Telecommunications headlines -- week of August 11

Gary Handman (
Fri, 15 Aug 1997 08:47:38 -0700 (PDT)

Title: www.internet.anarchy
Source: New York Times (A38)
Author: NYTimes Editorial Staff
Issue: Internet Content
Description: "The span and the speed of cyberspace make it the perfect
vehicle for sloppy reporting and unsubstantiated theories." A number of
recent high profile episodes -- the Kurt Vonnegut commencement address, the
Drudge Report, Pierre Salinger and TWA flight 800 -- point out that content
is still racing to catch up to technology. Internet writers should start
exercising more self-restraint. Internet users should realize that
everything that crosses their computer screen ain't necessarily so.

Title: TV Networks Face Pressure to Trim Budgets
Source: Wall Street Journal (B1)
Author: Kyle Pope
Issue: Television Economics
Description: Declining viewership, the cost of the transition to digital TV,
and pressure from parent companies are forcing television networks to cut
costs. ABC has fired or retired 200 employees, CBS employees are being told
to prepare for cut backs, and even NBC, the most profitable network in the
country, is facing an "internal quality control" program inherited from
sugar daddy General Electric. "The future is going to be very different,"
says an NBC executive. "This is all about survival." Sports rights and
big-name talent continue to command top dollar, however.

Title: Across U.S., Brush Fires Over Money for the Arts
Source: New York Times (A1)
Author: Judith Dobrzynski
Issue: Arts
Description: "It's the new battleground," says Meg Phee of Americans for the
Arts. The conflict over financing the National Endowment for the Arts has
spilled to local support arts institutions. Opponents are disturbed by the
content of art that receives local public financing. [For more on the arts
see Open Studio: The Arts Online <>]

Title: Freedom Fantasy: IT "Has Failed to Fulfill Its Promise"
Source: Telecom AM < >
Issue: Information Technology
Description: "The productivity gains of the Information Age are just a
myth," says Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley. "There's not a shred of
evidence to show that people are putting out more because of investments in
technology." Roach says a failure to re-design the workplace and educate
workers forms the crux of the problem. For computers to bring sustained
gains in productivity, he explained, they must allow employees to
concentrate more on value-added duties, such as product development,
customer relations, and corporate strategy. That hasn't happened.

Title: Washington Coverage Is Steady But Public Doesn't Seem to Care
Source: Wall Street Journal (B1)
Author: Tatiana Boncompagni
Issue: Television
Description: Nightly news coverage of "Washington news" -- relating to the
White House, government agencies, Congress and the military -- appears to
have held steady since 1990 according to the Center for Media and Public
Affairs, but only 51% of respondents to a Pew Research Center for the People
and the Press poll consider themselves "very and fairly closely interested
in that news. If reduced coverage isn't the reason for declining interest,
what is? The economy, stupid, says Georgetown University professor Diana
Owen. Politics is too distant for most people unless it affects their
pocketbooks. [For more on TV see The Debate On the Future of Television

Title: High-Definition TV Is Dealt a Setback
Source: Wall Street Journal (B5)
Author: Kyle Pope
Issue: Digital TV
Description: ABC and Sinclair Broadcast Group announced that they will not
use digital television capacity to air high-definition television (HDTV)
that provides better pictures and cd-quality sound. Instead they will use
the technology to provide multiple channels. "Our share of viewing will
continue to erode as long as we remain a single channel in an expanding
multichannel marketplace," said the president of Disney's ABC. The network
hopes to tap into the $30 billion annual subscription fee market that is now
dominated by cable and satellite TV. It is also considering marrying the
television to the Internet: "With a click of the remote-control button,
customers will be able to tell us if they want a free sample of a new
headache remedy or wish to test-drive a new car." [For more on the
conversion to digital TV see Picture This: Digital TV and the Future of
Television <>]

Title: Oracle Plans to Integrate TV Programs
With data From the World Wide Web
Source: Wall Street Journal (B7)
Author: Don Clark
Issue: Television/WWW
Description: Oracle will announce plans today to integrate television
programs with information from the World Wide Web. New technology will allow
Web information to be automatically integrated with TV programs using the
vertical blanking interval, "a space between TV signals that can be adapted
for sending data."

Title: Court Upholds Law Covering Pornography
Source: New York Times (A17)
Author: AP
Issue: Internet Content
Description: A Federal judge in San Francisco has upheld an expanded Federal
child pornography law that bans computer-generated sexual images of children
or adults depicted as minors. The judge said that the law protects children
from exploitation without violating freedom of speech. Sex film distributors
and the American Civil Liberties Union opposed the law and may appeal it to
a higher court. Only pictures that are marketed as child pornography are
covered by the law. [CyberTimes also reports on Nerve Magazine
(, A Web Site Where Eros Wears Glasses

Title: A Crime Spree On Network News
Source: Washington Post (D1)
Author: Howard Kurtz
Issue: Television
Description: From 1993 to 1996, the homicide rate in the US dropped by 20%.
On network evening news, however, coverage of murders soared by an average
721%. One out of every 20 network news stories over the four-year period
ending last year was about a murder. These figures were compiled by the
Center for Media and Public Affairs which has studied ABC, CBS and NBC
nightly newscasts from 1990 through 1996. Crime coverage has moved from 6th
to first with 7,448 stories over four years -- 1,449 of which were about
yes, your favorite flying car renter. Says Dan Rather, "The O.J. story
convinced a lot of people that kind of story will put people in front of the
set...I felt the pressure strongly after that. We've changed, and not for
the better, in running stories that we in our journalistic heart of hearts
don't meet the standard to be on network news. We run it because we're
scared to death our competition is going to run it and beat us."

Title: Book Chains' New Role: Soothsayers for Publishers
Source: New York Times (A1)
Author: Doreen Carvajal
Issue: Publishing
Description: Concerned about slowing sales and large book returns,
publishers are now turning to the dominant chains to decide what to publish,
how to title books, and how they should look. "I think all of us recognize
the common interest that we have. It isn't a sacrifice of our individuality
or an imposition on our time. It's necessary to cope with a marketplace that
has changed so dramatically," says the publisher of Random House. But
critics, like small, independent bookstores, say that the large chains may
ultimately dictate production and packaging like Wal-Mart does for=

Title: A Bit of Bill in Every Box
Source: Washington Post (8/10/97) (H1)
Author: Elizabeth Corcoran
Issue: Convergence
Description: Now that Microsoft's has won the computer wars (as signaled by
last week's investment in Apple), CEO Bill Gates is turning his attention to
electronics boxes that are in even more homes than PCs -- televisions an
telephones. "As these instruments are rendered smart -- packed with computer
chips that can store commands and data -- they will need software. Microsoft
wants to crate that software. And to get kids use to seeing Gates so much,
look for "Mr. Bill in a Box" in store this Christmas season (free with
purchase of MS Office)

Title: Cable Chief Tries to Bring Cool Into Disney Children's TV
Source: New York Times (D1)
Author: Lawrie Mifflin
Issue: Children's Television
Description: Starting September 1, broadcast television networks will be
required to air three hours of educational/informational programming for
children. The former head of Nickelodeon, Geraldine Laybourne, has moved to
Disney to handle the ubermouse's children's programming. Disney shows had
been cool with moms, but not so much with kids. Ms. Laybourne has a
reputation of listening to kids, discovering what they like, and giving them
a wide variety of choices. [For more on new children's television
regulations see <>]

Title: Seeking a Word From Their Sponsors
Source: Washington Post
Author: Paul Farhi
Issue: Public Television
Description: Public television needs money. In the past, individual stations
have trampled over each other to find corporate underwriting for shows. Now
PBS, WETA-TV (DC), WNET (New York), KCET (Los Angeles), and WGBH (Boston)
have formed the PBS Sponsorship Group to coordinate the search for corporate
support. Although Congress has approved $250 million annually for public TV
and radio in 1998 and 1999, the money crunch is on because corporate support
has not grown over the past few years. [For more info see

Title: Museums See Images On the Web as Dicey
Source: New York Times (D5)
Author: Geanne Rosenberg
Issue: Old vs New Media/Arts
Description: The rise of the Internet is throwing off another balance: the
mission of museums. On one hand they want to make art available to the
public. On the other, they want to protect the value and integrity of art.
So, museum directors must decide whether or not to post works of art on the
Internet which makes copying so easy. The new medium raises concerns of who
controls art in cyberspace. [For more on the arts online see

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