Archive for the ‘municipal broadband’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/03/08

May 4, 2008

Sirius/XM Merger an Opportunity for Openness & Access? LPFM for Satellite?
by Paul Riismandel

[ comments invited ]

Matthew Lasar continues his excellent reporting for Ars Technica with an article on a recent letter from House Energy and Commerce Chair John Dingell (D-MI) and Internet subcommittee Chair Edward J. Markey (D-MA) to the FCC urging an open platform for satellite radio if the Commission approves the Sirius/XM deal. What they’re calling for is the ability for any manufacturer to make Sirius/XM compatible satellite radios, without the ability for the merged company to prevent things like iPod docks or HD Radio capability.

Lasar also notes the gathering steam in support for setting aside some of the merged company’s channel capacity for noncommercial programming, similar to what has been required for direct-broadcast satellite TV. Apparently even Clear Channel wants 5% of capacity set aside for “public interest” programming, whatever Cheap Channel means by that.

I oppose the merger on the principled basis of the fact that such a merger was specifically prohibited as a provision of the original authorization of the service. Nevertheless, I recognize that principle rarely rules the day in DC. Therefore I very much support setting aside channel capacity for non-commercial broadcasters as a necessary condition if the FCC chooses to approve the merger.

Obtaining a non-commercial channel on Dish Network was vitally important for Free Speech TV and has allowed that organization to distribute its radically critical grassroots programming in a way that it simply could not before, feeding public access TV stations around the country.

Although internet distribution is still more practical for radio programming than for TV programming, having several nation-wide progressive and grassroots radio channels nonetheless would be a great opportunity, and could be of great service to community radio stations.   —>

by Roger Green
Friends of the Albany Public Library

[ comments invited ]

Competition showcases student productions, offers instructors a fun and thought-provoking class assignment

Six library, student, and advocacy organizations today announced the Second Annual Sparky Awards, a contest that recognizes the best new short videos on the value of sharing and aims to broaden the discussion of access to scholarly research by inviting students to express their views creatively.

This year’s contest is being organized by SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) with additional co-sponsorship by the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, Penn Libraries (at the University of Pennsylvania), Students for Free Culture, and The Student PIRGs. Details are online at

The 2008 contest theme is “MindMashup: The Value of Information Sharing.” Well-suited for adoption as a college class assignment, the Sparky Awards invite contestants to submit videos of two minutes or less that imaginatively portray the benefits of the open, legal exchange of information. Mashup is an expression referring to a song, video, Web site, or software application that combines content from more than one source.   —>

East Metro candidates to appear at forum May 8
by Gosia Wozniacka
The Oregonian

[ comments invited ]

County commission and state legislative candidates will appear at a voters’ forum next week in Fairview.The Spring Voters Forum will be held Thursday, May 8, at 6:30 p.m. in the Fairview City Council chambers, 1300 NE Village Street. The forum will also be televised live on MetroEast Community Media.   —>

Community Media 2.0: It’s Still About Us and Our Physical Communities
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition (MA)

[ comments invited ]

My co-workers and I had a meeting today to discuss plans for our new website. Two important things caught my attention in thinking about how to frame the work we’re doing through our visual and semantic design.

First, visual design. The thing that sets us (community media centers) apart in a REALLY important way from social network websites (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, etc.) is our focus on the physical communities we serve. We need to represent that both in our stories and in our visual images online.

For example, the picture above from the staff page on the DCTV website shows the visitor that there are people involved at DCTV in a physical community. So, if you’re a worker at a community media center with a presence online show pictures of your access center and the people from your community. It not only humanizes the web technology that you’re using, but it also tells the website visitor there is a physical place and people involved that others can come to learn more about, learn from, and participate with.   —>

As AT&T legislation wraps up, city may be first to see U-verse
by John Rodgers
Nashville City Paper (TN)


Nashvillians and residents of neighboring counties will likely have the first crack at AT&T’s television programming later this year now that legislation is close to becoming law, a lawmaker close to the telecom said.  Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro), the Senate sponsor of AT&T’s legislation to start offering television programming, said Davidson County and the “doughnut counties” around Nashville would be the first areas where AT&T will offer its U-verse television services.

“Some people in the state will be able to start using U-verse by Dec. 1,” Ketron said.  In addition, Ketron said AT&T was prepared to invest more than $350 million in Tennessee.  So far, for competitive reasons, AT&T officials have not said where they would be offering U-verse if pending legislation became law.  Ketron’s pronouncement didn’t change that.  “We have not made any formal announcement at this point at all,” said AT&T spokesman Bob Corney on Thursday.   —>

House OKS study on WiMax Internet technology
by Gina Smith
The State (SC)


A fight is looming over whether South Carolina should become the first state to adopt the next generation of broadband communication — and who should have access if it does.  WiMax would allow extremely fast connection to the Internet from anywhere in the state and access to never-before-seen interactive tools.  House lawmakers voted Thursday to appoint a panel of seven tech experts from the private sector to study the options and make recommendations to the State Budget and Control Board.   —>

Citywide Wireless IP Network Launched in New York
by Matt Williams
Government Technology

[ 1 comment ]

Leave it to America’s biggest city to launch an equally big high-speed data network.

The New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN) was rolled out to 70 percent of the city’s police precincts and firehouses on April 1, giving the city’s first responders and employees a unique public safety and public service network.

“It’s the first network of its scope certainly anywhere in the country in terms of the amount of area we’re covering,” said Nick Sbordone, spokesman for the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), referring to New York City’s 322 square miles. “The network is solely dedicated to city use, specifically not just for public safety, but for public service as well. It really is historic in that sense.”

NYCWiN will run on 400 nodes across five boroughs — with many of the access points perched on rooftops. New York City CIO Paul Cosgrave, in testimony to the City Council in February, said NYCWiN can support a diverse array of functions:

* Nineteen city agencies developed about 53 unique applications for the network, including an expansion of automated vehicle location, a real-time technology to track the city’s fleet.
* The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is developing an automated water-meter-reading program.
* The city Department of Transportation will use the wireless network to synchronize and time traffic signals to ease traffic congestion. Cosgrave testified that NYCWiN also will provide photos and video of traffic incidents and emergencies.

In addition, the wireless network will be a powerful tool for law enforcement and public safety personnel. The NYPD Real Time Crime Center will link into NYCWiN, which will support Internet protocol (IP)-based emergency call boxes and surveillance cameras. Police officers will have access to in-car photos and video.   —>

News from the profit centres
Press freedom: Many fear the internet is killing journalism, but markets may be a more serious threat
by Geraint Talfan Davies
The Guardian (UK)


Is new media killing journalism?

The first question to ask is whether this is the right question. The new media need kill nothing. The question is how we choose to use the web. How do we respond to its strengths and to some of its weaknesses?

What I do know is that a luddite approach to the web would be plain ludicrous, even for those of us who still prefer to settle down with a newspaper than flash around the screen.

Instead of bemoaning the web, let’s seek a more positive response. It is possible that the advent of the new media may shake journalism out of a self-deprecating complacency that insists on it being a trade rather than a profession. Journalism will need to better establish its worth in the face of free, unchecked, unverified “user-generated material”. Similarly, the new media might have a beneficial effect on the Press Complaints Commission which, if it is to safeguard self-regulation – a valuable concept in a professional world – will have to do so with greater rigour and transparency in its operation and governance.

It is no accident that an organisation such as the Media Standards Trust has come into being at just this time to address constructively some of the consequences of these developments.

But there are more important questions buried in Unesco’s briefing paper, Freedom of Expression, Access and Empowerment, which says that the role of open and pluralistic media in holding a mirror to society “has fallen increasingly to the smaller community media sector as financial imperatives drive corporate media away from these core principles and into profit centres that do not cater to smaller or marginalised populations.”   —>

Civic Engagement, Empowerment & Respect for Diversity (CEERD)
The World Bank
05/02/08 [?]

The Program to Develop New Bank Practices in Civic Engagement, Empowerment and Respect for Diversity (CEERD) is a coalition effort involving all of the World Bank’s technical networks and regions, for which the secretariat resides in the World Bank Institute (WBI). The effort is currently focused on the Voice and Media Technical Assistance Program, which provides expert analyses and how-to advice, carried out in close collaboration with country assistance teams, to improve the enabling environment for pluralistic broadcasting in the public interest, and develop community radio prototyping and sector investment.

In the past the CEERD Program has also supported promoting respect for diversity through education, traditional knowledge and empowerment for poor producers; legal empowerment of the poor; and value-based participatory planning.

The Program currently supports analyses of the broadcasting sectors, particularly the enabling environment for community radio, in several countries, including Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, and Liberia.  Well experienced teams, including international, regional, and national experts advise during stakeholder deliberations on proposed reforms, assist in development of new broadcasting legislation, provide “how-to” guidance to improve regulatory procedures in order to distinguish between non-profit community broadcasters and commercial ones, and design community radio sector investment programs in close collaboration with national stakeholder coalitions for community radio development.  South-south mentoring and communities of practice support participatory development of community radio stations, as well as capacity development in programming, reporting, and management/resource mobilization.

An important thrust of this agenda is to help build sustained policies, practices and institutions that are megaphones for citizen’s voice and demand for good governance. Community radio development is being given special attention because it has proved to be a sustainable and interactive medium for poor and illiterate populations to articulate issues important to them, mobilize information, learn the give and take of informed discussion and debate, and become more decisive agents in their own development.  These non-profit, non-partisan stations are owned and operated by the communities they serve, and perform an important public service for poor constituencies, eliciting their views and concerns, and encouraging them to speak out, both among themselves and to local government.,,menuPK:542912~pagePK:64168427~piPK:64168435~theSitePK:542906,00.html

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 05/01/08

May 2, 2008

EAS: Act locally, think regionally
by Thomas G. Robinson

As cable communications systems have evolved from solo headends to master headend and hub configurations and then to regional super headends, the concept of the local emergency override seems to have gotten lost in the complexity of it all.

The original local emergency overrides go back to the glory days of cable franchising when cable operators touted them as being a critical component of an emergency notification system that would set their system’s capabilities apart from others desiring to cable unwired areas, thus being part of the reason for choosing them over another franchisee. A number of these promises were kept, and emergency override systems were put into place to either override the audio, or audio and video, and allow the emergency operations directors of local franchising authorities to take over the cable system for a brief period of time and notify subscribers of local alerts. This could include hazardous materials spills on a highway within the franchise area or ruptured gas lines in a specific subdivision. As government access channels came on line, subs could then be directed to turn to those for more information.

Over time, a number of things happened to alter the way in which these systems were able to be utilized. First, digital cable channels were developed and added to the lineup. The way that they were encoded and distributed presented new challenges for modifying systems which had been developed for overriding analog channels.   —>

The cancellation of Channel 36
Policy debates and high school sports could soon fade to black.
by Patt Morrison
Los Angeles Times (CA)

It’s the channel you probably channel-surf right past on your way from Discovery to CNN.  Its production values can look a little … lean. “Desperate Housewives” no doubt spends more on its backstage buffet line than it costs to operate this little local channel for a whole year.

Tonight, other cable channels will air something called “Britney’s Secret Childhood” and reruns of “Law & Order” and “Family Feud.” Cable access Channel 36 will explore the future of Broadway downtown, and what Proposition 98 means. On Friday, as you’re flipping through the lineup looking for a pro baseball game, Channel 36 will broadcast the local high school slugger-fest between Cleveland and Chatsworth. Fox lets you decide whether to vote for Syesha or Brooke on “American Idol”; Channel 36 shows the debate between Bernard Parks and Mark Ridley-Thomas, so you can decide who to vote for for L.A. County supervisor, a post that represents more people than do the senators from 14 U.S. states.

Whoops — we interrupt this programming announcement for a de-programming announcement. Los Angeles is pulling the money plug. Unless the City Council overrules the mayor’s budget choices, come July 1, Channel 36 as we know it will go dark.  Not that there’s much budget to cut. The 16 hours of programming a day, seven days a week — school sports, public policy talks, long-distance for-credit college classes and a lot of repeats if you missed anything the first time — cost the city $555,000. (Channel 36 raises another $320,000 itself, mostly from hiring out its production services.)

That $555,000 comes from cable TV companies, not taxpayers. Back in 1984, the city boldly demanded funding for public access channels as a condition of handing out those rich, rich cable franchises. That show of nerve now generates $25 million a year.  About $3 million goes to Channel 36’s more production-intense sister station, Channel 35. If some of the faces on 35 look familiar, it’s because they’re often the mayor’s or council members’, in public meetings and on chatty shows about the work they’re doing. They’re on so often that their political opponents have complained that Channel 35 is like one big, free campaign commercial.

The Monday morning that the mayor released his budget, Carla Carlini, the general manager of Channel 36, was nervous. The city nearly whacked Channel 36 four years ago, and the city’s red ink is a lot more crimson now.  “I looked at it online,” she told me, “and literally froze.” Her budget was zero. “I printed it out, I looked at it again — at that point I picked up the phone and called [the agency that supervises the channel] and said, ‘Am I reading this correctly?’ and they said, ‘Yes.’ ”   —>,1,3119514.column

AT&T will start offering public access TV on U-verse system
by Luther Turmelle
New Haven Register (CT)

An AT&T Inc. executive indicated Wednesday that the debut of local public access television channels on the company’s U-verse system is imminent.  “It will occur sooner, rather than later,” said John Emra, AT&T’s regional vice president of external and legislative affairs. Emra said that at least one provider will appear on the system in the initial launch, with others to appear in coming weeks and months.

Emra declined to identify which public access provider would be first to launch on the system, which has been operating in the state for 17 months without offering any such programming.  “We are working closely with a number of providers to bring them on board,” he said. “Some of those providers serve a number of towns.”

Speculation among those who work in the public access community is that the first provider to launch on U-verse will be Sound View Community Media of Bridgeport. The company provides public access programming for cable television customers in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Milford, Orange, Stratford and Woodbridge.  But while company President Thomas Castelot acknowledged that Sound View is negotiating with AT&T to be carried on U-verse, any suggestion that an agreement is imminent is “premature,” he said.

Contrast Sound View’s experience with that of Wallingford’s Government Access Television.  Scott Hanley, who manages the government access channel, said AT&T hasn’t had any contact with Wallingford since Mayor William Dickinson Jr. made an initial overture to the company.  “We know that Wallingford has a fair number of (U-verse) customers, but at this point, we’ve heard nothing,” Hanley said.

U-verse is AT&T’s Internet-based challenge to cable television in the state and is operating in parts of 40 communities and 135,000 households.  Local public access channel advocates in some of those communities have criticized AT&T, saying that a portal, or “PEG platform,” that U-verse subscribers will use to view community-based programming will be substandard compared to what’s available from cable providers in terms of picture quality and accessibility.   —>;jsessionid=5QftLZnVpyydvBDTDlVSdT9LgphBDsgpGC8yjgQnmm7THq1ymGjg!289188298?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=pg_article&r21.pgpath=%2FNHR%2FBusiness&r21.content=%2FNHR%2FBusiness%2FHeadlineList_Story_1982738

Cable Companies Fight For Franchise
by Ben Hogwood
Queens Tribune (NY)

Cable franchises are up for renewal this year, and one Queens councilman wants to make sure customers receive better service before the City signs any new contracts.
“With the cable franchises for Cablevision and Time Warner up for renewal for the first time in 10 years, we must wisely use this opportunity to protect consumers and hold Big Cable to higher standards,” said Tony Avella (D-Bayside), the chair of zoning and franchises for the City.

In addition, the City is seeking bids from all possible companies that can offer services to every residence, and already it appears consumers may have another option. The Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) reached an agreement with Verizon Tuesday for a citywide cable television contract. The proposed agreement must still be approved by the City’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee, which is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the topic May 20.   —>

Column: School board meetings — where and what time?
by Bob Fasbender
Tomah Journal (WI)

[ comments invited ]

The Tomah Area School District Board of Education is seeking your input on where and when you feel board meetings should be held.  Currently all Tomah School Board regular monthly meetings are held on the third Thursday of the month beginning at 7:30 p.m. at various schools throughout the year. The board is investigating the possibility of making some changes to the regular monthly board meeting schedule.

The first change they are considering is moving the starting time to 7 p.m. instead of 7:30 p.m. Secondly, they are considering discontinuing the “traveling” board meeting schedule. For many years the board has rotated the location of their monthly meeting so that they get into all of the schools at least once a year. They are considering the possibility of holding all regular board meetings at the former WTC building to be renamed the Robert Kupper Learning Center (RKLC), located at 1310 Townline Road in Tomah. They would continue to hold the May meeting in the Tomah High School library because this is the meeting where the retirees are recognized and usually attracts a large number of people.

Part of the reason for looking at a change in meeting location is because the board feels that more people watch the board meetings on cable (the PEG Channel and the Hagen Sports Network) than those who appear at the meetings. Secondly, anyone who has attended the meetings knows that the acoustics in the gymnasiums is marginal and makes it very difficult to hear and record. It affects the quality of the videotape that is being broadcast on cable. By holding the meetings in the former WTC building, the district can address the sound problems with the acoustical ceiling tiles and speakers in the ceilings. This will result in better sound for those who watch the meetings on cable and for those who are in attendance.   —>

Public Forum on Philly WiFi
by twolfson
Philly Future (PA)

Media Mobilizing Project, Temple School of Communications and Theatre and a bunch of co-sponsors are hosting a public forum on the future of Philly WiFi on June 3rd at Temple. The forum will host a diverse panel of speakers, while including an open space for participants to speak about the future of the wireless Internet initiative.   —>

How community TV spends its night of nights
by Daniel Ziffer (Australia)

The Antenna Awards are community television’s Logies and last week they were celebrated with just as much passion and style. A crowd of several hundred tramped another red carpet, clinked champagne flutes and crammed into a Federation Square theatre to discover the winners of television’s other night of nights.  Nominees for best program included The MS Show, a series about multiple sclerosis, The Goin Ballistyx Snow Board Show, animated children’s program Play Kool and Let’s Go Bird Watching.

The winner was sustainable-lifestyle show Making The Switch, which also took out best lifestyle program and the award for best editing.  Presenter of the show’s 26 half-hour episodes, Lisa Corduff, says the community sector has room for anyone with a message. “I had never really made TV before and I was given the opportunity to research and present and produce.   —>–radio/how-community-tv-spends-its-night-of-nights/2008/04/30/1209234934185.html

Time Warner to shed stake in cable operation
by Thomas Mulligan
Los Angeles Times

Answering Wall Street’s calls for a slimmer and more focused company, Time Warner Inc.’s chief executive said Wednesday that the cable system operator in which it holds a majority stake would become a completely separate entity.  Jeffrey L. Bewkes did not spell out how and when the split-off of Time Warner Cable Inc. would be accomplished.  Bewkes said that he was “very optimistic” about the prospects for the cable business but that “we just believe that the two entities would ultimately be more valuable if separated.” Time Warner owns 84percent of Time Warner Cable, a portion of which was spun off into a separate public company that began trading last year.

Time Warner has long been talked about as a possible deep-pockets buyer of Bethpage-based Cablevision Systems Corp. But there has never been a formal offer and stock analysts yesterday said it was too soon to know if the Time Warner spinoff would affect possible acquisitions, including one involving Cablevision.   —>,0,4960948.story

What’s Next for Time Warner Cable?
by David Lee Smith
The Motley Fool

It was a busy day for Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC), the second-biggest player in the cable industry. And the major event for the company wasn’t, as you might expect, its quarterly results, but rather the fact that we now know that it’s about to leave its parental nest.  So, let’s look quickly at the company’s results for the quarter before discussing its future.   —>

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 – 03/25/08

March 26, 2008

Ethics opinions find two lobbying violations
PR firm, ex-Bredesen adviser could be fined
by Theo Emery & Jennifer Brooks
The Tennessean


State lobbying rules may have been violated in two high-profile legislative fights, one over Internet wine sales and the other over cable television regulation, according to the Tennessee Ethics Commission.  Two draft opinions — one finding against a former senior adviser to Gov. Phil Bredesen, the other against a high-profile public relations firm in Nashville — represent the first time the state’s 1½-year-old Ethics Commission has dealt with such questions over lobbyist regulation.

“These are all very novel situations for this young ethics commission,” said Bruce Androphy, the agency’s executive director.  One opinion indicates that Seigenthaler Public Relations violated ethics laws by hosting a Web site aimed at preventing Internet wine sales.  The second opinion suggests that former Bredesen aide Robert Gowan engaged in lobbying. State law requires a one-year “cooling off” ban on lobbying by former top public officials.

Both opinions, which were penned by staff attorneys, must be approved by four members of the six-member commission to be binding. The commission meets this morning. Androphy said it was premature to discuss possible penalties.  Dick Williams, chairman of Common Cause Tennessee, a government watchdog group, welcomed both opinions, saying they are important test cases.  “It’s going to be good for the public and potential lobbyists to know what the rules are,” he said.   —>

Sustainable Flatbush featured in “A Walk Around the Blog”
Flatbush Gardener (NY)

[ comments invited ]

BRIC, the non-profit Brooklyn arts organization which produces Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT), has been doing a bi-monthly series called A Walk Around the Blog, interviews with Brooklyn bloggers talking about their neighborhoods. The latest edition features Anne Pope of Sustainable Flatbush talking about, what else, Flatbush and sustainability.   —>

Forest Park city manager on Waycross TV
Community Press & Community Recorder

Time Warner Cable subscribers in Forest Park will have the opportunity to talk with City Manager Ray Hodges in a live Waycross Community Media program.  Talking with Forest Park will be found on Waycross Government Access Channel 23 at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 27. Residents will have the opportunity to talk with Hodges about a variety of timely issues using either a phone number or e-mail address given out during the program. The program will be repeated throughout April on the Waycross Government Channel.

Talking with Forest Park is a series that is produced quarterly for the city and its residents.  Waycross Community Media coordinates community access television and Internet services for Forest Park, Greenhills and Springfield Township. Anyone wishing to learn more about Waycross Community Media, free production workshops, programming or volunteer opportunities may call the media center at 825-2429 or go to

Great Reporting Fellowship in Minnesota; Start Now
by Leonard Witt
pjnet (public journalism network)

[ comments invited ]

Want the freedom to do high quality, ethically sound journalism in an inviting  atmosphere;  then this one-year fellowship might be perfect for you. Please spread the word, this will be a dream assignment for the right person.

“Help chart the future of local news and community. Apply for a Representative Journalism Fellowship. Leonard Witt, holder of the Robert D. Fowler Distinguished Chair in Communication at Kennesaw State University, is leading a one-year trial in the college town of Northfield, Minn., 35 miles south of Minneapolis.

“The representative journalist will spend a year working with the citizen blogger site to report one in-depth story per week on a critical civic or social issue. The reporting will be an open, transparent process where citizens can offer facts, comments, and perspective as the story develops. The final form of the story will be published in digital and print formats. Often, citizens will convene to discuss the findings of the reporting and participate in public meet-ups to discuss the results and next actions. This is not an assignment for an order taker. You must be an enterprising, self starter. You must have a willingness to engage with citizens day in and day out. When needed, you will produce work in multiple formats, including print, web, radio, access-TV and other formats.  This will increase civic dialog in a highly educated community of 17,000 people and inspire the community to support and sustain your work.   —>

Fiber center gets first viewing
by Matt Shaw
Wilson Times (NC)

After nearly a decade of discussions, Wilson officials finally got a chance Wednesday to see their vision of a city-operated cable television system come to life.

City Council members were given a private tour Wednesday afternoon of the technical hub of Wilson’s new Greenlight services, which will begin selling phone, Internet and cable services to city residents later this year.  Afterwards, several invited guests were also allowed to tour the 9,000-square-foot facility, which is part of the city’s Operations Center on Herring Avenue. News cameras were not allowed inside most of the facility.

Visitors on the tour saw the head-end room, where Internet and television signals come into the building and are routed to subscribers, in a room lined with row after row of server racks. They also saw a demonstration of the optical network terminals that will be attached to subscribers’ homes to distribute the television, telephone and data signals and the four-bay garage where maintenance vehicles will be housed.   —>–

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/23/08

March 24, 2008

Candidates to appear on public-access TV
‘Experiment in democracy’ sponsored by Time Warner, Times West Virginian
by Bill Byrd
Times West Virginian

[ comments invited ]

FAIRMONT — Candidates for local and statewide offices in the May 13 primary will be appearing soon on public-access television — Channel 19 — of the Time Warner Cable Co., said D.D. Meighen.  “We are doing what public-access television is supposed to do, broadcasting information of important events to the viewing audience,” said Meighen, director of Marion County TV-19.

“The public is invited to attend and watch our videotaping of this forum,” he said.  “This is the first time this has been tried in Fairmont. It’s an experiment in democracy.”  The program is being sponsored by the Times West Virginian newspaper and the Time Warner cable system, he said.

Viewers will be able to see nearly 75 candidates who are on the ballot from the comfort of their living rooms in the month of April, he said. The brief profiles will air twice daily throughout the month.  “Even people who will vote in early voting will have time to view these profiles,” Meighen said.   —>

A show we’d like to see: The legislature on TV
by Jack Betts
Charlotte Observer (NC)

Sixteen years ago, the late N.C. Sen. Mary Seymour of Greensboro dropped a two-page bill in the hopper that could have given the state’s residents a front-row seat for gavel-to-gavel televised coverage of legislative sessions.  Identical to a House bill sponsored by then-Rep. Judy Hunt of Boone, the bill went nowhere. But it was a good idea then and an even better one now.

That thought occurred to me as I sat in the audience Thursday at the annual Sunshine Day observance at Elon University and heard state Sen. Eddie Goodall, R-Union, repeat his call for a study commission to assess the need for televising all legislative sessions and certain committee meetings.

He’s right to pursue a study; legislative leaders have not backed the idea of gavel-to-gavel coverage in either chamber, though of course commercial and public television stations provide varying kinds of new coverage on issues. But what the legislature needs is that kind of daily coverage so the public can see what’s going on — and what’s not.   —>

Insiders enlisted in back-room cable war
Top lobbyists work on TV bill in Naifeh’s office
by Theo Emery
The Tennessean


A small group of lobbyists gathers outside the office of House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh each week, checking BlackBerries and chatting as they wait to be invited through the doors of the speaker’s office and into a conference room in the back.  The subject of those meetings is an issue that could touch every corner of the state: whether telephone giant AT&T will receive statewide permission to offer television service in competition with cable companies like Comcast and Charter, and how widely available AT&T’s service will be.

The meeting participants come from a wider cast of characters: dozens of lobbyists, lawmakers and others on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill whose relationships and loyalties make a potent stew of politics. They include numerous former members of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration and two married couples.

“I think every lobbyist in Nashville’s been hired on one side or the other,” said House Commerce Committee Chairman Charles Curtiss, the Sparta Democrat who sponsored the AT&T legislation last year.

The quiet negotiations in Naifeh’s office, which participants are reluctant to discuss, stand in stark contrast to last year’s knock-down public fight over the legislation, which would allow AT&T to franchise its new service statewide instead of negotiating with each individual city, town or county.   —>

Verizon mum on extent of FioS for city
‘City will not allow cherry-picking,’ city spokesman says
by Aaron Nathans
The News Journal (DE)


Verizon workers are wandering through Wilmington neighborhoods, mapping them in preparation for offering its FioS television service in the city. Workers have even started installing the necessary fiber-optic wires in some areas.  But city officials haven’t yet received a permit application from Verizon to offer the service. And the mayor’s office says it will insist on one big condition: wire everyone.  Although city officials aren’t highlighting it, that means that even the city’s poorest neighborhoods would need to be properly wired to be able to opt for FioS television and Internet service as part of any permit deal.

Verizon isn’t ready to discuss its plans for Wilmington, said William Allan, the company’s Delaware president. He confirmed the company is working on plans to offer FioS in Wilmington but said not to assume too much from one sighting of fiber wire crews.  “If you went around the city, you would see pockets of activity in lots of places right now,” Allan said. “None of it is being driven by ‘where is the income?’ ”   —>

South Bronx businesses in Internet dumps, but help could soon be on way
by Nadia Zonis
New York Daily News


Tenants in the Harlem River Transportation and Distribution Center have easy access to the Major Deegan and Bruckner expressways – but when it comes to the information superhighway, sometimes there’s no entrance ramp.  “I’ll be working during the day, and for a period of maybe 10 minutes, the Internet system goes down,” said Tony Ricchio, senior vice president of the management company that runs the large industrial park in Port Morris.

Lack of reliable high-speed broadband Internet access is bedeviling many businesses in the South Bronx industrial zones. Most are far from residential areas wired by Cablevision or Verizon for cable and DSL   While the city is studying the issue and companies are coming up with alternatives, Bronx business owners say they are wallowing in a digital divide.

“To be competitive, you need fiber optic,” said John Mullane, head of Transcon International Inc., a company in the industrial park that moves and stores fine art.  He wants to expand to serve museums, but can’t without state-of-the-art Internet service.  “It’s like years ago when we started, people would ask if you had a fax, then e-mail, and you’d be embarrassed to say you didn’t,” he said.

Experts say part of the problem stems from franchise agreements with cable companies.  “Cable doesn’t have to go to places where there aren’t residents,” said David Birdsell, dean of the Baruch School of Public Affairs and a member of the Broadband Advisory Committee created by the City Council. “So there’s very little incentive for … Verizon … to go and provide high-quality copper and local stations that will multiply the DSL signal.”   —>

Timing on new cable till fuzzy
AT&T’s is licensed to provide cable TV in Albany, but there is no word on when — or if — service might start.
by Susan  McCord
Albany Herald (GA)

A new Georgia law allowed AT&T to purchase on Feb. 14 a single state video franchise that includes much of metro Albany, but the company is slow to say when it will bring U-verse television service to Southwest Georgia.  “We do have a limited launch in the Atlanta area and we are committed to bringing our U-verse products to other markets,” AT&T Corporate Spokesman Joe Chandler said Friday.   —>

Cable-TV crew digs new digs
$8.7m project created space in old building
by Paysha Stockton Rhone
Boston Globe (MA)

It’s a regular Wednesday night, and the new home of Boston’s public-access cable network is buzzing. In the computer lab, three teenagers edit their new show, “Swagger.” Upstairs, newbies gather in Studio A to discuss production. And in Studio B, Southie artist Dan McCole is warming up for his weekly arts talk show, “Citizen’s Corner.”

At the Boston Neighborhood Network, almost anything that can be videotaped will be.  “We don’t allow anything with flames,” digital media director Christine Kelly says. But that leaves plenty of room for heat-free chefs, Afro-Brazilian drummers, call-taking cops, Chinese dancers, Alzheimer’s experts, and local pols. About 40 different shows air on Comcast channels 9 and 23 throughout each month.   —>

Millis – Comcast Deal Unsigned
by Calvin Hennick
Boston Globe (MA)

After months of negotiations, Comcast and town officials have yet to finalize an agreement on renewing the company’s local cable-television franchise. James Neville, president of Millis Community Access Television, said the town had hoped to have the new deal signed by mid-January, when the previous license expired. He noted that Comcast representatives had been unable to attend several meetings with town officials.

An initial agreement calls for keeping the 4.5 percent surcharge on customers’ bills that funds the town’s public-access TV operation. Comcast has also agreed to provide the town with $100,000 for capital expenses for the station. Under the agreement, Comcast would reconstruct the system that delivers the public-access signal by May 1 or face fines. Comcast spokesman Marc Goodman said the work to resolve the channel’s reception problems has already begun, and he does not foresee any changes to the preliminary agreement. He said he expects the contract to be signed soon.

Folk singer Jori Costello to feature for poetry collective
by Cat Donnelly
Northwest Arkansas Times

Local poetess and singer / songwriter Jori Costello will feature for Ozark Poets and Writers Collective at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Nightbird Books, Fayetteville’s best little independent book store ! She promises to deliver her sophisticated fusion of jazz, folk rock and blues, along with performance poetry. Costello also considers herself a puppeteer and artist, along with her regular job as Community Access Television’s Outreach Coordinator. Costello was born in St. Louis and moved to Arkansas 11 years ago. She is in a committed four-year relationship. Costello claims that after her 20-year companion, Allie Cat, passed away she was immediately reincarnated as Hobbit, who at 6 months old, is already a feline television celebrity on CAT Channel 18.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/22/08

March 23, 2008

Comcast Cameras to Start Watching You?
by Chris Albrecht


If you have some tinfoil handy, now might be a good time to fashion a hat. At the Digital Living Room conference today, Gerard Kunkel, Comcast’s senior VP of user experience, told me the cable company is experimenting with different camera technologies built into devices so it can know who’s in your living room.

The idea being that if you turn on your cable box, it recognizes you and pulls up shows already in your profile or makes recommendations. If parents are watching TV with their children, for example, parental controls could appear to block certain content from appearing on the screen. Kunkel also said this type of monitoring is the “holy grail” because it could help serve up specifically tailored ads. Yikes.   —>

City takes business to airwaves
by Susan Larson
The Daily Journal (MN)

[ comments invited ]

As a cameraman films, Community Development Director Gordon Hydukovich tells Lynne Olson, assistant to the city administrator, about an exciting new project happening in the city. Later in the day, the whole community will know about it when they watch, “City of Fergus Falls Update” on PEG Access channel 18.

Call it Regis and Kelly with a local twist. Implemented in February, the program is an effort by the city to keep residents informed about what’s happening around them in an entertaining way.  “We’ve heard from council that a concern they hear among the people is they want improved communications,” Olson said.  What better way to do so than through television?

“We highlight different departments, a project or special event,” Olson said. “We try to pick a timely topic.”  In this most recent case, the subject was a tabletop planning session set for April 10 regarding the west river area of the city. Hydukovich, who will lead the meeting, finds the show to be a means of making such meetings more effective.  “I can explain (a project) to people in a room while they’re sitting there,” he said. “But this gets it out and gets people thinking about it before, so they can come prepared and ask questions.”

Each episode airs the same day it is filmed, Jim Francis PEG Access executive director, said. It is played about 14 times until the next segment is filmed. Go to PEG access website — — and look under “schedule” for the schedule.   —>

Tuned In: What do you want in local TV news?
by Rob Owen
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)

—>  When I asked two weeks ago what viewers expect of local newscasts, I knew I would get some feedback. But I honestly didn’t expect the outpouring of response from more than 100 viewers, many of them frustrated with the state of local TV news.  Many of those responses — about 35 printed pages’ worth — have been posted in Tuned In Journal at The recurring complaints were these:

• Too much news time…
• Too many teases; too much hype…
• Too many Steelers stories as news…
• Too much weather…
• Too many stories with no relevance to the average viewer…
• Too many references to Web sites…
• Too few stories on the arts…
• More serious news…

Hopes for Wireless Cities Fade as Internet Providers Pull Out
by Ian Urbina
New York Times

PHILADELPHIA — It was hailed as Internet for the masses when Philadelphia officials announced plans in 2005 to erect the largest municipal Wi-Fi grid in the country, stretching wireless access over 135 square miles with the hope of bringing free or low-cost service to all residents, especially the poor.

Greg Goldman is chief executive of Wireless Philadelphia, a nonprofit organization set up to help administer the program. He said that about $4 million was needed to cover the rest of the city.  Municipal officials in Chicago, Houston, San Francisco and 10 other major cities, as well as dozens of smaller towns, quickly said they would match Philadelphia’s plans.

But the excited momentum has sputtered to a standstill, tripped up by unrealistic ambitions and technological glitches. The conclusion that such ventures would not be profitable led to sudden withdrawals by service providers like EarthLink, the Internet company that had effectively cornered the market on the efforts by the larger cities.  Now, community organizations worry about their prospects for helping poor neighborhoods get online…

“The entire for-profit model is the reason for the collapse in all these projects,” said Sascha Meinrath, technology analyst at the New America Foundation, a nonprofit research organization in Washington.  Mr. Meinrath said that advocates wanted to see American cities catch up with places like Athens, Leipzig and Vienna, where free or inexpensive Wi-Fi already exists in many areas.

He said that true municipal networks, the ones that are owned and operated by municipalities, were far more sustainable because they could take into account benefits that help cities beyond private profit, including property-value increases, education benefits and quality-of-life improvements that come with offering residents free wireless access.  Mr. Meinrath pointed to St. Cloud, Fla., which spent $3 million two years ago to build a free wireless network that is used by more than 70 percent of the households in the city.   —>

An ideal future communications infrastructure, how do we get there, and what is stopping us!
by Russell McOrman

[ comments invited ]

Whenever the discussion of “Net Neutrality” comes up we often get stuck with how the current network is configured, who provides it, and other historical issues. I would like to toss out that history for a moment and offer what I believe to be an ideal, talk about transition issues, as well as some of winners and losers in that transition (and thus who the greatest opponents are)

Future network infrastructure

Imagine a municipal ultra high speed network (Fiber to the premises/Home, or whatever future technologies may be even faster) that allowed the city residents to make arbitrary connections from their home to other points in the city. Sometimes they would connect to other citizens, and other times they would connect to companies.  These companies would offer a wide variety of services, mirroring many legacy services and having the ability to innovatively create more.

What we currently think of as “phone” service would be handled by competing companies that offered directory services and voice (and possibly video for video phones) connectivity between municipalities, as well as gateways to legacy “phone” networks (domestically and internationally). Voice communication between municipal residents could go point-to-point without the need of an additional intermediary.

What we currently think of as “television” service would be handled by people being able to directly subscribe and connect to various networks individually. I may be a fan of CBC and thus I would have a subscription with them. Individual community based stations would be relatively cheap to set up compared to the current system which either needs wireless transmitters or an agreement with both a cable company and the CRTC. Like the voice services, there would be competing companies offering the service of bringing in “television” stations that are not part of the networks who offer their stations directly in the municipality.

Switching from any service a company offers to a competitor should be very easy given the connection to ones home is entirely neutral to any company.

Transportation and utilities offer a path to this ideal

What I consider to be the ideal should sound familiar, as it is the system we use for our ground transportation system and many utilities including electricity. We have municipally owned/managed road infrastructure which allow us to travel between any two destinations within the city. We don’t have a “Walmart road” as well as a “Canadian Tire” road running to our homes like many of us in Ontario have a “Rogers” and a “Bell” wire running into our homes. The municipality — unlike the legacy phone and cable companies — doesn’t claim some alleged right to actively inspect the contents of all our vehicles or “traffic shape” roads based on whether they like the contents of our vehicles or not.   —>

Tibet could be a public relations fiasco for Beijing
by Ken Kamoche

The Tibetan crisis is once again revealing some serious weaknesses in the way China handles threats to its much-vaunted quest for harmony. The riots in Tibet have also put to the test China’s slogan for the games: “One world, one dream”. In one part of the Himalayas at least, that dream is fast turning into a nightmare…  Imposing a media ban, ordering foreign journalists out of Lhasa, demonising the Dalai Lama and the hardline approach the government has taken all suggest that China has some way to go if it is to achieve internal harmony and gain the respect of the international community…

Beijing ought to have learnt some lessons from the collapse of the former Suharto regime and in particular how deceptively simple technologies like text messages played such a pivotal role in mobilising a street revolution. The same goes for Tibet.  You can cut off the formally constituted communication channels, chase away foreign journalists, block access to the Internet and foreign TV channels; but it is a losing battle.

Information seems to have a life of its own. It seeps through the cracks, bypasses the controls and gets to those who need it, or is dispatched by those who have to. The mess that is going on in Tibet cannot be swept under the carpet. If it continues to simmer, it will also further alienate the Taiwanese who fear they might go the way of Tibet.   —>

Think You’re Not an Anarchist? Download This Book!
by Phil Grove
A Cooperative, Unending Endeavor

[ comments invited ]

Anarchism is political philosophy of radical humanism that commends itself to Quakers and many others who should give it more attention. It’s a vision of human relations that is egalitarian as opposed to hierarchical; communitarian as opposed to individualistic; and ecological and sustainable as opposed to extractive and doomed. Anarchists assess the modern condition as slavery to modern instutions of dominance and oppression; and they seek freedom for all.

The anarchist vision is not an unconstrained, chaotic nightmare that replaces modern institutions with nothing; it is a highly organized, nonheirarchical web of community-scale institutions within which to conduct human activities. By far, it is the political philosophy most compatible with Quaker testimony and practice; and also most compatible with the values of many advocates of participatory democracy, equal rights, feminism, environmentalism, and holistic health and living.

Anyone interested in anarchism should read Getting Free: Creating an Association of Democratic Autonomous Neighborhoods by James Herod. In this succinct work, Herod makes the case for some form of anarchism as the only viable alternative to the current system of global capitalism. But more importantly, he addresses the question of strategy in a straightforward manner. He conducts an unblinking critical survey of the failed past and current strategies of the left, rejecting them all as unable to defeat the capitalist system.

Our alternative parties, our vigils and demonstrations, our civil disobedience, our single issue campaigns, and our educational efforts are all ineffective against capitalism, in Herod’s view. The most they can achieve is to temporarily curb the worst abuses of capitalism. Depressing stuff, but I would suggest that a lot of the torper we feel on the left stems from our repressed understanding that Herod’s criticism is correct. We have not been getting anywhere.

But Herod doesn’t leave it at that.  In place of past strategies to overthrow or reform capitalism, Herod advocates a strategy of the gradual abandonment of capitalist institutions and substitution of alternative, community-based democratic structures. Here is the list of specific strategies he proposes:   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/21/08

March 22, 2008

Luminaria Arts Night Part 1
by South Texas Media Access

[ comments invited ]

Video of the the 1st annual Luminaria Arts Night in San Antonio, TX, March 2008. Featuring artwork by local artists. Part 1. This clip was for San Antonio Public Access TV Perspective Prisms and Springtime65 Show.

Editorial Short takes: Live legislative coverage
Marshall Independent (MN)

[ comments invited ]

SIDEWAYS THUMB: Because it is Sunshine Week, which emphasizes public access and open government, a reader e-mailed us, expressing frustration that Marshall’s public access cable channels don’t broadcast live coverage of the Minnesota Legislature. The coverage is available on the Internet, but the reader said not everyone has Internet access, so TV coverage would be valuable. We don’t disagree, but city officials say making it happen isn’t so easy. —>

Time Warner, WSKI form partnership
by Ann Bryant
Sun Journal (ME)

[ comments invited ]

CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Time Warner Cable and Snowfield Productions, owner of WSKI-TV 17, have entered into a partnership, Nadene McLeod of WSKI-TV said Thursday. The partnership will continue to bring “WSKI programming to cable television watchers in the Carrabassett Valley area as they have over the past 25 years and plan to continue to provide for many years to come,” McLeod said.

The station provides ski trail and weather reports for Sugarloaf, area events, sports coverage, news and advertising. The partnership resulted from a question raised in December about whether the public access television station should be made public or remain in the control of a private company. Time Warner became the area cable provider in 2006 and continued to provide the town with Channel 17 at no charge…

Hogg says the town is allowing WSKI, a private entity, to manage Channel 17 free of charge. The town never operated a public access channel, although one was reserved for the town, according to Town Manager Dave Cota. Since January, a committee has been looking at benefits, expenses and whether the town wants to operate a public channel.

Selectmen recently asked Cota to send a letter to Time Warner that states “the board has agreed to relinquish Channel 17 as the town public access channel to allow Time Warner and WSKI-17 to negotiate a private agreement with the contingency that Time Warner agrees to reserve Channel 22 as the town public access channel should the town vote to operate a public access channel,” Cota said. —>

Mar. 26: Grassroots Fundraising for Community Media Workshop at MNN, New York, NY

Attend MNN’s Upcoming “Grassroots Fundraising for Community Media” Workshop on Wednesday, March 26th @ 6:30pm

MNN’s Community Outreach & Media Department presents a series of production, post-production, distribution and funding workshops designed for groups who are interested in incorporating video in their organizing, outreach and advocacy efforts. —>

“Postcards from Charlottesville,” Show #6
by Dave Norris

[ comments invited ]

Dr. Lynn Rainville joins me on this month’s show. Lynn runs some excellent websites/blogs focused on Charlottesville-Albemarle history, including LoCoHistory, the LoCoBlog, and African-American Cemeteries in Albemarle & Amherst Counties. She is doing a wonderful job of helping to make history come alive (both for adults and for kids) and helping to connect area residents with their own past.

Click here to see the show, which will be broadcast throughout the coming month on Charlottesville Public Access TV (Channel 13) —>

Larry Lessig: Time to reject corporate influence on Washington
by Anne Broache
CNet News


WASHINGTON–Iconic Internet law professor Larry Lessig may have cast off plans for a congressional bid of his own, but he still wants to turn the political process as we know it upside down. No more money from corporate political action committees and lobbyists. No more earmarks to fund pet projects in federal spending bills. Public financing for all congressional campaigns. And throughout it all, transparency.

Those are the four pillars of Lessig’s “Change Congress” movement, which he unveiled, along with a beta Web site, which he describes as a “mash-up applied to politics,” at an event here Thursday afternoon. For the project, he has teamed up with Joe Trippi, best known as the national campaign manager for Democrat Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign and its pioneering use of online organizing.

None of his ideas, of course, are particularly new, which Lessig himself readily acknowledged. A number of organizations–including Ralph Nader’s Public Citizen and the Sunlight Foundation, which sponsored his talk on Thursday–dedicate themselves exclusively to promoting government transparency. Projects like Open Secrets offer more readily searchable databases of political campaign contributions, while groups like Citizens Against Government Waste have made it a mission to expose congressional pork-barrel spending. —>

Closing the Rural Broadband Gap, Presented by the Internet Innovation Alliance
by Geoff Daily

[ 1 comment ]

—> Atkinson was also the first to strike a contrarian note when the panel moved into an open discussion as while most of the panel cited the need for and benefits of competition he called its efficacy into question in rural areas, in particular as it relates to giving new entrants additional incentives just for the sake of spurring competition.

I’ve long wondered how competition is the answer to increasing capacity and availability in rural areas; if we’re having trouble getting one company to invest how can we expect to get two, especially when the more competitors the smaller the slice of customers each one gets.

I managed to sneak in a question at the end trying to ask about the gap between how so many people say it’s too expensive to get big broadband to rural areas yet rural areas are likely the ones that could most benefit from that connectivity. Unfortunately I included in that question my belief that the ultimate goal should be a fiber pipe to every home.

This led the answers to focus on questioning if that truly is the goal. After a brief discussion a consensus emerged on the panel that rural broadband deployment should focus more on getting current broadband technology to everyone than next-gen technology to anyone.

I completely agree that the first order of business in considering the rural broadband challenge is making sure that everyone in America has access of at least 750Kbps or higher. But at the same time why aren’t we setting a longer term goal that’s much more aggressive?

One argument put forth was that if you start talking about getting too much bandwidth into rural areas the cost becomes too great and can scare off all deployment, be it public or private because it requires too much of an investment. I understand that as well, but I still don’t see why we can’t set a long-term goal of a fiber pipe to every home, no matter where it is.

In the meantime, this panel did a great job of laying out some of the most important things we can be doing to spur deployment to rural areas today:

– Robust mapping so private providers can know where the gaps are and move to fill them in
– Local community teams and technology centers that can spur the adoption and use of the Internet that will grow the demand that can drive deployment
– Tax credits and other incentives for the companies willing to deploy to rural areas to help make the business case more attractive

The only thing missing from this discussion was an advocate for municipal broadband. I have to admit I still have some reservations about public entities competing with public enterprise for consumer dollars, but I can’t deny the reality that in many rural areas some form of municipally owned, financed, and/or operated deployment might be the only way those communities can expect to have their infrastructure upgraded in the next twenty years. —>

Media’s “New” Community Role
by Dan Schultz
MediaShift Idea Lab


I just got back to the U.S. from my first visit to Rome. The whole trip was great, but my favorite part was The Roman Forum. This ancient gathering place represents, as far as I’m concerned, the epitome of community facilitation given the resources available at the time. This may not seem like a relevant anecdote at first but the point is that I think members of the news industry who are looking for a role in this crazy Internet filled world may discover that the answer to their identity crisis isn’t so new after all.

This post is about where I think news organizations, especially local news organizations, need to take their digital presence. This is the conversation I hoped to seed with my analysis of the Anonymous activism against Scientology. It also turns out that this post will work nicely with the recent conversation on this blog about the need for news organizations to change the way they operate online.

Context and Clarification
In my posts about Anonymous I tried to identify some of the subtleties of online community coordination and pull out any lessons that could help us in our journalism-industry-wide quest to effectively utilize digital technology.

Based on a few of the comments to those posts it seems there was a little room for confusion. Some thought I was trying to provide a recipe for media outlets to take advantage of existing online communities or artificially manipulate the masses. In other words, not everyone understood what I believe the technologies should be utilized for. In a comment I wrote:

“[In these posts] I tried to look at what might have been a reason for [Anonymous] success and largely cite the fact that physical communities don’t utilize the kinds of digital communication tools that you guys have. This is where (for instance) local newspapers, which are desperately trying to find their place on the internet, could fill a role. Not for profit, but instead to get back to the public service that they were supposed to be providing in the first place – an outlet for community voice and an amplification of community issues.”

From what I understand, some of the original driving forces that inspired local news media were the demand for outlets of community voice and the need for amplification of important community issues. Ethics, practices, role, and tradition – i.e. hard news, public service journalism (which I will refer to as “hard journalism” from now on) – grew over time.

By focusing on those initial demands and drawing on “hard journalism” practices for reinforcement rather than direction, our adaptation to a new medium will hopefully becomes a little more manageable. That focus is what I wanted to develop with those posts (plus the whole Anonymous effort continues to fascinate me).

A New Community Medium
If my interpretation above is even partially accurate, it seems that local news operations are supposed to be information hubs for the communities they serve. When using a one-to-many medium such as Television or Print, reporters and editors try to represent their community by proxy. For old media that was fine because, realistically, it was the only way for the job to be done.

With digital media, as everyone seems to have figured out years ago, it isn’t enough to just have an online newspaper. What people are realizing now is that it also isn’t enough to simply enable comments, publish the occasional user-submitted-photo or blog, or incorporate a few pieces of interactive content. All of these things are small steps in the right direction, but small steps are slow and costly in the world of software.

This time around news organizations need to do more than just learn to use the media, they need to host a community with it – an idea that Richard Anderson put out there in his first post to this blog. People want a place, digital or otherwise, where they can gather and learn about the community in which they are a part, a place where they can get in touch with the issues, and a place where they can pick up on the “vibe.” They want a modern Roman Forum.

If news orgs don’t provide this then someone else will. What is troublesome is that the “someone else” won’t necessarily incorporate hard journalism in their vision. What makes THAT troublesome is that such services directly compete with the news.

Facilitating Community Agenda
In the words of Paul Monaco, much of media’s social influence comes from its ability to set agendas, not by “[telling] its readers and viewers what to think so much as it points them toward what to think about.” Social Media, Digital Media, many-to-many conversations, and all those other phrases that are thrown around describe the tools being used to push that task of issue definition back to the community. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media