Communications-related Headlines for 2/15/2000

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 15 Feb 2000 10:40:53 -0800 (PST)

>TELEVISION
>
>SPEECH: "ANALOG" VALUES FOR THE DIGITAL AGE: LOCALISM, DIVERSITY, PUBLIC
>OBLIGATION
>Issue: Television
>Assistant Secretary Greg Rohde addressed the National Association of
>Broadcasters State Leadership Conference. There are a number of challenges
>that make the future [of broadcasting] look a little frightening. 1)
>Consolidation. In the last 4 years, the television and radio broadcast
>industries has experienced a dramatic consolidation. There have been 257
>media mergers since the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. 2)
>Television. Between 1995 and 1998, the number of commercial television
>owners dropped 42%. The top 10 television station groups in 1998 controlled
>almost 20% of all the commercial TV stations - and today, the top 25 groups
>control more than one-third of all the TV stations in the country. 3) Radio.
>There has been a 12% drop in the number of radio owners since 1996. Prior to
>the Telecommunications Act, the top 10 owners owned a total of 194 stations.
>Today, the top 10 groups own about 1,400 stations. The top 25 group control
>more than 2,000. The two largest groups are seeking to merge and if that
>occurs, one company will control more than 800 radio stations. There are 12
>commercial radio stations in Billings, Montana. All but 2 religious stations
>are owned by out-of-state entities. And, there are many more local markets
>that have the same experience. One has to ask: what does this mean for
>localism? 4) Conversion to Digital Transmission. I know that all of you are
>mindful of the requirement to convert to digital television transmission by
>the year 2003. While the conversion to digital is critical and I believe
>that we must advance this conversion. I realize that it will be costly.
>Especially for broadcasters in smaller markets. To many broadcasters, the
>costs of converting to digital will exceed the total value of the stations.
>Those operating in sparsely-populated large geographic areas will also have
>to deal with translator stations - further complicating the transition.
>[SOURCE: NTIA]
>(http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/speeches/gregnab21400.htm)
>
>ADVERTISING: EXECUTIVES HOPE INTERACTIVE TV AND CONSUMERS WILL CLICK
>Issue: Advertising/Interactive Television
>A new report by the Myers Group found that 94% of the 500 advertising
>agency, media-buying and planning executives who responded to a survey said
>it is important to explore interactive television advertising. "I've never
>seen the advertising community respond so proactively to new technology,"
>said Jack Myers, the chairman and chief executive of the Myers Group. "In
>the past, they've been somewhat behind the curve in terms of new technology,
>reactive rather than proactive, but with interactive television, they're way
>ahead of the curve." A nascent market, "interactive television" covers
>everything from full-fledged Internet access over television, as with
>Microsoft's Web TV system, to more modest methods for viewers to interact
>with television programming, such as clicking on an icon during a commercial
>to order products.
>[SOURCE: New York Times (C12), AUTHOR: Jane Levere]
>(http://www.nytimes.com/library/financial/columns/021500interactive-adcol.ht
>ml)
>
>LOCAL TELEVISION SERVICES IN UNDERSERVED RURAL AND SMALL MARKETS
>Issue: Television
>NTIA is conducting a public inquiry into providing new opportunities for
>viewers to receive local television services in underserved rural and small
>markets. The scope of the inquiry covers the technological, economic, and
>legal dimensions of the issue. A Federal Register notice
>(www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/ruraltvroundtable/fedreg21400.htm) announcing a
>public roundtable and requesting comments was published on February 14 and
>further information is available
>(www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/ruraltvroundtable).
>[SOURCE: NTIA]
>(http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/press/roundtablepr.htm)
>
>NBC AFFILIATE AGREES TO PAY FOR PROGRAMS
>Issue:Television
>In an unusual twist, Granite Broadcasting Corp. has agreed to pay NBC $362
>million to carry its programming. This is the first time that an affiliate
>has agreed to pay a network for programming. The usual relationship is the
>other way around. In the case of Granite Broadcasting, the station was
>losing its ABC affiliation this July, becoming independent, and facing
>having to spend heavily to buy and create new programming to fill the void.
>NBC was interested in the Granite deal because NBC needed to find a new
>outlet in San Francisco to replace one of its longtime affiliates. Granite
>will carry NBC programming on its San Jose station, which is located 40
>miles outside of San Francisco. Other affiliates are quick to point out that
>this groundbreaking deal should not be seen as a predictor for future
>affiliate and network relationships. Networks have sought for years to end
>the practice of paying affiliates to carry their programming.
>[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (A3), AUTHOR: Joe Flint]
>(http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB950563697669072865.htm)
>
>ANTISMOKING GROUP PUTS STOP TO TV ADS THAT GOT CRITICISM
>Issue:Television
>The American Legacy Foundation, which is behind the largest anti-smoking
>campaign in history, is withdrawing two of its hardest hitting ads after
>they drew criticism from members of the tobacco industry. "We're really
>disappointed in this campaign. We don't think it serves the purpose of
>educating the public on tobacco-related health issues," said Peggy Roberts,
>a spokeswoman for Philip Morris. One of the ads shows body bags piling up
>outside the headquarters of Philip Morris. While NBC and Fox have already
>aired the ads, CBS disclosed that it had turned down the ads, saying that
>their content was "objectionable" and "crossed the line." The ads had been
>submitted to the big four broadcasters prior to receiving approval from
>network censors. American Legacy is funded by the money the tobacco
>companies have paid under a legal settlement with the states.
>[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B8), AUTHOR: Gordon Fairclough and Joe Flint]
>(http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB950576424602210520.htm)
>

Gary Handman
Director
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC

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