AT&T, State In Web TV Tangle
Can company ignore a federal court ruling?
by Mary Johnson
Hartford Business Journal (CT)
Legal papers were flying faster than electrons last week as AT&T battled both the Connecticut Attorney General and the state Office of Consumer Counsel to keep expanding its U-verse video service. With deadlines ticking at the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control, state officials were aggressively trying to enforce a federal court ruling that would prevent AT&T from taking advantage of a new state law. For its part, AT&T was all but telling the AG and the federal court to take a hike. —>
Verizon Talks Continue
by Nadia Salomon
Boston Globe (MA)
The town of Sherborn is still working out the final kinks of its Verizon cable television contract. Board of Selectmen chairman Chris Peck said the last few items to be resolved to settle the Verizon license are centered on its local-access programming. “We want to make sure the folks who sign up with Verizon have access to the same local programs as Comcast subscribers do,” Peck said. Peck said the board is waiting to hear back from Verizon to see if company officials will agree to the condition. If there are no problems, the board would be prepared to sign the final contract at its meeting on Tuesday, Peck said.
Town faults Comcast on access
Says studio closing violates contract
by John Laidler
Boston Globe (MA)
Contending that Rowley has been left without cable-access service since Comcast closed a regional studio about 10 months ago, town officials are demanding the company rectify the situation. The Board of Selectmen recently notified Comcast of its contention that the company is violating its license to provide cable service to the town by failing to provide the town with use of a regional studio or an access channel, or access to town-produced programs.
Selectmen have scheduled a hearing for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Town Hall to give Comcast an opportunity to respond to the charges, which also include that it has violated a license requirement to provide programming from Town Hall and the Pine Grove School. “We disagree with the town’s assertions,” Comcast spokesman Marc Goodman said. “We believe we are in compliance and look forward to the hearing to address the town’s concerns and to continue the conversations with the town that have been ongoing the last several months.”
Comcast about 10 months ago shut down a regional studio in Newburyport that had previously provided programming for that city and Ipswich, Newbury, and Rowley. Rowley officials say that since the closure, they have had no public-access service. “The people of Rowley are paying for their share of the regional costs of a studio in Newburyport that has been shut down,” said Warren Appell, chairman of Rowley’s Cable Advisory Committee, referring to the cable-access charges that are included on the bills of cable-TV customers in Rowley.
The studio closure resulted from a new license renewal agreement between Newburyport and Comcast in which the city assumed responsibility for its own local-access programming. The newly formed Newburyport Community Media Center operates the two previous regional channels, which are now devoted to Newburyport programming. Comcast provides 4 percent of its annual gross annual cable revenue in Newburyport to the nonprofit center for its operating costs. Comcast also provided about $125,000 in one-time funding to help the center with the costs of establishing the city’s new studio, which will be in renovated space in a commercial building on Graf Road; in the interim, programming is being operated from a room in City Hall.
Ipswich is establishing a similar nonprofit group to operate its community-access programming, according to Town Manager Robert T. Markel. Through a license renewal agreement with Comcast this spring and a new license it provided to Verizon last year, each of the two cable companies is providing the town with 4 percent of its annual gross revenue, plus one-time funding. On an interim basis, the town is providing programming from a makeshift studio at the high school. Appell said that Rowley probably will have to take over its local-access programming, too. But he said that would have to be negotiated as part of an agreement to renew Comcast’s license, which will expire in about a year. (Rowley is also negotiating a possible license agreement with Verizon to provide cable service to the town.) —>
‘We’re in the access business’
GrassRoots TV is an entrepreneurial model
by Charles Agar
Aspen Times (CO)
ASPEN — GrassRoots TV has been reinventing itself since 1971. It is one of the first and longest surviving community-access television stations in the U.S. Aspen’s plucky Channel 12 provides free public access to cable TV and hosted some 750 locally produced programs this year. The station has weathered everything from near collapse — when the staff walked out of the studio with the cameras running — to a recent controversy over a Holocaust denial film.
GrassRoots TV Executive Director John Masters said the station perseveres by sticking to principles of unfettered public access. The nonprofit has tripled its budget since Masters, a 25-year TV veteran, took over in 2001. Today the station follows a “entrepreneurial model,” earning the bulk of its $570,000 revenues from user fees. —>
Making the Right Choices
November 7-8, 2007 | St. Cloud Minnesota
Join us for the 2007 Blandin Broadband Conference on November 7-8, 2007 in St. Cloud, Minnesota to connect with the tools, knowledge and resources to make informed decisions about your community’s future broadband needs and technology vision. —>
compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media