Archive for the ‘spectrum auction’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/03/08

April 4, 2008

Don’t Downgrade CT-N
Hartford Courant (CT)
04/03/08

[ 8 comments ]

AT&T’s new U-verse service doesn’t have to play by all the rules that cable TV companies do. But it should play by one: It should offer viewers the same quality public affairs broadcasts that cable viewers now enjoy.

The Connecticut Television Network, aptly described as Connecticut’s C-SPAN, covers state government, including debates on bills before the General Assembly. CT-N fears, with good reason, that AT&T will move it to a substandard channel that will be hard for viewers to connect with and see clearly.

Paul Giguere, president and CEO of CT-N, recently did a side-by-side comparison of public affairs programs on U-verse and cable TV in a town in Michigan. (The comparison can be seen at www.compare.ct-n.com.)

On U-verse, the public access channel took more than a minute to appear on the screen. The picture was fuzzier than on cable TV. Also, viewers couldn’t record U-verse public access programs with DVRs. These changes will surely upset the many fans of the invaluable CT-N.

AT&T has fought its way into the Connecticut cable TV market this past year with promises of great quality and competitive pricing on its service. The legislature relaxed its regulations last year to give the newcomer a chance. But even the lighter regulatory system still included public access requirements for U-verse.

The legislature must make sure CT-N viewers don’t get shortchanged with the new service. They should have the same easy, crisp viewing experience as they will have with C-SPAN and CPTV, which will be carried on commercial channels.

CT-N has become too vital to the informed citizenry of Connecticut to allow anything less.
http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ctn.artapr04,0,2491936.story
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Secrecy granted to cable TV providers
by Timothy C. Barmann
Providence Journal (RI)
04/03/08

The state’s three cable TV companies have asked state regulators to keep secret some of the details the businesses are required to file about their operations each year.  Eric Palazzo, the state’s top cable regulator, has granted that request.

Cox Communications, Verizon Communications and Full Channel TV all contend that releasing some of the information in their annual reports, such as how many customers each company has, would harm their competitive positions.  Cox has gone a step further by also requesting that financial information, such as its balance sheet and income statements, be kept confidential as well.  These filings, in their entirety, have been made available to the public for 25 years.

Palazzo said the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers supported cable competition within Rhode Island, adding “We do not want to do anything that the companies feel would be negative in the competitive environment.”  The three companies filed their annual reports Tuesday, the deadline for doing so. The Journal has asked Thomas Ahern, administrator of the division, to review Palazzo’s decision to withhold the information.

Ahern said that state law gives the agency 10 days to respond to The Journal’s request. He said that Palazzo has asked the cable companies to file memos that expand upon their reasons for wanting to keep the information confidential.  The state rules that govern cable TV have required cable companies to file annual reports since the industry’s inception in Rhode Island in the early 1980s.  The reports are to contain information about each company’s ownership, management, financial condition, facilities, services and subscriber information…

Linda Lotridge Levin, a professor of journalism at the University of Rhode Island, said the information that the cable companies don’t want disclosed could be helpful to consumers.  “If you have the information, then you can make a better informed decision,” Levin said, who is also chairwoman of Access Rhode Island, a group that works to ensure that the workings of government are open to the citizens of the state.

“As a proponent of open government …. I think the residents of the state have a right to know the details of these businesses.”  She said that since these companies are regulated by the state, citizens “should be able to know what our state is regulating.”   —>
http://www.projo.com/business/content/bz_cable_secrets03_04-03-08_K19KE3D_v14.2a635b3.html
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Pointdexter
The 411 Show (TX)
04/03/08

[ comments invited ]

Meet Pointdexter, the lost dog (http://blip.tv/file/get/411Show-Pointdexter125.mov). If anybody recognizes him, send us a message.  This clip was filmed for San Antonio Public Access TV.
http://411show.blogspot.com/2008/04/pointdexter.html
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Public access and grassroots video
by Forty Brown
40Brown
04/03/08

[ comments invited ]

I’m attending a lecture today given by DeeDee Halleck, an expert in public access television programing and the use of communications in grassroots development.  You can follow along here.
http://40brown.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/public-access-and-grassroots-video/
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Clash over ‘white spaces’
by Chris Frates
Politico
04/03/08

[ comments invited ]

The big guns of high tech and consumer advocacy are launching a major lobbying blitz next week to convince policymakers to allow unlicensed electronic gadgets to operate on the television spectrum.   While a bit esoteric-sounding, the issue of allowing unlicensed electronics to use vacant spectrum space between television channels will have a dramatic and lasting impact on consumers, argue supporters and opponents alike.

The high-tech community contends that allowing laptops, PDAs and other unlicensed devices to operate in the so-called “white spaces” will revolutionize wireless broadband access. Broadcasters counter that such a move would interfere with television signals and distort TV picture quality for millions of Americans.   A classic Washington clash of the titans, the fight between the broadcasters and the tech companies has turned savage, with each side accusing the other of distortion and greed.

The techies contend the broadcasters want to keep the white spaces for themselves until they can figure out how to make money selling them. The broadcasters say the tech giants are trying to score free spectrum space — unlicensed devices mean companies don’t have to buy expensive spectrum space that licensed devices require.   Each side dismisses its opponent’s arguments as bunk.

To push their cause, Microsoft, Dell, Google and other tech companies, along with several public interest groups, have formed the Wireless Innovation Alliance. And it has bought a round of print ads to run in Washington publications over the next several weeks.  The ads criticize the National Association of Broadcasters for what the alliance calls NAB’s pattern of opposition over the years to FM radio, cable television and the VCR, among other innovations. The alliance expects to begin a second round of advertising in late May or early June.

On Capitol Hill, the alliance is targeting lawmakers charged with overseeing the Federal Communications Commission, which is currently testing unlicensed devices to determine whether they cause interference. Specifically, the alliance intends to lobby the 70 lawmakers who wrote to the FCC to express their concern about unlicensed devices.

“Many of these members merely voiced concern over television interference, not the technological opportunity that will bring wireless broadband access to millions of Americans and close the gap between American schools, rural communities and underserved populations,” said alliance spokesman Brian Peters. “Opposing interference and supporting NAB’s position are two very different things.”

To mobilize consumers, the alliance has tapped its partners to help build a grass-roots network. More than 500,000 members of the media reform organization Free Press have filed more than 20,000 comments with the FCC supporting unlicensed devices to use white spaces, said Shawn Chang, the consumer advocacy group’s deputy policy director. The move will help counter NAB’s constituency of station owners.

Free Press believes white spaces can increase Internet access, a message it has pitched to the civil rights, music and rural groups it has asked to sign on to the fight, Chang said.   “The goal is expanding the number of coalitions and bringing a diverse perspective into the debate,” Chang said. “Traditionally, people don’t view this as a digital divide issue. They view it as one large industry, tech companies, versus another large industry: the broadcasters. It’s really about connecting more people to the Internet.”    —>
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0408/9344.html
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REPACTED: Giving Voice To The Kenyan Youths
by Rezwan
Rising Voices
04/03/08

[ comments invited ]

REPACTED is the abbreviation of Rapid Effective Participatory Action in Community Theater Education and Development.  REPACTED was formed in the year 2001 by young theater artists from the Nakuru Players Theater Club with assistance from an international NGO. Their aim is to improve the community by encouraging young people and involving them in community development through participatory theater methodologies, awareness campaigns and peer education and counseling.

The scope of the Youth Media Consultative Forum is stated in their application to Rising Voices:

“The youth media consultative forum will collect news, stories, information, and other content from their respective communities among the target population and post them on the internet, through photography, broadcast, video, blogging, and magazines. The project will also use Magnet Theater to inform, educate, and communicate to the target population. With the above activities the target population will be able to communicate with like minded population in the whole world, and show the true picture of their community. The kind of news and stories that we will collect and share using the above tools will be to show the struggles that young people are going through here in Nakuru Kenya and give them a voice.”

In their first post in Rising Voices REPACTED tells about its works and achievements till-to-date.

Dennis Kimambo is the resource mobilizer of the program. We have talked with him recently to learn about the program and its progress in details. Here is the interview.   —>
http://rising.globalvoicesonline.org/blog/2008/04/03/repacted-giving-voice-to-the-kenyan-youths/
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/28/08

March 30, 2008

Verizon CEO seeks pact on a state cable license
by Jay Fitzgerald
Boston Herald (MA)
03/28/08

[ comments invited ]

Verizon’s Ivan Seidenberg wants to cut a broadband deal with Massachusetts – and Mayor Thomas Menino signaled yesterday he’s willing to listen to his offers. The giant telecom’s chief executive, who spoke at yesterday’s Boston College Chief Executives’ Club of Boston lunch, said Verizon is willing to wire rural and other remote areas of the state if lawmakers give the company a “statewide license” to deploy its broadband cable and Internet service without negotiating with individual towns. —>
http://www.bostonherald.com/business/general/view.bg?articleid=1083342
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AT&T, EBR approve TV deal
Action adds new competitor
by Ben Calder
Advocate (LA)
03/28/08

AT&T and the city-parish have reached an agreement to allow the company to offer television service in East Baton Rouge Parish, adding another competitor to a market that includes cable provider Cox Communications and satellite services Dish Network and Direct TV. The agreement, ratified by a unanimous vote by the Metro Council Wednesday night, will allow the company to begin providing Internet-based television programming along with its Internet and phone service through fiber or copper lines using a set-top box.

But AT&T spokeswoman Karen Beck said the company will not say when people can begin using the service, called AT&T U-verse, already offered in 12 states. The city-parish will get 5 percent of AT&T’s gross revenue from subscription fees and 0.5 percent of gross revenue to support the capital costs incurred for the construction and operation of the city-parish’s public, educational and governmental channels.

The mayor’s office did not return a call for comment Thursday. The council approved the deal without comment the evening before. The agreement, which Beck said has been in the works for about six months, is the first between a Louisiana municipality and AT&T. Beck said while AT&T plans to pursue similar agreements with New Orleans and other cities with a home rule charter predating 1974, its next step will be to try to get a statewide franchise.

AT&T did so two years ago, but then-Gov. Kathleen Blanco vetoed the bill. The company said House Bill No. 1009 and Senate Bill No. 422 were filed late last week and will enable AT&T to obtain a statewide franchise. Beck said she did not know whether Gov. Bobby Jindal would be more receptive to the bill if it passes again. —>
http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/17077326.html
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“AT&T, EBR approve TV deal”
by John St. Julien
Lafayette Pro Fiber (LA)
03/28/08

[ 2 comments ]

Well, that was fast! The day before yesterday we noted here that AT&T through its astroturf subsidary TV4US had launched the public relations champaign to support its statewide video franchise law. This morning we see the first substantial political move in the upcoming battle. Baton Rouge has cut a deal with AT&T and so is taken off the board in an early first move of the chess pieces.

AT&T, according to the Advocate, has reached a franchise agreement with the East Baton Rouge City-Parish government to provide cable TV (aka “video services”) in the parish. Follows a summary of what seems to be going on with the caveat that all I have to go on is the article…I can’t find the ordinance or contract online as I would be able to in Lafayette—anyone have access?

AT&T will have the right to offer its new “U-verse” services (site, overview) in the parish for 5 percent of revenues to the general fund and .5% of revenues to support public, educational, and governmental channels (PEG channels). Presuming that turns out to be correct (and enforceable) its a good deal on two of the three major issues that any locale should consider: a fair price for the rental of public land and support for local media. Realizing any actual benefit from those two will depend on the third leg: the product being offered to a sizeable number of citizens.

AT&T has long made it clear that they do not intend to offer this product to just anyone…instead they want to offer it chiefly to their “high value” customers and less than 5% of their “low-value” purchasers. (Fiber To The Rich, FTTR) If you figure out the implications of what they told investors back when this plan got underway they only intend to offer this product to about half of their current population base. Baton Rouge and other wealthy centers in generally cash-poor Louisiana might get U-Verse in rich neighborhoods but I’d be surprised if it went much into North Baton Rouge and Scotlandville. That might prove a difficult thing for Mayor Kip Holden to explain.

A bit of unease about the part AT&T was unwilling to promise might well, in turn, explain the secrecy with which this deal was constructed and the stealth with which it was executed. Holden received the council’s blessing to negotiate on Wednesday with no (that’s NO) discussion, and was able close and announce the deal on Thursday. The fix was in. (*) What didn’t happen was any public discussion of the pros and cons of the deal offered by AT&T–discussion which might well have lead to uncomfortable demands that the city-parish require AT&T to actually serve the citizens whose property AT&T wants to use. Such a requirement is part of Cox’s deal…but not, I have to strongly suspect, part of the deal with AT&T. —>

And, speaking of Cox, what about the cable companies? Where do they play in this game? A smart reporter will try and delve into that question. AT&T is using its extraordinary influence in the legislature to push two very bad video bills through the legislature. By comparison the cable companies have relatively little influence. What’s curious is that Lafayette is the state’s largest community to whom these bills will apply. Should Lafayette succeed, as she did two years ago, in getting herself excluded along with other older home rule communities the five largest metro areas of the state comprising the wealthiest 35-40% of the state’s population will have to have local franchises anyway. Since no one (except deliberately naive legislators) actually believes that AT&T is going to provide video in rural regions the question has to be who will really benefit?

One devious answer would have to be: the cable companies. They will be able to drop their local franchises with the communities that actually own the land they want to use, pick up a state franchise at a 30% discount in fees and NO local obligation to serve PEG channels. In other states like North Carolina where the phone company waged a bitter war to win the right to a state video franchise they didn’t make use of it and filed few such requests. On the other hand their supposed cable opponents made out like bandits snatching up state franchises which allowed them to drop the more demanding local ones. The end result was no significant new competition, no price drops, and a huge drop in income to local municipalities.

Somebody in North Carolina got taken…..and the grifters are on the prowl here

(*)Revealing tidbit: The wikipedia section on U-Verse vailability was updated to include Baton Rouge on the 25th, two days before Baton Rouge supposedly concluded the deal and one day before the city-parish council approved negotiations. Not surprisingly, the prescient anonymous editor who added Baton Rouge to the list of cities was operating from a “BellSouth” (now AT&T) URL. The fix was in….
http://lafayetteprofiber.com/Blog/2008/03/at-ebr-approve-tv-deal.html
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Metro Live Television Chat Far More Informative Than Metro Live Online Chat
by Fred Camino
MetroRider LA (CA)
03/28/08

[ 11 comments ]

Last night, Metro Board member Pam O’Connor answered questions and spoke about the Long Range Transit Plan on Los Angeles Public Access Television. I’ll be honest, I didn’t watch the live show last night, but watched it on the web this morning. You can check out the show on LA36’s website, right here.

The hour long show proved to be a much better medium for Pam than her monthly home on the Metro Interactive online chat, which is pretty much universally panned for its inability to be either interactive or informative. Metro Live, despite its obviously public access level production values, managed to keep my attention for the entire hour. Pam’s answers came off a lot more candid and sincere than they do on the online chat, which for the most part seem like copy-paste clippings from Metro press releases. That’s not to say she didn’t paint a rosy picture of Metro when faced with some hardballs, from hearing her talk you’d think the TAP card is the second coming and fare gates are neccessary, well, just because. Here’s some highlights (and lowlights). —>
http://metroriderla.com/2008/03/28/metro-live-television-chat-far-more-informative-than-metro-live-online-chat/
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March Madness: Bruins, O’Connor Both Win During TV Showdown
by Damien Newton
Streetsblog Los Angeles (CA)
03/28/08

[ 1 comment ]

LA Streetsblog picks up the action as UCLA holds a 28-15 lead over the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers in their Sweet Sixteen match up in the NCAA Tournament. UCLA is wearing their home whites despite being miles from Westwood. The game is being broadcast nationally at CBS.

Meanwhile, Metro Board Chair Pam O’Connor was wearing her road pinks at her home court at Santa Monica City Hall for a call-in-show about Metro’s Long Range Transportation Plan. Metro Live! was broadcast on LA City Cable Channel 36 and Santa Monica Channel 16. Just like UCLA ended up winning after some shaky moments, O’Connor gave a strong performance despite perhaps over focusing on the benefits of TAP cards. We pick up the action, after the jump. —>
http://la.streetsblog.org/2008/03/28/march-madness-bruins-o%e2%80%99connor-both-win-during-tv-showdown/
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Singer in tune with message
by Kerri Roche
Daily News Tribune (MA)
03/28/08

[ 2 comments ]

Unlike many celebrities and stars, Renee Marcou is not waiting for fame to envelop her before she gets puts her name next to an important cause. While she puts together her second album, Marcou, 19, also serves as the spokeswoman for the Baby Safe Haven New England Foundation. Yesterday morning, she belted out her latest tunes for a student-produced segment on Waltham Education Television, combining her passion for pop, rhythm and blues with a less than Hollywood-glamour conversation about abandoned babies…

A Wilmington native, Marcou, who has family, including Councilor at-large David Marcou, living in Waltham, has performed at Gillette Stadium and in Los Angeles and Chicago. When she’s not performing, she is a guest on radio and television shows throughout New England, promoting her songs and the options for reluctant parents.

Although WE-TV won’t get the audiences of NECN, where Marcou has previously appeared, Morrisey said local cable television and radio shows generate attention from their target audience – young adults. “You would think a high school TV station wouldn’t be important, but actually we found … they’re probably the most important media outlets to get the message out to. That’s what kids listen to,” said Morrisey. “She’s done every genre of radio of format from punk rock to sports talk.”

Waltham students invited Marcou to their half-hour magazine-style news show because of her vocal and dancing talents, said Patrick Daly, high school television production teacher. Although the student interviewers P.J. Centofanti and Jen Gullotti will likely focus on her career path, the conversation will undoubtedly shift toward Marcou’s more serious work, said Daly. “That’s the cause that she promotes, so we’ll talk about that as well,” said Daly, who added that the segment will air in a few weeks. —>
http://www.dailynewstribune.com/news/x334360812
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One Class
by Will Okun
New York Times
03/27/08

[ 185 comments ]

The average Chicago Public School freshman misses 20 school days a year and fails more than two semester classes. At my high school on the Westside of Chicago, attendance trumps intelligence, work ethic and economic background as the most important indicator of achievement versus failure. In this case, Woody Allen is correct: “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

In most communities, students attend school every day because they are convinced that educational achievement is essential to their future success. For many unfortunate reasons, however, this expectation does not exist for most low-income students in Chicago and other urban areas. How do we improve attendance at low-income schools where the current incentive of “a better future” is not sufficient?

According to high school junior Mark Hill, “One special class can make the difference. I know people who come to school just because they are involved in a sport or a certain extracurricular program or they have one great class that they are interested in.”

When rap superstar Kanye West explained the purpose of his education foundation, he stressed that music production classes could inspire “at-risk” kids to attend and remain in school in the same manner as athletics often do. “We have to involve kids in their education,” he told the reporters. “Kids will go to school if they have the opportunity to study something they love. Right now, they are not motivated by the curriculum.”

In my own nine years of teaching, students enrolled in my photography class boast a 90% daily attendance rate while students enrolled in my English classes maintain a daily attendance rate of only 70%. However, an even better example of the positive effect of a single class is Jeff McCarter’s Free Spirit Media video production program at North Lawndale College Prep.

McCarter’s students produce the insanely popular television show “Hoops High,” which features play-by-play game coverage of Chicago high school athletic events. The students are responsible for all aspects of production: they shoot, edit, and announce all of the action themselves. The students even conduct sideline interviews. “Everything you see is us — we’re doing it all,” brags freshman Daryl Jackson. “Most kids’ programs are run by adults where they control the final project, but here we are in charge.”

The final product is telecast every Saturday night on public access T.V. (CAN-TV) and is one of the station’s most popular shows with over 70,000 regular viewers. Students and faculty at my own school regularly watch the telecast. “First of all, they shoot all the best games, they know which games we want to see. But also, the announcers know what’s going on in the schools so you get all these side stories about the players and the fans,” explains student Lazzerick Allen. —>
http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/one-class/
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Media Re:public Forum Panel on Participatory Media: Defining Success, Measuring Impact
by Victoria Stodden
Victoria Stodden
03/28/08

[ comments invited ]

Margaret Duffy is a Professor from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and she is speaking at Berkman’s Media Re:public Forum. She leads a Citizen Media Participation project to create a taxonomy of news categories and get a sense of the state of citizen media via sampling news across the nation. They are interested in where the funding in coming from, the amount of citizen participation, and getting an idea of what the content is. They are also creating a social network called NewNewsMedia.org connecting seekers and posters to bring together people interested in the same sorts of things…

Duffy is followed by Carol Darr, director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet (ipdi) at George Washington University. She is discussing the “Media Habits of Poli-fluentials” and building on work from the book, “The Influentials” by Ed Keller and Jon Berry. The idea is that one person in ten tells the other nine how to votes, where to eat, etc. The interesting thing Darr notes is that poli-fluentials (her term) are not elites in the traditional sense but local community leaders and ordinary folk who appear to be knowledgable to their peers. She notes that people who seem to know a lot of people tend to be these poli-fluentials. —>
http://blog.stodden.net/2008/03/28/media-republic-panel-defining-success-measuring-impact-of-participatory-media/
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Media Re:Public, part 7
by Nathaniel James
Phase Transitions
03/28/08

[ comments invited ]

Media Re:public is hosting this back channel. I got into this conversation with Sasha Costanza-Chock.

Nathan: For Ron C: how can cable access centers reach out to, connect, and collaborate with the world of new media and user generated content? There’s a tradition there that needs to connect!
schock: Check out Manhattan Neighborhood Network, and Denver Open Access. They are great examples of public access connecting to new media.
Nathan: Absolutely! But why are MNN, etc the exception? How can we port those models to PEG/access more universally?
schock: Well there’s one thing the funders might think about 🙂 Support extending those models around the country.
http://phasetransitions.blogspot.com/2008/03/media-republic-part-7.html
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Comcast admits it can do the impossible
‘We will stop busting BitTorrents’
by Cade Metz
The Register (UK)
03/28/08

[ 16 commemnts ]

Faced with continued scrutiny from the US Federal Communications Commission, Comcast has agreed to release its choke hold on BitTorrent and other peer-to-peer traffic. It says it will soon adopt an alternative method of controlling upload traffic on its cable-based internet service. This also means that Comcast has acknowledged there’s an alternative method of controlling upload traffic on its cable-based internet service.

Today, with an early morning press release, the big-name American ISP and cable television provider said it would switch to “a capacity management technique that is protocol agnostic” by the end of the year. “We will have to rapidly reconfigure our network management systems, but the outcome will be a traffic management technique that is more appropriate for today’s emerging Internet trends,” Comcast Cable CTO Tony Werner said in a canned statement. “We have been discussing this migration and its effects with leaders in the Internet community for the last several months, and we will refine, adjust, and publish the technique based upon feedback and initial trial results.” Werner did not point out that Comcast also spent the last several months publicly defending its right to bust BitTorrents. —>
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/03/28/comcast_to_stop_busting_bittorrents/
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Liberating the Electromagnetic Commons
by Andrew Back
carrierdetect.com (UK)
03/28/08

[ comments invited ]

I’ve always been fascinated with radio and it’s many applications: from Rugby’s MSF time signal and long-wave broadcast radio, through HF amateur radio and VHF PMR, to television, wireless networks and satellite navigation systems. Yes, I’m a radio geek.

So it should be of no surprise that I take a keen interest in how our incredibly scarce resource – the electromagnetic spectrum – is managed. And let’s be clear it is our resource as it truly belongs to the people and is not the product of the labours of an organisation or state, despite what some would rather have us believe. But since it is a finite resource and one of such value there is no avoiding the fact that it must be carefully managed. And this comes down at a top level to government agencies such as the FCC in the USA and Ofcom in the UK.

Up until now such agencies have largely done a good job of managing this resource and ensuring that spectrum is shared fairly and amongst a diverse range of users with varying needs. Of course for this thankless task they have not gone short of a bob or two, as has been demonstrated most visibly via the auctions for spectrum required for operating a 3G mobile service in the UK, which raised in excess of £22billion. —>
http://carrierdetect.com/?p=103
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/19/08

March 21, 2008

City Council Moves Closer To Backing AT&T Bill
Littlefield Says He Welcomes Cable TV Competition
The Chatanoogan (TN)
03/18/08

The City Council is moving closer to backing a bill sought by AT&T allowing it statewide franchise rights leading to development of a cable TV system. The council heard an endorsement from Mayor Ron Littlefield, then directed that a resolution of support be prepared for later action. Mayor Littlefield said some concerns he had about the bill appear to be cleared up. —>
http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_124164.asp
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CBC to release TV broadcast as high-quality, no-DRM BitTorrent download
by Cory Doctorow
Boing Boing
03/18/08

[ 18 comments ]
[ 31 comments at original post site: Michael Geist – 2nd link below ]

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is about to follow Norway’s NRK and become the first major North American broadcaster to release one of its shows as a DRM-free torrent:

“Sources indicate that the CBC is set to become the first major North American broadcaster to freely release one of its programs without DRM using BitTorrent. This Sunday, CBC will air Canada Next Great Prime Minister. The following day, it plans to freely release a high-resolution version via peer-to-peer networks without any DRM restrictions. This development is important not only because it shows that Canada’s public broadcaster is increasingly willing to experiment with alternative forms of distribution, but also because it may help crystallize the net neutrality issue in Canada.

“The CBC’s mandate, as provided in the Broadcasting Act, requires it to make its programming “available throughout Canada by the most appropriate and efficient means.” Using BitTorrent allows the CBC to meet its statutory mandate, yet with ISPs such as Rogers engaging in non-transparent traffic shaping, millions of Canadians may be unable to fully access programming funded by tax dollars. If the CBC experiment is successful, look for more broadcasters to do the same and for the CRTC to face mounting pressure to address net neutrality concerns. ”
http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/18/cbc-to-release-tv-br.html
http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/2767/125/
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FCC Debates Open Internet at April 17 Stanford Hearing
Free Press
03/19/08

Today, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it will hold a second public hearing on the future of the Internet on April 17 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif. The Stanford hearing promises to bring consumers and producers of innovative online content together to educate the FCC about the future of video on the Internet. The field hearing is also linked to the FCC’s ongoing investigation into the blocking of legal content by Comcast and other Internet service providers. At the first hearing last month at Harvard, Comcast admitted hiring seat-fillers, blocking interested citizens from attending the event.

Josh Silver, executive director of Free Press, which coordinates the SavetheInternet.com Coalition, issued the following statement: “Just as the Internet benefited from widespread public participation, so will the debate over its future. The hearing at Stanford — the birthplace of our Internet economy — gives Web innovators a chance to weigh in on the policies that will shape the industry for a generation.

“We look forward to working with the FCC to ensure that all interested parties are accommodated. With the future of the Internet at stake, no one should be shut out of the conversation. At this defining moment in the Internet’s history, the threat posed by would-be gatekeepers like Comcast is very real and getting worse. Open Internet policies are urgently needed. We hope this important hearing will lead to immediate and accelerated action at the FCC.” —>
http://freepress.net/node/37696
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Clearing the air on digital TV converters
by Jonathan Takiff
Philadelphia Daily News
03/19/08

Last week’s column scooped the nation with the first hands-on review of low-cost, digital TV tuners/converters. These set-top boxes will become essential to receive over-the-air TV on older, pre-digital television sets next year, after broadcasters are required (on Feb. 17, 2009) to shut off their analog signals. Not surprisingly, I got a flood of reader comments and questions. Today, let’s deal with some of them…

Q: I’ve got cable TV. Some of my sets are hooked up to cable boxes, others just use the TV’s cable-ready tuner to receive non-scrambled cable channels. Will I be able to connect one of the new digital boxes to a cable line to bring in digital TV channels?

A: There’s been a whole lot of concern and misinformation about cable TV reception after the Feb. 17, 2009, conversion/cut-off. Locally, I’ve heard stories of Comcast phone reps telling customers they MUST upgrade to a digital cable box or they won’t get any TV signals come 2009.

THAT’S JUST NOT SO!

It is true that cable companies are eliminating as many analog channels as they can – even public access channels – by moving them to a digital transmission “tier” that requires an upgraded cable box and higher monthly fee for reception. This is being done because digital signals use much less bandwidth, so cablers can increase the number of channels they offer on a system.

But at the urging of the Federal Communications Commission, cable companies have committed to continue delivering an essential core of local broadcast stations to customers in a down-converted fashion that can still be tuned by an old, analog cable box or directly by a cable-ready TV, for “at least three years,” Comcast senior executive David L. Cohen assured me. —>
http://www.philly.com/dailynews/columnists/jonathan_takiff/20080319_Jonathan_Takiff__Clearing_the_air_on_digital_TV_converters.html
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Marlboro council meetings to air on cable TV channel
by Rebecca Morton
News Transcript (NJ)
03/19/08

Sometime in the near future, residents are expected to be able to watch Township Council meetings from the comfort of their own home. Council members adopted an ordinance on March 6 that will allow municipal cable channel 77 to broadcast regular or special public meetings. Channel 77 is available for Marlboro residents who subscribe to Cablevision for their cable television service.

Prior to the adoption of the ordinance on March 6, the local cable television ordinance prohibited council meetings from being broadcast. The municipal channel has aired special events and public information from the township and from the Marlboro K-8 School District, including notification of school closings. Having council meetings aired on the local access channel was one of 50 goals set by Mayor Jonathan Hornik in his 100- day plan upon taking office Jan. 1. —>
http://newstranscript.gmnews.com/news/2008/0319/Front_Page/004.html
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Assessing success in the FCC’s 700MHz auction
by Marguerite Reardon
CNet News
03/19/08

[ 10 comments ]

The Federal Communications Commission generated $19.6 billion in the 700MHz spectrum that ended Tuesday, but the true success of the auction will take months or even years to assess. There’s no question that the auction, which began on January 24, was a monetary success for the government–it raised a record $19.6 billion in 261 rounds of bidding. During a conference call with reporters Tuesday after the bidding closed, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said the 700MHz auction was the most successful auction the agency has ever conducted, raising more money than all previous auctions put together, excluding the Advanced Wireless Services, or AWS, auction in 2006.

“The $19.6 billion generated by the auction nearly doubled congressional estimates of $10.2 billion,” Martin said. “All other 68 auctions conducted by the FCC in the past 15 years collectively generated a total of only $19.1 billion in receipts. Even with open-platform and aggressive build-out obligations, each of these blocks sold for more than AWS-1 blocks with comparable bandwidth and license areas.”

Despite the obvious financial success of the auction, it will be a long time before it’s clear whether the FCC was successful in achieving some of its broader policy goals, such as creating a more open wireless marketplace and a nationwide interoperable public safety wireless network. —>
http://www.news.com/8301-10784_3-9897722-7.html?tag=newsmap
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Redrawing the Map
Consolidation Continues to Change Cable’s Local System Landscape
by George Winslow
Multichannel News
03/17/08

Despite efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to put limits on the footprint of cable companies, the impact of consolidation and clustering continues to redraw the Multichannel News list of the 100 largest cable systems. Several Insight Communications systems have disappeared into nearby Comcast divisions and the large cable operators continue to consolidate some of their divisions into larger groups. Time Warner Cable, for example, has 22 systems on this year’s list, down from 31 in 2005. As a result, only 88 systems from last year’s list appear this year with the same name and a similar footprint. —>
http://www.multichannel.com/article/CA6541250.html
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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/18/08

March 18, 2008

Keeping the Public in Public Access TV
Senate Bill would exempt TV stations from bidding process.
by Jennifer Smith
The Molokai Dispatch (HI)
03/1808

[ comments invited ]

Years of battles to keep Akaku Maui Community Television a true vehicle for freedom of speech will soon come to a head.  The State wants to put the job of providing public access television up for bid, a process which some say could take the community out of public media.

Public access stations in Hawaii hope to find shelter in the form of legislation. If passed, Senate Bill 1789 would exempt Public, Education and Government (PEG) access television stations from going to bid.  SB 1789 passed in the Senate and now heads to the House Finance Committee.  “This is the single most important event that has happened in the last 20 years, that if successful will preserve Molokai’s Akaku operation as we know it,” former Akaku board member DeGray Vanderbilt said.

For almost two decades, the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) has held contracts with PEG access stations in each Hawaiian county. “PEG Access has a broad mission that involves community building, support for local programming and involvement of all of Hawaii’s diverse ethnic and cultural communities,” Milianai Trask said in a written testimony to the Senate.

In 2005 the Attorney General’s office advised the DCCA to regulate PEG stations under the state’s procurement code by creating a request for proposals (RFP). However, an abundance of protests and lawsuits filed by PEG access providers placed procurement procedures on hold and led to the development of SB 1789.  “PEG is not a commodity that should be bought or sold,” Trask said. The testimony echoes the view of hundreds of other concerned citizens who regularly enjoy programming on public access stations.

Opponents of the bill in the State Procurement Office (SPO) argue that the Hawaii Public Procurement Code should apply to PEG stations. “Open procurement procedures assure that the State obtains value, and potential vendors/contractors are treated fairly and that no preferential treatment is provided,” SPO administrator Aaron S. Fujioka said in his testimony.

However, supporters say the proposed procurement process would not be truly open to the public, and that it opens up the bid for the stations to special interests. “I can think of no PEG selection process any less “public” or more harmful to the concept of using the television medium to engage each other for the common good than the secret, inept, punative and breathtakingly destructive RFP process now being used by the DCCA and SPO,” Akaku CEO Jay April said in written testimony.   —>
http://www.themolokaidispatch.com/node/1828
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Stayton City Council Considers More Local TV Programming
by Ken Cartwright
KENC Community Radio AM 1620 (OR)
03/18/08

[ comments invited ]

—>   The first presentation of the evening to the council, made by this reporter, regarded the need for a community access television system. In the presentation it was noted that the designated channel 19 that was set aside for this purpose is under-utilized.

For the past 3 months the only thing shown on it was a November county commissioners meeting. It was proposed that a local group of individuals take over the control and programming of this channel and produce and schedule both local, county and state programming of relevant television programs as well as using the cable access channel for the use of radio audio from our local community radio station KENC.   —>
http://www.salem-news.com/articles/march182008/stayton_council_3-18-08.php
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Dartmouth Cable Television Airs Dept. Head Interviews on Town Ballot Questions
News from Dartmouth Public Libraries (MA)
03/18/08

[ comments invited ]

Local Cable’s access channel in Dartmouth, DCTV Channel 18, has begun airing interviews of Dartmouth town officials outlining the Override Questions on the April 1st 2008 ballot and the expected impact of a yes or no vote. Departments featured include: Council on Aging; Town Hall Departments; Department of Public Works; School Department; Police Department; Library; Park & Recreation.  View the Schedule for when these interviews air and learn more about the changes in town services that will result depending on the election.   —>
http://southworth732.wordpress.com/2008/03/18/dartmouth-cable-television-airs-dept-head-interviews-on-town-ballot-questions/
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Push made for improved public access to government in N.J.
by Tom Hester, Jr.
Newsday.com
03/18/08

[ comments invited ]

TRENTON, N.J. – Modernize rules for government bodies holding public meetings. Make copies of government records affordable. Create a law to require governments to show _ on television or via the Internet _ unedited broadcasts of all their meetings.  Such were the ideas touted Tuesday by New Jersey lawmakers and citizens looking to make it easier for citizens to learn what their elected officials are up to.

“Openness is a hallmark of democracy,” said Beth Mason, a Hoboken councilwoman and the president of The New Jersey Foundation for Open Government, which sponsored a Statehouse forum in conjunction with Sunshine Week, a nationwide effort by media organizations to draw attention to the public’s right to know.

Wayne Tarus doesn’t have to be convinced of such sentiment.  The state Supreme Court last year ruled the public has a right to videotape government meetings, a case that stemmed from Tarus’ efforts in 2000 to tape Pine Hill Borough Council meetings.  He was twice charged with disorderly persons offenses for taping meetings. He sued borough officials and won, but warned on Tuesday the fight for open government goes on.

Tarus said local governments could easily put their meetings on cable television, but chose against doing so to keep the public unaware of their activities.  “To them, ignorance is bliss and job security,” Tarus said.

Tarus called for legislation mandating public bodies televise public meetings, an idea Assemblyman Joseph Cryan, D-Union, said he has already been considering. Cryan noted how his hometown, Union Township, posts videos of meetings on its Web site.   —>
http://www.newsday.com/news/local/wire/newjersey/ny-bc-nj–sunshineweek-newj0318mar18,0,4007044.story
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Sunshine Week Arrives
OMB Watch
03/18/08

The week of March 17 marks the third annual national Sunshine Week, a nonpartisan campaign to promote openness in government and access to public records.

The core of Sunshine Week, led by the American Society of Newspaper Editors, is a massive coordinated media blitz around the country and across print, radio, and television to highlight the importance of government transparency and ongoing problems with the issue. As the annual event has become more established, many outside the journalism community have scheduled open government events to coincide with the week, including elected officials, public interest groups, schools, civic groups, and many others.

Sunshine Week is scheduled in March each year to coincide with James Madison’s birthday, who is celebrated as a strong proponent of open government among the Founding Fathers. This year’s Sunshine Week includes several prominent events and releases.   —>
http://www.ombwatch.org/article/articleview/4197/1/1?TopicID=1
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Happy St. Patrick’s day, indeed.
by Anne (netmouse) (MI)
LiveJournal
03/18/08

[ comments invited ]

I had a wonderful time last night at a house party celebrating the 10th anniversary of local band North. My favorite part was actually during the jam session post the North-only performances, when Jim Novak (a local poet and musician who runs a monthly open mic and is a terrific performer), whipped out some of his William Butler Yeats. It was wonderful…

Interested in the open mic idea?  There is an open mic each Tuesday night at Oz’s Music. On the FIRST Tuesday of each month, Jim Novak hosts “Songwriters Open Mic.” Performers are videotaped and edited for a community-access TV show seen weekly in Ann Arbor (also in Grand Rapids and other places). This open mic, and the TV show of the same name, are for original songs, played unplugged. “Songwriters Open Mic” is in its 10th year at Oz’s.   —>
http://netmouse.livejournal.com/473425.html
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Verizon’s fiber-optic rollout leaves cities behind
By Jon Chesto
The Patriot Ledger (MA)
03/15/08

If you’re wondering when your neighborhood will be graced with Verizon’s new fiber-optic wiring, you might get a sense of the timing from just looking out your window.  If you happen to live in a dense city neighborhood – especially one with underground wires and multifamily homes – you probably have a long wait ahead of you before Verizon’s FiOS trucks show up on your street.

Late last month, the telecom giant unveiled its FiOS plans for 2008 in Massachusetts. The company plans to add 30 communities to the list of places where it offers high-speed Internet and TV service over fiber-optic lines. However, only two of those 30 are cities. That follows two years in which Verizon has obtained TV franchises in 66 municipalities in the state – nearly all of them suburban towns.

As Verizon expands its FiOS service from Greater Boston to smaller towns in the outer suburbs, it is largely skipping over the big cities in its path. Sure, the company has wired Lynn and Lawrence. But residents in places like Quincy, Brockton and Boston have been left scratching their heads as their cities remain off Verizon’s lists for the third straight year.   —>
http://www.patriotledger.com/business/x1923998762
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FCC Spectrum Auction Ends, Successfully
by Chloe Albanesius
PC Magazine
03/18/08

[ comments invited ]

The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) much-hyped 700-MHz spectrum auction closed Tuesday after nearly eight weeks of continuous bidding with $19.6 billion in bids. Every block but the ill-fated public safety d-block reached their reserve prices, calling into question the future of public safety spectrum.   —>
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2277146,00.asp
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/29/08

February 29, 2008

Rowley lobbies for local access channels
by Lynne Hendricks
Newburyport Daily News (MA)
02/29/08

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

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

In the meantime, Verizon is a new cable player on the scene, having been issued a license in December 2007 to compete with Comcast in Rowley. They’ve launched an aggressive marketing campaign and sent company representatives out across town to garner a share of the local market. They sweetened their deal by offering the town a generous $85,000 grant toward Rowley’s own future PEG access studio, and an additional 5 percent of future revenues to the same end.   —>
http://www.newburyportnews.com/punews/local_story_060064620.html
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Special fund proposed  for cable access
by Tamara Le
SeacoastOnline.com (NH)
02/29/08

NORTH HAMPTON —>   The BOS held a public hearing on the special revenue fund warrant article for the town’s Cable Access Channel. If approved by voters, the establishment of the PEG Access Television fund will allow for the hiring of a staffer for Channel 22 by way of money accumulated through Comcast subscriber fees returned to the town. Further, the board approved a payment of $18,149.45 from the current fund for cameras, microphones and other production equipment.   —>
http://www.seacoastonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080229/NEWS/802290403/-1/NEWS10&sfad=1
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Londonderry access channel request gets poor reception
by Trent Spiner
Union Leader (NH)
02/21/08

[ 7 comments ]

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

“Comcast owes us a sixth channel,” said Dottie Grover, director of cable services for the town. “The sixth channel would be a second public access channel. It is not unusual for us to have 50 to 70 programs waiting to have a turn to get on the air.”  She said a contract with Comcast enables her department to broadcast on a sixth channel by simply asking for it. But their request for the channel — dating back almost four months — has been denied. Town councilors must now hold a public hearing to determine whether Comcast is in breach of contract.   —>
http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Londonderry+access+channel+request+gets+poor+reception&articleId=699cb47c-44eb-418f-b768-393766c7226e
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Community group hopes to save WBTN
by John Waller
Bennington Banner (VT)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

In early February, the college’s trustees directed President Karen Gross to end the station’s losses by May 15. The station has lost about $450,000 since it was donated by trustee Robert Howe in North Bennington in 2002, college spokesman David Scribner said.  He said he thought it was great that a local group has organized and is interested in saving the station. He said the group is one of many that has been in contact with the college, especially after it gave a March 21 deadline for proposals.   —>
http://www.benningtonbanner.com/headlines/ci_8403226
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Community media center plans expand and change
by Mark Anderson
Kiowa County Signal (KS)
02/29/08

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

Other locals participating are County Extension Agents Carmen Stauth and Pam Muntz, and GHS faculty member Marshall Ballard, who is organizing a group of high school students who will be involved in television and radio production activities through the media center.  Likewise involved are Ray Stegman and Kendal Lothman of the county’s Long Term Recovery Team and Debra Allison, director of county libraries.
http://www.kiowacountysignal.com/homepage/x1637677144
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Community Media and Community-Based Planning
by Tom Lowenhaupt
The Campaign for Community-Based Planning (NY)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

Get a preview of my presentation here and info about the Grassroots Conference and it 40 other sessions, and film screenings, here.
http://communitybasedplanning.wordpress.com/2008/02/29/community-media-and-community-based-planning/
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Interview about alternative media
by Paul O’Connor
Undercurrents Alternative News (UK)
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

Yes they are but usually only if presented in a way that the public feel they can make a difference. Usually the angle the mainstream media portrays is of victims. The mainstream may say that Homeless people deserve our sympathy and persuade us to give them some money but rarely challenges the reasons why so many people are on the streets in the first place. Alternative media tends to highlight the people actively out there changing the system. Setting up social centres in disused buildings, community cafes, cheap quality food coops etc. When the public sees the issue framed through this lens, people become interested in development stories.   —>
http://undercurrentsvideo.blogspot.com/2008/02/interview-about-alternative-media.html
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Blind Alleys
by Bunny Riedel
Telecommunications Consultant
02/29/08

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

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

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

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

See: http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=4800&cdvn=news&newsarticleid=24607

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

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

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

What’s true is that almost two years after the law passed, fifteen of the Certificates of Authority applicants were incumbent cable operators hoping to relieve themselves of various obligations in existing franchise agreements. Pesky stuff like capital payments for PEG or PEG channels or PEG operations. Somebody ask South Bend, Hammond, Merrillville, Mishawaka, Plymouth, Goshen and Portage about what happened to their production studios and playback facilities. Somebody ask the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) what the penalty should be for Comcast not making their quarterly capital payments to Fort Wayne even though the law clearly says support is supposed to remain the same.   —>
http://riedelcommunications.blogspot.com/2008/02/blind-alleys.html
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Hopes fading for public-safety broadband network
by William Jackson
Government Computer News
02/28/08

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

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

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

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

That is just one of many unknowns discussed in a telebriefing Thursday by Yankee Group analysts who summed up the current status of the auction. The open-ended auction could continue for as long as four more months, and for the first time the bidding is anonymous.  “We not only don’t know who the winners are yet, we don’t even know who is bidding,” Ayvazian said.   —>
http://www.gcn.com/online/vol1_no1/45904-1.html
~

Nonline community: freedom, education, the net
by Dougald Hine
openDemocracy
02/20/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

The limits of the possible

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

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

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

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

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

Junta continues to quash Burma’s media
by Zin Linn
UPI Asia Online
02/29/08

[ comments allowed ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Zin Linn is a freelance Burmese journalist in exile. He spent nine years in a Burmese prison as a prisoner of conscience. He now serves as information director of the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma, and is vice-president of the Burma Media Association. ©Copyright Zin Linn.)
http://www.upiasiaonline.com/Politics/2008/02/29/junta_continues_to_quash_burmas_media/2470/
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web:  http://ourchannels.org
wiki:  http://peg.ourchannels.org

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 02/14/08

February 17, 2008

AT&T’s TV plans don’t click, advocates say
Changes to public channels worry Media Center, city
by Becky Trout
Palo Alto Online (CA)
02/13/08

[ comments allowed ]

Within months, AT&T Inc. plans to begin offering television service in Palo Alto over phone lines, introducing a new format for local programming that has the cable experts at the Midpeninsula Community Media Center and City of Palo Alto concerned.

When AT&T introduces its television service — called U-verse — public, educational and government (PEG) channels will have a lower resolution and be harder to find than its commercial channels, Community Media Center Executive Director Annie Folger said.  “They don’t want to spend the money,” Folger said…  Among the problems, Folger said, the programs are hard to get to and the shows only fill one-quarter of the screen. It can be blown up to fill the entire television, but then appears blurry, she said.

All PEG channels are available on AT&T’s Channel 99, Peterson explained.  Viewers click “OK,” which triggers a list of cities to appear, according to AT&T documents. After scrolling through the cities, and selecting one, viewers than select which PEG channel they wish to watch.

Folger said the Channel 99 menu takes 45 to 90 seconds to load and burdens viewers with scrolling through dozens of city names.  “You’ll have to be very, very motivated and extremely patient to actually find the channel you are looking for,” Folger said…

Comcast also doesn’t approve of AT&T’s PEG format.  Vice President of Communications Andrew Johnson said AT&T’s Channel 99 plan violates PEG regulations.  “We certainly hope the new competitor will be forced to operate under the same rules and regulations,” Johnson said Monday.  He said Comcast has no plans to change its delivery of PEG channels.   —>
http://www.paloaltoonline.com/weekly/story.php?story_id=7708
~

Editorial: Comcast Cable changes channels again
The Journal Newspapers (MI)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

After apologizing for a widely criticized attempt to move PEG (Public Education and Government) channels out of range of most viewers, officials from Comcast Cable tried another approach on Friday.  They told members of the Conference of Western Wayne that they were trying to do them a favor.

The criticized change was to move PEG channels to the 900 range, where they would be seen in digital high definition. Everything would look better, according to Comcast officials, and it preceded a mandated change that would happen in a year or so anyway. Plus, it would allow the company to remain competitive with satellite dish services, which already provide more digital programming than most cable providers.

The problem with it was that it would leave some 400,000 customers unable to view the channels, since most televisions are not capable of accessing the channel—without a digital converter box, anyway. That box, which initially would be provided for free, would ultimately cost customers an additional $4 a month.

Not surprisingly, the members of the Conference of Western Wayne were unconvinced by this new line.

Representatives from other video franchises were on hand, too.  Throughout this public relations debacle, they have taken the right approach. They’ve sat back and watched the reaction to the Comcast move, probably to see if they should give it a shot or not. The answer? Not yet.

Competition will remain an important part of this emerging industry. In theory, that was the goal of the state wide video franchise legislation when it was introduced and approved last year. It just hasn’t worked out to the benefit of residents, yet, and that’s been our concern all along.   —>
http://www.journalgroup.com/Opinion/7002/comcast-cable-changes-channels-again
~

Bill provides for cable channel compromise
by Scott Spielman
The Journal Newspapers (MI)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Legislation has been introduced that will keep Public, Educational and Government (PEG) channels available to all cable viewers—for now.  House Bills 5693 and 5667 would address a recent proposal from the Comcast Cable company to move those channels up into the 900 range—and out of easy access to hundreds of thousands of cable subscribers….

House Bill 5693 would amend the act to dictate that cable providers must keep their government channels available to subscribers without requiring them to need additional equipment.  —>

[ There is a very serious confusion taking place here and elsewhere, no doubt being promoted by the cable industry.  The story goes on to say, “HB 5667 would make the stipulation that it is only until February, 2009, when federal mandates require all cable to be digital, anyway.”

However, there is *no* federal mandate requiring cable to be digital in February 2009.  It is *broadcast* television that is facing this DTV transition deadline.  Cable operators’ plans to convert to digital are driven entirely by economics, and have nothing to do with any federal requirements.  – rm ]
http://www.journalgroup.com/Belleville/6974/bill-provides-for-cable-channel-compromise
~

Is Public TV In Peril?
by Todd Morehead
Columbia City Paper (SC)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

—>   Lost in the fray, so far, have been the implications for public television. Some large cable companies are using the digital transition as a means to remove public television channels from their basic cable packages and are lobbying for legislation that may remove license fee funding for those channels.

Late last month, John Dingell (D-Mich.) went before the congressional Commerce Telecommunications Subcommittee in response to cable giant Comcast’s actions in his home state. The hearing centered around the public, educational and governmental (PEG) channels in Michigan that were slated to be removed from basic cable packages, since the company switched to an all digital format.   PEG channels consist of public access programming, cover local government and schools—like the Columbia city council meetings that Time Warner Cable airs locally on channel 2 and the Richland school district information aired on channel 12.

In Michigan, Comcast planned to bump the PEG channels—still broadcasting in analog until next year—up near the 900 channel range thus making them no longer accessible to the general public and only available to subscribers of the more expensive digital cable service tier, an action that would have effected an estimated 1.3 million viewers…

Nancy Horne, president of the S.C. Cable TV Association, says PEG channels in South Carolina should continue to be available to all cable subscribers, both basic and high end.  “Our state law requires that PEG channels be carried on the lowest tier [or subscriber package] available to the consumer,” she says. “So, you might get a PEG channel with a high number, but it would still be carried through the basic tier.”

According to Horne, under the state law there is no requirement for PEG support. Before the law was passed, individual PEG channels may or may not have made agreements with the cable company and the local or municipal franchising authorities. If those deals included support for PEG channels prior to the 2006 bill, those contracts should be honored until they expire, according to the new legislation.         http://www.columbiacitypaper.com/2008/2/14/is-public-tv-in-peril
~

Editorial: County Board meetings on TV
by Terry Davis
Hutchinson Leader (MN)
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Showing public meetings on TV is good for democracy. McLeod County has an opportunity to make sure taxpayers never miss a single meeting.  The Hutchinson Community Video Network will begin taping and showing McLeod County Board meetings starting next week. That’s good news for taxpayers who want to see how county decisions are made.

The tapings are a generous gesture by HCVN, which has agreed to do the tapings on a trial basis for six months. It will cost a good deal of money for Hutchinson’s local public access channel to send an employee to each board meeting.

We believe the county should pay HCVN for its costs. And we believe the tapings should continue indefinitely beyond the initial six months.  That should not surprise anyone who has read this page for the past several years. Repeatedly, we have asked the County Board to set aside money for the taping to its meetings. Repeatedly, the board has chosen to ignore our recommendation…

— Almost every other major public body in our region is already demonstrating its transparency to taxpayers. Almost every county surrounding McLeod County — Stearns, Kandiyohi, Renville, Sibley and Carver — videotape their meetings for taxpaying viewers at home. The Hutchinson City Council and District 423 School Board wouldn’t think of conducting a regular meeting without having the public access television cameras there.   —>
http://www.hutchinsonleader.com/news/opinion/editorial-county-board-meetings-tv-6614
~

Town of Ulster Steps Up to the Plate
by Richard Cahill
Cahill on Kingston (NY)
02/14/08

[ 11 comments ]

Blaber News and Commentary has broken a huge story concerning Public Access Television. Nick Woerner, the Supervisor for the Town of Ulster, announced earlier this evening that he is proposing to the Town of Ulster Board that $5,000.00 be given to save public access!!!  This is wonderful news. Kudos to Nick Woerner and the Town of Ulster for their generosity and sense of public duty.

Jim Sottile and the Common Council did not step up, but the Town of Ulster did. Perhaps now Kingston will recognize its part and do the right thing.   —>
http://cahillonkingston.blogspot.com/2008/02/town-of-ulster-steps-up-to-plate.html
~

Augusta: Cable costs rankle clients
by Keith Edwards
Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel (ME)
02/14/08

City councilors grilled the “cable guy” recently over Time Warner’s rate increase and other concerns… Through the franchise agreement, Time Warner pays the city about $200,000 a year, half of which funds a multimedia program at Capital Area Technical Center. The remainder helps cover the cost of broadcasting City Council and other meetings, and some goes into the city’s general fund, according to City Manager William Bridgeo.   —>
http://kennebecjournal.mainetoday.com/news/local/4763821.html
~

Cable access group reports latest findings
East Oregonian
02/13/08

[ comments allowed ]

Pendelton – The local cable access task force will discuss its latest findings on creating a public access television channel for Pendleton at 3 p.m. Thursday in the administrative Conference Room at city hall, 500 S.W. Dorion Ave.  The city council approved the task force in November last year to examine how a public access channel would function for Pendleton.    —>
http://www.eastoregonian.info/main.asp?SectionID=13&SubSectionID=48&ArticleID=73207&TM=26493.6
~

BITV Says Budget Dispute Will Suspend Programming
by Tristan Baurick
The Kitsap Sun (WA)
02/14/08

[ 3 comments ]

Coverage of local government may soon disappear from TV screens across Bainbridge Island.  The public access station Bainbridge Island Television announced on Thursday it may suspend its cable and Internet coverage of city meetings. BITV and the city are deadlocked over the conditions for renewing a service contract that ended Dec. 31. BITV wants a larger share of cable fees to fund expanded and basic services. The city says it’s cash strapped and plans to reduce its financial support for the station by 10 percent.   —>
http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2008/feb/14/bitv-says-budget-dispute-will-suspend/
~

Eshoo Takes Martin to Task Over Cable Policies
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Defends His Treatment of Industry at House Hearing
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
02/13/08

Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin defended his cable-regulation policies in a House hearing Wednesday after Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) peppered him with a list of what appeared to her to be anti-cable efforts.  She said she did not know what cable had done to enrage Martin but they needed to have a conversation about it, sounding like a schoolteacher telling a student he did not get along well with others.   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6532120.html?rssid=193
~

Cox Communications Can Put Leased-Access Channels on Digital Tier
Leased Access Programmers Association President Charlie Stogner Disagrees with FCC Order
by John Eggerton
Broadcasting & Cable
02/14/08

[ 2 comments ]

The Federal Communications Commission concluded that Cox Communications can place the content of leased-access programmer RETV (Real Estate TV) on its digital tier.  That’s according to Charlie Stogner, president of the Leased Access Programmers Association, who said he received an e-mail to that effect from the FCC Thursday.

Stogner had been pushing the FCC for a response to the complaint, which was filed in March of last year, but it was not the response he was looking for. He said he wants the commission to reconsider the decision.  According to a copy of the order Stogner supplied to B&C, the FCC concluded that because Cox’s New Orleans system has more than 50% digital subscribership, it does not violate the leased-access rules.   —>
http://www.broadcastingcable.com/article/CA6532683.html?industryid=47170
~

Fans of open access not optimistic on 700MHz auction results
by Thomas Wilburn
Ars Technica
02/14/08

[ 6 comments ]

Meeting in a panel for journalists and Senate staffers in Washington DC, open network advocates expressed their apprehension in the days leading up to the completion of the FCC’s broadcast spectrum auction. That auction, which covers 62MHz of broadcast frequency in the 700MHz band, comes as television broadcasters are vacating their analog channels for the federally-mandated transition to digital, which must occur by 2009. Two of the channel “blocks,” labeled the C and D blocks, will be licensed on a national basis—Block C with open access requirements—making them very interesting to companies looking to build or expand high-speed wireless broadband services.

“We feel like the 700MHz auction was probably the most significant event at the FCC in the decade, and certainly the most significant spectrum auction in history,” said Ben Scott, Policy Director for Free Press, “and yet most citizens are clearly unaware that it happened at all. In fact many citizens are unaware that the public owns the airwaves.”

Attempting to summarize the argument for open-access regulations in the auction, Michael Calabrese, Vice President for the New America Foundation, reiterated the markers of an open network, as originally stated by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps: pricing that does not include connection charges and which is cheaper for non-subsidized devices; fast, cheap, and independent equipment and software certification; no lock-in; the ability to use third-party applications and access any legal Internet content; and no prioritization or degradation of traffic, as Comcast sometimes does with P2P traffic.

Gigi Sohn, President of Public Knowledge, took a slightly more optimistic view of the upcoming auction results. She noted indications that a larger array of diverse bidders have likely been involved, thanks to the anonymous bidding that prevents collusion and back-room dealing. However, Sohn was also critical of events that had taken place during the auction of the smaller D block of frequencies, and drew attention to allegations of misconduct and conflict-of-interest. Congress and the FCC must investigate, she said, and pointed out that since the reserve price for that auction was not met, the opportunity exists to do so before it is put up for sale again.   —>
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080214-fans-of-open-access-not-optimistic-on-700mhz-auction-results.html
~

Media watchdog sends appeal to Samak
Bangkok Post
02/14/08

The Europe-based Committee to Protect Journalists has written to new Prime Ministeer Samak Sundaravej, urging him to “right the wrongs of your predecessors” by protecting freedom of the press.  The CPJ note said it was apprehensive that the Samak administration was getting off on the wrong foot.  The letter said:

“We were alarmed to learn that earlier this month your office announced plans to establish a task force charged with monitoring the ‘news balance’ of the broadcast media. CPJ is concerned that the task force’s creation could presage a return to the previous government’s order to broadcasters to report only positively about its administration and threats to censor any news reports it deemed critical or seen as a threat to national unity or security.”

But Robert Dietz, the Asia Programme Director, wrote that it hopes that Mr Samak and his administration will protect the media, including the 3,000 community radio stations across the country.  “In light of the damage successive administrations have wrought upon Thailand’s tradition of press freedom, your government has a unique opportunity to right the wrongs of your predecessors and, in the process, firmly re-establish the country’s credentials as a proudly democratic nation,” it concluded.  The full text of the CPJ letter is here.
http://www.bangkokpost.com/breaking_news/breakingnews.php?id=125942
~

Even Without Technology Youth Media Thrives
by Sharese Bullock and Rhea Mokund
Youth Media Reporter
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

In May of 2006, while presenting at a conference hosted by what some consider the top university (Harvard) in the country, the question that makes the list of “most dreaded in youth media” was asked to virtual audience of mostly graduate students and young people.

“Why would youth media organizations be necessary in this age of technology? Young people now have access to the means of production at home—doesn’t this make youth media organizations redundant?”

It was not the last time the question has been asked about the relationship between youth media and developing technologies. To begin to address this question as a field, we must first examine the precise concept of what youth media is. In the growing pantheon of youth media scholarship fine distinctions exist, but at its core, youth media is a process of engaging young people in an artistic enterprise that is based in young people’s experience and exploration of the world. Young people endeavor to carve a space for real participation in the public sphere, and forge more balanced meaningful relationships with the larger community—skills necessary for successful participation in civil society.

No young person exists in isolation. Regardless of the means of transmission, youth media practitioners create an infrastructure of support, bringing layered expertise and insight to the practice of educating youth media producers…

[ lengthy report follows, leading to this conclusion – rm ]

When asked to justify our existence, “Why would youth media organizations be necessary in this age of technology?” we can simply and confidently reply, “Well, Yes.” Youth leading peers through the multi-leveled process of creating media—from premise to post production and ultimately exhibition and distribution—integrates each aspect of interactive modeling. Youth media processes extend far beyond the technology tool itself—determining the need for youth media organizations to preserve and facilitate these cultural practices. Indeed, technology is not the end goal, but rather the means of greater expression for young people defining next decade of collective learning.   —>
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/02/even_without_technology_youth.html
~

Interview: Salome Chasnoff | Beyondmedia
by Ingrid Hu Dahl
Youth Media Reporter
02/14/08

[ comments allowed ]

Beyondmedia Education is a Chicago-based 501c3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to collaborate with under-served and under-represented women, youth and communities to tell their stories, connect their stories to the world around us, and organize for social justice through the creation and distribution of media arts.

Recently, Chicago Public Television station WTTW’s Image Union refused to air Beyondmedia Education’s award-winning documentary Turning a Corner, claiming that the content is inappropriate. As part of the award, Turning a Corner was to be screened on WTTW’s Image Union program. Created in a media activism workshop with members of Prostitution Alternatives Round Table (PART)—15 women who had been street-level sex workers in Chicago—the film recounts their battles with homelessness, violence and discrimination and provides insight into Chicago’s sex industry. Beyondmedia Education recently won the Chicago Reporter’s John A. McDermott Documentary (short) Film Competition for Turning a Corner. WTTW’s refusal to air the program cites the sensitive subject matter—sex workers in Chicago—as the reason for their decision.

In response, and due to other recent events that have challenged access to free press in Chicago (including Loyola’s takeover of WLUW and the buyout of the Chicago Reader and the firing of key writers) on January 17th Beyondmedia Education organized a meeting at Columbia College for community and independent media makers to come together to build a media justice plan for action addressing issues of censorship, inequality in media access, and the increasing corporate control of media in Chicago.

In January, YMR interviewed Salome Chasnoff, Executive Director of Beyondmedia.

YMR: In your own words, please discuss the important issue of community access to public media as it relates to the youth media field.   —>
http://www.youthmediareporter.org/2008/02/interview_salome_chasnoff_beyo_3.html
~

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org

“PEG Access in the Digital Age”: The Entire Congressional Hearing, in Order, in YouTube Clips

February 15, 2008

Here are clips of the January 29 hearing held by the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee, “PEG Services in the Digital Age.” The clips are in chronological order, beginning with opening statements (1-7), witnesses testimony (8-11), and representatives’ questions (12-20).

The hearing was called largely in response to Comcast’s recent attempt at ‘channel slamming’ in Michigan (moving PEG access channels into the 900 digital-tier range) but also included a look at AT&T’s U-Verse and its second-class-citizen treatment of PEG access channels. Witnesses represented the City of Dearborn, Comcast, AT&T, and the Alliance for Community Media.

In addition to Annie Folger’s testimony on behalf of the ACM (11), PEG access advocates will be especially cheered by the questions asked by Markey, Dingell, Gonzalez, Rush, and Solis (12, 14, 16, 18, 19), as well as by Chairman Markey’s closing remarks (20).

PEG access advocates should write their representatives, whether or not they are supportive of PEG access protections, and whether or not they are on this Committee, and let them know how much you and your communities value these channels. Then, plan to make an appointment to visit them during our national conference in Washington this July.

(It also wouldn’t hurt if you commented on these clips as you see fit over at YouTube. Though the clips are presented in order here on “Clippings”, over there you can help stimulate and broaden participation in the discussion. Soon these will also be on blip.tv, and archive.org, so there will be even more opportunities for creating and pursuing public conversations on these topics.)

[ The witnesses written testimony can be downloaded from this page. ]
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House PEG Access Hearing – 01: Anna Eshoo (D-CA)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 02: Cliff Stearns (R-FL)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 03: Ed Markey (D-MA)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 04: Fred Upton (R-MI)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 05: John Dingell (D-MI)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 06: Jane Harman (D-CA)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 07: Lois Capps (D-CA), Hilda Solis (D-CA), & Gene Green (D-TX)

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House PEG Access Hearing – 08: John O’Reilly, Dearborn Mayor

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House PEG Access Hearing – 09: David Cohen, Comcast VP

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House PEG Access Hearing – 10: Gail Torreano, AT&T Michigan President

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House PEG Access Hearing – 11: Annie Folger, Alliance for Community Media; Midpenisula Community Media Center Executive Director

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Here is the silent video the Alliance presented, showing how long it takes to select a PEG access channel on a U-Verse system.

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House PEG Access Hearing – 12: Ed Markey (D-MA) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 13: Fred Upton (R-MI) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 14: John Dingell (D-MI) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 15: Joe Barton (R-TX) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 16: Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 17: Cliff Stearns (R-FL) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 18 : Bobby Rush (D-IL) questions

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House PEG Access Hearing – 19 : Hilda Solis (D-CA) questions

[ Representative Solis hits on two of the many problems with the U-Verse approach – inability to handle closed captioning and SAP programming. AT&T’s Gail Torreano seems to misunderstand Solis’ SAP question; her ‘yes we can’ answer is not true. – rm ]

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House PEG Access Hearing – 20: Closing Statements


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compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media
202-393-2650
web: http://ourchannels.org
wiki: http://peg.ourchannels.org