Telecommunications headlines -- week of August 18th

Gary Handman (
Fri, 22 Aug 1997 11:19:17 -0700 (PDT)

Title: A National Speech Code From The EEOC
Source: Washington Post (A23)
Author: Eugene Volokh (Op-Ed)
Issue: First Amendment
Description: The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed a
lawsuit that proposes to create a "nationwide speech code" which would
make it illegal to say things in the workplace that are "severe or
pervasive" enough to create a "hostile or offensive" environment.
"Disseminating derogatory electronic messages regarding 'ebonics'" to
your co-workers was specifically prohibited in the text of the suit.
The author of this op-ed, a teacher of free-speech law at
UCLA, objects: "Private employers, like private newspaper publishers or
private homeowners are not bound by the First Amendment and may thus
restrict what is said on their property. But the United States
government, which is under a constitutional obligation not to abridge
'the freedom of speech,' can't go to court to insist on 'eradication' of
political speech that it thinks is reprehensible."

TV News

Title: Of 14 New Cable Channels, Arts And Movies Make the Cut, Homes and
Gardens Do Not
Source: New York Times (A25)
Author: Lawrie Mifflin
Issue: Cable
Description: Time Warner Cable of New York City announced yesterday the
first additions to the city's cable system since 1992. There are 11 new
channels for basic service and three new "premium" movie channels. Time
Warner is in the midst of a five-year, $400 million upgrade for its
fiber cable system. The choice of channels was based on a 100,000 customer
survey. "We didn't use channel names in the survey, we used genres, to
try to keep the research pure and not let those who had the largest
advertising budgets carry the day," stated Barry Rosenblum, President of
Time Warner
Cable of New York City.

Title: How to Get to (China's) Sesame Street
Source: Wall Street Journal
Author: Lily Tung
Issue: Children's Television, International Television
Description: Shanghai Television has decided that the Sesame Street
format won't corrupt Chinese children and has partnered with
Children's Television Workshop to adapt this educational children's
tv program to "Zhima Jie". "Da Niao" (Big Bird) will teach children
their Chinese characters, helped along by a new set of Jim Henson
Production "muppets" including a blue pig and a red monster girl.
Original muppet characters from Sesame Street archival footage will
make guest appearances. General Electric, the show's primary
sponsor, is contributing $3 million over a 3-year period.

Title: HDTV Falling Out of Favor
Source: Broadcasting&Cable <>(p.4)
Author: John Higgins
Issue: Digital TV
Description: "This is a giant game of five-way chicken going on here," says
media analyst Tom Wolzien speaking of the HDTV vs SDTV debate. "Nobody's got
the model yet. I think it's going take a year for this to shake out." ABC
has announced that it is more interested in multiple standard definition
channels (SDTV) than in one prettier HDTV signal. (And if you had ESPN and
Disney programming to fill the extra stations, wouldn't you, too?) Fox and
NBC seem to be leading to a SDTV-HDTV mix and CBS seems the only network
interested going with all HDTV all the time. (But if you had a hunk like Dan
Rather to show off, wouldn't you?)

Title: A Gulf Develops Among Broadcasters on Programming Pledge
Source: New York Times (D1)
Author: Joel Brinkley
Issue: Digital TV
Description: Some broadcasters are going back on their pledge to air
high-definition TV (HDTV) on their second, "digital" license. The president
of ABC said last week, that the network is more interested in airing several
subscription channels than one HDTV program. CBS and NBC say they will show
some HDTV programming. But just a few months ago, ABC wrote to the FCC
pleading "The only way for the Commission to assure that enough HDTV
programs are in fact offered is for the Commission to require each
broadcaster to offer a minimum number of hours of HDTV." (This in the age of
de-regulation). [For more info see

Title: In TV's Dull Summer Days, Plots Take Wing on the Net
Source: New York Times (A1)
Author: Amy Harmon
Issue: Old vs New Media
Description: Summer couch potatoes may find it maddening to wait for their
favorite shows to start their new seasons, but if they visit "fanzine" type
websites, they can read new storylines offered by other fans -- or even
write or submit their own. This "reflects the power of the Internet as a
grassroots publishing platform, making every viewer a potential
contributor." See Fanfic Resources

Title: TV finds more room for gays
Source: Broadcasting&Cable <>(p.27)
Author: Lynette Rice
Issue: Television Content/Minorities
Description: The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) reports
that the 1997-98 television season will be a banner year for gay roles.
Thirty gay, lesbian and bisexual characters will appear in prime time
broadcast TV shows. "This historic number of characters signals America's
increasing appreciation of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community as part
of their own lives," GLAAD says. On the other hand, Morality in Media says
the its just another sign in the trend of "turning over the public airwaves
to be little more than an instrument of propaganda to promote an agenda.
It's purposely intended to change public attitudes about homosexuality."

Internet News

Title: Netscape to Offer New Internet Software In Bid to Head Off
Inroads by Microsoft
Source: Wall Street Journal <>
Author: Nick Wingfield
Issue: Internet Business
Description: Netscape has changed course and decided to introduce a
stand-alone version of its new web browser. In its ongoing battle with
industry giant Microsoft the company had changed its tactics this year,
developing a "combination program," called Communicator, which included
its Navigator browser, e-mail, and other "groupware" functions that
would facilitate worker collaboration over networks. The new strategy,
which was developed to grab a larger share of the corporate software
market, put Netscape in competition with allies like IBM and Novell.
According to John McCarthy, and analyst at the Forrester Research
firm, the revised strategy should help appease the corporate customers
who disliked Communicator. Netscape's new Navigator 4.0 will include
Netcaster, which will provide news "using broadcast style techniques," a
scheduling program called Calendar express, and a simplified version of
Netscape's current e-mail program.

Title: Netscape Changes Course, Offers Browser Alone
Source: Washington Post (C1)
Author: Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Issue: Online Services
Description: Netscape decided yesterday to sell their new Internet
browser, Navigator 4.0, by itself after negative response to its
packaging of the browser in the software package that it called
Communicator. Netscape was selling the Communicator package for $59
while rival Microsoft was giving its browser away for free. Some
analysts have questioned whether Netscape has gone far enough to appease
corporate customers, who will still have to pay $39 dollars in order to
get Navigator 4.0. Netscape concedes that it's more difficult, but that
their customers understand that Internet browsers are no exception to
the adage, "You get what you pay for."

Educational Technology

Title: Wiring and Learning
Source: Washington Post (A19)
Author: WP Editorial Staff
Issue: Education Technology
Description: This editorial revisits the oft asked question "Does Ed
Tech work?" It sites a study published in the journal "Science," which
looked at how people develop motor skills. Apparently, motor skills
"consolidate" in your brain in the six hours after you first learn them,
leading some to believe that if you try to learn something else during
that time period, the consolidation will be impaired. The study doesn't
really draw these conclusions but one of its authors said that it might
be true. This intellectual roller coaster ride concludes with the warning
that "the search for great new ways to start kids off with computers"
should proceed with some respect for the mystery that is our brains.

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