Fwd: Communications-related Headlines for 11/24/98

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 24 Nov 1998 09:33:08 -0800 (PST)

>3 WOMEN IN TV FORM CABLE CHANNEL FOR WOMEN
>Issue: Gender/Cable
>Some important names in television have joined together to create a new
>cable channel aimed at women. Oprah Winfrey, Carsey-Werner-Mandabach and
>Geraldine Laybourne, the former president of Nickelodeon, are expected to
>announce plans today for the Oxygen Channel, which has a start date set for
>Jan 1, 2000. The partners say that most of programming will be original.
>They do, however, note that this channel might be the "perfect place" to
>release the huge library of Ms. Winfey's daily talk show.
>[SOURCE: New York Times (C1), AUTHOR: ]
><http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/financial/tv-womens-network.html>
>

==========
TELEVISION
==========

FCC SETS THE PRICE FOR DIGITAL
Issue: DTV
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission introduced new public
interest obligations on broadcast stations. To the disappointment of
broadcasters, the FCC announced a 5% fee on digital television stations'
revenue from subscription services. The broadcast industry had argued for a
2% charge on any service for which they receive profits other than from
advertising. The public advocacy group Media Access Project, on the other
hand, had called for the charge to be as high as 10%. The commission also
will require digital broadcast satellite (DBS) providers to set aside 4% of
their channel capacity for public interest programming. DBS providers,
however, will be free to determine which public interest programmers to
offer. Additionally, the FCC proposed a return of the minority recruiting
requirements that were struck down by a federal court earlier this year.
[SOURCE: Broadcasting and Cable (p5), AUTHOR: Bill McConnell]
<http://www.broadcastingcable.com/>

EASING THE DIGITAL PATH
Issue: DTV
Regulators, broadcasters and equipment manufactures gathered for the Dawn of
Digital summit last Monday to discuss the future of digital TV. FCC Chairman
William Kennard outlined the agency's role in fostering a rapid deployment
of DTV to the American public. "Government can facilitate resolution of
obstacles that arise in the buildout," said Chairman Kennard, but he made
clear that the FCC would not have the role of imposing technical standards.
Broadcasters expressed concerns about reaching a voluntary solution with the
cable industry over "must carry" and urged the FCC to step in and require
cable carriage of all digital signals.
[SOURCE: Broadcasting and Cable (p48), AUTHOR: Bill McConnell]
<http://www.broadcastingcable.com/>

DILLER'S LATEST TELE-VISION
Issue: Television
Barry Diller built the FOX network on "Married...With Children" and "A
Current Affair" and then ran the QVC shopping network. Now he is turning his
attention to local television starting with WAMI in Miami. Programming
includes "10" -- a show that visits the beaches of Miami and lets the
audience vote for their favorite bods (yes, Virginia, that's the promise of
interactivity) -- and a 11pm newscast that reduces talking heads to simple
"Lips," a woman's roughed mouth reading headlines in a sultry voice. Two
shows, "The Times" and "City Desk: The Herald," offer more conventional,
investigative news. The focus in television programming of late has been
cable where national advertising and subscription dollars are available. But
Diller's theory, Fabrikant reports, is that local broadcast programming has
been ignored and that people want a sense of what is going on in their local
communities. Diller's USA Networks owns 12 other local stations around the
country so this new approach to programming may be coming to a small screen
near you.
[SOURCE: New York Times (A1), AUTHOR: Geraldine Fabrikant]
<http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/financial/diller-localtv-media.html>

A YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY
Issue: Television
The average audience for the UPN network has shrunk 40%. The network will
likely lose $200 million this year after losing $180 million last year. But
the venture's owners -- Viacom and Chris-Craft -- insist they are committed
to the network for the long haul. They say the network will exist until the
local stations are shut down. But for many of these stations, having UPN as
a programming partner is worse than going it on their own. The bad ratings
for UPN shows means lower rating for their local news and the syndicated
shows that follow. And studios seem less inclined to work with UPN now
because it is not as likely that shows will become hits and be syndicated
down the line -- when the studio makes the big dollars.
[SOURCE: New York Times (C9), AUTHOR: Lawrie Mifflin]
<http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/financial/upn-tv-losses.html>

DIGITAL TELEVISION CONSUMER INFORMATION
Issue: DTV
"The arrival of digital television ("DTV") this fall promises to be one of
the most significant developments in television technology since the advent
of color television in the 1950's. DTV has the capability to provide clearer
and sharper, cinema-like pictures as well as multi-channel, CD-quality
sound. It can provide new uses such as multiple video programs or other
services on a single television channel, including data services. The use of
DTV technology will also allow television to enter the digital world of the
personal computer and the Internet. As with any major technology change, it
will be important for consumers to understand the capabilities of new
equipment in order to make purchase decisions. The new digital television
sets will have many new features and technical characteristics that will
vary somewhat between different models and manufacturers. In addition,
special features may be needed when using DTV sets to receive programs from
cable, direct satellite, or other video service providers. This bulletin has
been prepared to provide consumers with information on the new DTV
technology, its upcoming deployment, and the capabilities and features that
are expected to be available in the new DTV sets. We will release periodic
updates to this bulletin to help consumers keep up with digital television
developments such as improvements in the compatibility between the digital
programming and equipment used by broadcasters and cable operators."
[SOURCE: FCC]
<http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Engineering_Technology/Factsheets/dtv9811.html>

FCC EXPECTED TO MAKE BROADCASTERS PAY FEE BASED ON REVENUES FROM DIGITAL TV
Issue: Digital Television
The FCC will issue rules today which set annual fees for commercial
broadcasters who derive revenue from subscription and other pay services
using the new digital television technology. Since the spectrum provided
for stations to provide
DTV signals of their basic channel may allow one or more additional channels
to be broadcast simultaneously, Congress and the FCC are seeking to get a
portion of any revenue collected from the extra broadcasts to be returned to
the Government. The new rules will require stations to pay between 4 and 6
percent of subscription revenues they earn from pay-per-view or similar use
of the extra spectrum. The National Association of Broadcasters had
suggested a 2 percent charge. The FCC will also ask for public comment on
how public television stations should be allowed to use their extra spectrum.
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B8), AUTHOR: John Simons]
<http://www.wsj.com/>

====
ARTS
====

PUTTING A PRICE TAG ON DIGITAL ART
Issue: Arts
The art world is struggling to put a price tag on digital art and it becomes
more acceptable in museums and amongst art connoisseurs. Digital City Inc
<http://www.digitalcity.com/>, for example, is donating äda'web to the
Walker Art Center <http://www.walkerart.org> in Minneapolis, but will not
receive a tax deduction because the company has not been able to determine
the value of the gift. "We spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out
how to get the donation done and assign a value, and then at the end we
said, okay, let's just go ahead and do it," said äda'web co-founder John
Borthwick. "Since there is no objective measure for value, us assigning the
value is really hard," Borthwick said. "You either check the value by
putting things out to the open market and having people bid against them, or
by getting somebody who is willing to establish some kind of an objective
measure and say, 'I believe the Jenny Holzer project, because of its
relationship to her previous work, is worth this [much].' But we couldn't
find anybody who would do that."
[SOURCE: New York Times (CyberTimes), AUTHOR: Matthew Mirapaul
<mirapaul@nytimes.com>]
<http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/98/11/cyber/artsatlarge/19artsatlarge.html>

=================
1996 TELECOM ACT
=================

A BIRTHDAY PARTY: THE TERRIBLE OR TERRIFIC TWO'S? 1996 FEDERAL
TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT
As we celebrate the second anniversary of the Telecommunications Act of
1996, we can see that the predictions of instant cross-industry competition
that were made at its birth were rather euphoric. Despite the unexpected
twists and turns of the first two years, there have been a number of
significant market developments suggesting that the lowering of barriers
that the Act effected have put things on the right course. However, the
success of the Act will be rather fragile during the next few years, as it
is subject to reversal by market as well as judicial forces. We should
therefore continue doing what we have been doing and, rather than evaluating
the Act's success today, do so at its tenth birthday.
[SOURCE: Federal Communications Law Journal Speech (p233), AUTHOR: Kathleen
Wallman]

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