Telecom headlines -- week of 7 July (installment 4)

Gary Handman (
Fri, 11 Jul 1997 08:53:16 -0700 (PDT)

In coming weeks, I think I'll try to batch these and post em' at the end
of the week, rather than deluge you with multiple postings...

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000

Title: Groups Strike an Agreement To Add TV Rating Specifics
Source: New York Times
Author: Lawrie Mifflin
Issue: V-Chip
Description: Negotiators for the television industry and family advocacy
groups reached an agreement last night. An expanded television ratings code
will include the letters V for violence, S for sexual content, L for vulgar
language, D for suggestive dialogue, and, on children's programs, FV for
fantasy violence. In the final negotiations, T for tofu and KLGHS for Kathy
Lee Gifford Holiday Special were dropped. Final accord was reached when a
number of members of Congress agreed on a moratorium on
television-programming legislation "for several years." NBC has decided not
to use the new system.

Title: Tie Vote Blocks F.C.C. Inquiry On Liquor Ads
Source: New York Times
Author: John Broder
Issue: Advertising
Description: A vote at the Federal Communications Commission to investigate
hard liquor advertising on television ended in a 2-2 tie. The inquiry would
have examined how many liquor ads are on television, what times they are on,
and how many children have seen them. "How can anyone justify curtailing
this legitimate inquiry?" asked FCC Chairman Reed Hundt. "No one disputes
that the issues are important. Indeed, the commissioners who oppose this
inquiry publicly proclaim that the introduction of hard liquor ads on
broadcast TV are troubling." The inquiry was blocked by Commissioner James
Quello, a former broadcaster, and Commissioner Rachelle Chong whose
re-nomination to the Commission was backed by the broadcasting industry.
They claim the FCC does not have the authority to investigate these ads and
that the FCC's efforts would duplicate those of the Federal trade Commission.

Title: Blah, Blah, Blah
Source: Wall Street Journal <> (A1)
Author: Cynthia Crossen
Issue: Lifestyles!
Description: With talk radio, TV talk shows, and the Internet, 20th
Century Americans have more ways than ever to express their opinions and
fewer reasons to listen. According to an instructor in conversation courses,
talking is seen as dominant and active and listening is considered boring.

Title: Brought to Your by...
Source: Wall Street Journal <> (A14)
Author: Albert R. Gamper Jr.
Issue: Public Television
Description: This op-ed -- by the President of the CIT Group who serves on
the boards of two PBS Affiliates -- argues that former PBS President Larry
Grossman's suggestion for airing commercials on public TV isn't such a bad
idea. Since PBS programming is very good and government support is
shrinking, we've got to find alternatives. "With only 150 companies and
foundations providing support now for public broadcasting, corporate coffers
have hardly been tapped." Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San
Francisco PBS stations have all been experimenting with corporate spots and
viewers have not been up in arms about it.

Title: The Attention Transaction
Source: Washington Post
idx.html> (A19)
Author: George F. Will
Issue: Advertising
Description: In his op-ed, Will refers to the writings of James Twitchell
published in the Wilson Quarterly. Twitchell points out that Americans pay
twice for goods in this country: once with the cash to purchase and again
with our attention to the advertisements for the product. Will challenges
readers to find a time when their attention is not being "rented" -- from
athletes wearing certain brands of shoes, to announcements of what company
underwrote a museum exhibition. The Home Shopping Network and infomercials
may be the way of the future and advertising is "the democracy of the
marketplace." Maybe books will be next to hold advertisements. Twitchell
reminds us that Dr. Spock had to fight Pocket Books to take ads for
cigarettes out of his book.

Title: Good TV, Bad Law in Kansas City
Source: Washington Post
idx.html> (A19)
Author: Richard Cohen
Issue: Cable/Content
Description: In his op-ed, Cohen critiques "John TV" a local government
run cable TV channel in Kansas City that, at the request of a city council
member, broadcasts photos of men around town who have been arrested for
soliciting prostitutes. On the one hand, shame is a good deterrent. On the
other, broadcasting pictures also punishes the man's wife or kids unfairly,
and these men are being punished after they've been arrested, but before
they've been found guilty.

Title: Off the Spectrum
Source: Extra! <>
Author: Robert McChesney, associate professor of journalism and mass
media, U
Issue: Digital TV/Television Regulation
Description: The President's Advisory Committee on Public Service
Obligations, to be appointed this summer, may be the only opportunity for
the public to weigh in on the nature of digital television. "The committee
should hold public hearings around the nation and attempt to determine what
the real technological possibilities are for digital broadcasting." The
public should be able to determine how huge communications corporations --
General Electric (NBC), Westinghouse (CBS), Rupert Murdoch's News Corp
(Fox), and Disney (ABC) -- use our public resource. McChensey believes the
President's Committee should examine 1) providing some spectrum for
nonprofit, noncommercial broadcasters, 2) eliminating commercials during
kid's TV shows, 3) eliminating commercials during news broadcasts, 4) taking
control of news divisions and children's programming out of corporate
hands journalists, and programmers, and 5) taxing TV advertisements.