Archive for the ‘right-of-way’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 10/22/07

October 23, 2007

Internet Freedom and Burmese Bloggers
by Matt Stoller

—>   It’s become clear that dissidents are getting better at using the internet to spread information, while governments are getting better at shutting them down.  It’s not going to be long before human rights organizations begin to understand that global net neutrality and a free internet are a proxy for violations of human rights.  Even in poor, repressed, and violent areas, small bits of internet access can have a positive impact on repression.  And as we’re seeing, even in wealthy relatively open societies, excessively tight ties between media companies, communications networks, and the government are extremely dangerous.

Groups Want New Leased Access Rate From Martin
Broadcast Newsroom

(Multichannel News) _ In a private meeting with Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin, public interest groups sought adoption of new rules designed to reduce the rates that third-party programmers pay to lease channel capacity from cable operators.

The call for a new leased access payment formula came from representatives of the Media Access Project and Public Knowledge in an Oct. 18 meeting with Martin, his media adviser Michelle Carey and Media Bureau chief Monica Desai, according to FCC records.

In the meeting, MAP senior vice president Harold Feld endorsed a rule that would determine a single, national leased access rate “using price information from Los Angeles and New York City, currently the two most competitive leased access markets.”   —>

Problem-Solving Reaches New Level For 20-Year-Old Education Channel
by Walt Belcher
The Tampa Tribune (FL)

—>   This month marks the 20th anniversary of The Education Channel, which has been honored eight times as one of the best education-related channels in the country.  But the celebration has been muted by funding cuts that threaten the channel’s future.  Also, a proposed relocation to a digital tier on Bright House Networks could make it harder to find and more costly for viewers. The Educational Channel is on channel 18 on Bright House. The cable company plans to announce the relocation in December.   —>

Media Center helps student movies shine
Palo Alto teen center offers students tools for success for future careers in the media
by Yelly Bitton of the Campanile
The Paly Voice (CA)

The studio is silent. The lighting is perfectly set. The sound check is done. Three, two, one, action.  Palo Alto High School senior Adam Shore is ready to shoot a television show at Palo Alto’s Media Center’s television studio. Shore has been involved with activities at the Media Center for over two years.   —>

The Media Center is a non-profit public access television station. The local cable provider, currently Comcast Corporation, is required by California state law to give back to the community and does so in the form of public access media centers, such as the one on San Antonio Blvd. in Palo Alto.   —>

Driving public right-of-way
by Andrea Domaskin
The Forum (ND)

When Pat Zavoral started working for the city of Fargo, telephone and electricity were the only companies that used public right-of-way to provide services to consumers.  Fast-forward 25 years and now eight companies have franchise agreements with the city to provide power, phone, cable or other communication services.

As technologies advance, more services are likely, and they could be provided in nontraditional ways, Zavoral, who is the city administrator, and others say.  That means more options for consumers.  But it’s also expected to challenge Fargo’s ability to regulate companies and manage its right-of-way.  As a result, Fargo is revamping its communications regulations. Currently it has a series of ordinances and agreements based on individual requests.   —>

Milwaukee Biz Blog
Telecom bill is greased for AT&T
by Bob Chernow
Small Business Times (WI)

Dear Wisconsin Legislators:

The 35 cities, towns and villages of the Regional Telecommunications Commission oppose the Plale-Montgomery bill. Here are some of the problems we see.   The justification for this bill is to generate competition among cable and video providers. This is a goal that our organization has fought to achieve for years.  For example, before the high-tech bust we fast tracked Digital Access, a new cable-Internet-phone provider. In six months we had an agreement that was fair for our communities and our cable provider, Time Warner.

In late 2005, we contacted AT&T Wisconsin and began a year’s negotiations for a model agreement that we thought all of Wisconsin’s communities could adopt. AT&T stopped negotiations when they thought they could get a “better” deal from you in Madison. The Pale-Montgomery bill obstructed our negotiations.  Indeed, AT&T could have had a model agreement by mid-2006. Today we would happily agree to the Milwaukee-AT&T agreement. AT&T refuses to talk.

Let us make clear that we want competition to improve service and lower costs for our consumers. We just do not think that this bill accomplishes this goal.  Let us look at why:

Many of our communities use PEG for governmental and educational purposes, servicing those who live in our cities, villages and towns. PEG operates on a shoestring but produces value. PEG is supported by volunteers. Yet the bill forces PEG to “raise” its own funding after three years, according to Senator Plale. This will kill PEG.  The elimination of PEG does not help competition. The modest pass-through costs are by paid by subscriber. What it does is to allow the provider to raise its own rate. This is exactly what Time Warner did when it won concessions from Milwaukee for PEG.

On a different issue, we think that it is fair for new providers to carry PEG once they have reached a certain thresh hold of subscribers and to connect PEG to their system. This is what current providers do.

We want our citizens to receive service on a neutral basis and not based on race or wealth. While the bill makes accommodations, enforcement is inadequate. A weak department, with no consumer experience, has purposely been assigned this task. But to insure non-enforcement, its “budget” was cut to less than $70,000.

The RTC just finished an audit of one of our providers. We are claiming fees that were not paid. Other communities have had success with their audits. The Plale-Montgomery bill restricts our audits. What does this have to do with competition?  The answer is nothing.  The Plale- Montgomery bill is about power in an industry to control and dominate the market. This is bad business and bad government.

The argument also has been made that AT&T will not invest capital or manpower if this bill fails. But reality shows that they are competing now. Moreover, AT&T has no other choice. They have lost 1/3 of their telephone market to cable and VOIP providers. They have no other choice!  On the other hand, Time Warner is investing $20 million in a new building in Appleton and will hire 300 workers over the next five years.

We are also concerned that we have been systematically excluded from this process.  Representative Montgomery made clear that the RTC and other municipalities would “not have a seat at the table.”  As they say, “When you don’t have a seat at the table, you are liable to be part of the meal.”

AT&T likes this bill. Our communities oppose it. AT&T- Wisconsin lobbyists helped write this bill. They have hired a battalion of lobbyists, set up a phony advertising campaign and contributed over $100,000 to members of the Senate and Assembly. The members of our organization, the RTC, are all volunteers and local officials. We are not sophisticated lobbyists, nor do we have funds to contribute to your campaigns. We are just trying to keep our rights of way and represent the best interests of our citizens.

These citizens believe that their rates will go down. They are wrong.  AT&T has been up front that their current rates are only for promotional purposes. They originally project a 20 percent increase to $120. Now they are projecting an increase of 45 percent to $145.

We ask that you either reject this bill or change it to be in accord with the Milwaukee-AT&T agreement.


Bob Chernow
Chairman of the Regional Telecommunication Commission

Knight’s citizen media blog is go
by Jemima Kiss
PDA: The Digital Content Blog

The Knight Foundation’s News Challenge in the US is a $5m fund for new community media projects, variously supporting a mobile political news project by MTV, a New York-based game to encourage interest in news stories and the creation of a “Center for Future Civic Media” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Idea Lab is latest Knight project to come to fruition in the form of a collaborative blog on reinventing community news for the digital age, as they say…

The latest post by degree student Dan Schultz lays out seven goals for “the perfect news system”, which could direct and inform development of an aggregated news service and the tools used to set it up.

– It should maintain credibility and journalistic values in all articles.
– Empower consumers to find news relevant to them.
– Allow individuals publish information relevant to their communities.
– Connects people with common interests and develops those networks.
– Allow information to be shared and distributed efficiently and without distortion.
– Eliminate the rift between mainstream news and major blogs.
– Distinguish between news, opinion and entertainment.

Sounds like a tall order, but Schultz’s solution is simple – tagging. He imagines that tagging stories by subject, location and so on, is enough to build complex, international, collaborative communities of news consumers, and I suspect his own plans around this will be built up in more detail on the Idea Lab blog over the next few months.

compiled By Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media