Fwd: Communications-related Headlines for 7/15/98

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Wed, 15 Jul 1998 11:06:18 -0700

>** Spectrum **
>Title: FCC to Sell Licenses Allowing Companies to Track Vehicles
>Source: Wall Street Journal (B6)
>Author: WSJ Staff Reporter
>Issue: Spectrum
>Description: The Federal Communications Commission plans to auction 528
>licenses by the end of the year for a service known as the "location and
>monitoring service," or LMS. The service would allow trucking companies to
>use the airwaves to keep track of vehicles in their fleet.
>** Technology **
>Title: Taking a Step Toward Converting The Home Into a Supercomputer
>Source: New York Times (A1,D4)
>Author: John Markoff
>Issue: New Technology
>Description: Sun Microsystems plans today to unveil the first consumer
>version of distributed computing technology, a product called Jini.
>Distributed computing is "the ability to divide a large set of computer
>instructions into multiple small parts, each of which is processed by a
>different machine within a network of computers." The computer industry is
>betting that instead of consumers wanting to turn their laptops into a
>supercomputer, more will be interested in the technology's ability to endow
>consumer appliances. Jini uses Sun's Java programming language to "allow
>computers and other devices to cooperate, sometimes by sharing instructions
>or information, sometimes by actually dividing a program into parts and
>spreading the computation work across several computers." Advocates of
>distributed computing predict that over the next few years today's desktop
>computer will evolve from a self-sufficient machine, that must hold
>everything it needs for any given job, into a social machine, that will
>interact automatically with not only other computers but with myriad
>consumer devices.

Title: FCC Tackles Digital Must-Carry
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (p8)
Author: Chris McConnell and Price Coleman
Issue: Digital/Must-Carry Rules
Description: The Federal Communications Commissioners launched an effort last
week to decide how must-carry rules will apply to digital broadcast
signals. The regulators took "no tentative position on whether they will
require cable systems to carry both analog and digital signals of
broadcasters." Instead they proposed seven possible approaches to the issue.
In the short form, these options are: "1) immediate carriage: requiring all
cable systems to carry all commercial digital and analog stations up to the
one-third-capacity limit , 2) system upgrade: require cable operators
upgrading their systems to add digital channels as they come on the air, 3)
phase-in: require immediate carriage of digital broadcast signals, but limit
digital channel addition to three to five channels each year, 4) either/or:
require broadcasters to choose mandatory carriage for either the analog or
the digital channel -- but not both -- during the early transition years, 5)
equipment penetration: begin digital carriage obligation when a set
percentage of viewers (such as 5%-10%) have bought digital reception
equipment, 6) deferral: defer implementation of digital must-carry rules
until a certain date, such as May 1, 2002, and 7) no must-carry: enforce no
must-carry obligation for the digital channels until stations cease analog

Title: RealNetwork Upgrades Streaming, Content
Source: Broadcasting&Cable (p51)
Author: Richard Tedesco
Issue: Online Services
Description: RealNetworks plans this week to release the beta version of its
next-generation video streaming technology. The company promises a "TV-like
experience" for PC users stuck with low modem bit rates. The RealPlayer G2
product uses a combination of synchronized multimedia integration language
(SMIL) software programming and enhanced video quality achieved with
postfiltering of images. The combination is supposed to make the streamed
video palatable even for PC users with 28.8 kb/s connections. "Using the
SMIL technique, it's a way to give [PC] users the experience of broadband
connection over a lowband connection," says Matt Hulett, RealNetworks group
product manager.

Title: Real Networks Hopes New Streaming Software Will Open Up Medium
Source: New York Times (C3)
Author: Steve Lohr
Issue: Internet
Description: Real Networks Inc will release a new version of its desktop and
server software that employs a new standard for streaming technology. The
industry hopes that new standard will open the way for more streaming-media
programming. SMIL should allow Web programmers to put video, audio, text and
charts into an integrated presentation that can be broadcast live or on
demand to Internet-connected personal computers. Until now, streaming
technology has tended to be used to send standard radio or television
programming over the Internet, like video of a sports event, the NYT
reports. "But Real Networks' deployment of SMIL is an important step toward
moving streaming technology to become a real new media," said Jae Kim, an
analyst for Paul Kagan Associates, a research firm in Carmel, Calif.

Title: BET to Establish a Film Unit Aimed at Black Urban Market
Source: New York Times (C4)
Author: Geraldine Fabrikant
Issue: Ownership
Description: Robert Johnson, chairman and founder of the Black Entertainment
Network (BET) <http://www.betnetworks.com/home.html>, has announced plans to
create a company to make small-budget films financed and produced by African
Americans. With TCI, BET owns BET Movies, a pay-TV service that reaches 3
million homes, and BET Action, a pay-per-view service that reaches 10
million homes. These holdings give BET the ability to show its films on
cable nd pay-TV, which could generate several sources of revenue. "We are in
a position where the business is vertically integrated now," said Mr.
Johnson. The company's first film is hoped to available by the last quarter
of 1999.

Title: In Defiance of the Public Interest
Source: Washington Post (Op-Ed A21)
Author: Lawrence Lessing (Harvard Law School),
Pamela Samuelson (Boalt Hall School of Law)
Issue: Copyright
Description: "Ever since Congress passed the first copyright act in
1790, this law has been a tradition of balance." The purpose, as stated in
the Constitution is to "'promote the progress of science and the useful
arts'...Because of this larger constitutional purpose of copyright, fair use
can be made of copyrighted works, even when copyright owners object."
Lessing and Samuelson object to legislation before Congress that would
outlaw copyright infringement accomplished though the circumvention of
technical protection systems. They claim that this bill, supported by the
Administration, tips the scales in favor of authors and ignores the larger
public interest.


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