Public Access TV: On December 18th, Rich James, Chair of the Neighborhood Network, spoke at City budget hearings. To read his prepared remarks visit In 2003 the City completed a vetting of potential contractors and the Columbus Cable Commission recommended that The Neighborhood Network receive a management contract. This happened in May 2003 but the City has not taken action on a contract. There is a larger issue at stake than the immediate service the channel can provide. The next round of cable franchise negotiations for Columbus will commence in about two years. Additionally, there are legal and regulatory challenges facing local franchise authorities that threaten the right of municipalities to collect franchise fees and secure rightful public interest requirements from cable providers for using public rights of way.

Without strong PEG channels that engage viewers, community organizations and community producers, the City will enter franchise proceedings in a very weak negotiating position. We will all lose unless there is strong leadership and public awareness. For more information contact The Neighborhood Network at If you want community TV to return, contact City Councilmembers and tell them that the City needs to finish the process it began a year ago.

Media Conference

The Citizens Grassroots Congress is planning a media activism Conference for this Spring. Emphasis will be placed on education and organizing to support local media initiatives and activism. A larger community forum on media and localism is also being considered to coincide with FCC hearings on localism. Ideas and suggestions are welcome. Email Rich James at

Ohio radio licenses to expire. Ohio radio broadcasters must file for renewal by June of 2004. Members of the public may file letters of objection before October 1st if they feel broadcasters have failed in their public interest obligations. A formal petition to deny a license can also be filed. Are you interested in monitoring media? Without empirical evidence, all the complaining in the world will not make a difference. Presentation of your findings can occur in conjunction with above mentioned conference.

For an example of local media monitoring see this report on election coverage (32KB Word File) from Ohio Citizen Action. For more information on the decline of localism license challenges visit the website for the Alliance for Better Campaigns and Our Media Voice. Yellow Springs residents are raising concerns about their public radio station. For more info, email Rich James at


Resolution to rollback FCC ownership rules (SJ 17): Petitioners in the House of Representatives are 13 votes shy of forcing a vote on SJ 17, the Senate resolution to void the FCC rules passed June 2, 2003. Passage of the resolution would send the issue to President Bush for his signature or veto. Read more at: Media A rollback of the TV ownership may still survive the appropriations process. Read more about it.

FCC Localism Hearings: The Federal Communications Commission will hold six “town meetings” across the nation to give Americans a chance to report how well the public interest is being served in their communities and how it can be served better. Commissioner Copps may hold “unofficial” hearings elsewhere. If you want to try to bring a hearing to Columbus, contact me. You can file a public comment about localism at the FCC web site, docket RM-10803. You can download filing instructions at Learn more about the issues at Media

DTV must-carry: The FCC may have ruled at its December meeting whether or not cable companies are required to carry more than one of a broadcaster’s signals when stations convert to digital transmission of multiple program streams. What troubles some Commissioners and members of the public is that the FCC has not determined the public interest obligations of digital broadcasters such as requirements for childrens’ programming, non-commercial programming, access for candidates, public affairs, etc.

Read more about this issue at the Center for Digital Democracy and recent press comment by Commissioner Copps. File a public comment at the FCC.

Our Media is written by Rich James, President of the Neighborhood Network. To subscribe to a local on-line discussion list about media issues visit Our Media at:

Appears in Issue: