Telecom headlines -- Week of 18/25 Jan

Gary Handman (
Mon, 26 Jan 1998 11:55:58 -0800 (PST)

Title: Digest pulls back from TV strategy
Source: Current: The Public Telecommunications Newspaper
<> (p.1) 1.19.98
Author: Karen Everhart Bedford
Issue: Public Television
Description: Reader's Digest Association (RDA) is backing away from a
venture with public television as the company changes direction under new
management. While the partnership lasted it produced "The Living Edens"
"America in the Forties," shows that will air as planned. RDA had hoped to
recoup investments in PBS with mail-order sales of videocassettes and
related books. PBS planned to boost National Program Service income by 50%
between 1997 and 2001 and much of that relied on a $15 million per year
investment from RDA -- although a PBS executive said that figure was never
set in stone.

Title: Sex survey finds PTV viewers do it more often
Source: Current: The Public Telecommunications Newspaper
<> (p.4) 1.19.98
Issue: Lifestyles!
Description: A study in the latest American Demographics brings new
to the phrase "If PBS doesn't do it, who will?" The study finds that PBS
viewers have more sex than people who watch the networks. The researchers
commented: "Who would have thought that National Geographic specials or
Burns' history of baseball could get people in the mood?" The study is
available at
[Yeah, like we could have made this one up]

Title: Bells' Latest Effort to Offer Fast Access To the Internet Shows
Source: Wall Street Journal (B6)
Author: Stephanie N. Mehta
Issue: Infrastructure
Description: The Baby Bells are promising easy, super-fast access to the
Internet again. But this time the Bells and GTE are teaming up with heavy
hitters in the computer industry to tout ADSL, or asymmetrical digital
subscriber line, which promises to let consumers zip along the information
superhighway and download data at speeds of 1.5 million bits per second.
Trouble is, the Bells don't have a stellar track record selling such
services. Consumers have complained of long waits for delivery, high
and service problems. The Bells may get it right this time, though. The
stakes are higher, thanks to the cable companies' rapid entry into the
high-speed access business. And the version of ADSL favored by the
industry is relatively easy for the Bells to deploy: it works over
copper wires, and technicians don't have to install special lines at the
customer's home.

Title: Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance
Source: NTIA
Issue: Infrastructure
Description: NTIA has announced the 1998 round of the Telecommunications
Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP)
<>. For fiscal year 1998,
approximately $17 million in grant funds will be awarded. The deadline for
submitting applications is March 12, 1998. On January 15, NTIA will hold a
short public briefing to introduce the 1998 TIIAP competition. NTIA will
also hold a series of regional "Outreach Workshops and Partnering Events"

Title: Private Group Warns of U.S. Internet Registry Plans
Source: New York Times/CyberTimes
Author: Jeri Clausing
Issue: Internet Domain
Description: Members of a private group trying to add new domains to the
Internet said at a news conference yesterday that the government's
to delay the group's plan is creating chaos on the Internet and threatens
derail competition. The group, which has insisted in the past that it will
add the new domains
with or without the government's approval, conceded that they will have to
put their plan on hold if Ira C. Magaziner, Clinton's Internet Czar,
finalizes the recommendation he has been discussing this week. The plan
Magaziner has verbally floated would allow only "one of the seven new
top-level domains to be added immediately and would extend Network
exclusive rights over the coveted ".com," ".net," and ".org" domains until
private body can be put in place to control all the Internet domains and
addresses." Magaziner's plan is expected to be released any day. "Whatever
he does, if he interjects himself by making micromanagement decisions, he
has now preserved the monopoly because the process the U.S. government
have to go through is so long it will last two and half years," said Don
Heath, president of Internet Society. Any delay will leave 88 companies,
that paid $10,000 each to become registrars of the seven new domains, in
limbo. "What we will see is NSI using its monopoly to crush companies like
my own," said Ivan Pope of the British company NetNames, a member of the
Council of Registrars. "They will delay this as long as possible."

Title: Moonves: Sweeps stunting backfires
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (p.34)
Author: Steve McClellan
Issue: Television Economics
Description: Delivering the keynote speech at a convention of television
programming executives last week, CBS Entertainment President Leslie
said that if broadcasters want to stop rating erosion, they must start
scheduling and "stop shooting wads at each other come sweeps time."
"Competitive scheduling moves...may pass the testosterone test, but...they
cheat viewers, who often face viewing decisions that aren't good for them
us," Mr. Moonves said. He continued by saying that even in the face of
ratings erosion, network television remains the first choice of
and will remain so for years to come -- especially if cable networks
continues with its current programming philosophy. In November, the top 50
cable shows were 22 theatrical movies not available to advertisers, 12
Nickelodeon kids shows, 16 sports events, wrestling, off-network repeats,
one news special, a music special and a handful of movies: "Hardly
examples of original comedy and drama, and collectively they had an
average rating of
2.1," Mr. Moonves said.

Source: Broadcasting&Cable (p.6)
Author: Chris McConnell
Issue: Spectrum/Television
Description: "It's the gold rush of the late 90's" says Paxson
Communications chief Bud Paxson. Broadcasters are scrambling to collect
leftover licenses that have been sitting idle at the Federal
Commission. The deadline to make deals for construction permits is Friday,
January 30. "These construction permits aren't worth much without a
that will attract viewers," says Julius Genachowski, general counsel for
Network's broadcasting division and former policy advisor to ex-FCC
Reed Hundt. USA and other broadcasters think they have the winning
So far construction permits have been worth millions -- Paxson has
reportedly paid $2.5 million for a license in Texas while the most
ones have gone for $4 million. There are 90 commercial licenses available.
[Gosh, and this when broadcasters are crying about the costly transition
digital TV -- think they figure to make money off that?]

Title: RealNetworks Plans Technology Pact With Sun in Move Away From
Source: Wall Street Journal (B7)
Author: Kara Swisher
Issue: Merger
Description: RealNetworks is forging an alliance with Sun Microsystems
could create tension with one of its major partners and shareholders,
Microsoft. The strategic technology and marketing agreement will
make RealNetworks' products work best with Sun's Solaris line of servers.
The deal with RealNetworks could give Sun an important edge because it is
unlike traditional "bundling" relationships where the software is simply
offered along with hardware without much integration. Instead, said
RealNetworks Chairman and CEO Rob Glaser, Sun and RealNetworks will
"optimize" the latest versions of its software specifically for Sun's line
of servers. "We're aiming for a dramatic improvement in performance and
scalability," said Mr. Glaser.

Title: Enter Geekdom's Diaper Dandy. Sigmund, Can You Explain This?
Source: New York Times (D7)
Author: David Barboza
Issue: Lifestyles!
Description: Baby Cha Cha, better known as the Dancing Baby recently seen
the television show "Ally McBeal," is turning into the newest, and
national pop icon. Some believe that the Dancing Baby offers insight into
the deeper aspects of American culture and the human psyche. When Camille
Paglia, the "enfant terrible of academia" was asked her opinion on this
fascination with the baby, she said, "For people to identify with a
baby indicates some deep deep trauma. Young people want caretaking. They
want someone to make rules, to monitor their sex life; they want dddies.
Dancing Baby is a self-portrait of American youth." Maryam Razvi, a
professor at the New York School for Psychoanalystic, Psychotherapy and
Psychoanalysis, was asked what Freud would have made of this diapered
with provocative gyrations. She said, "The baby clicks into something in
our unconscious. A Freudian would see this as a person's wish to exhibit,
exhibit your freedom and your sexuality." The diapered cyberkid was
two years ago by animators working for Kinetix, a software publisher in
Francisco, as a demo for an animation program. Baby Cha Cha, has been
altered into such permutations as Psycho Baby, Rasta Baby, Car Crash Baby,
and Drunken Baby. It makes you wonder, if so much can be speculated about
Dancing Baby, what do these versions say about the American culture and
human psyche?

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