Fwd: Communications-related Headlines for 11/2/98

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Mon, 2 Nov 1998 17:59:47 -0700

>Issue: HDTV
>Last week's launch of the space shuttle Discovery marked two historic events
>-- John Glenn's return to outer space and the television industry's launch
>of high-definition technology. Glenn's flight was the first of the super
>clear high-definition broadcasts that will begin to air as 43 stations
>around the country start digital broadcasting sometime this month. "We are
>on track with the broadcast rollout schedule and things continue that way,"
>said FCC Commissioner Susan Ness. While stations may be ready to go digital,
>they still don't have much high definition programming to go with it. The
>only network that has announced plans to create original high-definition
>programming is PBS. The commercial networks seemed more concerned about the
>outcome of the FCC's must-carry rule making, which will determine what types
>of agreements are made between broadcasters and cable operators.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable (P6), AUTHOR: Paige Albiniak]

>Issue: Television/Gender
>Last week, the chief executive of the Fox Family Channel, Rich Cronin
>announced that his company has plans to launch two new cable stations aimed
>at children-- the Boyz Channel and the Girlz Channel. "There are clearly
>certain kinds of entertainment that boys hate and girls love, and vice
>versa," Cronin said. "I think it's legitimate and positive to have something
>that recognizes the difference." Many parents and educators, however, have
>responded to the idea with concern, fearing that the networks will reinforce
>gender stereotypes among children."My fear is that we'll get more
>polarization of, 'Boys like these things, girls like these things,' and we
>won't make progress toward letting children grow into and appreciate their
>own individualism," said Alice Cahn, the former head of children's
>programming for PBS, now an executive at Children's Television
>[SOURCE: New York Times (C8), AUTHOR: Lawrie Mifflin]
Issue: Television
The glitz and glamour of the network television business is giving way to
serious concerns for the bottom line. The management style of the leaders
of the major networks is likely to be focused on increasing ad sales at
their local O&O stations, developing new businesses and cutting overhead.
Mel Karmazin, elevated to the top post at CBS Corp. this week, is known to
promote increased ad sales at local stations and has been known to be very
involved in monitoring costs, even small ones. Scott Sassa, 39, named this
week to head programming at NBC, has already started seven cable channels.
In addition to the network, Sassa will be helping to program CNBC and MSNBC.
Programming deals, also a concern as network television viewing continues to
decline, are becoming more likely to have some network financial ownership.
ABC's Robert Iger is taking advantage of the Walt Disney Company ownership
to produce programming. Fox also has Fox studio to depend on for
programming outputs. While NBC has lost far more audience than the other
major networks this year, CBS may ultimately be in the worst position
because it ranks last among the Big Four in terms of the younger viewers
that advertisers prefer.
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B1), AUTHOR: Kyle Pope]
>Issue: Bandwidth/InfoTech
>144 uncompressed television signals sent 62 miles using a single laser beam.
>That's what Silk Road, a little-known start-up company in San Diego, is
>promising in a technology demonstration tomorrow. The company plans to role
>out commercial services using the technology starting in early '99. The
>advertised capacity is 93 billion bits of information per second. But
>experts in the field are wary. They know that speeds demonstrated in labs
>are often much higher when the technology is used in the "real world." But
>Silk Road executives say that in their labs, they have been able to transmit
>up to 200 gigabits per second over a range of 200 miles -- without having to
>either repeat or amplify the signal along the way.
>[SOURCE: New York Times (C4), AUTHOR: John Markoff]

Issue: Intellectual Property
On October 28, President Clinton signed into law the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act <ftp://ftp.loc.gov/pub/thomas/c105/h2281.ih.txt> --
legislation to protect copyrights in the digital age. Starting two years
from now, it will be illegal to break through the encryption technologies
that protect intellectual property on the Internet. It will also be illegal
to manufacture or sell devices that circumvent encryption technology. "For
the first time, we are laying down some traffic rules of the road in
cyberspace," said Jack Valenti, head of the Motion Picture Association of
America. "We're not saying this is the total that we would like, but it
certainly is a fresh and very cheery beginning for putting it in place,"
said Mr. Valenti, who has been a leading lobbyist in the nearly four-year
fight for passage of the legislation. Historically, it has not been a crime
to access or make a copy of a protected work -- only to misuse the
information. The new law makes it illegal merely to access copyrighted
"What we are worried about here is that we have for the first time a
prohibition on simply accessing information," said Adam Eisgrau of the
American Library Association. "In the past, the law has punished you on how
you used that information."
[SOURCE: New York Times (CyberTimes), AUTHOR: Jeri Clausing <jeri@nytimes.com>]

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