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CCTV Schedules Channel ‘Brown Out’ to Draw Attention to Congressional Threats

  • Posted on: 11 October 2005
  • By: Susan

Cambridge Community Television has scheduled a ‘Brown Out’ of its channels and web site on Monday, October 17, 2005 to draw attention to three bills pending in Congress that threaten funding for public access television.

Susan Fleischmann, CCTV’s Executive Director, explains “These bills would take away our cities’ control over our public rights of way – the streets and sidewalks that telecommunications providers use to run their cables into our homes. These bills might eliminate franchise fees (the rent for the use of that public space), which currently go back to the community to provide public, educational, and governmental access operations. The funding for video production equipment, and other benefits are at risk, either as a result of the passage of the bills, or by subsequent legal action that is sure to follow – in Cambridge alone, the City stands to lose one million dollars each year in revenue! And we may lose the community cable channels as well. We are hoping that the ‘Brown Out’ will show our constituents, the viewers, program producers, and those who appear on our channels what resources might be lost if these bills pass.”

8th Annual Back Stage BBQ Fundraiser

  • Posted on: 29 August 2005
  • By: sean

Join us on Thursday, September 22, 2005 @ 5:30 PM. Buy tickets online! The annual BBQ is first and foremost a fundraiser for Cambridge Community Television’s outreach programs, including the popular Summer Media Institute (SMI) for Cambridge high school students, and targeted computer tutorials for seniors and recent immigrants.

The Barbecue will open with music from talented Cambridge Rindge and Latin musicians and vocalists. After the awards presentation, you can bop til you drop to your favorite doo-wop, honky tonk, jump, rockabilly, rhythm and blues and good old rock n' roll numbers from The Blue Suede Boppers.

ACM-NE Fall Video Festival

  • Posted on: 15 August 2005
  • By: sean

The next PEG access video festival is calling for entries from the Northeast Region. The deadline to submit your locally produced video programming is September 15, 2005 (postmarked). The screening for winning entries will take place on October 29, 2005, at the Stratton Mountain ski resort in Vermont on possibly the best fall foliage weekend of the year.

Our CCTV members have historically done extremely well in this contest and we want you to enter your program. As an incentive for members to enter this festival, we are offering to pay 1/2 of the entry fee for each of your shows. In order to take advantage of this offer, members must submit their programs to us by September 9, 2005. The entry should include one VHS or DVD, one completed and signed entry form, and one check for $15.00 payable to CCTV. Get moving, that date is coming up fast.

SMI Screening: Aug 10, 2005

  • Posted on: 5 August 2005
  • By: sean

The Summer Media Institute will screen final works on Wednesday, August 10, at 5:30PM here at CCTV. Our SMI program, together with the Mayors' Office, provides an opportunity for youth to train and produce local media.

CCTV is located at 675 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, our entrance is on Prospect St just 100 yards from the Central Square T Stop. Please being friends and family and be prepared to see some exciting media pieces produced by local teens. Food will be provided

City of Cambridge Takes Position on Proposed Telecom Changes

  • Posted on: 27 July 2005
  • By: sean

On May 9, 2005, the Cambridge City Council passed the following resolution, proposed by Mayor Michael Sullivan:

RESOLVED: That the City Council go on record in opposition to the proposed amendments to the U.S. Telecommunications Act of 1996, which would erode local control over Public Rights of Way and weaken or eliminate municipal cable franchising; and be it further

RESOLVED: That the City Clerk be and hereby is requested to forward a suitably engrossed copy of this resolution to the Massachusetts Congressional Delegation on behalf of the entire City Council.

CCTV’s Director of Operations John Donovan spoke during the public comment period preceding the vote. Following are excerpts from his comments:

You may have read in the news that Congress is going to revisit this year the laws which govern telecommunications in this country; indeed, it is under heavy pressure from all sides to do so. What you may not know, however, is that one really important battle to be waged in this debate is the role of cities in controlling their public rights-of-way.

Up until now, thanks in part to the Cable Act of 1984 and subsequent legislation, cities and towns have had explicit authorization to control the public rights -of-way, and to negotiate for community paybacks in exchange for letting cable companies use the public rights-of-way to make a buck (actually a whole lot of bucks).

But this year, in the midst of spending a lot of money to upgrade their lines to carry video, Verizon and other telecommunications service providers have made it a priority to weaken or eliminate municipal cable franchising. As the phone companies seek to provide the same services as cable companies, they want to do away with the need to deal with local regulatory authorities and requirements. Hearings are currently being held to adopt legislation limiting or abolishing cable franchises in order to aid the provision of new "Internet Protocol" (IP) video, voice and data services.

If they are successful and the City’s power to negotiate directly with Comcast and future cable providers is weakened or lost altogether, the potential impact on Cambridge is grave.

One sure outcome is that the City will have less power and discretion to manage the public rights-of-way in ways specific to and most beneficial for Cambridge. Another concern is what would happen to the community resources which were set in place and have been sustained through the locally-negotiated franchise?

Will the City lose the 5% of gross revenues, almost $1,000,000 annually, that Comcast currently provides as a condition of their local cable franchise? What will happen to the substantial capital investments and other fees that currently go into the General Fund? Where will the monies come from to support the only three entities (CCTV, City Cable 8, and the Educational Channels 95 & 98) which provide nearly all of the TV programming which is truly local—from City Council and School Committee meetings, coverage of local events and issues, programs and PSA’s for area non-profits, candidate forums, and all the rest?

Such legislation could also set a dangerous precedent: That the power of cities and towns to control their own public rights-of-way generally is weakened or lost!

CCTV’s attorney has cautioned me that nobody knows for sure what future federal or state-level regulation would mean for Cambridge. One could even conceive a scenario where there was no effect on our “bottom line.”

But, speaking for myself now, I have to tell you that related examples are downright discouraging. In 2002, the FCC ruled that internet traffic transmitted through the cable wires would no longer be called a “cable service” but an “information service” instead. As an information service, those revenues are no longer included in the 5% of gross revenues franchise fee payable to the city under the terms of the cable franchise. That single decision at a federal level cost the City of Cambridge $250,000 the first year, and more in subsequent years since this was the fastest growing segment in the cable company’s revenues.

No, I’m not looking forward to the end of municipal oversight of the public rights-of-way, nor should any citizen be.

So much for my personal editorial. Speaking again for CCTV...we strongly urge you to adopt the resolution that Mayor Sullivan is presenting, and send it promptly to our Congressional delegation in Washington, and to our representatives at the State House...letting them know in no uncertain terms that the loss of local control over public rights-of-way and loss of cable revenues will not be tolerated.

John Donovan

Producers Group Meetings

If you have produced something before then you already know how difficult it can be working by yourself. Here at CCTV, you don't have to do it all alone, now we offer you the opportunity to meet and work with other producers directly.

On the last Tuesday of each month, from 7-9PM, our volunteer Sheila Sheedy hosts sessions for members at any stage of their productions to show off their footage and participate in formal critique that will help you strengthen your work. Come prepared with five to ten minutes of finished or unfinished works on VHS, MiniDV, and DVD formats, or even just a head full of ideas about a project you want to start on. Also come prepared to build connections with other producers who may have help to offer on your work in exchange for your assistance on theirs.

These are the things you can expect to benefit from if you visit our monthy meeting:

• Screen your video or work in progress.
• Get feedback from other active members.

Seeking Alternative Technologies VISTA Volunteer

  • Posted on: 8 July 2005
  • By: sean

Want to spend a year of your life doing something that will make a difference? Consider becoming an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer at Cambridge Community Television! CCTV is the public access television, cable radio, and computer multimedia center serving the extraordinary city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Already voted best in the nation five times, CCTV has high ambitions and we're seeking a talented staffer to join our team.

A New Face Around the Office

  • Posted on: 27 June 2005
  • By: sean

My name is Jason Crow and I am the new Access Coordinator here at CCTV. I have spent my time since film school working in and around community media centers. I began my career as an Americorps VISTA Volunteer for the Grand Rapids Community Media Center (GRCMC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. While working for the GRCMC, I was able to work part time as a consultant for UNESCO in Ethiopia and Uganda teaching documentary production concerning the AIDS epidemic. The videos we created in those seminars were distributed to secondary schools all over Ethiopia. Before I came to CCTV, I spent the last two years in Cape Cod as the Production Coordinator for Falmouth Community TV, making videos and teaching classes.

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