Headlines Extra -- Broadcasting 6/15/99

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

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>Subject: Headlines Extra -- Broadcasting 6/15/99
>Comments: To: upforgrabs-l@cdinet.com
>Headlines Extra is a free online news service provided by the Benton
>Foundation (www.benton.org/cpphome.html). Much like our daily,
>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).
> Will We Accept A Future Thrust Upon Us? (Current)
> Strategy: Making Channels A Local Asset (Current)
> Positioning Public TV in the New Media Environment (Current)
> Stations Developing Formats for Election 2000 Coverage (Current)
> Undercover: Don't Overdo It (B&C)
> Proud USA Shops Profane Springer (B&C)
>Issue: Public Broadcasting/DTV
>[Op-Ed] How should public television change or re-invent itself for the
>digital age? The structure of the information/digital age is paradoxical.
>On one hand the Internet and new digital technologies are global in nature
>whereas public broadcasting has always tried to cater to local marketing and
>products to keep their viewership. With all the broadcast stations now
>becoming "multichanneled", where does public broadcasting find the funds to
>pay for it? As broadcasting, radio and the Internet have the abilities to
>become more personalized, how do we get funding to compete? Can we increase
>our non-governmental revenue without sacrificing programming or losing the
>menial government funds we are allotted. Public televisions must address
>these issues as the times necessitate a new mission.
>[SOURCE: Current (p.B1), AUTHOR: Bob Coonrod]
>Issue: Public Television/Communities
>[Op-Ed] The 1996 spectrum giveaway of 6 MHz of digital spectrum to every
>broadcast TV licensee is in some ways reminiscent of the 1862 legislation
>that granted every state 30,000 free acres of federal land. The 1862
>legislation differed in a significant way: the bill had a well-defined goal
>to promote the public interest. It was the Land Grant Colleges Act, one of
>the most important events for public education in this country, which
>allowed states to use money from the sale of federal lands to create
>lasting institutions of higher learning. The free giveaway of public
>spectrum to broadcasters is tied to no such public benefit.
>Since Congress appears to have no desire to require commercial broadcasters
>to engage in specific public interest activities, even in exchange for
>valuable public property, it is likely that citizens will continue to rely
>on public television to meet needs that are unmet by for-profit media
>outlets. To serve the public, digital age public TV stations will
>increasing look to the communities they service to provide content,
>funding, and even new audiences.
>"What if, in every community in this country, a grand alliance of providers
>and users of digital communications was formed -- especially to serve the
>interest of the community?" asks Somerset-Ward. Public TV stations can do
>this by joining with educational institutions, local governments, civic
>organizations, public health networks, cultural institutions and businesses
>to help determine how the digital spectrum will best fulfill community
>needs. Foundations, he suggests, can play an important role in this by
>facilitating alliance building both locally and nationally.
>[SOURCE: Current (p.C1), AUTHOR: Richard Somerset-Ward]
>Issue: Public Media
>Last year, PBS conducted a national probability survey of retained members of
>public TV stations to see how PBS could position itself in the future not
>to survive but prosper in the new digital era. After much debating on future
>strategies, it was decided that television providers would have to adjust
>business practices to be more competitive. This article, the fourth in a
>series, describes PBS's challenge to straddle the thin line between
>revenue and maintaining content comparable to present standards. In order to
>succeed, public television will eventually have to position itself
>to advertisers and ad agencies than to individual supporters, a "disconnect"
>that is troubling but certain, according to PBS. "It becomes difficult to
>the case to legislators that public television is noncommercial while at the
>same time trying to make the case to advertisers and agencies that it is
>commercially viable. It is not impossible; but it sure is difficult." PBS
>assures that its "positioning for individual member support has to take top
>priority for a number of reasons" including its need to maintain incoming
>discretionary revenue. According to PBS, such income is its most stable and,
>because it is not designated for specific purposes, it can be used to fulfill
>PBS's essential mission as a public broadcaster. Unlike corporate,
>foundation, and government funding, which can end suddenly,
>community-based and mission-driven support is longer lasting.
>[SOURCE: Current (p.B3), AUTHOR: Christopher Dann and Kevin Harris]
>Issue: Media & Democracy
>The latest strategic campaign in public broadcasting comes from commercial
>broadcasters' lack of interest in political coverage. In 1998, for example,
>only 0.13% of local news time in California covered the state's elections.
>Gore Commission asked for free airtime for candidates from commercial
>broadcasters, but station owners adamantly object that proposal. Public
>broadcasting, then, could provide programming for the public that feels
>alienated by the lack of coverage. In what is being calling "Best Election
>Practices 2000," public broadcasting is looking to reinvent itself by using a
>number of different strategies to provide election coverage in different
>locations. For example, a Web site may be an option either using straight
>for easy load and access or compressed video -- each campaign would be have a
>different feel depending on the marketability of the election within its
>locale. However, a few legal questions remain, such as: With limited time and
>other resources, how can public broadcasters casters prevent hurting
fourth and
>fifth party candidates? Public broadcasting is hoping to score points with
>those people who are feeling alienated and to respond to the Gore
>requests, evolving into a creative local programmer.
>[SOURCE: Current (p.B2), AUTHOR: Dave Iverson]
>Issue: Journalism
>The perils of investigative reporting were repeatedly a topic of
>conversation at a recent meeting of over 900 journalist in Kansas City (MO).
>Journalists are finding themselves increasing faced with legal
>problems that result from undercover reporting. Corporations are especially
>becoming more prone to sue news outlets for fraud or invasion of privacy.
>According to Lynne Dale, who was sued for a Prime Time Live story about
>Food Lion that she produced. Recent court decisions have caused reporters
>to be "more timid. We're producing shows for juries, not audiences, now.
>It's very bad." Several speakers warned journalists about making offhand
>comments that might come back to haunt them as evidence of journalistic
>bias. Producers also discussed the difficulty of getting investigative
>projects on the air. "We're operating in an incredibly hostile environment
>for serious documentaries, " said David Gelber, executive producer of CBS'
>Ed Bradley on Assignment.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.88), AUTHOR: Bill Kirtz]
>Issue: Content
>"I think (Jerry) Springer is a talent that still hasn't been truly tapped
>into," Dick Block of Unapix Entertainment. Studios USA has decided to sell
>the Springer show and interested parties are lining up for the purchase.
>Sources say Springer doesn't want to change the way the show has been
>produced and is unwilling to tone down the show's violence. After Studio USA
>execs forced Springer to reduce the violence in the show, it has dropped in
>the ratings -- being beaten
>by Opera in May. Now Springer wants the violence back in. Many interested
>parties have signed confidentiality agreements to begin talks about buying
>the show from Studios USA.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting &Cable (p14-15.), 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)