If you have a cable TV set-top-box, you need to read this

If you have a cable TV set-top-box, you need to read this

I was excited to hear about Comcast’s new app that will let you watch TV without a set-top box through a Roku. But then I heard they’re still planning to charge customers a monthly fee. What gives? Thanks, Dear POed, Here’s what’s happening. The Roku app will let you watch all the Comcast channels available through your set-top box on a TV that’s not connected to a big, ugly cable box. Not only are those set-top boxes unsightly and bulky but they’re also expensive. Comcast charges a $9.95 rental fee for each additional box in your home. (The first box is included with the price of your monthly service.) The Federal Communications Commission estimates this costs customers on average more than $230 a year. Comcast The idea of being able to connect multiple TVs, like the TV you might have in your bedroom or the one in your basement, to your cable TV service without paying an additional $10 a month per box sounds like a sweet deal, right? But not so fast. A Comcast spokesperson confirmed that the company will be charging customers an “access fee” of $7.45 for each TV using the Roku app. That’s the same price Comcast charges customers who use a TiVo or other CableCard device instead of renting a set-top box from Comcast. FCC rules require Comcast and other cable operators to give subscribers a discount if they use a Cablecard device instead of renting a set-top box, which is why the price is discounted for Comcast customers. What makes this fee striking is that it’s not designed to pay for any particular...
The Great Unwinding of Public Education: Detroit and DeVos

The Great Unwinding of Public Education: Detroit and DeVos

The Great Unwinding of Public Education: Detroit and DeVos   Friday, December 23, 2016 By Joseph Natoli, Truthout |   Weeds and grass overtake the run-down Campbell Elementary School, one of the many closed schools in Detroit, July 19, 2013. Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for secretary of education, argued that the Detroit’s public schools should simply be shut down and the system turned over to charters. (Photo: Nathan Weber / The New York Times) Privatization of all things public has slammed Detroit as gentrifying investors seek to put price tags on what was previously public domain. In predatory fashion, privatizers are targeting the city’s struggling students as a new frontier for profit. How weak and vulnerable is public education in Detroit? The Nation’s Report Card, published by an independent federal commission, named Detroit Public Schools the country’s “lowest-performing urban school district” in 2009, 2011, 2013 and 2015. In 2011, a Republican state legislature and Republican Gov. Rick Snyder repealed a statewide cap on the number of Detroit charter schools. The floodgates were opened and privatizing predators rolled in. Bankruptcy following the collapse of the jobs that fueled the “Motor City” has exposed Detroit to the dynamics described by Naomi Klein in The Shock Doctrine. A crisis, either arranged or accidental, precipitates a rush to recuperation. Lobbyists of wealthy investors petition a government that wealthy investors have put in place. A much-quoted “checks and balances” security shield for democratic governance is thus so easily disarmed. The more startling, dire and urgent the crisis, the greater the rush to a “saving” privatization. Low reading and math scores, shared by both charter and...
Add this to Snyder’s list of disasters

Add this to Snyder’s list of disasters

Inside Michigan’s faulty unemployment system that hit thousands with fraud yan Felton in Detroit @ryanfelton13 Friday 12 February 2016 08.44 EST   Millions of dollars in penalties were issued after unemployment insurance agency implemented automated service in 2013 to detect fraud. The system has since been discontinued, but the lawsuits and disgruntled residents remain   The automated unemployment insurance fraud detection system that has cost thousands of innocent people millions in penalties began in 2013 under Michigan governor Rick Snyder. Photograph: Carlos Osorio/ In the weeks before Christmas 2014, Kevin Grifka received a letter from the state of Michigan, claiming he fraudulently collected $12,000 in unemployment benefits. Grifka, an electrician who lives in metro Detroit, had his entire federal income tax refund garnished by the Michigan unemployment insurance agency (UIA). In the midst of the holiday season, he was faced with repaying a five-figure sum. “To see your wife cry at night is not cool,” Grifka said last year. “The kids, I never told them, they’re too young to even realize, but you look at four months, five months almost, on the phone dealing with people trying to get basically nowhere, and it’s very disturbing.” But Grifka hadn’t actually committed insurance fraud. He was one of thousands of people, many out of work, wrongly charged by an automated unemployment insurance fraud detection system that began in 2013 under Michigan governor Rick Snyder. Officials have at least partially conceded the program had problems: last month, the state revealed in a court filing that it quietly scaled back the $47m program, in the wake of intense media scrutiny. Now, all determinations are...
Comcast reduces The Word network footprint because “not owned by African Americans”

Comcast reduces The Word network footprint because “not owned by African Americans”

Cable operator says it reduced carriage to boost that of African American-owned Impact 12/06/2016 01:33:00 PM Eastern By Joh The Word Network has filed complaints against Comcast at the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission over Comcast’s reduction of its carriage, a representative for the network confirms. Word Network wants the FCC and the FTC to investigate “[t]he unjust removal of The Word Network,” as well as diversity and retrans-related issues. The Word Network is a religious network targeted to African Americans. In a press release announcing the complaints, the network said after it contacted Comcast about the carriage reduction and asked the reason, it was told “because we are Comcast, and we can.” Comcast executives speaking on background said that was not accurate. “We continuously evaluate the content we deliver to our customers,” Comcast said in a statement. “As part of this ongoing process, we determined that The Impact Network provides a broader array of programming than The Word Network, which led us to our decision to increase Impact’s distribution. We are also continuing to carry The Word Network to millions of our customers in the Midwest and South based on its appeal in those regions.” The execs, who had not yet seen the complaints, said that 1) Impact was minority-owned, while The Word is not; 2) The Word Network’s content is largely ministries, with many ministers also appearing on other networks; and 3) Impact has family programming, financial planning, and entertainment programming, and that, looking at both, they made a business decision to reduce The Word Network’s carriage and increase Impact’s...
Mexican conglomerate Univision continue to  buy and control Black media while Black viewer are oblivious to how this affects their world

Mexican conglomerate Univision continue to buy and control Black media while Black viewer are oblivious to how this affects their world

Univision’s history of racism and colorism may not bode well for TheRoot | All Digitocracy TV Network’s history of racism and colorism may not bode well for website formerly owned by The Washington Post Company By Jillian Báez Two weeks ago Spanish-language television giant Univision announced its acquisition of TheRoot.com, one of the top African American news websites. Coverage of the merger was quite celebratory and echoed co-founder Henry Louis Gates’ statement that “This bold new partnership between Univision and TheRoot underscores the ties that have long bound people of color together throughout the Western Hemisphere and is a sign of even greater levels of communication, collaboration and exchange between these culturally vital groups of people.” But while Gates is obviously optimistic about the venture, I’m a little skeptical. Univision has some issues that no one has talked about that might impact things. For one thing, it’s digital presence, Fusion, is struggling to get traffic to its own website. Secondly, the parent company’s history as a serial consolidator and nasty habit of broadcasting racist content makes me cautious about this venture. Under Univision’s ownership, BounceTV now offers original programming including two sitcoms, a comedy show and soon its first scripted drama. Univision is the largest Spanish-language television network in the U.S. and the fifth largest network overall. A look into Univision’s history helps to make sense of the network’s acquisition of The Root. Univision emerged from a consolidation of Mexican tycoon Emilio Azcárraga’s Spanish International Network (SIN) and the Spanish International Broadcasting Corporation in 1987. Hallmark purchased Univision in 1988 and sold the network to entrepreneur Jerrold Perenchio, owner of  Mexico’s...
Gwen Ifill, veteran journalist dies at 61

Gwen Ifill, veteran journalist dies at 61

by John Eggerton November 14, 2016 Gwen Ifill—moderator and managing editor of Washington Week and co-anchor and managing editor for PBS NewsHour—has died at the age of 61. She had taken a leave of absence back in May to deal with “medical issues,” essentially the same reason NewsHour gave last week when she was not able to cohost election night coverage as initially planned. “It is with extremely heavy hearts that we must share that our dear friend and beloved colleague Gwen Ifill passed away this afternoon following several months of cancer treatment,” said PBS in a statement. “She was surrounded by loving family and many friends whom we ask that you keep in your thoughts and prayers.” “Gwen was a standard bearer for courage, fairness and integrity in an industry going through seismic change,” said PBS NewsHour executive producer and WETA senior VP Sara Just. “She was a mentor to so many across the industry and her professionalism was respected across the political spectrum. She was a journalist’s journalist and set an example for all around her. “So many people in the audience felt that they knew and adored her. She had a tremendous combination of warmth and authority. She was stopped on the street routinely by people who just wanted to give her a hug and considered her a friend after years of seeing her on tv. We will forever miss her terribly.” President Obama offered his and the First Lady’s deepest condolences on the death of Ifill. At a press conference before his final trip abroad as President, he said that she was a friend, and a...
Why Hillary lost

Why Hillary lost

by Tim Moore Why Hillary lost      We in the media are in a privileged position.  We get special invitation from entities to their meetings. We get to cover important events, they put us upfront and in some cases, they even feed us. To top it off, we get in free.       The reason for this treatment is that we broadcast their messages or in some cases their propaganda. In providing this serviced to the public, we get to hear more of what is going on with issues that people should care about. So, when you couple this access with interview we do with people in the know, we have an accurate pulse of the citizens we cater to. So, we  know more about the issues that matter to the urban community. It just makes sense.       Now, what does all this have to do with the election? Well, we at UIN covered the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, and we covered Hillary’s rallies and 2 Trump appearances in Detroit. What we found was that the Trump supporters were far, far more enthusiastic about their candidate than the Democrats we spoke to were for Hilary. While they said they would vote for Hillary, I could see no excitement when they mentioned her name. From this polling, I have been telling people that if it rains on election day, Hillary, will lose. It rained on election day in Detroit. People who watch Detroit IPTV were not surprised by the outcome because we talk to the experts and the community. Our viewers know what is going on.     When all the votes...
Facebook caught cheating again

Facebook caught cheating again

Facebook Sued Over Inflated Video Ad Metrics by Wendy Davis@wendyndavis, Three marketers who say they purchased video ads on Facebook have sued the social networking service for allegedly providing incorrect metrics about the length of time that users spent watching video ads. The marketers allege in a potential class-action that Facebook “induced” advertisers to purchase video ads — and to pay higher rates for them — by overstating the time that people spent watching video ads. The complaint stems from recent revelations that Facebook inflated the average time spent viewing ad clips by 60% to 80%. Facebook said in September that its mistaken calculations didn’t affect billing. But the marketers contend that the incorrect metrics made video ads appear more valuable than was the case. “By misrepresenting the average time its millions of consumers spent watching posted advertising videos, Facebook induced advertisers, like Plaintiffs, to continue to purchase video advertisements based on the belief that the advertisements were more successful than they actually were,” marketers Tom Letizia, Mark Fierro and Greg Agustin allege in a class-action complaint filed late last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The complaint alleges that Facebook violated various California laws, including laws regarding unfair and fraudulent business conduct. “As a result of Facebook’s ‘unfair’ conduct, plaintiffs and members of the class expended money on advertising that they would not otherwise have spent, or overspent for advertising on the Website based upon Facebook’s representations that their video advertisements were being viewed at much longer durations than the time actually viewed,” the marketers allege. They are seeking monetary damages and attorney’s...
Study show competition in cable companies reduce prices, and increase internet speeds

Study show competition in cable companies reduce prices, and increase internet speeds

When gigabit Internet comes to town, it could mean savings for consumers   FTTH COUNCIL    Oct.25 2016 Good news for consumers: the growth and competition in ultra-high speed broadband services in your area may mean more money in your pocket — and better services across the board! This week, the Fiber to the Home Council is in Minneapolis with Broadband Communities for a conference focusing on how communities can reap the economic benefits of ultra-high speed services. We have a growing body of evidence that bringing ultra-high speed service to community supports economic development: Our research shows that having access to gigabit fiber-to-the-home connections can increase your home’s valuation by up to 3.1%. That’s roughly equivalent to adding a fireplace, just under half the value of a bathroom or a quarter of a swimming pool to your home. And our research out this summer shows that this finding extends to condos and apartment buildings. Not only does fiber increase the value of your home, it also increases the GDP of your community. A 2014 FTTH Council study found higher per capita GDP (1.1%) in communities where gigabit Internet was available. In dollar terms, the 14 gigabit communities analyzed by the FTTH Council enjoyed approximately $1.4 billion in additional GDP over other similarly situated communities. In another real life application, look at Kansas City, Missouri. Google Fiber introduced its product to this midwestern city in 2012. Just one year later, ratings agency Fitch upgraded the city’s bond ratings from “negative” to “stable.” Why? The city’s growing gigabit offerings had “already attract[ed] a number of smaller Internet and data companies,” bringing in new...
Comcast use page out of Wells Fargo playbook; gets fined record millions for ripping off customers

Comcast use page out of Wells Fargo playbook; gets fined record millions for ripping off customers

by John Eggerton The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau says the nation’s largest cable operators, Comcast, has agreed to pay the largest civil penalty assessed a cable operator—$2.3 million—to settle an investigation into whether it charged customers for services and equipment they did not authorize or so-called “negative option billing.” Comcast says it was already making fixes and has been “laser focused” on customer service. “It is basic that a cable bill should include charges only for services and equipment ordered by the customer—nothing more and nothing less,” said Enforcement Bureau chief Travis LeBlanc.  “We expect all cable and phone companies to take responsibility for the accuracy of their bills and to ensure their customers have authorized any charges.” The FCC said it had received “numerous” consumer complaints about being charged for premium channels or set-top boxes or DVRs even though they had declined those services or had not ordered the equipment. The cable operator will also be required to implement a detailed program for redressing disputed charges in a standardized and expedient fashion, and limits adverse action (such as referring an account to collections or suspending service) while a disputed charge is being investigated. Comcast will send confirmation of any new products or charges separate from monthly bills. Comcast says it was already in the process of making such changes and agrees with the fixes. Under the terms of the settlement, Comcast will implement a five-year compliance program to obtain “affirmative, informed consent” before charging for any new service or equipment. It will also send confirmation of any new products or charges separate from monthly bills. Comcast disputed the specific allegations’ illegality,...