Comcast’s Cohen To Testify On PEG Policy
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
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
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.