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News Archive: November 2003

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11/30/03 - Media Collage Offline; Major Site Updates Suspended for December [link to this story]

Woe is us - the popularity of the collage galleries did them in.

Worry not, though: we are currently scouting a server move and, if all goes well, DIYmedia will make the transition to its very own server with a nice fat pipe before the end of the year. There's a huge backlog of collage to be added to the galleries (more than 30 new files for the Truthful Translations section alone!), so the re-debut will actually be an expansion.

All other audio/video content remains online, unaffected.

As a part of this process, other regular site updates will be suspended for the month (like the Schnazz, updates to the Enforcement Action Database, etc.). The news, however, will continue to flow in this space as usual.

My apologies for this inconvenience...

11/28/03 - Congress Pulls Fast One on Media Reform [link to this story]

All the hoopla and hard work this year in Washington, D.C. on the issue of media reform can now officially be declared futile. In the horsetrading sessions typical at the end of a congressional session, provisions unrelated to federal government spending get attached to spending bills - this allows controversial pieces of legislation to clear Congress with little fanfare and controversy.

Congressional allies of media reform incrementally ceded ground to the GOP majority controlling the horsetrading, settling for a single provision attached to a multi-billion dollar spending bill that would restore the FCC's original television station ownership cap (prohibiting one network from reaching more than 35% of the national TV audience, down from the 45% limit approved by the FCC in June).

But back in the smoke-filled room this week, a "compromise" was reached - instead of restoring the original 35% cap, the "compromise" will prohibit networks from owning stations that reach more than 39% of the country.

Unfortunately, this is no "compromise" at all, as Free Press explains:

First, 39% is not a randomly selected number. It just so happens that Viacom (owners of CBS) owns stations reaching 38.8% of American households, and News Corp (owners of Fox) owns stations reaching 37.8%. Had the 35% limit stuck, they could well have been forced to sell off some stations to come into compliance. With a 39% limit, CBS and Fox can keep their stations while NBC and ABC can substantially expand holdings. Second, the 39% compromise is a permanent solution, not an appropriations rider which would only have blocked the move to 45% for one fiscal year. This means that Congress need not have this debate again next year when the appropriations bills come up for renewal. More importantly, it will put pressure on the Republicans who have supported a permanent return to 35% to settle for 39%.

But wait - it gets worse:

...the far more significant rule changes which permit cross-ownership and TV mergers within local markets have gone through virtually unnoticed. Failing a heroic judicial victory next year by attorneys with the Media Access Project arguing before the 3rd Circuit Court (which stayed the rules in early September), these rules will be implemented with very little attention from Capitol Hill.

So...what do do? Transmitters, antennas and studio gear can be had for less than $1,000; if you're willing to solder some of it yourself, you can put your own radio station on the air for less than half that amount.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government...

11/26/03 - Radio Free Brattleboro Wins Town Support [link to this story]

After rfb collected more than 3,000 signatures in its local and global petition drives, the Brattleboro Selectboard finally approved a resolution in support the station last week. It is a somewhat hollow victory, though, as it took two tries to get the resolution approved - and the version voted through was heavily watered down.

Most notably missing from the "official" town resolution is the fact that one out of four Brattleboro residents are on record in support of the station's "authority to broadcast," as demonstrated by its petition drive. A second petition, maintained online for non-Brattleboro residents to show their support, continues to collect signatures.

11/23/03 - Miami Cops Run Amok on Protesters: Media Misses Most [link to this story]

So you may have heard there were some "protests" over "free trade negotiations" in Miami this week. Thursday and Friday, to be specific. Feedback from around the country seems to suggest little to no news coverage of what happened.

What happened in Miami involved the worst display of police violence unleashed on a demonstration in recent U.S. history. In fact, there really wasn't much "demonstrating" taking place: those who were able to get into fortified downtown Miami were simply maneuvered around by phalanxes of riot police until their gatherings were broken up - usually with the use of excessive force, which included various plastic/rubber bullets, tear gas, pepper spray (both in spray and capsule form, shot from shotguns), taser guns, and the always-useful wooden club.

Snatch squads were in full effect - activists were abducted off the street by police dressed as protesters, whose only sign of true identity were the tasers they pulled out on alarmed bystanders.

In the midst of all this, some still managed to feed Miami's homeless, and school kids made field trips to the Indymedia Center.

Final totals: 250+ arrested, several hundred injured (at least one in critical condition after a police beating), reports of torture in jail - and near-silence from the mainstream media, with the exception of pats on the back from the journalists who embedded themselves in the police lines.

If you prefer the extra raw feed, I highly recommend this categorized archive of hundreds of photos taken by IMCstas on the ground there, or the archives of the IMC web radio stream. Personally, this clip (1:10, 556K) from a Blast Furnace Radio correspondent pretty much summarizes the balance of force - a cop drunk on power to the point of absurdity.

Mind you, this was action at a trade meeting. Meanwhile, president Bush was in London. And while the risk of terrorism was undoubtedly higher because of his presence, 200,000+ marched past Parliament and Downing Street, dragged down statues of Bush and lit bonfires in Trafalgar Square - and there was no amazing display of anti-crowd weaponry. What is wrong with this picture?

Once again, Indymedia comes through on stories like no other outlet, with a level of depth and detail far beyond what passes for "real" journalism. Max props go out to IMC-FTAA and IMC-UK on their collective coverage.

11/20/03 - EBB Mobilizes for Miami; DIYmedia to Air on Resonance FM [link to this story]

News bit #1: The Emergency Broadcasters Bloc is again sailing in loose formation as the forces fighting global corporate domination of the world converge in Miami, Florida for two days of street demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas. FTAA-IMC is the place to turn for real coverage of the action, and its web radio studio is up and running, ready for rebroadcast.

News bit #2: Resonance FM contacted me recently about producing a documentary on the U.S. microradio movement. I've committed to fill 90 minutes sometime between now and May (I like deadlines like these). It will probably be a very loose narrative utilizing large chunks of audio from stations that I've collected over the years. If you'd like to collaborate/contribute to the project, drop a line.

Resonance FM is "London's first art radio station," featuring a richly eclectic mix of programming drawing heavily from the city's greater arts community. The documentary will air in "The Clear Spot," a regular weeknight spot reserved for one-off shows.

11/18/03 - Conflicting Signals on LPFM [link to this story]

A week and a half ago FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein hinted that the agency was preparing to move quickly on a report to Congress recommending fast expansion of the LPFM service. However, at the staff level the outlook is apparently much different. Recent correspondence between at least two LPFM applicants and the staff working on the processing of their applications suggests that plans to open up windows for 10-watt station applications have been suspended, perhaps indefinitely.

Another wrinkle in the service's rollout involves the certification - or lack thereof - of some of the transmitters in use by LPFM stations. It seems that the FCC "gave incorrect information" to transmitter manufacturers about the process they would need to go through to have their LPFM transmitters certified acceptable for use by licensed stations. Just what the FCC's error(s) was/were isn't clear, but what it means is that some LPFM transmitters sold as "FCC certified" may not be.

In reality, this sounds much worse than it is: the certification process is mostly paperwork and mathematical proofs, along with a few bench tests, which ends up costing the manufacturer several thousand dollars (and jacks up the cost of "FCC certified" gear considerably). Several popular transmitter kit manufacturers sell their own lines of gear which, while not "type-accepted" by the FCC, more than meet its standards for spectral purity.

What would suck is if stations who bought transmitters from manufacturers who thought they were cleared to sell certified gear started getting smacked up with fines or worse because of the FCC's own error.

11/17/03 - Schellhardt & Schnazz Updated [link to this story]

Don Schellhardt's got a good overview of several other notable proposals and rulemakings taking place at the FCC in November's Amendment One, and there have been plenty ignored in all the hoopla over media ownership and digital broadcast copyright protection. The Latest Schnazz has 18 links this week, a bit bigger than usual to make up for the missed update.

Another interesting rulemaking just opened is the FCC's potential overhaul of interference standards. It is looking into adopting an "interference temperature" as a part of any future spectrum management protocol; instead of the FCC's traditional method of regulating spectrum by limiting power at the transmitter (regardless of band), the "interference temperature" method would assume a tolerable level of interference from the outset. This has the potential to significantly change the way the FCC manages spectrum use in the future.

According to the announcement on the proposed rulemaking, the "interference temperature" idea may get a test run in reality as a factor in spectrum allocations involving the 6525-6700 MHz and portions of the 12.75-13.25 GHz bands.

11/12/03 - Panel Musings: Corporate Media's Impoverished Journalism [link to this story]

You'd think everyone who paid to come and attend the National Conference on Media Reform would already have a beef with "corporate media's impoverished journalism," but they had a panel on it anyway.

Solutions were scant and somewhat tired. Full blog-stream here.

11/11/03 - Behind the Scenes @ Media Reform Webcast Decentral [link to this story]

I've never tried to webcast 17 separate events via three servers in two protocols before. In fact, my experience with webcasting previously was close to none. Somehow, though, we pulled off a majority of them, including some magical moments. These were interspersed with crises of panic proportions and the corresponding adrenaline rushes that come with both.

This review @ Be the Media! pretty much sums up the effort. Lessons learned for the future, that's for sure. In a way I'm disappointed to have missed so much of the conference because of the webcast stuff, but it needed to be done.

11/10/03 - Adelstein on Microradio: "Go For It" [link to this story]

It was hectic and filled with pendulum swings of euphoria and panic; there is much to say about the National Conference on Media Reform/Be the Media shadow conference action that took place this past weekend. We'll get to it all over the course of this week, cross-posting links as the posts flow on the Be the Media! blog.

First up is this one, my surreal encounter with FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.

11/5/03 - Be the Media! Blog Online: Coverage Nexus for Media Conference [link to this story]

Participants in both the National Conference on Media Reform and Be the Media! shadow conference this weekend in Madison are invited to blog their experiences; the hope is that the blog becomes a neutral space for a sharing of critical perspectives on the events, outside of the dazzle and hubbub of the conferences themselves, resulting in some good collective coverage.

Those attending either conference are encouraged to contribute to the the coverage by e-mailing with contact info, and they'll set you up with access as well.

Webcasting plans are also quickly falling into place. Streams will be available in both MP3 and Real Audio formats. Because there's so many sessions happening simultaneously it will be impossible to webcast them all, but with two separate servers we may run multiple streams. Otherwise the two will simulcast the same content. URLs to the streams themselves will be posted to the Be the Media! blog and Free Press web site early Friday; conference action kicks off Friday afternoon.

We still have no studio to coordinate a constant streamfeed, which may mean a stop-and-start webcast for listeners and rebroadcasters. Additionally, while the venue where the musical and keynote events will take place has broadband access, we still need to set up a temporary wi-fi bridge to access the connection (located in the theatre office).

Should be quite the weekend. Check the Be the Media! blog for ongoing coverage and back here next week for a wrap-up.

11/1/03 - Scene Reportage: Jostling for Space [link to this story]

Skywave Radio in Florida went off the air today due to the occupation of its frequency by a Haitian pirate station. According to Skywave's founder, broadcast range was cut from ~10 to less than two miles; there are as many as a dozen other pirates on the air in Broward County alone.

A similar circumstance exists in Seattle, where a recently-established microradio station devoted to the exploration of beats is scouting for a new frequency after finding a Christian pirate squatting on theirs.

Free Radio San Diego is also on hiatus as it moves to a new broadcast location. The station's created a page explaining the deal so as to pre-empt rumor mongering.