Fwd: Communications-related Headlines for 8/24/98

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 25 Aug 1998 13:15:18 -0700

>Issue: Public Interest/Digital Broadcasting
>The Gore commission has been working to determine what the public interest
>obligations of digital broadcasters should be. The commission now wants more
>time and has asked the Administration to extend its report deadline from
>October 1st to sometime in mid- or late December, said one commission
>member. Members of the commission are meeting again on Sept. 9th to review a
>preliminary draft of its final proposal. They expect the draft to include
>suggestions for a voluntary code of conduct to be administered by the
>National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). It will cover four program
>areas, including: education, localism, minority interests and public
>affairs. The code would also call for broadcasters to report on public
>interest activities on a regular basis. "In some relatively clear and
>explicit way, there has to be some accountability of the performance on
>meeting the needs that have been ascertained," says Charles Benton, Chairman
>of the "nonprofit media watchdog group" the Benton Foundation and a member
>of the commission. While the NAB has not taken an official position on such
>a code, it did make clear its opposition to it at a meeting earlier this
>[For more on the Commission see <http://www.benton.org/Policy/TV/piac.html>]
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.19), AUTHOR: Paige Albiniak]
>Issue: HDTV
>William Kennard, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has
>written a letter to industry leaders expressing his concern over a small
>technical glitch that threatens to postpone the launch of HDTV broadcasts
>that are scheduled to begin on Nov. 1, 1998. The problem involves a cable
>needed to carry digital signals from set-top cable converter boxes to HDTV
>sets. Chairman Kennard's letter demanded a quick solution to the compatibility
>problem which would prevent cable subscribers from receiving digital
>programming. He wrote, "I call on your industries to communicate to the
>American public that these solutions will be available and to redouble your
>efforts to enable the American public to receive digital broadcast
>programming over cable for display on first generation sets."
>[See the letter <http://www.fcc.gov/Speeches/Kennard/Statements/stwek862.html>
>[SOURCE: New York Times (D4), AUTHOR: Joel Brinkley ]

>Issue: Cable/Ownership
>A number of cable operators have responded to an FCC proposal to alter its
>restrictions on the number of cable companies that a company can own. The
>current regulations set the limit at 30 percent of homes passed nationwide.
>Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI) said that regulators should raise the cap to
>40 percent and Time Warner called for raising the limit to 35 percent.
>They, along with AT&T, argue that relaxed caps could help cable compete with
>local phone companies to offer high-speed data services. A collection of
>groups object to loosening the caps, including the Assoc. of Independent
>Video and Filmmakers, the Consumer Federation of America and Consumers
>Union. "The case for lower limits is stronger than ever," the groups said,
>pointing to expanding coverage among the largest multiple system operators.
>"While increased consolidation has undoubtedly allowed the cable industry to
>benefit from economies of scale, these benefits have not reached the public."
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.19), AUTHOR: Chris McConnell]

>Issues: Internet/Advertising
>The big unanswered question during the two-day Procter & Gamble Co.
>conference on advertising and the Internet seemed to be, "Mr. Whipple, where
>are you now?". The Internet is the first medium that has actually decreased
>viewership of television and surfers of the Web have shown little
>interest in the more traditional ad-style of serial storytelling. So now
>high-powered industry execs are trying to figure out how to "sell soap
>without soap operas." Participants in the conference struggled with issues
>such as technical matters and whether banner advertisements and other online
>vehicles can ever achieve the emotional resonance of a little boy in a Crest
>television commercial bounding up to say "Look Ma! No cavities!" "I can't
>think of one slogan developed on the Net that everybody knows," says Seth
>Godin, the chief executive of Yoyodyne, an Internet promotion company. "It's
>not a medium for the Great Big Idea." Though the Internet is often said to
>be the first medium that enables marketers to interact with consumers one to
>one, "it has yet to reveal itself as a means for mass marketing the communal
>dreams in which a box of detergent or a can of soda comes to symbolize a way
>of life."
>[SOURCE: New York Times (D1, D7), AUTHOR: Saul Hansell]

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