Keep cable from abusing its power

November 29, 2005

(via Benton Foundation)

[SOURCE: Philadelphia Inquirer, AUTHOR: Jeff Gelles]

There's a good article here, commentary from, that lays out some of the key issues with Big Cable's power over the consumer (and citizen) in the battle over Big Cable–and Big Telecom's increasing–control of the "pipes" that bring content in American households. This is one of the key issues to pay attention to over this coming year with the telecom act rewrite currently taking place in Congress:

Right now, cable companies such as Comcast and Time Warner own the primary pipeline through which a majority of American households get their television programming.

That same pipeline is often a consumer's best or only high-speed, or "broadband," route to the Internet.

The effects of cable's dominance are made clear in a recent report by Jonathan Rintels of the Center for Creative Voices in Media.

As Rintels documents, Comcast and its counterparts act as gatekeepers who choose whether a new channel gets carried on cable's primary "tier," the one that includes such mainstays as ESPN, CNN and MTV. Increasingly, Comcast says yes only to channels in which it has a financial stake. That's probably why the America Channel and Current don't make the cut.

Meanwhile, cable companies aggressively seek to control "must-have" local content – the strategy that gives Comcast a lock on Philadelphia sports fans. Comcast SportsNet carries most Phillies, Sixers and Flyers games. Relying on a loophole in federal law, Comcast refuses to sell the channel to its satellite competitors.

Does that leave many of us angry and frustrated? You bet.

And it doesn't help that nearly 10 years after cable companies lost their right to exclusive local franchises and prices were deregulated, most cable companies still enjoy monopolylike status, and the cost of ordinary service has more than doubled. Not exactly a startling coincidence, is it?

The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was going to change all this by ushering in a new era of competition. It hasn't worked.

Read the rest of the article here.

Also, check out Grassroots Cable Campaign for more info and ideas for local action here in Greater Boston. I think ACMEBoston should strongly consider signing up.


Community Media: Film/Video School Alternative

November 26, 2005

(via Media Policy Blog)

Download web version, full-frame version for playback on DVD, and full-frame MPEG-2 for server playback at Media Policy

Where does the general public go when they want professional, hands-on training in the film and video industry? Jaime Lloyd, independent video producer, highlights the training opportunities she has utilized at her local Community Media Center, Cambridge Community Television.

There are hundreds of ways to get a video education and many of them include university programs, community colleges or vocational schools. Unfortunately, these schools only cater to those who can afford the cost of tuition as well as the expense of renting equipment and buying film stock. A secondary education in the film/video can range from the $4,694 per semester (in 2004) at a 4-year public institution to $1,905 per semester for a 2-year public institution (1). At these prices, a secondary education can be out of reach to many individuals.

Community Media Centers, also known as Public Access Television Stations, provide access to affordable film/video production classes as well as often free access to expensive production equipment. According to the Columbia Media Review, many Community Media Centers offer $25 or less membership fees with nominal fees for classes. Better yet, many Access Centers offer these classes for FREE. Individuals can get hands-on training with live television studio production, field documentary production, as well as editing training on industry standard edit systems.

Community Media Centers all over the country have been feeding the mainstream media industry with talented, motivated, and well-trained individuals since its inception almost 30 years ago. Independent community media producers have found their way into prestigious film festivals, PBS positions, local and national news network positions as well as into academia as film/video as teaching professionals. Perhaps someday, we will be watching a Jaime Lloyd production, until then you can find her taking classes at her local media center.

(1) According to the College Board 2005 study of tuition costs.

From MOVE to Katrina: Covering Communities of Color in Times of Crisis

November 24, 2005

Media Tank presents What is Media Justice?
From MOVE to Katrina marks the launch of a new series of Media Tank events that present an inquiry into what a just media system looks like.

Thursday December 1st, 7pm
Philadelphia, PA

Download the flyer for details.

The 1985 bombing of Osage Avenue rocked the nation and its tragic legacy still haunts Philadelphia. How did journalists of color on the ground at the time of MOVE navigate the racial dynamics of this catastrophe? What was the relationship between reporters covering the story and the editorial staffs where they worked.

Fast forward to September 2005, where much of the nation is in a state of sadness and outrage at the response to and portrayal of victims in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. What stories or perspectives were not told that should have been? In the 20 years between these events, what lessons have we learned? Have things changed? And if so, have they changed for the better?

A panel of noted journalists and academics reflect on the news coverage and culture surrounding these two devastating events, the effects of which were largely felt by communities of color. Other key stories will also be considered as the panel explores how stories impacting communities of color get told and whether journalists of color are able to bring a different perspective to these events.

Juan Gonzalez, columnist for the New York Daily News and co-host of Democracy Now!
Michael Days, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News
Linn Washington, Philadelphia Tribune
Kimmika Williams-Witherspoon , Temple University Dept. of Theater and former reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune
Karen Turner, Temple University Dept. of Journalism
Additional speakers TBA

For more information call 215-563-1100
Cosponsored by the Temple University Department of Journalism

Looking for Comments on New ACMEBoston Logos

November 22, 2005

Thanks to Nettrice for these great logo designs. Please comment and share your thoughts about the new ACMEBoston logo!

The Clash of the High-Tech Titans

November 21, 2005

Here's a great article from National Journal's "Insider Update: The Telecom Act", that does a really good job laying out some of the key issues and debates in the media/telecom legislation that's currently being written.

Some key points include:

1.) The battle between Telecom & Cable companies as both hurry to introduce new services to more consumers = convergence of phone, television, internet, etc., provided by single company (monopolizing pipes that bring in content into homes).

2.) Big cable & telecoms "red-lining" approach to rolling-out new services in more affluent neighborhoods. See, "SBC presented a slide show outlining its $4-billion-to-$6-billion "Project Lightspeed," a multiyear expansion of its fiber-optic networks. One slide highlighted the company's plan to focus most of its initial investment on affluent neighborhoods, where households would be willing to pay from $110 to $200 a month for a package of video, telecom, and data services."

3.) Barton-Dingell legislation as a precursor of what's to come in upcoming battles on capitol hill involving upcoming legislation.

4.) Sen. John Ensign's bill that's working to cut state and municipalities' ability to negotiate franchise fees to big cable & telecoms, by creating a new "interstate" playing field.

Many more items in the article for discussion.

Check it out here.

Community Media Well Represented at FCC Hearing

November 20, 2005

(via Media Policy Blog)

Community Media was represented well on a panel at the FCC on Media Ownership Rules Friday November 18th. The panel included presentations and Q&A with Juan Gonzalez, Hannah Sassaman of Prometheus Radio, Tony Riddle of the Alliance for Community, and David Honig of the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council.

The agenda included:
• Panel discussion on Perspectives on Telecommunications Competition and Consumers
• Panel discussion on Media Ownership and Consumer Interest
• Recommendation Concerning Consumer Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters
• Recommendation Regarding Access to VRS Networks
• Public Participation via New Information and Communication Technologies at the FCC
• Demonstration of Captioning and DTV

Click here to visit the FCC's Consumer Advisory Committee Home Page.

ACMEBoston Joins CCTV & Media Policy in Local Media Policy Reform Coaltion

November 16, 2005

ACMEBoston, CCTV, and Media Policy have joined in a Greater Boston coalition for media policy reform.

This alliance has agreed to work to engage the public in upcoming legislative battles that have the potential to threaten the ability for individuals in our local communities to have a voice within our current media landscape.

Media Policy allows individuals to make their voices heard, right now, about media policy debates through contributing digital media content. The coalition will also work to reach a larger audience with this new media content (i.e. at, Slashdot, and on other often visited websites).

We are working to create an online civic space to share ideas, create concrete action steps, and to craft clear language about complex issues in order to connect with a diverse constituency in Greater Boston.

We are also establishing a local media policy working group to meet offline to discuss ways for greater public participation and civic engagement, as Congress begins rewriting legislation that will determine the future of the media.

More details to come…