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Charter cable channels 16 and 216 in Reno-Sparks-Washoe

Shut up and work
Expanded from the 12-14-2008 Daily Sparks Tribune
Updated 12-16-2008

Some small minds have a psychotic need to look down on selected others, a few convenient doormats to make them feel important.

When such attitudes come to the workplace, everyone suffers.

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

I got a call last week from somebody wanting to know if a worker has any protection from being fired for speaking Spanish on the job.

No. Nevada is a fire-at-will state. Absent a personal or union contract, a worker may be axed for no reason at all.

"Human resources" (a detestable term that turns people into commodities) consultants advise managers to give no reasons lest employees use the information to take action.

A few years ago, Reno's Eldorado Hotel-Casino tried to implement an English-only rule. Harsh publicity and embarrassing news coverage got them to back down. The policy would even have penalized anyone who responded in anything but English to a guest who had spoken to that worker in another language. I've always wondered if they planned to enforce the program during their annual Italian festival.

It seems that one local boss has now issued English-only orders and that a worker is in danger of being fired because of it. His sin was to speak to a co-worker who understands no English. I would like to see how this person's supervisor supervises in such a situation.

I talked with someone who thinks that the endangered bilingualist should file an action with the U.S. Dept. of Labor and possibly the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which has always been a paper tiger in Nevada.

Stay tuned.

NUGGET CHANGELINGS. A few weeks back, I reported the concerns of some employees at John Ascuaga's Nugget. A new policy was in the offing, turning change and cocktail service into the same task. A caller to my show reported last week that about 10 Nugget workers have now lost their jobs over the issue.

So did they quit or get fired? Someone terminated can more easily collect unemployment benefits than a person who quits for refusing to do two jobs for the price of one.

A properly predatory "human resources" manager can push people to resign so that the company's unemployment insurance premiums are not affected by new claims.

LAW OF THE JUNGLE. usually hires lots of new people at this time of year at its huge Fernley distribution center. I got a call from a regular who's out in the cold this season.

"The orders are just not there," he told me a few days ago.

HAIL MARY. On behalf of my union, Sparks-based Communications Workers of America (CWA) Local 9413, I wrote and distributed a story about a major organizing victory a couple of weeks ago. A group of 540 employees at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center voted by a margin of four to one to bargain as a group.

The election covered election covered a wide range of employees including certified nursing assistants, environmental services staff, food service personnel, monitor techs, phlebotomists, central supply and transport workers, emergency medical technicians, intake reps, orderlies, sterile techs and linen workers.

The Associated Press picked up the story, as did other media with one notable exception: The Reno Gazette-Journal, which has yet to print word one.

I broke the story the same day they fired 61 employees and the paper might have been in a bit of disarray.

The RGJ newsroom has long been understaffed, a situation which has now gone from critical to ridiculous.

The term "beat reporter" now refers to someone very beat at the end of the day from having to do the work formerly done by three or four journalists. Nugget cocktail changelings can understand.

I have sympathy for RGJ human resource execs who had to do the firings. Some had to take major pay cuts, well into five figures in one case, just to keep their jobs.

The RGJ has long been reputed as one of the most profitable papers in the Gannett empire.

Indeed, as flagship of the former Speidel fleet, its moneymaking capacity was purportedly the driving force that led to the Gannett takeover.

I guess its legendary bottom line of 38 percent before taxes just isn't enough anymore.

MARGE HANKS, 1925-2008. Margaret Ann Hanks passed away last Monday in Lake Havasu, Arizona. Longtime Sparks residents remember Marge and her husband, John, as operators of the popular Pauline's Sportswear in the Greenbrae Shopping Center in the 1970s and '80s.

As a longtime employee of Ma Bell, Marge was a 28-year member of CWA and served as a union president in Idaho.

John and I won a lot of awards producing TV spots for Pauline's and other businesses.

My late wife, Betty, was manager of the Hanks' Carson City store when I met her.

Marge was a great lady and a good friend.

Thoughts and condolences may be submitted to the family at

CRUNCH TIME. Charter Communications is proceeding with its plan to assassinate community television in northwestern Nevada this week, perhaps as early as tomorrow. Public, educational and governmental TV are scheduled to move to the lightly-surfed, lower-audience, higher-priced digital tier.

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


Website predicts 2009 Charter Communications bankruptcy
Moody's downgrades Charter on reorganization talk


About one in five ratepayers will lose community service in Sparks, Reno, Carson, Washoe and Douglas.

They will suffer the added indignity of continuing to pay for the stations through the franchise tax on every cable bill.

Charter admits that profit is the motive and plans to use the bandwidth for premium channels.

The long-term effect will be to undercut public support for community TV. Stations have been dropping like flies all over the nation.

As I noted last week, only U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has the clout to ask the Federal Communications Commission to intervene and stop it.

Reid, D-Nev., fought and defeated nationwide telecommunications deregulation in 2005.

His local staff recommends sending him letters and postcards via U.S. Mail. Ask Sen. Reid to fight for the consumer position.

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

Time is tight. I also recommend e-mailing his key staffers, Mary Conelly in Reno ( and Brittany Blanchard in DC ( Here is Reid's website e-mail portal: Sen. Harry Reid

Please act quickly and also consider joining our consumer organization, ReSurge.TV, as we gear up for the next round of this fight.

Be well. Raise hell.

Smoking Guns...

Not even 30 pieces of silver
Reno City Council Signs Community TV Death Warrant

Contact Sen. Harry Reid for help
Sparks Tribune / 11-23-2008

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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