Not-Quite-Hiatus Ahoy

It’s that time of the semester when my teaching duties kick into high-gear. This fall, I’ve got 33 students in an introduction to the political economy of the media class (which is right up my alley, and I had loads of fun teaching it last spring). Each of them are now busy researching and writing 10-page papers on a media policy issue of their choice. I’m spending long days in the office doing paper-counseling sessions as well as the necessary work for class-prep itself. In addition, I’ve got some deadlines looming to submit paper-abstracts for a communication research conference.

As a result, I’ll be shortly suspending multi-weekly news-updates to concentrate on getting the legacy projects of the site back up to currency. In the meantime, outside of the instances when I simply can’t help myself from bloviating, I strongly suggest that (if you aren’t already) you supplement your info-diet with a subscription to either the Benton Foundation’s Communications-Related Headlines newsletter or Free Press’ Media Reform Daily. Both are free; they’re also required reading for my students.

Comcastic Adventures: Spiking Your E-Mail

It should come as no surprise that my experience as a Comcast broadband subscriber is matching up with many others: extra-sh*tty. Comcast has been flogged extensively elsewhere about its draconian “bandwidth management” techniques – throttling some traffic, blocking others, and now testing new technologies in preparation for implementing this non-neutral network management practice nationwide. And Comcast is not alone in this trend.

My problem with Comcast, however, has had nothing to do with BitTorrent, Skype, Gnutella, or Lotus Notes. It has everything to do with the most important application for which I use the Internet – e-mail.

The problem began a couple of months ago, when those of us in Champaign-Urbana began to be assimilated into the larger Comcast network-borg. I expected an increase in intermittent service outages, but I did not expect my e-mail to stop coming in. But it did, and after two months of sleuthing with Comcast’s evasive and mostly-impotent technical support, I think I have figured out the problem. Read More

Back from Hiatus

A much-needed break: preliminary exams, teaching new classes, and a wonderful vacation. I’m still struggling to make the transition from “relaxed” to “busy,” though I never really did get away from the latter.

Long story short, “regular” updates to resume in September.

Clear Channel: For Sale?

Interesting stories abound in the news about the world’s largest broadcast/outdoor advertising/live music venue conglomerate entertaining the idea of going private, possibly selling itself out to a “vulture capitalist” firm.

Clear Channel’s official line on the buyout talks is that it seeks to “enhance shareholder value,” which is an eloquent way of saying there’s greed at play, and the typical sources of funding aren’t working out so well anymore. Read More