Archive for the ‘whitespace’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 04/03/08

April 4, 2008

Don’t Downgrade CT-N
Hartford Courant (CT)


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

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.,0,2491936.story

Secrecy granted to cable TV providers
by Timothy C. Barmann
Providence Journal (RI)

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.”   —>

The 411 Show (TX)

[ comments invited ]

Meet Pointdexter, the lost dog ( If anybody recognizes him, send us a message.  This clip was filmed for San Antonio Public Access TV.

Public access and grassroots video
by Forty Brown

[ 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.

Clash over ‘white spaces’
by Chris Frates

[ 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.”    —>

REPACTED: Giving Voice To The Kenyan Youths
by Rezwan
Rising Voices

[ 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.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media


Community Media: Selected Clippings – 03/24/08

March 25, 2008

New Media Network Kicks Off
by Maneeza Iqbal (MO)

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

From NewTeeVee:


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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely, Gerard Kunkel

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

Hi Mr. Kunkel,

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humboldt Trivia
by EkoVox
299 Opine


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free the whitespace
by Andrew Dubber
new music strategies


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[ comments invited ]

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

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

compiled by Rob McCauland
Alliance for Community Media