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Charter digital cable channels 16 & 216 in Reno-Sparks-Washoe

Nevada's new federal education czar
Expanded from the 2-15-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

Save northwestern Nevada community television

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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.

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

As predicted on my TV show last year, Washoe County school superintendent Paul Dugan is getting out of Dodge.

I don't blame him.

My old friend Guy Louis Rocha, a treasured Nevada institution all by himself, recently retired after 28 years as state archivist because he didn't want to see his life's work demolished in one budget-busting legislative session.

Likewise the long-suffering Dugan.

Both have held together their sputtering vehicles like 1953 Chevies in Havana. But now, the tires have been stolen, the cars are up on blocks and spare parts from Washington are not forthcoming.

The Carson City chop shop awaits.

Makes me wonder why Hug High principal Andrew Kelly wants Dugan's job. If he was a cover-your-ass conservative, Mr. Kelly could bask in his glory as the man who led his school off the federal underachievement list and into national prominence.

I only hope that the school district's search committee has the sense to include him in their evaluation of replacements.

I think the legislature will fail as usual to properly fund Nevada education. For once, our bottom-of-the-barrel status will be a good thing.

It will spawn major litigation to force Nevada to raise taxes to pay the tab.

University Chancellor Jim Rogers fired the first shot across the bow last July in the first of his continuing public memos.

"My memoranda are simply trying to encourage the leaders of this State not only to do the wise and prudent thing but to discharge their constitutionally mandated duty before the matter is taken from their hands as is possible through litigation of the type that has already been commenced in 45 other states, successfully in 27. Ten cases are still pending. That serves no one’s interests well," Rogers warned. (The full text of his memo and the accompanying legal research will be linked to the expanded web edition of this column at

Like many of our fellow southern states, Nevada has long experience with federal judges running large parts of our government.

The U.S. District Court has managed the waters of the mucky Truckee River since the fabled 1944 Orr Ditch Decree.

Most people don't know that federal watermaster Garry Stone works for the court, not the executive branch.

I am even willing to give a retro-Reaganaut conservative federal blackrobe the reins of educational power here in the High Desert Outback of the American Dream.

He or she can't do much worse than the shabby record of our governors and lawmakers over the past several decades.

Like the southern conservative he really was, Bill Clinton once gleefully announced that the era of big government was over.

As with so many other things, the hopeless man from Hope was dead wrong.

Let's hear it for big government solutions to a big government problem.

HOW'D WE GET HERE? Our principal industries, mining and gambling, are both extractive and exploitive.

Both express only politically correct cosmetic support for education which evaporates when the question of paying a fair share of taxes is raised.

In 1989, the miners pushed through a constitutional amendment freezing their taxes as a percentage of net proceeds.

Myself, Travus T. Hipp and our talk radio audiences provided the only opposition to placing Hollywood-style accounting into law.

Mining has paid less than a pittance ever since, but stands constitutionally immune from tax increases this year.

Casinos might care less, but not much. In the early 1980's, UNR journalism professor Bourne Morris, then a naïve and newly-transplanted major advertising agency executive, gave an interview to the Reno Gazette-Journal.

She said that she had been astounded when informed by local casino honchos of their lack of interest in economic diversification because they saw it as competition for the low-wage labor pool.

As I said in 1982, "Perhaps it is time to realize that we really don't have a state government here in Nevada and that we've never had one. Nevada's state government is still basically a territorial administration.

"We could probably rescind statehood, go back to territorial status and be better off. We'd probably end up with a better share of our federal tax dollars that way."

We will soon know if Mississippi West is again in the ascendant.

CHILLY CONGRATS. Those of you on my e-mail list got early notice of Friday's march of the unemployed. My personal admiration goes to organizer Daryl Bodick and the dozen-plus diehards who showed up on a freezing morning to march for work.

The local affiliate of the fabled Wobblies union, the Industrial Workers of the World, brought their red and black flags.

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

Charter Communications hires bankruptcy lawyers
MultiChannel News 2-8-2009

Charter misses $74 million payment
Reuters 1-15-2009

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


Local activist Paula McDonough made a "we want jobs" sign and Vince Stocke, president-elect of American Postal Workers Union Local 936, braved wind, snow, sleet and hail as he was trained.

I was there representing Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and wore a UNITE union baseball cap and a jacket from the venerable Alliance for Workers' Rights

This Saturday marks the fourth anniversary of AWR founder Tom Stoneburner's death.

Stoney would have been on the front line Friday, and perhaps he was anyway.

Tom was never one to miss a good union demonstration.

Washoe County Commissioner Kitty Jung showed up and told me how powerless she feels when confronted daily with tales of woe.

The fish are not to blame for the damage caused by the guys running the ocean, I noted.

Bodick, a union carpenter who has been out of work for a year, will be a featured speaker at the annual César Chávez Day celebration on March 31 at Circus Circus.

He plans additional events during warmer weather.

Stay tuned.

FAR EASTERN HEAT. The Elko Daily Free Press, still stuck somewhere in the 18th Century, recently ran a flamingly anti-semitic guest editorial from some local yahoo.

I'll link the offending material and rebuttals to the web edition of this column at All opinions welcome. [UPDATE from the High Desert Advocate]

More soon.

BARBWIRE.TVTomorrow, we air a rerun of a recent program I did with Rudy Viola, president of United Auto Workers Local 2162.

Back live Tuesday.

Tune in, turn on and tell a friend.

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.

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 © 1982-2009 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. As always, his opinions are strictly his own. E-mail

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 digital cable channels 16 and 216. Barbwire by Barbano premiered in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune on Aug. 12, 1988 and has originated in those parts ever since. Tempus fugit.

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