Communications headlines (week of Oct 27th)

Gary Handman (
Mon, 3 Nov 1997 08:56:40 -0800 (PST)

** Television **

Title: As the Focus Shifts, the Big Picture Brightens at MSNBC
Source: Wall Street Journal
<> (B1)
Author: Kyle Pope
Issue: Cable Content
Description: MSNBC is still losing money, but analysts believe it is
becoming a valuable asset for partners General Electric/NBC and Microsoft.
The cable news network enjoyed increased ratings -- as did other news
outlets -- when viewers tuned in for info on Princess Diana, but it has done
a better job of retaining those viewers than its counterparts. The network
has also changed focus -- shows on computers and technology have been
canceled or scaled back -- replaced with celebrity features and culture
stories. Average prime-time ratings for the Big Three of cable news: Fox
News 24,000, MSNBC 99,000, and CNN 766,000.

Title: Satellite Broadcasters Face Higher Programming Fees
Source: New York Times (D10)
Author: Bloomburg News
Issue: Television
Description: Under a ruling issued by the United States Copyright Office
yesterday, the rates that satellite broadcast companies pay to transmit
television signals will quadruple starting January 1. The rate hike will
benefit owners of tv programming at the expense of direct broadcast
satellite (D.B.S.) companies. This decision puts D.B.S. companies at a
disadvantage because cable rivals pay lower rates. "The decision defies
common sense," said Ken Johnson, a spokesman for W.J. (Billy) Tauzin (R-LA)
who is chairman of the House subcommittee on telecommunications. "It will
force consumers to pay dramatically higher rates for satellite services, and
at the same time slow down competition in the marketplace." The Satellite
Broadcasting Communications Association will ask the U.S. Copyright Office
to delay the implementation of their decision while it challenges the ruling
in court.

Title: Broadcasting and the First Amendment
Source: FCC
Author: James Quello
Issue: Broadcasting/First Amendment
Description: "Dean of Communications, Jim Spaniolo, suggested that you might
be interested in my viewpoint on that contentious and pervasive subject,
'Broadcasting and the First Amendment.' My principal views were articulated
in a speech titled, 'The Reeding of the First Amendment,' which received
considerable press coverage. The speech presented opposition arguments to
Chairman Reed Hundt's pro-regulatory viewpoints, artfully expounded in
several of his well-structured speeches. Areas of contention that need
clarification include: Should broadcast spectrum be auctioned? Is allocating
digital spectrum to broadcasting really 'the biggest give-away in history?'
Should the allocation of digital spectrum to broadcasters be accompanied by
additional quantifiable public interest obligations?"

** Online Services **

Title: AOL to Raise the Curtain On Entertainment Asylum
Source: Washington Business (WashTech, Oct. 27, 1997)>
Author: Rajiv Chandrasekaran
Issue: Internet: Sales and Services
Description: AOL plans to unveil a splashy online site about the
entertainment industry that will be available on AOL and the World Wide Web.
"Entertainment Asylum" will feature reviews about movies, TV shows, music,
chat rooms, and online games. The site represents AOL's effort to tap
into a
much larger electronic community. Ted Leonsis, the president of the AOL
Studios division, said, "This is an opportunity for AOL to truly we can go for 100% of the market."


itle: N.Y. Times Online Ads: Custom Service
Source: Washington Post (C1) (10/27/97)
Author: Howard Kurtz
Issue: Journalism/Advertising
Description: The New York Times is involved in an extraordinary marketing
effort with corporate America. Every time a reader accesses the NYTimes
Internet site, for a fee, advertisers can find out your income, age, Zip
code, credit card habits and even what kind of computer you use. These
disclosures allow advertisers to target their message to a more specific
demographic base. The NYTimes can provide marketers with this information
because when subscribers sign up for the paper's Web site they are required
to register and complete a questionnaire. Martin Nisenholtz, president of
New York Times Electronic Media, calls this "the largest and most
comprehensive" such effort on the Web. He dismisses privacy concerns by
saying, "We don't know who you are. We don't collect your name or telephone
number. We do collect your email address, but we don't sell that.
Occasionally we send out promotional New York Times information messages."
This new technology will possibly replace the pollsters and focus groups
hat newspapers use today to determine who is reading what. With the
ability to find out exactly what the majority is reading, there is concern
that low-rating subjects might be altogether banished.

Title: The News Business
Source: Washington Post (A25, Oct. 27, 1997)>
Author: Meg Greenfield
Issue: Journalism
Description: There is a feeling among many journalists of melancholy over
what has happened to onetime serious news organizations that have seemed to
have abandoned coverage of serious news for trivia, sensationalism, and
embarrassing sexual revelations. Greenfield contends that real interesting
news is as available and accessible as it ever was, but we're often looking
in the wrong place. The evidence of public lack of interest really lies in
how journalists present a certain issue. If it's made relatable to the
audience at large, without underestimating them, then there would be more
interest in these issues. Another point made was the fact that, despite the
denials, there's a tendency among the media to think of the public as not
quite ready for or up to the seriousness of the issues themselves, and thus
are in need of melodramatic intros to capture their attention.

** Lifestyles! **

Title: With E-Mail, Absence Makes Families Fonder
Source: Washington Post (A1, Oct. 27, 1997)>
Author: Jacqueline L. Salmon
Issue: Education Technology
Description: Parents who send a son or daughter off to college know about
the availability of e-mail on campus. What they don't expect is that their
children will become frequent e-mail correspondents. E-mail has become a
different medium, a tool for spontaneous, candid, 24-hour-a-day exchanges
between parent and child that has transformed the college experience for
both of them. More than 7 million of the nation's 9 million students use
e-mail regularly, according to IDC/Link, a N.Y.-based research firm.

** Infrastructure **

Title: Washington Hears Testimonials On Program to Connect the Masses
Source: New York Times/ CyberTimes
Author: Jeri Clausing
Issue: Infrastructure
Description: "Networks for the People," a conference focusing on bringing
the information superhighway to all of America, was held yesterday in
Washington, DC. The conference was hosted by the Department of Commerce's
National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Award
winners showcased and shared experiences about how they have used technology
to improve lives and their communities through projects that had been
financed by the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance
Program (TIIAP), which was initiated by the Clinton Administration.
Although there are several technology grants offered by the federal
government, Larry
Irving, assistant Commerce Secretary and the director of NTIA, said that the
TIIAP Program has become the most competitive because it includes a
number of
disciplines - education, law enforcement, health and welfare. Irving
added, "It's not about what people in Washington think is important, it's
communities need."

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