Your Chance to Make Television Better

Gary Handman (
Mon, 3 Jan 2000 10:06:38 -0800 (PST)

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>Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000 06:42:39 -0600
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>From: Digital Voices <kevint@BENTON.ORG>
>Subject: Your Chance to Make Television Better
>Comments: To:
>Digital Voices -- 1/3/2000
>Your Chance to Make Television Better
>One year after the Gore Commission finished its report the Federal
>Communications Commission is finally beginning a proceeding on the public
>interest obligations of digital broadcasters. Remember the Gore Commission
>conducted an exhaustive year-long inquiry to advise the FCC on just what
>the public was supposed to get back for a $70 billion dollar giveaway of
>public airwaves. We at People for Better TV have been calling for a public
>debate since before the first digital license was given away. More than
>one hundred digital licenses later, we welcome this first step. But it is
>only a first step, and a baby step at that.
>But make no mistake, the announced proceeding, a Notice of Inquiry, will
>not necessarily result in guidelines for digital broadcasters. It is not
>that we mind public inquiries into important subjects. There are some
>issues which the Gore Commission and four years of deliberation by policy
>and technical experts have not resolved. But by now we should know how
>the Children's Television Act applies to digital television. We should
>know whether digital broadcasters can send the Playboy Channel over
>pay-per-view digital signals, and sell their subscription list for that
>service to Penthouse magazine. We should know whether digital broadcasters
>should send signals to serve the disabled. We should know whether digital
>broadcasters are required to report on a website how they are serving the
>And while we support the call for voluntary "candidate-centered discourse,"
>the real debate is about much more than free time for political candidates.
> Fundamentally, a determination of the public interest obligations of local
>television broadcasters is not about the needs of politicians, it is about
>the needs of parents and communities.
>We urge the public to participate in these proceedings, and to send a clear
>message for guidelines. You can now do more than just turn off your TV.
>You can begin to set it on the right course for the future. Or we can let
>the future be determined by the same people who brought us all-Monica all
>the time, the new wrestling mania, followed of course by the five-minute
>commercial break. What we see must not be what we get for the $70 billion
>dollar giveaway.
>Mark Lloyd
>National Coordinator, People for Better Television
>Executive Director, Civil Rights Forum
> on Communications Policy
>818 18th Street, NW
>Suite 505
>Washington, D.C. 20006
>(202) 887-0301
>(202) 887-0305 fax
>Digital Voices is a free, online editorial service of the Benton
>Foundation's Communications Policy & Practice program. Views expressed in
>this service are indicative of the author, and are not necessarily the views
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

"Everything wants to become television" (James Ulmer -- Teletheory)