Archive for the ‘press censorship’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/29/08

March 31, 2008

Canadian ISPs Limiting Access To CBC Shows
by kdawson


An anonymous reader sends word that, even as ISP interference with BitTorrent traffic is easing in the US, the issue is heating up in Canada. Major Canadian ISPs are limiting access to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s shows, made available online using BitTorrent.  This issue has burst onto the scene due to smaller ISPs, such as Teksavvy, blowing the whistle on the fact that Bell was expanding its traffic-shaping policies to smaller ISPs that rent Bell’s network.

These events have sparked a formal complaint by the National Union of Public and General Employees, which represents more than 340,000 workers across Canada, to the regulatory body, CRTC, and calls for change in Parliament.   —>

Fort Collins Public Access may get new home
by Cari Merrill
The Coloradoan

[ comments invited ]

The Fort Collins Public Access Network may soon have a new home.  Following a three-year quest to find office and equipment space, the station has staked out a location at 200 W. Mountain that includes three offices and its own lobby. And if the deal goes through, which those involved are sure it will, FCPAN could move in within the next month.  “It’s wonderful to be able to have a space for offices and storage for our equipment,” said Pete Seel, FCPAN volunteer and associate journalism professor at Colorado State University. “We have a lot of nice gear and no place to store it.”

The channel has searched for a home since leaving the Comcast building on University Avenue in 2006 when Comcast opted out of the public access broadcasting business.  Carson Hamlin, video production director for government access channel 14, helped find the Old Town location and is almost certain FCPAN could move into the space in the next month once the previous tenants move out, the space is cleaned and all electrical needs for the equipment are addressed.

After the move from Comcast, FCPAN stored equipment in the basement of City Hall, said FCPAN president Blue Hovatter, which created access issues for Fort Collins residents who might want to make a show.  “How do you run a station like that?” he said. “It’s the chicken-and-the-egg style of deals. You can’t get the funding until you get the studio, but you can’t get the studio until you can prove you can make programming, which requires funding.”

In addition to the strong possibility of a new home, FCPAN got new equipment last year, enabling the station to continually loop content, such as local artwork and poetry, surpassing the six hours they were able to run before.  That equipment comes thanks to Public Educational and Governmental funds. PEG funds are collected from all Comcast subscribers as part of their bill. The 50 cents on each bill each month adds up to almost $90,000 annually to be distributed between four public access networks in Fort Collins: Poudre School District programming on channel 10, CSU student-run television on Channel 11, government coverage on dial 14 and FCPAN on channel 22.   —>

Producers pick up pile of PACCIES
by Wesley Ennis
Plymouth Bulletin (MA)


Karen and Ken Buechs scored a hat trick at PACTV’s ninth annual Paccie Awards Wednesday night, taking home trophies for Best General Talk Show and Show of the Year for the popular Talk of the Towne, and the PACCIE for Best Community or Informational Show for Karen and Company.  The Buechs invited Talk of the Towne host Loring Tripp to join them at the podium as they – the show’s producers – accepted the awards for that show. When their production won Show of the Year, Ken Buechs thanked Tripp for his work on the show and presented him with the trophy.

“PACTV has always been a very positive experience,” Karen Buechs said following the awards show. “The staff is awesome. My husband, Ken, and I are looking forward to producing more quality programming and it’s been an honor to work with Loring. He’s been a terrific host. Most of all, we thank our viewers for all of their support and encouragement.”   —>

Wallingford Town Council March 25, 2008, Part 2
Wallingford Governmet Television (CT)

[ comments invited ]

Part two of regular meeting held by the Wallingford Town Council on Tuesday, March 25, 2008.

Santabarbara shares love of cheese
Angelo Santabarbara – County Legistature (NY)

[ comments invited ]

Angelo Santabarbara may not be a big cheese in county politics yet, but the freshman legislator from Rotterdam certainly knows how to produce his fair share of the dairy staple.  The first-generation Italian-American will feature his cheesemaking prowess on “Let’s Cook,” a popular home-cooking program hosted by Delores Scalise on Schenectady’s public access TV station. Santabarbara spent Tuesday afternoon at Channel 16’s Broadway studio, demonstrating a recipe his parents brought to Schenectady County from the old country decades ago.   —>

Acoustic Music TV: Tom Smith
by Bruce Jones
Acoustic Music TV (MA)

[ comments invited ]

Acoustic Music TV show #4 features Tom Smith, singer, songwriter and performer. Calling himself a “kitchen musician” who enjoys sharing music with other who like simple, direct folk music that has stood the test of time.  Tom has played music since he was five, starting out on the ukulele, and now playing a wide range of instruments, including the guitar, mandolin, harmonica and the Appalachian dulcimer. Tom sings in a wide range of folk traditions including American, English, Scottish and Irish.  For more information check out his website.  Visit Acoustic Music TV.

Salmonella Dwella’
SLV Dweller (CA)

[ comments invited ]

—>   Phase 1 of the 3-phase water flush left Alamosa citizens at a disadvantage when trying to go about their normal routines. Although Alamosa has only begun Phase 1 of the water flush, done with a high concentration of chlorine in the water supply, by Phase 2, citizens can use their showers again – and could turn their hair green. Alamosa Mayor Farris Bervig announced on community access television Channel 10 Thursday that reports of scam artists have surfaced in the city in the wake of the salmonella outbreak.   —>

Serving the Community with a Passion for Truth
by Oskar Wermter
The Zimbabwean

He will not concede defeat even if the votes go against him because that would mean allowing the British colonizer to reconquer the country.  If people are starving that is because Britain has imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.  Or so says the great leader. And state media repeat these falsehoods ad nauseam.

They are designed to keep power in the hands of the “ruling elite”. They perpetuate the poverty and misery of the vast majority. They drive millions of Zimbabweans out of their homeland  into the “diaspora”.  It takes torture and violence to silence the people who know these lies contradict what they see with their own eyes every day…

Media workers themselves who accept that they serve the public and are therefore answerable to it  are nowadays setting up their own ‘courts of appeal’, media councils and complaints committees to which members of the public can appeal if they feel they have been wronged. Such arbitration councils if accepted by all media houses and the entire media fraternity can administer  justice speedily and effectively in a self-regulatory manner.

There is no need for the state to set up such a body. What the people can do for themselves, the state should not try to control. Government is too partisan, dominated as it is by politicians, to be trusted with this delicate task. The Media Council has to educate its own members about proper media ethics which must be guided by a spirit of service to the community, a passion for truth and respect for the individual person.   —>

Telesis on Processing
by Nathan Shaw

[ comments invited ]

Telesis is the purposeful use of natural and social forces. It is planned progress. Magickal activism.  Power does not reside in church or state, but in the manipulation of words, images, and symbols. The power of reality engineering. In the past, church and state held a monopoly on this power. Today, this power is in the media. The popular media was first to show people ways of life from outside of the clenched provincialism and parochialism of their family and community.

Cultural currents were able to cross-fertilize each other and media was able to confer a cosmopolitanism on even rural-living individuals. Media is the foundation of the emerging Global Village and the key to the alchemical Great Work of manifesting the Aeon. The common usage of the word “media”, a plural noun, as a singular noun indicates unconscious movement toward that manifestation: an all-inclusive medium growing and progressing in all directions and dimensions simultaneously.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/22/08

March 23, 2008

Comcast Cameras to Start Watching You?
by Chris Albrecht


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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

Future network infrastructure

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

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

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

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

Transportation and utilities offer a path to this ideal

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

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

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

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/07/08

March 10, 2008

Regular channels on AT&T sought for community access
by George Moore (CT)

HARTFORD – Public television officials and others argued before the state legislature Friday that AT&T should be required to offer community access and government television as regular channels in its new U-verse television service.  AT&T’s new “internet protocol” television service plans to offer all of the state’s local community access stations under a drop-down menu accessed from a single channel, 99.

Community access officials said it would take as long as a minute to find a community access program and that the signal quality would not match that of commercial stations.  Officials discussed AT&T’s new service as a part of hearing on a bill before the General Assembly’s Committee on Energy and Technology.

The U-verse presentation of community access programming “looks like YouTube on TV,” said Jennifer Evans, production manager for West Hartford Community Television. The law, she said, should “insist that public access be delivered at equivalent capacity.”

Schedule for Durham’s public access shows
The News & Observer (NC)

[ comments allowed ]

For nearly 20 years, church folk in Durham have been broadcasting their sermons and ministries on cable Channel 8.  You might have caught the story Tuesday on the city and county’s agreement with Time Warner cable. The news, essentially, is that due to changes in cable franchise laws, the city and county will now have to pay $12,000 a month for public access programming to be aired. These are shows that used to be broadcast for free in Durham.

In tomorrow’s issue of The Durham News, you’ll read more about how ministers have used the public airwaves to spread The Word.  Meanwhile, here’s a schedule of the variety of shows coming up this weekend. We couldn’t fit the schedule in the newspaper.   —>

VT Edition Interview: Tim Nulty & Bill Shuttleworth on the East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network
by Jane Lindholm
Vermont Public Radio

Town Meeting voters in more than 20 towns, from Montpelier to Windsor, gave overwhelming support to the East Central Vermont Community Fiber Network on Tuesday. The broadband project is a subscriber-based service that would be supported by residents and the non-profit ISP ValleyNet. The network would offer high-speed internet, telephone, and cable services. VPR’s Jane Lindholm speaks with ECFiber Chairman ,Tim Nulty, and Vermont Telecommunications Authority Executive Director, Bill Shuttleworth about the next step for these towns, and what their approval means for other broadband projects across the state.

Police, fire officials join for community TV show
Marin Independent Journal (CA)

[ comments allowed ]

The Novato police and fire officials are joining forces with the city’s public access television station to air “On the Scene,” a community awareness show.  The first show is set for production next week, said Liz Greiner, Novato police department community services officer. The topics will be varied, from child car-seat safety, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, disaster preparedness, bicycle safety and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.   —>

Weston Speak Up is on television
by Kimberly Donnelly
The Weston Forum (CT)

Want to hear what’s on the minds of Westonites? Tune in to Cablevision Channel 79 and find out.  Weston’s Speak Up 2008, the League of Women Voters of Weston-sponsored event that took place in February, will be streaming this weekend on the town’s public access television station.  Tune in anytime, Friday afternoon, March 7, through Sunday evening, March 9. Speak Up 2008 will be playing on a continuous loop.

The 16th annual Speak Up featured town and state officials answering questions from the public in an “anything goes” question-and-answer format.  Topics ranged from school start times, the status of the Revson baseball fields, the future of a town cemetery, and the possibility of a community center in town, among others.  Speak Up 2008 is also available online at

Film About Coney Island Wins High School Film Prize
by Ben Badler
Kinetic Carnival – The Coney Island Blog (NY)

[ comments allowed ]

First place in Tuesday night’s BK 4 Reel competition – in which local high school students submitted 2-3 minute videos depicting ‘their Brooklyn’ – went to Park Slope teen Derek Garcia, for his film about taking the F train down to Coney in the wintertime.  Tied for second place were Shalik Wilson for his film about life in Bushwick’s Borinquen Houses, and Axel Lindy for his film about sneaking out at night to hang out on the Brooklyn Promenade.  All three films will be shown on the BK 4 Reel program and Brooklyn Community Access Television.

[The subject is a documentary film, “King Corn”…]
by Lulu McAllister
Lulu’s User-Friendly Guide to San Francisco (CA)

[ comments allowed ]

My good friend Elizabeth Carroll has become a local talking head on San Francisco Public Access television!… Here is a clip of Liz’s debut on a show called SF Live. The subject is a documentary film, “King Corn”, and her guests are from an organic garden organization in the city:   —>

Letter: Veto the FCC’s Big Media Handout
by Alexandra Russell, Free Press
Missoula Community Radio

Dear Missoula Community Radio,

Congress can overturn the FCC’s bad rules to further consolidate local media.  Veto the FCC’s Big Media Handout   Now’s your best chance to stop media consolidation in Montana.  The Senate introduced legislation earlier this week that would reverse the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to let the nation’s largest media companies swallow up more local and independent news outlets.  Congress has just 60 legislative days to pass this bill. By acting now, you can help make it happen:   —>

ACTION ALERT: Senators Seek to Overturn New FCC Media Ownership Rules
by Dibya Sarkar
The Community Bridge Blog (KS)

[ comments allowed ]

A bipartisan group of senators today introduced a resolution to stop regulators from easing media-ownership rules in the nation’s 20 largest cities.  They fear the Federal Communication Communications (FCC) rule would leave newspaper readers, radio listeners and TV viewers with fewer choices. Several consumer groups are challenging the rule in federal court.

The “resolution of disapproval” was introduced by Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., along with 13 Democratic and Republican co-sponsors  to stop the FCC from implementing the new rule that the agency approved in December. The FCC published the cross-ownership rule in the Federal Register on Feb. 21.

“When nearly half of the people in this country are told that in their cities and towns the media will get the green light to consolidate, they will not be happy,” said Dorgan in a release. “The proposal would also create a greatly relaxed approval process for newspapers to buy TV stations in any U.S. media market and spur a new wave of media consolidation in both large and small media markets.”   —>

The FCC & Censorship: Legendary Media Activist Everett Parker on the Revocation of WLBT’s TV License in the 1960s for Shutting Out Voices of the Civil Rights Movement
Democracy Now!

JUAN GONZALEZ: We take a look now at the only time a television station had its license revoked for failing to serve the public interest. It was in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. TV station WLBT had its license revoked for attempting to squelch the voices of the civil rights movement of the time.

The station first came under scrutiny by the Office of Communication of the United Church of Christ. The Office was founded and headed up by media activist Everett Parker. He identified WLBT as a frequent target of public complaints and FCC reprimands regarding its public service. Parker filed a “petition to deny renewal” with the FCC, initiating a process that eventually got the station’s license revoked by a federal court and had far-reaching consequences in American broadcasting.

AMY GOODMAN: Dr. Everett Parker joins us now in our firehouse studio. He has been a media activist for more than six decades, currently an adjunct professor of communications at Fordham University. He’s ninety-five years old. Welcome to Democracy Now!   —>

Community TV faces blackout
by Sally Jackson
The Australian

Community TV stations would close before the end of the year unless the federal Government moved quickly to guarantee their digital future, the sector warned yesterday.  Perth’s Access 31 and Brisbane’s Channel 31 were most at risk, said Andrew Brine, general manager of Access 31 and president of newly-formed peak body the Australian Community Television Alliance.

The five capital-city stations announced yesterday they had split from the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia and joined forces in ACTA to more effectively lobby the Government.  “There are over 300 community radio stations and only five community TV stations (in the CBAA),” Mr Brine said.  “We were to some degree getting lost in the mix and we felt as a sector we would be better doing it by ourselves.”

While the commercial and public TV networks were already simulcasting in analog and digital ahead of the switch-off of the analog signal in December 2013, community TV was marooned on the analog signal, with no government plan or funding to go digital. Uncertainty over the stations’ future was deterring program-makers and sponsors, and audiences were dwindling as viewers migrated to digital TV sets, Mr Brine said.

“Perth has lost on average 12,000 viewers a month over the last year or so (and) 90 per cent of it would be because of digital take-up,” he said.  “For Brisbane and Perth especially it is stretching the ongoing viability of the services. Unless there is something done in terms of a digital future for us, within a year we will lose one or two services.”   —>,25197,23325518-5013871,00.html

Media Watchdog Calls for More Pressure on China Over Human Rights
by Tendai Maphosa

With just five months to go before the Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, there has been increasing scrutiny of China’s foreign policy as well as its human rights record. The media watchdog group, Reporters Without Borders has issued a statement saying it has not seen any evidence that human rights and freedom of expression have improved in China. Tendai Maphosa has more in this report from London.   —>

The Pearson Foundation and the Jane Goodall Institute Form Digital Arts Partnership
Relationship To Support Institute’s Roots & Shoots Global Youth Program

The Pearson Foundation today announced commitments to support digital arts and environmental and humanitarian education for youth around the world. Pearson Foundation President Mark Nieker made the announcement at the WNET/Thirteen and WLIW21’s Teaching & Learning Celebration in New York City alongside renowned primatologist Jane Goodall, PhD, DBE.

The Pearson Foundation announced that the Jane Goodall Institute (JGI) has joined the Digital Arts Alliance, a consortium that promotes digital arts in K-12 education through fully funded and staffed programs that deliver technology and curricula directly to schools and community centers nationwide. The Pearson Foundation is the founding partner in the Digital Arts Alliance. Other members include Nokia, Adobe, The National Academy Foundation, and the American Red Cross.

The Pearson Foundation and JGI will kick-off their partnership at Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit in Orlando, Fla., on Earth Day, April 22, 2008. Working through the Digital Arts Alliance, the Pearson Foundation will introduce digital film making, media strategies and leadership skills to 100 young people from around the world attending the summit. In addition, the Pearson Foundation will give participating youth the tools they need to create video messages about their commitment to making a difference in the world, and to share these short films with each other and the thousands of youth participating in its other programs.

The Pearson Foundation has also committed to bring its digital media curriculum to Roots & Shoots groups in five locations around the world. Roots & Shoots is JGI’s environmental and humanitarian youth education program. By extending youth engagement beyond the summit itself, the Pearson Foundation is creating a global dialogue among young people regarding the critical issues facing our planet.

“Dr. Jane Goodall embodies the idea of global youth education, and Pearson shares her passion for inspiring young people around the world and for giving them unique learning opportunities,” said Nieker. “By providing digital technology to the Institute’s Roots & Shoots program and Jane Goodall’s Global Youth Summit this April, Pearson Foundation supports the spirit of environmental and humanitarian learning with a world leader in this field.”

“In the Internet age, technology is critical to advocacy, which is why we are so excited about our partnership with the Pearson Foundation,” said Goodall. “Like the Pearson Foundation, we support the use of digital arts for youthful self-expression. Working together, we hope to empower young people around the world to address the issues facing their communities and, ultimately, create the next generation of leaders.”   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/29/08

February 29, 2008

Rowley lobbies for local access channels
by Lynne Hendricks
Newburyport Daily News (MA)

Negotiations have begun for a new cable license with Comcast Cable Co., and town leaders are letting the cable giant know that programming geared specifically toward their local audience will be a high priority moving forward.  In a series of three public meetings that kicked off two weeks ago, selectmen have been collecting testimony from officials and local residents who support the vital role Public, Educational and Governmental access programming plays in small communities.  The last of the three public hearings will take place Monday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. and will primarily address the public component of PEG access, which enables anyone from the public with a creative idea to produce and air content on available local channels.

In neighboring towns like Newburyport and Salisbury, that access includes the airing of local governmental and school board meetings, emergency data related to road closures and extreme weather events, and unique programming locally produced by student and resident film enthusiasts.  Rowley had access to those channels until last summer when Comcast — the only cable licensee in town at the time — sold its Newburyport studio and discontinued PEG access to Newbury and Rowley. The town has since fought unsuccessfully to get Comcast to reinstate PEG access, and it’s likely the matter will end up in court depending on how Comcast responds to the town’s latest legal filing.

In the meantime, Verizon is a new cable player on the scene, having been issued a license in December 2007 to compete with Comcast in Rowley. They’ve launched an aggressive marketing campaign and sent company representatives out across town to garner a share of the local market. They sweetened their deal by offering the town a generous $85,000 grant toward Rowley’s own future PEG access studio, and an additional 5 percent of future revenues to the same end.   —>

Special fund proposed  for cable access
by Tamara Le (NH)

NORTH HAMPTON —>   The BOS held a public hearing on the special revenue fund warrant article for the town’s Cable Access Channel. If approved by voters, the establishment of the PEG Access Television fund will allow for the hiring of a staffer for Channel 22 by way of money accumulated through Comcast subscriber fees returned to the town. Further, the board approved a payment of $18,149.45 from the current fund for cameras, microphones and other production equipment.   —>

Londonderry access channel request gets poor reception
by Trent Spiner
Union Leader (NH)


A proposed sixth channel for Londonderry’s public access television center has been denied by the town’s cable provider, prompting officials to take action.  Local public access television officials looking to expand their station’s lineup said they cannot air all their programming in a timely fashion with the five channels they currently have. Representatives from Comcast, the town’s sole cable provider, said another channel is unreasonable and would limit other features in higher demand among their customers.  The disagreement is expected to come to a head on March 3 when the town council holds a public hearing on the matter.

“Comcast owes us a sixth channel,” said Dottie Grover, director of cable services for the town. “The sixth channel would be a second public access channel. It is not unusual for us to have 50 to 70 programs waiting to have a turn to get on the air.”  She said a contract with Comcast enables her department to broadcast on a sixth channel by simply asking for it. But their request for the channel — dating back almost four months — has been denied. Town councilors must now hold a public hearing to determine whether Comcast is in breach of contract.   —>

Community group hopes to save WBTN
by John Waller
Bennington Banner (VT)

[ comments allowed ]

A day after Southern Vermont College announced that it was searching for interested parties to take over and operate the radio station WBTN-AM as a community outlet, a group of community leaders has stepped forward to answer the call.  Although still in its early stages, the group made up of town officials, organization directors and media owners and experts met Wednesday to discuss ways to keep WBTN-AM open as a community news source, group spokeswoman and executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce Joann Erenhouse said Thursday.

She said the group formed after locals voiced their concerns over the future of the radio station, urging the college to maintain Bennington’s local AM station as a community asset. “It’s really important for us to keep WBTN-AM locally focused, locally controlled and locally operated,” she said.  “When you listen to other radio stations, you get nice music and national and international news,” she continued, “but there is a huge appreciation in this community from people across the board for being able to turn on the radio and getting to hear people we know talk about local issues, issues we care about and have some influence over. You can’t get that on any other station.”

In early February, the college’s trustees directed President Karen Gross to end the station’s losses by May 15. The station has lost about $450,000 since it was donated by trustee Robert Howe in North Bennington in 2002, college spokesman David Scribner said.  He said he thought it was great that a local group has organized and is interested in saving the station. He said the group is one of many that has been in contact with the college, especially after it gave a March 21 deadline for proposals.   —>

Community media center plans expand and change
by Mark Anderson
Kiowa County Signal (KS)

While work on development of the Kiowa County Community Media Center has continued in recent months, its shape and scope has also evolved to the point of now including three other pre-tornado entities in a two-tiered facility tentatively named the Kiowa County Commons, tentatively set to be built on South Main in Greensburg.  The components of the media center have been detailed before on this page, including a WiMAX-based wireless access point atop the grain elevator and free WiMAX-enabled laptops and other portable, handheld WiMAX-enabled devices to help citizens create and receive the web-portal based audio and video programming.  The center is to provide both the technical support and state-of-the-art resources to support both community journalism and creative expression…

Other locals participating are County Extension Agents Carmen Stauth and Pam Muntz, and GHS faculty member Marshall Ballard, who is organizing a group of high school students who will be involved in television and radio production activities through the media center.  Likewise involved are Ray Stegman and Kendal Lothman of the county’s Long Term Recovery Team and Debra Allison, director of county libraries.

Community Media and Community-Based Planning
by Tom Lowenhaupt
The Campaign for Community-Based Planning (NY)

[ comments allowed ]

Over my 14 years as a community board member it became ever more apparent that local communication in New York City sucks, sorry, is inadequate. In making the case for the .nyc TLD, I frequently make reference to the quantity of local media in Terre Haute Indiana, where I attended college for a couple of years, and Queens Community District 3, where I served on the community board. Here’s a little chart comparing the dedicated local media serving the two communities:

Also, we do have a few weakly newspapers that cover portions of the district. And should there be a catastrophe in the area (LaGuardia Airport is in our district), we will be inundated with far more media than one reasonably needs. But on a daily basis, to look into why the potholes aren’t filled, to the needs of the homeless guy, to examine the quality of our local schools, etc., local media doesn’t exist. Perhaps I should say “local media is inadequate.”

This is all preliminary to my directing you to a presentation that will be given this Sunday at the Grassroots Media Conference at Hunter College entitled “A Platform for Community Media.” The presenter (that would be me) will explore how the .nyc TLD (other TLDs are .com, .org, .edu…) will facilitate the development of participatory local media – media that we all contribute to and that helps us make decisions. Perhaps it might be thought of as community-based or bottom-up media. Not sure what I’ll call it yet. Come Sunday and find out.

Get a preview of my presentation here and info about the Grassroots Conference and it 40 other sessions, and film screenings, here.

Interview about alternative media
by Paul O’Connor
Undercurrents Alternative News (UK)

[ comments allowed ]

—>   > Do you think that ethnic minorities, victims of violence or corruption and other social groups feel that the media is falling to give them a voice?

I assume you mean the mainstream media? The alternative media has grown strong over the last 10 years and now campaigners, or any minorities can spread their message wide and coherently. A decade ago Undercurrents videos of a protest against a roadbuilding scheme would gain an audience of around 10,000 by distributing VHS video tapes, now with the internet we reach 160,000 with DVD quality downloads. The videos are then shown to various communities. Very exciting stuff. Many people are (slowly in some cases) that the mainstream media is losing much of it’s power. Following narrow corporate agendas has alienated the public who are seeking real news and stories. Campaigners have a voice within the growing alternative media such as undercurrents video, indymedia,schnews and other outlets.

> Is the public interested in development stories and that of human suffering? Why?

Yes they are but usually only if presented in a way that the public feel they can make a difference. Usually the angle the mainstream media portrays is of victims. The mainstream may say that Homeless people deserve our sympathy and persuade us to give them some money but rarely challenges the reasons why so many people are on the streets in the first place. Alternative media tends to highlight the people actively out there changing the system. Setting up social centres in disused buildings, community cafes, cheap quality food coops etc. When the public sees the issue framed through this lens, people become interested in development stories.   —>

Blind Alleys
by Bunny Riedel
Telecommunications Consultant

There are people who have contributed greatly to your personal welfare that you will never hear about. One of those is Marston Bates. He studied mosquitoes in South America and his work improved the understanding of yellow fever. You gotta like a guy like that, somebody who does original and actual research. Bates didn’t take himself too seriously either. He is attributed with saying “Research is the process of going up alleys to see if they are blind.”

It seems that more people just take things as gospel without ever digging any deeper to get to the facts. I do know the more something is repeated, the truer that something becomes. And if you throw a bit of academia on that something you pretty much got yourself a coup.

Take the recent Ball State University white paper put out by the Digital Policy Institute called “An Interim Report on the Economic Impact of Telecommunications Reform in Indiana.” Luckily the report came out just in time for the opening of state legislative sessions because according to that report Indiana is now leading the nation in terms of innovative and creative telecommunications law.

Did you know that there have been over 2,200 jobs created in Indiana as a direct result of the March 2006 statewide video franchising? That’s what the report says alright, over 2,200 jobs created! Of course the citations to support that claim are from AT&T, Verizon and Comcast press releases and a newspaper report regarding other telecom companies. The largest number of these jobs are attributed to AT&T at 1,650. However, even if you take AT&T at their word and believe their press release, the real story is that at least 600 of those jobs have nothing to do with statewide video franchising, they are call center jobs for wireless business customers.


If we presuppose that the remaining 1,050 AT&T jobs were strictly created as a result of statewide video franchising and their rollout of U-Verse, we would then have to hypothesize that AT&T ain’t so great at workforce management. As of August, AT&T reported offering U-Verse to five cities in Indiana: Kokomo, Indianapolis, Anderson, Bloomington and Muncie. If we assume that AT&T now has 10% of all subscribers in those cities, or over 30,000 subscribers in Indiana, we have to conclude that AT&T has hired one new employee for roughly every 28.5 subscribers. Ergo we can now say with confidence that AT&T ain’t so great at workforce management.

See how I do that? And all without the added benefit of a professorship or an institute.

Nothing can be empirically proven when all one does is rely on press releases from the very companies one is supposedly researching or multiple citations from the very groups that lobbied for the legislation in the first place. What groups? The very same groups that have traveled from state house to state house, coast to coast, across this nation pretending they have conducted nonbiased, consumer interest research. Folks like: The American Enterprise Institute; Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC); FreedomWorks; Heartland Institute; Phoenix Center; and the Reason Foundation. Throw into the mix the National Conference of State Legislators, whose policy platform is pro-statewide franchising, and you’ve got yourself quite a bucket-load of data regarding how fabulously terrific statewide video franchising is and how Indiana is such a leader in broadband deployment.

What’s true is that almost two years after the law passed, fifteen of the Certificates of Authority applicants were incumbent cable operators hoping to relieve themselves of various obligations in existing franchise agreements. Pesky stuff like capital payments for PEG or PEG channels or PEG operations. Somebody ask South Bend, Hammond, Merrillville, Mishawaka, Plymouth, Goshen and Portage about what happened to their production studios and playback facilities. Somebody ask the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) what the penalty should be for Comcast not making their quarterly capital payments to Fort Wayne even though the law clearly says support is supposed to remain the same.   —>

Hopes fading for public-safety broadband network
by William Jackson
Government Computer News

The Federal Communications Commission’s auction of the 700-MHz portion of the spectrum, now occupied by TV broadcasters, has been a financial success, with total bids of more than $19.5 billion for all five bands, far outstripping the $10 billion reserve set by the FCC.

But the one loser in the ongoing auction, now entering its second month, has been the D block, which includes the chunks of spectrum set aside for a nationwide public safety network.  “It is now becoming clear that the reserve price will not be met,” said Roberta Wiggins, a research fellow at the Yankee Group.

Bidding on that block stalled early in the auction, with one bid at $472 million — far below the minimum price of $1.3 billion set for it. Bidders apparently have been scared off by what Wiggins called the “horrendous cost” and “Herculean task” of building out a single network, a large part of which would be used exclusively by first responders in state, local and public safety agencies around the country. During emergencies, public safety agencies would receive priority on all segments of the D block network.

What the stalled bidding means for the future of the public safety network is not clear.  “We still don’t know what happens if D block doesn’t meet its reserve and what they plan to do with it,” said Berge Ayvazian, chief strategy officer at Yankee Group.

That is just one of many unknowns discussed in a telebriefing Thursday by Yankee Group analysts who summed up the current status of the auction. The open-ended auction could continue for as long as four more months, and for the first time the bidding is anonymous.  “We not only don’t know who the winners are yet, we don’t even know who is bidding,” Ayvazian said.   —>

Nonline community: freedom, education, the net
by Dougald Hine

[ comments allowed ]

Both governments and zealous cyber-enthusiasts champion the internet’s educational and political potential. The danger that results is a policy of techno-compulsion that undermines citizens’ autonomy. There is a better way, says Dougald Hine.

There is frequent and widespread criticism of the way that governments around the world attempt to manage or control the internet. The imprint of the global network’s origins in the United States’s cold-war era military-research programmes seems ever present in the tensions between states and citizens that appear in so many of the net’s “civic” contexts – from the Chinese government’s massive monitoring and blocking operations to western authorities’ moral censorship and European Union legislation requiring service providers to retain details of customers’ internet use.

In such cases, those who speak out for the civil liberties of internet users often tend towards a techno-libertarian position: their commitment to individual freedom being matched only by a belief in the “transformative potential” (a key couplet) of the internet…

There is always a danger that the frenetic embrace of new freedom disguises an updated form of old conformity. The benefits facilitated by the internet can be acknowledged, and the threats to online freedoms by states and governments challenged, while other important freedoms that its spread may infringes are neglected. One of these in particular increasingly requires defence: the freedom to remain disconnected, to refuse citizenship of cyberspace, to keep both feet firmly in First Life.

The limits of the possible

This is no longer an academic question. In England, the government announced in January 2008 that it is considering making it compulsory for parents to provide broadband access at home for their school-age children. The initiative is motivated by an honourable desire to ensure that technology is not out of reach of families on low incomes. Ministers hope to reach deals with major IT firms to provide affordable access. However, this would be reinforced by the requirement that parents subscribe to the service – presumably accompanied by some kind of sanction for those who wilfully fail to comply.

The government’s schools minister, Jim Knight, argues that this is no different to the expectation that families provide pupils with a school-uniform, pencil-case and gym-kit. Yet such comparisons serve only to highlight the unprecedented nature of the proposed requirement. When governments begin to oblige people to instal a communications technology in their own homes, this raises serious questions about the role of the state and the rights of citizens.

The now routine references to pupils and students as “consumers of education” highlight what underlies the effort to get every family in England online: that is, a model of the way that new products spread through society, used for decades by marketers in their quest for customers, and increasingly taken up by policy-makers. Everett M Rogers’s “diffusion of innovations” curve plots the take-up of a product over time, mapping consumers into five categories, according to the stage at which they buy in. These range from “innovators” (who make up 2.5% of the overall market) and “early adopters” (13.5%), through the “early / late majorities” (34% each), to the 16% of “laggards” at the back.

The model – first developed by researchers who wanted to know why some farmers were slower than others to adopt agribusiness practices – wears its value judgements on its sleeve (who would prefer to be labelled a laggard than an innovator?) The basic assumption is that the product or technology in question is an uncontested good; that everyone ought to have it; and that its universal spread is only a matter of time.

In the case of a business promoting its product in the marketplace where “customer choice” is meaningful and not just another mantra, this leaves a space for free decision (Coca-Cola may believe that it is “the real thing”, but, if I disagree, it cannot force its authenticity upon me). But governments – even ones claiming democratic authority – are not subject to constant competition; they are granted a temporary monopoly on power, and, where persuasion fails, they may resort to compulsion. This makes it important – in this area as in others – for citizens to demand that politicians’ power is both limited and accountable. There are few things which are so overwhelmingly good that everyone should be forced to adopt them; and, to put the same point from a different angle, people often turn out to have surprisingly good reasons for refusing an innovation that others have decided is without drawbacks.    —>

Junta continues to quash Burma’s media
by Zin Linn
UPI Asia Online

[ comments allowed ]

BANGKOK, Thailand,  The latest attack on Burma’s media took place Feb. 15, when the military junta raided offices of the Myanmar Nation weekly journal in Rangoon. Editor Thet Zin and manager Sein Win Maung were arrested after officials confiscated a human rights report by U.N. Special Rapporteur Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, a contribution on the Panglong Agreement by a veteran Shan politician, videos of anti-government protests during the Saffron Revolution and handwritten poems. The police also seized hard disks from the computers which stored news reports and photos to be used in the weekly journal.

Reporters Without Borders and the Burma Media Association condemned the arrest of the two men. The Honolulu Community-Media Council of the United States also joined the BMA, international journalist and human rights organizations in condemning the continued crackdown on the Burmese media by the military regime.

Burma is trapped in a murky era where freedom of expression has been completely lost. The more control the junta has over the media and the Internet, the higher the menace for the civilized exchange of ideas. The junta is abusing the media as its tool to close peoples’ eyes and ears by giving them false news and ideas.

It is sad that this country sees no sign of freedom even in this Global Information Age. The junta controls all media access now. Since the monk-led protests known as the Saffron Revolution of last September, all news media in Burma is strictly censored and tightly controlled by the military junta. All daily newspapers, radio and television stations are under the regime’s supervision.

During the brief Saffron Revolution, people in the former capital of Rangoon and all other provincial cities received up-to-date news footage through Al-Jazeera, the BBC, CNN and DVB TV. Besides, some IT activists put footage of the dissent on compact discs and delivered them to people with no access to satellite dishes. Such actions allowed many Burmese citizens to see news footage of the mass anti-government demonstrations, and the brutal crackdown that ensued.

The military regime has constantly mistreated journalists since Sept. 27. On that day Japanese video reporter Kenji Nagai was killed by a soldier in downtown Rangoon, at the height of the demonstrations. Japanese officials have constantly said that Nagai, 50, was evidently shot at close range, not hit by stray bullets as the SPDC officials explained. The Japanese government has demanded the return of the journalist’s video camera and tapes, which are believed to have captured the shooting, and is investigating his death.

The military censorship branch, known as the Press Scrutiny and Registration Division, is now harassing editors to publish propaganda produced by the junta in their journals and magazines. Scores of writers and journalists suspected of sympathizing with the Saffron Revolution have been banned from contributing to publications.

Members of the Union Solidarity and Development Association, a junta-backed militia, have kept up their attacks on journalists. Photographers were beaten by USDA thugs while taking photos during the monks’ protests. Numerous civilians holding cameras or mobile phones were temporarily arrested and tortured. More than a dozen journalists were beaten or treated badly during the demonstrations. In addition, several young amateur journalists or civilian journalists were also detained and their cameras and mobile phones were confiscated by the militia.

Burma’s military exercises tight controls over the Internet, banning access to news websites such as Yahoo or Hotmail. The regime was frustrated by bloggers and civilian journalists during the anti-junta protests, as they provided detailed consecutive accounts of the bloodshed and helped spread the news. The junta disconnected the nation’s Internet links at the height of the violence to cut off the information flow about the crackdown.

A popular Myanmar blogger, Nay Phone Latt, was arrested on Jan. 29. His blog was written in Burmese and in a creative writing style. He used it as a forum to discuss the difficulties of daily life, such as the electricity shortages and the swelling cost of living.

In the 1950s, Burma was at the forefront of press freedom in Southeast Asia. The country enjoyed a free press without censorship. As many as three dozen newspapers, including English and Chinese dailies, existed between 1948 and 1962 under the civilian government. Even the prime minister’s office was never closed to journalists in those days. They were also free to set up relations with international news agencies.

The situation changed in 1962, when the military seized power. All newspapers were nationalized by the junta led by Gen. Ne Win. The junta established a Press Scrutiny Board to enforce strict censorship on all forms of printed matter, including advertisements and obituaries. Since then, the military junta’s censorship and self-censorship are commonplace, and have severely restricted political rights and civil liberties.

The Press Scrutiny and Registration Division is a major oppressive tool of the incumbent military regime. Not surprisingly, Burma stands downgraded from a free state to a prison state. No printed matter can be published without the PSRD’s permission. Photos, cassette tapes, movies and video footage also need the censor’s stamp before reaching the people. At the same time, the military concentrates to stop the flow of uncensored radio news in Burmese available from international broadcasting stations.

Moreover, the junta has come to dominate the media industry through publication companies owned by generals and their cronies. The radio, television and other media outlets are monopolized for propaganda warfare by the military regime and opposition views are never allowed. The regime does not even allow religious discourse.

The media is a special tool for the military regime with no space for the opposition party. Political debates are always inhibited, even at the National Convention, which has completely lost its credibility and is regarded as a sham.

Foreign periodicals have not been seen on newsstands since October as the junta has been blocking reports on Burma. The owners of Internet cafes have been forced to sign an agreement to follow restrictions by the authorities, and dare not allow users to breach the regime’s filters. Moreover, the owners have to report details of their customers to military intelligence.

Currently, the situation of the press in Burma is getting worse and worse. Media-related people are feeling defenseless, and the voices of the people are constantly blocked.

The press is the fourth estate of democracy after the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. But in Burma the Parliament has been debarred by the military. The judiciary is automatically defunct under military supremacy. In that case, it is clear that the fourth estate cannot escape from the grip of the military dictatorship.

The lifeblood of democracy is the free flow of information. Burma needs regional cooperation to attain press freedom. Journalists in Burma are hoping for more assistance, morally and practically, from international media groups. Without press freedom a nation cannot enjoy the taste of social equality.

(Zin Linn is a freelance Burmese journalist in exile. He spent nine years in a Burmese prison as a prisoner of conscience. He now serves as information director of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, and is vice-president of the Burma Media Association. ©Copyright Zin Linn.)

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/20/08

February 21, 2008

Fifth Annual NYC Grassroots Media Conference: March 2, 2008
Co-Sponsored by Film and Media Studies Department at Hunter College/CUNY

Download Conference Information Packet (PDF) here

For the past four years, we’ve come together to explore the political dimensions of media and how it shapes our lives. By developing relationships between community and media organizations, the NYC Grassroots Media Coalition is working to re-imagine issues of access to, control of, and power over our media system. That means defining our struggle as a struggle for Media Justice.

Media Justice recognizes the need for a media that comes from, and is responsive to, the people, a media that addresses systemic marginalization and discrimination and that speaks truth to power. Media Justice asserts that our communities and airwaves are more than markets, and that our relationship to the media must be more than passive consumption. Media Justice recognizes that the form of our current media system is not inevitable, but the result of an interplay of history, technology, power, and privilege. Media Justice seeks to integrate efforts to reform our media system with a social justice agenda, in order to create not just a better media, but a better world.

We invite you to join us at the 2008 NYC Grassroots Media Conference as we seek to define our understanding of and relationship to Media Justice as a community, and explore how we can not only envision an ideal world, but to make this vision a reality.   —>

Editorial: Telling our story
The Daily Journal (IL)

[ comments allowed ]

Kankakee County’s Comcast users could be creeping closer to getting public access television.  A recent meeting of the Development and Operations Committee of the Kankakee County Board heard testimony from two strong supporters of the idea. One is Marc Wakat. Wakat is the Democratic precinct committeeman for Limestone 3 and fondly remembers the good old days of Kankakee Valley Prime Time Live, a tongue-in-cheek news magazine of 15 years ago. The other is Kankakee Community College. President Jerry Weber wrote a letter to the board, indicating that the college could make use of a public access channel to show lectures and classes…

The essence of public access is to set aside a cable channel for use by the general public, providing an outlet for educational and community happenings. Detractors worry about putting material on the air that might somehow be indecent or offensive.  Our view is that hundreds of wholesome community events could be aired. Each would help build a sense of local pride. It would bring the community home to people who are shut in. It would bring local government out into the open.

Here is just a sample of some of the programs that could easily be put up on a local access channel: parades for the Bourbonnais Friendship Festival and at Christmas in Bradley; meetings of the Kankakee City Council, Kankakee County Board and the Kankakee School District; programs at the Kankakee Public Library and the Kankakee County Museum; and the YMCA Living and Learning series.

Would it not be a plus to be able to broadcast the Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast? The Kankakee County spelling bee? The Memorial Day ceremony from the steps of the Kankakee County Courthouse lawn?

The County Board appears to be increasingly sympathetic to the idea and now appears to be ready to push out to other governments.  Cable has created a whole bunch of channels. We have shopping channels, Spanish channels, sports channels, golf, Animal Planet and the Eternal Word. Surely, room can be found for community events.  “We should tell the great stories that our community holds,” Wakat says.  We couldn’t agree more.

It’s time for schools to budget for taped meetings
by Abbi Swanson
Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun (IA)

An open letter to the school boards and superintendents of Lisbon and Mount Vernon from the League of Women Voters:

As you prepare your budgets for the upcoming fiscal years, the League of Women Voters of Mount Vernon-Lisbon is calling upon the school districts in our communities to add a line item for payment to KMVL TV, in order for Dean Traver’s company to tape school board meetings and work sessions.

Dean has provided residents in this area with coverage of local events for decades as a public service.  The league is urging this taping expand, and begin something we have advocated for years but which has met with occasional resistance.   —>

Knology to finish work
Cable firm agrees to invest $750K in citywide services
by Hayes Hickman
Knoxville News Sentinel


* PDF: Draft contract amendment to Knology’s Knoxville franchise agreement

After years of stalled progress, Knology Inc. has agreed to invest $750,000 this year toward completing its citywide Internet, cable and phone services network, under a renegotiated franchise agreement with the city of Knoxville.

Knology’s services were within reach of barely half of all city residences in 2006 when City Council members last raised the issue with the West Point, Ga.-based company. Knology was required to complete its build-out within four years after the city franchise took effect in April 2000, with noncompliance penalties of $5,000 per month.

Under terms of the new draft contract amendment, to be voted on by council members at their next meeting Feb. 26, the penalties would be waived as Knology agrees instead to apply 80 months’ worth of such damages, totaling $400,000, plus another $350,000 toward expanding its local network infrastructure this year.

Although the new agreement does not impose a revised, absolute deadline for completion, the bundled media services provider would agree to commit 5 percent of its annual gross revenues in Knoxville each year toward the continued network expansion, or at least $2.1 million total over the remainder of its contract through April 2015…

Knology also agrees to begin carrying local community access television in its channel lineup within 90 days of the amendment’s approval by City Council, and to equip several city recreation and community centers with cable service at no cost.   —>
also reported by WBIR


Deerfield Twp. prepares for new cable providers
by Eric Bradley
Community Press & Recorder (OH)

Residents here will soon have more options for cable TV, and Deerfield Township is making sure those providing it pay to use the public right of way.  Trustees passed a resolution Feb. 13 assessing a 5 percent fee on new cable and video service providers in the township.   —>

Buck Center to host seminar
Novato Advance (CA)

[ comments allowed ]

—>  And for friends of Sustainable Novato, Novato Public Access Television (NPAT) Channel 26 TV (Novato) will rebroadcast Sustainable Novato’s highly successful “Green Schools Coalition” Community Forum every Wednesday and Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m. through the month of February.  Here’s a review of the Forum by Novato’s Annie Spiegelman in a Marin newspaper’s Feb. 8 letters to the editor:   —>

Latina Voices
by Sandra Fernandez
Sandra Says

[ comments allowed ]

Minerva Perez, formerly on KTRK ABC Channel 13, has a new project. Latino Talk TV is currently on public access TV. The show has become so popular that a national network is discussing syndication rights.  Here’s the premiere episode of her newest project, Latina Voices. It’s sure to be another success. (Can you tell I’m a fan?)

St. Patrick’s parade faces TV blackout
Time Warner asking $3,500 to cover costs
by Brian Meyer
Buffalo News (NY)

This year, the only chance to see marchers in the St. Patrick’s Day in Buffalo may be in person.  Time Warner Cable is ending the tradition of providing free production for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade so the popular event can be later aired on the cable system. It wants parade sponsors to pay $3,500 for production costs or find their own video crews.

Organizers of one of downtown’s biggest events are furious, as are some city officials.  “It’s very sad,” said Brigid A. Knott, the parade’s chief of staff. “[Time Warner] certainly makes enough money from the people of the City of Buffalo, not to mention people in the suburbs.”   —>

Burma’s Media completely under military dictatorship
by Zin Linn
Asian Tribune

[ comments allowed ]

The press is the fourth pillar of democracy after parliament, the legislature and the judiciary. Not so in Burma, where parliament has been silenced by the military. As a result, the legislature and the judiciary are automatically defunct under the military autocracy. As a necessary outcome of the iron rule, the fourth estate also comes under the grip of military-dictatorship.

The Burmese military junta has enforced stringent censorship rules and regulations the world has ever known on the media. Every piece of text has to be scrutinized by military’s PSRD before being published. Burma achieved certain notoriety as predator of the press. No information is allowed to flow or be published/ broadcast without the junta’s prior approval.

The latest repressive attacks against the media took place on February 15, 2008. According to Burma Media Association (BMA), military intelligence officers carried out a four-hour search of the offices of the Myanmar Nation Journal and confiscated many documents, including a copy of Human Rights Report on Burma by Prof. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, videos of last anti-government protests in September, and hand-written poems. Police arrested editor, Thet Zin and manager, Sein Win Maung. The two journalists were taken to the Thin-gan-gyun township police station.   —>

BBC plans to sustain citizenship and civil society. Please tell us how
by Pete Clifton
Designing for a Civil Society


Here’s a story about how the BBC is developing new local multi-media services, its Charter remit for “sustaining citizenship and civil society”, the closure of BBC Action network, development of citizen (or networked) journalism, and how the BBC Trust consults us on what the BBC is for.

These developments and issues may be related … I don’t know …. but I think we should be told. But by whom? Maybe on the BBC Internet blog where they are exploring Digital Democracy.

My interest in these issues was re-awakened by a couple of e-mails in the UK and Ireland E-Democracy Exchange. E-democracy guru Steven Clift asked whether anyone has an update on the BBC Action Network, which has been hailed as a civic media success story, but as I had noted earlier is due to close soon. Steven wondered if future developments related to a Press Gazette story about Regional newspapers’ fury at BBC local web plan.   —>

SuzeMuse on Community TV and the Web
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition

[ comments allowed ]

—>  Sue wrote some really nice things about our conversation, including some thoughts on CCTV and our community there.  I wanted to highlight Sue’s post in particular because of her description of the possibilities she sees in community television and the social web working together, not apart.

“There has been some talk about the relevance of true community access television, with the advent of YouTube and other video services going online. If anyone can now make a video and post it for the world to see, why do community TV stations even need to exist any longer? The reason is simple. It’s about community. It’s about people physically coming together and producing valuable content, and the relationships that are formed when people are in this kind of environment. You can’t get that by hitting ‘Submit’ on your YouTube page.

“I think the Internet is going to be an extremely valuable outlet for those community television stations who choose to embrace its potential. By taking the power of community and sending it out to the world, everyone stands to benefit. Now, we not only have the power of being able to bring the community to the world…we have the possibility of linking these communities to make something even greater.”

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/09/08

February 10, 2008

Power to Lynchburg’s public access station to be shut off soon
by Alicia Petska
News & Advance (VA)

[comments allowed]

Wally Roach has often wondered how his 13-plus years as a public access host might come to an end.  Finding himself in hand-to-hand combat with the ninja assassin mimes of Lynchburg City Council was not one of his first guesses.

“What’s going on here? Leave me alone! Oww!” screamed an apparently helpless Roach after being dragged off-camera during a live taping of his show Wednesday.  “Mayor, put me down! Aaah!”  The television – which showed none of the fracas as the supposed ninjas took care to avert the camera – suddenly went black.  “Now we see the violence inherent in the system!” Roach yelled over the sounds of a struggle. “You’re repressing me! Stop it!”

This scene, partially borrowed from a moment in “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” when King Arthur beats an uppity peasant, might best encapsulate the feelings of Lynchburg’s 40-some public-access hosts, all of whom are scheduled for cancellation next week.  “This is the end and City Council did it,” explained a calmer and remarkably unscuffed Roach the next day. “If they have to come in and physically stop us, they’d do it.”

He paused a moment.  “I don’t suppose they’d really do it themselves,” he said. “They’d call the police. But I didn’t have any police uniforms, so it would have ruined the whole bit.”

For months now, the city has been preparing to cut the power to Lynchburg’s public access channel, a process expected to be complete next week.  The community’s cable franchise is up for renewal and Comcast, which took over service here in 2006, plans to drop all support for public access programming. City Council also declined to step in and continue the station.

“It’s almost like our voices are being hushed,” reflected Keith Lee, director of the Dance Theatre of Lynchburg and producer of the show “Dance Journey.”  “It’s like expression is being hushed in the community,” he said. “And I don’t think that’s very fair.”

Currently, Comcast pays to operate a community studio and air programs ranging from government meetings to publicly produced talk shows and religious sermons. New state laws aimed at deregulating the industry no longer require that service.  In the cable company’s stead, the city plans to step in, take over the studio and start producing its own all-government channel. Although Comcast no longer has to bankroll public programming, it does have to keep broadcasting it when it’s produced.

Under the terms of the new franchise agreement, which will be brought to a hearing before City Council on Tuesday, both the city government and the school system will have their own channel.  Lynchburg schools have had their own TV program for years. The government station, which will air on Channel 15, is scheduled to start up next Friday. A total of $266,000 has been set aside for its first year of operation.

A proposal to add to that budget funding for a third, community-based channel was unanimously rejected by City Council. Officials also decided against exercising their right to require that Comcast add a public access surcharge to its bill that would then be used to fund a public station.

In making those decisions, council members cited the burden to taxpayers and cable customers, respectively.  “I don’t think (supporting public access) is a necessary function of government, and I don’t think it’s a wise use of taxpayers’ money,” Ward I Councilman Mike Gillette said. “I’d rather put that money into our schools and police and parks.”

City Council will hear from the public on the cable changes at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in City Hall. Staff members hope to see the new franchise agreement approved immediately following that hearing.  The public-access producers, however, plan to make one final plea for their work and hope a few viewers will turn out to show their support.  Among their points of contention is a franchise feepaid every year by Comcast that rakes in more than $500,000 for the city.

Traditionally, that money has gone into the government’s general fund, but public-access supporters are now questioning why some of it can’t be funneled into their station. According to city estimates, it would take around $86,000 annually to keep public access going.  “City officials, if they really wanted to, could find a way to keep public access on at a minimal cost,” said Andre Whitehead, who got his start in TV through Lynchburg public access more than 20 years ago.   —>!news!archive

ECTV picked to take over Channel 61
by Stacy Brown
Times-Tribune (PA)


Electric City Television was selected Friday by a search committee appointed by Mayor Chris Doherty to operate Channels 61 and 62, ending a decade-long run by the civic group Scranton Today.  ECTV will receive a five-year contract to operate the channels and a yet-to-be determined amount of money from the city’s cable franchise agreement with Comcast. The deal with Comcast expires next year, and negotiations are expected to begin later this year.  “We are thrilled,” said Chris Balton, a former Scranton Today cameraman and one of ECTV’s founders.   —>

County Allowed To Sell Cable TV Ad Spots – If It’s Careful
by Richard Mullins
Tampa Tribune (FL)

The Tampa Bay area could soon have another TV station competing for local advertising money, run by the government.  In a drive to raise revenue, Hillsborough County commissioners are pondering ways to sell commercials during the cable TV broadcasts of their meetings, similar to the sponsorships that companies like General Motors Corp. and State Farm Insurance buy on public broadcasting TV shows.  The move would mark a first for Hillsborough County, which broadcasts its meetings, seminars and other shows on an exclusive cable TV channel on Bright House Networks (Channel 622) and Verizon’s FiOS cable systems (Channel 22).

Part of the issue is the cost to run the station itself. HTV, as the station is called, has 21 employees and a budget this year of $1.9 million, including a one-time $500,000 project to upgrade to digital TV equipment. The bulk of that money goes to televise meetings of the commission, the Tampa Port Authority, Planning Commission, land use meetings and other public information events.

Where the TV advertisement idea goes could take an important turn today, when commissioners receive a legal study that says the county can go ahead and sell TV spots as long as they aren’t “commercials” that show product prices or comparisons with competing brands.

The idea originated last fall, when commissioners taking a retreat pondered new ways to raise revenue. Commissioners asked county lawyers to look into the legality of selling TV commercial spots. Today, commissioners will receive a legal opinion that says the county can go ahead with the plan — if done carefully.  That’s because the government only has a cable TV channel through a carefully negotiated deal that allows Bright House and Verizon to sell cable TV in the area, and gives the county its own TV channel in exchange.

That agreement specifically says that “under no circumstances will commercial advertising be permitted” on the county’s channel. But, there is a loophole. The county may accept monetary donations for recognizing “donors and sponsors.” County lawyers said any on-air sponsorship should mirror those seen on the nonprofit WUSF, Channel 16 and WEDU, Channel 3, and offered an example script: “This program is made possible in part by Company name, serving the Tampa Bay area since year.”

Selling that kind of TV spot could prove difficult.  First, there are some conflict of interest questions, HTV station manager Tammy Peralta said.  The county could not run sponsorships bought by companies doing business with the county, or that have matters before any county agency, or links to county commissioners. Political ads could also be troublesome.  “All those questions have definitely crossed our minds,” Peralta said.  Also, HTV does not conduct regular ratings surveys, so it can’t tell potential advertisers how many people the TV spots would reach. —>

Participatory Media Studies and PEG Access TV
by Colin Rhinesmith
Community Media in Transition

[comments allowed]

I’m starting to believe – but I hope it’s not true – that the lack of widespread research in Public, Educational and Government (PEG) Access Television studies may have profound consequences for media scholars seeking to understand participatory culture.

Not only is there a huge misunderstanding about the differences between public access television and video sharing sites such as YouTube, but as a student of media studies I find the shortage of community television research particularly troubling when reading articles such as David Croteau’s 2006 article, entitled “The Growth of Self-Produced Media Content and the Challenge to Media Studies,” as an example.

In the article, Croteau writes that self-produced media is the result of (1) an increase in “affordable digital equipment” and the young people growing up with them, (2) an increase in “broadband presence” to “facilitate the distribution of data-heavy files,” and (3) a rise in “specialty websites and services” to aid in the “distribution and promotion of self-produced media content” (341).

While the author recognizes that self-produced media has “long existed in many forms,” such as with community media and other independent forms, Croteau states that what makes participatory media different from previous media is the way in which the Internet enables locally produced content to be distributed to “far-flung” audiences (341).

As a result, the author writes that both the fragmentation and proliferation of self-produced media content have created challenges for media scholars previously focused on areas such as the concentration of media ownership and its impact on large consumer audiences.

Therefore, Croteau proposes that media scholars need to develop new methodologies for assessing “content trends across these new production platforms” in order to better study the “volume” of self-produced media content (343). The purpose, he writes “could provide a unique glipmse into an increasingly diverse society and an interconnected world. It could suggest new models for traditional media to adopt to facilitate civic engagement and participation. It could reveal a refreshingly broad range of self-expression and creativity, indepedent of market imperatives.” (344)

I chose to highlight David Croteau’s article not because I disagree with the statements mentioned above. I respect his work as a media scholar in general and specifically in his works Media/Society: Industries, Images, and Audiences and Business of Corporate Media. However, the article represents the disconnect between studies in community media and media studies more broadly – i.e., media scholars often seem to gloss over community media research contributions to the field of media studies.   —>

Training for the Masses: Public Television ABCs
by Paul W. Marino (MA)

[comments allowed]

“Grandmother! What Big Characters You Have!”  All the better to let you know what you’re watching, my dear!

Characters, of course, can be lots of things. They can be parts in a play, or people with very singular or eccentric personalities, like the big clod who writes this column.  But in television, characters are something else altogether (which is also something that’s been said about the big clod who writes this column, but that’s another story).  To us, characters are letters (and numbers, etc.), which we put on the screen by means of a device called the “character generator,” also known as the CG…

…If you think you’d like to learn how to operate a character generator — or just become a character yourself — come on down and visit us in Building 6 in Western Gateway Heritage State Park or give us a call at 663-9006.  We’ll show you just how user-friendly our CG — and the rest of our equipment — is. We’ll try to talk you into signing up for a workshop series. And we really hope you will sign up, because most of our programming (and in many ways, the best) is made by ordinary, local people like you. The moral? Don’t just watch TV; make it yourself, here at NBCTC.

Jakrapob’s panels to check media content
by Anucha Charoenpo & Manop Thip-Osod
Bangkok Post

Prime Minister’s Office Minister Jakrapob Penkair will establish government committees over the next two months to check the impartiality of news coverage by the state media. Mr Jakrapob said members of the committees must be knowledgeable in media affairs, free of political and business interests, and be visionary.

He did not say how many committees there would be although each would study one state media outlet category. For example, panels would be responsible for studying outlets grouped as digital broadcast media or community radio.  ”And I will supervise them myself,” Mr Jakrapob said of the committees.  The minister insisted he was not out to control the media.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 01/24/08

January 25, 2008

Comcast’s Cohen To Testify On PEG Policy
Broadcast Newsroom

Comcast executive vice president David Cohen is scheduled to testify Jan. 29 before a House subcommittee on the cable company’s decision to require thousands of analog-only customers in Michigan to acquire digital set-top boxes to continue viewing public, educational and governmental channels.

Cohen  is expected to testify before the Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet along with John O’Reilly, mayor of Dearborn, Mich.; Gail Torreano, president of AT&T Michigan; and Annie Folger, executive director of Midpeninsula Community Media Center, Palo Alto, Calif.

PEG channels, carried on cable systems pursuant to commitments made in local franchise agreements, feature all sorts of local content, including parades, high schools sports, and city council sessions.

Comcast’s plan called for giving affected customers one digital box for one year, but charging for additional set-tops immediately. House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.), upset with Comcast’s plan, asked the company to reconsider in a letter late last year to chairman and CEO Brian Roberts.

On Jan. 14, U.S. Judge Victoria Roberts , of the U.S. District Court for Michigan’s Eastern District, issued a temporary restraining order, barring Comcast from moving the PEG channels from their current location or converting them to digital without the court’s permission. Dearborn and Meridian Township went to court to stop Comcast.

PEG channels won’t change due to court rulings
by Chris Gray
Romeo Observer (MI)

Small-town cable stations like WBRW Channel 6 did not have to switch channels Jan. 15 due to court injunctions.  On Jan. 14, a state judge and a federal judge ruled that Comcast could not move public, education and government (PEG) channels to higher channels, which would have resulted in many people unable to view them.  U.S. Representative John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, is calling for a meeting on Jan. 29 to hear testimony from such channels about the movement.

WBRW Station Manager Richard Cory said Channel 6, for the moment, will not be moving to channel 902.  “We’re happy that we’re not going to move right now,” he said. “We want to thank all the people who sent e-mails and letters and calls to state representatives in Lansing voicing objection to the move.”  The move, he said, would most likely have shut down Channel 6 for lack of viewers.  “This would’ve been the bottom line, viewership would’ve gone in the dumper,” he said. “Comcast doesn’t realize that people love these stations.”   —>

Ojai’s Public Access May Be Closed
If Time Warner inks deal with state, it will likely be curtains for local television shows
by Nao Braverman
Ojai Valley News (CA)

Public access television stations, known to feature quirky television shows with all the amateur charm of low-budget production and editing, may be heading for demise in California, and even sooner in Ojai.   —>

Akaku CEO/Pres: Court Adoped a “Wait & See” to Confusing RFP Process
by Cynthia Thomet
Akaku: Maui Community Television

Statement from AKAKU:  Maui Community Television CEO/President Jay April Responds to Court Hearing in Akaku vs. DCCA & State of Hawaii:

“We are encouraged that Judge Joel August indicated support for free speech and an interest in seeing that Hawaii’s publics are ensured access to the ‘marketplace of ideas’; however, we are disappointed with the court’s decision today to continue our motion for summary judgment and not give finality to the outstanding problems with PEG access and the RFP process.

“Akaku asked the court to rule that the designation of Public, Education and Government (PEG) access channels require a rule pursuant to HRS 91. Such a rule-making process would allow tremendous public input in the process and require an agency to base its rules on the evidence and testimony presented.

“Ironically, the court elected to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach to a confusing, ongoing RFP process that will restrict PEG access entities from delivering the very ‘free speech’ services the court has stated it wishes to protect.  The lawsuit and most problems with PEG organizations statewide is the consequence of 15 years of standardless discretion exercised by the state, contrary to the law.Unfortunately, those problems weren’t resolved today.”   —>

Shouting to be Heard (2): Public Service Advertising in a Changing Television World
Kaiser Family Foundation

Broadcast and cable stations donated an average of 17 seconds an hour to PSAs, totaling one-half of one percent of all TV airtime, according to the study, Shouting to be Heard (2): Public Service Advertising in a Changing Television World, released by the Kaiser Family Foundation. The most frequent time period for PSAs to air was between midnight and 6 a.m., accounting for 46% of donated PSAs across all stations in the study; looking only at broadcast stations, 60% of donated PSAs ran overnight. The time period with the fewest donated PSAs was during prime time (8-11 p.m.), with 13% of all donated PSAs.

The report was released on Thursday, January 24, 2008, at a forum that featured Federal Communications Commission Members Michael Copps, Jonathan Adelstein, and Deborah Taylor Tate along with representatives from News Corporation, CBS, Time Warner, Univision, the Ad Council and the American Legacy Foundation. Report – pdf

Voters have chance to see District 14 candidates on Eye on Oshkosh
by Cheryl Hentz
Eye on Oshkosh (WI)

—>   “The Oshkosh Area League of Women Voters will hold two separate candidates’ forums before the February 19th primary election.  A forum for the six Oshkosh Area School Board candidates is set for Thursday, February 7, 6:30 to 7:30 in the Oshkosh City Council Chambers, 4th floor City Hall.

“The six candidates are incumbents Tom McDermott and Ben Schneider II. The challengers are John Daggett, Kevin Jahnke, John Lemberger and Michele Monte. Panel members are Jim Fitzhenry, managing editor of the Oshkosh Northwestern and Frankie Mengeling, vice-president Oshkosh Area LWV. This forum will be broadcast on Oshkosh Community Access Television CitiCable 10 and simulcast by WOCT 101.9 FM, Oshkosh Community Radio.   —>

Lobbyist Requirements Making Lobbyists Who Claim Not to Be?
by Adam Groves
Tennessee Politics Blog

Dave Cooley, former deputy governor, and Robert Gowan, former senior adviser to Bredesen, are both getting their feet wet in the debate over AT&T’s request for a statewide cable franchise. Both men, who are disqualified from being lobbyists under new state laws have said they aren’t lobbying. However, Cooley admits to meeting with several mayors in the area, including Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beeham, who is expected to be the next President of the TN Municipal League, which strongly opposed AT&T’s bid for a statewide franchise last year. Beeham says Cooley just wanted to know his position on the bill – and didn’t try to convince him to change it, but watchdog groups say Cooley’s action may be “indirect communication.”

Ex-officials take sides in cable fight
Roles of former Bredesen adviser, deputy gov. questioned
by Tom Humphrey (3 comments)
Knoxville News Sentinel (TN)

Former top-level officials of Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration are working for opposing sides in the legislative war between AT&T and the cable television industry, both men declaring that they are not lobbyists.  But the executive director and a lawyer for the Tennessee Ethics Commission say the activities of Dave Cooley, former deputy governor, and Robert Gowan, former senior adviser to Bredesen, raise a question of whether they cross the lobbying line.

Neither Cooley, who is a consultant for AT&T, nor Gowan, a consultant for Comcast Cable, are registered as lobbyists. Both would be covered by a provision of state law that says high-ranking state officials, until one year after they leave their position, are prohibited from lobbying.  Cooley stepped down as deputy governor in December 2006. Gowan left his senior adviser position with the administration on Nov. 16, 2007.   —>

Watson seeks citizens’ input on video measure
by David Davis
Cleveland Daily Banner (TN)

A local state representative is asking for citizen input on a bill authorizing statewide franchises to companies providing video services.  The General Assembly is again this year considering legislation promoting consumer choice, competition, and better pricing for cable television. The Competitive Cable and Video Services Act would allow companies providing video services to obtain a statewide franchise.

District 22 Rep. Eric Watson said Wednesday he wants more citizen input before he makes a final decision on the Competitive Cable and Video Services Act.  After appearances on local radio, Watson said he received 56 e-mails between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. from constituents.

“All but one was in favor of the bill,” he said. “Some of them had some concerns. I still have a couple of concerns that I believe will be worked out.”  He said this morning the number of e-mails had risen to more than 100 overnight. Only about 20 percent have expressed opposition.   —>

Public-access cable to expand
Fresno, Clovis to have three different channels.
by Denny Boyles
The Fresno Bee (CA)

True public-access television is about to enter the Fresno and Clovis markets, expanding a single channel that now shows city council and school board meetings into a three-channel system that will give residents a chance to create their own programs.  “Right now public television in Fresno is Channel 96,” said Randy Reed, chairman of the Community Media Access Collaboration, a Fresno nonprofit that advocates for public-access television. “It has government meetings and some offerings from the Fresno County Office of Education, but no other local content.”

Reed said that in April a new state law will provide funding to allow expanded programming on three channels known as Public-Education-Government channels. The channels could be operating by April 2009.  “We will have community-generated content, all based on the public’s interest,” Reed said. “The decisions about that programming will be made here, not in a network headquarters.”

The Fresno and Clovis city councils could approve plans as early as April for CMAC to manage the three channels and distribute the content to cable and video providers such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.  City officials have already begun to gauge public interest in the channels and have thought about what type of programming might be available on the channel dedicated to government.  Similar efforts are already under way in Monterey, Hollister and Gilroy. Monterey’s program, known as AMP, offers three channels of programming, including a 24-hour public access channel that offers programs ranging from church services, art and science programs to a show titled “Art’s Poker Party.”   —>

Local TV Access
by dbatch
hot springs, sd horizon (SD)

I think it would be a good idea, with the advent of a new cable system being implemented in town, to provide a public access channel for civic events such as City Council meetings, HSHS sporting events etc.
This would also provide an opportunity for the high school to offer classes or extra curricular activities to students who could produce the shows thus learing the industry. It is my understanding the Custer has already implemented this.

Recognizing Community Service
by Jonah Tebbets
The Inconoclast (AR)

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees has announced the winners of its Community Service Awards for 2007. Alderman Lioneld Jordan, community service committee chairman, said the awards recognize citizens “who significantly contribute to improving the lives of working families in the local community.”

Among the winners were two local bloggers. Richard Drake, who has a show on Community Access Television and maintains a blog called Street Jazz, received recognition in the category of Electronic Media, and Aubrey Shepherd, who maintains several outstanding blogs, received the Neighborhood Advocate for his work on behalf of the Town Branch neighborhood in Fayetteville.

Live broadcast ban to continue, says govt
by Samwel Kumba
Kenya Today

The government has said the ban on live media coverage will continue until calm returns to clash hit areas.  Information and Communications minister Samuel Poghisio spoke hours before the ultimatum given by the Kenya Editors Guild to the government over the ban ends.

Mr Poghisio reiterated the government’s commitment to lift the ban,  insisting that it has to be done when normalcy returns to clash hit areas.  “This ban is a temporary measure and, as I have explained in different fora, it will be lifted when normalcy is restored in areas hit by post election violence.”

The minister added that his ministry was consulting with all stakeholders with a view to an amicable decision on the matter.   The minister interpreted the ultimatum from the Editors Guild as a threat to the government, saying this was not the best way to go. He appealed for dialogue, a move that seemed to soften the government’s stand.  “I am very much aware that the Kenya Editors Guild has threatened to go to court among other options if nothing is done about the ban by today”. He added that he had personally gone to various media houses to discuss the way forward.

The minister explained that the decision to invoke Section 88 of the Communications Act 1998 was arrived at after it became clear that, “the media had, and were indeed likely to, inflame passions.”   “Then, emotions were high and lives were at stake and as someone rightly said desperate times call for desperate measures. Materials that were broadcast before the ban was imposed, especially on a few vernacular FM stations, were actually incitement to murder and mayhem,” he said.

“If we allow cameras filming people hacking others to death to broadcast the material live, what does that do to the community of those affected? Any freedom comes with responsibility. If you (Media) are ready to take the responsibility then they should bear the brunt,” he said.

“So my appeal to the Editors Guild is that let us open dialogue and not issue threats. Whereas threats cannot take them far, dialogue can sort the issue amicably. I am still open for dialogue,” he said.

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media