Communications headlines Dec 7-12

Gary Handman (
Fri, 12 Dec 1997 08:45:46 -0800 (PST)

Title: Library Association Alerts Members on AT&T and MCI PlansSource:
Telecom AM<>Issue: Universal
ServiceDescription: The American Library Association (ALA) has sent an
action alertto members to warn against "assaults on the
library/schooltelecommunications discounts" program. "The message appears
to be to blameuniversal service and the school/library discount program
for increases inlong distance rates," ALA wrote. The association said
long distance carriershave not passed reductions in access charges on to
consumers, but now wantto pass on the costs of universal service. ALA
urged members to invitelegislators to their libraries to show how they
plan to use the discountsand to let sales representatives at AT&T and MCI
know they are not happywith their companies' plans to add a line item on
customers' bills to coveruniversal service costs.

Adult Net Users In U.S., Canada Put at 58 Million
Source: Wall Street Journal
<> (A11)
Author: G. Christian Hill
Issue: Internet Demographics
Description: A survey by Nielsen Media Research and CommerceNet, an
electronic commerce trade group, estimates that 58 million adults in the US
and Canada use the Internet. Nielsen's biannual study has consistently been
on the high side of Internet usage and this estimate is the highest ever.
Six months ago, the study estimated 51 million adult users. The 32% annual
growth rate shows a slowing -- past years had seen a doubling of users.
World Wide Web use is up 26% to 48 million users. The study is based on
9,000 interviews and also found that half of the users had been online
within the last 24 hours. 20 to 25% of web users go online every day. A
large group of users still use the Internet just for email or chat groups.

Title: Filtering Companies Assailed For Blocking 'Unpopular' Voices
Source: New York Times/CyberTimes
Author: Carl S. Kaplan
Issue: Internet Regulation/Discrimination
Description: A parent who wants to shield their child from harmful
adult-oriented material can turn to a variety of software filtering products
on the market. While people might agree that the sites these products block
may be harmful to children, some of the products are offering filtering
options that screen-out sites containing non-sexual gay and lesbian content.
That has some people worried. A 43-page report recently issued by the Gay
and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) asserted that companies
offering software filtering products to consumers are pandering to a popular
prejudice against homosexuals in their rush to make the Internet safe for
children, commerce and families. The report, titled "Access Denied," was
released at last week's Internet/Online Summit: Focus on Children. The
upshot of "Access Denied" is that gay men and lesbians may be faced with the
prospect of becoming invisible on a filtered Internet to themselves and
the majority culture.

Title: New Getty Museum Goes Virtual From the Start
Source: New York Times/CyberTimes
Author: Matthew Mirapaul
Issue: Arts
Description: When the Getty Center arts complex opens its doors next
Thursday, visitors to the Digital Lab will be invited to leave - virtually.
The lab is very different from the rest of the museum's collection. It
is a
windowless, cube-shaped room that plays home to 14 computers, all with
high-speed connections to the Internet and to "Adventures in Cyberspace," a
20-minute multimedia presentation developed to steer the user into exploring
the Web. "Their likely starting point will be the 'Surf's Up' section of
the lab's just-launched 'Digital Experience' Web site, a set of
culture-oriented links assembled under such colorful rubrics as 'Awesome
Audio' for music pages and 'Dig This' for archeology sites." When
discussing visitors' reactions to the Digital Lab, David Jensen, program
manager for the Getty Information Institute, said the reaction starts as,
"'I'm in the Getty Museum. What is this thing?' And then the light bulb goes
on. There's a range of culture here. Online culture [is still] culture.
Online culture [is still] culture.
Technology can transport them outside the walls of the Getty to look at
other things that the Getty might not collect." To learn more about the
Getty's Digital Lab check out <>.

** Digital TV **

Title: PIAC Meeting Transcript
Source: NTIA
Issue: Digital TV
Description: The transcript of the second meeting of the Advisory Committee
on Public
Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters is now available
through the PIAC website. [A summary is available from the Benton Foundation
at <>]

Title: Hatfield Returns to FCC as Chief Technologist
Source: Telecom AM
Issue: FCC
Description: "FCC Chairman William Kennard has announced the appointment of
Hatfield, a former FCC staffer and current Boulder-based consultant, as
chief technologist. Hatfield served as chief of the Office of Plans & Policy
in the mid-1970s, and before that held posts in the White House Office of
Telecommunications Policy."

Title: A PhD for the Idiot Box
Source: Washington Post (C13,C15)
Author: Elizabeth Corcoran
Issue: Digital TV
Description: Personal computers and television are becoming "genetically"
related as chips and software find their way into the TV set. These digital
changes will allow the viewer to receive and display a wide amount of
information besides the more traditional picture. At the annual Western
Cable Show, being held in Anaheim, CA this week, one of the main discussions
is centering around just what these digital boxes will look like and who
will make them. [For more on digital TV see

Title: Digital TV Allotments
Source: FCC
Issue: Digital TV
Description: FCC Seeks Comment on Filings Addressing Digital TV Allotments
(MM Docket No. 87-268). Responses Due December 17, 1997. On November 20,
1997, the Association for Maximum Service Broadcasters, Inc. and other
broadcasters (MSTV) submitted an ex parte filing that presents suggestions
for addressing two issues relating to the Table of Allotments for digital
television (DTV) that was adopted in the Sixth Report and Order in this
proceeding. The first of these issues concerns DTV-to-DTV adjacent channel
assignments. The second concerns assignments in the most congested areas of
the country -- the Northeast, Great Lakes region, and California coastal
area. MSTV's filing suggests making 357 changes to the DTV Table in the
continental United States.

Title: President's Advisory Committee Meeting
Source: Benton Foundation
Issue: Digital Television
Description: A summary of Friday's meeting of the Presidential Advisory
Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters.

Title: Public TV Toy Stores Target the Cerebral
Source: Wall Street Journal
<> (B1)
Author: Paulette Thomas
Issue: Public Television
Description: The Store of Knowledge Inc is a for-profit chain that adopts
the identity of the local nonprofit TV station in each market where it
operates. The chain capitalizes on three trends: the goodwill parents feel
toward public TV, parents desire to buy "good-for-you" toys, and public
television's need for new sources of revenue. Local stations promote the
store in return for 1% of the revenue and a piece of equity. Revenues for
the 50 store chain are expected to reach $90 million.

** Digital TV **

Title: Intel plans DTV experiments
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (pg.11)
Author: Richard Tedesco
Issue: Digital TV
Description: Intel plans to use an experimental FCC license to send PBS
signals to personal computers. They hope to learn how various data
broadcasting techniques work with actual broadcast signals, according to
Serge Ruthman, Intel senior staff architect. In its application to use
channels 6, 12, 28 and 62 in Santa Clara, CA, the company cites the
possibility of 3-D broadcasts and interactive education. Intel plans to pull
the PBS signals of KQED(TV) and WETA-TV from a satellite and rebroadcast the
signals to computers on the experimental channels. They also plan to explore
new uses for its Infinite CD platform, which permits users to link Website
content through a CD-ROM.

Title: Set-top scramble in Silicon Valley
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (pg.14)
Author: Price Colman
Issue: Digital TV
Description: Computer companies are scrambling in the final weeks of the
year to lock up their place in cable operators' digital set-top-box plans.
Computer industry rivals Bill Gates and Larry Ellison have been courting
cable industry big guns John Malone and Gerald Levin, but, so far it isn't
clear how their two companies have fared with either operator. Cable execs
say that the key "wrestling match" is over the cost of advanced digital
converters, which PC hardware, software and cable converter manufacturers
are struggling to get down below $300 on average. This hasn't stopped
speculation that there 'll be a Microsoft/Comcast-type deal in which the
computer player somehow finances its cable partner's purchase of set-tops.

Title: Putting a price on digits
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (pg.18)
Issue: Digital TV Rates
Description: FCC officials are hoping to launch a proposal to collect
fees for subscription services that stations offer over their digital TV
channels. The proposal carries three suggestions: base the fees on revenue
that would've been generated in a spectrum auction. Another would base them
on profits that broadcasters reap from subscription services, and the third
would base the fees on gross revenue. The collection of fees is required by
the Telecom Act of 1996.

Title: Old Man Bandwidth
Source: New York Times (D1,D13)
Author: John Markoff
Issue: Internet Technology
Description: Brian Reid, a computer scientist, who heads a team of network
engineers at the Digital Equipment Corporation, believes that instead of the
rivers, railroad tracks and roads that brought about commerce in earlier
times, today's cities will spring up around pipelines that carry large
amounts of computer data. "Bandwidth in the late 1990's is important for
commerce in the same way that railroads were important in the 1890's and
seaports were in the 1790's. It's the way you sell your product," said Mr.
Reid. "Bandwidth is the delivery vehicle by which these companies sell their
goods in the information age." Today his vision is being realized in Palo
Alto, CA, where a combination of public and private investment allowed the
city to complete construction of a $2 million, 15 mile fiber optic ring.
This high-capacity switching point on the Internet is bringing many
companies to the area as they rush to grab a chunk of bandwidth. "Silicon
Valley's initial regional advantage is being reinforced through early and
massive leading edge investments in technological infrastructure," said
Annalee Saxenian, a Univ. of CA at Berkeley professor in the department of
city and regional planning. "Through this process, Silicon Valley will
compound its advantage relative to competing regions, just as the
manufacturing belt did in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Title: 'Browser War' Limits Access To Web Sites
Source: New York Times (D1,D13)
Author: Steve Lohr
Issue: Internet Access
Description: A browsing program, sometimes called "the Internet software
equivalent of a dial tone," may be losing its edge as an intended
technological passport. Due to ongoing competition between Netscape and
Microsoft, a single browser will no longer offer access onto the entire Web.
In a few cases, sites are blacked out completely to one browser. Other
sites state that they can only be accessed if another type of browser is
downloaded. Yet, an even more common problem can be thought of as brownout
where anywhere from 10 to 30 percent of a site will not work properly with
certain browsers. "It will be an increasing problem for Internet users over
the next year or 18 months," said David M. Smith, and analyst for the
Gartner Group, a research firm. To see all of the Web, some experts advise
using both Netscape's Navigator and Microsoft's Explorer on your PC.
Internet analysts and experts predict that the problem will worsen over the
next year or so.

Title: Nixon vs. the nets
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (pg.64)
Author: Chris McConnell
Issue: Media & Politics
Description: Newly released tapes and other Nixon administration records
report initiatives to use pending antitrust litigation as a weapon against
the networks and a plan to elicit favorable coverage from CBS in exchange
for help with the network's troubles with Congress. Nixon aide Charles
Colson wrote a memo in 1971 to White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldemen
saying: "[Former CBS President Frank] Stanton is willing to personally
involve himself in news matters...I think there is a possible gain to us of
some magnitude." Colson wrote this as CBS was facing a House vote to cite
CBS and Stanton for contempt after the network refused to supply lawmakers
with subpoenaed outtakes from its documentary "The Selling of the Pentagon."
Administration memos on the vote suggest that officials hoped to gain more
favorable coverage in exchange for helping CBS avoid the citation.

Title: The Bizarro Universe Gore commission
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (pg.26)
Issue: Public Interest
Description: The Media Institute said it is forming its own group to
study the question of broadcast public interest duties in the digital age.
The lineup: First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere, Thomas Jefferson
Center for the Protection of Free Expression Director Robert O'Neil, and
former RTNDA gen. counsel J. Laurent Scharff to name a few. The Media
Institute said the group will submit comments to the Gore commission and
will also consider the public interest issue on its own.

Title: Intel Shows Software to Run High-Definition TV on PC's
Source: New York Times (C8)
Author: Joel Brinkley
Issue: Digital TV
Description: The Intel Corporation demonstrated new software yesterday that
will enable personal computers to receive digital, high-definition
television signals. Intel's product, developed by Hitachi America Ltd., can
receive any of the 18 formats, including HDTV signals, and can convert that
format for display on computer monitors and TVs. This software could bring
a possible end to a format war that the computer industry has been fighting
against the consumer electronics and broadcasting industries. "Out
objective is to remove barriers between us and the broadcasters," said Ron
Whittier, a senior vice president for Intel. "The format issue was an
unfortunate discussion that sidetracked us from making investments and
getting on with implementation." This Intel-Hitachi software should be
available for retail purchase some time next year.

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