Civil Rights On Demand

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After talks with a group identified as "35 civil rights leaders," Verizon says it will add a "community studio" feature to its FiOS video service.

The studio will consist of a library of on-demand public interest and civil rights content. That will be in addition to the public, educational and goverment channels FiOS already provides per its franchise agreements with local communities.

Among the groups that will get to put content on the channel are the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, American Association for People with Disabilities, Black Leadership Forum, and U.S. Distance Learning Association.

TVN, Verizon's VOD provider, will supply encoding and distribution for the content, which won't cost the civil rights groups anything.

Telcos have gained support from some minority groups for their efforts to secure national franchises in competition to cable. Those groups are looking for help lowering monthly cable bills, but some have also expressed concern about insuring that new video entrants do not bypass poorer neighborhoods where there is less return on investment (so-called "redlining.")

"The Community Studio Project is a great idea and the National Hispanic Media Coalition pledges its support in making it the success it deserves to be," said coalition President Alex Nogales.

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