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Selling out cheap
Expanded from the 11-23-2008 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 12-7-2008

"Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid." – Goethe

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 great German philosopher also said that we become what we despise.

Under Dubya, this country has become the evil empire we once worked mightily to defeat.

Some people seek public office to do something, others to be something.

Either way, they always think of themselves as protectors of the public good, often while doing the opposite.

Development interests have long controlled all three local governments and still do.

With that as a given, the public every so often entertains the frail and oft-flouted hope that someone will occasionally throw some crumbs to the crowd in the streets.

Alas and alack, the emptiness in our innards will abide and our condition will be betrayed by our lean and hungry look.

The easiest way to address a problem is to ignore it. In our modern society, this means keep it off TV.

Local governments, cooperating fully with Charter Communications, have lately taken mighty steps to do just that.

As I noted last week, when I served on the founding board of Sierra Nevada Community Access Television (SNCAT) 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."

And so, dear readers, I herewith plead the case of one of the most irrelevant among us. Her name is Anita.

She is 26, mildly mentally disabled, and lives about four feet from speeding E. Fourth Street traffic in one of Reno's most Bladerunner weekly motels.

Anita is a regular viewer of my TV show, one of the few diversions in a very difficult life.

I can hear cars and trucks rumble by when she calls.

Motel management supplies basic cable to her room. By calling my show, she was able to get a warm coat for winter and some decent food from another of my viewers, ironically also named Anita.

I gave Anita some leads as to where to apply for the job training she desperately wants to improve her difficult lot in life.

I plan to interview her and put her story on local TV, but after Dec. 15, thanks to the myopic Reno City Council and the morally obtuse Sparks City Council and Washoe County Commission, Anita won’t be able to get my show anymore.

Thanks to an illegal deal made with Charter by Reno Mayor Bob Cashell and three councilcritters last week, the areas' public, educational and governmental (PEG) community television channels will be moved to the higher-priced, lower-audience, hard-to-find digital tier.

The reason: Charter wants more profit, up to $36 million a year using the company's own figures from 2002, unadjusted for inflation.

Voting with Cashell were Vice-Mayor Dave Aiazzi, who castigated SNCAT for not pimping his puerile solution to the public, and Dwight Dortch, who does whatever Cashell and Aiazzi do. (If they allowed proxy voting, he could be absent for the remainder of his term and not be missed. Councilman Dan Gustin recused himself because Charter is a longtime media client. This has not stopped my old friend Dan from doing Charter's bidding before a vote in the past.)

The most shocking sellout was from the one person among all three local governments who usually sides with the Anitas of the world.

Councilmember Jessica Sferrazza provided the deciding vote to kill community TV.

If you want to view her lame justifications or Mr. Aiazzi's typical bile, go to the web edition of this column. (EDITOR'S NOTE: We are converting to several web-compatible formats and should have them uploaded shortly. Thanks for you patience.)

Pierre Hascheff
, the council's senior member, and Sharon Zadra voted against the execution to no avail. My thanks and everlasting gratitude to them.

If you sell cheap, you are cheap.

So advised an old used car salesman of my acquaintance.

In exchange for giving Charter all that new profit potential, Reno gets control of one combined analog tier channel for 10 weeks. The Black Tower will now control what Sparks and the county get to broadcast to all viewers.

On March 1, about one in five cable ratepayers throughout northwestern Nevada will not be able to see their government in action.

And Anita will have one less place to call for help. She can't even take advantage of Charter's phony offer to provide a free digital converter box because that's the decision of motel management.

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


Would you allow Charter to provide digital boxes to your motel or apartment complex knowing that it will cost you $5 per unit starting in a year?

For one low-income senior complex, that's an additional $13,000 annually.

Can you say bait and switch? But that's the deal with the devil Reno made.

The first line of defense is U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who fought and stopped telecommunications deregulation in 2005. Reid is thus hailed as a hero by consumer advocates nationwide.

His local staff recommends sending him letters and postcards via U.S. Mail. (Just like in school, congresscritters grade by weight.)

Ask Sen. Reid to fight for the consumer position:

1. This result was never part of 2007 legislative intent in passing the statewide franchise law.

2. Public, educational and government access TV should remain on the readily available analog tier until all programming is moved to digital in either 2010 or 2013.

3. Go to court with local ratepayers to stop the channel switch until the 2009 legislature can change the law.

Mail to
Sen. Harry Reid
400 S. Virginia St, Suite 902
Reno, NV 89501

Please consider joining ReSurge.TV as we gear up for the next round of this fight.

Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns...

Chainsaw massacre in Carson City
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 12-7-2008

Rise of the machines
Barbwire / Daily Sparks Tribune 11-16-2008

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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