Headlines Extra -- Broadcasting 3/23/99

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Wed, 31 Mar 1999 09:55:52 -0800 (PST)

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>Headlines Extra is a free online news service provided by the Benton
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>Headlines, Headlines Extra is intended to keep you up to date on important
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>communications-related news events.
>Headlines Extra -- Broadcasting 3/23/99
> Disband on the Run? (B&C)
> Too-High Expectations (WSJ)
> First Steps (WSJ)
> Changing the Face of Kids TV (B&C)
>Issue: Ownership
>The Federal Communications Commission may back off plans to force in-market
>TV local marketing agreements to disband. Under pressure from Congress, FCC
>Chairman William Kennard last week said he was leaving all options on the
>table, including permanently grandfathering LMAs. He, however, left open the
>possibility of forcing divestiture after a short grandfathering period. He
>canceled a vote in December that would have forced most owners to divest
>their LMAs within three years and now says he is considering a more lenient
>grandfathering period. Telecommunication Subcommittee Chairman Billy Tauzin
>(R-LA) complains that anything short of a permanent safe harbor for TV LMAs
>would fly in the face of Congressional intent.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.9), AUTHOR: Bill McConnell]
>Issue: Digital TV
>"It's sort of like being forced to buy a $3 million prom dress, going to the
>prom, then having the lights turned off so nobody will see it." Jerald
>Fritz's prom dress is HDTV at WJLA in Washington (DC). He figures he has
>spent more than $3 million already and is not too anxious to spend another
>$250,000 to convert to full-blown HDTV when no one is out there to watch it.
>The chicken-and-egg problem is getting worse, not better. Momentum has
>stalled. High definition sets are $5,000 and up. Programming is scarce or,
>in the case of NBC, still non-existent. Forrester Research, a
>Boston-based consulting firm, goes so far as to predict that the new
>technology will never get off the ground. Forrester researcher Josh Bernoff
>predicts TV stations will instead use their free digital air space to send
>out three or four different digital channels with pictures that are not HDTV
>but are better than current analog pictures. Under this scenario consumers
>can buy converters, not new televisions, and broadcasters will be able to
>increase advertising revenue. Since Congress gave out the free spectrum
>based on its use for HDTV, no one knows the Congressional or FCC
>repercussions that would result from networks failing to support HDTV. Bruce
>Leichtman of Yankee Group says the battle over HDTV is also caught in a
>fight between the networks and their affiliates who are not anxious to
>broadcasting the digital signals if no one is watching. One affiliate owner
>who has become an early adopter, is A.H. Belo Corp. Belo President Robert W.
>Dechard says the new technology could be what lures back viewers who have
>fled broadcast TV. But until the economic argument for turning on the HDTV
>switch becomes more compelling, analysts say, most affiliates will continue
>to sit on the sidelines.
>[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (R8 on 3/22), AUTHOR: Kyle Pope]
>Issue: Digital TV
>Three episodes of "Zoboomafoo" produced a few months ago are a milestone in
>interactive digital TV. The star, an animated creature who is called Zoboo
>for short, aims to reach the kids audience. The programs allow children in a
>few selected locations around the US to pick answers to program questions on
>a PC hooked up to the program and get the response, "Hey, good job!" The
>November PBS documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright took a different approach to
>interactivity. Data was transmitted simultaneously as the documentary aired
>and stored on computer hard disk drives. Only after the show was over could
>the audience take the self-guided tour through Fallingwater, the Guggenheim
>museum and other locations via their PC. Digital television offers many
>possibilities for interactivity. Broadcasters can transmit full shopping
>catalogs for clothing, music or other products featured in a program. They
>can provide alternate camera angles at sports events. Viewers can be offered
>rewards for staying through the end of the program. Chris Kratt, the
>producer of "Zoboomafoo," and others are wrestling with the creative
>challenges the new technology presents.
>[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (R8 on 3/22), AUTHOR: David Bank]
>Issue: Ed Tech
>"When I was a kid, a black face appearing on television was an event in my
>household," recalled FCC Chairman William Kennard last week at the first
>"Through The Eyes Of Children" conference in Los Angeles. Appearing with
>Bill Cosby and others at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' event,
>he said TV programming has come a long way since his childhood days in terms
>of diversity, but he added it still has a long way to go. Chairman Kennard
>stressed that children's programs should feature more minorities. The
>Academy also presented its Honor Roll of 23 programs honored for "promoting
>values of diversity and having a "pro-social" message.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.28), AUTHOR: Joe Schlosser]
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

"Everything wants to become television" (James Ulmer -- Teletheory)