Telecom headlines -- week of 21 July

Gary Handman (
Tue, 22 Jul 1997 14:41:24 -0700 (PDT)

Title: New Service Tracks Web Use
Source: New York Times <>(D4)
Author: John Markoff
Issue: Internet/InfoTech
Description: A second generation of Internet search engines are appearing.
Alexa Internet has started a service that providers surfers with information
about the popularity and location of the pages they view. Free software is
available at <>.

Title: Web Discussion Forums Both Public and Private
Source: New York Times <>(D6)
Author: Laurie Flynn
Issue: Internet Content
Description: Thousands of web sites offer online discussion areas --
affording users a chance to chat on just about any subject from Kathy Lee to
tofu. Many sites even specialize in online discussion. See
<>, <>,
<>, <>,
<>, <>, and

Title: Children's Radio Pioneer Is Challenged by Disney
Source: New York Times <>
Author: Andrea Adelson
Issue: Radio
Description: The Mouse is coming to radio. Disney will be offering 24-hr AM
programming for the 12 & under set and their families. "Although not first
on the dial with a claim on children's ears, broadcasting executives say
Radio Disney gives credence to a broadcasting niche that others have had
limited success exploiting."

Title: TV Ratings: "I" for Inadequate
Source: Wall Street Journal <>(A22)
Author: Newton Minow & Craig LeMay
Issue: V-Chip
Description: Editorial by a former FCC Chairman and a Northwestern
University teacher points out that the public still has a place in the TV
ratings debate. The same law that began the ratings process -- the
Telecommunications Act of 1996 -- also includes a provision that all
broadcasters attach any letters they have received about violent programming
to their applications for license renewal. The letters may not cost the
stations their license, but they send a powerful message to programmers
about the kind of shows the audience wants to see.

Source: Washington Post <> (C6)
Author: John Carmody
Issue: TV Ratings
Description: On Friday, NBC producer Dick Worl took some time to
complain that TV writers have not done their homework and that they
should write about the ratings system issue as a threat to the First
Amendment. He went on to attack Sen. John McCain, who is a leader on
the issue, pointing out the ironic fact that he is "leading the charge
on protecting children from those murderous 30-inch Sonys out there,
when this is a man who voted against the five-day waiting period and
voted against the Brady Bill." McCain countered that "the
agreement...has absolutely nothing to do with gun control and everything
to do with providing parents with information they may or may not choose
to use to determine what programs their children watch." NBC president
Warren Littlefield weighed in on the issue saying that, "This [issue] is
serious. It started, I think, as a little snowball that was rolling
down the hill. And as broadcasters, I think we're looking at a
potential avalanche right now."

Title: Back to Basics For Classroom Computers
Source: Washington Post <> (WashBusiness, 17)
Author: Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Issue: Education Technology
Description: Parents often complain that the computers in other schools
are better, faster, and bake better cookies than the ones that their
children have access to. These same parents, when faced with the
reality of what it would cost to replace "outdated" computers, are
unwilling to pay to give their children the competitive edge that they
complain so much about. One company realized that kids don't need
Pentium processors to get a head start on computer literacy and has
built laptop sized machines that cost about $200. The AlphaSmart Pro can
run for 200 hours on a pair of AA batteries, and can perform basic word
processing functions. Additionally, the computers have the ability to
download and upload text to Apple and IBM-compatible machines.

Source: Broadcasting&Cable <>(p.4)
Author: Steve McClellan
Issue: Ownership
Description: The Sinclair/WB network deal may have "opened the gates," says
a WB station manager. "I don't think there's a group in the country that's
not assessing its own network relationships right now and saying 'wow, wait
until the next [affiliate contract negotiating] go-round.'" The deal largely
reduces the main advantage UPN had over WB -- distribution.

Title: Crusading TV Station Is the City's Daytime Drama
Source: New York Times <>(A4)
Author: Calvin Sims
Issue: International/TV
Description: After airing investigative reports of misuse of power within
the Peruvian government, Frecuencia Latina TV is preparing to be raided by
the military. Already, the station's owner, Baruch Ivcher, has been stripped
of his citizenship.

Title: Time Warner's New York Blackout
Source: New York Times <>(A22)
Author: NYTimes Editorial Staff
Issue: Ownership/Media Mergers
Description: Time Warner's decision not to carry the Fox News Cable station
means that New Yorkers aren't seeing live coverage of the Senate hearings on
campaign finance abuses. Due to bad ratings, CNN and MSNBC are not showing
the hearings. C-SPAN is showing the hearings on tape delay. "If Time Warner
wants to be respected as a company grounded in journalism, it cannot leave
the nation's largest television audience in the dark on a matter as critical
as the Senate hearings." [The editorial does not mention that the only way
for *all* New Yorkers to see the hearings is to air them on a free,
broadcast station.]

Title: Microsoft Takes a Stake in Progressive Networks
Source: New York Times <>(D6)
Author: John Markoff
Issue: Mergers
Description: In hopes of developing a future digital television technical
standard more compatible with computers, Microsoft has made a minority
investment in Progressive Networks -- developer of Real Audio and Real
Video. Progressive Networks was created by ex-Microsoft employee Rob Glaser.

Title: News Corp. in Talks With Time Warner To Place Fox News on New York
Source: Wall Street Journal <>(B6)
Author: Eben Shapiro & Mark Robichaux
Issue: Ownership/Mergers
Description: In a three-way deal to solve the Fox News/Time Warner cable
fiasco, the City of New York will get Rupert Murdoch as mayor, Ted Turner
will head News Corp and Rudolph Giuliani will become a Time Warner Vice
Chairman. Each man had worn out his welcome at his organization. **Or** Fox
News will get a slot on Time Warner freed up by the City which will give
away one of its public access stations. News Corp. will drop an a federal
antitrust suit against Time Warner and Time Warner will drop another suit
against the City. All will be happy -- until Greg Maddux realizes he's
pitching for someone with a Yankee cap on.

Title: Internet Use Is Restricted In Loudoun
Source: Washington Post <> (E1)
Author: Peter Pae and Todd Beamon
Issue: Libraries/First Amendment
Description: Last night, the Loudon County (VA) Library Board voted 6-2
in favor of blocking full Internet access by their patrons. The adopted
policy states that adult patrons must ask librarians to turn off
filtering software if they would like full access, and that children
under 17 yrs. old must have a parent with them if they want full access
to the Web. Many praised the decision as a "common sense" way to
protect children, while others, including the Library Director, decried
the filtering policy saying that parents "should have the right to
decide what is appropriate for their children." According to Judith
Krug, Director of the American Library Association (, the
move is "unusual in that the majority of libraries are backing off" from
using content filters. The ALA advocates parental restriction of their
children's access over the use of screening software.

Title: U.S. Telecom Reform Moves At Snail's Pace
Source: Telecom AM <>
Issue: Competition
Description: There's good news and bad news for advocates of open
competition in the telecommunications market. The good news is that the
FCC will allow Bell Atlantic to merge with Nynex because they agreed to
concessions that will force the companies to stimulate competition in
the market. As a result, their customers may eventually see telephone
rates drop. The bad news is, if you don't live on the East Coast
between New England and North Carolina, you don't have much to look
forward to after the Appeals Court decision to strike
down the FCC's ability to set pricing rules for interconnection charges on
networks. For long-distance carriers to enter the local market they
will now have to battle for fair rates in each state they wish to
provide service in, or will have to make an incredible investment and
build their own network. The FCC has set up a task force to look into
the impediments to competition, but it seems like progress towards
competition will be made slowly, if it comes at all.

Title: Budget process unsettled for broadcasters
Source: Broadcasting&Cable <>(p.10)
Author: Paige Albiniak
Issue: Spectrum/Budget Issues
Description: Broadcast lobbyists are concerned that gains they've made will
be lost when the Budget Committee conference meets next week. Current budget
language calls for the return of spectrum when 95% of households in a market
area "have access" to digital signals. Federal Communications Chairman Reed
Hundt wants that language to be clearer -- and make sure "access" means "the
burden is on the broadcasters to transmit the digital signal, not on the
consumer to receive it." Chairman Hundt points out that the 95% penetration
rate is unrealistic because "telephones have been available for 120 years,
and yet 6% of the population still does not have telephone."