Tuesday, July 15, 2008

PEG 0.0

I will be the first to admit I love “Spin” just as much as the next guy. But even when you’re “Spinning” you should try to include just a kernel of truth in order to make your “Spin” plausible.

Geoff Daily doesn’t seem to understand that concept. He writes a blog called App-Rising where he says “networks, applications and policy collide.” And they really, really collide with fantasy given he is supported in part by at&t. Geoff assures his readers that his opinions are his own. How clever. Are we to understand that if Geoff skewered at&t for its treatment of Public, Educational and Government access channels that he still would get the green? Even naïve old me understands that if you want to keep a client you might want to make sure you have something nice to say about them.

According to Geoff, he was present at an Alliance for Community Media Board meeting where at&t's Chris Boyer demonstrated U-verse PEG offerings. And by the time it was done, while the Alliance Board members certainly had questions and were so kind to offer up suggestions for how to improve PEG delivery on U-verse, the love could be felt in the room. Geoff allowed that all the Alliance representatives were just “nice” people and he couldn’t wait to see where PEG 2.0 (as he calls it) is going!

Furthermore, and I quote, “Where this will ultimately lead is still up in the air, though. Boyer promised to raise many of the ideas and concerns brought out at this meeting up the ladder, but couldn't make any promises regarding specific launch dates of new features and on some issues was unable to guarantee any changes will be made at all.”

Geoff, here’s a news flash, Boyer will not be raising those ideas and concerns about the problems with at&t’s IPTV delivery of PEG and there will be no changes or guarantees or new features or launching because at&t does not intend to do anything other than completely obliterate PEG altogether.

As John Rocco in Charlotte pointed out in his comment on Geoff’s blog “Let's be honest, AT&T has no interest in PEG 2.0, what they really are interested in is PEG 0.0.”

I was surprised that there was such warmth between the Alliance Board members and the at&t representative. In May I witnessed a virtual blood letting at the Southeast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (SEATOA) when the at&t rep demonstrated U-verse. People were so irritated and angry that some needed to be restrained. The at&t rep promised exactly what Boyer did, that he would take those “concerns” up the chain of command and come back with answers. We are still waiting.

After checking around a bit, I found that Geoff’s version of the meeting wasn’t exactly true.

Matt Schuster, Chair of the Alliance, commented to Geoff “Let me clarify the Alliance for Community Media's position on AT&T's provision of the service. The Alliance does not feel that the U-Verse solution for PEG access is acceptable. The channels are treated in a sub-standard inferior manner to broadcast and commercial channels. PEG Channels must be treated in an equitable or identical manner to other channels on the system.

The possibility of interactive features and services does not make up for sub-standard treatment of PEG channels on the U-Verse platform.”

So was Geoff equating “politeness” with “endorsement” or “approval?” T’would seem so, especially because then at&t can take Geoff’s blog and run it around statehouses or communities and claim that the official organization that represents PEG is perfectly content to accept U-verse PEG delivery once it gets a few more tweaks. And in those states where state law requires the PEG channels to be delivered the same way any other channel is delivered, they can use Geoff’s blog as proof that the PEG community really is not that concerned about the crappy delivery system.

How refreshing. at&t pays for a point of view and gets exactly the point of view they want.

Meanwhile I hear Geoff’s blog is being circulated around state and local governments and they are scratching their heads. Does Geoff’s “observations” really reflect the opinion of the PEG community? And if so, then why would we fight to make sure at&t actually delivers the PEG channels the same way it delivers ESPN?

Funny how that works. I wonder who is doing the circulating? Could it be that nasty old Ma Bell?

Final word to the Alliance and its membership, the next time at&t shows up for a “chat” you might not want to be so polite because they will use it against you.

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christopher mitchell said...

Thank you for enabling the comments.

I'll start by thanking you for your hard work on PEG over the years. My work tries to build on yours and ideally help you in promoting community media.

I wanted to defend Geoff because he has struck me as someone who is still learning much about PEG and the battles between PEG folks and cable/phone companies.

Further, I suspect that he would be receptive to a discussion about PEG and why AT&T should not be trusted.

But from my point of view, I want to note that I believe AT&T, Comcast, et al, will fundamentally be hostile to community media because they tend to have large stakes in corporate media that they want people to watch so they can maximize their shareholder profits.

This is why we need communities to invest in next generation networks that will open the means of distribution to community media via both regular television avenues, Video-on-Demand, and over the Internet via progressive download. I have written about this.

Geoff Daily said...

Bunny - Thank you for your readership.

I must speak up to defend the independence of my voice, though. You're quick to label me as a mouthpiece for AT&T, but if you've followed App-Rising.com over the past year you'll have learned about my fervent support for full fiber networks, my belief that the only way to achieve these goals is through some form of municipal broadband, and my arguments on behalf of open networks and the potential of structural separation.

These are not viewpoints that AT&T supports. And I can promise you that everything I write is my own, unfiltered opinion.

Case in point, I came across your post this morning while putting together one of my own analyzing my true feelings about AT&T's treatment of PEG, which you can read here: http://app-rising.com/2008/07/my_take_on_atts_treatment_of_p.html

I do admit my lack of experience in the PEG community and I'm eager to learn more. I was able to meet a number of warm, bright people last week from whom I learned a lot as I begin diving in to the topic of what PEG has meant in the 20th century and can mean in the 21st century.

And I'm hopeful to be able to interface with you as well as I've been reading and admiring your writings since I first started learning about PEG six months ago.

My goal in all this is not to determine what's best for AT&T or for PEG. My interests lie in what's best for America, and I'm trying to do my best to listen to all sides of an issue and then formulate my own opinions.

I'm a firm believer that the only way we're going to be able to move forward is through establishing a robust dialog with at least a modicum of mutual respect for all parties involved.

That said, I have not been privy to all the details of AT&T's treatment of the PEG community, and since I did not live through it I do not have the scars to know how bad it's been.

So I'm eager to hear more from you and other luminaries in the PEG community about what has happened and so that we can discuss what can happen moving forward.

Thank you again for your readership, and I hope we're able to continue this dialog.

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