Telecom headlines

Gary Handman (
Tue, 28 Apr 1998 08:50:13 -0700 (PDT)

Source: New York Times (C4)
Author: Joel Brinkley
Issue: Digital TV
Description: At a congressional hearing yesterday, presidents of the
largestcompanies in the television industry "sparred" over whether cable
companieswill be required to carry the digital TV programs that
broadcasters willbegin airing this fall. The cable industry is strongly
opposed to the idea,but broadcasters contend that a "must-carry" rule for
digital signals isessential. "A swift and successful transition to digital
TV requires thatcable subscribers have easy access to DTV broadcast
signals," Scott Sass,president of NBC Television Stations, told the House
Subcommittee onTelecommunications. Leo J. Hindery, president of
Tele-Communications Inc.,the nation's largest cable company, asked, if
cable companies are forced tomake room for digital signals, "Which
services should we drop? Th FamilyChannel? Black Entertainment Television?
C-Span? I cannot stress howimportant this is to us." This issue also is
important to the FederalCommunications Commission who loaned every
television station in the countrya second channel to be used for digital
broadcasts. At the end of the transition period, one of the channels has
to be returned at which time itwill be auctioned off. The income generated
from those auctions has alreadybeen counted in the balanced budget plan.
This helps to explain why Rep.W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-LA), chairman of the
subcommittee, opened the hearingby asking, "Will cable take HDTV away from

Title: U.S. Chamber Is Leaving TV for InternetSource: Washington Post
Beth BerselliIssue: Internet UseDescription: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
announced yesterday that "it isleaving broadcasting for cybercasting in an
effort to better inform andrally its members and influence government
officials on their behalf." CarlGrant, a senior vice president of the
nation's most powerful lobbying group,said the Internet will play a key
role in their "beefed-up" advocacy effort.Grant said that the
Washington-based group plans to quickly expand itsonline programming. For
example, next month, the group will offer liveaudio-video broadcasts of a
global climate conference. Chamber officialssaid that money previously
used on television programs will now beredirected to other areas of the
organization, where it will be used "tosupport the groups primary mission
of legislative advocacy for itsapproximately 200,000 members."

Title: U.S. Official Calls for Studies of Technology in ClassroomsSource:
New York Times
Pamela MendelsIssue: EducationDescription: Linda Roberts, director of the
Office of Educational Technologyat the Dept. of Education, made a pitch
yesterday to begin serious studiesof whether the use of technology
(computers and the Internet) in schoolsimproves student achievement. "It's
important to collect baseline data andto deliberately track performance,"
said Roberts during a conference onschools and technology in Manhattan.
The research is necessary, she said, toshow that the billions of dollars
being spent to wire schools are worth it."School districts will be called
to task for 'What are you doing with yourmoney and what difference does it
make?'" At both the conference inManhattan and at the SchoolTech
Exposition and Conference, Roberts pointedto the need for rigorous
assessment of classroom technology. "We've GOT tocollect the data," she
said during the latter keynote. While the Clintonadministration has been a
"major booster" of technology use in schools, a number of critics are
questioning whether the investment in schooltechnology is a wise one.
Among other items, they wonder how much of thepush for technology in
schools is being generated by hardware and softwarecompanies with "an
economic interest in cultivating a lucrative market fortheir wares in
schools. They also question "how much truly valuableclassroom content
exists free on the Web. And they note that technology isexpensive and
quickly obsolete, and that, to date, there is little hardresearch
establishing that it helps students learn better."

Title: PBS Switch to DTV May Get Pushed BackSource: Broadcasting & Cable
(p6)<>Author: Paige AlbiniakIssue:
Public BroadcastingDescription: Public broadcasting may have trouble
getting federal moneyfor its transition to digital, and Congress' House
appropriations committeemay ask the FCC to delay the transition for at
least two years, claimingthat FCC deadlines are too tight for the
technology and money involved.Because CPB's money is appropriated two
years ahead of time, using CPB's1999 $50 million to start the transition
would take away money from otherprograms such as Medicare and education.
But CPB president insists thatpublic broadcasting needs to start the $1.7
billion transition now in orderto make FCC's 2003 deadline, otherwise
local stations risk losing theirlicenses. Congress, however, is saying
the deadline is arbitrary and can bemoved.

Title: Help for DBS Could Hurt Smaller StationsSource: Broadcasting &
Cable (p20)<>Author: Paige AlbiniakIssue:
HDTVDescription: Allowing phased-in must carry for digital broadcast is
unfairto non-network affiliates, according to the Association of Local
TelevisionStations. "Promoting competition in one market while subverting
it inanother is shortsighted and self-defeating," wrote ALTV President
JamesHedlund. As an example, he pointed to DBS provider EchoStar, which
hasbeen asking Congress for legislation that would allow it to provide
somebut not all local signals, despite it's technical ability to provide
alllocal signals. EchoStar lobbyist Karen Watson replied, "Let the
consumerdecide whether offering four or five local stations is enough. If
it's not,then they won't choose us."

Title: NCTA Opposes Digital Must CarrySource: Broadcasting & Cable
(p42)<>Author: Paige AlbiniakIssue:
HDTVDescription: Cable is committed to giving its customers digital
televisionbut is firmly against any digital must-carry regulations, said
NationalCable Television President Decker Anstrom. "The idea that must
carry iscentral to the transition to digital television is simply
ridiculous." Butbroadcasters say that there is no difference between
digital and analogmust carry. Anstrom says that federal regulations will
hurt subscribersbecause cable operators will drop cable networks in order
to carrybroadcasters' digital signals. "A few hundred rich people get a
few hoursof as-yet unknown HDTV programming and everyone would lose four
cablenetworks." Yet, while cable argues against must-carry for themselves,
theythink that direct broadcast companies should face must-carry if they
wantto provide local broadcast signals.

Title: Spectrum, Spectrum EverywhereSource: Broadcasting & Cable
(p20)<>Author: Paige Albiniak & Harry A.
JessellIssue: SpectrumDescription: FCC commissioner Michael Powell last
week claimed that the1969 Supreme Court assertion that broadcast spectrum
is scarce no longerholds true. Digital convergence will give the public
an unlimited number ofbroadcast outlets over broadcast television, cable,
satellite, and theInternet, he said. "We cannot continue to expand the
envelope of publicinterest obligations without a sincere and rigorous
evaluation of theviability of maintaining a lesser First Amendment
standard for broadcasting."

Title: Study Shows Students Use Internet Primarily for ResearchSource:
New York Times
Pamela MendelsIssue: InternetDescription: According to a study by Quality
Education Data, a Denver-basedmarket research company that studies trends
in education, the most popularuse of the Internet in schools is for
research. In its third annual surveyof Internet use in schools, QED
surveyed about 400 K-12 teachers at publicschools around the nation. The
survey, conducted by phone this pastFebruary, found that about "82 percent
of schools are connected to theInternet. Less than half were wired when
the study was first conducted in1996. Increasingly, classrooms -- rather
than libraries or computer labs --are being wired, too, according to Karin
K. Hendersin, director of marketresearch for the company." Of the teachers
who responded to the survey: 69percent said they use the Internet at least
once a week as a tool forresearch and as a teaching aid; 66 percent use
the Internet to getcurriculum material; 46 percent said they use the
Internet for professional development; 44 percent use the Internet for
lesson planning; and about 35percent said they use the Internet as a
"presentation tool" to displaymaterial to their students. The complete
study is scheduled to be releasedin May.

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