Telecom headlines

Gary Handman (
Wed, 15 Apr 1998 12:51:28 -0700 (PDT)

Title: An Era of Opportunity
Source: FCC
Author: Chairman Bill Kennard
Issue: Digital TV
Description: "...I am committed to having a dialogue with you and the
American people on the public interest standard in the digital era. I
believe that as we progress to digital, now is an appropriate time to
and define a standard that has meaning for all broadcasters, not just
who elect to serve the public interest. I plan an inquiry on the public
interest that will explore how we can ensure that all broadcasters give
meaning to the public interest standard. And that inquiry should explore
what the public expects from broadcasters and how we can improve the
political dialogue on our airwaves and how we can improve our political
broadcasting rules so they work better for the public, candidates and
broadcasters. I hope that I can count on you to participate in this
process, so that this isn't a proceeding that we do to the broadcast
industry, but one that we do with the broadcast industry."

Title: In HDTV Age, Successor To VCR Is a Long Way Off
Source: Wall Street Journal (B1)
Author: Evan Ramstead
Issue: HDTV/Standards
Description: The first high-definition TV sets are slated to hit the
in the fall, and TV stations in major markets such as New York, Chicago
L.A. are expected to begin digital broadcasts. However, VCR manufacturers
aren't sure what home-video technology will look like in TV's digital age.
The shift may take place as an upgrade in technology, but could involve
something akin to a computer's magnetic hard-drive. The results of this
shift could escalate into another standards war, like the one that took
place between VHS and Beta formats in home-video's infancy. The
programs that will be in high-definition will contain far more
than today's analog devices can handle. But image quality on tape isn't
nearly as good as it is on disk, so for the long term manufacturers are
betting that technology based on disks will prevail.

Title: 1st Stations to Make Digital Switch
Source: New York Times (AP-Tech Index)
Author: The Associated Press
Issue: Digital Television
Description: Twenty-six television stations have pledged the Federal
Communications Commission to begin digital broadcasting by November of
year. They will use a different channel than the one they currently use.
These stations are: NYC - WCBS; CBS affiliate, LA - KNBC; NBC affiliate,
KTLA; Warner Brothers Network affiliate, KABC - ABC affiliate, Chicago -
WMAQ; NBC affiliate, Philadelphia - KYW; CBS affiliate, WPVI; ABC
WCAU; NBC affiliate, WTXF; Fox affiliate, San Francisco/Oakland - KRON;
affiliate, KPIX; CBS affiliate, KGO; ABC affiliate, Boston - WGBH; PBS
affiliate, WCVB; ABC affiliate, Manchester NH - WMUR; ABC affiliate,
Washington - WRC; NBC affiliate, WJLA; ABC affiliate, WUSA; CBS affiliate,
WETA; PBS affiliate, Dallas/Fort Worth - KDFW; Fox affiliate, KXAS; NBC
affiliate, WFAA; ABC affiliate, Detroit - WJBK; Fox affiliate, WWJ; CBS
affiliate, Atlanta - WSB; ABC affiliate, WXIA; NBC affiliate.

Title: Smithsonian Shuts Down Book and Record Units
Source: New York Times (B1,B4)
Author: Peter Applebome
Issue: Publishing/Arts
Description: The Smithsonian Institute has shut down three divisions
producing books, records and videos. The most notable of the three is the
Smithsonian Collection of Recordings, which has been an invaluable
for scholars and the public for the past quarter century, and has issued
widely praised recordings of jazz and popular music. The Smithsonian
recordings have received two Grammy awards and been nominated for 11
"I think it's unwise, and it surprised me quite a bit," Dan Morgenstern,
director of the Institute of Jazz Studies at Rutgers Univ., said of the
decision. "They had a certain cachet, and did some very good things. I
believe the Smithsonian, which is the closest thing we have in this
to a national museum, is so poverty stricken they can't keep this going."
Officials said the three divisions that are closing are all part of the
Smithsonian Press/Smithsonian Productions, which has lost $10.8 million
the last two years and is expecting to lose another $2-million this year.
Linda St. Thomas, a Smithsonian Institution spokesperson, said yesterday
that the Smithsonian would like to find a way to continue some of the
recording functions, but it was too early to tell in what form and to what
degree that would occur.

Title: Creating 'the Last Book' To Hold All the Others
Source: New York Times (B1,B2)
Author: Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
Issue: Publishing/InfoTechnology
Description: Joseph Jacobsen, an assistant professor at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, is developing something called electronic ink, or
e-ink in the MIT Media Laboratory, which can be applied to the page of a
book from within instead of by a press. With the backing of Things That
Think and News in the Future, two business consortia of around 75
this e-ink "consists of microscopic spheres, each about 40 microns in
diameter, or about half the thickness of a piece of paper. Each sphere is
half black and half white. These spheres can be applied by the millions to
paper and then flipped over electronically to either their black sides or
their white sides to produce what looks like a traditionally printed page.
As envisioned at the Media Lab, the book pages will each have fine wires
carrying electricity to flip the dots in the direction of a computer
concealed in the book binding. The user will scroll through a list of book
titles displayed on the book's spine. If the user selects "Ulysses," the
computer will make the text appear on the book's pages by flipping the
appropriate spheres to their black or white sides. As the capacity of the
book's memory grows, whole libraries may be installed." A user might be
to assemble a particular group of books to fit a specific need,
illustrations may be animated or it may become possible to receive
broadcasts that typecast themselves to create an instant newspaper.
Jacobson even foresees being able to store the more that 17 million
of the entire Library of Congress. Yet unlike a computer, you would be
to unplug the book and take it with you anywhere, the display would be
designed to sense the presence of a pen or stylus so you can mark or write
on the pages, and you may even be able to "dogear" the book. How soon will
this book be available? "A prototype with just a few pages could be put
together in two or three years, with one of 400 pages taking a year or two
longer," Jacobson said.

Title: Microsoft, Sony Agree to Work Together To Link
Source: Wall Street Journal (B6)
Author: Don Clark & David Bank
Issue: Compatability
Description: Microsoft and Sony are endorsing a technology favored by Sony
that can connect videocassette recorders, camcorders, personal computers
other devices. Microsoft said it will license software from Sony used with
the networking technology, and use the software with versions of an
operating system called Windows CE. Sony, in turn, said it will license
Windows CE for use in certain products it didn't specify. They are already
expected to use the operating system with a coming version of WebTV. The
alliance is very likely to accelerate the creation of home networks using
high-speed communications standard known by number 1394. This technology,
for example, could more easily plug a camcorder to a PC or TV set-top box
for sending video mail to friends over the 'Net, said Craig Mundie, a
Microsoft VP involved in the negotiations with Sony.

Author: David Bank
Issue: Television
Description: Microsoft said it will include Intel software called
in the upcoming Windows 98 operating system. Intercast allows some
broadcasters to offer -- alongside traditional TV programming --
such as sports stats, background info or e-shopping opportunities. Windows
98 will include support for a TV tuner card, which some PC makers have
to include as a standard feature. Microsoft had already been planning to
features to Windows 98 that come from WebTV. Microsoft now plans to
highlight listings from Intel's programming partners, including NBC, PBS
MTV, in an electronic-programming guide that will be part of the "WebTV
Windows" set-up in Windows 98. Microsoft is providing promotional
for computer makers to include the TV tuner cards, and Microsoft and Intel
are providing technical assistance to TV programmers experimenting with
interactive programming. And, even though Intercast hasn't been a huge hit
to date, Intel said it expects the combination of data broadcasting with
Internet connections to create new opportunities for broadcasters to
transaction fees.

Title: The Road to DTV
Source: FCC
Author: Commissioner Susan Ness
Issue: Digital TV
Description: Commissioner Ness's 4/8/98 Remarks before NAB '98, "The Road
DTV" Panel. "Industry groups must come together to fulfill a shared vision
of a smooth transition to digital television. And that vision must be
on what the American consumer wants and needs to be enticed to join the
digital revolution.... After all, less than one percent of all consumers
have ever seen high definition or any other type of digital signal. Yet
will be asked to buy new television sets or decoder boxes, and will have
deal with an array of conflicting claims for various sets and services."

Title: Have You Listened to Your Computer Lately?
Source: New York Times (E1,E7)
Author: Michael Marriott
Issue: Radio/Internet Content
Description: The Internet is surprisingly well wired to transmit radio.
result of this discovery is that hundreds of radio stations around the
are now being heard on personal computers as well as conventional radios.
"When a radio station in the real world chooses to encode and broadcast
signal over the Internet, it expands beyond the geographical boundaries of
the station, including its audience that is now worldwide," said Mark
Hardie, a senior analyst for the Forrester Research in Cambridge, MA, who
has been closely watching the development of Internet radio. Broadcast
is now being forced to adapt to this new technology the same way it had to
change with the advent of television. Jae Kim, an analyst with Paul Kagan
Associates, said, "This will not destroy broadcast radio. What is probably
going to happen more and more is that broadcast radio is going to shoehorn
itself into being used in certain capacities."

Title: New Regulatory Thinking
Source: FCC
Author: Commissioner Powell
Issue: Digital TV
Description: "There are a few truths about regulating in the era of
convergence that we must take to heart: First, it is futile to attempt to
preserve the balkanized regulatory framework that presently
exists....Second, we have to accept that the changes ushered in by the
digital revolution are inevitable....Third, we must acknowledge that we
cannot accurately predict what technologies and services will ultimately
prevail in the marketplace....In large measure because of these truths,
regulatory policy in the next century must be marked by (1) regulators
yielding to competitive markets as the means for allocating communications
resources; (2) a greater focus on policies that promote innovation; (3)
deconstruction of the categorical regulatory scheme in which what law you
are subject to is dependent upon how you send your message; and (4)
regulatory efficiency."

Title: The Public Interest Standard: A New Regulator's Search for
Source: FCC
Author: Commissioner Powell
Issue: Television Regulation
Description: "When a question is raised about the need for broadcast
regulation in the public interest, I ask myself five questions: (1) Does
Commission have the authority to do what is asked; (2) Even if it does, is
it nonetheless better to leave the matter to Congress or await more
instruction; (3) Is the issue best addressed by a State agency or another
Federal agency; (4) Should we address the matter at all; and (5) Would any
action we take violate the Constitution."

Title: No Right to Filter Libraries
Source: Washington Post (Op-eds, A22)
Issue: Filtering/Libraries
Description: In Alexandria, VA, Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that a suit
could go forward that had been brought in Loudon County by a group of
library patrons against a policy that made blocking software mandatory on
all machines. The order draws heavily on the reasoning laid out when the
Supreme Court overturned the Communications Decency Act. As in that case,
the judge wrote, the Loudon policy "unconstitutionally chills plaintiffs'
receipt of constitutionally protected materials" since, unlike in
that have filters on only some machines, adults are forced to the level of
what's acceptable for children. Since access to the Internet is a single
package, the practical rationale for choosing books doesn't apply; rather,
content restriction is the sole motive, and blocking requires more effort
than not doing so.

Title: Bill Would Put Net Filters in California Libraries
Source: New York Times (CyberTimes)
Author: Rebecca Fairley Raney
Issue: Internet Regulation
Description: Assemblyman Peter Frusetta (R-CA) has introduced a bill that
would require all public libraries in Calif. to install filtering software
on any public computers providing Internet access. Frusetta said that the
interests of protecting children from pornography and obscene material
outweigh the First Amendment. "I don't think First Amendment issues apply
children of these tender years," said Frusetta. He said that using
software would be like providing a "wrapper" that hides adult magazines
children's view in stores. The California Library Assoc. and the American
Civil Liberties Union are "lining up" free speech arguments against the
bill. "Filters block out information people need," said Linda Crowe,
chairwoman of the California Library Assoc. legislative committee,
to issues that are filtered out like breast cancer and sexuality.
are there to give information to folks, and if the information is
we can't do our job."

Title: Queens Library Links the Multilingual World
Source: New York Times (CyberTimes)
Author: Pamela Mendels
Issue: Libraries/Minorities
Description: At the Queens Borough Public Library, 15 multilingual
librarians spend five hours a week "combing" through the Internet for
possible sites of interest to immigrants. Their efforts are part of
WorldlinQ, a project launched two years ago, designed to provide speakers
foreign languages "in this heavily immigrant community with extensive
to electronic resources." There are almost 2 million people in Queens and
more than 100 languages are spoken. "English is the primary language still
spoken in the borough," said Gary E. Strong, library director. "But
is not too far behind and not too far behind that is Chinese, and not too
far behind that is Korean." The result of this diversity, Strong said, is
the library's determination to provide members of the community with what
called an "equity of access" not just to print but to electronic
information. Xuemao Wang, a systems analyst for the Queens library, said,
"Providing multilingual resources is something all libraries should do.
They have a long history of providing multilingual books, why not

Title: Clearing Microsoft's Path to Digital TV
Source: Wall Street Journal (B1)
Author: David Bank
Issue: Digital TV
Description: Craig Mundie is Microsoft's "digital TV point man" for the
company's vision of digital broadcasting. The software giant has in mind a
technology in which the 'Net would meld with TV to form one interactive
information and entertainment medium. But, about a year ago, Mr. Mundie's
crusade seemed stalled when he announced a $425 million acquisition for
Microsoft's digital-TV strategy that conventioneers at the National Assoc.
of Broadcasters dismissed as a latecomer's move. This year, however,
gained an ally in Tele-Communications Inc. when they adopted Microsoft
software for its digital set-top boxes that it plans to distribute to
customers later this year. Mundie also recently got Sony to work with
Microsoft even though they have backed different digital-TV formats. Some
Microsoft's new allies are trying to keep their distance, though ABC
to formalize the alliance with financing for production of
programming in Microsoft's favored format.

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

"You are looking into the mind of home video. It is innocent, it is aimless,
it is determined, it is real" --Don DeLillo, Underworld