Archive for the ‘Sunshine Week’ category

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
~

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
~

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/
~

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
~

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
~

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
~

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
~

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

Advertisements

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/16/08

March 17, 2008

The Future of American Communications Working Group
Institute for Information Policy, College of Communications
Pennsylvania State University

The Future of American Communications Working Group (FACT) will produce a volume outlining a new vision for communications policy in America and the practical steps needed to achieve it. The goal of the project is to produce a volume of work prescribing a comprehensive telecommunications policy agenda for the new federal administration to  be entering office in January 2009, an agenda that emphasizes the potential of information technologies for improving democratic discourse, social responsibility, and the quality of life, and the means by which information technologies can be made available to all Americans. —>
http://www.comm.psu.edu/FACT/
~

Media center making MAX headway
by Mark Anderson
Kiowa County Signal (KS)
03/14/08

The Kiowa County Media Center Advisory Board came away from a 90-minute meeting last Thursday with community media center project lightning rod Bert Biles of Kansas State with an appreciation of how rapidly Biles and his colleagues have been moving forward in recent weeks on the matter.  The media center itself, as outlined in The Signal last week, would eventually occupy the second floor of a two-tiered building—tentatively named the Kiowa County Commons—that would house the county library, county historical museum and county extension offices on the ground level.

At the heart of the media center concept of providing Kiowa County residents with around-the-clock access to community information via the Internet, is the establishment of the newest wireless technology, known as WiMAX, within the county.  WiMAX features a considerably stronger signal than the conventional Wi-Fi currently used.  Placing a WiMAX transmitter, in fact, atop the county’s three grain elevators in Haviland, Greensburg and Mullinville should, according to Biles, reach 90 percent of the county’s population with a dependable wireless signal…

Biles, however, disclosed a plan for the media center to “get on the air” broadcasting, via the Internet, live coverage of events before the completion of the Commons building through the use of a portable, television production trailer.  He shared drawings of the proposed trailer, at 24 feet in length and eight feet in width.  Such events broadcast would range from county commission meetings to high school athletic events.   —>
http://www.kiowacountysignal.com/homepage/x1775730622
~

Weymouth: Traffic on TV
by Johanna Seitz
Boston Globe (MA)
03/16/08

Mayor Susan Kay is taking on traffic in her next televised public affairs broadcast, which will air next month on local cable WETC, Channel 11. “The town is almost at gridlock,” Kay said. “We have incredible traffic issues that we need to address – Weymouth Landing, Route 3A, everywhere.” She said she plans to invite representatives from the community and the state Highway Department to participate in the program. “We will certainly know the issues and will develop a plan from there,” she said. Kay’s first program, on a state affordable-housing law that affects Weymouth, is running on cable this month. She plans to discuss the town’s finances and budget in May.
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/03/16/override_for_trash/?page=5
~

March 18 Information Forum on Impeachment at Studios of MCAM Manchester, NH
by Nancy White
Democracy for New Hampshire
03/16/08

[ comments invited ]

Brookline, NH – NH State Representative Betty Hall will be the featured panelist at the last in a series of informative forums centered on our Constitution. The forum entitled, “Defending Our Constitution: Let’s All Come Up For AIR—Accountability, Impeachment and Responsibility” will be carried live in the Manchester Community Access Media (MCAM) TV 23 studio in Manchester, 540 North Commercial Street at 7:30pm-9:30pm, Tuesday, March 18.

Joining Representative Hall will be John Kaminski, chairman for Maine Lawyers for Democracy; former US Senate candidate in 2006, Jean Hay Bright; current candidate for US Senate in Maine, Herbert Hoffman; Newfane, Vt. Selectman, Dan DeWalt; and US Congressman Dennis Kucinich via live connection.   —>
http://www.democracyfornewhampshire.com/node/view/5574
~

Inaugural – VideoCast March 10
by WPAA
OnTheParadeGround_Wallingford (CT)
03/09/08

[ comments invited ]

What better day to start a TV show about bringing sunshine to local topics of interest than the day after we loose an hour of sleep in preservation of daylight. On the Parade Ground is planned to be a forum for gathering knowledge about topics of public interest.  Callers will be encourage to share their knowledge, brainstorm ideas, and suggest if/then scenarios.The program will be facilitated by a resident of Wallingford. On the Parade Ground facilitator and crew will try to synthesize the topic in TV shorts that will run on WPAA’s Bulletin Board. The discussion will hopefully build on each other. One topic may lead to the another On the Parade Ground theme.   —>
http://ontheparadeground.blogspot.com/
~

looking for ideas to blog about?
by zen
blogAsheville (NC
03/15/08

[ 5 comments ]

We just had a wonderful 2nd meeting of Asheville Community Media and there will be interesting things to post, but for now, we’d like to promote a little cross-posting.

Who reads blogs? Mostly bloggers. Who watches URTV? Mostly TV gear heads. We’d like to get some crossover, some swapped thinking to get people looking at the wider range of Asheville media. If you blog and there’s a WPVM radio show you’ve heard that interests you, blog about it. If you have a URTV show that deals with local ideas, promote a blog that you read or give some support to a WPVM radio broadcast. The idea has always been to keep Ashevillians informed of the local goings on, and we are blessed with many forms of media. Many locals read the Mountain Xpress and the AC-T and feel informed or entertained. But the idea here is to cross-pollinate between print and net and sound and vision to form a more complete community. One in which YOU have some input.   —>
http://blogasheville.blogspot.com/2008/03/looking-for-ideas-to-blog-about.html
~

Sunshine week brings issues to light
Media studies of open government help expose community problems
by Cara O’Brien
The Reporter-Herald (CO)
03/16/08

[ comments invited ]

“A popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy; or, perhaps, both.”  — President James Madison, Aug. 4, 1822

“Press releases tell us when federal agencies do something right, but the Freedom of Information Act lets us know when they do not.”  — Sen. Patrick Leahy, 1996

The federal Freedom of Information Act went into effect in 1967 after President Lyndon B. Johnson, begrudgingly, signed it.  The federal act, as well as myriad state sunshine laws, protect the right of access to government records.  The law, much-touted by journalists, is actually utilized 95 percent of the time by the public, for whom it is intended.  “The more transparent and open government activities are, the more confidence people have in their government,” said Ed Otte, executive director of the Colorado Press Association. “This is a public issue, not a press issue.”

The city of Loveland’s 28 official requests for information in 2007 — many requests are handled without formal paperwork — included just two from reporters.  Governments, law offices, organizations doing studies and citizens all made formal requests to the city over the course of the year.

The media can, however, bring issues to light in a way private citizens often do not.  A survey of stories originating with Freedom of Information Act requests from 2004 to 2007 included: a Minneapolis Star-Tribune story on high salmonella levels at a turkey-processing plant in Minnesota; a Ventura County Star report of at least a dozen women’s deaths related to the use of a birth control patch; a Washington Post story of noncompliance with Medicare at many hospitals; and the list goes on.   —>
http://www.reporterherald.com/news_story.asp?ID=15607
~

Zimbabwe to screen foreign journalists covering polls
AFP
03/16/08

HARARE (AFP) — Zimbabwe plans to closely screen foreign media intending to cover upcoming elections amid suspicions uninvited observers and security personnel might impersonate Western journalists, state media reported Sunday.  Accreditation of some 300 foreign reporters who applied to cover the country’s March 29 general elections will be closely supervised, as the government was aware of “the machinations to turn journalists into observers,” George Charmba, information secretary, told the state-run Sunday Mail.

In particular, he said, the government feared “uninvited observers and security personnel from the Western countries,” might be applying to cover the vote as reporters, the weekly quoted Charamba as saying.  Preference would be given to reporters from Africa and the “national identity of the news organisations will be a major determinant,” he added.   —>
http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hfYTgDTfz3xJ68h9OnOD34XjOasw
~

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

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 11/29/07

November 29, 2007

Sunshine Week 2008: People, Get Ready…
by Charles Davis
FOI Advocate
11/29/07

Sunshine Week 2008 Hits the Campaign Trail:
Candidates from President to Mayor to be Quizzed on Access Issues
Actors, Scientists, Researchers Join Growing Call for Open Government

Washington, D.C. — The Sunshine Week alliance has begun a yearlong Sunshine Campaign project to bring the discussion of open government issues to election campaigns from president to local city council. While the initiative expands the scope of Sunshine Week to cover the entire election season, specific events and coverage are still planned for Sunshine Week, March 16-22, 2008…

Resources such as suggested questions and links to additional material to help get people involved in the project are on the Sunshine Week Web site. —>

http://foiadvocate.blogspot.com/2007/11/sunshine-week-2008-people-get-ready.html
~

Policy Changes Threaten Local Nature of Radio and Television, Scholar Says
by Gina Vergel
Inside Fordham Online (NY)
11/29/07

Philip M. Napoli, Ph.D., Magis Professor of Communications and Media Management, is a huge fan of talk radio. Daily newscasts courtesy of National Public Radio help get the 37-year-old through his long commute to work and his favorite on-air sports personality is New York Yankees broadcaster and Fordham University alumnus Michael Kay (FCRH ’82).

Napoli may love to surf the dial but that’s not to say that the director of the Donald McGannon Communication Research Center doesn’t see problems in the ever-volatile world of radio—and television, for that matter. In fact, Napoli believes that both media are under increasing danger of losing their sense of localism and thus their grounding in the communities radio and television stations serve.

“Media content and services that address local interests and concerns,” Napoli said, “are essential to the welfare of local communities.” The problem, however, is that given policy changes in recent years, that essential role played by local radio and television station is under attack like never before.

For years, the federal government imposed strict limits on the number of television and radio stations a single company could own in one community. In 2003, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) relaxed a variety of media ownership regulations. The move resulted in large media companies acquiring many more radio and television stations in the same market. The policy change sparked a widespread debate, with critics arguing that the rules would result in fewer companies controlling more of what Americans see and hear.

So far, Napoli said, the critics were on the right track. “The biggest disparity we see is in terms of source diversity—the diversity of information sources available—given the increasing concentration of ownership of the major media outlets,” Napoli said. “The problem has been that policymakers have increasingly emphasized economic efficiency to the neglect of non-economic policy objectives such as diversity and localism.

“A media marketplace of diverse sources is inherently inefficient in that it’s more efficient to have one source covering a story, for example, than four or five different sources,” Napoli said. The move by media companies to buy more stations and leave fewer independent voices in local communities has implications for society as a whole and minority communities in particular, Napoli said. “Content flows from owners,” he said. “The statistics on minority ownership are really disappointing. It simply hasn’t kept pace with the increasing numbers of minorities in the country.”

So what can be done to fix the problem? —>
http://www.fordham.edu/campus_resources/public_affairs/inside_fordham/november_19_2007/in_focus_faculty_and/policy_changes_threa_28159.asp
~

Teletruth News Analysis: PART TWO (Summary)
by Bruce Kushnick
Teletruth
11/29/07

NOTE: This is the second in a series examining how the FCC’s brand of deregulation harmed America’s economy and digital future. Part One: 56% drop in wireline competition since 2004.  . To read the details of Part Two.

Part TWO: Summary:

* Killing Off 7000 Independent Internet Service (ISPs) Providers by the FCC Created Net Neutrality Problems — a 74% Drop in Companies Since 2000.
* The FCC Used Bad Data and Undue Corporate Influence to Destroy the Small ISPs, Violating Section 257 of the Telecom Act.
* The FCC, FTC and DOJ Supported Actions that Blocked Small ISPs from Migrating Their Customers to Faster Services, Failed to Enforce Laws, Harming Choice and Increasing Duopoly Controls.

According to the Census, in 2000 there were 9335 independent, mostly small ISPs operating in America. By 2005, there has been a 74% drop in the number of independent ISPs in the US.
http://www.newnetworks.com/parttwosummary.htm
~

Uniform cable agreement changes channel on WBRW
by Chris Gray
Romeo Observer (MI)
11/29/07

You’ll have to exercise your thumb a bit more to get your local public access news coverage. Letters were recently sent to residents in Bruce and Washington townships and the Village of Romeo, stating that Channel 6 will be known as Channel 902 as of Jan. 15. This is caused by the Michigan Uniform Video Service Local Franchise Agreement. —>
http://www.romeoobserver.com/story.asp?storyid=10904
~

Manatee gives up cable TV suit plans
Bright House basic cable subscribers will need upgrade for county channel
by Frank Gluck
Herald Tribune (FL)

MANATEE COUNTY — When Bright House Networks decided to charge thousands of cable subscribers higher fees to view public access channels, Tampa Bay-area governments promised a legal fight. These broadcasts, while hardly ratings grabbers, give homebound residents a way to keep up with local news and watch live public meetings. Charging more would be unfair, especially to the poor, officials argued.

The cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg filed federal lawsuits earlier this month to block the Dec. 11 channel change. But Manatee County, also a leading opponent of the cable company’s plans, is now backing down. Here, Bright House subscribers with basic cable subscriptions, and no digital channel box, will soon have to pay for an upgrade if they still want their MGA-TV, Manatee’s government channel.

Robert Eschenfelder, assistant county attorney, said a lawsuit could have proved costly. And a court victory would have ultimately been pointless, he said. Federal law requires that all full-power television station broadcasts be digital by Feb. 17, 2009. That means televisions will need to either be digital-ready or viewers will need converter boxes to receive most broadcasts. —>
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20071129/NEWS/711290735
~

Guest commentary: Wisconsin deserves better cable bill
by Senator Judy Robson
Beloit Daily News (WI)
11/28/07

Since the dawn of broadcasting, the public interest has struggled with commercial interests for use of our public airwaves. The government decides how much control of the airwaves to hand over to private corporations, and how much control to retain in the hands of the people. So far, control has gone largely to the corporations. A few bones have been thrown to the people in the form of public television and radio, public access cable stations, and public service announcements. But by and large, our public airways are wholly owned by corporations whose primary interest is maximizing profits.

Consumers get stuck paying ever-increasing prices for channels they don’t want in order to get a few channels they do want. People are clamoring for change – for more options and lower prices, and more control over price and options. In swoops AT&T with legislation it claims will provide more options and bring down prices. AT&T calls it the “cable competition” bill. A more apt name is “cable deregulation.”

The bill may create competition in some markets. But the areas that are most in need of cable and Internet options – rural and low-income urban neighborhoods – will continue to be bypassed. The Legislature could have added requirements to wire more of these areas, but it did not. That was but one reason I voted against the bill. —>
http://www.beloitdailynews.com/articles/2007/11/28/editorials/edit04.txt
~

Airing of 9/11 film ignites debate
Some say channel is for local access
by Eric Moskowitz
Boston Globe (MA)
11/29/07

The Groton Channel usually carries local selectmen’s meetings and high school sports events. So Joan Simmons was taken aback this month when she flipped on the cable-access channel and found a documentary that argued the Twin Towers fell because of a planned demolition, not because of the crash of two hijacked airliners…

Colman said he hopes any attention generated by the movie will help increase the community’s understanding of public-access TV – and draw viewers to its locally generated programming, like a recent documentary on the high school’s robotics club that won its producer, Astrid Jacob, a regional excellence award from the Alliance for Community Media. —>
http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2007/11/29/airing_of_911_film_ignites_debate/?page=full
~

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