Communications-related Headlines for 4/22/99

Gary Handman (
Thu, 22 Apr 1999 16:37:08 -0700 (PDT)

>Issue: Internet Content
>Tina Sharkey, vice president and general manager of the group that designed
>the new Web site for the Children's Television Workshop (, said
>the "Sesame Street" show "invented one of the most important movements of
>the 20th century, empowering families to get involved with their kids'
>learning." The challenge for Ms. Sharkey's group was to recreate the CTW's
>blend of education and entertainment on the Web: "We had to take what we as
>a company understand about a 6-year-old's mind-set and then apply it to the
>Web," Ms. Sharkey said. The nonprofit site also has to compete with
>commercial online destinations built by Disney ( and
>Nickelodeon (, the cable channel for kids. 67% of parents who
>own computers log on with their kids, so CTW tried to produce "lapware" -- a
>site that would be engaging for both parent and child. The site includes
>interactive story telling and other activities for kids. But it also has
>stuff for parents like Internet technical advice in plain English. Unlike
>the television counterpart, the site does some contain some advertising
>although there's none on pages targeted for preschoolers and it is clearly
>labeled where it does appear. This has raised some criticism: "I don't think
>children are a proper target for commercial speech," said Peggy Charren, a
>visiting scholar at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education and a
>leading lobbyist on such issues. "Ads tell children they need something they
>may not be able to afford when in reality, they probably don't need it."
>[SOURCE: New York Times (D8), AUTHOR: Michelle Slatalla]
>Issue: Television
>"This industry isn't going through a technology change -- we're going
>through a generation change," said Harris president E Van Cullens. "There
>are people here who have postulated a scenario in which every person is a
>broadcaster and every office is a production house, and, if you put
>something up--and it's interesting--people will look at it."Viva Las Vegas
>where the broadcast industry met this week at its annual meeting. Observers
>watched as battle lines the old guard -- radio and television -- and "the
>new mavericks of the Internet." Although digital television is being
>launched -- The Tonight Show will be available in HDTV starting next week,
>for example -- the enthusiasm for it at this meeting was nowhere near that
>displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show this past winter. There are only
>about 20,000 digital TV sets and the networks can't seem to decide what
>resolution format will succeed. And in New York and Chicago, there are
>problems getting tower space for the new antennas needed. But computer execs
>are showing off how digital technology can be a boon for advertisers --
>interactive services can allow viewers to order clothes their favorite stars
>wear (or the background music they hear or tickets to a band's next concert)
>with the click of a button and product placements can be done in post
>production or even live.
>[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (Sec 3, p.1), AUTHOR: Gary Dretzka]
>Issue: Broadcasting
>Silicon Valley was well represented, not surprisingly, at this year's
>convention of the National Association of Broadcaster. Some attendees even
>commented that the gathering looked frighteningly similar to the Comdex
>computer show held this week in Chicago. While techies have had a growing
>presence in broadcasting for some time, they seem to be making broadcasters
>more uncomfortable than ever before. "They've gone beyond what we would
>consider our safety zone," said Gus Chambers, a Montana producer. Even the
>big guys appear to be worried about the prognosis for broadcasting in the
>Digital Age. "The thing that made radio and TV a good business was
>limited competition,' said Ted Turner, founder of Turner Broadcasting and
>CNN. "Why do you think I merged with Time Warner, I was scared to death of
>the future."
>[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (B6), AUTHOR: Even Ramstad]
>Issue: Digital TV
>Digital television means more than pretty pictures, it means extra channels
>and new services, services which the Federal Communications Commission has
>not chosen to select. FCC Chairman Bill Kennard told the annual broadcasters
>convention in Las Vegas, "Just as the jet engine revolutionized air travel,
>I think that when the broadcast airwaves go digital, it's going to
>revolutionize television in this country." The new services will offer
>information for viewers and new opportunities to make money for the
>broadcasters. Jerry Yang, co-founder of the Internet company Yahoo!,
>believes broadcasters and Internet companies can and should work together to
>create new information products that people can get from their computers or
>TV sets. Howard Stringer, chairman of Sony, said, "Digital television will
>afford unprecedented opportunities to create new content, customize it and
>re-express it in new formats." This fall NBC, working with Intel, plan to
>give viewers who watch some digital versions of its Saturday morning teen
>shows the ability to participate in online chats and take interactive
>[SOURCE: Washington Post (Online), AUTHOR: Jeannine Aversa (Associated

Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

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