Features

Deception and Distrust: House probe of FCC finds "egregious abuses of power"

Cecilia Kang, Post I.T.

A year-long Congressional investigation of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin J. Martin found "egregious abuses of power," though it was unclear whether the nation's top telecommunications regulator broke any rules or laws during his leadership.

The report released today on the probe, titled "Deception and Distrust" and led by Reps. John D. Dingell (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, found Martin suppressed information and manipulated data to serve his agenda.

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Faced with economic turmoil, media conservatives turn to class warfare

J.H. & S.S.M., Media Matters

Even though the crises facing the financial and automotive industries were born primarily of the actions (or inaction) of those in positions of power in private industry and in government, many conservative media figures have assigned blame to specific groups of less wealthy or less influential people -- the poor, minorities, undocumented immigrants, and union members, among others -- disregarding the facts that belie such assignments of blame.

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CPB considers expansive options for future of public media funding

Steve Behrens and Dru Sefton, Current Online

When the president-to-be got elected, in part, by mastering Internet social media, and now wants to spread the Web’s powers to citizens as part of his platform — how does public broadcasting fit in?

Barack Obama’s educational and public-service goals track closely with pubcasting’s. This is the candidate whose February 2007 candidacy speech had the ring of public broadcasting’s classic inclusiveness pledge in an applause line: “... and let’s lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America!”

But despite its online successes, pubcasting still puts most of its sweat into what webheads demean as a “legacy” platform. And what about that geezer name — public broadcasting?

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From the blog

Make your own DTV Antenna

Over-the-air TV viewers across the country should now be getting ready for the Feb. 17 switch to Digital TV. By now most of us are aware of the steps we need to take: Order a coupon for $40 off a DTV converter box; (2) use the coupon to buy a box, and (3) hook it up.

Some of us may need a new UHF/VHF antenna to pick up the digital TV signals. When you buy your DTV box, retailers will try to sell you an expensive antenna as well (the government coupons don't cover antennas). Here's a cheaper option: the folks at Make Magazine provide instructions on how to build your own antenna out of coat hangers and scrap wood.

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The fight over TV "white spaces"

Joshua Breitbart, Gotham Gazette

While tens of millions of Americans were waiting in line to vote on Nov. 4, the Federal Communications Commission was making its own historic decision. In a unanimous vote, the FCC approved public access to the unused part of the television band known as white spaces.

Analog television signals require a substantial buffer between channels to prevent interference (that's what channels 3, 6, 8, 10, and 12 were for in New York). With the transition to more efficient digital broadcasting in February, a lot of spectrum will become available. In

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Comcast could receive fines over DTV-related pricing schemes

Kim Dixon, Reuters

Comcast Corp could be fined for its inadequate response to a Federal Communications Commission request for information on cable company policies as they switch to digital signals, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said on Tuesday.

The U.S. FCC sent letters earlier this month to about a dozen businesses -- mostly cable companies -- after receiving complaints that some are ratcheting up prices for programing packages or requiring customers to buy digital set-top boxes for fewer channels ahead of the digital switch on February 17.

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The Next Chair of the FCC

Art Brodsky, Public Knowledge

The great parlor game in Washington these days is to try to figure out who is going to get what appointment in the Obama Administration. Every sector of the town is buzzing, because official Washington is a collection of little communities of interest, each with its own institutions and officials, from Congressional committees to executive agencies. There’s Defense City, Housing Village, Steel Town.

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Broadband can seal deals

Peter Svennson, Associated Press

Adam and Anita Paulk had a nice home outside Temple, Texas, with a big yard and a 10-minute commute to his job. But in Internet terms, the house was on Slow Lane. There was no high-speed Internet connection available.

So the Paulks pulled up stakes in 2005 and built a home in a new subdivision. It was a little further from his job, but at least it could get broadband.

"It was worth it, not to hear my husband bitch about the connection anymore," Anita Paulk said.

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From the blog

Election 08: Gender, race and the media

Across the nation, voters are already casting their ballots in what may be the most significant election in decades. Race and gender have been front and center in the historic presidential campaigns. As the American political world is set for a major transformation, has our media been tuned in, or tuned out?

Join Reclaim the Media and partner organizations on Thursday evening, Nov 6 at Antioch University (download flyer) for a post-election celebration of democracy - and a critical look at how US media dealt with the challenges of campaign coverage 2008.

Panelists include Jennifer Pozner (Women in Media and News), Naomi Ishisaka (One America), Lorena González (Latino PAC), B.J. Bullert (Antioch Center for Creative Change) and Cory Fisher-Hoffman (Prometheus Radio Project), moderated by Jan Strout (Reclaim the Media).

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Broadcast TV is going all-digital on Feb. 17, 2009. If you watch TV through a rabbit-ears antenna instead of cable or satellite, you'll need a special converter box to keep watching after that date. But even if you have cable, you'll eventually be affected as well.

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The media's job is to interest the public in the public interest. - John Dewey