Alliance for Community Media

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Building Community Through Media
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Alliance for Community Media New Website

Tue, 05/05/2009 - 16:07

The Alliance for Community Media has a new website:

Please update any bookmarks, links, or listings you may have
that point to the page you are looking at now (

Thank you for your continuing interest in community media.

Alliance Members and Public Tell FCC: PEG Matters! Enforce the Law!

Mon, 04/06/2009 - 19:49

Alliance for Community Media
Monday April 6, 2009

Rob McCausland


WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 6, 2009) - Alliance for Community Media members and supporters from 36 states responded in force to the FCC’s request for comments regarding the Petitions for Declaratory Ruling filed in January, 2009. Over 700 responses came from a wide variety of sources, including local community organizations, media reform organizations, non-profit associations, city governments, and individuals.

“The strength, variety and volume of the comments show that communities across this nation value their local public, government and education channels and community media centers, and that the quality and availability of these services matter,” stated Matt Schuster, Chairman of the Board of the Alliance for Community Media.

The FCC requested the comments and replies in response to a Petition for Declaratory Ruling, filed by the Alliance and 14 other organizations, as well as similar petitions filed by the City of Dearborn and other Michigan municipalities and by the City of Lansing, Michigan. The Alliance petition outlines discriminatory delivery and treatment of PEG channels by AT&T’s U-verse system and seeks relief from these practices, which are contrary to federal law and FCC rules.  The Dearborn petition deals with practices by Comcast which adversely affect the availability of the local public, education and government channels.

Erik Mollberg, chair of the Alliance’s Indiana Chapter, summed up the issues in saying, “PEG access is required by law to be treated the same in quality, placement, accessibility and functionality as local broadcast channels on cable systems. It is very important that the provisions of the law be upheld and enforced, to preserve Congress’ intent of preserving localism, diversity and free speech.”

Michael White, General Manager of Bloomington Indiana’s public access channel, CATS, outlined the damage: “Specifically, the PEG portion of the U-verse is only offered in degraded resolution and without the capability for closed captioning.”

Other comments describe the value of PEG centers and channels in local communities.  For example, in Troy, Michigan, the Community Media Network trains the developmentally disabled to use video production equipment, and to produce programming themselves. CMN’s Executive Director Jay Wiencko said, “This is a great success story that should not be shamefully ‘hidden’ on some arbitrary channel number that would be totally obscured by hundreds of other commercial channels. Individuals, nonprofits, elected officials, houses of worship, schools, and civil service agencies have benefited broadly from our efforts to provide affordable programming that informs our constituent viewers, and in turn, enhances many lives.”

Providing SAP services for the visually impaired or for foreign language programs is another problem for U-Verse. Access Tucson’s program, Sun Sounds, which carries SAP on one channel to provide reading services for the visually impaired, would not be available through the U-Verse system. The Triangle Radio Reading Service in Raleigh, North Carolina points out that the elderly, blind, visually or otherwise print impaired cannot operate a totally visual menu. In order for them to access local PEG channels, they need to be available in the same manner as commercial channels.

Stephen Ranieri, Executive Director of Quote…Unquote, the Albuquerque, New Mexico public access center, states these practices are “in direct contradiction to the stated goals of the Commission to encourage more localism and diversity in media content. With the recent trends in media these goals are more important than ever and the PEG channels are becoming more essential to the attainment of this goal than ever before.”

In supporting the petitions, Jon Bartholomew of Common Cause stated, “These petitions will stop the harmful acts by AT&T, Comcast and others to make these channels hard to find, hard to tune, impossible to record on DVR, impossible to reach by channel surfing, impossible to add closed captioning or a second language, on-channel guides, and too expensive when placed on costly digital tiers.”

The Alliance wants to thank all of its supporters and members who took their valuable time to make their voices heard on these important issues. The record is clear: community media matters and the law should be enforced.

Links to the Petitions and the comments/replies can be found online at this FCC site.


The Alliance for Community Media is a national membership organization representing more than 3,000 PEG access centers across the nation. Local PEG programmers produce 20,000 hours of new programs per week, and serve more than 250,000 organizations annually through the efforts of an estimated 1.2 million volunteers.

Alliance Files Reply Comments with the FCC

Thu, 04/02/2009 - 20:35

On April 1, the Alliance for Community Media filed Reply Comments (pdf) with th FCC in Proceeding 09-13, on the Petitions for Declaratory Ruling from:

  1. Lansing, Michigan: “Requirements for a Basic Basic Service Tier and for PEG Channel Capacity Under Sections 543(b)(7), 531(a), and the Commission’s Ancillary Jurisdiction Under Title I”;
  2. Dearborn, Michigan: “Regarding Primary Jurisdiction Referral in City of Dearborn et al. v. Comcast of Michigan III, Inc. et al.”;  and
  3. The Alliance for Community Media:  “That AT&T’s Method of Delivering Public, Educational, and Governmental Access Channels Over Its U-verse System Is Contrary to the Communications Act of 1934, as Amended, and Applicable Commission Rules.”

By the time of the April 1 deadline for reply comments filing, nearly 750 comments had been filed in this proceeding - available for review here.

The Alliance’s comments were filed in partnership with the following organizations:

  • Alliance for Communications Democracy
  • Sacramento (California) Metropolitan Cable Television Commission
  • Foothill-De Anza Community College District, California
  • Chicago Access Network Television
  • Illinois NATOA
  • Manhattan (New York) Neighborhood Network
  • Bronxnet (NY)
  • Brooklyn (NY) Community Access Television
  • City of Raleigh, North Carolina
  • ACM Western Region
  • ACM Center States Region
  • ACM Midwest Region
  • ACM Northwest Region
  • ACM Northeast Region

FCC Extends “Reply Comments” Period to April 1

Mon, 03/16/2009 - 20:56

Over 500 comments on the Alliance’s Petition for a Declaratory Ruling were submitted to the FCC by the time of the March 9 filing deadline (see post below).

FCC procedures call for a “Reply Comments” period following the filing of initial comments, allowing for the initial comment filers to then comment on the comments.  The deadline for submitting these Reply Comments was originally set for March 24.  However, on March 13, the FCC extended the deadline to April 1, and allowed anyone, not just the original comment filers, to submit reply comments.

“Due to the significant number of filings, many of which are quite complex, we believe that development of a more thorough and complete record would be in the public interest.  Accordingly, we believe it is appropriate to allow all interested parties to file reply comments, and not simply the petitioners.”

To review the initial comments, click this link - -  type the Proceeding Number in the first box (09-13), and click the “Retrieve Document List.”  This retrieves a list of header information for the twenty most recent comments, with navigation at the bottom of the page to see the header information for all the rest of the comments, twenty at a time, in reverse chronological order.  Each comment header contains a “Brief Comment” link, which when clicked, returns the comment itself.  (The Brief Comment link does not work for Firefox browsers;  it does work for Internet Explorer and Safari.)

Persons or organizations wishing to file Reply Comments online can follow the same process as filing initial comments (see below), with two exceptions:  1) On the cover sheet, select “Reply to Comments” in the drop-down menu; and 2) the comments themselves must actually be in reply.

More information on the FCC’s Reply Comments procedures is available in its March 13 2-page release - download here.

Here again are the steps for online filing: (more…)

Register Online for ACM’s National Conference

Mon, 03/16/2009 - 17:49

Online registration is now available (click here) for the Alliance for Community Media’s 2009 International Conference & Exhibition, July 15-18, at the Doubletree Hotel Portland - Lloyd Center, Portland, OR.

The Early Bird registration deadline is April 17.

Other Deadlines:

March 20:  2009 Hometown Video Awards Entries

 April 1: 2009 Brian Wilson Scholarship Applications

How to File Comments with FCC on ACM’s Petition for Declaratory Ruling

Mon, 03/09/2009 - 15:17

DEADLINE: Midnight, March 9, 2009

The procedure for filing comments at the FCC in docketed proceedings using its Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) is a very simple 3-step process, as follows.

1.    Access the FCC’s ECFS submission page at;

2.    Complete the “Cover Sheet” on that page, which is just basic information such as the name and address of the filer, the proceeding/docket number, and the type of document being filed (you do this online);

[ Proceeding Number: 09-13 (it is not necessary to include “MB”)
Name of Applicant/Petitioner: the name of the filing party
Ex-parte/late filed should NOT be checked.  Ignore the “File Number” on Line 13.

3.    Attach the document in either PDF or Word format (you are directed where to do this in a section following the Cover Sheet) and then hit the “Send Attached File to FCC” button.  Alternatively, for brief comments, you can actually just type them in on the space provided, in which case you hit the “Send Brief Comment to FCC’ button instead.

That’s all there is to it.  A detailed 26-page manual re the ECFS and electronic filing can be accessed at if you would like additional information

Nominations Sought for ACM 2009 Leadership & Brian Wilson Scholarship Awards

Wed, 02/11/2009 - 22:38

Nominations Sought for ACM 2009 Leadership & Brian Wilson Scholarship Awards

DEADLINES: February 28 (Leadership Awards);

April 1 (Scholarship Award)

Nominations are now being sought for the three ACM 2009 Leadership Awards. Nomination forms can be downloaded here.  Please complete the form in its entirety, and return by email only to:


DEADLINE: Sunday, April 1, 20089

George Stoney Humanistic Communication Award

The George Stoney Award is given annually to an organization or individual who has made an outstanding contribution to championing the growth and experience of humanistic community communications.

Buske Leadership Award

The Buske Leadership Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated commitment to the mission and goals of the Alliance for Community Media, leadership within the organization within the last three years, a high degree of involvement in the organization nationally, regionally and at the chapter level, and continuing service to the ACM.

Jewell Ryan-White Cultural Diversity Award

The Jewell Ryan-White Award for Cultural Diversity is given annually to those persons who show an outstanding contribution to a process that encourages, facilitates, or creates culturally diverse and/or non-mainstream community involvement in the field of community media.

Previous winners of these awards are listed here.

Brian Wilson Scholarship Award
Application Deadline: April 1, 2009

The Brian Wilson Scholarship of $1,000 is offered annually by the Alliance for Community Media to promote the values of former Board of Directors Chair Brian Wilson by providing financial support to an individual currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree granting program in media arts, broadcast journalism, community & public service, government administration, public education administration or teaching.  Download application here.

Media Groups Say AT&T Discriminates Against Local Channels; File Petition with FCC Today

Fri, 01/30/2009 - 16:00

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Friday, January 30, 2009





WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 30, 2009) – Community media groups joined with a nationwide coalition of municipalities and regional organizations today in filing a  Petition for Declaratory Ruling (pdf) with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) charging that telecom giant AT&T discriminates against local public channels with its U-verse cable TV system.


“Relegating local, non-profit media channels to second-class status is a disservice to the public and violates both the spirit and letter of the law,” said Helen Soule, Executive Director of the Alliance for Community Media (ACM), which represents local Public, Educational and Government (PEG) channels nationwide.


”AT&T’s treatment of PEG channels is inferior in virtually every way that matters to a viewer, preventing the public’s ability to easily access safety alerts, health information, town hall meetings, educational and other local programming,” added Soule.


In states from California to Connecticut, wherever AT&T is providing video programming, its U-Verse system removes local PEG channels from the standard lineup, dumping dozens of channels into a generic “Channel 99” – stripping away individual channel identities and depriving those channels of basic functions viewers have come to expect.


AT&T subscribers cannot simply tune in the village board meeting or homework help program. Viewers can’t switch between commercial and PEG channels, set a DVR to record a PEG program, or depend on getting timely local emergency alerts or closed captioned programming.


In an independent report released September 2008, the Congressional Research Service agreed that, “AT&T has chosen not to make PEG programming available to subscribers in the same fashion that it makes commercial programming available.”


“AT&T, the company that promotes competition and choice, is giving the public no choice when it comes to accessing local information that isn’t readily available on other channels,” said Rob Brading, President of the Alliance for Communications Democracy, a national group that defends the public’s right to speak via cable television.


The filing follows a sternly worded bi-partisan letter from Congress to the FCC in September saying that changes in the cable TV industry should not lead to second-class status for PEG channels.


“PEG television is essential to our communities as an outlet for free speech, local information and opinions, and emergency communications,” said the Sept. 30, 2008, letter signed by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), the Chair of the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, ranking member Rep. Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) and Appropriations Chair David R. Obey (D-WI.)


Today’s Petition asks the FCC to rule that AT&T’s PEG product unlawfully discriminates against PEG programming in violation of the 1984 Cable Act and Commission rulings and policies.


Groups filing the claim represent community-based PEG centers, local governments and national associations from around the country dedicated to assuring that PEG channels and services are accessible to local residents, neighborhood groups, high schools, colleges, churches, civic groups and nonprofit organizations.


They include the City of Raleigh, North Carolina; the Sacramento, California, Cable Commission; the Illinois Chapter of the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) and public access centers such as Chicago Access Network Television (CAN TV) and Manhattan Neighborhood Network.



Rob McCausland



Available Spokespersons (Word doc)


Petition for a Declaratory Ruling (5 mb pdf) 



The Alliance for Community Media is a national membership organization representing more than 3,000 PEG access centers across the nation. Local PEG programmers produce 20,000 hours of new programs per week, and serve more than 250,000 organizations annually through the efforts of an estimated 1.2 million volunteers.

Coming Soon - A New Alliance Website!

Mon, 01/26/2009 - 17:09

In a few weeks the Alliance will be launching a new Drupal-based website.  Online conference registration and a buyer’s guide are just two of the new features being included.  For now, we remind you to save the dates July 15-18 for this year’s national conference, “Community Media at the Crossroads.”

And we thank the following companies for their generous support of the Alliance throughout 2009:

Tightrope Media Systems - Silver Partner

Classic Arts Showcase & Telvue Corporation - Bronze Partners