Archive for the ‘privacy’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/24/08

March 25, 2008

New Media Network Kicks Off
by Maneeza Iqbal (MO)

[ comments invited ]

The new session is underway. My First Ward: Digital Storytelling workshop kicked off March 12th. My First Ward is a arts and community development program to introduce youth in Columbia’s first ward to digital storytelling. The sessions runs from March to May.
Girl at park.  This is an example of work created by Shanda, 15, who participated in last session’s workshop. Artists are handed donated digital cameras to explore their world and share it through, one possible outlet, photography.

The central mission of the New Media Network is to serve as a community development project within Columbia’s First Ward by building capacity in youth through the media arts. Through the framework of digital storytelling, students between the ages of 9 and 18 gain skills in multimedia technology while building a greater sense of community awareness, identity, and pride. The New Media Network then provides a forum for the artistic agency and journalistic work of these marginalized voices on local community radio and television, showcasing their talent and unique perspectives both within the First Ward and to the greater community.

Somalia: UN Expert Says Media’s Rights Being Violated By All in Conflict
by Hassan Shire Sheikh, Chairperson of the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network
National Union of Somali Journalists (Mogadishu)

The East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Network (EHAHRD/Net) and the National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), a founding member of the network, would like to welcome the report by Dr Ghanim Alnajjar, the UN Independent Expert on the Situation of Human Rights in Somalia which he presented to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) today in Geneva…

Of particular importance is the exposure which Dr Alnajjar has accorded to the current curtailment of independent media and the deliberate violations being committed against journalists. The report reveals that these violations are being carried out by all actors in the conflict and are largely being used as a means of silencing the very few voices speaking out against the abuses being committed against the civilian population.   —>

Comcast considers creepy new addition to the set top box
by Tricia Liebert
Tech Republic


[ I didn’t quite believe this when I first read it in Chris Albrecht’s blog post – until later in the comments I saw the obfuscating non-denial denial by Comcast’s Kunkel.  Here, Tricia Liebert quotes Kunkel’s response, as well as Albretch’s reply, garnering 127 comments (so far) in the process. ~ rm ]

I have never been one of the tinfoil hat crowd in the past, but that could change –especially in light of the comments made by Comcast’s Gerard Kunkel, senior VP of user experience, to reporter Chris Albrecht of Mr. Kunkel mentioned an experiment with different camera technologies built into the cable box that would be able to tell who is in the room watching television…

From NewTeeVee:


Your article on “Comcast Cameras to Start Watching You” portrayed some assumptions that require correction and clarification. I want to be clear that in no way are we exploring any camera devices that would monitor customer behavior.

To gather information for your article on Comcast’s exploration of cameras you picked up on my conversation with another conference attendee. The other attendee and I were deep in a conversation discussing a variety of input devices offered by a variety of vendors that Comcast is reviewing.

The camera-based gesture recognition device is in no way designed to — or capable of — monitoring your living room. These technologies are designed to allow simple navigation on a television set just as the Wii remote uses a camera to manage its much heralded gesture-based interactivity.

We are constantly exploring new technologies that better serve our customers. The goal is simple — a better user experience that allows the consumer to get ever increasing value out of their Comcast products.

As with any new technology, we carefully consider the consumer benefits. In fact, we do an enormous amount of consumer testing in advance of making a product decision such as this. I’m confident that a new technology like gesture-based navigation will be fully explored with consumers to understand the product’s feature benefits — and of course, the value to the consumer.

Sincerely, Gerard Kunkel

I responded to Mr. Kunkel in our comment with the following:

Hi Mr. Kunkel,

Just to further clarify. After you granted me our initial video interview, you brought up the topic of Comcast knowing who was in the living room in a conversation between you, myself, and another conference attendee.

I actually left and came back to follow up on this point while you were talking with that same attendee. At this point, you were aware that I was a reporter and I took handwritten notes in front of you as we talked to make sure I had an accurate accounting of what you were saying.  I’d love to talk further with either you or someone else at Comcast to follow up on this story.

A person named Jenni Moyer, claiming to be from Comcast, posted a nearly identical message to Mr. Kunkel’s on PC World’s blog on this story. And frankly, I will be quite hurt if someone from Comcast doesn’t post to this thread.

Whether the device is intended for consumer benefit is almost not the point. The question is how far are we willing to allow companies with whom we do business to invade our private space? I have a set top box. I have three. I have remotes for all of them. I even have a Harmony integrated remote. My viewing experience is just ducky, thanks. I don’t need to gesture at the TV any more than I already do — and the gestures that I make are probably not ones that Comcast needs to see.   —>

AT&T, cable crafting compromise
by John Rodgers
Nashville City Paper (TN)


Lengthy negotiations between AT&T, the cable industry and local governments over AT&T’s bid to offer television services in Tennessee are close to complete, and the final product may cause a first for the telecom giant in the southeast.  To make an agreement happen, AT&T has given in on where it’s required to offer its services under a statewide franchise.

Going into the talks, one of the biggest points of contention was where a statewide franchise holder would have to offer video services.  Local franchise holders are often bound to “build out” to cover a certain area of a city or county, and therefore can’t “cherry pick” wealthy residents.  The cable industry has argued that a pure statewide franchise would allow AT&T to only cater to high-income customers.

In the tentative agreement, Tennessee would be the only southeastern state to require AT&T and other statewide television franchise holders to offer its services to a certain percentage of a geographical area within a certain time frame.  Some low-income customers would also have to be covered.  “That’s what the build out is going to look like,” said Rep. Randy Rinks (D-Savannah).   —>

Luvin’ on the Speakuh
by Rex Noseworthy
Nashville City Paper (TN)

[ comments invited ]

Throughout this legislative session, House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh has been trying to broker a compromise between AT&T and the cable industry in their multi-million dollar battle over television franchising rights.  Gov. Phil Bredesen, in an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free-Press earlier this year, questioned whether Naifeh’s efforts could be successful since the two sides were looking out for their best interests and Tennesseans’ interests needed to be considered.

After Bredesen’s comments, Naifeh called an odd, impromptu press conference that apparently had no purpose but to refute the governor’s questioning of his methods. The longtime speaker and the governor later had a conversation, with Naifeh claiming Bredesen said he was “misquoted.”

That leads us to last week. Bredesen was asked by a reporter if he thought the AT&T-cable talks had a chance of succeeding.  This time, Bredesen expressed faith in Naifeh’s efforts.  “Basically, I think if the speaker puts his mind to something, he’s likely to get it accomplished,” Bredesen said.

New arrangement nets city more money
By T. Scott Batchelor
The Daily Reflector (NC)

[ comments invited ]

The city of Greenville is getting more money now that state — rather than local — government is franchiser for cable systems, local officials said.  Even so, there remains no permanent source of adequate funding for Greenville-Pitt County Public Access Television, an officer of the local nonprofit corporation said.   —>

Cable Television Franchise Renewal
City of Dover, New Hampshire
03/24/08 (?)

The City of Dover will soon be negotiating a new franchise agreement with Comcast. To prepare for these negotiations, the City is conducting a review concerning Comcast’s past performance and soliciting input to determine the future cable-related needs of the community.  All residents are encouraged to participate in an on-line cable television and Internet survey in order to share their opinions and views regarding cable television services.   —>

MCTV invites public to celebrate five years at its studio
by Stephanie Chelf
Eagle Tribune (MA)

METHUEN — In the five years since moving out of high school and into its own studio, Methuen Community Television has grown in membership and added more community programming.  To celebrate five years at 13 Branch St., MCTV is hosting a daylong open house from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“They did a lot of excellent programming out of the space they had (at the high school),” said MCTV Executive Director Karen Hayden. “We’ve been able to do more training, get more people in doing their work. It’s our space now. People used to look at it as being part of the school. This is ours, the public space.”

The more convenient location and larger studio have encouraged more volunteers to join MCTV, Hayden said. The station produces several local-themed shows, airs live election results, and covers high school sports. The community-run nonprofit was founded in 1996…

MCTV is also partnering with local nonprofit, New England Caring for Our Military, to have residents come to the studio and record a video message to send to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.  “Community television is an expression of free speech,” Hayden said. “What better way to honor that than to include our soldiers — the people who defend our free speech. They appreciate those types of things and hearing from home.”   —>

Metro Board Chair Takes to Air Waves To Engage Public in Discussing Long-Range Traffic Solutions (CA)

In an unprecedented move, Metro Board Chair Pam O’Connor will take to the air waves Thursday night, March 27, to promote live public discussion of the mobility future for Los Angeles County and how to pay for traffic relief.  O’Connor will take live calls from viewers between 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. on a public access cable television show broadcast live on both City of Los Angeles Channel 36 and CityTV Channel 16 in Santa Monica. During the broadcast, call-in numbers will be posted.

The show will have three segments: first, a focus on traffic in Los Angeles County and Metro’s draft Long Range Transportation Plan that proposes dozens of new highway and public transit projects to handle the county’s projected population growth of 2.4 million more people by the year 2030. The second segment will address how to pay for traffic relief, and the third segment will look at traffic and the environment. Viewers are encouraged to ask O’Connor about any of these issues and share their opinions.   —>

Humboldt Trivia
by EkoVox
299 Opine


While flipping channels, I landed on Community Access Television on Channel 12 on the Northern Humboldt cable system. Today, they were showing a 1991 video recording of my father doing one of his history lectures at the Humboldt Senior Resource Center.

Rather than a straight ahead lecture, he was doing Eureka Trivia and Sounds I’d Like To Hear Again. The first part consisted of business trivia in the 1940’s….You know, “Where was Morrow’s Drive-In?” and “Where was Adams School located?” The next part was about sounds that have disappeared from the Humboldt lifeshed. Sounds that were around when he was a kid….like, Dinner Bells, Drag Saws, Treadle Sewing Machines, Ringer Washers and….. ahem…trains. Sounds that we haven’t heard on the north coast for decades.

At one point he would say a person’s name and the audience had to guess who they were….or what they did for a living.  For instance, George C. Jacobs….(Hardware Store, School Board) Doris Niles…(educator).

I would like to list some names from our recent era and see if we are as connected to our local society as we think.  What were or are these people known for in Humboldt Society?   —>

People in Business: Kathy Bisbee
Santa Cruz Sentinel (CA)

Kathy Bisbee, the director of marketing and development at Community Television in Santa Cruz, is leaving to become executive director of the Community Media Access Partnership in Gilroy. She will succeed Suzanne St. John-Crane, who left to launch a public access station in San Jose.

CMAP, at Gavilan College, is a smaller operation than Community Television. The 5-year-old station manages four public access television channels, including an educational channel, broadcasting to Gilroy, San Juan Bautista and Hollister.

Bisbee previously was director of marketing at Cruzio, and volunteered on the Workforce Investment Board, the Santa Cruz Film Festival and the Santa Cruz Downtown Commission.

Originally from rural Maine, she grew up on a working farm and earned a degree in political science and social sciences from the University of Maine at Farmington. She is working on a master’s degree in integrated marketing communications and public relations at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Last summer she filmed two documentaries in Guatemala and Nicaragua about sustainable farming and youth hip-hop music in underdeveloped nations. Her films will be showed this year at the Santa Cruz Film Festival and EarthVision Environmental Film Festival. She and her husband, Alec VanderWoude, live in Santa Cruz County.

Free the whitespace
by Andrew Dubber
new music strategies


One of the great things about the migration to digital broadcasting platforms is what gets left behind. As the VHF band is cleared of television and radio signals, previously unavailable (or incredibly scarce – and therefore expensive) spectrum becomes freed up.

That empty spectrum, or ‘whitespace’ as it’s becoming known, has been attracting a lot of attention recently. Bill Gates is having a say, Google are putting their hands up. It’s a turning point in communications history.

Now, contrary to popular belief, there are two (rather than just one) possible uses for that spectrum that would be of enormous social and cultural use. The first would be to reallocate it for community broadcasting, low power FM, access television and other political and grassroots media. The second would be wifi. Gigabytes-fast, ubiquitous and, to the public, potentially free wifi.

You could have a long argument about which of those two uses are the principle democratising forces. Frankly, either would be a superb result in my book. Because both ways, there is more speech, more access to speech and more availability for citizens to make media.

The migration to digital television and DAB radio has not been, in my opinion, a phenomenal success. There are all sorts of exciting things around picture quality and enhancement of services, but in the end these things are more flavours of the same thing — with audio and picture fidelity improvements that are not the solution to any genuinely experienced problem. And you can keep that bloody red button.

But the freeing of the whitespace makes for a genuinely promising and potentially hugely rewarding opportunity for the connectedness, wellbeing and productivity of the communities covered by those vacated stretches of spectrum. One gives local music exposure and a much greater chance of hearing marginalised voices and arts. The other allows for mobile working, connectivity and access to technology – a serious dent in the digital divide (at least at a national level).

Community media – or ubiquitous wifi. There’s no wrong answer here.  Now let’s wait and see the politicians screw it up.

Verizon’s FiOS Takes Manhattan
by Peter Svensson
Associated Press – Google

Verizon’s fiber-optic service, so far mainly available to suburbanites, is making a big push into Manhattan with a deal to connect an 11,232-unit apartment complex.  Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, an enclave of 110 buildings on Manhattan’s East Side, is the largest apartment complex in Manhattan and the largest to get FiOS service anywhere in Verizon’s 17-state fiber buildout area.  Verizon Communications Inc. announced the deal Monday, but seven buildings are already connected. It will take some months to connect the rest.   —>

Verizon rolls out FIOS to Stuy Town, Cooper
by Amanda Fung
Crain’s New York

[ comments invited ]

Verizon Communications Inc. has been quietly rolling out its fiber-optic Internet service to residents of apartment buildings throughout the city. The company’s announcement Monday that it will bring service to Manhattan’s Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village apartment complex, may be Verizon’s largest coup in a major metropolitan area, but it is not its first.

The company refused to disclose how many buildings in the city are connected for competitive reasons, but identified a half a dozen other buildings in New York where FIOS Internet is available. Those properties include Place 57 at 57th Street between Third and Second avenues; The Crest Lofts at 67 Wall St., two Trump properties in Manhattan; Arverne By the Sea in the Rockaways, Queens and Octagon Park on Roosevelt Island.   —>

compiled by Rob McCauland
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 – 01/22/08

January 23, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Download the full report –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Broadcasters Opt for CC
by Michelle Thorne
Creative Commons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/14/07

November 15, 2007

County’s Rural Access to Broadband Improving
by Lee Roberts
Lincoln County News (ME)

Last week’s good news about Internet in rural Lincoln County was the state’s ConnectME granting authority funding the potential connection of 849 households in Edgecomb and Somerville. In a public-private partnership, Midcoast Internet Solutions of Newcastle and Rockland will be paid $86,450 to bring the possibility of a broadband connection to more than a thousand Lincoln County residents currently relegated to dial-up. —>

Local group files to start community radio station
by Kerry Fehr-Snyder
The Arizona Republic

A group of radio enthusiasts has filed an application to run a Southeast Valley community radio station that would broadcast unique non-commercial programming, from poetry readings to cooking shows. The non-commercial education license application is a first for the non-profit Arizona Community Media Foundation in Tempe. It wants to build a station in Chandler or Apache Junction with the power to broadcast from the farther southwestern edge to the farthest northeastern part of the Southeast Valley. A facility in either location with a directional signal would cover the whole area. “Our motto is 100,000 watts of power to the people,” said Victor Aronow, one of six foundation board members who applied for the license. —>

Minneapolis Unwired: MTN & the Portals
by Peter Fleck

Mayor Rybak has proposed that $100,000 be moved from the Minneapolis Television Network’s (MTN) budget and applied to the Minneapolis Wireless Community Portal Project. MTN helps Minneapolis residents produce television shows with local content.

You can certainly argue that the Internet and web can replace much of the usefulness of public access cable RSN (real soon now). But that “now” isn’t here yet and it looks to me that MTN is still serving a community need. I talked to MTN staff and they told me of on-air Somali talk shows where the phone rings continuously, and of people sharing cable accounts and gathering together to watch public access (not something you generally do with a computer and Internet connection).

Please read what Aaron Landry has to say over here (and check the comments where I weigh in). For a longer and more chaotic discussion, check out the eDemocracy Minneapolis Issues Forum discussion. You can find a Powerpoint presentation at the Digital Access site which is a version of the one used at the recent wireless info community meetings. Local vid blogger citizen journalist Chuck Olsen made a video of one of the presentations at his (now retired!) Minnesota Stories site.

Catherine Settanni posts at the Mpls issues forum. She is under contract with the City of Minneapolis and working on the community portals. She states that city residents see a “critical need for local, community-based Internet content to be made available via the USI Wireless Minneapolis network.” I have no reason to doubt that but I don’t think residents were ever asked if they see that need as so important that we should dismantle the current system for producing local, community-based content: MTN and public access cable.

Stakeholders in this issue have not been brought to the table for an in-depth discussion of options and how to pay for them. OK. I’m done. Read Aaron’s post at least.

Bonus Links:
MTN Needs Assessment from 2004 including surveys of who’s watching.
(Garrick Van Buren predicts the future in this 2005 post.)
Statement by MTN director Pam Colby.

AT&T still wants statewide franchises
by John Huotar
The Oakridger (TN)

AT&T is still pursuing legislation that would allow a statewide franchise for video services that could compete with cable television. —>

Boulder City Council bids goodbye to outgoing members
by Alyssa Urish
Daily Camera (CO)

—> Guy Errickson, a former board member of Community Access TV Boulder, stood silently in front of the City Council — for the three minutes he was allotted for public comment — with black tape over his mouth, holding a sign that read: “Stolen Public Access TV channel and Studio.”

Errickson was one of three people who addressed the City Council in opposition to its decision last month to cut funding for Channel 54. The public-access channel will go off the air Friday, said former Channel 54 producer Jann Scott. Scott mockingly presented the council with what he called the “Joseph Stalin Freedom Award,” saying the council has squashed his First Amendment rights by shutting down the channel.

FCC chief wants to end newspaper-broadcast ownership ban, but only in largest markets

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission wants to eliminate a ban on radio and television broadcasters owning newspapers, but only in the nation’s largest media markets – including Seattle. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin opted to focus on the newspaper ban only and declined to act on other media ownership rules up for consideration. The proposal still requires a full vote of the commission.

“I think this is both a moderate and a fair proposal,” Martin said in a conference call with reporters Tuesday afternoon. He said he is optimistic there will be a vote on Dec. 18. Talk of lifting the cross-ownership ban has met with stiff resistance from public interest groups and commission Democrats as well as on Capitol Hill. —>

New social media site: The Social Times
by Jason Preston
Web Community Forum

Our buddy and conference-partner Nick O’Neill yesterday launched a brand new site called The Social Times, which is covering—you guessed it—pretty much everything in the social media space. If you’ve been paying any attention recently to Nick’s original blog, Allfacebook, you already know that Nick’s got the know-how and the gumption to really cover the space. —>

Leading BitTorrent Admins Discuss The Future of BitTorrent
by Ernesto

BitTorrent is by far the most popular way to transfer large files over the Internet, but where will it be five years from now? To get some answers to this question TorrentFreak asked the admins of Mininova, The Pirate Bay, IsoHunt and TorrentSpy what they think the future holds for BitTorrent and their websites.

It’s hard to predict the future, especially when it comes to technology. However, that didn’t put us off and we gave it a shot. We asked the people behind the 4 largest BitTorrent sites on the Internet to tell us how they envision the future of BitTorrent. Despite the differences these four guys sometimes have, they all believe that no other P2P protocol performs better than BitTorrent at the moment. However, there’s no doubt that there will be changes in the future. —>

The Truth About Telecom Amnesty
by Glenn Greenwald

Today I interviewed Cindy Cohn of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the lead counsel in the pending litigation against AT&T, alleging that AT&T violated multiple federal laws by providing (without warrants) unfettered access for the Bush administration to all telephone and Internet data concerning its customers. The Bush administration intervened in that lawsuit to argue that the “state secrets” doctrine compelled dismissal of the lawsuit, but the presiding judge, Bush 41-appointee Vaughn Walker, last year rejected that argument and ordered the case to proceed (Oral Argument on the administration’s appeal of that ruling was heard by the 9th Circuit earlier this year).

The EFF/AT&T lawsuit — based in part on the testimony and documentation of Mark Klein, a former AT&T employee — will entail an investigation into the extent to which AT&T and other telecoms enabled the Bush administration to spy illegally on their customers. As of now, these telecom lawsuits are the best (arguably, the only real) hope for obtaining a judicial ruling as to whether these surveillance programs were illegal. Precisely for these reasons, the Bush administration is demanding “telecom amnesty” — to bring a halt to EFF’s lawsuit and thus ensure that no investigation of its spying activities on Americans ever occurs, and that no ruling is ever obtained as to whether it broke the law.

I found this interview extremely illuminating, and it reveals just how much misinformation is being disseminated by amnesty advocates. I will post the entire podcast and transcript when it is available, but wanted to post some key excerpts now: —>

Home snoop CCTV more popular than Big Brother
Forget the web, we want to watch real crims
by Mark Ballard
The Register (UK)

The scheme that gave residents of Shoreditch links to local CCTV cameras through their TV sets had better viewing figures than Channel 4’s Big Brother, according to an internal report by the local authority’s rejuvenation body. The Register has learned how residents took to the Shoreditch Digital Bridge scheme in order to scan for and report anti-social behaviour. Yet the over-arching aim of the project was to bridge the digital divide and improve take-up of online public services by giving TV-internet access to people in poor areas.

According to preliminary results of the Shoreditch pilot – due to be published in January – linking people’s living-room television sets to local CCTV cameras had attracted viewing figures with an “equivalent reach of prime time, week-day broadcast programming”. Official stats showed that a higher percentage of people tuned in to look through their local CCTV cameras (about 27 per cent of those with access) than watched Channel4’s hit snoop show, Big Brother (about 24 per cent).

Atul Hatwal, project manager at the Shoreditch Trust, said the CCTV hook-up was the main reason why people wanted to get the Digital Bridge internet access through their televisions. “In focus groups, the biggest thing they said to us was it made them safer, because if you are in a public space you know someone’s watching.”

The Information Commissioner had ordered the homesnoop CCTV be handicapped by low resolution to prevent the watchers from identifying the people they were watching. “You couldn’t recognise specifics, but you could see if there was trouble happening or if someone was roaming about. It made people feel safer,” said Hatwal. Indeed, residents were bothered by the restriction and not at all worried what implications the scheme might have for civil liberties or community. “Not a single resident came back and raised [CCTV] as an issue,” he said. “It was the defining thing that made people say, ‘Oh yes, I want that’, and they wanted to see more detail [in the CCTV images].” —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/01/07

November 2, 2007

Some support for cable competition bill eroding
by Mark Pitsch
Wisconsin State Journal

Some union support for a controversial cable competition bill is eroding over worries it will kill off public access channels and fail to generate the jobs supporters promise.  The concerns emerged this week as AB 207 vaulted onto the fast track for approval after lying dormant since May while lawmakers worked out a new, two-year state budget.   —>

Cable Competition Bill
by Bryan Bain
Bain-Blog (WI)

Yesterday, the Joint Finance Committee voted 13-3 in favor of the so-called cable competition bill (AB207/SB107). Unfortunately, Wisconsin is on path to pass a bill that is more friendly to AT&T than us as consumers. It also threatens funding for PEG stations such as OCAT.  In response, I sent a letter (pdf) to the members of the JFC asking the legislators why Wisconsin citizens and communities deserve less than our neighbors in Illinois? I also urged them and their colleagues to support a bill that protects Wisconsin public access television and the rights of Wisconsin consumers. Now, I urge you to do the same.

Contact Senator Roessler and Representatives Hintz and Owens and ask them to support OCAT and Wisconsin consumers by supporting an “Illinois version” of the bill in Wisconsin.  For more information, check out the Save Access Wisconsin Web site.

Waterford, AT&T at odds over franchise pact
by Stephanie Schneider
Spinal Column Online (MI)

Waterford Township and AT&T are currently at loggerheads over provisions of a franchise agreement, according to township Supervisor Carl Solden.  Waterford officials believe the company’s franchise agreement isn’t valid yet, while AT&T representatives state they are being asked to pay too much to the community in fees.   —>

Local cable channel’s view called one-sided by candidate
by Ed Richter
Middletown Journal (OH)

TV Middletown touts itself as being positively Middletown.  However, mayoral candidate Paul Nagy said the city’s local cable access channel won’t give any air time for those who oppose public levies and are using the channel in a partisan way.  He also claimed the channel was “going overboard” in airing only one side of the issue.  On Monday, Nagy sent an e-mail about that and other issues to city Law Director Les Landen and asked that he file suit on behalf of Middletown residents, have their funds withdrawn or “immediately make arrangements for new operators.”  Nagy said the channel should be responsible for fair and equitable service to all citizens of Middletown because it receives city funding.

Landen responded that “TV Middletown is a nonprofit corporation separate and apart from the city.” He said if Nagy had any complaints he should contact the channel’s board of directors. Also, Landen said once Middletown City Council makes its contribution to TV Middletown, the channel can use those funds as it sees fit because “it loses its character as tax dollars.”   —>

Redefining Media: Media Democracy and Community Radio
A CKUT 20th Anniversary Event
Airwaves & Liberty

In celebration of Media Democracy Day on October 18th, CKUT hosted its first annual media conference from October 19th to 21st, 2007. The goal of this conference was to provide participants with a critical understanding of media democracy, diversity and representation in the media. It will focus primarily on community radio and the ways in which it can be used to provide the public with clear, accurate, and representational viewpoints and information, while actively combating stereotyping according to race, gender, ethnicity and other factors.


*  KEYNOTE: Amy Goodman
*  Canadian Media and The War on Terror
*  Anti-Oppression and Community Radio
*  Community Radio Around the Globe
*  Indigenous Radio
*  Women in Community Radio
*  Community Radio and the CRTC
*  Human Rights Journalism and Youth Radio
*  Copyright and Community Radio
*  Direct Action Radio
*  New Technologies and Community Radio,
*  Radio, Art and Freedom of Thought
*  Closing Plenary Discussion: What is Media Democracy?

Groups Seek Stop to Comcast Net Meddling
Consumer Groups Ask FCC to Fine Comcast, Stop It From Hindering File Sharing
by Peter Svensson, AP
Yahoo Finance

A coalition of consumer groups and legal scholars on Thursday formally asked the Federal Communications Commission to stop Comcast Corp. from interfering with its subscribers’ file sharing.  Two of the groups are also asking the FCC to fine Comcast $195,000 for every affected subscriber.  The petitions will be the first real test of the FCC’s stance on “Net Neutrality,” the long-standing principle that Internet traffic be treated equally by carriers. The agency has a policy supporting the concept but its position hasn’t been tested in a real-world case.   —>

Where’s broadband?
by Thomas G. Robinson

Back in the early ‘90s, “Where’s broadband?” was akin to asking “Where’s Waldo?,” because provision of residential broadband services was difficult to find in a sea of dial-up connections. Now, though, the NCTA indicates that cable modem service is available to 94 percent of all U.S. households. DSL providers also claim high availability rates, and then there are seemingly endless Wi-Fi hot zones and full city-wide Wi-Fi builds proceeding in some locales. At first glance, it would seem that nearly everyone should be able to successfully access a broadband connection.

The key word, though, is “successfully.” In a number of cases, access to broadband is still hampered by a lack of availability. As you travel throughout the U.S., especially rural America, you can hear the cries of frustration from residents, businesses and city officials. They can’t get commercial wireline or wireless providers to extend service, because the low household density in their area creates a payback that is longer than the commercial, Wall Street-focused business model will allow.

It is truly ironic, then, when some of the rural local governments subsequently consider government-sponsored wireless networks, that there may be significant action at the state level to block a locality’s ability to pursue such initiatives. As local governments who have testified in front of state committees on such initiatives have indicated, they would be happy in many cases not to have to pursue broadband network development themselves and would welcome competition into the market, but they can’t even get a single commercial provider to offer service to low-density areas.

The House Telecommunications and Internet Subcommittee recently began developing a bill called the Broadband Census of America Act to try to finitely define where broadband availability is still an issue. If it really is only 6 percent of the American population, it must be a massive amount of land area that encompasses the 6 percent, based on reports from local governments and their residents all across the country.   —>

Fiber’s Open Spaces
by Martin Vilaboy
IP Business

There may be up to 360 providers currently offering fiber to the home in the U.S., but Verizon, it’s estimated, accounts for about two thirds of the 2.14 million U.S homes now connected to fiber. It’s safe to assume, however, that not many of the homes Verizon is passing reside in rural areas, as suburban and urban regions with higher concentrations of office locations are likely to produce lower hanging fruit. The resulting wide open spaces being left behind by the former Bell company create a landscape that’s all too familiar to rural telcos, and it appears these rural carriers are increasingly optimistic about their abilities to protect those territories.   —>

Editor’s Letter: Fiber Optic Nerve
by Drew Ruble
Business Tennessee Magazine

The last thing a person would expect to find after pushing through the solid brass doors of the nearly century-old neoclassical Giles County courthouse on the historic downtown Pulaski square is a high-tech communications nerve center.But inside, beneath the contemporary offices of “PES Energize,” the telecommunications services arm of local utility Pulaski Electric Service, which is headquartered there, lies a state-of-the-art data center housed within a tornado-proof bunker with fully redundant systems ready to support any size off-site data storage need.

It’s also the focal point of a publicly owned and operated $8.2 million fiber-optic network providing high-speed Internet access and other telecom services through pieces of glass cable weaving like a piece of spaghetti to every home, business, factory and school in Pulaski (pop. 7,875).  This is not your stereotypical sleepy rural electric system.   —>

Local men pursue broadband solution
by Howard Weiss-Tisman (VT)

WESTMINSTER — On a cold, winter day this past January, John Rais was sharing a pot of coffee with his friend, Scott Wendel, and listening to the radio.  News came on about Gov. Jim Douglas’ plan to form a telecommunications authority that would address the sorry state of high speed Internet access and cell phone coverage in the remote hills and valleys of Vermont.

The two engineers hardly needed a reminder that moving bits of information is slower than navigating a dirt road in mud season.  Rais still has dial-up service from his home office on Morse Brook Road, and even his office in Saxtons River, which has a so-called high-speed land line, is painfully slow when it becomes clogged with competing data.

So on that January day, with the clarity-inducing caffeine running through their veins, Rais and Wendel formed J.R. Engineering and decided to do something about the problem…  Rais and his partners want to bring an optical carrier, or OC-3, network to deliver high speed service across the state.  The OC-3 network is wireless and uses microwave technology to transport data.   —>

Testimony of Andrew Jay Schwartzman President and CEO, Media Access Project
Presented to the Federal Communications Commission
Common Dreams

For more than 30 years, I have sat on panels such as this. During that time, I have heard the testimony of scores of talented, dedicated commercial broadcasters who have provided meaningful service to their local communities. Few, if any, are more committed to public service than my friend Jim Goodmon.

My testimony today is not about those broadcasters. It is about the much larger number of broadcasters who do little or nothing to address the problems, needs and interests of the communities they are licensed to serve. They are never invited to appear by the NAB or by the Commission. They are the ones who should be called upon to explain why they lack any locally originated programming other than advertisements. They should be asked how they merit a free license for exclusive use of scarce publicly owned spectrum when they don’t provide something – anything – designed to serve the public interest, as opposed to their own private interests. Indeed, although I hope this will soon change, as of now, the Commission’s policy is that radio or TV stations carrying commercials or home shopping presentations 24 hours a day are presumed to be operating in the public interest.   —>

The FTC’s advertising town hall, and our new privacy channel
by Pablo Chavez
Google Public Policy Blog

The rapid growth of the Internet — and the promise of future growth — has been driven primarily by online advertising. Web sites and search engines are able to provide valuable services to consumers for free due in large part to advertiser funding. Like commercials on television and ads in newspapers and magazines, online ads have become staples of the Internet medium. Without them, many web sites would either have to charge subscription fees or would simply cease to exist.

At the same time, one of the most powerful aspects of the Internet is its ability to personalize information for each particular user. Personalization allows consumers to receive the information, content, and products they want. The same holds true for online advertising. Targeted online advertising benefits consumers by showing them ads that are useful, relevant, and pertain to their particular interests.

This week, we’re joining consumer advocates, technology experts, and academics for the Federal Trade Commission’s two-day “town hall” meeting on behavioral advertising. This is the first time since 2000 that the Commission has taken an industry-wide look at online advertising practices, and given the recent acquisitions in the space by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, AOL and others, it’s a good time to explore the privacy implications of new ad technologies, and in an industry-wide way. A few Googlers will be on hand to discuss principles that can guide online advertising in the future.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media

Tell Harry Reid: No Immunity for Lawbreaking Companies

October 27, 2007

An online petition from

Tell Harry Reid: No Immunity for Lawbreaking Companies

The Senate is considering a bill that would grant immunity to any telecom company that assisted in the administration’s illegal wiretapping. Chris Dodd promised to put a hold on any such bill, and Joe Biden and Barack Obama pledged to uphold it. We believe that any bill coming before the Senate that includes provisions for so-called ‘amnesty’ for large companies involved in illegally spying on Americans should be opposed, and have authored a letter to this effect addressed to Majority Leader Reid. You can co-sign it below. The letter will also be sent to Senate Democratic leadership and the Senate Judiciary Committee members. You can read the full text of the letter here.

American Civil Liberties Union
Electronic Frontier Foundation Political Action
Working Assets Wireless Free Press Center for National Security Studies
Common Cause
Glenn Greenwald, Salon
Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake
Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, Dailykos
Christy Hardin Smith, Firedoglake
Matt Stoller, OpenLeft
Digby, Hullabaloo
Taylor Marsh,
Duncan Black, Atrios
John Aravosis, Americablog
Chris Bowers, OpenLeft
John Amato, Crooks and Liars
Howie Klein, DownWithTyranny
Jonathan Singer, MyDD
Joan McCarter, Dailykos

Click here to:

Sign on to this letter and tell Harry Reid: No Immunity for Lawbreaking Companies!

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 09/17/07

September 18, 2007

[ Thanks to Matt Stoller for calling our attention to this one.  Please click through to show your interest. – rm ]

The United States of AT&T
by emptywheel
The Next Hurrah

Back in June, the Bush Administration invited one of AT&T’s key lobbyists, Ed Gillespie, to serve as White House counselor. A few weeks after that, BushCo expanded AT&T’s resident lobbyist’s role to include most of Karl Rove’s portfolio. Just days after Gillespie took over that role, the DOJ made an unusual intervention into the FCC’s request for comments on Net Neutrality, weighing against Net Neutrality.

Well today, one of AT&T’s former key attorneys, Peter Keisler, just took over the Department of Justice.

In the late 1990s, Keisler represented AT&T before SCOTUS in a case divvying up authority over how the 1996 Telecom Act would be implemented. He represented AT&T and other telecom companies fighting local ordinances limiting the acts of telecommuncation companies.

In early 2001, Keisler helped AT&T win the dismissal of a lawsuit that charged AT&T had illegally shared private information (a customer’s unlisted phone number) with AT&T’s credit division.The Second Circuit ruled that transfer of such personal information does not incur damages, and therefore private citizens cannot sue.

In June 2006, Keisler was one of a number of government lawyers arguing that New Jersey had no legal authority to subpoena documents relating to AT&T’s and other telecomm companies’ participation in the warrantless wiretapping program. Also in June 2006, Keisler invoked state secrets in Hepting v. AT&T, an attempt to scuttle the citizen lawsuits on the warrantless wiretap program.

In other words, both in and out of government, Keisler has represented AT&T’s interests masterfully.  Which makes it rather disconcerting that the AG has the authority to authorize telecomm companies to cooperate in government spying.

(ii) Notwithstanding any other law, providers of wire or electronic communication service, their officers, employees, and agents, landlords, custodians, or other persons, are authorized to provide information, facilities, or technical assistance to persons authorized by law to intercept wire, oral, or electronic communications or to conduct electronic surveillance, as defined in section 101 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, if such provider, its officers, employees, or agents, landlord, custodian, or other specified person, has been provided with—

(A) a court order directing such assistance signed by the authorizing judge, or

(B) a certification in writing by a person specified in section 2518 (7) of this title or the Attorney General of the United States that no warrant or court order is required by law, that all statutory requirements have been met, and that the specified assistance is required,

Basically, Bush just gave AT&T the ability to have its long-time lawyer give it legal authority to collaborate with the government to spy on citizens.

And in case you’re worried that AT&T is stuck with no good legal representation, having lost Keisler, rest assured. You see, former Associate White House Counsel Brad Berenson (who also happens to be Kyle Sampson and Susan Ralston’s lawyer) has taken over for Keisler and is working on the AT&T case, among other things.
—>  [ numerous comments follow original post ]

Community Media Experiment 2007: highlights from Plug in TVs 2007 season
Darkness at Noon (Australia)

I’ve just heard about this, which sounds very interesting. PluginTV are a local group that help produce local social justice and enviro shorts. There are 4 films on at Loop, in Melbourne town, Wednesday October 3rd. Entry is free, from 7, starts at 8, finishes at 9.

“Sheryl Oteyza presents “Unheard, Unknown” which investigates the killings taking place targeting union and community leaders in the Philippines. People defending their rights are being shot dead by unidentified armed men… why is this happening and why don’t we hear about it in the media???”

CBC says media consolidation ‘unacceptable’
The Globe and Mail
by Grant Robertson
Public Airwaves

OTTAWA — The level of consolidation in the Canadian media industry has reached levels that “in any other country would be considered unacceptable,” Canada’s public broadcaster told regulators Monday at the start of federal hearings into the state of ownership concentration in broadcasting.  “Our view is, generally speaking, the level of concentration is too high,” said Richard Stursberg, executive vice-president of English language operations at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.   —>

Vote could eliminate some access channels
by D.L. Bennett
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (GA)

Local television in Georgia’s most populous county will be changed if south Fulton voters agree to incorporate Tuesday. By supporting a new city in south Fulton County, voters likely would be wiping out the local government access channels used by Fulton government and Fulton schools.

Local access Channel 25 also would be eliminated because all three public channels are provided by the county’s franchising agreement with Comcast, the cable company. And, if south Fulton incorporates, the county no longer would be in the cable franchising business, because cities would control all the rights of way.

When things might change is unclear because the possible elimination of the FGTV on Channel 21 and the school station on Channel 23 is new territory for all involved.  The possibility has county officials scrambling to figure out what to do.   —>

Salem public access TV focuses on growth
New location to offer more services, space for community voices
by Chris Hagan
Statesman Journal (OR)

Capital Community Television is the Salem area’s public access TV station, showing staff-produced programs such as school board and city council meetings, as well as community-produced shows such as “Friend for Life” and “Cannabis Common Sense.”

Executive Director Alan Bushong has been with the organization since its start in 1989 after spending 11 years at a public access station in Austin, Texas.  He’s now helping oversee the move of the station’s studio from Salem Public Library to a yet-to-be-completed building in what is now a parking lot at Church and Trade streets downtown.  Recently, Bushong talked about the move, his start in TV and how YouTube has changed the way CCTV operates.   —>

Knight-Batten innovation awards announced
by Cory Bergman
Lost Remote
09/17/07 walked away with a $10,000 check after winning the grand prize in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism. “The site not only reports on, but encourages, citizens to participate more directly in the political process,” the panel of judges said. “It’s an amazing source of information from a non-traditional news outlet.” Here are the rest of the winners:

$2,000 First Prize: Crisis Guides
$1,000 Wild Card Award: Reuters’ Second Life Virtual News Bureau
$1,000 Citizen Media Award: The Forum, Deerfield, N.H.
$1,000 Special Distinction Award:’s onBeing
$1,000 Special Distinction Award:’s Varsity MyTeam H.S. Sports

Verizon’s hubris
Why is a market-leading mobile phone company suing the FCC over regulations on airwaves it isn’t even licensed to use?
by Jon Healey

Given the litigious history of the telecommunications industry, it should come as no surprise when a powerhouse phone company sues the Federal Communications Commission over a regulation it doesn’t like. Years of government-guaranteed monopoly profits bred such a sense of entitlement among the telcos that any attempt to open their markets to competition routinely drew fierce responses in court. Nevertheless, the lawsuit filed Sept. 10 by Verizon Wireless set a new standard for hubris. The No. 2 mobile phone company in the country is trying to block regulations that the FCC wants to impose on airwaves that Verizon isn’t even licensed to use, let alone own.   —>

CAAC will self-assess as part of ’08 goals
by Cathy Nelson Price (MI)

Anticipating the ups and downs of future funding, the Cable Access Advisory Commission will step up its monitoring of how well MCTV is doing both fiscally and in delivering programming and services to the viewing public.  CAAC focused on two sets of goals at its Wednesday night meeting: its organizational objectives for the current year and its 2008-2009 plans to be included in the city’s upcoming budget deliberations.

For that budget, the city has requested that all boards and commissions come up with measures to “ensure economic sustainability” through increasing revenues and pruning expenditures. CAAC voted to determine an appropriate level of services cable access should provide, to identify measures to keep that level steady, and to share its findings with the City Council. This will become especially crucial if the current revenue stream diminishes and support for MCTV has to come from the city’s general funds.   —>

Community Foundations and Local News
by Dan Gillmor
Center for Citizen Media

I have an op-ed piece in today’s San Francisco Chronicle urging the nation’s community foundations — which are holding a conference this week in San Francisco — to play a growing role in keeping local journalism vibrant. It starts:

“As America wakes up to the crumbling of basic infrastructure, with Minnesota’s bridge collapse the most recent example, a more subtle but also alarming breakdown is hitting our cities and towns. In community after community, newspapers are shedding editorial staff at a rate that spells trouble for a well-informed citizenry, a foundation of a free society.  Unlike the job of building and maintaining roads and bridges, however, ensuring a vibrant press is a questionable role for government, when a key role of journalism is to question power and hold it to account.”    —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media