Headlines Extra -- Broadcasting 6/08/99

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Tue, 6 Jul 1999 14:10:25 -0700 (PDT)

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>Subject: Headlines Extra -- Broadcasting 6/08/99
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>Headlines Extra is a free online news service provided by the Benton
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>Communications-related Headlines, Headlines Extra is intended to keep
>you up-to-date on important industry developments, policy issues, and
>other pertinent communications-related news events. This service is
>available online at (www.benton.org/News/Extra).
> Tune in Tomorrow (ChiTrib)
> PBS' Late-Night New Challenge (B&C)
> Mile-High DTV Troubles (B&C)
> From Top of Tower, HDTV Would Be Clear (ChiTrib)
> Cable's Family Circle (B&C)
> ABC Tightens Vice (B&C)
> Sales of Network TV Spots Beat the Most Optimistic Forecasts (NYT)
> Price Isn't Right, Say Bidders (B&C)
> High Court Won't Hear CNN Case
>Issue: Public Broadcasting
>"It's a misnomer to call us public television," says Dan Schmidt, the chief
>of Windows to the World, the parent company of Chicago's WTTW and WFMT-FM.
>"It implies that we're like the [Chicago Transit Authority] or the public
>library system. We're a non-profit cultural institution, like the Chicago
>Symphony." At the edge of digital television, Mr. Schmidt has a ambitious
>plan to reinvent public television in Chicago. WTTW leads all public
>broadcasting stations in ratings, but produces considerably les national
>programming. Instead it has what some feel is the best local programming on
>public TV, if not all of television. Mr. Schmidt has a plan to double WTTW's
>budget and to create Network Chicago -- a mix of radio and TV, the Internet,
>an interactive phone network and maybe even a weekly newspaper. The
>organization would become "an assembler of quality public-service content"
>focused on 11 issue areas like Entertainment & Dining and Arts & Culture
>determined by public polling. The target audience is Baby Boomerers and
>their children. Also in the works is a nightly newscast and, as digital TV
>arrives, a pledge drive-free broadcast for the 10% of viewers that already
>are member donors.
>[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune Magazine (p.10) 6/6/99, AUTHOR: Steve Johnson]
>Issue: Journalism
>Together with the New York Times, MacNeil-Lerhrer Productions is planning to
>launch a new late-night news show for PBS stations. A spin-off of the nightly
>NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, the new show is intended to offer viewers a more
>"substantive late-night news program at 11 that puts the news in context and
>gives viewers something special, " says President of MacNeil-Lerhrer
>Productions Dan Werner. The idea for the late-night public TV news show comes
>as the commercial network have increasingly received criticism for their push
>towards news as entertainment. "Surf around the dial at 11:00 and try to
find a
>newscast that doesn't insult your intelligence. It's hard to find serious,
>important information at that hour on most local channels," commented the
>author of the show's original plan Sam Roberts, vice president/general
>for TV programming at New York Times Electronic Media.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.8), AUTHOR: Elizabeth A. Rathbun]
>Issue: DTV
>Three Denver TV stations are running into community opposition to their
plan to
>build a common digital television tower on Lookout Mountain. A group called
>C.A.R.E. (Canyon Area Residents for the Environment) testified against the
>tower at a County Board meeting last month. Les Larson, area resident and
>broadcasting consultant, testified on behalf of C.A.R.E. suggesting an
>alternative plans to the broadcasters. Larson proposed that the stations
>a tower on a non-residential mountain and use fiber optic repeaters to carry
>the signal though the area. The stations, however, do not see this as a
>alternative. There are likely to be at least two more hearings before the
>county board makes a decision on the issue. Because of the controversy, some
>Denver broadcasters could miss the FCC'S Nov 1, 1999 deadline for stations in
>the top-30 markets to start digital transmissions.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.40), AUTHOR: Karen Anderson]
>Issue: DTV
>Plans are in the works to build a new 'world's tallest building' in Chicago
>and local television broadcast stations are interested in leasing antenna
>space there. Broadcasters here now use space on the Sears Tower, but are
>concerned that grouping too many digital signals atop the building could
>affect their quality. What stations seem to fear most is a reduction of
>coverage area.
>[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (Sec3, p.4), AUTHOR: Jim Kirk]
>Issue: Media & Children
>This year's "Kids and Family" initiative is from June 21-27 where each
>will televise at least 30 minutes of child oriented content in their prime
>slots. Josh Sapan, the President and CEO of Rainbow Media Holdings Inc., said
>the Kids and Family initiative hopes to say to parents, "Be aware of what
>you're watching, and be critical and take control of what you are watching in
>your household." Last year, Disney held the best children's ratings during
>initiative while USA and Nickelodeon tied for second. However, despite
>scrutiny of media violence in the wake of the recent school shootings, the
>national roster of participation in the annual initiative has decreased
from 75
>networks to 66. CNBC, ESPN and Encore's 11-channel thematic multiplex have
>pulled out.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting &Cable (p38.), AUTHOR: Deborah D. McAdams]
>Issue: Affiliates
>CBS can not only boast about having just finished the 98-99 season as the top
>network in total viewers and households, but also for fostering a decent
>relationship with their affiliates. ABC, on the other hand, cannot claim such
>an effortless drive. Their recent deal to affiliates: either pay $50 million
>dollars/year with a 4.5% increase annually to help pay for NFL rights or
>suffer the consequences (or "adjustments") by losing local time to the
>network. A
>"transfer of wealth" was what it was termed by an insider who recognized ABC
>would benefit from the majority of the deal's monetary gains. Comparatively,
>CBS's biggest issue was more of getting their affiliates to trust that having
>Bryant Gumble revamp their CBS This Morning show would be more profitable
>programming than local news for their local partners.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting &Cable (p6-7.), AUTHOR: Steve McClellan and Joe
>Issue: Advertising
>Is it the economy? Is it the content? Many analysts are wondering and
>thrilled at this year's up-front market in advertising, which are the prime
>time commercial spots for the fall season. They will climb at least 13%
>analysts say. Considering the paradox of the broadcasters taking in more
>income even though, according to the Neilsen ratings, they are losing
>viewership, analysts wonder how long this will last. They do believe it is
>wise of the networks, such as NBC and CBS have done, to continue embracing
>new technologies during this period of uncertainty. For now, however, "If
>you want to get a mass audience," Paul Schulman, president of
>Schulman/Advanswers said, "broadcast TV is where you want to be."
>[SOURCE: New York Times (C1), AUTHOR: Stuart Elliott]
>Issue: Spectrum/Auctions
>For the upcoming Fall auctions of full-power TV and radio licenses scheduled
>by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Channel 12 in Logan (UT) has
>a floor price of $2.48 million whereas the minimum bid for Channel 21 in
>Virginia Beach is $1.24 million. These are the prices listed by the FCC even
>though the Virginia Beach license has much more market potential. FCC staff
>say the prices are "not set in stone" and that revised bids will be issued
>this summer. However, J. Dominic Monahan, a lawyer representing three
>companies bidding, suggests "bidding floors be set at $1 per home and FM
>radio at 20 cents." With one of the current bids in Sun Valley (ID), the
>22,400 homes would cost in excess of $25 per home. Bidders hope the changes
>reflect the licenses true market value or, as one bidder said, they "may
>pull out of the bidding, especially in the smallest markets."
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting &Cable (p12.), AUTHOR: Bill McConnell]
>Issue: Journalism
>CNN is scheduled to return to the lower courts for another hearing where
it may
>be able to seek immunity from paying damages to former criminal suspects.
>Last week the Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision that CNN could
>be held liable for violating the privacy rights of the suspects, when it
>accompanied federal officials in the execution of a search
>warrant in their home in 1993. The case was seen as a mortal wound to the
>practice of reporters who ride along with police to film such executions of
>search or arrest warrants. Even more hurtful, the Court held that local law
>enforcement officers would not have to pay damages because their liability
>wasn't clear at the time of the offense. In the lower court hearing, CNN is
>not expected to gain qualified immunity as it is more easily granted to the
>Government than private entities. Advocates for freedom of the press say the
>Supreme Court has left CNN in a difficult position. If the network obtains
>the immunity it desires, it could leave the damaging precedent that the
>media are acting on behalf of the state and encourage law enforcement to use
>the media in its investigations (through the subpoena of tapes and photos of
>potentially criminal behavior.) CNN has declined to comment.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.26), AUTHOR: Dan Trigoboff]
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

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