Archive for the ‘P2P’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/19/08

March 21, 2008

City Council Moves Closer To Backing AT&T Bill
Littlefield Says He Welcomes Cable TV Competition
The Chatanoogan (TN)

The City Council is moving closer to backing a bill sought by AT&T allowing it statewide franchise rights leading to development of a cable TV system. The council heard an endorsement from Mayor Ron Littlefield, then directed that a resolution of support be prepared for later action. Mayor Littlefield said some concerns he had about the bill appear to be cleared up. —>

CBC to release TV broadcast as high-quality, no-DRM BitTorrent download
by Cory Doctorow
Boing Boing

[ 31 comments at original post site: Michael Geist – 2nd link below ]

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is about to follow Norway’s NRK and become the first major North American broadcaster to release one of its shows as a DRM-free torrent:

“Sources indicate that the CBC is set to become the first major North American broadcaster to freely release one of its programs without DRM using BitTorrent. This Sunday, CBC will air Canada Next Great Prime Minister. The following day, it plans to freely release a high-resolution version via peer-to-peer networks without any DRM restrictions. This development is important not only because it shows that Canada’s public broadcaster is increasingly willing to experiment with alternative forms of distribution, but also because it may help crystallize the net neutrality issue in Canada.

“The CBC’s mandate, as provided in the Broadcasting Act, requires it to make its programming “available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means.” Using BitTorrent allows the CBC to meet its statutory mandate, yet with ISPs such as Rogers engaging in non-transparent traffic shaping, millions of Canadians may be unable to fully access programming funded by tax dollars. If the CBC experiment is successful, look for more broadcasters to do the same and for the CRTC to face mounting pressure to address net neutrality concerns. ”

FCC Debates Open Internet at April 17 Stanford Hearing
Free Press

Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will hold a second public hearing on the future of the Internet on April 17 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. The Stanford hearing promises to bring consumers and producers of innovative online content together to educate the FCC about the future of video on the Internet. The field hearing is also linked to the FCC’s ongoing investigation into the blocking of legal content by Comcast and other Internet service providers. At the first hearing last month at Harvard, Comcast admitted hiring seat-fillers, blocking interested citizens from attending the event.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, which coordinates the Coalition, issued the following statement: “Just as the Internet benefited from widespread public participation, so will the debate over its future. The hearing at Stanford — the birthplace of our Internet economy — gives Web innovators a chance to weigh in on the policies that will shape the industry for a generation.

“We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that all interested parties are accommodated. With the future of the Internet at stake, no one should be shut out of the conversation. At this defining moment in the Internet’s history, the threat posed by would-be gatekeepers like Comcast is very real and getting worse. Open Internet policies are urgently needed. We hope this important hearing will lead to immediate and accelerated action at the FCC.” —>

Clearing the air on digital TV converters
by Jonathan Takiff
Philadelphia Daily News

Last week’s column scooped the nation with the first hands-on review of low-cost, digital TV tuners/converters. These set-top boxes will become essential to receive over-the-air TV on older, pre-digital television sets next year, after broadcasters are required (on Feb. 17, 2009) to shut off their analog signals. Not surprisingly, I got a flood of reader comments and questions. Today, let’s deal with some of them…

Q: I’ve got cable TV. Some of my sets are hooked up to cable boxes, others just use the TV’s cable-ready tuner to receive non-scrambled cable channels. Will I be able to connect one of the new digital boxes to a cable line to bring in digital TV channels?

A: There’s been a whole lot of concern and misinformation about cable TV reception after the Feb. 17, 2009, conversion/cut-off. Locally, I’ve heard stories of Comcast phone reps telling customers they MUST upgrade to a digital cable box or they won’t get any TV signals come 2009.


It is true that cable companies are eliminating as many analog channels as they can – even public access channels – by moving them to a digital transmission “tier” that requires an upgraded cable box and higher monthly fee for reception. This is being done because digital signals use much less bandwidth, so cablers can increase the number of channels they offer on a system.

But at the urging of the Federal Communications Commission, cable companies have committed to continue delivering an essential core of local broadcast stations to customers in a down-converted fashion that can still be tuned by an old, analog cable box or directly by a cable-ready TV, for “at least three years,” Comcast senior executive David L. Cohen assured me. —>

Marlboro council meetings to air on cable TV channel
by Rebecca Morton
News Transcript (NJ)

Sometime in the near future, residents are expected to be able to watch Township Council meetings from the comfort of their own home. Council members adopted an ordinance on March 6 that will allow municipal cable channel 77 to broadcast regular or special public meetings. Channel 77 is available for Marlboro residents who subscribe to Cablevision for their cable television service.

Prior to the adoption of the ordinance on March 6, the local cable television ordinance prohibited council meetings from being broadcast. The municipal channel has aired special events and public information from the township and from the Marlboro K-8 School District, including notification of school closings. Having council meetings aired on the local access channel was one of 50 goals set by Mayor Jonathan Hornik in his 100- day plan upon taking office Jan. 1. —>

Assessing success in the FCC’s 700MHz auction
by Marguerite Reardon
CNet News


The Federal Communications Commission generated $19.6 billion in the 700MHz spectrum that ended Tuesday, but the true success of the auction will take months or even years to assess. There’s no question that the auction, which began on January 24, was a monetary success for the government–it raised a record $19.6 billion in 261 rounds of bidding. During a conference call with reporters Tuesday after the bidding closed, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the 700MHz auction was the most successful auction the agency has ever conducted, raising more money than all previous auctions put together, excluding the Advanced Wireless Services, or AWS, auction in 2006.

“The $19.6 billion generated by the auction nearly doubled congressional estimates of $10.2 billion,” Martin said. “All other 68 auctions conducted by the FCC in the past 15 years collectively generated a total of only $19.1 billion in receipts. Even with open-platform and aggressive build-out obligations, each of these blocks sold for more than AWS-1 blocks with comparable bandwidth and license areas.”

Despite the obvious financial success of the auction, it will be a long time before it’s clear whether the FCC was successful in achieving some of its broader policy goals, such as creating a more open wireless marketplace and a nationwide interoperable public safety wireless network. —>

Redrawing the Map
Consolidation Continues to Change Cable’s Local System Landscape
by George Winslow
Multichannel News

Despite efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to put limits on the footprint of cable companies, the impact of consolidation and clustering continues to redraw the Multichannel News list of the 100 largest cable systems. Several Insight Communications systems have disappeared into nearby Comcast divisions and the large cable operators continue to consolidate some of their divisions into larger groups. Time Warner Cable, for example, has 22 systems on this year’s list, down from 31 in 2005. As a result, only 88 systems from last year’s list appear this year with the same name and a similar footprint. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/14/08

March 14, 2008

Kenya’s Indy Media
by Michelle Chen
In These Times

[ comments invited ]

While news reports across the world have displayed images of chaos shaking Kenya, an alternative media system driven by ordinary Kenyans is emerging in the East African country to help raise the voices of the seldom heard. The violent aftermath of President Mwai Kibaki’s disputed election in December has detonated Kenya’s festering ethnic, land and power struggles, leaving hundreds dead and displacing hundreds of thousands. But it has also energized the country’s independent media-makers, many of whom see their work as key to overcoming the crisis.

Fusing mass communication with political organizing, the Kenya Independent Media Center (IMC) has aired local activists’ perspectives on the violence and its root causes. Through its growing network of independent reporters, IMC Kenya aims to generate “information for action,” according to co-founder John Bwakali. The organization also tries to lead by example through its non-hierarchical structure as a collective—a potential model of radical self-empowerment in a society besieged by political disillusionment.

In an IMC audio piece, Jimani, a young activist with the Warriors, a Nairobi-based self-help group, reflects on the desperation that has pushed many of Kenya’s youth into violent clashes. “Why has a youth gone out to fight, ready to die?” he asks on a recording produced shortly after the elections. “Is it freedom for those who are oppressed in this world? Maybe you can say so.” But he continues: “As a [young] man is ready to go out there and die because he wants his voice to be heard, we need to give them that chance. We need to hear what they have to say to us.”

Some youth are amplifying their voices through a video collective called Slum-TV, led by Kenya-based media activists. By documenting everyday struggles in Mathare—a densely populated slum in the capital Nairobi—the project enables young people to produce homegrown media and, through local public screenings, fosters community dialogue. Following the outbreak of the post-election violence, Slum-TV has focused on current recovery efforts that bring together activists from different ethnic groups. Slum-TV co-founder Sam Hopkins noted the contrast with corporate media’s coverage of “tribal” violence. “The idea behind focusing on characters who have crossed the ethnic divide is really just to provide another version of what’s happening, to counteract the mainstream international media,” he says.

As an ear to the ground in their communities, grassroots media activists have sometimes been ahead of the news. Patrick Shomba and fellow artists, who founded the Ghetto Film Club media collective in 2006, foreshadowed the approaching unrest in a screenplay titled “The Ghetto President.” The film, created last year as a civic-education project, explored issues of corruption, voting rights, youth rights and ethnic conflict. After scraping together volunteer help and borrowed equipment, the group completed the film a few days before the election and held a public screening in a Nairobi slum. Their next film, they hope, will be about reconciliation.

Since cities like Nairobi are ethnically diverse, Shomba views street-level art as a way to “maintain the peace here in the urban sector, with a mix of culture and a mix of tribes.” Local youth lead the project as actors and producers—a rare opportunity for them to overcome marginalization. The group aims to eventually turn media work into a sustainable income source for young people wrestling with poverty, crime and lack of schooling in their communities.

In the post-election turmoil, Shomba is also working with Kenya’s budding community radio scene to air local news, as well as anti-violence messages, on three small urban stations, with an estimated reach of more than 2 million listeners. “What our guys can do at the grassroots,” he says, “the mainstream media can’t come and do.”

Though still in its infancy, grassroots reporting is gaining traction in Kenya. Since 2007, the Web-based Voices of Africa project, an initiative of the Africa Interactive Media Foundation, has delivered field reporting from mobile-phone-based correspondents in Kenya. Its coverage features video commentary from everyday people on politics, underlying social problems and concerns about the ongoing mediation talks.

Although Kenya’s independent media-makers generally do not face outright authoritarian restraints, more insidious barriers can impinge on their work. —>

Broadband fight pits corporations against users, Internet future at stake
by Charlie White


Whatever happened to the Information Superhighway? It was the big talk of the 90s, but now the United States has fallen to 16th place in the world for broadband deployment and availability, according to a survey by the Communication Workers of America. While we sink in the world rankings, service providers such as Comcast are slowing down the Internet connections of users who partake of too much of the touted “unlimited” service.

Meanwhile, the government is watching and listening to complaints of customers and users, but not doing much yet to stand in the way of the purveyors of Internet connectivity. Instead of expanding the pipes of the Internet, companies such as AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, and Time Warner have chosen to invest in acquiring smaller companies, amassing power and influence so they can dictate terms to the government and broadband users. They’d prefer to abolish Net neutrality and move toward a tiered service, vowing to control what we can see and hear on the Web, while leaving the services of competitors on a slower tier.

While these greedy corporations fight for control of the Internet and vie for the right to charge whatever prices they can extract, paying customers are trapped in a broadband world of lame connectivity that creeps toward obsolescence, without much recourse. With the future of the Internet and free speech at stake, what’s next? —>

Verizon Gets Cozy With P2P File-Sharers
by Peter Svenson
AP Technology Writer
Seattle Times (WA)

Peer-to-peer file sharing, the primary vehicle for online piracy, has been as unpopular with Internet service providers as it has been popular with users. Providers have banned, blocked or slowed peer-to-peer traffic in their efforts to keep the flood of music, video, games and software from overwhelming their networks.

But Verizon Communications Inc. has broken ranks with the industry and announced Friday that it plans to help its users share files faster _ at least those who do it legally. With researchers at Yale University and a group of companies that make file-sharing software, Verizon collaborated to enable faster downloads for consumers and lower costs for participating ISPs. —>

BitTorrent CEO: Rethinking Media Store, No Business Impact From Comcast
by Dan Frommer
Silicon Valley Insider

[ comments invited ]

BitTorrent’s two big projects: Getting media giants to pay them to deliver video over its peer-to-peer network. And getting BitTorrent’s downloading software pre-installed on consumer electronics devices like DVR set-top boxes, home network routers, and TV sets.

So how’s it going? New CEO Doug Walker says his company can undercut content distribution firms like Akamai Technologies (AKAM) and Limelight Networks (LLNW) by 50%, and will have a some big deals to announce within a month. And he expects more than 5 million BitTorrent-enabled consumer electronics devices to ship in the next year; he says he’ll be able to get 50 cents to $2 in licensing fees per device.

Both business-to-business pitches are a big shift from the company’s first project after making nice with Hollywood more than two years ago: That’s when BitTorrent started building a consumer-focused digital media store, including movies, TV episodes, games, and music. Via deals with News Corp. (NWS), Viacom (VIAB), and Time Warner (TWX), that’s helped big media companies get comfortable with the idea of working with BitTorrent. But the store hasn’t taken the market by storm: Its most popular movie available for purchase right now is 2007’s “The Reaping.”

Walker talked to us about his new projects and whether cable giant Comcast’s (CMCSA) policy of disrupting some BitTorrent file transfers has affected his business. —>

Group considers ways to build educational TV
New offering would be similar to CitySpan10
by Ted Holteen
Durango Herald (CO)

A new task force charged with deciding how a future educational cable channel in Durango will be run met for the first time Thursday, but there are sure to be more questions than answers for a while. An educational channel, or more accurately, funding for an educational channel, is included in the agreement between the city of Durango and Bresnan Communications, the local cable provider serving about 6,000 Durango households.

Under Federal Communications Commission regulations, the cable franchisee is required to pay the city a fee for Public, Education and Government, or PEG, programming. Each cable subscriber is charged a nominal fee for PEG channels to cover Bresnan’s cost.

Currently, Durango Community Access Television (DCAT, channel 22) receives about $7,000 in PEG fees for the public portion, and CitySpan 10 receives an equal amount for the government portion. There is no educational channel, but DCAT has been airing Durango School District 9-R board meetings for the last two years. Each channel also receives separate city funding for operations and equipment.

Assistant City Manager Greg Caton said there is about $13,000 in educational channel money in city coffers that has accrued since a new franchise agreement was signed with Bresnan in January 2007. The Durango City Council directed the formation of the task force last fall to find the best way to use those funds, find more money and decide who will run the channel and where it will be housed.

Most local educational institutions are represented on the task force – the school district, Fort Lewis College and Pueblo Community College – as well as DCAT, Inside Durango TV (IDTV channel 15), CitySpan 10 and several at-large community members. All agree that the need exists for separate educational programming, but starting a new television channel is neither easy nor cheap.

“Seven thousand dollars won’t pay to run a channel – others will have to step up,” said Marc Snider, owner of Exposure Productions. Snider’s company is contracted by the city to run CitySpan 10. Both Snider and DCAT Executive Director Chris Hall asked City Council for the right to run an educational channel during budget discussions last fall, prompting the formation of the task force to make the decision. —>

Kankakee County tuning in local TV
by John Stewart
The Daily Journal (IL)

[ comments invited ]

Anybody can post a video on with a cheap Web cam and an even cheaper microphone. But not everyone gets on television or can make a video that gets on television. That’s because television still has a “mystique,” according to Steve Bertrand, assistant director of the Kankakee Public Library.

Although television might be “dying,” Bertrand believes there is still something very appealing about saying “I made something, and I got it on TV.” Bertrand is one of more than a dozen Kankakee County people who have spoken up recently in favor of public access television — TV made by the people for cable television. According to its proponents, it is good for the people and for their government. But locally, it has been a reality in just the village of Manteno.

Among those interested in establishing public access are seven Kankakee County Board members, who voted last month to tell local cable provider Comcast to make public access available in the area the county is responsible for — outside the cities and towns. County Board member Ann Bernard said if the county government takes the first step, it could lead to other governments participating.

In Manteno, local programming is found on channel 4 and is created by Village View, a group of 12 volunteers. Village View was started in 1989, according to President Mike Hill. Funded by the village board through the cable television tax, Village View elects its own officers and does all the videotaping and editing.

Village View content ranges from weekly church services and monthly local government meetings to sports and community festivities. The nongovernment or church activities totaled 96 events last year, Hill said. While YouTube may be popular with the Internet-savvy, public access brings school events, including concerts, to those who cannot attend.

A special public hearing about Aqua Illinois taking over the public water supply, a change that had the potential to affect the entire community, was also covered on television — making government more accessible. Bertrand said the library could provide video of its public speaker series to public access. An upcoming library expansion will include a lab where local people can learn not only how to surf the Web, but also how to take digital photographs and to share them. He sees a day when lessons will also be taught in making videos. “Television is old technology,” Bertrand said, but “public access isn’t. The concept is very new.” —>

Can you hear it pumping on your I-Pod?
Five Public Opinions


Sammy Jankis has tagged me with the following meme: “What are your favourite 3 podcasts? Why?“

For mine (and for Sammy, incidentally), the cream of the crop has to be The Atheist Experience. This is actually a public access TV show filmed in Austin, Texas, on behalf of the Atheist Community of Austin, but it is also available in audio format. Several of the hosts are ex-fundamentalist Christians, including the host Matt Dillahunty whose no-nonsense approach–particularly when dealing with fundies who call in with (as Sammy puts it) “phone in one hand Bible in the other to tell some atheists what atheists think”–is an absolute pleasure to watch (or listen to, as the case may be). The Atheist Experience experienced a recent upsurge in intertube notoriety when a portion of a February show, in which a caller threatens to come down to the studio and punch Dillahunty’s “fat face”, was YouTubed. RUNNER UP: Atheist Talk.

My second pick is another product of the ACA: The Non-Prophets. This one is also hosted by Dillahunty, and is co-hosted by Denis Loubet (whose trademark is to phrase the introduction of each show in the form of a logical fallacy) and Russell Glasser (who often appears on The Atheist Experience as well). The website could do with an upgrade, but these guys have mastered the art of eviscerating apologetics and other religion-inspired chicanery with equal parts wit and outrage. Accept no substitutes, folks: what Lord of the Rings is to the fantasy genre, The Non-Prophets is to atheist podcasting. RUNNER UP: Another Goddamned Podcast. —>

Your very own TV show …
by Terry Doyle
Amesbury News (MA)

[ comments invited ]

Gloucester – Imagine: you’re 18 years old. Your passion is film and your local cable access channel is looking for the next Scorsese or Kubrick or Spielberg — and they’re providing the best cameras and editing suites to boot.

So there you are, 18 years old — an idea in your head and the gumption in your gut to go for it. You rally a few pals, head down to the beach for a bite to eat and some arcades and while you’re there you rattle off a thousand and one absurd ideas that no one outside of your friend group will ever find remotely humorous. But, you think, who cares?

You brainstorm and brainstorm and brainstorm till your head feels thick and the blacks of your eyes swell and contract uncontrollably. And then finally an idea sticks. “We’ll make our own talk show…” …About things that no one else will care about.

Adam, the one who is as dynamic as he is gangly and without an ounce of shame, will play host. “What will the rest of us do?” “We’ll be the guests.”

Keegan, Sean and Sean will be the house band. Mark can dress up like a clown. Terry, you can be the resident, uh, literature guru. Greg will direct Carl will grow a beard.

“What will we call it?” “Wiggin’ Out with Adam Wiggin.” “What are we going to do for segments?” “I don’t know.”

So you brainstorm again. You hit the drawing board. “We could go to a buffet and see who can eat the most food.” Episode One—“The Great American Eat Off.” “The Topsfield Fair. Let’s do something at the Topsfield fair.” Episode Two—“Something at the Topsfield Fair.” “But no one is going to care about any of this,” chimes the lone pessimist. “Who cares?”

And then something funny starts to happen. Other kids at school are talking about Keegan’s fear of clowns or Sean’s thrashing guitar solo or the inflatable silver couch with the slow leak that Adam’s guests sit on during interviews. People are watching, you find out. People care.

That’s what happened to my best friends and me while we were in high school. We had an idea and we ran with it. Our local cable access channel was kind enough to let us use their studio for an hour of debauchery each week, and because of that the creative revelry continues to this day. Though we no longer have a television program, everyone involved with the production of that show is still involved in one way or another with the writing or directing of, or the acting in, creative film.

So when Stacey Randall, a member of the Cape Ann TV Board of Directors, told me that she hopes Cape Ann TV can reach out to the Cape’s youth, I couldn’t help but remember those days when my best friends and I made our own show. Sure, we didn’t think anyone would care. Frankly, we didn’t care if anyone cared. It wasn’t about money. It wasn’t about anything but being young and having a creative outlet. So to all of you out there who have forever longed to star in a television show or write and direct a musical, please, reach out to Cape Ann TV. It could be the most rewarding thing you ever do.

Terry Doyle is a reporter for the Cape Ann Beacon. He made his TV debut on “Wiggin’ Out with Adam Wiggin”’ which ran on Amesbury’s public access channel 12. If you’d like to get involved in public access television at Cape Ann Cable TV, contact the studio at 978-281-2443, or visit

The Triumphant Return of the Television Horror Host!
by Jason Buchanan
The AllMovie Blog

[ comments invited ]

For those of use who grew up watching Count Scary, The Ghoul, Sir Graves Ghastly, Elvira, or even Commander USA, the mere thought of schlock horror flicks hosted by wisecracking characters on ramshackle studio sets is enough to make us instinctively reach for some non-existent, noggin-top rabbit ears in a nostalgic bid to clear the static distortion of our collective memories. Thankfully, we need not lament the death of a bygone era or regret the fact that we’ll never be able to share those memories with our own children any longer, as – at least in the Detroit television market – good-humored lycanthrope Wolfman Mac is primed and ready to revive this long-dormant television sub-genre with his late-night horror show entitled Nightmare SINema. —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

FCC En Banc Hearing on Broadband Network Management Practices

February 27, 2008

A lot has been written about this hearing already.  Here are a just a few blog and press accounts. Net neutrality advocates, stay tuned to, and help line up co-sponsors for the Markey/Pickering Internet Freedom Protection Act of 2008 – rm

FCC Hearing Video Webcast:
Commissioners Statements:

Comcast, net neutrality advocates clash at FCC hearing
by Matthew Lasar
Ars Technica


A civil but tense tone prevailed at today’s Federal Communications Commission’s hearing on how to address concerns that Comcast and other ISPs degrade P2P traffic. Comcast executive vice president David L. Cohen was the star of the show, and he knew it. “It’s a pleasure to be here as a participant and hopefully not the main course for your meal,” Cohen told all five Commissioners and a lively audience during the event’s first panel discussion, held at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.   —>

[fccboston08] FCC hearing: Ed Markey
by David Weinberger
JOHO the Blog

[ 26 comments over 16 posts ]

NOTE: I am live-blogging. Not re-reading for errors. There are guaranteed to be errors of substance, stand point and detail. Caveat reader.  Rep. Ed Markey opens it. He’s been one of the staunchest and most reliable defenders of an open Internet. He recalls his long standing on the Internet’s behalf. He asks us to keep users in mind, preferring their needs to that of the carriers. What a concept!   —>

FCC chief says Net providers can’t block access ‘arbitrarily’
Delays by Comcast are focus of hearing
by Hiawatha Bray
Boston Globe

CAMBRIDGE – Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin warned yesterday that Internet service providers can’t block consumers from using lawful Internet activities in the name of providing better service.  “While networks may have legitimate network issues and practices,” Martin said, “that does not mean that they can arbitrarily block access to certain network services.”   —>

The FCC holds a hearing on Net Neutrality, and YOU! ARE! THERE!
by John Sundman


So yesterday morning over coffee I was doing what most people do over their first daily cup o’ joe, which is bring up technorati and see if anybody’s talking about me. That process took me to Joho’s page, from which I learned that the FCC was to be holding an hearing on why Comcast sucks, I mean Net Neutrality broadband network management practices only hours thence. Now although to my surprise & delight, Wetmachine, thanks to the work of my fellow wetmechanics Harold Feld and Greg Rose has become quite the FCC policy site with a side-order of net neutrality, I had never been to an FCC hearing. A quick check of the boat and bus schedules showed that I could probably make it to Hahvahd in time for most of the festivities. I decided to go. So, after securing the blessings of Dear Wife and throwing a few things in a bag, off I set to lose my FCC-hearing virginity.

Below the fold, some totally subjective impressions of the day, told in that winsome wetmachine way that you’ve come to treasure, or if you haven’t yet, which you soon will. More sober-styled reports have surely appeared by now, and I’ll dig up some links & post them at the end for those of you who like a little conventional reportage to ballast what you get from me.   —>

FCC En Banc: Annals of the Battle for the Last Mile
by Fred Johnson

[ 1 Comment ]

Harvard Law School was “Markey Country” today as Massachusetts Congressman Ed Markey defended net neutrality in his opening remarks before the FCC’s Public En Banc Hearing on broadband network management practices in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Markey declared the US “no country for old bandwidth” and hung around to observe, with the rest of us, the FCC, “en banc” and securely enclosed in Harvard space droning through a tedious day of testimony and q&a, comfortably surrounded by an audience packed with polite but bored Comcast employees trained to provide applause on cue.   —>

Network neutrality: code words and conniving at yesterday’s FCC hearing (Part 2 of 2)
by Andy Oram
O’Reilly Radar

[1 comment ]

Yesterday I summarized the public FCC hearing about bandwidth at the Harvard Law School, and referred readers to a more comprehensive background article. In this article I’ll highlight some of the rhetoric at the meeting, which shows that network providers’ traffic shaping is no more sophisticated or devious than the shaping of public perceptions by policy-makers and advocates.   —>

Comcast Paid Shills To Attend FCC Hearing
by Wendy Davis
Online Media Daily

The Federal Communications Commission hearing about net neutrality this week was so crowded that police had to turn away an estimated 100 people from the Harvard Law School classroom where the event was held.  The large audience even seemed to surprise some of the organizers, who did not have an overflow room available on site.

But now, it’s come out that the packed room wasn’t just filled with concerned citizens. Comcast paid shills to arrive early and save seats so that employees and other supporters could attend and cheer on executive vice president David Cohen.

The move came to light after the net neutrality advocacy group Free Press posted an MP3 file ( of an interview with an unidentified line-stander on its site.  “Honestly, I’m just getting paid to hold somebody’s seat,” a man said on the recording. “I don’t even know what’s going on.”  Pictures also surfaced online showing audience members sleeping during the hearing.   —>

Comcast Manipulating NAACP on Net Neutrality
by Matt Stoller


By now you’ve probably heard that Comcast hired a crowd to sit in an FCC hearing on net neutrality so interested citizens couldn’t get a spot to speak.  The gist of Comcast’s excuse is that they hired people to hold spots for Comcast employees, though those people accidentally fell asleep and stayed in their seats throughout the entire hearing.  Nuts.

Interestingly, there’s a bit more to the story, and it involves the cozy relationship between the NAACP and Comcast.  Corporate funding of civil rights groups has been a quiet and dank hallmark of liberal politics for decades.  Most of the time these partnerships are innocent, but they lead to some coincidentally problematic situations.  For example, here’s what else was going on in Boston around the FCC the day before the rent-a-crowd incident.   —>

The FCC and ISPs talk about BT while FP demands “Net Neutrality!”
by thecrazedman
The Crazed Man’s Words

[ comments allowed ]

Yesterday I attended the public hearing held by the FCC at Harvard Law School that was addressing allegations lodged against Comcast and other ISPs that they deliberately have (and continue) to delay and block P2P applications to and from their users, whom are paying customers. No matter if the files being shared are legal or not, these ISPs have been accused of managing their networks unfavorably to the file-sharers all across the United States.

I was invited to the event by my Professor, David Monje, whom shares a friendship, academic and otherwise, to the members of From FreePress’ perspective this was billed as an attemp “To Save The Internet” as Net Neutrality is a major lobbying issue for this non-profit organization. I was really excited to be there and hear what both sides had to say.

There was a lot of enlightening information from both panels, specifically panelists Marvin Ammori, Yochai Benkler, Timothy Wu, Richard Bennet, David Clark, and Eric Klinker. These men are all from different backgrounds surrounding the internet and this issue of net neutrality. I am going to follow from the notes I took and expand from what kind of discussion developed.   —>

In Comcast vs. Verizon, Comcast is Down Two Counts
by Drew Clark

[ comments allowed ]

Dominance in the broadband market is a battle of both technology and politics. Right now Comcast, America’s leading cable company, is losing on both counts.  Comcast Executive Vice President David Cohen emerged from the Federal Communications Commission’s hearing on Internet practices in Cambridge, Mass., as unable to defend himself and his company against charges of blocking the peer-to-peer (P2P) Internet application BitTorrent.  Comcast also came out looking like the kind of bullying corporation that resorts to packing the auditorium with its own employees.   —>

For the Clueless Among Us: Why Comcast Paying Folks to Attend FCC Hearing Is Wrong.
by Harold Feld

[ comments allowed ]

I can’t believe I actually need to explain this.  Suppose Comcast made the following offer: If you vote “no” on a ballot initiative we like (and agree to take a pocket recording device into the voting booth with you so we can have proof), we will pay you $50.

Most of us would not only say that this is wrong, we would have no problem understanding why that’s a crime. We would not be persuaded by Comcast defending itself by saying “well, Free Press and other organizations have campaigned in support of the bill and are calling people to ask them to go out and vote — they even provide free rides to people likely to vote for the initiative. That’s just like paying people directly to vote the way we want.” In general, we recognize a difference between organizing ad trying to persuade people to vote the way you want and actually paying people for their vote (and wanting a receipt)…

This isn’t some gray area of giving local employees the day off with pay and a free ride while others had to take time off ad make their own way. This is just hiring warm bodies to block others and — if they stay awake long enough — to applaud on cue. The notion that this is in any way comparable to the kind of civic conversation that democracies depend on and the sort of organizing that Free Press engages in — citizens persuading other citizens and urging them to make their voices heard — is worse than ignorant and beyond Orwellian. It is downright insulting. It takes our most fundamental right and responsibility as free citizens and transforms it into a mockery. It is literally to defend the practice of placing democracy up for sale, and to reduce our democracy to the level of a banana republic.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/18/08

January 20, 2008

Media group calls for release of two Afghan journalists

KABUL — Reporters Without Borders has called on the Afghan government to release two journalists accused of blasphemy, for which conservative religious clerics have demanded the death penalty.  The international media watchdog said Thursday it was concerned about the fate of the men, arrested separately about two months ago.

Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh, 23, was picked up in northern Afghanistan in late October on charges of blasphemy and defaming Islam for distributing articles about the role of women in Muslim society, the group said.  Mohammad Ghaws Zalmai, in his 40s, was arrested in November while trying to escape to Pakistan after an uproar about a translation of the Koran that he distributed and was alleged to “misinterpret” parts of the Muslim holy book.   —>

City Sponsored Cable Franchise Hearings… (NYC)
by Arthur (3 comments)

—>   New York City will be holding five (5) public hearings, one in each Borough, to solicit comments from subscribers regarding the NYC CableTV Franchise Renewal of Time Warner Cable, in Manhattan, Brooklyn,Queens and Staten Island and Cablevision, in the Bronx and Brooklyn.Hearings will take place from 3pm-7pm on the following dates and siteswith informative websites. Written and/or oral comments may bepresented at the hearing or to NYC DoITT by submitting comments here.

Bronx: January 17, 2008
Queens: January 22, 2008
Staten Island: January 24, 2008
Brooklyn: January 31, 2008
Manhattan: February 7, 2008

Don’t Change the Channel. Change the System.
by Josh Silver (34 comments)
The Huffington Post

Mainstream media — especially television — is like an alcoholic that keeps binging, repenting, swearing sobriety, and returning to the bottle. Problem is, it’s the American public that’s getting poisoned by their lethal stew of horse-race election analysis, celebrity gossip and soundbite coverage. We go to the voting booth — a right that people fought and died for — knowing very little about what the candidates actually stand for. And you can forget about any information on candidates like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, whom the press has shut out of the debate — literally.

While Wolf Blitzer is throwing softballs at another candidate, Bill O’Reilly is blaming every problem on liberals, and your local news anchor is reporting on a car wreck, we are left without a clue about the issues that count. We don’t know if the president’s “surge” in Iraq is actually working. Or if the recent skirmish between U.S. warships and Iranian speedboats is a real incident or a Pentagon PR stunt. And what are the real implications of China’s $1.4 trillion trade surplus that increases by $1 billion every day? Or what important decision was made by your City Council or school board last night?

Before you shake your head and say that TV doesn’t matter in the age of the Internet, consider this: According to a report recently released by the Pew Research Center, local TV stations remain the No. 1 source of presidential election news. Cable TV news is second; network TV news is third. TV continues to completely dominate as the opinion leader in American politics.

But at some point you need to stop throwing your remote at the TV. Going outside and yelling that you’re “fed up and you’re not going to take it anymore” isn’t working, folks. It’s time to understand what’s really wrong with the media and what’s really needed to fix it. One word: profits.  You can dress up a cash cow and make it look like a news operation, but at the end of the day, they’re milking the information lifeline that nurtures our democracy.   —>

Aide’s new job raises no flags for Bredesen
by Bonna Johnson (2 comments)
The Tennessean

Gov. Phil Bredesen said he sees no ethical conflict with his communications director leaving his staff to work for a public affairs firm that represents AT&T, which is engaged in a fierce legislative battle with cable companies.  Bob Corney, who joined the governor’s staff in February 2004, is leaving at the end of the month. He is not permitted to lobby for a year under the state’s ethics law.   —>

Bredesen to cave in on AT&T bill?
by R. Neal (1 comment)
TennViews (TN)

Looks like Bredesen is set to cave in on the AT&T cable franchise bill. Coincidentally, his communications director has just left and gone to work for AT&T’s lobbyist.  Gov. Bredesen cites the need to expand broadband access as the justification. I agree we need expanded broadband access. This is not, however, the way to achieve it.   —>

Bredesen weighs getting involved in AT&T vs. cable
by John Rodgers
Nashville City Paper (TN)

Gov. Phil Bredesen said Thursday he is considering getting involved in the fight between AT&T and the cable industry over creating a statewide television franchise.  But Bredesen, who stayed out of the brouhaha between the two parties last year, said he would not be coming down on the side of AT&T or the cable industry.  Instead, Bredesen said if he got involved it would be to explore ways to deploy more broadband Internet access into rural areas, which he says is currently insufficient.  “It’s particularly acute in rural areas of our state, which as you know I’m concerned very much about promoting business in,” Bredesen told reporters Thursday. “So I think the possibility exists. I’m not promising it.”   —>

Connect Kentucky Article Raises Bell Lobby Specter
by Drew Clark (1 comment)

Art Brodsky’s 4,789-word article about Connect Kentucky and its offspring Connected Nation has been the talk of telecom circles over the past week…

…What Connect Kentucky doesn’t do, or at least doesn’t advertise doing, is measuring competition in the broadband marketplace. Knowing where broadband is available and where it isn’t available is only the first step in our nation’s broadband quotient. Knowing where broadband competition is available, and who the competitors are, is the crucial next step.

Connect Kentucky and Connected Nation don’t speak much, if at all, about this aspect of broadband mapping. In fact, the Durbin and Inouye bills sidestep this challenge completely. Ed Markey’s “Broadband Census of America Act,” by contrast, clearly states that local information about broadband competitors will be made available to the public. It appears that the Connected Nation approach to broadband mapping, as articulated in the Durbin and Inouye bills, doesn’t contemplate public access to or knowledge about the companies that provide broadband within a given area.   —>

With Comcast Under Fire, Vuze Enjoys Growth Surge
The P2P service claims to have signed up 17 million subscribers since its launch one year ago and says it’s adding 2 million users per month.
by Richard Martin

While controversy swirls around the struggle between traditional big-pipe entertainment providers to the home — specifically the cable carriers and namely Comcast (NSDQ: CMCSA), the nation’s largest cable TV service — and providers of online peer-to-peer content services, particularly BitTorrent, the market for online movies and other forms of content continues to grow apace.

That growth is benefiting startups like Vuze, the P2P service launched last year by Azureus, one of the biggest BitTorrent client software providers.

Calling itself “the world’s most popular entertainment platform for DVD-quality and HD video content,” Vuze claims to have signed up 17 million subscribers since its launch one year ago and says it’s adding 2 million users per month. Last month the Palo Alto, Calif., company announced a $20 million funding round led by New Enterprise Associates. NEA managing director Mike Ramsay, the co-founder and former CEO of TiVo, joined the Vuze board of directors.

Vuze has become involved in the effort to force Comcast to stop slowing traffic on its network devoted to big file-sharing programs, particularly BitTorrent — which is now thought to account for as much as 50% of all Internet traffic in the United States. On Nov. 14 Vuze filed a petition with the Federal Communications Commission demanding that the commission set rules governing traffic management by large Internet service providers, and that ISPs be forced to publicly reveal their policies toward traffic filtering and “shaping.”   —>

Show Us Your Reel Brooklyn: A Video Contest for Brooklyn Teens
by The Changeling
Bed-StuyBlog (NY)

I recently received this information about a video contest open to 9-12th graders in Brooklyn. I sounds like an exciting opportunity for a young filmmaker-to-be:

BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn announces Show Us Your Reel Brooklyn, a borough-wide teen video contest that will launch the new Brooklyn Independent Television show BK 4 Reel. Brooklyn Independent Television is a flagship initiative of Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT), a program of BRIC Arts | Media | Bklyn.

Participants in the contest are being asked to send in a 2-3 minute video of Brooklyn from their own unique perspective. The video may be in any genre; however, it must be shot in Brooklyn by a 9th-12th grader who either lives in, or attends high school in, the Borough of Brooklyn…  The contest deadline is February 20, 2008. Official contest entry forms are available at and Students with specific questions about the contest may write to bk4reel [at]   —>

Katonah-Lewisboro communications plan
District looks to improve communications
by Matt Dalen
Lewisboro Ledger (NY)

—>  On Thursday, Jan. 10, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert Roelle presented a draft of the district’s new communications plan to the school board, proposing a widespread strategy to disperse information to residents, through more meetings, the Internet, cable television, the media, and “backpack mail” flyers…

… The full “public information plan,” as presented by Dr. Roelle, would include a part-time (60% of the work week) public information officer and webmaster, as well as a full-time cable television coordinator. Money for the public information officer was included in the 2007-08 school budget, but has not yet been spent.  A cable television coordinator would need to be included in a future budget should the school board agree that such a position is needed.  How much a potential coordinator would be paid was not addressed. Dr. Roelle told The Ledger later that he had looked at coordinators in two school districts, which paid between $65,000 and $75,000, but that the district would need to make a decision when and if the position made it into a budget.

“We don’t think we’re maximizing the use of cable television,” said Dr. Roelle. He mentioned ideas for broadcasting student performances, timely discussions and more athletic events on public access television, which in Lewisboro is Channel 20. While some athletic events are now broadcast on Channel 20, not all of them are, and the only school-based talk show is the student-produced Straight Talk, which is broadcast intermittently.   —>

Support Free Speech! Judge August to Decide on Future of Public Access
by Cynthia Thomet
Akaku: Maui Community Television (HI)

Show your support for public access and Akaku on Thursday, Jan. 24 at 8:15 a.m. at the Second Circuit Court in Wailuku. We are asking supporters to dress in black and appear in court as Judge Joel August presides over Akaku’s case against the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) and the State of Hawaii. Through a controversial and unlawful request for proposal (RFP) process that would put PEG access under the influence of state bureaucracies instead of the general public and community organizations, the DCCA and the State of Hawaii have been attempting to take the public out of public access .   —>

Canada Begins Curbing Cross-Ownership
Radio World Newspaper

Canada’s communications regulator has instituted a new media ownership policy to maintain “a diversity of voices” in the country’s broadcasting system.  The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission has established a new policy restricting cross-ownership. A person or entity will only be permitted to control two of three types of media serving the same market: a local radio or television station or a local newspaper.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 12/11/07

December 12, 2007

AT&T negotiating with local government…in Mississippi
by Andrew Eder
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)

As AT&T tells Tennessee that it’s too cumbersome to negotiate for TV franchises with each local government — spawning an epic battle to change state law — the company has negotiated for a local contract in suburban Memphis, according to the Commercial Appeal.  The cable industry and local governments, which oppose AT&T’s statewide franchise proposal, have asked why AT&T can’t negotiate contracts with individual Tennessee municipalities. This latest twist should open up a new round of questions about why AT&T can do it in Mississippi, but not Tennessee.

New government channel to educate Nevada County
by Soumitro Sen
The Union (CA)

If C-SPAN is here, can NCTV be far behind? Starting Dec. 19, Nevada County residents will be able to watch local government meetings around the clock on an exclusive government channel aired by Nevada County TeleVision (NCTV).  In addition, a partnership with Suddenlink cable in south county will enable residents in Truckee, Colfax, Lake of the Pines and Alta Sierra to watch NCTV and the new government channel.

“My vision is to help unify the county through live broadcasts of (local) government meetings so citizens can better understand and participate (in the government process),” said Lew Sitzer, director of NCTV. “(The new channel) will include not only planning commission meetings, but also board meetings of the fire district and the water district.”   —>

Champaign staff against funding another cable channel
by Mike Monson
News-Gazette (IL)

The city’s staff is urging the council to reject using city funds or higher cable bills to pay for a proposed public-access channel to serve Champaign-Urbana.  The council will consider the issue tonight in study session at 7 at the Champaign City Building, 102 N. Neil St.

The staff recommendation goes against that made by a city consultant, the Moss & Barnett law firm of Minneapolis, in its recently completed assessment of the community’s cable needs. The report was prepared to help identify community needs before the start of cable franchise renewal negotiations with Comcast, which is expected to become the city’s new franchisee within a few weeks, taking over from Insight Communications.  Champaign and Urbana’s 15-year cable franchise agreements expire Feb. 28, 2009, and the cities are readying for negotiations.

Moss & Barnett is recommending the cities negotiate creation of a fifth access channel that would be devoted exclusively to public access programming – programs submitted or created by the general public.  Currently, there are four access channels, one each for Champaign and Urbana, plus channels the cities have allocated to the University of Illinois and Parkland College. Champaign’s channel is devoted exclusively to government programming, while Urbana divides its content between government and public access.

Besides a new public access station, Moss & Barnett also recommends that the cities should negotiate obtaining $400,000 in capital funding from Comcast to equip the station, which would likely lead to an 18-cent per month increase in Champaign-Urbana subscribers’ cable bills for five years. Federal law allows cable operators to recover negotiated costs from subscribers.

The report also recommends that the public-access channel should have an annual $300,000 operating budget that could be funded from franchise fees levied by the cities. It is this recommendation that city staff doesn’t agree with, said Jeff Hamilton, a telecommunications and audiovisual technician for Champaign.  “The administration is supportive of creating a fifth channel that could be used jointly by our citizens,” Hamilton said. “We don’t feel it’s in the best interests of the city to fund it with city dollars or to increase cable bills to pay for that.”   —>

State Assembly approves video franchising bill
Wisconsin Technology Network (WI)

Madison, Wis. – AB 207, a bill designed to intensify cable television competition in Wisconsin, has passed the State Assembly and remains one signature away from becoming law.   —>

AT&T U-verse access debated
City’s low-income areas often lack cable alternative
by Rick Barrett and Ben Poston
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)

—>   Yet even as AT&T irons out some technical glitches, such as occasional video and Internet lockups and problems with sound-picture synchronization, U-verse finds itself in a statewide debate over competition and access in the video and Internet businesses.

Today, the state Assembly is scheduled to vote on legislation that proponents say would open Wisconsin to real competition in cable and video services.  The legislation would give cable and video providers a single statewide franchise and scrap the present system that forces them to negotiate separate contracts with each community they serve.

But opponents say the measure lacks adequate consumer protection, and they point to the rollout of U-verse in Milwaukee as evidence that AT&T has been “cherry picking” neighborhoods where it wants to offer the service.  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says he’s worried that AT&T will exclude some parts of the city from U-verse.  “I don’t want to see a service map with a huge doughnut hole in it,” he said.

240 locations, 15 in poorer areas

A Journal Sentinel analysis of U-verse “service cabinet” locations that have been approved or are awaiting approval in Milwaukee shows that significant parts of the city aren’t covered. The cabinet locations are “nodes” that provide U-verse to a neighborhood.  Of 240 locations, only 15 are in census tracts where the median household income is less than $24,130, the 2007 federal poverty threshold for a family of five, according to the analysis.

There are 40 of those tracts, which accounted for 11.3% of the city’s population in 2004, but account for only 6.25% of the approved or pending U-verse cabinets.  “These trends are very disturbing to me,” Barrett said Monday. “We will be talking with AT&T about filling in the gaps and reversing the trends shown on the map.”  U-verse has been available in selected areas of Wisconsin for about nine months. But it’s unclear exactly where the service is offered, or when it’s coming to a neighborhood, because AT&T refuses to provide detailed information.   —>

Pancake breakfast at Applebee’s
The Citizen of Laconia (NH)

The Tilton Police Union will sponsor an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at Applebee’s Restaurant in Tilton on Sunday from 7:30 to 10 a.m.  Proceeds will go toward scholarships, providing needy families with Christmas baskets, and the WLNH-Lakes Region Public Access Television-MetroCast Cablevision Children’s Auction, along with the other community activities the union provides.   —>

Avoid the crowds: Watch Merriment on cable TV
by Stan Musick
The Reporter (CA)

This year’s 25th celebration of Merriment on Main was a lot of fun. My fellow volunteers from Vacaville Community Television and I recorded the event for broadcast on your Public Access cable TV Channel 27.  We were able to work with the event coordinators to provide a live broadcast in the streets the night of the Tree Lighting.   —>

Santa Claus is coming to town … again
by Brian Falla
Daily News Transcript (MA)

Due to overwhelming demand, Santa Claus is coming to town again this year to talk live with kids on Norwood Public Access Television.  “Norwood Digest” host Jack McCarthy said he received confirmation from Santa last week when he attended the annual Friends of St. Nick luncheon to benefit Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.  Santa will again be making an appearance on NPA’s “Norwood Digest” show, Dec. 20 at 7 p.m. and kids can call in live to talk with Santa and drop any last-minute gift hints to the man in red.

McCarthy will once again be sitting down with Santa and sipping hot cocoa in front of the fireplace during the one-hour show that has become a holiday tradition.  Norwood Public Access held the first “Live Santa” chat last year and decided it had to do it again.  “We must have had 40 or 50 kids talk to Santa last year,” said NPA station and public affairs coordinator Karen Murphy. “It was so popular, Santa asked us if we could come back again this year.”   —>

Mass Confusion: Bright House Channel Changes Start Today
St. Petersburg Times (FL)

As you may already know by now, tons of channels are changing on Bright House Networks in every one of its Tampa Bay area cable TV systems in seven counties. Pinellas County has been hit the hardest, with 42 different channel changes, including moving the government and public school channels into the high definition tier. It’s all in the name of standardizing channel numbers in every market….

I also got this email from the good folks at Verizon:

“Our channel line-up for PEGs is already “in order” and will not be changed. The link below provides you with our overall line-up. The PEG channels are available to both analog (Local Package on this list) and digital customers in the same location. The overwhelming majority of our FiOS TV customers take the digital Premier package. One, it is the foundation of our bundled offerings; and two, at $42.99 for standalone (STBs, taxes and fees are extra), it is priced very competitively to Bright House’s analog and digital packages.”   —>

Beware Of Channel Changes: Playmates Turn Up Where Government Used To Be
by Walt Belcher
The Tampa Tribune (FL)

In the great channel shake-up that is going on with Bright House Networks today, Hillsborough County subscribers don’t get a break when it comes to getting E! separated from C-SPAN2.  For years, this odd combo has shared the same channel space. It’s politics in the daytime and pop culture at night.  C-SPAN2, which features coverage of Senate hearings, runs from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Then E! kicks in and runs from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.  Today, this odd couple has moved from channel 51 to channel 22, formerly the home of Hillsborough County Government Television.

If you haven’t been paying attention, and you click to tune in to see the next Hillsborough County Commission meeting or a Planning Commission meeting, you might be surprised to find something such as “The Girls Next Door,” the E! series that follows the adventures of three of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Playmates.  After a few minutes of that, you may not care that the Hillsborough County government channel has moved to channel 622. All the access channels are up in the 600s now.   —>

Controlling the Internet
by Mic Mell
State of Mind of The Art

As if throttling Bit Torrent, blocking access to sites like and PirateBay, and endless industry litigation aren’t eroding net neutrality enough, the IFPI is taking it a step further.  The IFPI is an international version of the RIAA, and the recently sent a memo to the European Union about file sharing.  The IFPI wants to see Europe’s internet monitored, managed, and controlled.  They are presenting a “complete solution to piracy”.  This three step process looks something like this:

1.  Scan the entire internet for audio files, and block files that don’t match up to a database of music.  This practice is called content filtering.  Although it seems benign, the practice of monitoring the entire internet is a slippery slope toward full scale surveillance.  Aside from harming commerce and academic research, having a huge government database of people’s web activity can be used for more malicious purposes then chasing down people who are illegally downloading music.

2.  Blocking peer to peer protocols.  A protocol is a standard for connecting and sharing data, and P2P networks have their own protocol.  If ISPs systematically ferret out and block these protocols, academics and businesses won’t be able to share large files, either.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/28/07

November 29, 2007

Comcast to change public channels
Channels 6 and 12 will require digital converter
by Shannon Murphy
Port Huron Times Herald (MI)

After Jan. 14, Comcast no longer will offer government and school programming on basic cable.  The public access channels, which are 6 and 12 in St. Clair County, will be moved to the cable company’s digital tier. Channel 6 will become digital Channel 902, and Channel 12 will become digital Channel 900.   —>

School board channel set to switch
by Linnea Brown
Hernando Today (FL)

BROOKSVILLE – In two weeks, Bright House Network customers will have to be a bit more creative with their remote controls to find the Hernando County School Board channel.  HCSB TV currently airs on Bright House Networks’ Channel 14, but starting Dec. 11, local school news will jump to Channel 614.  The channel is one of three government access channels — channels 14, 19 and 20 — that the company is relocating from the easily-found lower basic tier to the upper digital channel tier, where some people may have trouble finding them.  Also, customers whose televisions aren’t digital-ready will have to pay $1-a-month for a converter box to receive the channels.

Hernando superintendant Wayne Alexander said he finds the move “very upsetting.”  “It’s an absurdity to expect that people, many of whom have limited incomes, will have to go out and purchase a box just to get public information,” Alexander said.  HCSB is an instructional television station that aims to provide quality educational programming to county residents. It offers a variety of services, including weekly shows produced in its studio, as well as taped graduation ceremonies, football games and school board meetings and workshops.

The channel also runs a “Hernando bulletin board” each day to inform the public of all school events and other community related items, updated weekly.  The channel is frequently watched by locals who have limited transportation to meetings and other public events, Alexander said.  “You’d be amazed at how many people watch our channel, as well as the county’s public access channel,” he said. “I run into people all the time who comment on (news) they saw on HCSB TV.”   —>

North End station and cable deal on Council agenda in Dover
by Leslie Modica
Foster’s Daily Herald (NH)

—>   The council is also scheduled to discuss and vote on a new cable service contract renewal agreement between the city and Comcast.  If approved, the 10-year renewal agreement, which has been negotiated for about three years, will include several changes from the original agreement made in the 1970s. Included in the changes is an addition of an educational access channel, which will be financed by a franchise fee paid by subscribers; an annual $25,000 technology grant from Comcast to help fund city and school Internet service; and a wider range of access to cable service in the city.   —>

Legislators decide not to change public comment rules for meeting
by Kim Dunne
Herkimer Evening Telegram (NY)

HERKIMER – The members of the county Legislature’s Administration/Veterans Affairs committee voted, 4-1, Tuesday evening to keep the public comment period the same at regular meetings of the Legislature.  The committee did leave the door open to possibility of reviewing the guidelines and changing some of the rules at a later date…  Another issue legislators will address in the future is whether or not to videotape legislative meetings and air them on public access television. Maneen said that issue will be discussed after the public comment period is further addressed.

Forum for Peace Available on Cable TV and Online
by Phil Guie
Brooklyn Downtown Star (NY)

A recent forum sponsored by Brooklyn For Peace, the borough’s largest independent peace organization, was intended to be the first in a series of panel discussions devoted to ending the violence in Israel and Palestine.  The session took place at St. Francis College in Brooklyn Heights on Sunday, November 18, and featured a trio of award-winning journalists with experience reporting on an international level as panelists…  Video of the forum will be broadcast on Brooklyn Community Access Television (BCAT) —>,

Do It Yourself Oppo
by Todd Beeton

Today the DNC launches Flipper TV, hours and hours of raw tracking video of Romney, Giuliani, Thompson and McCain on the campaign trail.  For months now, Democratic Party staffers have been tracking the Republican presidential front runners as they travel across the country, compiling a video library of candid moments as they campaign. With FlipperTV, Americans can now watch and download this video, and use the footage as they wish, putting raw material into the hands of the American people to hold these candidates accountable for their comments and actions.

As Michael Gehrke, DNC’s Director of Research, puts it:  “People often say to us, `Why didn’t you make an ad from that?’ Now we can say, `Go make it yourself.’ If it’s good, maybe we’ll steal it.”

This is an incredible resource. The site currently features around 80 videos and will update as new footage comes in, starting with tonight’s GOP CNN/YouTube debate.  So scour the videos, download them over at and post what you come up with. There is a downside of course: you have to watch Republicans for hours on end; the upside, however, is that you could very well uncover the next macaca moment.

Throttling Bit Torrent
by Mic Mell
State of the Mind of Art

Bit Torrent throttling is becoming a real issue. Although it has not yet seen much mainstream attention, controlling users access to internet bandwidth is a disturbing precedent to flow of free information. Seemingly an effort to control the illegal sharing of files, the impact of throttling can be far reaching.

Somewhere around a third of all web traffic is Bit Torrent File Sharing. Keep in mind that a significant amount of Bit Torrent traffic is legitimate, such as file backups for large companies, or as a tool for academic research. A neurocognitive scientist posted on the DSLReports forum how bandwidth throttling is hindering scientific research in a field where leading researchers live great distances from each other. In other words, limiting people’s ability to use their internet waves affects more than porn and Britney Spears.   —>

Uruguay – Senate Passes Community Broadcasting Bill
IFEX – International Freedom of Expression Exchange

In what the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC) calls a “groundbreaking move for freedom of expression in Latin America,” the Uruguayan Senate approved a Community Broadcasting Bill that recognises community broadcasting in its own right and says television and radio frequencies should be more equitably distributed.  The bill acknowledges the importance of this “third” broadcasting sector alongside the state and private sectors, and stipulates that one third of the AM and FM radio airwaves and television broadband will be reserved for community-based media outlets, which AMARC says ensures greater diversity of media ownership.   —>

Presentation: Community 2.0
by Stuart Buchanan

[ SlideShare]

‘Community 2.0′ was presented at the 2007 Community Broadcasting Association of Australia conference at the Sebel Hotel, Albert Park, Melbourne. The audience featured a broad mix of community broadcasters, all ages and demographics were represented – some of whom would have had an understanding of web 2.0 in practice, others were newcomers to the concept. I attempted to map the philosophies that underpinweb 2.0 with the ideologies that course through the blood of community media makers, and then looked ahead to see how web 2.0 would impact on the sector and, more broadly, on society at large.

Web bubble 2.0 for social networks?
by Paul R. La Monica

You may have heard that social networking is the wave of the future.  News Corp.’s (NWS) MySpace and privately held Facebook are attracting millions of users each month. Google (GOOG) is trying to cash in on the social networking craze by partnering with the likes of MySpace, Bebo and other top social media companies through its OpenSocial initative. And Microsoft (MSFT) spent $240 million last month to buy a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook, a price that values Facebook at an eye-popping $15 billion.

But is there a bubble brewing in the social media market? One industry expert thinks so. I sat down to chat with Jim Nail, the chief strategy and marketing officer of Cymfony, an online advertising analytics firm that was acquired by media research company TNS Media Intelligence earlier this year.  Nail, a former analyst at Forrester Research, said he thinks that some advertisers are making the mistake of thinking that social media will be the answer to all their advertising needs, and that MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and others of their ilk will become the ABC, CBS and NBC of the 21st century.   —>

Government refuses to license Zarqa community radio station (Jordan)
by Ahmed Humeid

I received the following press release from AmmanNet radio. I am republishing it here with:

The government rejected a petition to grant a local radio license for the third biggest city of Jordan, Zarqa. In one of its last decision the outgoing Jordanian cabinet rejected the application by AmmanNet to set up a community radio station that will not broadcast news or politics.

This is the first known case in which a radio license has been rejected in Jordan since the deregulation of airwaves allowing for private ownership.  No explanation was included in the November 13th decision of the outgoing Bakhit cabinet which rejected the request based on clause 18.b of the Jordanian audio visual law. That clause states “The Council of Ministers may refuse to grant broadcasting licenses to any entity without stating the reasons for such rejection.”

Daoud Kuttab founder and director of AmmanNet called the decision an indirect punishment to the people of Zarqa. “With so many radio licenses in the capital, we expected the Jordanian government to support rather than reject a radio license that will offer public broadcasting to community services-deprived Zarqa. “ Kuttab says that an advisory board made up of community leaders was assembled, a studio space was rented in downtown Zarqa and equipment for the station was ordered. “At a time that Jordan is encouraging independent community-based media, this unexplained decision surprised us, “ he said.

Kuttab called on the newly appointed prime minister to reverse the decision. He also called on the newly elected parliament to revise the Audio Visual Law in a way to make the distribution of radio frequencies a more transparent affair. AmmanNet’s founder also called on the Higher Media Council to act quickly to ensure the respect of the audio visual regulatory process.

AmmanNet said that all the technical requirement for the station were assembled to the satisfaction of the relevant Jordanian regulators. The station reaffirmed its commitment to the people of Zarqa and called on the government to explain why the cabinet chose to reject our request, so that it can correct them.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/24/07

November 26, 2007

episode 22. drishti media & video volunteers
by noneck
On the Luck of Seven (India)

(T)he journey into understanding participatory culture doesn’t start with digital technology. the study of participatory culture should arise from the understanding that one shoe doesn’t fit all. since my time in ahmedabad, i’ve come to see drishti and video volunteers as the premier example of interactivity between online/offline, between old media/new media, between bitching and getting things done. the prime directive should not exist on earth. if we truly care about a participatory society, we must embrace tools as forms of technology and work hard to impart their use among all. i hope you check out more of video volunteers work.

Weapons of mass distraction
by asterix786
Straight from the Gut (India)

There’s a looming threat of misinformation in the Indian subcontinent. Most media houses are either run by businessmen with strong links to politicians or worse, run by the khaki-clad themselves. If it was a covert operation earlier, today the ownership is out in the open. Every political party worth its salt is trying to gather as much media steam to envelop the country. Knowledge is power, but when the power of disseminating it is at the hands of netas, you have to take every information from their media vehicles with much introspection. —>

Why the Maghreb needs community radio (Morocco)
by Hélène Michaud and Andy Sennitt
Radio Netherlands Worldwide

All that’s needed to create a community radio station is a low-powered transmitter and antenna, a small studio and a microphone. Yet this phenomenon, considered irreversible and essential to development and democratisation elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, has not spread to the countries of the Maghreb. However, there are increasing calls, in particular in Morocco, to introduce community radio.

One of the main proponents is Professor Jamal Eddine Naji, who holds the UNESCO Chair in Public and Community Communication in Rabat. The reforms announced by Morocco’s King Mohammed VI to fight corruption and improve the country’s human rights records must be extended to the media, he says, in order to be successful.

Professor Jamal has been trying to mobilise Morocco’s burgeoning civil society to consider using community radio as a tool. Many private radio and television networks have recently been launched in Morocco, but “we need to go much further in the direction of the appropriation of the media by Moroccan citizens.” And this means opening up the media landscape to community radio. —>

Wired resistance in Pakistan
by Amber Vora
Rabble News

It should come as no surprise that on the fateful night of Musharraf’s first coup in 1999, one of the only showdowns occurred at the state-run PTV television station. The offices were stormed by armed men, some backing Musharraf and others backing then-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. At the time PTV was the only news station in Pakistan, so controlling its broadcast meant controlling the news. PTV went off the air for 3 hours that night. When it returned, it was to announce the dismissal of Sharif’s government.

Loss of access to communications has become a warning sign to Pakistanis that trouble may be brewing. In September 2006, a massive power outage caused an interruption of television broadcasts, spurring rumors that another coup had transpired. In that instance a technical failure, not the Army, was to blame.

This time around, when Musharraf declared de facto martial law on November 3, there were many more television stations to shut down – ironically the very same private stations that were allowed to flourish under his rule. He also placed severe restrictions on print media, leaving most Pakistanis with limited information about what is happening inside their own country. However, such measures no longer control the flow of information as effectively as they did eight years ago…

Several LUMS students I interviewed spoke with the giddiness of those who have only recently discovered their power. Their sentences were peppered with the parlance of blackberries, blogs, facebook and flickr. A senior named Ayesha described how SMS’s spread faster than wildfire across the campus, announcing and coordinating meetings and rallies.

Photos of a favourite professor being arrested by police were circulated over the Internet, outraging previously apolitical students. Cricket star turned political party leader Imran Khan, who temporarily escaped arrest, issued YouTube appeals from hiding encouraging students to mobilize. —>

Cable bill proves campaign reform need urgent
by Dave Zweifel, editor
Capital Times (WI)

On Sunday the State Journal ran a front page story that suggested the new “cable reform” legislation might not save consumers money after all. So what else is new? The story confirmed what opponents of the legislation had been repeatedly saying as loudly as they could for months and months while AT&T and others filled campaign coffers in the state Legislature.

It’s what we said in numerous editorials leading up to the final vote in the state Senate earlier this month and what several in-depth reports by our reporter Judith Davidoff revealed several weeks ago. Not only is this new law unlikely to save cable TV customers any money, it severely weakens the consumer safeguards that have been in place in Wisconsin since cable TV arrived on the scene.

A majority of the state Senate thumbed its nose at the consumer advocates, who wanted some safeguards written into the bill. Those advocates wanted to protect things like the funding of public access channels, which cable TV firms are required to provide now.

If the Assembly concurs in a few changes made by the Senate and Gov. Jim Doyle signs the measure, and the betting is that he will, local control of cable will be taken away. The state’s Department of Financial Institutions, a department led by political appointees, will provide oversight instead.

In what has to be the irony of ironies, the supposedly corrupt state of Illinois enacted a much more consumer-friendly cable law when that issue came before its Legislature earlier this year. It remains a mystery why Wisconsin legislators couldn’t insist on at least the same safeguards.

And when the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, the organization that monitors campaign contributions, detailed the largess senators received from AT&T and others supporting the legislation, there were howls of indignation from the politicians. It’s irresponsible, one Senate staffer wrote me, after we printed the WDC’s report that the 23 senators who voted in favor of the bill received $1.2 million in contributions from the special interests backing the legislation.

No, what’s irresponsible is the Legislature’s continued failure to fix this system that allows special interests to ply government officials with huge sums of money and, in the end, get what they want at the expense of the public interest. Even if this were all somehow just a coincidence, the public perception is clear — our government is for sale to the highest bidder. —>

AOC & LUS’ Franchise
by John St. Julien
Lafayette Pro Fiber (LA)

This morning’s Advocate has a story focusing on one benefit from Tuesday’s approval of the LUS’ cable franchise: Acadiana Open Channel (AOC) will benefit to the tune of $50,000 dollars and a new capacity to offer on-demand programming.

As Blanchard points out, most of the franchise agreement is, for legal reasons relating to the (un)Fair Competition Act, a clone of Cox’s 2000 agreement. There are some differences, however, including the way the LUS agreement deals with the Acadiana Open Channel:

Each year, the Cox franchise agreement requires Cox to pay $50,000 to the open channel to run a public access channel, although that figure can go down if the city-parish doesn’t match funds up to a certain amount.

The LUS agreement calls for the open channel to get a flat $50,000 regardless of any conditions.

While there is a dark lining on this silver cloud, my guess is that Ed Bowie over at AOC’s Lee Avenue offices regards this as a good thing. After all, the perennially cash-strapped organization is getting a new, solid, continuing funding source for the next 10 years. With new federal regulations threatening to further erode the principle of local control of cable media by telling localities that they can’t demand much of anything other than cash for letting cable corporations rent their rights-of-way all public access groups are facing a bleak future. Likely LUS’ commitment will make it politically difficult for Cox to back out of its commitments just because the Feds say they can renege. Cox appears to have a good relationship with AOC. The corporation recently extended AOC’s reach into the surrounding communities recently (you can see AOC’s programming in X, Y, Z now) and provides AOC with net connection. (LUS should certainly match that.)

Even as AOC programming has solidified—it now really fills the two channel slots it has been allocated—and in part because of increased demand for its services AOC’s staffing problems have increased. This is especially true in the critical technical area that will be its future and the additional shot of money will no doubt be helpful there.

But there is a downside to the LUS’ unconditional gift to AOC. It’s unconditional. That means that should the council decide it doesn’t want to match LUS’ contribution in the same way it matches Cox’s then their decision to be chintzy doesn’t let LUS off the hook. With the Cox money the local government has to continue to support AOC or let Cox walk away with money that could be returned to the community. The way LUS has set up its contribution the city is freed from that responsibility. Of course that doesn’t free it from the moral obligation to help pay for valuable community resources. AOC is a magnet for creative types and AOC’s broadcasting of public meetings is an essential public resource. The city-parish should do the right thing. —>

Mark Cuban upset with P2P freeloaders
by PelicanKiss

In a blog titled “An Open Letter to Comcast and Every cable/Telco on P2P” Mark Cuban urges broadband Internet providers to “BLOCK P2P TRAFFIC , PLEASE.”

Calling P2P users “freeloaders” he urged internet service providers to charge commercial rates to users Seeding or relaying P2P traffic. He said “The last thing I want slowing my internet service down are P2P freeloaders. Thats right, P2P content distributors are nothing more than freeloaders. The only person/organization that benefits from P2P usage are those that are trying to distribute content and want to distribute it on someone else’s Bandwidth dime.”

The outspoken billionaire arguably has an interest in freeing up bandwidth currently being used for P2P traffic. His 2929 Entertainment venture is working to implement a distribution plan that includes simultaneously releasing movies theatrically at the same time they’re available in home video formats. No doubt he’d benefit from reduced P2P traffic as it would free up bandwidth that could be used to deliver quality hi-def content. However, rival content providers are testing P2P technology, most notably BitTorrent, for their own content delivery. Even the music industry is looking at the potential of a P2P distribution model. No doubt they’re less than thrilled with his proposal. —>

More cities broadcasting their business on the Web
In effort to increase transparency, more municipalities air meetings, offer services online
by Elizabeth Langton
The Dallas Morning News

Two decades ago, broadcasting city council meetings on cable access was cutting edge. But not in the age of wireless Internet, YouTube and podcasts. Now people expect information on demand, and government is responding by putting more and more of its business on the Web.

Municipalities across the Dallas-Fort Worth area offer a variety of online services, such as ways to report tall grass and broken streetlights or to pay parking tickets and water bills. Some have posted videos on YouTube and set up podcasts on iTunes. And a growing number provide on-demand video of council meetings. “It’s fast food, immediate gratification,” said Laura Hallmark, assistant to the city secretary in DeSoto. “Everybody is in a hurry. They want what they want, and they want it right away.”

The Texas Legislature first offered online video of proceedings in 1999. A handful of state boards offer webcasts of their meetings. When New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer took office in January, he ordered that all of the state’s public meetings be broadcast on the Internet to make government more accessible. —>

The Role of Ethnic Media and Ways to Report on Minorities
by Andrew Lam
New America Media

It is very difficult to frame the picture of the US media because we’re in a period of great turmoil. We have cable, DSL, bloggesphere, major, alternative, youth, and ethnic media, just to name a few. More fragmentation is sure to happen as more individuals have the power to be broadcasters and reporters and entertainers than ever before. We’re also in the age of citizen reporters- people who have a mobile phone and tape and take pictures and film events and break news before any professional journalist can arrive to the scene.

Major news organisations are losing viewers/listeners/readers while small news providers sometime discover that they can reach far wider audiences than they ever dreamed before. The mainstream press is shrinking and many are putting their resources on-line. This is where it’s still dynamic and vibrant.

Ethnic media, however, are growing and there’s still room to grow as the US demographic shift is changing very quickly, toward more a pluralistic society. In California, one out of 4 persons is an immigrant and 40 % of California households speak a language other than English. Our news organization has a directory of ethnic media and so far we identified more than 2500 news outlets that serve ethnic communities in the US. We think the real number may be more than double of what we chronicled.

When we did a poll as to how many American adults access ethnic media, the results were astounding: 51 million American adults access one form of ethnic media or another. That’s about one sixth of the general population. Half of them use ethnic media as their primary source of information. It is estimated that by the year 2050, the white population in the US will be under the 50% mark. This means that there’ll no longer be a majority. It also means that we should all prepare ourselves to find good viable models for our very pluralistic society. —>

Finding their own voice
by Matthew Ricketson
The Age (Australia)

HERE are two snapshots of the ways young people engage with the media: the first is from the shootings in April at Virginia Tech in the US, where, as Cho Seung-hui went on a rampage over several hours, students sought information and sent out news by using their mobile phones and laptop computers wirelessly connected to the internet.

They sent text messages to reassure their parents; they called friends, asking if they had heard of anything untoward at their college; they urgently searched online news websites for official confirmation, and they used their mobile phones to film the terrifying events as they happened.

In this snapshot, young people performed not only the traditional role of eyewitness to newsworthy events but used modern communication technologies to act as news-gatherers. When the mainstream media arrived, desperate to find out what had led one student to shoot 32 of his classmates and teachers, many young people showed an acute awareness of the media’s modus operandi and a savvy regard for the value of controlling their own “story”.

These young people are not just consumers of the media, but “pro-sumers”; that is, producers as well as consumers, who in the world of web 2.0 interact with media outlets and even create their own media.

The second snapshot comes from a survey, released in the same month as the shootings, that tested young people’s knowledge of news and current affairs. Conducted by the Pew Research Centre, a philanthropically funded nonpartisan “fact tank” based in the US, the survey showed that 56% of people aged 18 to 29 performed poorly on its test. Only one in six performed well. The test asked Americans to identify various public figures and tested their knowledge of recent events such as the Democrats gaining a majority in the House of Representatives, as well as their understanding of issues such as whether more civilians than troops have died in the Iraq war. The Pew Centre found that only one in four young people could identify Nancy Pelosi, who this year became the first female Speaker of the House, but that 95 per cent could identify Arnold Schwarzenegger — they got a tick if they identified him as either California Governor or a former action movie star.

What are we to make of these seemingly contradictory snapshots? When it comes to media, are today’s young people free-thinking innovators or self-centred escapists? Are we looking at a possibly disastrous decline in public knowledge, or a youth-led backlash against elitist and increasingly irrelevant traditional media?

Discussion of the issue is fraught, both because young people act as a lightning rod for society’s anxieties and because the media are a conductor for those anxieties. Further complicating the picture are the changes blowing through the media — the biggest since the introduction of television more than 50 years ago. So how, exactly, are young people using the media? —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media