Archive for the ‘WSIS’ category

Community Media: Selected Clippings – 09/13/07

September 14, 2007

Comcast Pulling Plug on Public Access TV in Northwest Indiana
by Michael Puente
Chicago Public Radio

[ Listen ]
Comcast customers in Northwest Indiana have only a couple more weeks to enjoy their favorite locally produced shows.

Even Among a Sea of Cable Channels and the Explosion of YouTube, Public Access Remains Vital
by Kathy Torgovnicki
Huffington Post

New York City — In the master control room, four screens reveal what’s currently showing on the four stations of the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN). On the first one, a teenager in a wife-beater lip syncs to “Singin’ in the Rain,” rain drops plopping on his nose as he leap-frogs over a construction barrel where Gene Kelly swung around a street lamp in the classic movie. Beside him, a Neil Young look-alike hunches over in his seat as he lets his out-of-tune guitar wail. On the third screen, a gospel choir belts out a refrain, white robes swishing as they step-touch and clap. On the final screen, a group of Serbian twenty-somethings does a folkdance that looks like Riverdance on Prozac.

It’s just a normal day at MNN — the nation’s premiere public access station that broadcasts over 1,200 shows a week on four channels in New York City. As the staff busily makes last-minute arrangements for a street carnival they’re throwing to celebrate the network’s 15th anniversary (Saturday, Sept. 15th from 1 to 6p.m. on East 104th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenues), public access has never looked better. Digital camera prices have plummeted and editing equipment comes standard on almost every personal computer. Meaning that access shows have come a long way from what Wayne’s World once parodied.   —>

City officials ironing out final details of plan for Anderson cable channel
by Doug Staley
Independent Mail (SC)

The city of Anderson soon could be home to its own cable channel.  Earlier this week, City Manager John Moore told the City Council that arrangements are being finalized with Charter Communications. The city requested the channel during recent negotiations with Charter, whose franchise agreement with the city is up for renewal.

The city has been interested in having a dedicated channel for some time, Assistant City Manager Linda McConnell said. City Council meetings already are broadcast live on public access channels 14 and 15.  The channel would allow the city to offer residents programming and information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, she said.

“Until our thrust with the communications program (Current Buzz), we didn’t have a whole cache of information to be put on a cable channel,” Ms. McConnell said. “We certainly have the capabilities, the information and the audience to do something like this.”  Ms. McConnell said a number of South Carolina cities, including Greenville and Spartanburg, already have their own channels. She said the city could partner with other community entities to develop programming.   —>

California PUC issues state franchise to Wave Broadband
by Fred Pilot
Eldo Telecom (CA)

The California Public Utilities Commission has issued a state broadband franchise to Seattle-based cable provider Wave Broadband. Wave Broadband joins Cox Communications as one of just two cable providers that have applied for and received a state franchise, issued under California’s Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006.

Wave joins telcos AT&T and Verizon having received franchises from the California PUC. MIA is the state’s biggest cable player, Comcast. The cable provider likely isn’t all that interested in a state franchise with its limited build out requirements when local jurisdictions like El Dorado County already allow it to bypass large parts of the county, leaving consumers without access.

According to the CPUC franchise certificate issued on Sept. 7, Wave Broadband intends to provide service in the Northern California cities of Dixon, Loyalton, Portola, Rio Vista, West Sacramento and Plumas and Sierra counties. The company isn’t talking when asked if it planned to serve other areas that currently are not offered broadband services by AT&T or Comcast.

AT&T Supports ETTAC With $20,000 Grant to Provide Technology Resources to People With Disabilities
AT&T and Community Technology Centers’ Network Program Improves Technology Access for People With Disabilities Nationwide through $1 Million Initiative
PR Newswire

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The AT&T Foundation, the corporate philanthropy organization of AT&T Inc. , AT&T Tennessee president Gregg Morton and the Community Technology Centers’ Network (CTCNet) today announced a $20,000 grant to East Tennessee Technology Access Center, Inc. (ETTAC) to provide new technology resources to people with disabilities. In collaboration with the Alliance for Technology Access (ATA), AT&T and CTCNet will help upgrade technology services and technology capacity to benefit people with disabilities at ETTAC’s Knoxville-area community technology center (CTC).   —>

Let’s Talk Flint
by Vote Walling
Walling for Mayor (MI)

Tune in to Comcast Channel 17 tomorrow at 4:00 PM to catch the replay of Dayne’s new weekly public access television show Let’s Talk Flint. Each week Dayne talks with the people of Flint and explores the issues that are important to the future of our city.   —>

WYCE: 20 Years In 20 Days image
Grand Rapids Community Media Center

To celebrate 20 years of folk, blues, jazz, rock and worldbeat programming on WYCE, we’re taking a trip back through the years, with 20 Years in 20 Days.  Over three weeks, we’ll focus on one year in WYCE history each day — with programmers playing their favorite songs, albums and artists from the featured year. We start with 1987 on Friday, September 21st, and count forward from there. In keeping with WYCE’s commitment to eclectic programming, we won’t play music from each day’s featured year EXCLUSIVELY. We’ll mix it in with newer — and older — selections from all the different genres of music.   —>

Cable TV studio sought
by Tom Gorman
Holbrook Sun (MA)

The cable TV advisory committee is seeking support from town officials in securing a new studio in town.  According to Town Administrator Michael Yunits, Committee Vice Chairman Alex Mann told the board of selectmen last week that a permanent studio is needed.  The committee is in the process of negotiating a new 10-year license agreement with Comcast, the town’s cable television provider. The agreement is in its last stages.

Currently, there is no studio in town, and all programs that require a studio for airing are done at Comcast’s Easton location.  Yunits said that Mann suggested that property at 600 South St. or the old studio at the former police station could be used for the town’s studio.  Holbrook’s studio was at the former police station on School Street, but was dismantled after the building was sold last year.   —>

IBM Research Demonstrates Innovative ‘Speech to Sign Language’ Translation System
IBM System Has Potential to Make Life Easier for the Deaf Community

IBM has developed an ingenious system called SiSi (Say It Sign It) that automatically converts the spoken word into British Sign Language (BSL) which is then signed by an animated digital character or avatar.  SiSi brings together a number of computer technologies. A speech recognition module converts the spoken word into text, which SiSi then interprets into gestures, that are used to animate an avatar which signs in BSL.

Upon development this system would see a signing avatar ‘pop up’ in the corner of the display screen in use — whether that be a laptop, personal computer, TV, meeting-room display or auditorium screen. Users would be able select the size and appearance of the avatar.   —>

Justice Department Should Explain Stand Against Net Neutrality
by Bob Williams
Consumers Union’s

The good folks over at Free Press want to know why the Justice Department has recently gone to extraordinary lengths to bash net neutrality.  Last week the Justice Department filed lengthy comments with the Federal Communications Commission attacking the concept of net neutrality– the idea that Internet providers should not be allowed to speed up or slow down Web content based on its source, ownership or destination.

The Justice Department’s criticisms of net neutrality were uncannily similar to those put forth by the phone and cable industries and Free Press wants to know why. (Consumers Union, the sponsor of this blog, often works together with Free Press on telecom and media issues.)

This week Free Press submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover the underlying factors that led to the Justice Department’s Sept. 6 filing at the Federal Communications Commission — which came nearly two months after the FCC’s formal comment period had closed.

“We want to know what motivated the Department of Justice to oppose net neutrality this late in the process,” said Marvin Ammori, general counsel of Free Press and author of the request. “The filing lacks any evidence of serious investigation into this critical issue and fits into a pattern of politically motivated decisions coming out of the Justice Department. We want to know if the Bush administration’s lawyers reached out to any of the thousands of groups, businesses or individuals who support Net Neutrality — or if they only talked to industry lobbyists at AT&T and Verizon.”

Free Press notes DoJ filing came during Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ last days at the helm of the Justice Department. It also followed recent revelations that the government and AT&T had conspired in far-reaching efforts to spy on Americans without legal warrants — efforts for which the Bush administration is now seeking to give immunity from prosecution to AT&T and other phone companies.   —>

Net Neutrality Advocates Turn up the Heat

As the mercury soared in August, members hit the pavement to visit members of Congress and amplify nationwide calls for Net Neutrality.  All told this year we have held 60 meetings with members of Congress. This work has been bolstered by hundreds of thousands of letters sent to Washington in support of open, affordable and universal Internet access.   —>

APC launches new book on WSIS, developing countries and civil society: Time for lessons learned
Association for Progressive Communitcations

MONTEVIDEO, Uruguay — The World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has been roundly criticised in the past and this new study from APC concludes that the summit “is not the best starting point for new action.” So, what is the point of looking at how developing country delegations and civil society fared at the summit? Because, says the author “it is always important to learn from experience – particularly where it did not deliver up to expectations.”

The book “Whose Summit? Whose Information Society? Developing countries and civil society at the World Summit on the Information Society”, commissioned by APC and written by David Souter draws on participants’ observations, detailed interviews with forty key actors and case studies of experiences rooted in five developing countries.   —>

Should your firm be FLOSSing?
by Paul Chin
The Globe & Mail (CAN)

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) had no problem going against the grain when it decided to forgo the widely used Microsoft Office suite of business applications. Instead, it chose to replace its aging WordPerfect installations with – for free.  Yes, there was a clear financial motive: By steering clear of Office 2007 and installing for its 100-plus users, the CLC saved an estimated $60,000 in licensing fees.

“But it’s not just about the money,” says Andrew Southworth, the network technician responsible for all IT services at the CLC. In fact, says Mr. Southworth, the philosophy and principles behind open source software also struck a chord with the CLC and aligns with its community-based activities.

Free/libre/open-source software (FLOSS) – or simply “open source software” – has long since evolved beyond a grassroots social movement started by idealistic software programmers who refer to large proprietary software makers collectively as “The Man.” But are companies any more willing to adopt open source software nowadays than they were a decade ago?   —>

Online User-Driven News Gives Mainstream Media A Run
A new survey finds sites like, Digg, and Reddit give readers a more diverse choice of topics, but do they accelerate the “dumbing-down of news”?
by Thomas Claburn

While it remains to be seen whether user-driven news sites will make traditional news editors obsolete, those who contribute to social news sites clearly make different editorial choices than their professional counterparts.  A report released on Wednesday by the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) compared what the mainstream media considered to newsworthy for one week — the week of June 24 to June 29, 2007 — with the news selected by user-driven news sites during that same period.

While the mainstream media focused on Iraq and the debate over U.S. immigration, the three leading community news sites —, Digg, and Reddit — featured stories about Apple’s iPhone and Nintendo’s net worth surpassing Sony’s.    “In short, the user-news agenda, at least in this one-week snapshot, was more diverse, yet also more fragmented and transitory than that of the mainstream news media,” the PEJ said. “This does not mean necessarily that users disapprove or reject the mainstream news agenda. These user sites may be supplemental for audiences. They may gravitate to them in addition to, rather than instead of, traditional venues. But the agenda they set is nonetheless quite different.”

The PEJ appears to be making an effort not to characterize its findings, as per journalistic tradition. It refers to the sources user news sites draw on — seven out of 10 stories on user news sites come from blogs or Web sites like YouTube or WedMD — as “strikingly different” from those of the mainstream media. Not good, not bad, just … different.

Author and tech blogger Nicholas Carr observes no such niceties in writing about the PEJ’s findings.  “When you replace professional editors with a crowd or a social network, you actually end up accelerating the dumbing-down of news,” he said. “News becomes a stream of junk-food-like morsels. The people formerly known as the audience may turn out to be the people formerly known as informed.”

What the PEJ and Carr neglect to consider is the extent to which professional editors, now armed with data detailing which stories get hits and which don’t, are contributing to the dumbing-down of news (or, arguably, its improvement) by choosing to cover topics that get lots of readers (and thus better ad revenue) rather than the topics that are less popular but more “newsworthy

Taking One for the Team
by Lon
Commission Impossible (CA)

—> It takes about 6 months after watching one of these before I can build up the courage to to do it again. After sitting through a couple of hours of tortuous public access TV I had a feeling that’s hard to describe. I think it would be similar to drinking a six pack of cream soda in a 10 minute period. That’s got to be pretty close. I was bloated, on the verge of retching, and had my mind reeling from a massive sugar-like high.

I think every Chicoan should watch the Art Commission at some time in their life. It actually made me question the benefits of democracy. And that kind of heretical thinking is good for the soul when taken in moderation.

… I think the quote that sums up the meeting belonged to Art Commissioner Paul Friedlander who said “I second that emotion”. There was a lot of new-agey mumbo-jumbo coming from a couple of the commish’s. That’s probably what sets me off. I think the meeting tweeked my chakras and my aura today feels very maroon. My absolute favorite part… there were actually book reviews going on. These were part of joyous descriptions of a trip to a public art seminar some of the commissioners made. Book reviews I tell you! For the love of God, there were book reviews!

At the end of the meeting where the agenda allows for public comment the commission chair stated that the room was empty. It dawned on me that I may have been the only member of the public in Chico to suffer through that. I feel so lonely and soiled. Somebody please hold me.   —>

compiled by Rob McCausland
Alliance for Community Media