Archive for the ‘oss’ category

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 – 01/25/08

January 26, 2008

Comcast fight joins federal case (MI)
by Deanna Rose

A Macomb County court case against Comcast has been combined with a federal lawsuit, with several communities attempting to permanently halt the cable company’s movement of local access channels to higher-numbered digital channels.  Macomb County Circuit Judge David Viviano, in response to a lawsuit filed by the city of Warren, granted a motion for a temporary restraining order Jan. 14 that prohibited Comcast from relocating public, educational and government, or PEG, channels. The move, slated to occur Jan. 15, was to place PEG programming on digital channels in the 900s.

A hearing for a preliminary injunction on whether or not to make Viviano’s decision permanent was scheduled to take place Jan. 22, but the case has since been moved to the U.S. District Court in Detroit and combined with another case citing similar issues.

U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts, of the Eastern District of Michigan, issued the same action Jan. 14 as Viviano did. The federal decision was made on behalf of a motion filed Jan. 11 by Meridian Township and Dearborn against Comcast, which stated the move would no longer keep PEG channels on the lowest service plan, limiting access to senior citizens and low-income subscribers. With the channel switch, non-digital customers would have to purchase a converter box to watch PEG programming after Comcast’s promotional offer of a free converter box expired after one year.   —>

Court won’t block bids for cable TV PEG contract
Maui News (HI)

WAILUKU – Second Circuit Judge Joel August said Thursday that the state could continue with a competitive procurement process for public-access television services.  Akaku: Maui Community Television, which holds the Maui contract for public-access TV, had asked August to stop the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs from using a competitive bidding process, saying it was illegal and inappropriate given the station’s role in protecting free speech.

But August said that while he wasn’t sure the state is required to use competitive procurement, it has “wide discretion” in awarding the contracts. “They’re free to use any reasonable form of designation they wish to,” he said.

State law requires cable TV companies to provide money and channels for public, education and government access on cable. The DCCA has contracted with nonprofit organizations like Akaku to manage the public-access services.  After years of awarding no-bid contracts to Akaku and three sister operations in other counties, the DCCA was told by procurement officials the contracts had to be awarded in a competitive process.

The agency issued requests for proposals in 2006. But the procurement notice has been on hold while the state addresses protests filed by Akaku and the Oahu operator, Olelo, and while the DCCA writes rules for the procurement process.  The department is currently seeking approval to hold a public hearing on the draft rules.  The state Procurement Office last month granted an extension of the current contracts to July 15 while the DCCA completes the rules and renews its request-for-proposals.

August said Thursday he was “rather pleased” the state had listened to his recommendation that it create procurement rules.  He suggested that in addition to other factors, the DCCA make a “commitment in writing” to looking at preservation of free speech as one of its selection criteria for the contracts.   —>

Raymond’s RCTV paves the way for public access excellence
by Sean Bourbeau
Rockingham News (NH)

People that were trapped in their homes during the floods last year had power and cable TV, but they didn’t have land-line phone service and cell phone service was spotty at best.  Sure, there were images on the floods on Channel 7 and Channel 9, but they weren’t able to give people the type of information they needed if they wanted to venture out of their house.

That’s where Channel 22 stepped in, also known as Raymond Community Television (RCTV), providing roads that were open and closed throughout Raymond.  Marc Vadeboncoeur, member of the cable committee, went out to various roads and checked with the police and fire chiefs to find out information regarding road closings, safety measures, and other flood related coverage.

They were then able to post this information on Channel 22, giving people who had little or no information a wealth of it.  Their flood coverage is one example of how far RCTV has come in a decade since it started.  Vadeboncoeur said this coverage made the channel relevant.  “That was probably one of the best uses of local access,” he said. “The town (viewed) Channel 22 as a viable resource for them to get information out when needed.”   —>

Letter: City public TV channel needs some attention
by Bernie del Llano (4 comments)
Nashua Telegraph (NH)

As I began typing this letter, it has become more to create awareness and relay concerns about our public, education and government channels here in Nashua.  Well, first of all, we do not have a public channel. We live in one of the biggest cities in New Hampshire, and we do not have a public channel. We are too big of a city not to have one.

I have done many “public” shows for Lowell, Revere and Malden, Mass., as well as in our own state. I co-hosted a flood-relief telethon for Merrimack, and now every Monday morning I co-host a live talk show in Manchester for MCAM on Channel 23.  But as a resident of Nashua, I cannot have a public access show in my “hometown” because there isn’t a public access channel to begin with.  Cable television advisory board, what is the status of the public channel? Do you need help with this? —>

City’s special session to focus on Suddenlink franchise agreement
Enid News (OK)

Enid City Commission will meet in special session 6:30 p.m. Tuesday for a public hearing on Suddenlink Communications and extension of its franchise agreement with the city.  During the hearing, commissioners will review Suddenlink’s compliance with its existing license, review results of a satisfaction survey and identify future cable-related community needs and interests.   —>

‘Humble Farmer’ makes TV return
by Ray Routhier (1 comment)
Kennebec Journal (ME)

Seven months after he lost his public radio show because he wouldn’t agree to restrictions on what he could say on the air, the man known as “The Humble Farmer” is bringing his humor and commentary back to Mainers via public access television.  Robert Skoglund sent new versions of “The Humble Farmer” on DVD to public and community access TV stations around the state this month, hoping to get them on. In an e-mail to fans, Skoglund wrote that 28 stations have agreed to show the program or consider it. Skoglund declined to comment on his TV efforts for this story.

Stations that have scheduled “The Humble Farmer” include Harpswell Community Television, South Portland Community Television and Saco River Community Television, which appears in Buxton, Hollis, Limerick, Limington, Standish and Waterboro.

Skoglund had done his weekly show on the radio stations of the Maine Public Broadcasting Network for 28 years before he was dismissed in June. MPBN officials said Skoglund had refused to sign a letter indicating he would follow commentary guidelines that apply to the network’s non-news staff.   —>

Bismarck public art policy discussed
by Gordon Weixel (7 comments)
Bismarck Tribune (ND)

Questions from the community were as wide-ranging and diverse as the subject matter itself during the course of Thursday evening’s Public Arts Forum sponsored by the Bismarck Parks and Recreation District.  Originally intended as a four-person panel with a moderator, an unexpected fifth panelist appeared in the form of park district director Steve Neu, who found many of the questions directed his way. Other panelists included Bismarck State College instructor and artist Michelle Lindblom; local art dealer Ondine Baird; public art consultant Jack Becker; and Doug Kane, who started the process by questioning the park district’s policy on public art display…

…Neu said there will be further discussion with the community and that the information will be brought to the park board for their consideration. The forum was broadcast live on Community Access Television and will be repeated several times.   —>

FAQ: Inside the High-Stakes 700-MHz Spectrum Auction
by Bryan Gardiner

The FCC’s 700-MHz-spectrum auction officially began on January 24 and stands to be one of the most significant airwave auctions in U.S. history, potentially affecting everything from the cost of your wireless service to the competitive landscape among U.S. mobile providers for years to come.  With 214 qualified bidders expected to compete for various 700-MHz band licenses — including Verizon, AT&T and Google — some industry insiders say the government could rake in as much $30 billion in the auction. That money will be used to help transition to all digital TV signals by 2009.

Although bidding gets underway on Jan. 24, 2008, the public won’t know who the winners and losers are until the auction officially concludes. Per FCC rules, the entire bidding process for Auction 73 will be anonymous, and the government agency has warned participants not to disclose anything about the auction (or their bids) until after it’s over. That said, interested parties can track the auction’s progress by visiting the FCC’s auction homepage.

Over the next week, industry insiders will be watching Google in particular. If the company does win the highly coveted “C Block” of spectrum, the portion that has been deemed “open to any devices and services,” the resulting network could usher in much-needed innovation, improve services, and even a “third broadband pipe” (after DSL and cable) into the home — one that wouldn’t be controlled by any one company.

The “C Block” carriers a minimum bidding price of $4.6 billion, and the general consensus is that if Google does win this portion of spectrum, the company will have someone else build the network. Total build-out costs could be as high as $15 billion, according to industry analysts.  Of course, there are already enough loopholes attached to the “C Block” to render all of the open access stipulations obsolete if the FCC doesn’t get its asking price for the spectrum. Unquestionably, there’s a lot at stake.  Here’s a FAQ on how the FCC’s 700-MHz auction will work — and why you should be interested in its outcome.   —>

[  In the last few months I’ve been keeping an eye out for the term ‘ communitarian.’   That word comes freighted with tons of baggage, but yesterday this interesting reflection turned up – not unrelated to access television’s practices and effects.  – rm ]

The new commonwealth
by Deric Bownds (4 comments)
Deric Bownds’ Mindblog (WI)

Some interesting comments by Kevin Kelly on possible political consequences of the Wikipedia phenomenon, excerpted from his brief essay. He changed his initial assumption that an encyclopedia editable by anyone would be an impossibility. This commentary has a rather different spirit than yesterday’s post on the internet phenomenon.

“It has always been clear that collectives amplify power — that is what cities and civilizations are — but what’s been the big surprise for me is how minimal the tools and oversight are needed. The bureaucracy of Wikipedia is relatively so small as to be invisible. It’s the Wiki’s embedded code-based governance, versus manager-based governance that is the real news. Yet the greatest surprise brought by the Wikipedia is that we still don’t know how far this power can go. We haven’t seen the limits of wiki-ized intelligence. Can it make textbooks, music and movies? What about law and political governance?

“The reality of a working Wikipedia has made a type of communitarian socialism not only thinkable, but desirable. Along with other tools such as open-source software and open-source everything, this communtarian bias runs deep in the online world…In other words it runs deep in this young next generation. It may take several decades for this shifting world perspective to show its full colors. When you grow up knowing rather than admitting that such a thing as the Wikipedia works; when it is obvious to you that open source software is better; when you are certain that sharing your photos and other data yields more than safeguarding them — then these assumptions will become a platform for a yet more radical embrace of the commonwealth. I hate to say it but there is a new type of communism or socialism loose in the world, although neither of these outdated and tinged terms can accurately capture what is new about it.

“The Wikipedia has changed my mind, a fairly steady individualist, and lead me toward this new social sphere. I am now much more interested in both the new power of the collective, and the new obligations stemming from individuals toward the collective. In addition to expanding civil rights, I want to expand civil duties. I am convinced that the full impact of the Wikipedia is still subterranean, and that its mind-changing power is working subconsciously on the global millennial generation, providing them with an existence proof of a beneficial hive mind, and an appreciation for believing in the impossible.”

[ Kevin Kelly is Editor-At-Large for Wired, and author of “New Rules for the New Economy.”  There’s more of his essay at Edge’s World Question Center website.  Interesting place – the question for 2008 is “What Have You Changed Your Mind About?” – rm ]

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 09/13/07

September 14, 2007

Comcast Pulling Plug on Public Access TV in Northwest Indiana
by Michael Puente
Chicago Public Radio

[ Listen ]
Comcast customers in Northwest Indiana have only a couple more weeks to enjoy their favorite locally produced shows.

Even Among a Sea of Cable Channels and the Explosion of YouTube, Public Access Remains Vital
by Kathy Torgovnicki
Huffington Post

New York City — In the master control room, four screens reveal what’s currently showing on the four stations of the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN). On the first one, a teenager in a wife-beater lip syncs to “Singin’ in the Rain,” rain drops plopping on his nose as he leap-frogs over a construction barrel where Gene Kelly swung around a street lamp in the classic movie. Beside him, a Neil Young look-alike hunches over in his seat as he lets his out-of-tune guitar wail. On the third screen, a gospel choir belts out a refrain, white robes swishing as they step-touch and clap. On the final screen, a group of Serbian twenty-somethings does a folkdance that looks like Riverdance on Prozac.

It’s just a normal day at MNN — the nation’s premiere public access station that broadcasts over 1,200 shows a week on four channels in New York City. As the staff busily makes last-minute arrangements for a street carnival they’re throwing to celebrate the network’s 15th anniversary (Saturday, Sept. 15th from 1 to 6p.m. on East 104th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues), public access has never looked better. Digital camera prices have plummeted and editing equipment comes standard on almost every personal computer. Meaning that access shows have come a long way from what Wayne’s World once parodied.   —>

City officials ironing out final details of plan for Anderson cable channel
by Doug Staley
Independent Mail (SC)

The city of Anderson soon could be home to its own cable channel.  Earlier this week, City Manager John Moore told the City Council that arrangements are being finalized with Charter Communications. The city requested the channel during recent negotiations with Charter, whose franchise agreement with the city is up for renewal.

The city has been interested in having a dedicated channel for some time, Assistant City Manager Linda McConnell said. City Council meetings already are broadcast live on public access channels 14 and 15.  The channel would allow the city to offer residents programming and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she said.

“Until our thrust with the communications program (Current Buzz), we didn’t have a whole cache of information to be put on a cable channel,” Ms. McConnell said. “We certainly have the capabilities, the information and the audience to do something like this.”  Ms. McConnell said a number of South Carolina cities, including Greenville and Spartanburg, already have their own channels. She said the city could partner with other community entities to develop programming.   —>

California PUC issues state franchise to Wave Broadband
by Fred Pilot
Eldo Telecom (CA)

The California Public Utilities Commission has issued a state broadband franchise to Seattle-based cable provider Wave Broadband. Wave Broadband joins Cox Communications as one of just two cable providers that have applied for and received a state franchise, issued under California’s Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006.

Wave joins telcos AT&T and Verizon having received franchises from the California PUC. MIA is the state’s biggest cable player, Comcast. The cable provider likely isn’t all that interested in a state franchise with its limited build out requirements when local jurisdictions like El Dorado County already allow it to bypass large parts of the county, leaving consumers without access.

According to the CPUC franchise certificate issued on Sept. 7, Wave Broadband intends to provide service in the Northern California cities of Dixon, Loyalton, Portola, Rio Vista, West Sacramento and Plumas and Sierra counties. The company isn’t talking when asked if it planned to serve other areas that currently are not offered broadband services by AT&T or Comcast.

AT&T Supports ETTAC With $20,000 Grant to Provide Technology Resources to People With Disabilities
AT&T and Community Technology Centers’ Network Program Improves Technology Access for People With Disabilities Nationwide through $1 Million Initiative
PR Newswire

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The AT&T Foundation, the corporate philanthropy organization of AT&T Inc. , AT&T Tennessee president Gregg Morton and the Community Technology Centers’ Network (CTCNet) today announced a $20,000 grant to East Tennessee Technology Access Center, Inc. (ETTAC) to provide new technology resources to people with disabilities. In collaboration with the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA), AT&T and CTCNet will help upgrade technology services and technology capacity to benefit people with disabilities at ETTAC’s Knoxville-area community technology center (CTC).   —>

Let’s Talk Flint
by Vote Walling
Walling for Mayor (MI)

Tune in to Comcast Channel 17 tomorrow at 4:00 PM to catch the replay of Dayne’s new weekly public access television show Let’s Talk Flint. Each week Dayne talks with the people of Flint and explores the issues that are important to the future of our city.   —>

WYCE: 20 Years In 20 Days image
Grand Rapids Community Media Center

To celebrate 20 years of folk, blues, jazz, rock and worldbeat programming on WYCE, we’re taking a trip back through the years, with 20 Years in 20 Days.  Over three weeks, we’ll focus on one year in WYCE history each day — with programmers playing their favorite songs, albums and artists from the featured year. We start with 1987 on Friday, September 21st, and count forward from there. In keeping with WYCE’s commitment to eclectic programming, we won’t play music from each day’s featured year EXCLUSIVELY. We’ll mix it in with newer — and older — selections from all the different genres of music.   —>

Cable TV studio sought
by Tom Gorman
Holbrook Sun (MA)

The cable TV advisory committee is seeking support from town officials in securing a new studio in town.  According to Town Administrator Michael Yunits, Committee Vice Chairman Alex Mann told the board of selectmen last week that a permanent studio is needed.  The committee is in the process of negotiating a new 10-year license agreement with Comcast, the town’s cable television provider. The agreement is in its last stages.

Currently, there is no studio in town, and all programs that require a studio for airing are done at Comcast’s Easton location.  Yunits said that Mann suggested that property at 600 South St. or the old studio at the former police station could be used for the town’s studio.  Holbrook’s studio was at the former police station on School Street, but was dismantled after the building was sold last year.   —>

IBM Research Demonstrates Innovative ‘Speech to Sign Language’ Translation System
IBM System Has Potential to Make Life Easier for the Deaf Community

IBM has developed an ingenious system called SiSi (Say It Sign It) that automatically converts the spoken word into British Sign Language (BSL) which is then signed by an animated digital character or avatar.  SiSi brings together a number of computer technologies. A speech recognition module converts the spoken word into text, which SiSi then interprets into gestures, that are used to animate an avatar which signs in BSL.

Upon development this system would see a signing avatar ‘pop up’ in the corner of the display screen in use — whether that be a laptop, personal computer, TV, meeting-room display or auditorium screen. Users would be able select the size and appearance of the avatar.   —>

Justice Department Should Explain Stand Against Net Neutrality
by Bob Williams
Consumers Union’s

The good folks over at Free Press want to know why the Justice Department has recently gone to extraordinary lengths to bash net neutrality.  Last week the Justice Department filed lengthy comments with the Federal Communications Commission attacking the concept of net neutrality– the idea that Internet providers should not be allowed to speed up or slow down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

The Justice Department’s criticisms of net neutrality were uncannily similar to those put forth by the phone and cable industries and Free Press wants to know why. (Consumers Union, the sponsor of this blog, often works together with Free Press on telecom and media issues.)

This week Free Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover the underlying factors that led to the Justice Department’s Sept. 6 filing at the Federal Communications Commission — which came nearly two months after the FCC’s formal comment period had closed.

“We want to know what motivated the Department of Justice to oppose net neutrality this late in the process,” said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press and author of the request. “The filing lacks any evidence of serious investigation into this critical issue and fits into a pattern of politically motivated decisions coming out of the Justice Department. We want to know if the Bush administration’s lawyers reached out to any of the thousands of groups, businesses or individuals who support Net Neutrality — or if they only talked to industry lobbyists at AT&T and Verizon.”

Free Press notes DoJ filing came during Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ last days at the helm of the Justice Department. It also followed recent revelations that the government and AT&T had conspired in far-reaching efforts to spy on Americans without legal warrants — efforts for which the Bush administration is now seeking to give immunity from prosecution to AT&T and other phone companies.   —>

Net Neutrality Advocates Turn up the Heat

As the mercury soared in August, members hit the pavement to visit members of Congress and amplify nationwide calls for Net Neutrality.  All told this year we have held 60 meetings with members of Congress. This work has been bolstered by hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Washington in support of open, affordable and universal Internet access.   —>

APC launches new book on WSIS, developing countries and civil society: Time for lessons learned
Association for Progressive Communitcations

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has been roundly criticised in the past and this new study from APC concludes that the summit “is not the best starting point for new action.” So, what is the point of looking at how developing country delegations and civil society fared at the summit? Because, says the author “it is always important to learn from experience – particularly where it did not deliver up to expectations.”

The book “Whose Summit? Whose Information Society? Developing countries and civil society at the World Summit on the Information Society”, commissioned by APC and written by David Souter draws on participants’ observations, detailed interviews with forty key actors and case studies of experiences rooted in five developing countries.   —>

Should your firm be FLOSSing?
by Paul Chin
The Globe & Mail (CAN)

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) had no problem going against the grain when it decided to forgo the widely used Microsoft Office suite of business applications. Instead, it chose to replace its aging WordPerfect installations with – for free.  Yes, there was a clear financial motive: By steering clear of Office 2007 and installing for its 100-plus users, the CLC saved an estimated $60,000 in licensing fees.

“But it’s not just about the money,” says Andrew Southworth, the network technician responsible for all IT services at the CLC. In fact, says Mr. Southworth, the philosophy and principles behind open source software also struck a chord with the CLC and aligns with its community-based activities.

Free/libre/open-source software (FLOSS) – or simply “open source software” – has long since evolved beyond a grassroots social movement started by idealistic software programmers who refer to large proprietary software makers collectively as “The Man.” But are companies any more willing to adopt open source software nowadays than they were a decade ago?   —>

Online User-Driven News Gives Mainstream Media A Run
A new survey finds sites like, Digg, and Reddit give readers a more diverse choice of topics, but do they accelerate the “dumbing-down of news”?
by Thomas Claburn

While it remains to be seen whether user-driven news sites will make traditional news editors obsolete, those who contribute to social news sites clearly make different editorial choices than their professional counterparts.  A report released on Wednesday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) compared what the mainstream media considered to newsworthy for one week — the week of June 24 to June 29, 2007 — with the news selected by user-driven news sites during that same period.

While the mainstream media focused on Iraq and the debate over U.S. immigration, the three leading community news sites —, Digg, and Reddit — featured stories about Apple’s iPhone and Nintendo’s net worth surpassing Sony’s.    “In short, the user-news agenda, at least in this one-week snapshot, was more diverse, yet also more fragmented and transitory than that of the mainstream news media,” the PEJ said. “This does not mean necessarily that users disapprove or reject the mainstream news agenda. These user sites may be supplemental for audiences. They may gravitate to them in addition to, rather than instead of, traditional venues. But the agenda they set is nonetheless quite different.”

The PEJ appears to be making an effort not to characterize its findings, as per journalistic tradition. It refers to the sources user news sites draw on — seven out of 10 stories on user news sites come from blogs or Web sites like YouTube or WedMD — as “strikingly different” from those of the mainstream media. Not good, not bad, just … different.

Author and tech blogger Nicholas Carr observes no such niceties in writing about the PEJ’s findings.  “When you replace professional editors with a crowd or a social network, you actually end up accelerating the dumbing-down of news,” he said. “News becomes a stream of junk-food-like morsels. The people formerly known as the audience may turn out to be the people formerly known as informed.”

What the PEJ and Carr neglect to consider is the extent to which professional editors, now armed with data detailing which stories get hits and which don’t, are contributing to the dumbing-down of news (or, arguably, its improvement) by choosing to cover topics that get lots of readers (and thus better ad revenue) rather than the topics that are less popular but more “newsworthy

Taking One for the Team
by Lon
Commission Impossible (CA)

—> It takes about 6 months after watching one of these before I can build up the courage to to do it again. After sitting through a couple of hours of tortuous public access TV I had a feeling that’s hard to describe. I think it would be similar to drinking a six pack of cream soda in a 10 minute period. That’s got to be pretty close. I was bloated, on the verge of retching, and had my mind reeling from a massive sugar-like high.

I think every Chicoan should watch the Art Commission at some time in their life. It actually made me question the benefits of democracy. And that kind of heretical thinking is good for the soul when taken in moderation.

… I think the quote that sums up the meeting belonged to Art Commissioner Paul Friedlander who said “I second that emotion”. There was a lot of new-agey mumbo-jumbo coming from a couple of the commish’s. That’s probably what sets me off. I think the meeting tweeked my chakras and my aura today feels very maroon. My absolute favorite part… there were actually book reviews going on. These were part of joyous descriptions of a trip to a public art seminar some of the commissioners made. Book reviews I tell you! For the love of God, there were book reviews!

At the end of the meeting where the agenda allows for public comment the commission chair stated that the room was empty. It dawned on me that I may have been the only member of the public in Chico to suffer through that. I feel so lonely and soiled. Somebody please hold me.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 08/23/07

August 23, 2007

Citizens scheme to combat local law enforcement’s attack on dissent
Asheville Indymedia (NC)

It wasn’t your average activist meeting at the West Asheville Library on Tuesday night. A diverse crowd of roughly 60 people showed up to talk about recent abuses of power by local law enforcement and how to restore Constitutional rights in Asheville.

The meeting was focused on three recent events. A Buncombe County Sheriff deputy broke into the house of a West Asheville couple, assaulting and arresting one of them, for flying an upside down American flag; the Southeast Convergence for Climate Action and its direct action at Bank of America attracted unprecedented police surveillance and repression involving helicopters, riot police, and several jurisdictions of law enforcement; and an offer with the Asheville Police Department (APD) arrested an activist for “freeway blogging,” holding a sign while standing on a public sidewalk on a highway overpass.

In addition, at the August 14 City Council meeting, Mayor Terry Bellamy said, “I don’t want [the Climate Convergence action at Bank of America] to be a pattern in the city of Asheville. So I would be supportive of the police to use the force that they have to to not allow that to happen. […] We don’t have to have these types of demonstrations that impact people this way, and I think our community is bigger than that. Let me be clear, […] the thing that I think is deplorable is for them to chain themselves up in private property of Bank of America and then refuse to leave when asked to.” Councilor Carl Mumpower supported Mayor Bellamy’s remarks. Councilor Robin Cape was the only one to go on record strongly disagreeing.

Several independent journalists showed up to cover the meeting, as well as the Mountain Xpress and the local TV news station WLOS. Young and old, people from several different activist groups attended. Groups represented include: Asheville Indymedia, Veterans for Peace, Women in Black, the WNC Peace Coalition, Asheville Rising Tide, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, several shows on WPVM (the Progressive Voice of the Mountains, local community radio station) and on URTV (local public access TV station), among others. Libertarian City Council candidate William Meredith was present, along with unaffiliated candidate Lindsey Simerly. Jonas Phillips, who was arrested for holding the sign last Wednesday, was there. One person even risked his job to show up.   —>

Dallas council pushes items for 2007-08 budget
Members seek more code enforcers, money for public TV
by Dave Levinthal and Rudolph Bush
Dallas Morning News (TX)

Dickering over what should be funded within Dallas’ municipal budget began in earnest Wednesday, with many City Council members pressing for more code enforcement officers and preservation of public community television funding.   —>

Minority groups blast FCC chair
Martin under fire for recent remarks
by William Triplett

A coalition of civil rights and minority advocacy groups has blasted Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin J. Martin for “patronizing and insulting” public remarks he recently made alleging that their opposition to a la carte cable subscriptions has been bought and paid for.  “We are deeply disturbed by this unfair and baseless attack and would ask that you clear the record expeditiously with a public apology and an unequivocal retraction,” the groups wrote in a joint letter to Martin that was delivered Wednesday.   —>

The Promise of Low Power FM
by Michelle Chen
In These Times

The movement to develop alternatives to mainstream corporate-owned radio got a boost recently with a bi-partisan congressional bill to expand low-power FM (LPFM), a class of frequencies devoted to non-commercial community groups. Though LPFM stations only broadcast a radius of three-and-a-half miles, they offer the chance to bring seldom-heard voices on the air.

Media activists and reform groups see LPFM as a cheap, accessible medium that counterbalances the formulaic music and news of conglomerates like Clear Channel, while offering ownership and control to underrepresented groups. A recent study by the media-policy think tank Free Press found that women own 6 percent of the country’s full-power commercial radio stations; people of color and ethnic minorities control just 7.7 percent. It can cost as little as $5,000 to launch a no-frills LPFM station. About 800 stations have been established since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began licensing them in 2000.   —>

There’s something award-winning about seniors’ show
by Bethany Bray
Andover Townsman (MA)

Marty Epstein says he gets recognized around town and at the grocery store all the time, and that’s a good thing.  “That’s how we know people are watching (our show),” agreed Jeanette Barron with a smile.  Epstein, Barron and a group of about a dozen local seniors produce the half-hour show “There’s Something About Andover,” which airs daily on Andover Community Television, Channel 8. The seniors create a new episode each month and take turns producing, editing and spending time on camera, interviewing community members and highlighting “anything that would be interesting,” they said.   —>

Reel changes at local cable access channel
by Nicole Haley
Daily News Tribune (MA)

When Phil McGrady started working for Waltham’s cable access channel in 1987, the station used clunky three-quarter inch cassette tapes about the size of a textbook.  Today, programs are recorded onto MiniDVs, digital video tapes McGrady can hold in the palm of his hand.  “There have been sweeping changes in terms of just the technology,” said McGrady, program director for the Waltham Community Access Corp.

This month marks 20 years since the station aired its first local television broadcast. McGrady, who hosts and produces the football show “Armchair Quarterback,” has seen more than technological advancements in his two decades at the station.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 08/04-05/07

August 6, 2007

Consumers, not AT&T, should get favored status
by Bruce Speight and Joel Kelsey
Green Bay Gazette (WI)

The dual goals of increased competition in the cable market and the expansion of broadband Internet service in Wisconsin are laudable. In today’s connected world access to robust networks means much more than just the opportunity to watch cable television — it means increased access to news, art, entertainment, and diverse marketplaces. Unfortunately, the so-called “cable competition” bill that is currently before the state Legislature is missing its opportunity to develop the video service marketplace in a way that truly benefits Wisconsinites.

The TV4US Coalition and AT&T’s blizzard of television advertisements forget to mention that the bill currently before the Legislature will allow AT&T to wiggle out of the strong consumer protections that are traditionally included in the video franchising process.   —>
also blogged by US PIRG:

Hillsborough’s Cable Access TV in danger?
Radioactivity: Live Call-In
by Robert Lorei

Good afternoon, welcome to Radioactivity. I’m Rob Lorei. Coming up today we’ll talk about the plan to cut funding for two access cable TV channels in Hillsborough County.  We’re joined by Louise Thompson, executive director of the Tampa bay community network and Ann Goldenberg, executive director of the Education Channel, which serves Tampa and Hillsborough County. She’s joined by the Education Channel’s marketing director Laura Tierney.   —>
also discussed on 7/24:

Berwick signs 10-year pact with Comcast (ME)
Foster’s Online

Selectmen have signed a 10-year contract with Comcast cable, which will allow the town to begin work on a public access channel.  Selectmen are looking for five residents to begin a Community Television Committee to assist with running the channel, including working with cameras and other production-related assistance.   —>

Rural net service boost: Gov to tout $25M plan
by Jay Fitzgerald
Boston Herald (MA)

—>   The state would invest about $25 million to help bring high-speed Internet to sparsely populated towns in western Massachusetts under an economic development plan to be unveiled today by Gov. Deval Patrick.  About 32 towns in Massachusetts currently don’t have broadbroad Internet that provides faster and more powerful service. State officials say broadband access is critical to future development in economically hard-pressed areas.   —>

The Fiber Optic Debate
by Mac Herring
Mooresville Tribune (NC)

As a Town Commissioner I am charged with looking at the many aspects of such important decisions. I have put together this essay so the Public can also consider the issues at hand. The thoughts expressed are my own, and are in no way an attempt to portray the thoughts of any other Town Board member.  Should The Town of Mooresville Buy the Cable TV system?

If the question is: Should the Town of Mooresville own and operate a local cable TV franchise? “The government shouldn’t be in the cable business.” is the argument put forward by both an ill informed public opinion and Telecommunications companies such as Time Warner.

There are much deeper issues than local government competing against private enterprise. It isn’t about cable TV, or controlling what folks can watch. It’s about a fiber optic infrastructure that will allow for much greater public opportunity than simple cable TV.  Fiber optic offers the potential for economic development, and for more fair and open access to the Internet for every citizen.   —>

Who needs public access TV?
Some argue that ‘Wayne’s World’ is still more democratic than YouTube
by Adrian McCoy
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (PA)

—>   Still, PCTV is looking to the future in some of the ways Gillmor suggests.  The station’s programs now stream online on the PCTV Web site. It also offers a digital editing workshop in addition to basic production training.  The channel hopes to add video-on-demand and chat-room features, so viewers can interact more fully with what they’re watching.  “We don’t want to be dinosaurs,” says PCTV’s Poole. “But it’s important we don’t get distracted or our focus so fragmented from our mission as a community television station.”   —>

Public Access TV, Then and Now
by Adrian McCoy
Pittsburgh Post Gazette (PA)

—>   The movement has grown into a nationwide and international phenomenon — there are public access channels in Canada, Europe, South America and Australia. Pittsburgh has had a public access channel — Channel 21 — since 1981, when Warner Cable established the first community studios in the city. In 1984, TCI took over the cable franchise, and a move began for public access to be operated by an independent nonprofit, which led to the launch of PCTV in 1986.   —>

Greenville-Pitt Public Access TV airing local programming
The Daily Reflector (NC)

Greenville-Pitt Public Access Television producer Javier Castillo has created two programs for the public access station, shown on Suddenlink cable channel 23.  An interview with U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C., is presented daily at 8 a.m. and 7:18 p.m. “A Conversation With My Congressman” includes a range of subjects, including whether Jones plans to run for office again.   —>

Realtor Creates Public Access TV Show For Arlington and Fairfax Counties (VA)

Carl Goldberg a Realtor representing Century 21 New Millennium in Alexandria Virginia has launched a TV show that advises the public about real estate. The show explores all the different facets of real estate.

Media Organization Honored
Fall Church News-Press (VA)

Arlington Independent Media, a non-profit public broadcasting organization, was awarded the 2007 Hometown Video Festival’s Overall Excellence Award. The Hometown Video Awards, which was hosted by the Alliance for Community Media, honors media for addressing community needs. Arlington Independent Media has won the award five times in the last 17 years and celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.

GHS station maintains winning run
by Lela Garlington
Commercial Appeal (TN)

Germantown High School may be running out of studio wall space for all of the national awards GHS-TV keeps getting.  Just recently, the community access station picked up 10 first-place awards through the Alliance for Community Media — more than any other access station in the country.  Since 1985, GHS-TV has won 104 first-place Hometown Awards.   —>,2846,MCA_29498_5658591,00.html

County Cable Montgomery
by Dan Libes
Libes Libations (MD)

Last week, the Gazette had a curious article about County Cable Montgomery, the PEG channel that televises official county business such as county council hearings.  According to county spokesperson Patrick Lacefield,   “We are wanting to make the cable channel more accessible to folks. … we’re trying make the programming more interesting and increase its relevance to the public.”

According to the Gazette, the county believes that CCM does not “pique the interest of county youngsters” and the county is trying to change this. According to Donna Keating, CCM Program Manager:   “We are trying to be more responsive to our audience. We do not have access to Nielsen ratings, but we know that we have activists that look at the channel because of the number of replays for the council and town hall meetings… We believe that the missing piece is the young people.”

All I can say is: Huh?

This is the county’s government channel, not Disney or TNT. Why spend money trying to attract a different audience than the one you have? There are dozens of outlets for “young people” already. Actually, there are hundreds.    —>

What’s Going On in Community Media
by Benton Foundation

The media revolution promised for the past 40 years has arrived — again. Four decades ago, the dominance of a handful of television broadcast networks was shattered by the emergence of satellite-linked cable television. In the 1990s, the Internet sent text and data flowing around the world. Now, a decade later, photos, audio, and video are becoming as easily transmitted as text. The era of personal electronic communication and broadband networks is at hand, and every aspect of our media culture is undergoing change.   —>

Media Streaming Servers: Open Source and Proprietary
by Carlos Miranda Levy
Digital Vision Program at Stanford University
A friend recently consulted me about streaming media and video-on-demand solutions available to satisfy the requirements of a distant learning initiative to be implemented by one of his customers. While explaining to him the many options available I realized that not many people are aware of how much the streaming media ecosystem has changed in the last few years and that there are several open source platforms and solutions available for streaming audio and video over the Internet, lowering the cost of such endeavors and making the implementation of pilot and fully functional initiatives much more affordable and accessible to all kind of organizations.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Director of Information & Organizing Services
Alliance for Community Media

Now Playing: IMA 2007 Blogs & Streams

February 21, 2007

A 4-day conference is taking place in Boston this week – IMA 2007 (Integrated Media Association) – essentially, this is Web 2.0 and such for public television & radio managers.  Blogging has already started, and live streams of the keynotes begin Thursday morning (2/22). Here’s a snippit (from Andy Carvin’s Waste of Bandwidth), and some links.

“Right now I’m sitting on a panel session on user-generated content projects in public broadcasting. Brendan Greeley is talking right now about his role as blogger-in-chief of Radio Open Source, “a blog with a radio show.” Radio Open Source has pioneered the integration of radio programs with online communities, engaging the public to discuss the topics of the show, as well as suggest segments, guests and questions. Brendan noted that in recent weeks, around 50% of shows have been suggested by its community members.”
Conference Wiki:

Cuba Embraces Open Source Software

February 18, 2007

Country wants to wean state agencies from Microsoft’s Windows
By John Rice
Associated Press

HAVANA – Cuba’s communist government is trying to shake off the yoke of at least one capitalist empire — Microsoft Corp. — by joining with socialist Venezuela in converting its computers to open-source software. >>>