Fwd: Communications-related Headlines for 8/20/98

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Thu, 20 Aug 1998 11:40:01 -0700

>Issue: Digital TV
>Last year, when manufacturers were lobbying the FCC to pass rules on
>digital-television, several major companies said the sets would cost $1,000
>to $1,500 more than the conventional high-end projection sets. They
>estimated that the most expensive ones would cost $4,000 to $5,000. Now for
>the sticker shock -- the least expensive ones now on the market will cost
>$8,000! Manufacturers explain the price jump, saying that some on the
>components used to build these sets cost more than they had originally
>expected. But in addition to the cost of the HDTV set, in order to receive
>high-definition programming, owners of these monitors will also have to buy
>at digital tuner box -- costing about $1,700! With prices like these,
>television stations that are spending millions to make the transition to
>digital broadcasting, starting Nov. 1, are saying that the money is being
>wasted because no one will be able to afford such expensive sets. The
>Federal Government is eager to speed the transition to digital television
>because once the transition is complete and almost everyone has a digital TV
>set, the old channels will be taken back and auctioned for other uses. The
>proceeds from those auctions, currently estimated at $6 billion, are already
>being calculated into Federal budget projections. But many believe that the
>general public will not embrace HDTV monitors until prices fall by 90
>percent or more. Mark Know, a senior manager for Samsung Electronics
>Company, estimates that an HDTV will probably sell for $3,000 by 2002.
>That's certainly better than $8,000, but according to Todd Thibodeaux, a
>senior economist with the Consumer Electronics Manufacturers Assoc., most
>consumer electronics products only reach true mass acceptance after the
>price falls below $500. [...hmmmm, TV set or car, TV set or house, TV set or
>schooling, TV set or...]
>Mr. Brinkley appeared this morning on C-SPAN's Washington Journal. For those
>of you with cable TV, tomorrow's Washington Journal show (from 7:30-10am ET)
>will focus on digital television. Guests will be:
>Steve Effros, President/ Cable Telecommunications Assn.
>Gary Shapiro, President/Consumer Electronics Manufactureres Assn.
>Paul Misener, Chief of Staff to FCC Commissioner Harold
> Furtchtgott-Roth
>[SOURCE: New York Times (E1,E8), AUTHOR: Joel Brinkley]
>Issue: Public Broadcasting
>In recent years, public broadcasters' have begun carrying ever more
>expansive commercials, which go directly against the rational for what used
>to be known ("in more wishful times") as noncommercial television. Granted,
>public broadcasting, being continually faced with a lack of funding, needs
>the money. But is that any reason for nonprofit broadcasting to sound more
>and more like for-profit broadcasting? As originally conceived, it was hoped
>that public broadcasting would supply programs that would otherwise not make
>it in the marketplace, and it would respect its audience by eliminating the
>"hokum" of advertising -- instead being a commercial-free, hypocrisy-free
>zone. Unfortunately, there is currently no observable surge of resistance to
>this filtering in of commercials. While at present PBS programs are not
>constantly interrupted by "messages," the direction appears to be dire and
>commercialization seems to be a bow to reality. The nation doesn't want a
>purer form of television enough to pay for it, and thus the merger of PBS
>ideals with business interest seems to be inevitable. "The question is
>whether PBS programmers can remain uninfluenced by corporate largess in
>their choice of subjects to play up and those to avoid."
>[SOURCE: New York Times -- 8/19/98 -- (B2), AUTHOR: Walter Goodman]

>Issue: Free Speech
>In the next few weeks a book called "Free Speeches," published by Oni Press
>in conjunction with the Comic Book Defense League (CBDL), should be
>available in bookstores across the country. The book is comprised of
>speeches and illustrations that advocate free speech and criticize
>censorship. Comic books have often been the targets of obscenity charges
>because of the long-standing perception that comics are a medium aimed
>solely at children. The CBDL was created to help defend the rights of comic
>book creators and sellers against such legal attacks. It is their belief
>that comics should be protected by the same constitutional rights as
>literature, film, or any other art. For more information about "Free
>Speeches" or the CBDL, you can check out its web site at
>[SOURCE: Washington Post (B4), AUTHOR: Bill Radford (from The Gazette)]

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