Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sound View using Public Access TV to fight bill

Sound View using Public Access TV to fight bill - by Bob Adams

(screen image of video broadcast by Sound View Community Media, Inc.
on Milford's public access channel 77 Cablevision on 4/20/11)

Sound View Community Media, Inc. has been running an 18-minute clip (video below) of the CT Assembly Energy and Technology Committee meeting to take action on the bill from March 22nd. The footage, courtesy CT-N Connecticut Network according to the broadcast, is from the discussion and vote on HB 6460, An Act Concerning Public Access Channels.

The video is playing on the Public Access channel here in Milford, which is Cablevision channel 77. They may have preempted public access programming on the Sound View schedule to run this video repeatedly during the day.

The video, which is heavily edited, shows the discussion between Rep. Kim Fawcett (D-133) and Rep. Laura Hoydick (R-120). The video frequently stops and offers both on-screen text and voice-over commentary (see photo above). There are repeated instances of the commentary accusing Rep. Fawcett of deliberately trying to mislead her colleagues and attempting to break the law.

Sorry about the quality of the clip; I only had time to save it to VHS and upload it. (Yes, I'm on the cutting edge of the latest technology here.) Other than a single instance where I blacked out a caller ID number that appeared on the screen when my dad called (gotta love Cablevision) I did not edit or change any content of the video.

I informed Rep. Fawcett of the video, and after she viewed it she gave me this statement:
“The video Sound View Media has created and is running bolsters our position that Sound View has repeatedly, inappropriately abused both public funds and the responsibility entrusted in them through their public access television agreement with the state.

Republican and Democratic legislators from our region have been questioning Sound View's choice of programming as inappropriate for more than a decade and their continued failure to serve our communities is what initiated the original legislative action. I look forward to passing HB 6460 so that the towns of Woodbridge, Milford, Orange, Fairfield and Bridgeport can continue to strengthen public access television for all viewers.”

I haven't yet attempted to contact anyone from Sound View Media, Inc. They are welcome to comment, and I will publish any response they wish to make.


tessa said...

Good job, CT Bob.

Like a "reporter" or "journalist".

Jonathan Kantrowitz said...

Wow. I can't believe Sound View is doing this. It's absolutely insane. They are cutting their own throats. I've been sympathetic with their case in the past, but this is indefensible.

CT Bob said...

Thanks, Tessa!

CT Bob said...

Jon, I took the field producer's course they offered there some years ago, and one thing they made clear is that it's against the law to use the channel for political purposes.

Not to mention the general nastiness of the piece. It's a totally inappropriate way to oppose a bill you don't want.

Robert Greenberger said...

I have been railing against Sound View and their unethical, quasi-legal business practices and remain amazed they remain in business.

The bill under attack is far, solid and has the full support of the Area 2 Cable Advisory Council, which has been trying to get Sound View to act in the interests of their towns as opposed to Tom Castelot profiting from our user fees.

This bill needs everyone's full support.

Anonymous said...

The quality of the work CURRENTLY done by FairTV of Fairfield so far exceeds anything ever provided by Soundview. More to the point, we are actually getting local programming relevant to us, in a timely manner, and in a most professional manner. And the fact that Soundview has been taking our money, via their fees, for YEARS and never provided this quality of local service, leaves no doubt in my mind about the worthiness of the work done by Rep. Fawcett.

Anonymous said...

Soundview regularly uses illegal tactics. This is tame in comparison to things like keeping two sets of books (financial & studio bookings). Why won't anyone expose them & shut down their patent illegalities for good? I personally loved the part where, after a nationwide search for an Executive Director, Tom found that the most qualified person for the job was - whattaya know! - himself, who had zero experience!

CT Bob said...

Tips (with verifiable substance) are most welcome!

Jim Kennelly said...

Hi-- As a member of the FairTV Committee in Fairfield, which is staffed by volunteers and one meagerly paid videographer/producer, I am simply disgusted by this latest move by Soundview Community Media.

While Soundview collects more that a half million a year from Cablevision subscribers we at FairTV have to do their job--regularly and competently tape government and education meetings for broadcast on the education and government access channels provided by Cablevision of Southern Ct for the Cable Subscribers in Fairfield.

Rep. Fawcett did an amazing job to get legislators focused on this issue and finally understand some of the pathetic lies Soundview has employed to avoid doing the work they are handsomely paid for by subscribers. Soundview was given a contract by the CT DPUC more than a decade ago to operate the Public, Education and Government channels in Cable Area 2 which covers six municipalities including Fairfield.

Jim Kennelly said...

On the "Public" Access Channel, they are supposed to allow locals to get training and put on their own programming and stay out of the way. Amazingly for nearly a decade, Soundview used this "P" Channel limitation--that they were to facilitate content, not create it--as excuse why they weren't taping government and education meetings and presenting them on the E and G access channels they were also paid to operate.

"We're not allowed to do it!" Tom Castelot, the head of Soundview told me when I asked in 2005 why he ran the no-cost to Soundview feed of the Federal Government's "Pentagon Channel" instead of local government meetings produced by Soundview on Fairfield's Govenment Access Channel. "Only members of the public can tape meetings, I can't create content" he told me when I asked him why he was running a zero-cost feed of old Anneberg Communications Project Programming from the 1980's on Fairfield's Education Access Channel instead of School Board Meetings and student events.

From working with cables systems in NY and NJ I knew this was absolute nonsense. Claiming the that the rules for the Public Access Channel restricted Cable Access Provider from providing content it was supposed to on the Education and Government Access Channels It would be like a teacher saying she didn't have to grade papers because students have to do the work.

Yes, the Public Access Channels are supposed to be work of the public. But the Government and Education Access channels were always meant to have competently produced recordings of government meetings and education meetings and events. For 8 years, Castelot at Soundview avoided doing this. Why? Because having done it now for the better part of three years as a volunteer, I know it is real work. Finding competent videographers, scheduling them, paying them, and making sure the content gets to air in a reasonable amount of time takes a lot of effort.

Of course I've done it as a unpaid volunteer, while Castelot enjoys a six figure salary to drink coffee and oversee a mostly empty studio space for public access in Bridgeport over the last decade.

Only since the passage of the law championed by Rep. Fawcett in 2008 that allowed towns in the region Soundview was supposed to serve to finally opt out of Soundview's "service" and run their own Education and Government Access Channels-while he held on to virtually all of the funding for this service--did Castelot begin a half-harted, poorly executed effort to put content on Government and Education Access Channels--something which until the passage of the law in '08 he said he was "forbidden" to do! LOL.

Now with only two communities of the original six under his responsibility still accepting Soundview as their E and G Access Channel provider, Castelot is lashing out, furious that his share of funding is shrinking and being distributed to the towns that actually do the work--to pay for equipment and videographers he was never willing to employ or supervise to carry out Soundview's responsibility.

Jim Kennelly said...

Please contact your First Selectmen or your State Representative if you live in Fairfield, Milford, Orange, Woodbridge.Tell them to insist Soundview take this disgraceful, distortion filled crap off the public air and off their subscriber-paid for website!

CT Bob said...

Hey Jim, I think we met last year when the CAC meeting was in Fairfield. I attended with Mike Manente; I used to be on the Milford MGAT Committee (until the Republicans voted me off, but that's another story).

I really like the setup you guys have in Fairfield. Milford is slowly getting there.

Tessa Marquis said...

Hated that Pentagon Channel.

They did something similar last year with a thinly veiled "public service" show featuring then Lt-Governor & candidate for Governor Mike Fidele.

Mike Tetreau said...

Kim Fawcett has done great things for FairTV and our town. FairTV has been invaluable during the recent budget hearings in Fairfield. Kim is working hard for a more equitable distribution of the funds for all citizens not just Soundview. What Soundview is doing is a serious misuse of their authority and franchise. This needs to stop!

Jim Kennelly said...

Thanks Bob. A lot of work went into it. And still does.

Deep Throat said...

Hey, CT Bob! You want tips? Verifiable? Why don't you check into how SoundView came into being, and how Tom Castelot got to the position he assigned himself? The concept of that question alone should perk up an ear or two SOMEWHERE, but over all these years it hasn't.
After being disgracefully fired from Pitney Bowes, Tom placed himself on the Board of Directors of the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport. During that time, the Discovery Museum thought it would be a good idea to take over PEG from Cablevision so that they could use it as a vehicle for free advertising for the Museum. Their boy? Tom Castelot.
During that period, Museum staff contacted & contracted consultants Copen & Lind to build their new facility. In discussions with both Gennah Copen & Paul Lind, it was discovered that the Museum had on its staff the former Executive Director of Cablevision's PEG. When Copen & Lind demanded to know why they weren't informed of this previously, and to speak & meet with this former ED, they were shut down & negotiations stopped. In stepped Wonder Boy Tom Castelot, who had milked this former ED for PEG info in a premeditated plot to take over the function, after having promised the ED to restore him to his former position. Tom was officially assigned the task of researching the PEG takeover by the Museum Board, for which they paid him as a "consultant" - even though he was on the Board at the time. He was simultaneously being paid from Museum funds by the Museum president, Elaina De Murias, who was later fired for "financial improprieties." Finally, Tom assigned himself his illustriously & infamously exorbitant salary, paid for by Cablevision subscribers. That's right; can you say "triple-dipping?"
These historical facts alone should give you some insight into the type of bottom feeders with whom you're dealing, and how SoundView came to be the bastion of corruption it continues to be.
Try verifying this hearsay with the Board of Directors of the Discovery Museum and Copen & Lind, for starters. One of those two groups will tell you the whole truth. Guess which one. Then contact Bob Mundy at the DPUC to validate your findings (not the current hack there who is on the take from Tom). You can also trust Bob Mundy.
Want more? Read my book.

Anonymous said...

Below is an excerpt taken from a "needs assessment" ordered by the DPUC in 2006 in regard to SVCM' application of re franchising Its' PEG license.

It was buried by the DPUC during those hearings.

The Needs Assessment makes the reasonable recommendation that a change in control and programming be made to allow local town control of the governmental and educational (“G” and “E”) channels should the specific towns believe themselves capable of supporting such an operation. Sound View’s attitude toward “allowing” towns to enjoy the opportunity to provide local programming seemed to vary minute-to-minute, or perhaps town-by-town, but the OCC would suggest that the Department determine and order a general policy and standards for permitting this transition. As for Sound View, it probably does make sense for that organization, or maybe another third party provider with greater sensitivity to the concerns of the towns and citizens of the Franchise Area, to continue to be engaged to provide regional public access programming. It may well be that removing the third-party provider altogether and reassigning the public access responsibility to Cablevision may be the best course to pursue.

G Speno said...

As Executive Producer for Fair TV, I submit that this
(Viewer email below) is what I work for everyday.

Building community both in our municipal halls as well as on the field at our schools and other institutions in town. I thank those who have left positive comments about Fair TV and pledge an equally as positive future.
Gerry Speno
Executive Producer
Fair TV

"This is a FANTASTIC video!  Thanks so much for taking it and sharing with everyone!
It's a great learning tool....the commentary is excellent!  We (........I) were asking ....... a million questions as we watched it - dare I say that we might be catching on to how Rugby is played?? 
Watching it with ........ was a wonderful moment....we were included in his world....he was so happy and proud sharing his experience with us - had a awesome family conversation after as well!  Good good stuff!!
Thanks again!  Have a wonderful weekend!"
(Viewer Names Withheld)