Fwd: Communications-related Headlines for 10/21/98

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Thu, 22 Oct 1998 12:27:36 -0700

CONGRESS EXTENDS PROTECTION FOR GOOFY AND GERSHWIN
Issue: Copyright/Legislation
Congress passed two controversial bills that will rewrite American copyright
law. The Copyright Term Extension Act extends the life of copyright
protection for creators of original works. For works created on or after
January 1 1978, copyrights will now last 70 years after the author's death.
For works by corporations, copyrights will no last 95 instead of 75 years.
The legislation keeps Mickey Mouse, for example, from passing into the
public domain in 2004. The online Copyright Infringement Liability
Limitation Act protects Internet service providers from liability when they
unwittingly transmit material that infringes on a copyright. "The
philosophical basis for copyright protection is twofold: to protect the
rights of artists to profit from and control the use of their work and to
preserve public interest by guaranteeing that eventually the right to use
the works will pass into the public domain," Chartrand writes.
[SOURCE: New York Times (C2), AUTHOR: Sabra Chartrand]
<http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/financial/patents.html>

SENATORS SEEK FCC CRACK DOWN ON INDECENCY
Issue: Indecency
Several lawmakers have written a letter to the FCC requesting more severe
treatment of lewd broadcasters. In the letter, a bipartisan group of eight
Senators asked the Commission to launch an inquiry into its enforcement of
indecency standards. In response, FCC Chairman William Kennard insisted that
the agency was doing everything it could, within the law, to keep the
airwaves clean. Just last week, the FCC imposed an $23,000 fine on a Florida
radio station for airing indecent programming during times when children
could have been in the audience.
[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable (P8), AUTHOR: Bill McConnell and Paige Albiniak]
<http://www.broadcastingcable.com/>

MTV TO LAUNCH ANIT-VIOLENCE EFFORT
Issue:
MTV, in conjunction with the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice, will
launch a multimillion dollar anti-violence campaign aimed at young people. A
recent survey commissioned by MTV found that violence is the main concern
among teens and young adults. The campaign will focus on three themes -
violence in schools, violence in the streets and sexual violence. Special
programs, public service announcements, documentaries and debates will
address violence and how to prevent it from happening.
[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable (P66), AUTHOR: Donna Petrozzello
<http://www.broadcastingcable.com/>

INTERNET USERS NOT FORSAKING RADIO
Issue: Radio
While the growth of Internet has meant a big drop in TV and print media
use, the same is not so for radio. New research suggests that the Internet
has resulted in 30% less time watching TV, 11% less time reading newspaper
and 10% less time reading magazines. The small decline in radio listening is
made up for by the many new Internet users who spend more time listening to
the radio while online. Advertisers of online services are taking advantage
of the fact that radio reaches 86% of Internet on an average day. The first
half of 1997 has shown a large increase in radio spending among Internet
companies.
[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable (P59), AUTHOR: John Merli]
<http://www.broadcastingcable.com/>

WAIT 'TILL NEXT YEAR
Issue: Satellites
Attempts to pass a bill allowing satellites TV companies to offer local
broadcast signals to compete with cable systems have failed once again.
Satellites operators' eagerness for local-into-local authorization could not
overcome deep disagreement between them and broadcasters. Representatives
from both industries say that passage of a bill is likely next year.
[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable (P24), AUTHOR: Paige Albiniak]
<http://www.broadcastingcable.com/>

>
>FROM LUXURY GOOD TO EXPENSIVE WRAPPER
>Issue: Television/Journalism
>The recent trend in cutbacks at the networks has meant a push toward
>tightened news budgets. As a result viewers are seeing less hard news and
>more soft stories. This trend is especially disturbing at election time,
>when the news provides little help in wading through the barrage of
>negative campaign advertising. One hope for improvement is a proposal that
>stations would set aside five minutes of prime time for "candidate centered
>discourse" in return for the gift of free additional spectrum to accommodate
>the transition to digital technology. The free time for candidates -- which
>could come in the form of interviews, debates, or public statements -- might
>help cut through the "you-are-worse-than-I-am" discourse of the current
>election, and help preserve the integrity of network news institutions.
>[SOURCE: New York Times (B7), AUTHOR: Walter Goodman]
><http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/arts/critics-notebook.html>
>
>TEENS STARTING TO RULE NETWORKS' PROGRAMMING
>Issue: Content
>With television audiences splintering into smaller segments because of the
>availability of more channels, the teen audience remains a relatively
>cohesive one. Television networks have taken notice and have created a
>growing number of programs for people in their teens. They know that youth
>can generate widespread support for a new show because of word-of-mouth.
>Young people, a small portion of the overall population, can also attract
>their parents to a particular program. Two of the emerging networks, WB and
>UPN, have both tried to tap the youth market, especially girls, as
>a way of gaining market share. Teens also have a large and growing amount
>of disposable income, money that goes into movie tickets, CDs, clothes,
>sneakers, video games, fast food and soft drinks. Advertisers on programs
>like "Dawson Creek," "Boy Meets World" and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch"
>spend at rates which are well above typical rates for similarly rated
>programs because they expect teenagers to respond to the advertising. Also
>they suggest that teenagers can have an influence on their parents purchases
>of larger items such as automobiles. The dangers to program producers and
>advertisers are that the market will be saturated or that the fickle tastes
>of teenagers will change rapidly. [That Dawson, he's sooo last year]
>[SOURCE: Washington Post (A1), AUTHOR: Paul Farhi]
><http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/frompost/oct98/teentv21.htm>
>
>TUNING IN TO LATINO VIEWERS
>Issue: Content
>Two television networks announced Tuesday that they will be transmitting
>programming in Spanish within the next few weeks. ABC said that "Monday
>Night Football" will have two broadcasters doing the play-by-play regularly
>beginning next week. ABC will use the Secondary Audio Programming (SAP)
>channel that is available on most modern television sets to send the Spanish
>versions of the broadcasts in addition the regular English broadcasts. ABC
>says movies and other sports events will follow. Nickelodeon will provide a
>two-hour block of children's programming to Telemundo to be translated and
>rebroadcast on the Spanish-language channel on weekday mornings. Hispanics
>are the fastest-growing minority in the United States.
>[SOURCE: Washington Post (D2), AUTHOR: Lisa de Moraes]
><http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1998-10/21/081l-102198-idx.html>
>

>DISTANCE LEARNING TO RECEIVE SOME FEDERAL AID
>Issue: EdTech
>The Higher Education Amendments of 1998, signed into law by President
>Clinton on October 7, will make it easier for students to pursue degrees in
>distance learning programs by making them eligible for federal student grant
>and loan programs. 15 institutions will be eligible and the legislation
>singles out Western Governors -- a venture financed by public and private
>funds that was launched by a group of governors from 10 Western states -- as
>automatically eligible. Another 35 institutions can be selected in the third
>year of the five-year program. "It simply helps level the playing field, so
>just as full-time residential students have access to that aid, the
>part-time distance learner does, too," said Robert C. Albrecht, chief
>academic officer of Western Governors University. But there is some concern
>that fly-by-night, correspondence-based schools may emerge offering
>education of questionable quality and leading to higher default rates on
>student loans.
>[SOURCE: New York Times (CyberTimes), AUTHOR: ]
><http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/98/10/cyber/education/21education.html>
>
DIGITAL TV IS SET TO TRANSFORM INDUSTRY
Issue: Digital Television
November 1 marks the official beginning of U.S. digital television
broadcasting. Around 45 large-market television stations will begin digital
broadcasting while continuing their traditional analog telecasts. Most
viewers do not yet have digital TV receivers, although sales this year are
expected to be around 20,000 for the $7,000 to $11,000 sets. The onset of
mass viewership is not expected until well into the next decade with other
digital services expected to emerge. "Over time, digital transmissions will
rearrange the broadcasting landscape, changing equipment, programming,
channel numbering and televisions themselves." Most digital TV's are wider
and will be sold as components, with the receiver sold separately from the
screen. While Gunther Meisse of WMFD-TV in Mansfield, Ohio is operating in
a smaller market, he is already planning to have his digital transmitter
going by December after an outlay of about $1 million. Despite not having
any viewers immediately, he sees the upsides as an improved channel location
for his digital signals and enough signal capacity to send out three or four
kinds of programming. Also he and other small market stations are hoping
national advertisers will choose them for their digital capability. [Look
for a Headlines Extra on DTV later today]
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B6), AUTHOR: Evan Ramstad]
<http://www.wsj.com/>

AOL RAISES STATIC WITH CABLE DEAL (WP)
AMERICA ONLINE BRACES FOR RIVALS IN CABLE INDUSTRY (WSJ)
Issue: Broadband/Online Services
America Online is beginning an aggressive campaign to prepare for the coming
of high-speed online service to homes using cable television connections.
The service will provide 24-hour connectivity and much faster Internet
access than the modems used in most homes today. Earlier this year AOL
purchased NetChannel, an online-service-via-TV and recently hired Mario
Vecchi, an experienced broadband veteran to lead their effort. They have
begun discussing relationships with cable providers such as Time Warner.
But their biggest step may come in a looming request to the FCC demanding
that all Internet service providers get equal access to cable TV lines that
offer high-speed Web access subjecting cable operators to the same
open-access requirements that telephone companies have. AOL's request will
present a roadblock to the merger of AT&T and TCI because AT&T would be
getting access to TCI's cable modem service called At Home.
[SOURCE: Washington Post (C1), AUTHOR: Mike Mills]
<http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WPlate/1998-10/22/255l-102298-idx.html>
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B1), AUTHOR: Thomas E. Weber]
<http://www.wsj.com/>

TIME WARNER, AT&T DISCUSS PHONE VENTURE
AT&T SAYS TCI DEAL IS PROCEEDING, BUT SOME REPORT UNRESOLVED ISSUES
Issue: Merger
AT&T, in the middle of ironing out an acquisition of Tele-Communications,
Inc., is talking seriously with Time Warner about a deal. If AT&T were to
pull off both mergers, it would be able to move on its ambitious plan to go
up against the Bell operating companies which dominate local telephone
business. Time Warner's 12 million subscribers would double the number of
consumers that AT&T could pitch a bundle of phone services, including local
service (to go with AT&T's long distance) and Internet access. Some experts
suggest an announcement of an AT&T and Time Warner agreement may be a few
weeks away. Gerald Levin of Time Warner recently said, "We can see a
transaction emerging in the near term." The high-speed capability of cable
connections make local phone service and Internet connectivity attractive.
Meanwhile some industry executives say many issues remain unresolved in the
AT&T and TCI merger. The emerging structure creates two distinct units, one
involved in business markets and the other handling consumers.
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B1), AUTHOR: Eben Shapiro]
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B8), AUTHOR: Rebecca Blumenstein & Leslie Cauley]
<http://www.wsj.com/>

DIRECT-BROADCAST SATELLITE COMPANIES EXPECTED TO FACE PUBLIC-INTEREST RULES
Issue: Satellite TV
The FCC on Thursday is expected to require direct-broadcast satellite
operators to set aside 4% to 7% of their channel capacity for
public-interest programming. The FCC definition of the requirement will be
"noncommercial programming that is educational or instructional in nature."
The decision is based on the 1992 cable television law but action had been
held up because of legal wrangling. The satellite companies say the
public-service requirement is burdensome. Unclear presently is how the FCC
and the satellite companies will determine what is "informational" or
"educational."
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B8), AUTHOR: John Simons]
<http://www.wsj.com/>

Gary Handman
Director
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley, CA 94720-6000
510-643-8566
ghandman@library.berkeley.edu
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC

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