Telecom headlines last coupla weeks

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Wed, 12 Apr 2000 16:36:31 -0700 (PDT)

BIG NEWS ON LITTLE SCREENS
Issue: InfoTech
"You are entering this story at the moment of maximum hype," says one
technology research executive. From America Online and Microsoft to Reuters
and The Associated Press to The New York Times, E.W. Scripps' Knoxville
News-Sentinel and Knight Ridder's MercuryCenter.com, news and information
organizations are bringing their wares to the diminutive screens of portable
electronic devices. The bet is that people are going to grow used to being
able to get up-to-the-minute data on traffic, movies, sports and news while
they are on the go. Media companies see traditional outlets -- TV, radio --
delivering news in the home; the computer in the office; and hand-held
devices for times spent in between.
[SOURCE: New York Times (C1), AUTHOR: Felicity Barringer]
(http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/04/biztech/articles/10palm.html)
See Also:
HAND-HELD SYSTEMS TEMPT NEWS-HUNGRY CITY (London, if you are wondering)
[SOURCE: New York Times (C20), AUTHOR: Andrew Ross Sorkin]
(http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/00/04/biztech/articles/10euro.html)

TV MAKERS TO ROLL OUT DIGITAL-TV SETS EVEN AS STANDARD CHANGE IS CONSIDERED
Issue: Digital Television
Television manufacturers will proceed with their planned release of digital
television sets next year, despite the chance that broadcasters will change
the standard by which digital television signals will be transmitted.
Broadcasters lobbied the Advanced Television Systems Committee to consider a
modification, in the standard, saying the existing digital-signal technique
can't be picked up in some urban areas. Eight large manufacturers of
televisions believe the likelihood of such a change is small enough that
they are willing to take the risk and move forward with their rollout.
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B2), AUTHOR: Evan Ramstad]
(http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB955314658165711397.htm)

BROADCASTERS SEE A DIGITAL DETENTE BETWEEN PC, TV
Issue: Digital TV
Industry experts from both broadcasting and technology are now saying that
broadcast television and the Internet can exist simultaneously. Broadcasters
were once worried that the two media delivering content to divergent
audiences, would fragment the audience. Now they see potential for
co-existence among the two media that will ultimately boost their viewership
and advertising revenue. The concerns that the two media would compete for
the same audience has changed to enthusiasm over delivering content to
highly targeted viewers in the audience. "Fragmentation? Bring it on,"
declared Sumner Redstone, chairman of media giant Viacom Inc. In the past
years industry members argued over whether movies would be streamed through
to PCs or broadcast to TVs. Additionally, TV executives blamed the Internet
for lower ratings. But, now both sides see new video streaming on the
Internet, personal video recorders, two-way TV software, and digital set-top
boxes as changing the audience/broadcaster dynamic entirely.
[SOURCE: San Jose Mercury, AUTHOR: Bob Tourtellotte]
(http://www.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/internet/docs/415715l.htm)

KENNARD BLASTS BROADCASTER OVER DIGITAL TV
Issue: Digital TV/Radio
FCC Chairman William Kennard "blasted" the broadcasting industry for not
fully embracing the conversion to digital television, fighting Congress on
Low-power FM radio and not doing enough public service. Speaking at the
National Association of Broadcasters annual convention in Las Vegas, the
chairman said he was frustrated with the industry. Kennard told the audience
that the switch to digital televisions would happen "as sure as day follows
night." While Kennard did praise the industry's adapting new technologies,
the high costs of converting TV stations to carry high-definition and
digital programming has been a particular sticking point for the industry.
NAB President Edward Fritts took issue with Kennard's remarks. Broadcasters
should be worried about "investing more than the asset value of their
stations" to convert to digital, if the FCC is not going to ensure that the
cable boxes will be able to carry the new signals, he said. Fritts also took
issue with Kennard's commenting that the NAB study showing $8.1 billion
spent on public-interest obligations was "interesting" but did not answer if
there were public needs not being served.
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B4), AUTHOR: Joe Flint]
(http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB955488599367456353.htm)

VULGAR CONTENT ON TV RISES, DESPITE INDUSTRY VOWS, V-CHIP
Issue: Content
[EDITORIAL] Two years ago, broadcasters were touting the V-chip, combined
with new program ratings, as the answer to parents' outrage over television
sex and violence. In those two years neither the V-chip nor the broadcasters
have lived up to their promise. Three major networks have failed to promote
the V-chip's use through public service spots. Since Jan. 1, ABC, NBC and
Fox combined have shown the spots only five times, according to Federal
Communications Commissioner Gloria Tristani. The National Association of
Broadcasters defends itself by saying the V-chip has filtered into enough
homes through new television set purchases. But there's evidence that the
broadcasters have not been "willing to wait before ratcheting up the
raunchiness of their programs." The Parents Television Council (PTC), which
looked at four weeks of programming last fall in the 8 p.m.-11 p.m. time
slot, totaled up 1,173 vulgarities (nearly five per hour) on six networks. The
rate is five times higher than in 1989. While "hell" and "damn" are among
that count, the group also found prime-time examples of "bastard," "bitch"
and other strong language. The industry bought into the rating and V-chip
system and then promised FCC that it would help educate the public. Instead,
broadcasters have turned up the dial on sex and foul language.
[SOURCE: USA Today (28A), AUTHOR: USA Today Editorial Staff]
(http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20000412/2137027s.htm)

BUMPY ROAD SLOWS DIGITAL TV ROLLOUT
Issue: Digital TV
The road ahead for digital television is going to be bumpy. TV makers are
claiming more content in the high-definition format must be created by
broadcasters. Broadcasters are saying that manufacturers must develop better
digital TVs and make them compatible with cable boxes. Meanwhile the FCC is
pressuring TV set makers and cable companies to resolve differences over how
to make digital TV sets compatible with cable boxes. The talk of changing
standards is making everyone jumpy. The unresolved cable issue is
significant. First more than two-thirds of Americans get their TV signals
via cable. If that weren't enough, customers who buy digital TV sets, now
are getting only slightly better picture because the cable box can't
communicate with the set. On top of that sundae of issues add the sprinkles
and cherries of unanswered questions about labeling devices telling
consumers whether their digital set connects to other digital appliances,
such as VCRs and copy protection technologies. The FCC is expected on
Thursday to begin devising rules on those matters if the industries can't
work it out themselves.
[SOURCE: San Jose Mercury, AUTHOR: Kalpana Srinivasan, Associated Press]
(http://www.mercurycenter.com/svtech/news/breaking/ap/docs/411090l.htm)

DTV: GETTING OVER THE HURDLES
Issue: Digital Television
Remarks by Assistant Secretary Rohde at the annual meeting of the
Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV), April 10, 2000. "The term
"conversion" has its origins in a Greek word which means "to repent" or to
"have a new outlook." The conversion to digital for the television industry
is creating a whole new perspective for television. While there are some
constants - such as the unquestionable value of local news and information
and the need for that to be free and accessible to all citizens in our
society - the digital era opens up new avenues to serve the needs of local
communities."
[SOURCE: NTIA]
(http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/speeches/lv41000.htm)

EUROPE'S 'REALITY' TV: CHAINS AND BIG BROTHER
Issue: Television
Another article on the hottest new genre in international television:
reality TV. CBS plans to air a version of a European show called Big Brother
in which five men and five women are sealed into a heavily-microphoned and
camera-laden home for 100 days. Viewers vote to kick some of the contestants
out until just one winner remains. The shows creator thinks he has 20-25
similar formats that could work in the US. "My explanation is that our
everyday life has become very boring and nondramatic," said Jens Jessen,
chief culture editor of Die Zeit, the German newsweekly. "People are missing
the real life in their lives, so they want a substitute life."
[SOURCE: New York Times (A4), AUTHOR: Edmund Andrews]
(http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/arts/europe-tv.html)

WITH EYES ON CABLE, NETWORK PERMIT RACIER PLOTS, UNPRINTABLE DIALOGUE
Issue: Television
Network content is taking a racier turn inspired partly by the runaway
successes and of HBO's series "The Sopranos" and "Sex and the City." The
premiere of ABC's "Wonderland" depicted a pregnant woman stabbed in the
stomach, "Falcone" depicted a knifing after a sex scene and UPN, etc. The
broadcast networks are loosening guidelines on language and violence for
more "realism." "Absolutely," says CBS TV's president and chief executive,
Leslie Moonves, when asked if HBO is influencing the broadcast networks.
Televised events ranging from the Senate's hearings on the confirmation of
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to the Clinton-Lewinsky has exposed
network audiences to decidedly graphic descriptions of sexual acts. Despite
the relaxing rules, some boundaries are still too sensitive to cross. Peter
Berg, the creator of ABC's "Wonderland", says the networks are still fairly
conservative on depicting sex. Orgasmic sounds and "moving hips" are bad, he
says.
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B1), AUTHOR: Joe Flint]
(http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB955056883972597028.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)