Telecom Headlines -- week of July 14 (I)

Gary Handman (
Tue, 15 Jul 1997 12:24:38 -0700 (PDT)

Title: TV Ratings Accord Comes Under Fire From Both Flanks
Source: New York Times <>(A1)
Author: Lawrie Mifflin
Issue: V-Chip
Description: "Today, America's parents have won back their living rooms,"
Vice President Al Gore said yesterday in the official announcement of the
new accord on the TV ratings. But will parents use the new system and the
V-Chip technology when they become available? And if they do, will it change
the types of programming that airs and the advertising that supports it?
Hollywood writers, directors and actors are denouncing the new system as a
threat to their creativity and their First Amendment rights. In Washington,
several senators denounced colleagues who signed a letter saying they would
not legislate TV content for three years.

Title: House, 217 to 216, Votes to Replace Arts Agency With Grants to States
Source: New York Times <>(A15)
Author: Jerry Gray
Issue: Arts
Description: The House of Representatives voted to replace the National
Endowment of the Arts with $80 million in block grants to the states. Nearly
$30 million would go to state art commissions; $48 million would go to local
school boards. A House-Senate Conference Committee will decide the NEA's
fate later this summer.

Title: An Unfettered Internet? Keep Dreaming
Source: New York Times <>(A25)
Author: Eli Noam, professor at Columbia University
Issue: Electronic Commerce/Internet Regulation
Description: "These have been heady days in Washington for that marvelous
medium, the Internet," begins the op-ed by Professor Noam. The Supreme Court
struck down the Communications Decency Act and the Clinton Administration
has promised a "hands-off" policy for the medium. But don't expect this
attitude to last long, Noam warns. Most of the Administration's paper urged
foreign powers to keep their hands off when they all have their own reasons
for regulating the Net. And don't expect the "libertarian island" to last
much longer "in a world of jealous competitors and conflicting public

Title: Cyberspace Chat
Source: Washington Post <>(A22)
Author: Editorial Staff
Issue: Internet Content
Description: Many communities that have been running successful chat rooms
are running into problems with keeping parents, students, and teachers from
straying from the discussion of issues and into "freewheeling chatter." The
editorial refers readers to the work
of the American Library Association, which suggests that a simple remedy to
the problem of overloaded circuits is teaching people to use the Internet
properly. ALA's president says, "Technology isn't the problem. The problem
is how you use it." The ALA has begun to weed through the Internet, finding
reliable, easy-to-use, non-privacy threatening, "not overly commercial"
sites for kids. See their work at

US Department of Education Technology Initiatives
For updates on telecom discounts for schools and libraries

The FCC, on its own motion, revised several
technical details of its actions in the Universal Service Report
and Order.

Changes include:

With respect to schools and libraries, the Commission concludes
that an "eligible school or library is not required to comply with
the competitive bidding requirement for any contract for
telecommunications services that it signs after November 8, 1996
and before the competitive bidding system is operational, but only
if that contract covers only services provided to the school or
library before December 31, 1998."

The Commission also concludes that an "eligible school or library
may not receive a federal universal service discount on services provided
to it before January 1, 1998." In addition, the
Commission determined it will "consult the members of the [Federal-State
Joint Board on Universal Service] before adopting any changes
to the discount matrix for schools and libraries."

Title: How NBC Could Gain From Stand On Ratings
Source: New York Times <>(B1)
Author: Lawrie Mifflin
Issue: V-Chip
Description: By not joining the other networks and adding content warnings
in their ratings system, NBC may benefit from the voluntary ban on
legislation of television content and may gain some viewers that are chased
away by S and V ratings on other networks. Hollywood writers, producers,
directors, and actors are praising NBC for its stand as are the American
Civil Liberties Union and a few other public interest groups. Kathryn
Montgomery, president of the Center for Media Education, said, "When people
see NBC is not going along with the rest, it'll be quite evident their
ratings are not satisfactory. And then people will let them know."

Title: Mars Landing Signals Defining Moment for Web Use
Source: New York Times <>
Author: Amy Harmon
Issue: Old vs. New Media
Description: As the assassination of John F. Kennedy was the Defining moment
for television as the nation's "information conduit of choice" and the Gulf
War marked CNN's coming of age, the Mars landing may signal the start of "a
new interactive era in the mass consumption of news," media scholars say.
New York University professor Todd Gitlin says, "More and more people are
going to be diving into these great tidal currents of information, and will
assume that's the behavior they should resort to during an emergency or a
ritual of collective amazement....During the next war, will we have
something more like 'click here for some skeptical views?' on network news?
Or will people put up their own?" Article includes "Coming Into Their Own"
graphic: for newspapers, April 13, 1861 the day after the attack on Fort
Sumter; for radio, December 8, 1941 and President Roosevelt's address to
Congress; for TV November 22, 1963 President Kennedy's assassination; for
cable TV, January 17 the attack on Baghdad; and the Internet July 4, 1997
the Mars landing.

Title: White House Standing Firm On Deadline for TV Switch
Source: New York Times <>(D12)
Author: Deborah Shapley
Issue: Digital TV
Description: "The broadcasters haven't enunciated a reason why seven years
isn't enough for their digital build-out," says a law enforcement official.
But broadcasters have lobbied to add some small print to budget legislation
that would extend their control of two channels of spectrum beyond the 2006
deadline adopted by the Federal Communications Commission. In letters from
the director of the Office of Management and Budget to Congressional budget
leaders, the Clinton Administration is asserting its opposition to any
extension of the 2006 deadline.

Title: Netscape Airs Its Complaints About Software
Source: Wall Street Journal <>(B10)
Author: David Bank
Description: The Netscape Communications Corp. has been complaining to
several Senators that Microsoft is going to use the forthcoming version of
their Web
browser, Internet Explorer, to "lock out rivals and monopolize
distribution of information over the World Wide Web." Netscape claims
that Microsoft will be "tightly linking" Internet Explorer with the
Windows operating system, which would give them an unfair advantage in
promoting their content, and, in turn, give them the further advantage of
getting content providers like Walt Disney and Time Warner to supply
them with programming for the "channels" which will be featured on both
Netscape and Microsoft's new browsers.

Title: Ornstein on obligations
Source: Broadcasting&Cable <>(p.24)
Issue: Digital Television
Description: An interview with the recently named co-chair of the
President's Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital TV
Broadcasters. Mr. Ornstein supports free broadcast time for political
candidates, but is uncertain what other obligations the committee might

Title: Beating the drum for campaign reform
Source: Broadcasting&Cable <>(p.26)
Author: Paige Albiniak
Issue: Free time for candidates
Description: The Congressional Research Service, the research arm of the
Library of Congress, reported last week that "broadcast media spending
(including radio and TV airtime, production costs and consultant fees)
constitutes 27% of campaign budgets in House races, 40-45% in Senate races,
and at least 50% in presidential races." Twenty-two members of Congress have
asked the Federal Communications Commission to investigate free or
reduced-cost broadcast airtime for candidates.

Title: A Microsoft Browser Tied Tighter to Windows 95
Source: New York Times <>(D5)
Author: John Markoff
Issue: Info Tech
Description: "True Web integration" is the promise of Microsoft's Internet
Explorer 4.0, which will be previewed today. The new software is closely
linked to Microsoft's Windows 95 software. Because of the link, the company
faces monopoly charges from competitors such as Netscape: "This is a scheme
that Microsoft has cooked up to tie users in to Internet Explorer. The key
anticompetitive issue is that the user doesn't get to choose. They trick the
user into using Internet Explorer when the user doesn't want to."

Title: Microsoft to Feature 250 Content Channels In New Web browser
Source: Wall Street Journal <>(B14)
Author: Staff Reporter
Issue: Info Tech
Description: 250 channels are coming to your computer. Disney and Time
Warner have won "plum positions" as information channels on Microsoft's new
WWW browser, Internet Explorer 4.0. By choosing a channel and subscribing,
consumers will receive information from sites automatically.

Title: CNN's Last Picture Show
Source: Washington Post <> (D1)
Author: Sharon Waxman
Issue: Journalism
Description: Criticism surrounding the appearance of 13 CNN reporters in
the new Warner Bros film "Contact" has lead the news network to
announce that its journalists would no longer be participating in films.
Many media critics have questioned the move by CNN, which is owned by
Warner Bros. parent company, Time Warner, asserting that journalistic
integrity is compromised when a news division is involved in the promotion
of a commercial venture of its parent company. The film's producer contends
that the use of CNN reporters in the film was merely a
way of adding realism to the story. "If people are watching a movie and
seeing familiar faces it feels more real, more immediate." In a related
story, White House counsel Charles Ruff sent an angry letter to "Contact"
director Robert Zemeckis over the splicing of footage of the President
in the film without prior consent from the White House. Clinton's
statements on the Oklahoma City bombing and the Mars probe were put
together in the movie so that he seemed to be answering questions about
aliens. According to Zemeckis, there was no need to get permission: "The
president works for us. He's in the public domain."

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