Archive for the ‘municipal ownership’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/04/08

April 5, 2008

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

Great Falls TV station needs home
by Matt Austin

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

Check out full project descriptions from the recent press release.

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

US kept in slow broadband lane
by Ian Hardy
> Click

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

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

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

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

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

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

More questions than answers
by Mark Jones
Reuters Editors

[ 1 comment ]

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

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

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

How can we get the public to eat their broccoli?

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

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

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 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 – 03/22/08

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 – 03/13/08

March 14, 2008

Union Made
by Bunnie Riedel
Telecommunications Consulting

—>  I had to go back and look at the original piece of legislation. Sure, Indiana led the nation by completely de-regulating telecom, including wireless. But if that had been the goal all along, de-regulation of wireless in order to bring all those wireless union jobs to Indiana, why did they have to gut local video franchising? Did CWA jump into AT&T’s pocket because they hated Comcast so much? Did CWA have any idea what the statewide video franchising bill would do to PEG in Indiana? Did they even care?

I guess they didn’t care, but they should have.

Somebody tell me where a union, any union, ever gets coverage on television, much less has its own half hour or hour long television show. The answer is Public access television. Without it there is no union programming. I did a query of access stations and found out that CWA uses Public access facilities and channels across this country. CWA could have its programming on the AT&T system in Bloomington if it wanted, but that’s not going to happen because there are no access channels on the AT&T system in Bloomington.

The firefighters, the nurses, the sheet metal workers, the teamsters, the teachers, the hotel workers, the state employees, the musicians, the mechanics, the railroad workers…you name a union and somewhere in this country they have a show on Public access.

I have no doubt that the CWA prides itself in working for justice. But I guess I just wish CWA would fight a tenth as hard for the survival of Public access as Public access has fought for CWA’s right to be seen and heard. What is missing in this discussion is that CWA needs to be on the side of the access community when it comes to dealing with AT&T or the cable operators, because both CWA and the access community would be eliminated by cable or Ma Bell, given half a chance.   —>

Comcast turns off Springs
by Ralph Routon
Colorado Springs Independent

[ 1 comment ]

Nobody seems to know exactly what day it happened.  Certainly there was no announcement or news release, courteously informing the Colorado Springs-area public that our cable company doesn’t really care about this market anymore.  Instead, with the simple flick of a switch and the layoff of one highly visible person, Comcast Corp. apparently hoped nobody would notice. As if we, the legions of Comcast’s 100,000-plus paying customers, never pay attention.

Wrong. We have noticed. We do pay attention. And we aren’t happy.

This could have been all about that layoff. As reported in the March 6 Indy, Comcast eliminated the position of Sandra Mann, who handled the company’s local public relations and, in reality, did so much more. She put a human face on the cable provider’s local presence, smoothing over concerns when Comcast replaced Adelphia in August 2006. She spent nearly eight years going to City Council and committee meetings, providing updates and furthering goodwill there as well as with local civic clubs, nonprofits and countless fundraiser events.

Mann, who spent two decades (1977-96) as a highly popular local TV news anchor before moving into PR work and election to the District 11 school board, had used her expertise in another important way: She developed and organized local programming, first for Adelphia and then Comcast, on the local Channel 2.

Besides her own show and others such as those spotlighting the Better Business Bureau and the Philharmonic, there was the community calendar; Mike Boyle’s restaurant show; coverage of parades as well as other civic events; and all kinds of local political forums around elections.

That channel was a big deal from the start in 2000, but Comcast inexplicably decided neither it nor Mann were worth keeping.  Mann, starting her own consulting firm now, doesn’t want to talk about Comcast or its changes. But this customer will.   —>

Editorial: Attend TV meeting in Martin; push for School Board to air meetings in St. Lucie
TCPalm (FL)


Excuses, excuses, excuses.
• No one showed up to advocate his position.
• Students’ privacy rights could be jeopardized.
• It’s too expensive.
• Speakers will make political speeches for the audience.
• We’re a top school district so we don’t have to change.

The Martin and St. Lucie school boards have offered almost every excuse in the book for why they shouldn’t televise their meetings. Perhaps the biggest reason why they should televise them is credibility: The board has nothing to hide, right? So why not televise the meetings, educate the public and show it how educational policy and major expenditures are determined?

Indian River County has televised its meetings for years; students generally put together the broadcast. A perfect situation for the board? Not necessarily; this form of Reality TV helps create second-guessers, but informed second-guessers.  Still, broadcasting breeds credibility, transparency and helps to inform people. Isn’t all of this critical in a democratic society?

The good news is that the Martin School Board will discuss airing its meetings at a workshop at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the School Board meeting room, 500 E. Ocean Blvd., Stuart.  Attend en masse. Time to take away excuse No. 1.   —>

Letter: Vote yes for taping meetings, Belmont
Linda Frawley, Brian Loanes, David Morse and Greta Olson-Wilder, Belmont
Concord Monitor (NH)

The Belmont High School Student Council once again produced a “Meet the Candidates” program on March 5. It was encouraging to see civic interest and involvement, led effectively with youthful energy, interest and sincerity. The students and their teacher-adviser are a credit to the community, and we congratulate all helping the effort.

Increased citizen access to community issues, decision-making and volunteer opportunities are all at the heart of Warrant Article 5 on Saturday’s Belmont town meeting agenda. Voters will have a voice and choice, deciding whether selectmen meetings should be videotaped for the purpose of cablecasting on Lakes Region Public Access Television.

Nearly all of the other member communities of LRPA-TV use this resource extensively – from including local events on the calendar to airing educational programs and government meetings on other cable channels. Nearly half of Belmont’s households subscribe to MetroCast cable services, with full access to these education and government channels by voters and voters-to-be.

Let’s open our meetings and community to share with residents unable to attend these Corner Meeting House sessions – typically scheduled for 5 p.m. Over the past few years, four major events were successfully videotaped and aired on LRPA-TV. Cablecast information has included a master plan community report, conservation commission presentation of a natural resources inventory and our Old Home Day parade and events. Last year’s “Meet the Candidates Night” was even videotaped by local students, so a broader range of citizens could attend – from home.   —>

Wilson builds its own fiber optic network
by Heather Moore
News 14 Carolina (NC)

The City of Wilson will soon start offering its own telephone, cable TV and internet service. It’s through a new, state-of-the-art, $26 million fiber optic network. Wilson is the first city in the state to offer fiber connections directly to businesses and homes.  “We’re optimistic it’s going to be a superior service at a competitive price,” said Grant Goings, Wilson’s City Manager.

The fiber optic network, recently named Greenlight, will be available to every home and business within the city limits. Crews have installed about 150 miles of fiber optic cable, and the network is about 70 percent complete.  The City of Wilson borrowed $18 million to build the fiber optic network. With interest, Wilson will have to repay $26 million. Wilson’s business plan predicts the network will break even in 12 years and the city will be able to repay the entire debt within 15 years.   —>

Verizon tiptoeing around Boston with FiOS rollouts?
by Darren Murph


All in all, the Bay State most certainly isn’t hurting for access to FiOS TV, but curiously enough, downtown Boston has yet to be touched by Verizon’s fiber-based services. More specifically, the areas of Boston, Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge, Everett, Revere, Chelsea, Medford, Melrose, Watertown and Quincy have yet to be reached by Verizon’s recent expansion efforts, and for whatever reason, it seems that may be the case for some time to come. According to a response by Boston’s Mayor on the situation, Verizon has “declined the city’s repeated encouragement to enter a cable franchise negotiation, opting instead to slowly build in the suburbs.” Granted, it’s not unusual for the firm to target the outskirts, but it’s certainly not pleasing news for Bostonians holding out for FiOS.

Verizon to New England: Bye-bye
by Robert L. Mitchell

[ comments invited ]

It looks like the Verizon selloff of its Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont landline business to FairPoint Communications is a done deal. All three states have given their approval, with conditions. That deal will have a huge impact on the evolution of high speed broadband in Northern New England.

Ratepayers had little choice. Although FairPoint is not well capitalized to upgrade the network infrastructure, which appears to have deteriorated on Verizon’s watch, at least the company is interested in making an investment here. The question is whether it will be able to make those investments and pay off the massive debt load it will be taking on.

Rate payers had no good options. The best that consumers and businesses could hope for was a deal that left tiny FairPoint, the acquiring carrier, with as little debt as possible. The good news is that Verizon lowered the purchase price by $235.5 million and will contribute another $50 million toward maintenance projects to get the infrastucture (including some 1.7 million land lines) back up to snuff. The bad news is that FairPoint is still taking on a boat load of debt.

If the deal hadn’t gone through, however, it is clear that Verizon would not have made the investments necessary to bring the infrastructure up to where it should be – let alone move it into the 21st century.

Forget high-speed broadband

With Verizon out of the picture, rate payers must face up to the new reality: FairPoint may continue to push out classic broadband, but without a huge investment by ratepayers, true high-speed broadband in Northern New England is a pipe dream. Verizon has sold out to a much smaller player. And the capital that Verizon could have invested to improve that infrastructure is now gone. It’s time to start over.

Verizon’s selloff of its Northern New England business reflects the fact that the market is abandoning the twisted pair telephony infrastructure in rural areas – and the customers who use it. Meanwhile, telephone, cable television and broadband Internet access services are moving onto a faster infrastructure based on fiber and the Internet Protocol. In metro areas and elsewhere in the world those services are surging ahead to speeds of 50 Mbps, 100 Mbps and even 1 Gbps.

Most New England subscribers remain on dial-up, however, with a pledge that FairPoint will bring yesterday’s 3 Mbps DSL to them within the next two years. While metro areas will get “triple play” services that deliver telephone, Internet, and television over those new, high speed connections, Northern New England will be stuck in the Internet stone age. As these new services come online, 3Mbps will be the new dial-up.   —>

NPC-TV plans for the future
Community station wants to expand local programming
by M. Dirk Langeveld
Sun-Journal (ME)

[ comments invited ]

A local public television station is planning to double its coverage, pending support from Time Warner Cable.  Steve Galvin, station manager for Norway-Paris Community Television, said the station will expand its coverage to West Paris, Oxford, and Harrison.  “The main thing is, we want to get the towns in the school district on our system, so they can get our programming,” said Galvin.

The station serves Norway, Paris, and Waterford. The three towns, along with the three towns approached for extended coverage, are part of SAD 17.  West Paris receives Bethel’s public broadcasting signal, while Oxford receives Great Falls Television out of Lewiston. Harrison gets Lake Region Television.

West Paris resident George Twine presented the issue to selectmen, and the issue was taken to the annual town meeting on March 1.  “After George spoke, we took a straw poll and everyone at the meeting seemed to be in favor of it,” said West Paris town manager John White.  Oxford selectmen voted to pursue the change after a presentation by Twine at their last meeting.  “Harrison was a little hesitant,” said Galvin.  —>

Trustees worry new cable policies not enough
by Sarah Cormier
C & G Newspapers (MI)

HARRISON TOWNSHIP — A new set of policies and procedures pertaining to Harrison Township’s community access channel prompted a discussion among board members about how officials can have more control over what is played on the air.  The board approved the new policies with a 5-2 vote at a Feb. 25 meeting. Township Treasurer Darrin York and Trustee James Ulinski both voted against the measure.

The newly adopted rules are for Harrison Township Community Access Television, HTCA-TV, which runs specifically on Channel 18 on Wide Open West, WOW. According to a statement of purpose written in the policies, the point of having a community access channel is to provide “citizens, community groups and nonprofit organizations with the resources to distribute non commercial video programming.”

William Servial, chairman of the township’s cable board, said that the community access channel has been in operation for about 14 months, but due to technical difficulties, no new material has been shown on the air. The only items shown on the public access channel are the same that currently run on the township’s government channel.

However, officials say the channel is ready to run, and now they just need content to air. The new rules will govern what type of material is appropriate to broadcast.“The first step in this process is to get WOW running, and hopefully, people will see some value to it, submit files, and we’ll actually have a real community access channel,” said Servial.   —>

Chamber says no to TV forum
by Jimmy LaRoue
The News Virginian (VA)

[ comments invited ]

The president of the regional chamber of commerce said Wednesday the organization wants no part of a politically charged proposal to televise a candidate forum on the city government access channel.  “We don’t want to be pulled into this political tug of war, and that’s what it is,” said Ben Carter, president of the Greater Augusta Regional Chamber of Commerce, “because we as a chamber have nothing to gain and everything to lose by allowing that to happen.”  Carter said the chamber has not requested to be involved in forums for Waynesboro City Council or school board candidates.   —>!news!localnews

It’s alive! Wolfman Mac brings horror B-movie classics back to local TV
by Susan Whitall
The Detroit News  (MI)

[ comments invited ]

Tucked away on a quiet street in a Warren industrial park, a $14.95 skeleton from Wal-Mart is having a shrieking argument with a plastic plant. The two are sitting in a vintage hearse, with a husky wolfman at the wheel.  “There’s a weed whacker in the trunk!” the skeleton taunts the plant. A violent fight breaks out.

“If you two don’t knock it off, I’m going to turn this car around,” the werewolf warns. Then he grins at the TV camera, howls and delivers his tagline: “Hey kids, it’s time to lock the doors, pop some popcorn, roll out the sleeping bags and watch ‘Wolfman Mac’s Nightmare Sinema.'”

This is Stage 3 Productions, and original, local television is being created as Wolfman Mac, Detroit’s first horror movie host in decades, films a show late on a snowy Thursday.  “Wolfman Mac’s Nightmare Sinema” premieres on TV 20 Friday night at 1 a.m. (technically Saturday morning), with a furry, wisecracking host presenting the best of the worst black-and-white horror movies, as well as demented skits. It’s a return to the kind of local programming that used to be a staple of the TV dial in the early days of the medium in the 1950s and into the ’60s, but was largely dumped by local stations for syndicated fare in the ’80s.   —>

Networked Community Communication Model
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition (MA)

[ comments invited ]

Seungahn Nah’s 2003 paper, “Bridging Offline and Online Community: Toward A Networked Community Communication Model” (see Works Cited) the author surveys literature on community studies from the Chicago School of sociology to social network analysis. He develops a holistic approach to community studies across both online and offline spaces. The author weaves together a range of physical and virtual communication environments to provide a way to study the “community phenomena” (24). In the Introduction, Nah writes

“Given that community in virtual space is also based on the community in physical space, and the two types of community are closely related to each other, we need to review the existing community studies comprehensively in order to understand the “online” community as well as the “offline” community. “(4)

In his Networked Community Communication Model, Nah explains that from this approach “linkage among structure, agent, and computer network can create and expand the concept of community from local based community to global community and integrates them into networked communication environment” (24).

Nah’s model is particularly helpful in looking at the community media center as a specific geographic location within which to study community in a way “in which all kinds of communication pattern are integrated and coexisted” (24).

For the networks, television’s future is online
The launch of online syndication sites such as underscore how television companies are using the Internet to leverage their key asset: well-made content.
by Gloria Goodale
The Christian Science Monitor

Predicting the death of network television is a popular pastime in Hollywood. After three decades of audience erosion to cable, the doomsaying has intensified in recent years as video-sharing websites such as YouTube and Facebook have demonstrated an audience of millions for low-budget video.

But it’s still not time to count the Big Five networks out yet, say media watchers. They may have stumbled in the transition to the world of digital entertainment, underestimating audience appetite for consumption in new media beyond traditional TV, but they’re rapidly trying to adapt.

This week, a new, ad-supported site launched in partnership with Fox and NBC, showcases both companies’ programming via streaming video. ABC recently launched Stage 9 Digital Media, an online production house for short-form content. CBS has assembled a partnership of some 300 online syndication outlets such as AOL and Joost. And Fox has acquired the wildly successful social-networking website, MySpace. In part, the networks hope their online offerings will spur interest in traditional television programming. But, more than that, the networks want to establish bulwarks in the online universe where they can leverage their primary assets: well-crafted content.

“The model the networks come up with for distribution is going to affect everybody because everyone consumes TV in some way,” says Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University in New York.

That new business model is still very much a work in progress. If network television is to continue to provide big-budget productions to viewers without charge, it must attract enough eyeballs to draw advertisers. Increasingly, though, competition is coming from other forms of online entertainment.

In the networks’ favor: A great TV show can still trounce amateurish YouTube video for sheer entertainment value.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/12/08

March 13, 2008

by Midpeninsula Community Media Center
Media Center YAC

[ comments allowed ]

The Youth Advisory Council goes to visit KZSU Stanford radio station. (34:25)

No More School Board Meetings On Public Access Television?
by Steve Shuler
STEVE SHULER for Hillsborough County School Board District 5 (FL)

[ comments allowed ]

If Time Warner gets its way then you and I will no longer be granted our public access channels. In other words, our free speech will be stifled, eventhough, we, as a community, had given them monopoly access to our cable television market and our private land for their underground cables so, in turn, we would be allotted a number of channels for import things like School Board, City council, etc. But, they are doing their best to resolve themselves of this burden. —>

Ward 3 Update from Councilmember Teri Anulewicz
by Mason (GA)

—> ALL City Council meetings are open to the public, and if you are a Charter Cable customer, you can watch the meetings live on Charter public access channel 19. You can also stream the meetings on your computer when they are rebroadcast on TV 23, Cobb County’s public access cable channel. For information on meeting rebroadcast schedules, go to

Channel 17 to host media night on advertising
Burlington Free Press (VT)

“Advertising Inside Out, how we make up our minds,” is the subject of this month’s Media Education Night on Channel 17. The live, one-hour call-in talk show will be on March 26 at 6:30 p.m. These shows are interactive, topical discussions that provide thought on media consumption, production and experience. Attending the recording also allows the public to see behind the scenes of community media-making in the Channel 17 studio. Those who would like to volunteer to work on the series should contact morourke [at] cctv [dot] org. Groups and classes are welcome to attend.

Conejo Valley Republican Women Watch: The Gameplan to Keep the White House
FullosseousFlap’s Dental Blog (CA)

[ comments allowed ]

Mike Stoker, an attorney whose practice emphasizes land use, government, and business law, and who is the volunteer Chairman of the John McCain Presidential Campaign in Santa Barbara County will be addressing the Conejo Valley Republican Women today. The topic of his speech: “The Gameplan to Keep the White House.”… The speech will be recorded by public access cable television if you cannot make the event today.

PEGspace at Drupalcon 2008
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition (MA)

[ comments allowed ]

For those interested in learning more about the intersection of Public Access Television and free and open source software, Jason Daniels ( forwarded along a link to audio & meeting minutes from a gathering of public broadcasting and public access media folks during the recent Drupal conference held in Boston, this year. —>

Public ownership of broadband access is best
by Christopher Mitchell
Eureka Reporter (CA)


Too many cities in California are stuck with slow (or no) broadband access. As the United States continues to dip in international broadband rankings, individual communities have a choice: build their own broadband network or hope someone else does it for them.

Broadband may be comparatively new, but these difficult questions of infrastructure have been with us for far longer. One hundred years ago, communities were told electricity was too complicated for municipal meddling and they should wait for private companies to electrify them. Thousands of communities realized that a community cannot wait for essential infrastructure. They accepted responsibility for their future and wired their towns. How little has changed since then.

California’s Broadband Task Force has released its final report, complete with maps showing some 2,000 communities without any access at all. Many more communities are underserved, offered an always-on connection faster than dial-up, but not by much. The Broadband Task Force recognizes the importance of universal broadband access in California. Broadband has already had an impact on education, economic development, public safety and entertainment. It may well revolutionize health care, especially in rural areas.

Unfortunately, the Broadband Task Force has chosen the seductive path of dependence on private providers for these networks. Public ownership is a better plan. Broadband networks are here for the long haul, and our dependence on them will only increase. Many citywide wireless networks are privately owned, depending on city government as an anchor tenant. The network requires city money without offering the city any control. Under such circumstances, owning beats renting.

The Broadband Task Force clearly views public ownership as a last resort, allowing community services districts to offer broadband only when a private provider refuses. Once the CSD has taken the risk and built a functioning network, it must sell it to an interested private provider.

Public ownership should not be a fallback option. Digital Rio Dell, a collaboration with the local community media provider Access Humboldt and the city of Rio Dell, has shown the power of a community-led alternative. —>

[ Here’s a good, lengthy cover story on Philadelphia’s Media Mobilizing Project. – rm ]

The Revolution Will Be Digitized
The Media Mobilizing Project works to bring grassroots organization into the 21st century.
by Doron Taussig
Philadelphia City Paper (PA)

[ comments allowed ]

A cab driver, a janitor, a maintenance man, a nurse and several other mostly blue-collar workers are seated around a square of tables. The room they’re in is a converted truck garage — one of the walls is just an enormous door — and the neighborhood is Brewerytown, a pocket at the edge of lower North Philly where the contrast between the developing city (in the form of new Westrum townhouses) and the decrepit city (the shells of old row homes) has reached almost caricatural proportions. It’s Sunday. They’ve come here to learn how to make a documentary.

In the arbitrary front of the makeshift classroom, three young white women guide a discussion. “What stories do we hear in the media?” they ask. The class answers: politics, celebrities, new development, crime, sports, drugs (there’s a long tangent about Barry Bonds). Then the teachers ask what stories the students would like to tell. “Unsafe schools,” says the maintenance man. “Murders and robberies of cab drivers,” says the cabbie. “The impact of language as a barrier,” a health-center worker from Haiti chimes in. “Job competition from immigrants,” offers the janitor.

Just outside the classroom door, next to a loud, on-its-last-legs coffeemaker, a satisfied-looking man named Todd Wolfson stands, discoursing about the rationale behind a class likes this. He talks about “Ford-ism,” and how there was a time when workers used the physical proximity of the factory to organize into collective bargaining units. That doesn’t work as well in a service economy — cabbies, for instance, are rarely all in one place at one time. But, Wolfson points out, there are other ways for workers to talk to each other. “New media also organizes, because it’s a decentralized communications form,” he says.

Wolfson, 35, is of average build, with long hair and a beard that combine to form a kind of mane. A middle-class white guy with hard-left politics, he once spent three years living in Namibia and Kenya before deciding he “didn’t want to be a white male anthropologist who studies in Africa.” He came to Philly to pursue a Ph.D. at Penn, chose as his dissertation subject the Philadelphia Independent Media Center (IMC), and became preoccupied with the role of communications in organizing. In 2006, he joined with four other local activists to found the Media Mobilizing Project (MMP), an organization that seeks to bring 21st-century media technologies to the grassroots. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/06/08

February 8, 2008

Don’t touch that dial: AccessVision staying put for now
by Nick Schirripa
Battle Creek Enquirer (MI)

If you’re looking in the 900s for AccessVision and other local cable channels, stop.  Although Comcast Cable Communications announced it would be moving PEG — public education government — channels on Jan. 15 to new stations, two judges issued temporary restraining orders stopping the move, at least for now.  “The judges decided there would be enough harm to put off moving the channels until the legal details could be worked out,” said Michelle Reen, assistant to the Battle Creek city manager.   —>

City’s cable board sends letter of dissatisfaction to Comcast
by Andrea Goodell
Holland Sentinel (MI)

The proposed move of public access channels and complaints about customer service have city officials unhappy with their cable franchise.  “It’s discouraging when people tell you they hung up after 20 minutes on hold,” said Jodi Syens, the city’s cable liaison and member of the Commmunity Access Television Advisory Commission.  The commission voted during a special meeting Tuesday to send a letter to Comcast expressing its dissatisfaction with the company’s customer service and laying out its expectations for the future.   —>

Wadsworth irked over funding halt by Time Warner
by Maria Kacik
Medina Gazette (OH)

The city of Wadsworth may take official action against Time Warner Cable after the company halted its funding of a portion of the city’s public education and government (PEG) programming on WCTV.  “There may be an unfunded obligation that Time Warner has in respect to the PEG channels,” said Wadsworth Service Director Chris Easton.

He noted the city has the option of filing a petition with the Ohio director of commerce challenging Time Warner’s actions.  “We’re seeking a legal opinion on that matter and we’re trying to determine if that’s the right course of action,” Easton said.

For 15 years prior to 2008, the city and Time Warner Cable shared the costs of the programming proportionately. Time Warner paid the city a $112,000 operating grant annually, which is 60 percent of the total operating costs of PEG programming. Time Warner holds a 60 percent share of the cable subscribers in the city, Easton said.

However, after the Ohio Cable Act in 2007 passed, cable providers no longer are required to be franchised with the city and are only to be franchised with the state, said Chris Thomas, Time Warner of Northeast Ohio’s director of government and media relations.

Thomas said Time Warner purchased a franchise with the state last year. It no longer holds a franchise with the city, but still pays a franchising fee to Wadsworth. Starting this year, Time Warner will not pay the operating grant for the PEG programming, he said.

In a press release dated Jan. 22, Mayor Robin Laubaugh included the advice of legal counsel: “Section 1332.30 (E) of the new Ohio Cable Act requires all cable and video providers to bear a proportional share of any unfulfilled obligation for PEG Channel facilities that existed on the effective date of the legislation.”   —>

Board won’t ask electric system to pay for study
by Jeff Farrell (1 comment)
The Mountain Press (TN)

SEVIERVILLE – The Board of Mayor and Aldermen won’t make Sevier County Electric System foot the bill for a study looking at the feasibility of creating a local broadband franchise. For now, at least, the city won’t be paying for one either.

The board decided Monday to put off any decision on whether to pay for a formal study into the prospects of using Sevier County Electric Service to provide cable television, high speed internet and phone services. They asked city staff to collect more information, and said they will review it at a March workshop and consider funding a formal study during the budgeting process for the upcoming fiscal year.   —>

Access channel not happy with $200,000 a year
CAT TV wants an additional $400,000.
by Kat Hughes
Columbia Tribune (MO)

To keep Columbia Cable Access Television on the air during the past few years, volunteers have been organizing programming, operating cameras, fixing broken equipment and doing what’s necessary to ensure the show goes on even without a steady stream of funding.

But despite the Columbia City Council’s approval Monday night of a contract that provides the public access channel with $150,000 this year and $200,000 a year in operating costs for the next five years, CAT TV says it’s not enough.

Beth Pike, a member of CAT TV’s board and the Columbia Cable Task Force, said the channel’s board might decide not to sign the contract unless it gets additional money for capital expenditures such as professional-grade equipment and studio space.  “Everything we have been doing to this point has just been a Band-Aid,” Pike said. “If we don’t get the capital funds we need, we will be very hard-pressed to continue. We either do this or we don’t.”

Faced with substandard equipment, no paid staff and an obligation to renovate a small studio at Stephens College that will cost about $250,000, Pike said the channel needs an additional $400,000.  That’s $29,000 less than the city said the channel needed for start-up money in its pending 2001 lawsuit with Mediacom about unpaid franchise fees to provide public access. In that lawsuit, the city said the public- access channel required $429,000 in start-up capital and $174,000 to cover yearly operating costs.   —>

Public TV chief heads north
by Chris Bone
Morgan Hill Times (CA)

Avid viewers of Gilroy’s community television station might notice something different March 22.  That’s when Executive Director Suzanne St. John-Crane will end her nearly seven-year career at Community Media Access Partnership and depart for San Jose, where she will hold the same position at that city’s Community Media Access Corporation.   —>

Coming up next on MATV
by Ron Cox
Malden Observer (MA)

This year, 2008, represents the 20th anniversary of the establishment of MATV, Malden’s Media Center.  In those two decades, Malden Access Television has grown into a vital institution that brings together this very diverse community and provides them with access to electronic media, technology, and training as well as a forum to exchange information and ideas. It is through interaction and cooperation that this incredible resource helps connect members of this City and MATV is committed to broadening this role in the coming years.

The future looks very bright for MATV, and we are encouraged by the support we are given by the variety of community organizations, businesses and citizens who have collaborated with us over the many years of service that our media center has provided.

Last year, the Mayor’s office successfully re-negotiated a new 10-year contract with Comcast and just recently started the process of negotiating an agreement with a second provider, Verizon Communications. This is not only good for consumers but its good for the city of Malden, because soon both providers will be contributing to the success of Malden’s communication needs.   —>


“OURMedia 7: Identity, Inclusion, Innovation – Alternative Communication in a Globalized World”
August 11-15, 2008, Accra, Ghana


“OURMedia 7: Identity, Inclusion, Innovation – Alternative Communication in a Globalized World” will be held in Accra, the capital of Ghana, from 11-15 August 2008…

Founded in 2001, OURMedia/NUESTROSMedios is a global network with the goal of facilitating a long-term dialogue between academics, activists, practitioners and policy experts around citizens’ media initiatives.    OURMedia is about building an alternative world, rooted in local knowledge, anchored in strong identities but also connected to global networks, open to ‘otherness’, diversity and inclusion.

Alternative communication for an alternative world

OURMedia 7 is built on the assumption that alternative communication – a diversity of actors, voices, themes and discourses – needs to flourish and take hold to create alternative worlds.  It sees equity, community and cultural identity as the hallmarks of an alternative world.

Our Media 7 – In Africa, and in the world

OURMedia is coming to Africa for the first time through OM7.  The previous six conferences (OM1-OM6) were held in Washington, D.C., USA; Barcelona, Spain; Barranquilla, Colombia; Porto Alegre, Brazil; Bangalore, India; and Sydney, Australia.

Like the other conferences, OM7 will be shaped by the living experience of its host country and region.  For Ghana and much of Africa, that experience has tended to be portrayed by the world media in terms of deprivation and destruction, or as curiosities.  Yet, this vast, diverse and vibrant continent nourishes many of the values, traditions and practices that can enrich communication in an alternative world.

Like previous  OURMedia conferences, OM7 is an opportunity to dialogue and strengthen initiatives around common causes with the rest of the world.   In the case of OM7, the conference is also an invitation to better understand the complex and dynamic reality of Africa that informs and potentially deepens such dialogue and initiatives…

OM7 has selected three sub-themes – Identity, Inclusion and Innovation – that are key dimensions of alternative communication in, for and towards an alternative world. These may be regarded as different faces of marginalization in a world where expression is becoming increasingly uniform, majorities are being excluded (and even exploited), and certain kinds of knowledge and experience are presented as having more value than others. At the same time, the assertion of identity, inclusion and innovation are the very sources of strength to overcome homogenization, exclusion and relegation.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/22/08

January 23, 2008

Airwaves, Web Power at Auction
by Stephen Labaton
New York Times

WASHINGTON — The auction for rights to a highly valuable swath of the nation’s airwaves will begin Thursday and is expected to include multibillion-dollar bids from the nation’s two biggest wireless phone companies, Verizon and AT&T, as well as Google.  Although industry executives and analysts agree that Google is unlikely to win any licenses, the company already has an invaluable victory: in setting the auction rules, the Federal Communications Commission has forced the major telephone companies to open their wireless networks to a broader array of telephone equipment and Internet applications.

The radio spectrum licenses, which are to be returned from television broadcasters as they complete their conversion from analog to digital signals in February 2009, are as coveted as oil reserves are to energy companies. They will provide the winners with access to some of the best remaining spectrum — enabling them to send signals farther from a cell tower with far less power, through dense walls in cities, and over wider territories in rural areas that are now underserved.

And the licenses are on the auction block just as it is becoming obvious to industry players and investors that wireless broadband is rapidly becoming the next big thing, the mobile Internet.   —>

New Report Concludes: To Be Competitive, Cities Must Own High Speed Information Networks
by Christopher Mitchell

The United States, creator of the Internet, increasingly lags in access to it. In the absence of a national broadband strategy, many communities have invested in broadband infrastructure, especially wireless broadband, to offer broadband choices to their residents.

Newspaper headlines trumpeting the death of municipal wireless networks ignore the increasing investments by cities in Wi-Fi systems. At the same time, the wireless focus by others diverts resources and action away from building the necessary long term foundation for high speed information: fiber optic networks.

DSL and cable networks cannot offer the speeds required by a city wishing to compete in the digital economy. Business, government, and citizens all need affordable and fast access to information networks.

Today’s decisions will lay the foundation of telecommunications infrastructure for decades. Fortunately, we already know the solution: wireless solves the mobility problem; fiber solves the speed and capacity problems; and public ownership offers a network built to benefit the community.

Download the full report –

HiperBarrio’s Citizen Journalists Bring Their Local Community Together (Columbia, SA)
by David Sasaki
Global Voices

The impetus for Rising Voices, a citizen media outreach project funded by a Knight Foundation News Challenge award, surged from the observation that the great majority of self-published bloggers, podcasters, and photographers featured everyday on Global Voices were highly educated, urban, and upper-middle class. While the growth of citizen media has allowed for an unprecedented level of global connectedness, that network of new voices has yet to expand beyond the wealthy neighborhoods of urban centers across the globe.

Until now. Thanks to the hard work of Rising Voices’ project coordinators, an international readership is discovering the local stories of previously unheard voices including young women in Dhaka, Bangladesh, motivated interns in Sierra Leone, and residents of the largely indigenous city of El Alto, Bolivia.

Rising Voices, however, is much more than an initiative to bring local voices to a global audience. We are also interested in the potential of citizen media to create more unity in already established local communities. With this in mind, the facilitators and participants of HiperBarrio recently organized a town hall meeting which brought together over 100 residents and community leaders from San Javier La Loma, a hillside community which endured the brunt of the violence during Medellín’s Esobar era and the subsequent chaos that followed until as recently as 2002.

The event, which was to take place in La Loma’s cancha acustica (the barrio’s only public space), was moved to an auditorium in the local church when the afternoon’s drizzling rain refused to let up. The Colombian digital magazine, equinoXio, published a four-part series about the unusual citizen media event with contributions from two of HiperBarrio’s talented participants, Catalina and Julio Restrepo, as well as one of the facilitators, Alvaro Ramirez. Their articles, two of which have been translated from Spanish below, reveal how HiperBarrio has brought a sense of unified community to what was once one of Medellín’s most violent and most divided neighborhoods.   —>

Colorado’s Legislative TV Debut Impresses
by Jim Spencer (1 comment)
Colorado Confidential

It is too soon to pronounce Colorado House Speaker Andrew Romanoff a TV star. But it is not too soon to pronounce his leadership in televising his body’s legislative sessions visionary.  Colorado Open House, the state’s legislature’s new television show, debuted Monday with moving speeches about the civil rights movement on Martin Luther King Day. Romanoff later said the timing was coincidental. But it could not have been more compelling.   —>

Pegging the Right Audit
by line of flight
Maui Talk (HI)

Got an e-mail today regarding Senator Ihara’s Senate Bill 2618. Apparently, the distinguished gentleman from Waikiki has decided that there is incestuous back-scratching between all of the public, education, government (PEG) access non-profit organizations, the cable companies and the state.

In paragraph 3 of section 1, the bill reads, ” Allegations of wrongdoing have arisen in regard to the department of commerce and consumers affairs, which regulates the access organizations. These allegations include possible partisan preferential treatment of candidates for recent state and federal elections, allegations of malfeasance by department of commerce and consumer affairs personnel, and forcing the access corporations to change their bylaws to give majority board appointment power to the director of commerce and consumer affairs. There was also an allegation of wrongdoing in the governor’s refusal to appoint members to the cable advisory committee during crucial times.”

Ironically, these allegations all point to wrongdoing on the part of the state’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, not the PEG access organizations.

In paragraph 4 of the same section goes on to state “allegations have also arisen against the access organizations themselves[.] Furthermore, now that there is only one statewide cable monopoly, there is concern that self-dealing can and will arise between the department of commerce and consumer affairs, the access organizations boards, the majority of which are appointed by the department of commerce and consumer affairs and the minority of which are appointed by the cable company, and the cable company.”

Now, I can’t speak for O’ahu and ‘Olelo which has historically had a very cozy relationship with the state, but Maui’s situation cannot be understated. The state hates Akaku. Akaku has sued the state regarding governance issues and state interference in no less than 5 lawsuits some of them active.   —>

Has AT&T Lost Its Mind? A baffling proposal to filter the Internet.
by Tim Wu (24 comments)

Chances are that as you read this article, it is passing over part of AT&T’s network. That matters, because last week AT&T announced that it is seriously considering plans to examine all the traffic it carries for potential violations of U.S. intellectual property laws. The prospect of AT&T, already accused of spying on our telephone calls, now scanning every e-mail and download for outlawed content is way too totalitarian for my tastes. But the bizarre twist is that the proposal is such a bad idea that it would be not just a disservice to the public but probably a disaster for AT&T itself. If I were a shareholder, I’d want to know one thing: Has AT&T, after 122 years in business, simply lost its mind?   —>

SCTE ET: TV expert says AT&T’s video play has 12-18 months left
by Mike Robuck

AT&T will be out of the video business within the course of the next 12 to 18 months, according to president Phillip “Swanni” Swann.  Swann was speaking at the luncheon keynote address during Wednesday’s SCTE Conference on Emerging Technologies (ET) when he made his prediction about AT&T’s future in video. Swan, who claims an 89 percent success rate with his prognostications, made nine other video-related predictions for the year.  In the case of AT&T, Swann said the company has spent too much time and money for its 250,000 video customers while Verizon has racked up one million subs for its service.   —>

The Future of Public TV – PBS & YouTube
by Robert Paterson
Robert Paterson’s Blog

PBS have announced that they will expand their offering on YouTube.

“PBS announced this week that it will add video, including previews from its award-winning series and specials, as well as exclusive online features and program excerpts to its YouTube channel.  The broadcaster currently offers more than 700 videos to its 3,000 YouTube channel subscribers and said that consumer demand led to the decision to add more content.

“PBS said that Bill Moyers Journal featuring interviews with two candidates seeking party nominations for the presidential election (Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich) drew more than 11,000 views since they were posted on the PBS YouTube channel two weeks ago.—>

Public Broadcasters Opt for CC
by Michelle Thorne
Creative Commons

Public broadcasters often ask themselves: how to better enable tax payers to access the works that they have paid for? This was the question that the BBC, the public broadcaster for the United Kingdom, addressed in 2004 during the debate over its charter renewal. The result of their deliberations was a yearlong pilot, the Creative Archive Licensing Group project, launched in September 2005.

The objective of the Creative Archive was to make BBC material available online to UK citizens. The content was released under a Creative Archive Licence, a license similar in some respects to the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commerical ShareAlike License, but more restrictive in that it allowed only non-profit educational & personal use, forbade promotional or campaign use, and limited these rights to within the UK.

During the pilot period, the Creative Archive received much praise. At its conclusion in September 2006, the BBC had released nearly 500 clips, full programs, audio tracks, and images. As the recent director of the Creative Archive Paul Gerhardt noted in an interview, viewers respected the licenses, and during the trial period, only two minor licensing breaches had been reported. However, a hurdle for the initiative was the fact that the Creative Archive could only license simple rights material from the BBC, which meant that no third-party programming could be included in the Archive.

Still, as Herkko Hietanen points out in Community Created Content, “The [Creative Archive] was in line with BBC’s goal ‘ to turn the BBC into an open cultural and creative resource for the nation’.” The Creative Archive was indeed a significant step for public interest and one of the BBC’s most applauded initiatives. And so, although the Creative Archive is not longer in active use, the philosophy of open licensing has continued to grow within the BBC.

Today several departments in the BBC publish content under Creative Commons licenses: album reviews (for example) and a partnership with MusicBrainz, a community music metadatabase that uses CC licenses. Furthermore, under other licensing conditions, the BBC has opened up its website to developers at It also offers television and radio programs to stream or download through its iPlayer, although the player’s format has been the source of some criticism.   —>

February 2nd: Community Media Coming Together
by Gordon Smith (1 comment)
BlogAsheville (NC)

Mountain Area Information Network (including WPVM) and BlogAsheville are coming together on February 2nd at the Rocket Club in west Asheville for the chance to put our heads together and get our community media on. This get together is long overdue.

Wally Bowen is the founder and leader of MAIN. He’s working on a lot of different angles and planes, and when we got together for a cup of coffee last month, the ideas started flying fast. When we were running out of time, having only just scraped the surface of our common interests, I realized that we’ve really got to get all the bloggers’ brains in on the conversation. Then it occurred to me that MAIN and WPVM would be really fun to party with. Let’s get even more motivated, intelligent, witty, media-savvy folks with common interests in the same room together.   —>

Cable TV rates on the rise
by Todd Wallack
Boston Globe (MA)

The price of watching CNN, ESPN and other pay-television networks is going up — again. Comcast, RCN, Verizon and satellite providers are all increasing their rates.  Comcast Corp., the state’s largest cable TV provider with about 1.6 million customers in Massachusetts, plans to raise rates an average of 4 percent next month.   —>

Wasn’t Competition Supposed To Bring Lower TV Prices?
Everybody raising prices in Northeast…
by Karl (158 comments)
Broadband Reports

Remember all of the talk about how when the phone company got into the TV business, you’d see lower prices? Apparently they were just kidding. The Boston Globe notes that RCN, Comcast and Verizon are all raising prices in the region. Comcast will raise rates by an average of four percent next month. RCN is raising their standard TV rates by five percent. Verizon will be raising rates for FiOS TV customers by as much as twelve percent. Comcast explains the rate hikes to the paper:   —>

Broadband – Open up those highways
Rapid internet services are a boon. But not all regulators understand them
The Economist

In eras past, economic success depended on creating networks that could shift people, merchandise and electric power as efficiently and as widely as possible. Today’s equivalent is broadband: the high-speed internet service that has become as vital a tool for producers and distributors of goods as it is for people plugging into all the social and cultural opportunities offered by the web.

Easy access to cheap, fast internet services has become a facilitator of economic growth and a measure of economic performance. No wonder, then, that statistics show a surge in broadband use, especially in places that are already prosperous. The OECD, a rich-country club, says the number of subscribers in its 30 members was 221m last June—a 24% leap over a year earlier. But it is not always the most powerful economies that are most wired. In Denmark, the Netherlands and Switzerland, over 30% of inhabitants have broadband. In America, by contrast, the proportion is 22%, only slightly above the OECD average of just under 20%.

In terms of speed, Japan leads the world. Its average advertised download speed is 95 megabits per second. France and Korea are ranked second and third, but are less than half as fast, and the median among OECD countries is not much more than a tenth. America’s average speed is supposed to be a bit above the median, but most users find that it isn’t, or that the faster speeds are vastly more expensive. A New Yorker who wants the same quality of broadband as a Parisian has to pay around $150 more per month.

What accounts for the differences among rich countries? Two or three years ago demography was often cited: small, densely populated countries were easier to wire up than big, sparsely inhabited ones. But the leaders in broadband usage include Canada, where a tiny population is spread over a vast area. The best explanation, in fact, is that broadband thrives on a mix of competition and active regulation, to ensure an open contest.   —>

‘Roll Call’s’ roles for real
by Frank Mulligan (1 comment)
Taunton Call (MA)

“Roll Call” fans will never have to worry about a writers’ strike.  That’s because much of the material is culled from police reports by the local cable TV access show’s co-hosts, Community Police Officers Steve Crowninshield and Mike Bonenfant, who logged their 90th episode on Jan. 16.  That 30-minute show featured the veteran officers’ usual banter, community-safety information and police stories right from the source – the cops themselves.   —>

Winter Concert – EHS – Easthampton, and
Demolition Derby – Franklin County Fair – Greenfield
Easthampton Community Access Television (MA)

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media