telecommunications headlines

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Wed, 10 Jan 2001 16:44:16 -0800 (PST)

TELEVISION

VISION OF TV'S FUTURE STILL COMING INTO FOCUS
Issue: Television
The future of TV was on display at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in
Las Vegas this weekend. Popular feature were the hard-disk video recorders,
which can record 15 hours of programming -- giving viewers a taste of the
future of video-on-demand. These players enable viewers to record all of
their favorite programs to watch at their convenience and then hyperspeed
through any commercials. According to columnist Dan Gilmore, this new video
technology raises an important question of control. "As the hardware
industry comes up with more clever gadgets, the purveyors of entertainment
and other data will do their best to thwart consumers' ability to use the
information as they choose," says Gilmore. He fears that in an all-digital
environment, the media industry will be more tempted than ever to offer
everything through a pay-per-view model.
[SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News, AUTHOR: Dan Gillmor]
(http://www0.mercurycenter.com/svtech/columns/front/docs/dg011001.htm)

CC MAY REQUIRE DIGITAL TV TUNERS
Issue: DTV
The Federal Communications Commission might require all new TV sets to
include digital receivers, in a effort to speed up the the sluggish rollout
of digital television. Thursday, the commission will consider a staff
proposal recommending that digital receivers, or tuners, be mandatory in
both high-definition TV sets and today's analog sets. The Consumer
Electronics Association says forcing TV makers to include tuners could add
as much as $1,000 to the price of a set, says spokeswoman Ann Saybolt. But
David Smith, president of Sinclair Broadcast Group, says that once the
tuners are mass-produced, the price increase would be nominal, perhaps less
than $20. Although broadcasters are mandated to start offering digital
programs in the next few years, they have until 2006 to return their analog
channels -- but only if 85% of U.S. households have digital sets by then.
Many experts believe it's unlikely that threshold will be met.
[SOURCE: USAToday (3B), AUTHOR: Paul Davidson]
(http://www.usatoday.com/usatonline/20010109/2973230s.htm)

FCC ADOPTS SEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT ON COMPETITION IN VIDEO MARKETS
Issue: FCC
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted its seventh annual
report on competition in markets for the delivery of video programming. The
report, which will be submitted to Congress in accordance with Section
628(g) of the Communications Act, provides updated information on the status
of competition in markets for the delivery of video programming, discusses
changes that have occurred in the competitive environment over the last
year, and describes barriers to competition that continue to exist.
[SOURCE: FCC]
(http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Cable/News_Releases/2001/nrcb0101.html)

FCC'S LIKELY NEW LEADER SIGNALS HANDS-OFF ATTITUDE ON DIGITAL TV
Issue: DTV
Republican Commissioner Michael Powell, son of secretary of State nominee
Colin Powell, is likely to be the new leader of Federal Communications
Commission. He has praised electronics makers for
their progress on digital-television products, and said he would prefer the
agency not intervene in industry squabbles over the future of TV. But he
hopes the FCC will address some digital-TV disputes, like "must carry" rules
that apply to digital broadcasting. The rules require cable operators to
carry the ordinary, or analog, signals of TV stations; stations want the
rules extended to digital signals. Mr. Powell rejected criticism that the
issue has languished at the FCC, saying that, to a degree, "It's just not
ripe yet." He would prefer industry participants settle the matter and
pointed out variables, such as the capacity of cable systems and upgraded
schedules of TV stations and cable systems, that could be the start of a
compromise.
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (Interactive), AUTHOR: Evan Ramstad]
(http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB978909075245907034.htm)
(requires subscription)

AS SALES OF HDTV'S INCREASE, PRODUCERS EASE PROMOTION
Issue: DTV
Sales of digital television sets have finally begun to gain some steam, even
if such sets remain a tiny fraction of overall TV set sales. Whilw digital
TV sales had increased fivefold from 1999, digital sets still represent less
than 3 percent of all television sales. With the exception of CBS, which has
a full schedule of high-definition programming each night, most broadcasters
are doing nothing of note with their digital channels. As a result, many of
the major TV manufactures are focusing much of their marketing energy on
digital networking of the home, recordable DVD decks and Internet TV's,
among other new products that can be sold without all the problems plaguing
digital television.
[SOURCE: New York Times (C10), AUTHOR: Joel Brinkley]
(http://www.nytimes.com/2001/01/08/business/08HDTV.html)
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