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

Lipstick revisionism and toxic foreign affairs
Expanded from the 2-8-2009 Daily Sparks Tribune

Updated 2-9-2009

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

FULL FRONTAL HILLARY DEPT. Hillary's minions at the State Department ordered my guests from Kyrgyzstan not to talk on my TV show last Thursday.

Three radio executives were slated to go live and take phone calls from the public and media. I made the mistake of being up front with the gestapo.

I told their handler at UNR's Northern Nevada International Center that I wanted their perspectives on the biggest news in the world last week.

Kyrgyzstan President Kurmanbek Bakiyev cut a $2 billion deal with Russian dictator Vladimir Putin to kick the U.S. out of its rented Kyrgyz airbase.

The Russians also lease a nearby air facility. It could be viewed in terms of which playground bully won the turf battle.

It was no contest. Kyrgyzstan is a former Soviet Republic and impoverished compared to its more resource-rich neighbors.

My visitors did inform me of some gripes you don't see in our garden variety media.

They were unaware that State had put words into their mouths that they should shut up.

They asserted that they lived nowhere near the base and were not good sources for my questions about the impacts of the base and the general economy of the country.

There was fear there, although I did find out some interesting things through the government interpreter at our meeting. (State Dept. plants are notorious for editing translations and I don't speak Kyrgyz.)

They informed me that the U.S. military dumps aviation fuel willy-nilly all over their landscape.

Our guys apparently want to land near-dry at the rented airbase. Avgas is extremely carcinogenic and toxic. (Witness the Fallon cancer cluster.)

I'd sell out to the Russians for $2 billion vs. $150 million a year and dumping over pastures, crops and kids.

The visitors complained of U.S. military people living in their own ghettoes, treating locals with arrogance, and of an incident in which a U.S. soldier shot and killed a local man and escaped prosecution.

More than a half-century after Lederer and Burdick wrote The Ugly American, warning of what would happen to us in Vietnam, we continue to make the same damned mistakes.

Turns out that Kyrgyzstan is the only Central Asian nation hosting both U.S. and Russian bases, a slightly uncomfortable position.

They went for the bigger bucks from the more powerful nation in the region, their former liege lord.

You will find the State Department's muzzling statement and other info linked to the web edition of this column.

WEB EXTRA. When the Kyrgyz visitors stopped by my studio for a photo op and to wave to the viewers (the State Dept. didn't ban gestures), they became fascinated by the music I was playing.

I wrote down the title and artists: The British group Chumbawamba doing The Land of Do What You're Told, which may soon be a big hit on the steppes of Central Asia.

I told them that the song certainly applies to the U.S. I hope they take to heart its concluding chant:

   We're going on strike for 12 percent
We're not downhearted yet
   They're filming it all for a reality show
And 12 percent we'll get.

INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZING. It was thus both ironic and appropriate that I sent our visitors home with "Union Yes" lapel pins from Laborers' Union Local 169. Solidarity forever!

MEDIA INCREDIBILITY DEPT. Dubya the Dense and his dunces have been feverishly trying to rewrite history.

FOX Noise boss Rupert Murdoch actually stated last week that "we have never been a company that tolerates facts." [UPDATE: This was misreportage of the word "facts" from a video clip. He actually said "fat." Of course, if he had said "tact," we would have more easily understood.]

KOLO TV-8's Auburn Hutton could use her Friday report on Artown as a demo tape to go to work with Bill O'Reilly et al.

She produced a piece lauding Reno's annual summer entertainment as the driving force in downtown redevelopment, crediting it with all the new businesses and partially-sold condos on the riverfront.

"Reverse back 15 years and downtown Reno was a different place….There was no movie theater, no high-rise condos," she asserted, oblivious to the fact that the Arlington Tower has been there since the 1960s.

"A new festival, called 'Artown' entered the scene," Hutton stated.

"Tourists flocked to the area and locals began spending more time downtown. Businesses noticed, and began staying open later. More businesses moved in...and the arts in Reno were alive."

She let the tail wag the dog. Artown was started by Reno city government to bring people downtown one month a year as a way to "prove" that corporate welfare was producing something.

Sparks now has two and Reno three "redevelopment" districts, which have taken property taxes away from parks, roads, schools, police and fire protection for nebulous returns.

Downtown condos would have come anyway as hotels aged, gambling proliferated elsewhere and the flow of retirees looking for a tax-free state increased.

The construction of both downtown theaters was subsidized by taxpayers and I walked picket lines when they tried to cheat workers out of their wages.

Combined with room taxes skimmed for casino promotion and the recent addition of sales tax anticipation revenue (STAR) bonds, corporate welfare programs in this little valley spiral toward the billions.

I've always supported government funding of the arts, even if it came from the Medicis.

But let's not rewrite history.

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


Artown is the very pretty lipstick applied to a lot of pigs.

PORKY AT THE NUGGET. American Federation of Musicians Local 363 is asking people not to patronize singer Wayne Newton's upcoming shows at John Ascuaga's Nugget.

"As Mr. Newton's travels the country, his non-union 'pick up' orchestras now work for substandard wages and no benefits. This includes the band performing at the Nugget on Feb. 15," states union president John Shipley.

"Newton is on the AFM's blacklist and has been for about four years. Newton owes money to musicians in Las Vegas for rehearsals that were never paid.

"He hasn't wanted to negotiate with Local 369 in Vegas or with International AFM President Tom Lee," Shipley adds.

CORRECTION CONNIPTION. Last week, I had a mystical experience while finishing this column. I termed Sen. John Ensign and Rep. Dean Heller as (gasp!) Democrats.

Some readers thought I was doing it for comic effect, and I hope it provided a few laughs.

Actually, it was pure typographical brain fade, but maybe there was something else at work.

Perhaps by terming Ensign the Retro-veterinarian a Democrat I was karmically wishing President Obama and Sen. Reid a filibuster-proof senate. Now there's a rationalization for a dumbass mistake worthy of the Bush administration.

ROAD TO RUIN. Ensign and his fellow travelers have apparently succeeded in watering down the president's stimulus bill to where it may not work.

Four in ten dollars will go to tax cuts, which do not churn the economy nearly as well as construction jobs.

Know what turns over faster than anything else? Food stamps. One hundred percent instant spending by hungry people.

Of course Ensign and his fatcats tried but failed to let babies starve.

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
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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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