Communications-related Headlines for 7/6/99

Gary Handman (
Tue, 6 Jul 1999 14:06:58 -0700 (PDT)

>Issue: Ecommerce
>America Online recently purchased, a Web site that provides 120
>channels of music, and Nullsoft Inc., which makes a downloadable player for
>music files stored on the Internet and software that lets anyone transmit
>their own music content. By the end of the year, AOL subscribers should be
>able to download and transmit music at their whim. "We want to reach the
>mass market so that we can let them push one button and they've got music,"
>said AOL spokesman Jim Whitney, adding that customers will be able to
>download songs from AOL in the future. "What the AOL announcement really
>signals is that the record industry's competition is anyone who is in the
>business of distributing information digitally," said Ric Dube, an Internet
>music industry analyst at in Stoneham, MA.
>[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (Sec 3, p.1), AUTHOR: Patrick Cole]
>Issue: Children's Television
>[Op-ed] A resent study conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the
>University of Pennsylvania concluded that most children's TV is of little
>educational value. They found that 28% of children's programming contained
>or more acts of violence, and that only one third of shows classified as
>"educational" under FCC guidelines could be considered "highly educational."
>While Gillespie does not take issue with these findings, he does question
>the assumption that children's programming should be educational. He believes
>the content of most educational shows merely replicates material that can
>easily be learned elsewhere. The apex of truly edifying programming for kids,
>according to Gillespie, is not "School House Rock", but "Bugs Bunny."
>[SOURCE: New York Times (A21), AUTHOR: Nick Gillespie, editor of Reason


Issue: Television
The television industry is providing more shows for young people, but the
educational value of some of the programs are questionable, reporter the
Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. They say the
number of shows for children rose 12 percent in the 1998-99 season but deemed
21.1 percent of the total programming "minimally educational.'' Shows such as
"NBA Inside Stuff'' and "Peer Pressure'' continue to receive the educational
and informational label even though they contain minimal educational content,
the report said. Parents report their children spend, on average, 3.25 hours
per day watching television or videos and 48.2 percent of the children have
television sets in their bedrooms. Researchers said the increased number of
children's programs is due mostly to a Federal Communication Commission rule
that helps broadcasters speed their license renewal by airing a minimum of
three hours a week of educational and informational television for children.
Annenberg research fellow Kelly L. Schmitt commented: "Shows such as 'Duck
Tales' and 'Hercules' were offered by stations to satisfy the educational
of children, even though syndicators and networks claimed they were not
designed for that purpose.''
[SOURCE: Washington Post (Online) 29 June, AUTHOR: Associated Press]

Issue: Television
The V-chip has finally arrived to TV set near you. As of today, the Federal
Communication Commission requires half of all new TV sets to include a chip
that allows people to block out shows that are accompanied by certain ratings.
On-screen logos are supposed to inform parents of the age-appropriateness,
violence, sexual and other objectionable content of TV programs. In one test
run by a TV manufacture, however, only 30% of programs were found to actually
carry the on-screen ratings. Another barrier to the V-chip's use is the
technical aspect of programming TVs to block certain shows. "If I tried to use
something like that with my son, he'd laugh at me," said one parent. "If I
can't figure out how to program a VCR, what am I going to do with a V-chip TV?
I'd have to ask him to program the shows so he can't watch them. Does that
any sense?" Many parents also report being unaware of either the chip or the
rating system.
[SOURCE: USA Today (3D), AUTHOR: Gary Levin]

Issue: Internet
Good news for companies that are focusing on Web sites that offer audio and
video. A survey to be released today by Arbitron NewMedia indicates that 49
percent of the respondents said they buy products they see advertised during
Webcasts or on related sites. Northstar Interactive, a research firm owned by
Arbitron NewMedia, conducted the survey online this month. Northstar
interviewed 1,527 Internet users who were picked randomly on the sites of two
major online broadcasters, and Sixty-three
percent of
those surveyed access Webcasts at home, while 47 percent access them at
work. A
third of the respondents said they tune in daily, while three-quarters said
they tune in once a week. Gregory Verdino, vice president and general manager
for Internet information services at Arbitron NewMedia, said the study found
that the Internet audience would like to see a portable device that would
them to listen to and watch Webcasts anywhere.
[SOURCE: New York Times (CyberTimes), AUTHOR: Lisa Napoli]


Issue: Television/Technology
The long-awaited V-chip, which allows parents to screen out violence (hence
V), offensive language and sexual situations, has been installed in new TV
and is now out on the market. There is doubt, however, that parents will ever
be chip-hip. People today have difficulty programming their VCRs, much less a
new chip inside their TV sets. And, most importantly, few people are aware of
the TV ratings that appear before television shows (D=suggestive dialogue,
V=violence, FV=fantasy or cartoon violence) that are necessary to "block"
shows using the V-chip. Also, there is concern that the V-chip could increase
the amount of questionable material on TV because networks might ague that
families now have a means to block any material they chose. On the other hand,
violent TV shows could lose advertisers if the V-chip blocks them out.
According to federal law, every new set bigger than 13 inches has to have the
V-chip installed by January 1. It is estimated that roughly half the
in the country could have a V-chip TV in five years, but lack of education on
its use and on the rating system could limit widespread use.
[SOURCE: Washington Post (A1), AUTHOR: Paul Farhi]

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

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