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Rise of the machines
Expanded from the 11-16-2008 Daily Sparks Tribune

If and when the history of these troubled times is written, I hope some scribe identifies the one artist who best warned of the fall of our empire. I nominate Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Save northwestern Nevada community television

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

The math behind the move
Updated 11-16-2008

Charter Communications plans to illegally move four channels of analog to the digital tier.

One channel of analog bandwidth accommodates two to 10 channels of digital programming, depending on the complexity of the streams. High-definition movies eat up a lot of bandwidth.

A Charter statement quoted on TV-4's Aug. 4, 2008, 11:00 p.m. newscast said that Charter is doing this to "free up more bandwidth for high definition channels."

Charter thus gains bandwidth for between 8 and 40 digital channels by banishing community TV to the digital tier, a net gain of 4 and as many as 36, depending on content.

Charter VP Marsha Berkbigler, in her first speech to the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee in Dec. 2002, said each additional channel is worth $1 million a year to Charter — and that's at 2002 prices.

So Charter stands to make between $4 million and $36 million by doing this, unadjusted for inflation.

Michigan Judge rules for cable ratepayers

Carson City gets the facts
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 10-19-2008

Talks with Charter fruitless
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 9-7-2008

Sparks, Washoe, Carson and Douglas consumers urged to contact their local governments to join the fight against Charter
Surge.TV 8-25-2008, Updated 8-28-2008

Evil empire eats its appetite
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-24-2008

Bandwidth bandidos admit their greed
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-17-2008

Sue the bastards
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-10-2008

Deregulation means never having to say you're sorry
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune / 8-3-2008

Last year's columns about skulduggery at the Nevada Legislature which led to this mess

MORE: Smoking Guns

Government contact info

Barbwire.TV: 15-year overnight success
Daily Sparks Tribune 2-10-2008

The Barbwire's Greatest Hits
Highlights from radio days
mp3 file

The Terminator sci-fi series is not only great entertainment but also a great lesson.

As legendary director Frank Capra once noted, "before you can preach, you must entertain."

I know a whole lotta preachers, pols and pundits who should ponder that particular pronouncement.

Arnold's opuses can easily be interpreted as allegories of man's fear of his own creations, the machines that were supposed to make life easier and happier.

If you live an unhealthy sedentary lifestyle because machines are doing what were formerly your physical tasks, some corporation will be glad to sell you an exercise machine. Somehow, few get the joke.

Artists in all disciplines have lamented the rise of the contraption. The best was probably Charlie Chaplin's immortal comedy Modern Times, wherein his classic Little Tramp character is actually physically consumed by the gears of a huge corporate machine.

Lucille Ball only updated Chaplin when she hilariously took a job boxing cakes at the end of an ever-quickening conveyor belt.

Life, indeed, imitates art. President-elect Barack Obama seems to be in the process of appointing his most vociferous opponent as secretary of state, almost perfectly following the script of the concluding episodes of The West Wing TV series.

Ah, yes, television. The boob tube. The sexy devil which prevails upon teenage girls to get horny and get pregnant. The purveyor and perpetrator of violence in all its forms, from football to follytix.

Several readers and callers to my TV show have criticized my defense of community media, asserting that television is an optional frill.

No. Television is the only glue holding this country together. The more that it is co-opted by corporate machines, the weaker our nation gets.

Corporate media allowed Dubya to sell his war by repeating his unchecked and uncontradicted lies. Information is money and power.

Thus has been spawned my seemingly neverending campaign to keep at least some portion of media out of the hands of Orwellian terminators.

The real-life deathless, indestructible robot is not a sci-fi character created by scriptwriters. It's a legal fiction called a corporation created by lawyers and given perpetual life by a Frankensteinian U.S. Supreme Court which defined the monster as a person more than a century ago.

Unfettered, non-corporate media are not in the long range profit plan. Hence Charter Communications' attempt to destroy community radio and television in northwestern Nevada.

Without waiting for the Reno City Council to make a settle-or-sue decision this Wednesday, Charter Communications has begun implementing its plan to move northwestern Nevada public, educational and governmental (PEG) access television to the low-audience, high-cost, lightly surfed digital tier.

Sierra Nevada Community Access Television's (SNCAT) developmental community radio station,, would also be seriously wounded in the process.

The boys in the black tower called Reno City Hall must have been caught flat-footed last week when the Charter bandidos made their move.

All this time, Reno councilcritters have labored under the conceit that they were negotiating with the cable monopoly. (Satellite service is still small and very over-priced, discounting slightly from Charter's monopolistic pricing.)

Reno has been dealing on behalf of Sparks and Washoe County by default, as any settlement would apply to them.

Neither of the latter has lifted a finger to protect cable ratepayers.

Banishing community TV to the digital tier is a death sentence.

You will find complete documentation and history at ReSurge.TV.

The Reno City Council is supposed to make a settle-or-sue decision Wednesday.

Apparently the settlement option is no longer available.

Show up and have your say or write or call your federal, state and local officials.

Everybody has a stake in saving our societal glue.

No less than U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has promised to join in legal action. [SPECIAL BULLETIN: Sen. Reid will be Sam Shad's guest on the statewide Nevada Newsmakers TV/Radio/Webcast show on Monday, Nov. 17. Cox cable (Clark County/Las Vegas) lobbyist Steve Schorr will sit on Sam's pundit panels on Nov. 18-19. Click here for the complete broadcast schedule.]

When I served on SNCAT's founding board in 1990-91, Sacramento Access CEO Ron Cooper ventured over the hill to lecture us.

"The message of television is you are inadequate," Cooper said. "If your face, your language, your color do not appear on TV, you are irrelevant."

So sue us: Charter tells Sen. Reid and Reno
Ratepayers group may sue Reno as well as Charter
Daily Sparks Tribune online 11-11-2008
+ Barbwire Special Edition 11-12-2008
Updated 11-14-2008

FCC investigates cable TV pricing
Associated Press 11-4-2008

FCC investigates complaints about moving cable channels and pricing
Orlando Sentinel 11-7-2008


This is important and cross-cuts the entire region far beyond the Reno city limits.

Contact the Sparks City Council and Washoe County commissioners. Carson City residents should rattle new mayor Bob Crowell and the board of supervisors. Ditto with the Douglas County Commission.

You will find complete contact info with the web edition of this column.

Speak now or there may be no vehicle to carry your speech later.

CHARTER'S REVENGE? Nope. Local public access channels 13/213 (Reno), 15/215 (Sparks) and 16/216 (public access) were down for part of Saturday because of a major rewiring project that took several hours.

All should now be operational. Surf Channels16/216 and sooner or later you'll see the very simple spot I produced to rally support at Reno City Hall this Wednesday.

I figured that since cable deregulation has turned into a cartoon, I should use a couple to illustrate the absurdity of all this.

It will be linked to the web edition of this column at Barbwire.US and ReSurge.TV.

Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns...

The devil and the deep blue sea
Charter cable deal and Reno "settlement" offers are all death warrants for community television. Court battle looms closer.

Sparks Tribune / 11-11-2008 + Barbwire special web edition, 11-12-2008

Wisconsin statewide franchise law has not dropped cable prices as promised
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel 11-8-2008

Falling all over ourselves
When will Sparks, Carson City, Washoe and Douglas counties get mad over Charter cable's ripoff?
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-5-2008

Michigan Judge rules for cable ratepayers
Decision holds great importance for Nevada

Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-5-2008

Charter in serious financial trouble
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 10-12-2008

Charter offer deficient
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 9-28-2008

Reno-Sparks NAACP opposes Charter channel switch

Charter negotiates Russian-style: Will accept 100% of everything
Daily Sparks Tribune 9-5-2008

Donate to the cable ratepayer legal defense fund at our PayPal-enabled ReSurge.TV Consumer War Room

Reno city council votes unanimously to sue Charter to keep community TV accessible
Resurge.TV will also file

...and more ammo

The Dean's List

   The Dean of Reno Bloggers could very well be Andrew Barbano, self-described "fighter of public demons," who started putting his "Barbwire" columns online in 1996 and now runs 10 sites.
RENO NEWS & REVIEW, 11-9-2006

The campaign against forcibly-paid newspaper obituaries
And they wonder why the newspaper business is dying?

Phillips, Kevin; Numbers Racket: Why the economy is worse than we know
Harper's Magazine; May 2008; page 43
Phillips has authored numerous books on history and politics over the past 40 years. His most recent, Bad Money: Reckless Finance, Failed Politics and the Global Crisis of American Capitalism, was published by Viking on April 15, 2008.

NAOMI WOLF: Fascist America in 10 Easy Steps
There are some things common to every state that's made the transition to fascism. Author Naomi Wolf argues that all of them are present in America today.
Alternet 5-20-2007

Johnson, Chalmers; REPUBLIC OR EMPIRE? A National Intelligence Estimate on the United States; Harper's magazine; January, 2007. I love it when heavy hitters validate what I've been saying for years in the tiny Sparks Tribune.

Barlett, Donald L. and Steele, James B.; America: What Went Wrong? (1992); America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (1994); America: Who Stole the Dream? (1996) ; Andrews & McMeel/Universal Press Syndicate. For additional comments on the work of the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning team, use the search engine and sweep for "Barlett."

Review of Alex Carey's Taking the Risk Out of Democracy:
Propaganda in the US and Australia

The Orwell Diversion by Alex Carey
Excerpted from the book available below

ORDER Taking the Risk Out of Democracy
Corporate Propaganda versus Freedom and Liberty
By Alex Carey
Edited by Andrew Lohrey
Foreword by Noam Chomsky
University of Illinois Press

     SEE ALSO: Lapham, Lewis H.; Tentacles of Rage: The Republican Propaganda Mill, A Brief History; Harper's Magazine cover article; September, 2004, page 32.

     By one conservative estimate, the corporate right has spent about $3 billion over the past three decades manufacturing public opinion to suit big business goals. Lapham's number covered the early 1970's to the present day. Alex Carey noted that by 1948, anti- New Deal corporate propaganda expenditures had already reached $100 million per year, not adjusted for inflation, for advertising alone. (Carey, ibid; page 79)

     Adjusted for inflation, that 1948 $100 million becomes $801,659,751.04 in 2005 dollars.

Conservatives Help Wal-Mart, and Vice Versa
As Wal-Mart struggles to rebut growing criticism, it has discovered a reliable ally: conservative research groups.
New York Times 9-8-2006; Free registration may be required.

      BARBWIRE: Labor Day '94: People vs. corporate con job, 9-4-94
Chilling forecasts from Alex Carey

      BARBWIRE: The Nevada Republican Party Becomes Communist, 3-30-97
A prescient Plato on the dangers of oligarchy

The sands of time do not cloud the long memories of the sheiks of Araby
Barbwire 9-10-2006

      Rinfret, Pierre A.; Peace is Bullish; Look magazine, 5-31-1966 | U-News | Bulletins + Almanac
Casinos Out of Politics (COP) | Sen. Joe Neal
Guinn Watch | Deciding Factors
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Copyright © 1982-2008 Andrew Barbano

Andrew Barbano is a 40-year Nevadan, editor of and, former chair of the City of Reno's Citizens Cable Compliance Committee and serves as second vice-president, political action chair and webmaster of the Reno-Sparks NAACP.

He hosts live news and talk (775-682-4144) Monday through Friday, 2-4:00 p.m., at Barbwire.TV and Reno-Sparks-Washoe Charter cable channels 16 (for at least the next 90 days) and 216. E-mail As always, his opinions are strictly his own. Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988. Tempus fugit.


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