Corporate Media vs Public Access

March 25, 2008


Produced with the facilities and staff of Community Television of Santa Cruz County. Kathy Bisbee, producer; Jeff Dinnell, director, camera, actor and editing.
Community Television of Santa Cruz County

Energy & Technology Committee Public Hearing

March 18, 2008

Raised Bill No. 5814
An Act Concerning Community Access Television

NATOA Survey: Impact of State Video Services Legislation

March 12, 2008

natoa.org

PEG Channels Access on AT&T U-Verse

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMZXpOVkm9k&hl=en]

Regular channels on AT&T sought for community access

By: George Moore, March 7

HARTFORD – Public television officials and others argued before the state legislature Friday that AT&T should be required to offer community access and government television as regular channels in its new U-verse television service.

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AT&T’s new “internet protocol” television service plans to offer all of the state’s local community access stations under a drop-down menu accessed from a single channel, 99.

Community access officials said it would take as long as a minute to find a community access program and that the signal quality would not match that of commercial stations.
Officials discussed AT&T’s new service as a part of hearing on a bill before the General Assembly’s Committee on Energy and Technology.

The U-verse presentation of community access programming “looks like YouTube on TV,” said Jennifer Evans, production manager for West Hartford Community Television. The law, she said, should “insist that public access be delivered at equivalent capacity.”

myrecordjournal.com

Regular channels on AT&T sought for community access

March 10, 2008

By: George Moore, Staff

HARTFORD – Public television officials and others argued before the state legislature Friday that AT&T should be required to offer community access and government television as regular channels in its new U-verse television service.

AT&T’s new “internet protocol” television service plans to offer all of the state’s local community access stations under a drop-down menu accessed from a single channel, 99.

Community access officials said it would take as long as a minute to find a community access program and that the signal quality would not match that of commercial stations.
Officials discussed AT&T’s new service as a part of hearing on a bill before the General Assembly’s Committee on Energy and Technology.

The U-verse presentation of community access programming “looks like YouTube on TV,” said Jennifer Evans, production manager for West Hartford Community Television. The law, she said, should “insist that public access be delivered at equivalent capacity.”

After selecting a public access channel on U-verse, a viewer would have to wait for software to launch that would display the channel.

“Nobody, I hate to say it, in our world is going to wait a minute to watch a channel,” said state Rep. Beth Bye, D-West Hartford.

But AT&T public affairs Director David Mancuso said after the hearing the U-verse presentation is no worse than the cable system.

It’s a different system, he said, based on a new digital technology that offers “a new world of programming opportunities” for public access stations.

“I think change is always disruptive and I think that’s probably where their concerns are rooted,” he said.

While the delay to watch public access is about 15 seconds, he said, that might speed up with technological improvements.

Energy and Technology Committee Chairman Steve Fontana, D-North Haven, noted that U-verse is still required to offer community access, “albeit in a time-consuming drop-down menu.”

Fontana said U-verse technology does not allow the company to offer public access channels in the same way that traditional cable companies do.

Mandating that U-verse provide public access in regular channels would effectively “undermine their ability to compete,” Fontana said, which would then undermine the state’s interest in allowing for video competition in the state.

Wallingford Mayor William W. Dickinson Jr. said in testimony read by a town official that “the principles of fairness should not be sacrificed in the interest of technology changes.”

Fontana said the bill would require AT&T to pay for the connection equipment needed to link U-verse to community access stations.

U-verse has been asking community access stations to pay $5,000 for an encoder to connect to U-verse.

Mancuso said the company is arguing against the mandate, stating it is better for AT&T to negotiate with community access stations to find a solution.

Also testifying Friday was Paul Giguere, president and CEO of Connecticut Network or CT-N.

A battle has erupted between CT-N and AT&T about whether CT-N should be offered with a broadcast quality equivalent to that of CSPAN.

AT&T has offered to give CT-N a listing among commercial channels, but the channel would be displayed at the same resolution of public access channels.

The company also has offered to broadcast a second CT-N channel that would carry other internet content.

Giguere said the setup would essentially downgrade CT-N’s video quality. Even though CT-N offered to install a high-quality connection to U-verse, he said the company would not agree to a commercial-quality broadcast for CT-N.

“They refused to accept it that way,” he said. “Instead, they want to degrade our signal and make it like an Internet Web site.”

Mancuso said the proposed video quality is acceptable and the company would respond if customers had complaints.

“The point is, he’s asking to be treated like a commercial channel and he’s not,” Mancuso said. “We would argue that the video quality is very much acceptable.”

CT-N has posted a video comparison of public access on U-verse and cable at http://www.ctn.state.ct.us/compare/

myrecordjournal.com

Public access channels may be on U-verse by next month

By Luther Turmelle, North Bureau Chief

HARTFORD — Local public access television channels could make their debut on AT&T’s U-verse system by sometime next month, 16 months after the service was launched in the state, company officials said Friday.

U-verse is AT&T’s challenge to cable television in the state. The service is operating in parts of 40 communities and 135,000 households.

John Emra, AT&T’s regional vice president of external and legislative affairs, commented following a five-hour hearing before the General Assembly’s Energy and Technology Committee on a bill that proposes to improve the availability of community television on U-verse. “We’re pushing hard,” Emra said. “It really depends on how our discussions with the different local access channels go.”

AT&T officials received a heavy dose of criticism from local public access channel advocates.

The advocates say the portal, or “PEG platform” that U-verse subscribers will use to view community-based programming, will be substandard compared to what’s available from cable providers in terms of picture quality and accessibility.
The PEG platform will allow U-verse subscribers to view cable access programs not just from their own town, but ultimately from communities statewide via a pull-down menu.

“New technology is supposed to enhance, not degrade,” Jennifer Evans, executive director of West Hartford Community Television, told members of the legislative committee. “Please don’t legislate a race to the bottom.”

Walter Mann, executive director of North Haven Community Television, said the fear that local access television advocates have is that if House Bill 5814 is approved with its current language concerning U-verse’s PEG platform intact, cable companies will follow suit.

“The (public access) channels are valuable bandwidth for the cable companies,” Mann said after testifying before lawmakers. “There’s no doubt in my mind that they would look to do that at some point if this bill became law.”

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal reminded committee members of when AT&T officials went before lawmakers last year to seek legislation that allows U-verse to be regulated differently than the cable companies.

“They stressed how community access was critical and how it would be an improvement on what was on cable,” Blumenthal said. “We need to act now to insure that CT-N (Connecticut Television Network) and the other channels are at least as good or better than they are on cable.”

Paul Giguere, president and chief executive officer of CT-N, said he has seen U-verse operate in Michigan and accessing the portal requires users to wait a minute or more.

“This will be disaster for us,” Giguere said.

State Rep. Kevin DelGobbo, R-Naugatuck, and a member of the committee, said AT&T and CT-N need to work out their dispute quickly. “They don’t want the legislature and its constituents getting angry because they can’t get this done,” he said.

New Haven Register

Public access may be hard to access on U-verse

March 7, 2008

By: George Moore
WALLINGFORD – The ability to find public access shows while channel surfing will play a central role in a struggle between public access advocates and AT&T’s new television service, U-verse.

U-verse will group all of the state’s community access channels under one U-verse channel, channel 99. After selecting 99, viewers could choose their desired public access program from a menu.

Not offering public access on a regular “surfable” channel will be detrimental, said Scott A. Hanley, manager of Wallingford Government Access Television. He said many people like to flip quickly between public access and other channels.

“This would just be an added obstacle to try to bring people to view the channel,” he said.

FCC Hearing, February 25, 2008

An open hearing of the Federal Telecommunications Commission on the future of the Internet at Harvard Law School. Footage of the hearing and testimony of individuals about net neutrality. A project of Free Press and Somerville Community Access Television.

Somerville Community Access Television



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