tapes of TV newscasts from the 1970s and ’80s.
by Erika Beras
—> Now the archive has added to its extensive Florida history with a massive donation from WPLG-ABC 10. Five thousand three-quarter-inch u-matic tapes of newscasts from the ’70s and ’80s will join the eight million feet of film and countless hours on beta, videotape and DVDs stored in the archive. —>
Live from Boston, Easier TV and Radio on Your Phone
by Wade Roush
Time was when telephones were only for talking, radios were for listening, and TVs were for watching. But digitization and the wireless Internet mean that no piece of content stays in its original medium for long. And today a Boston startup is emerging from stealth mode to unveil the latest cross-media technology, a streaming-media service that lets users watch TV shows and listen to podcasts and live radio via their cell phones’ built-in Web browsers.
Buzzwire opened a free beta version of its service to the public at midnight Monday. The service, at http://m.buzzwire.com, offers users thousands of video and audio programs of varying lengths, from the 21-minute NBC Nightly News to a 3-minute news podcast from satire site The Onion. Users can also upload their own audio and video files and share links to their favorites with friends. —>
Mobile TV Rises and Falls: Part II
In a move to strengthen the prospects of mobile video, nine major television broadcaster station groups have joined the Open Mobile Video Coalition (“OMVC”). The new members include Cox Television, LIN TV Corporation, Meredith Corporation, Media General, Post-Newsweek, and the non-profit Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) trade group. Already in the Coalition are groups such as Belo Corp., Fox Television, Gannett Broadcasting, NBC, Telemundo, Sinclair Broadcast Group and Tribune Broadcasting Company. The Coalition was formed earlier this year to accelerate the development of mobile digital broadcast television. —>
NBC Universal Fight For Network Filters To Stop Copyright Infringement
by John Bergmayer
Web TV Wire
Last month, NBC Universal filed comments in the FCC’s proceeding on “Broadband Industry Practices.” NBC asked that the FCC require that ISPs institute “bandwidth management tools”, code for network filters, to try to stop the Internet infringing copyrights.
Public Knowledge recently filed their response, joined by Consumer Federation of America, EDUCAUSE, EFF, Electronic Privacy Information Center, FreeCulture.org, Free Press, Knowledge Ecology International, Media Access Project, New America Foundation, and U.S. Public Interest Research Group.
NBC’s comments (read them here) are filled with ludicrous claims. —>
The State of the Media Democracy: Are You Ready for the Future of Media?
To shed light on how different generations are “consuming” media — and what their future media preferences are likely to be — Deloitte & Touche USA LLP’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) practice commissioned an extensive survey on the evolving role of media in America. This State of the Media Democracy survey offers a generational reality check on the usage of current media platforms/devices and what the future may hold. —>
compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media