Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Moisés Ferreira on the Defense of Community Radio

The World Social Forum meeting in Belem,Brazil (Jan 27-31, 2009) has set up a streaming video page at http://www.wsftv.net. These posts are also available in hi res for transmission on global channels.
One of the first posts is about community radio.

Monday, January 26, 2009

KODAO Video in the Philippines

JOLA DIONES MAMANGUN says that people's video is still an effective tool. The Philippines-based KODAO Productions' executive director says the group aims "to use the medium of video and radio in disseminating people's issues in respect to human rights."

She currently works on producing a video advocacy project about displacement caused by "development" initiated by the national government.

Their focus is particularly about the mining project in Nueva Vizcaya, northern part of Luzon, and a video on this is due to be released in October 2009. Thanks to Frederick Noronha for the link. His blog, http://informationactivism.org is an amazing source for interesting projects.

Indymedia Server Seized

Police Seize UK Indymedia Server (Again)
imc-uk-features | 23.01.2009 00:09 | Animal Liberation | Indymedia | Repression | Manchester

On 22 January 2009 an Indymedia server was seized by the Police in Manchester. This was related to postings about the recent Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC) trial.

Kent Police had e-mailed imc-uk-contact in the morning requesting that personal information about the Judge from the recent SHAC trial in the UK be removed from the site. However this information had already been quickly removed in line with IMC UK policy. The e-mail also requested information relating to the poster be retained. Indymedia as an open posting news service does not log such information about its sources.

The machine was handed to the Police by the management of UK Grid, a Manchester based colocation facility, without a warrant being shown. It is believed that a warrant for this one server may exist and have been issued by a Chief Inspector. As the server was a mirror of the site, it can be concluded that the validity of the seizure wasn't checked, and the police attacked Indymedia infrastructure in the UK.

Other sites that have been affected as a result of this seizure include London Indymedia, the global Indymedia documentation project server, la Soja Mata – an anti-GM soya campaign focusing on South American development, Transition Sheffield and a Canadian campaign against the 2010 olympics.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Help for Radio Payumat

From October 12 to November 24, 2008, Colombia's popular movement, led by the country's indigenous organizations, carried out an unprecedented six-week mobilization and march to protest against the government's economic development and military/security policies, as well as the ongoing violations of the rights of indigenous people. The Minga Popular was the beginning of a nation-wide, popular uprising designed to transform Colombian society through coordinated, non-violent mobilization.
One of the keys to the success of the 1-1/2 month mobilization was the indigenous community's strategic use of communication technology, which, combined with their traditional communication practices of grassroots assemblies and public consultations, was able to construct an alternative (people's) narrative about their broader struggle to the Colombian people.

The heart of this work was carried out on the community station Radio Payumat, the voice of the indigenous people of Northern Cauca. However, since December 13th, the station has been off the air after an act of ruthless sabotage severely damaged its transmitter, a deliberate attempt to silence the indigenous movement.

ON SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15th, 2009, the Long Island SOA WATCH, in conjunction with the Cinema Arts Centre of Huntington, Long Island, will hold a special benefit brunch and screening to raise funds for Radio Payumat to help get it back on the air!
The event will feature a screening of the Award-winning documentary "We Are Raised with the Staff of Authority in Hand," produced in 2006 by the Association of Indigenous Councils of Northern Cauca, and presented in major film festivals around the world since then.

After the screening, there will be an open dialogue with:
Mario A. Murillo, host of WBAI's Wake Up Call and Associate Professor of Communication at Hofstra University, and Tiokasin Ghosthorse, (Lakota), host of First Voices/Indigenous Radio on WBAI.

Together, with videos and images of the recent mobilization, they will examine the trajectory of the Indigenous and Popular Minga from start to finish, with a focus on the multi-tiered communication practices of the indigenous movement, particularly of the ACIN, one of the leading organizations of the broader national movement.

Sunday, February 15th, 2009
Brunch at 11:00am, Film and Discussion at 12:30pm
Cinema Arts Centre
423 Park Avenue in Huntington, New York
For more information, email: marioradio@gmail.com or call (631)423-7611

$25.00 all tickets
For tickets, call 1(800) 838-3006 and ask for event 54041 or go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/54041

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Finding and Funding Local Voices

How are the voices of marginalised and disadvantaged communities to be heard in a large conurbation? This article argues the importance of community media, and particularly community radio, in providing such communities with opportunities to express their cultures and concerns. Its main focus is London, whose size and geography pose special problems for broadcast coverage, but comparisons are made with other European capital cities – Budapest, Cardiff and Stockholm - and the historical legacy of London’s problems, which has defeated other attempts in the past to use radio to meet the needs of London communities, is briefly summarised. The research which is reported is ongoing; at the time of writing a series of media policy
workshops is being planned with the hoped-for involvement of the London Mayor’s office and of local authorities. Policy interventions are never final, so this is an account of work in progress.

This is the abstract from a recent paper available on line at http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/londonmet/library/s16011_3.pdf

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

More about Public Access in Los Angeles


Is public access TV dead? Big cable may finally push out quirky cable. by Patt Morrison Los Angeles Times 01/08/09

Your remote control isn't screwed up. As of now, there really is nothing on some cable channels.

No more id-video, "look at me" public access shows about offbeat religions (with just one believer, the host) or crocheting or playing with your dog. No more community programs low on production values but high on neighborhood content.

For decades, some cities' cable TV franchises have been required to operate TV studios -- a dozen of them in L.A. -- so that just about any resident with the chutzpah and the know-how could get a show on public access TV. Among the stargazers and quirky musicians were politically scrappy stalwarts, such as "Full Disclosure Network," which won an Emmy for host/creator Leslie Dutton, or the show by the West Hollywood gadfly who read city officials' public record expense receipts aloud.

As of Jan. 1, the studios where these shows were created could be shut down, leaving those exhibitionists and their fans in the dark. Why? Go back to 2006, to AB 2987, a state bill that, like all bills, promised to make life more wonderful and even cheaper. What it actually did was take the "local" out of local cable TV.

Phone companies were panting to get in on the cable market -- a.k.a. the video-delivery market -- with their own phone-cable TV-Internet services designed to compete with media companies such as Time Warner. But they didn't want to bother to go city by city to win franchises, as the law stipulated. They wanted cable to be regulated on the state level.

As this bill wound through the Legislature, AT&T alone spent more than $22 million lobbying in California. More than $100,000 of communications company contributions went to the bill's sponsor, then-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, and one of his committees.

Cities got steamrolled. Henceforth, it'll be the state Public Utilities Commission, not your hometown, that will regulate and set the conditions for the new video-delivery contracts.

As a sop, cable franchises have to add 1% to the 5% of gross revenues they already pay in L.A. for the privilege of selling their services here. In exchange for that new dough -- $5 million in L.A. -- they don't have to maintain those public access studios. A few public access channels will still be around, but not the means for most of the public to make programs to broadcast on them.

So why can't the city, which runs at least one public studio now, use some of those fees to operate more? Does anyone believe L.A. will splash out money on public access when it has a nearly half-billion-dollar deficit? You do? Would you like to buy a condo in Miami?

What about just adding citizen TV to Channel 35?

I believe you can't have too much government coverage, not when TV news stations can barely find City Hall on a map. But to some critics, Channel 35 is not much more than a vanity channel. How likely is it that 35 would set aside air time for oddball shows, much less politically critical ones?

"If the city of L.A. is going to be the only owner of public access," says Judy Dugan, research director of the group Consumer Watchdog, "it'll have rules. None of this drug talk, none of this sex talk, none of this revolution talk."

As for the argument that the Internet makes public access irrelevant -- they're opposite ends of the telescope. The Internet may be infinite, but you hunt for what you want. TV is finite but much more serendipitous. And until now, it's been cheaper -- i.e. free -- to walk into a public access studio and get on regular television than to buy the gear required to get your cat on YouTube.

Tracy Westen heads L.A.'s Center for Governmental Studies. He also chairs a board overseeing how city departments spend about $200,000 a year on their public service TV programming.

"I love public access," he says, "but the young kids are not on public-access channels. On the other hand, there is no communal or video gathering place where people can see what people are thinking about L.A. without public access. It may be imperfect, but it's better than nothing. Rather than junk it, we should try to improve it."

On Monday, public access fans plan to flood a city committee hearing on the medium. There, promises Leslie Dutton, they will do battle "for our public assets, the cable channels and studios that were given to us 25 years ago, to keep the democratic process alive."

At least I know I can still watch that on TV

LA PEG Community Fights for Access

Activists in Los Angeles are asking people to contact the State Attorney General to rescind the anti-access law for the following reasons:

Duplicity -- The LA City Council blames the State Legislature for DIVCA. Fabian Nunez and Lloyd Levine are both Los Angeles political leaders, well known to all of Southern CA. As leaders of the 2006 State Assembly, Nunez and Levine took the AT&T language, millions of dollars in campaign money, and co-authored DIVCA insisting DIVCA would not be discriminatory to LA/CA. people of color and lower income households. In fact, DIVCA has eliminated Spanish as a second language (SAP), hundreds of hours of other-than-English programming, permitted AT&T and others to "cherry-pick" lucrative neighborhoods for cable service, and closed down production studios and channels serving the many Angelenos without local access to electronic media, facilities and training. Cable rates have not decreased and infrastructure promised by AT&T is yet to be constructed.

Deceit -- The LA City Council made no serious attempt to
(1) inform LA residents of the impending Time Warner shutdown and made no attempt to publicly investigate alternative scenarios,
(2) The Council continues to use the financial crunch as the rationale for closure even though the City continues to collect $25 million per year in cable television franchise fees and millions more in Utility taxes exclusively from cable ser vices,
(3) The City will soon collect another $5 million (an additional 1% permitted under DIVCA) exclusively for PEG related expenses. (4) With Public Access eliminated (the four channels are designated "Educational and Government Access only"), these funds will go exclusively to Government Access programming providing additional and well funded face time for local elected officials and complete editorial control, effectively silencing their local rivals, critics and pundits.

Anti-democratic -- The U.S. Constitution protects the public's right to speak from the chilling effect and outright censorship of government officials. The orchestrated way in which DIVCA was rushed through the CA legislature by Nunez and Levine in return for millions in campaign donations from AT&T, the negative impact on the voices of LA residents, the loss of public resources without serious efforts by local government to "serve and protect" its citizens, the financial gain to be achieved for LA government, the direction of public funds to serve at the exclusive pleasure of elected officials, and the cynical manipulation and deceit of the public by local leadership stands out as a striking example of censorship by government and violation of Los Angeles citizen's Constitutional rights.

This is abuse of power on a massive scale -- the Big Lie, Los Angeles Water and Power revisited, and an insult to all who believe in democratic ideals, due process, transparency of government, and free speech.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cable Flips Channel on Public Access TV; Los Angeles Loses PEG

by Reed Johnson Los Angeles Times 01/05/09
For decades, public access programming on cable television has provided a virtually free forum for community activists and aspiring entertainers, for preening star wannabes as well as serious-minded political watchdogs. But in Los Angeles and across California that forum began crumbling last week, a development that advocates say will strip ordinary citizens of a valuable 1st Amendment platform.

A provision of a law passed by the Legislature in 2006, which took effect Thursday, allows cable television providers the option of dropping their long-standing obligation of providing free studios, equipment and training to the public. In return, providers must pay a substantial annual fee and continue to provide a minimal number of public education and government channels.

The new law is designed to make it easier for phone companies to enter into the lucrative cable market by relieving them of certain money-draining contractual obligations. In Los Angeles, 12 public access studios that provided programming for 11 community channels have been closed by Time Warner Cable Inc. That means much of the city's diverse, neighborhood-specific public access shows may disappear.

If that happens, Los Angeles cable subscribers would be losing an outlet for their particular communities' programming, said David Hernandez, president of the Los Angeles Public Access Coalition. "It's the regional broadcasting capability that's lost," he said.

Twenty other states, including Texas, Nevada, Florida, Illinois and Michigan, have enacted legislation similar to California's Digital Infrastructure and Video Competition Act, or DIVCA, according to the nonprofit Alliance for Community Media. In several of those states, the loss of production studios was bitterly fought by opposition groups to little avail. But the waning of public access programming in California would carry special significance for the nation, said Ron Cooper, a public access advocate and regional treasurer of the Alliance for Community Media in Sacramento.

"The rest of the country is watching," Cooper said. "And not because it's a good example -- quite the opposite." In Los Angeles, public access covers an array of citizen-produced shows, including "Soul & Sound of Watts," "East L.A. After Dark" and a late-night program by sexologist Dr. Susan Block. Between 30% and 35% of all programming is religion-oriented.

Although public access television often is mocked as a showcase for eccentric narcissists and sensationalistic provocateurs -- what Cooper referred to as "naked Nazis" -- he said only a small proportion of its content fits this bill. "For the city of Los Angeles, the city of angels, the media capital of the world to say there is no room for public" access, Cooper said, "I don't even know how to describe it."

Time Warner says it is only complying with the provisions of the new law, which still requires a limited number of public, government and education channels funded by a fee calculated by 1% of gross annual revenue. In Los Angeles, that fee for Time Warner amounts to about $5 million, which is in addition to a $25-million annual franchise fee. "The spirit of DIVCA was to create a level playing field for all competitors," said Patricia Fregoso-Cox, vice president of communications for Time Warner Cable for the western region.

Fregoso-Cox said the company would continue to reserve four area cable channels for so-called PEG (public, education and government) content and that it had no plans to convert those to commercial programming. One city-run public access studio, in Boyle Heights, will remain open, at least for now. As for the 12 studio closings, she said: "We have an exit strategy. Some of the buildings we own, some of the buildings we lease. Some of the buildings will be repositioned for other programming."

In Los Angeles, the cavalcade of characters, gadflies and watchdogs that populate the public access channels aren't going away without a fight. Hernandez has written to City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to ask for injunctive relief against the studio closings. "It's a two-pronged immorality," said Leslie Dutton, executive producer and host of the Full Disclosure Network, an Emmy-winning public access news broadcast.

"It's immoral for the city to do nothing to replace the assets that are being taken from the public with the millions of dollars that are still coming to them, and No. 2, for preventing Time Warner from closing the channels down." Dutton and others say there is no guarantee that any of the four PEG channels will be used for public access programming. They also say that neither Time Warner nor the city gave adequate public notice of the studio closings.

"There wasn't a flier or a handout or anything telling what this was," said Rob Baker, producer of "The John Kerwin Show," a celebrity-oriented talk program that taped what could be its last episode Dec. 17. "Nobody knew that public access is hearing its death knell." On the contrary, Fregoso-Cox said, "this isn't something that hasn't been communicated, that people aren't aware of."

The closing of the city's studios is only one consequence of a nationwide campaign by phone companies -- including AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Qwest Communications International Inc. -- to move into the cable market. Many cable providers, meanwhile, are trying to compete in the phone market by bundling services (cable, phone, Internet), resulting in an escalating turf battle among powerful multimedia companies seeking control over a growing universe of information-delivery systems.

California's legislation, drafted by then-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, a Los Angeles Democrat, was signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in September 2006. Nuñez said the law would increase competition and lower cable subscribers' rates, a contention challenged by consumer groups.

Public access advocates acknowledge that YouTube and other Internet-based platforms have given new outlets for citizen expression. But, they point out, YouTube doesn't provide free professional studios, equipment and training, nor does it pay for the staff to run the facilities. Furthermore, Hernandez said, because public access television "is a public asset already, why should the public give up something that belongs to them?"

Public access advocates in Los Angeles and other California cities won't have an easy time getting back in the studio. Cities are broke, and Los Angeles officials question whether the funds exist to help offset the studio closings. A city report estimates that the annual cost of staffing and operating a 12-studio system would be $2.7 million, plus a one-time $4.5-million equipping cost, excluding rent.

"We're looking at a year in which we're looking at a $400-million deficit," said Jose Cornejo, chief of staff for Councilman Tony Cardenas. Cornejo said Cardenas and other City Council members had been scrutinizing the effect of the new law for many months and concluded that their hands were tied by the state.

The council therefore decided to adopt the recommendations of a report by the Board of Information Technology Commissioners. The report said the city should consolidate its control over the four remaining channels so they wouldn't revert back to Time Warner's management, as would be possible under the new law, Cornejo said. "Time Warner is saying, 'I now can do this. Go fly a kite, council,' " Cornejo said. "They usurped our jurisdiction with DIVCA."

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, a former cable executive, said he supported public access as a 1st Amendment right and "an electronic soapbox." He favors studying whether it would be possible for the city to dedicate more funding toward it. But he said the city must address many pressing financial needs. "We're in this spot not because the city of Los Angeles created it but because the Legislature did," he said.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

New Book: Media and Glocal Change: Rethinking Communication for Development

The word “glocal” is hype in social sciences literature; it attempts to include the contradictory and at the same time the symbiotic between “local” and “global” in the context of globalisation that does not recognise cultural borders and has changed our perception of those spaces where human activity takes place. In fact, if we applied a criteria of proximity, we wouldn’t know for certain if what is physically closer to us, the “local”, is truly nearer than what technology so overbearingly brings by: the “global”. The term “glocal” thus encapsulates the tw! o sides of the coin.

From the perspective of media and communication, globalisation has introduced new challenges and complexities that alter the approaches and perceptions we had a few years back. The virtual relationships that are now built at the global level, including for those locally based media outlets, bring in new forms of participation and information dissemination, thus affecting the traditional ways of analysing the public space.

Oscar Hemer
Precisely, about globalisation, culture and communication is what this important book is about: “Media & Glocal Change” edited by Oscar Hemer and Thomass Tufte, from Malmo University in Sweden and Roskilde University in Denmark, respectively. Both are members of the University Network facilitated by the Communication for Social Change Consortium since 2005.

Separated by a long bridge that links Copenhagen and Malmo, Thomas and Oscar have been united through many years of joint work and projects such as this one that has prompted them to gather in 494 pages 38 authors from Europe, Latin America, North America, Africa and Asia.

Thomas Tufte
The book is structured in three parts: the first one covers globalisation, media and culture; the second attempts to draw the map of this field of study, and the third compiles ten case studies on concrete experiences in Bolivia, Namibia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Nicaragua, Bangladesh and several African countries.

The first part -perhaps the most innovative- analyses the paradigms and models of communication for development and social change under the light of globalisation. Chapters by Oscar and Thomas, and other colleagues such as Silvio Waisbord, Cel Cadiz, Jan Servaes, or Nancy Morris, are contributions complemented by the views of James Deane, Karin Wilkins among other authors that have participated in seminars organized by the Consortium