Communications-related Headlines

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Fri, 6 Aug 1999 09:36:00 -0700 (PDT)

I'm waaaaaaay behind in digesting these headlines; sorry for the pile-up.
I DID, however, avoid sticking in stuff having to do with KPFA...I SWEAR, I
had nothing to do with the incident!

Gary Handman

>MEDIA & SOCIETY
>
>PARENTAL (NOT EXPERT) GUIDANCE SUGGESTED
>Issue: Media & Society
>Theodore Dalrymple is critical of the latest suggestions by the American
>Academy of Pediatrics. The Academy said that children under two should not
>watch television and that parents (and doctors) should take a greater
>interest in what children watch. He states that his disdain for television
>is pretty apparent. Dalrymple says if he could, he'd make children watch the
>farming news everyday for two years so that they would develop a hatred for
>TV. "How life should be lived is not a technical question to be decided by
>committees of experts... The reason that parents should take an interest in
>the activities -- or perhaps I should call them the passivities -- of their
>children is because they are responsible for the moral welfare and growth of
>their children. This inescapable responsibility is antecedent to any
>research-based recommendations of expert committees, however eminent their
>members, and cannot be abrogated... If there are indeed parents who, because
>of the Academy's recommendations, start to take an interest in what their
>young children watch on television, I can only say that such parents appall
>me only a little less than those who continue to take no interest whatever.
>I hesitate to use the word abuse in these times in which everyone thirsts to
>be a victim, but to leave children to the mercies of a television screen is
>abusive, and it requires no pediatricians to tell us so."
>[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal, A10, AUTHOR: (Theodore Dalrymple is the pen
>name of Anthony Daniels, a British physician and contributing editor of
>City Journal.)]
>(http://www.wsj.com)
>
PEDIATRICIANS URGE PARENTS TO BAN TV FOR KIDS UNDER 2
Issue: Media & Society
Based upon research on early brain development, the American Academy of
Pediatrics released a new policy statement yesterday urging parents to ban
television for children younger than 2. Research shows that babies and
toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other
caregivers for healthy brain growth. "Children under 2 should be interacting
with a puzzle or digging in the dirt -- anything that is active," said Dr.
Miriam Baron, assistant professor of pediatrics at Louisiana State
University in New Orleans and the chairwoman of the AAP committee that
forged the policy. AAP officials are also encouraging parents to remove TV
sets, video games and computers from the bedrooms of older children to
create "an electronic media-free environment." "Their bedrooms should be a
sanctuary, a place where kids can reflect on what happened that day, where
they can sit down and read a book," said Baron, who said TV sets and
computers should be placed in the family room or home office.
[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (p.1), AUTHOR: Karen Ann Cullotta]
(http://chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV-9908040338,F
F.html)

TURN OFF THE TUBE, BUT NOT FOR NAACP'S REASON
Issue: Media & Society
[Op-Ed] Instead of calling for more "authentic" black characters, writers,
producers and broadcasters, the President of the National Association for
the Advancement of Colored People, Kweisi Mfume should "encourage black
parents to impose more restrictions on the amount of time their children
waste on TV." Television, says Medved, is a "patently defective product,"
that has an "insulting and mind-numbing impact on everyone unlucky enough
to watch it." According to Nielsen Media Research, black viewers watch an
average of 40% more TV than other viewers. And according to Ronald F.
Ferguson, a researcher at Harvard, black students at Shaker Heights High
School near Cleveland, OH (where middle and upper-class black and while
students attend), perform far worse academically than their white
classmates because they watch twice as much television. If the NAACP's new
initiative succeeds in bringing more black characters to the networks, it
may well result in even higher levels of television addiction among African
Americans, he says, making the fundamental problem even worse.
[SOURCE: USA Today (13A), AUTHOR: Michael Medved is a member of USA Today's
board of contributors, a film critic and host of a nationally syndicated
daily radio talk show.]
(http://www.usatoday.com/news/comment/ncguest.htm)

CONVERGENCE VOWS IDEAL COMMUNICATION BUT BEWARE THE FINE PRINT, EXPERTS SAY
Issue: Convergence
Looking for convergence? Try this: An executive of Finland's largest
telephone company starts by photographing Sesser with a digital camera.
Pushing a button, he transmitted the photo through wireless infrared
technology into the memory of his mobile phone. Then he connected the phone
to the Internet and e-mailed the photo to the reporter, so he could retrieve
it on his laptop. The exec also e-mailed it to the Finnish post office, with
instructions to print it as a postcard and send it with an accompanying
message to the reporter's home in Hong Kong. The postcard arrived shortly
there after. Creating such postcards is a routine service of the Finnish
post office, which charges the equivalent of $1.50 to print and mail one.
And anyone in Asia or Europe can buy the phone he used, the Nokia 9110
Communicator, one of the first cell phones on the market to connect to the
Internet. By next year, almost every mobile phone on the market will have
the capability of connecting to the Internet. And, Sesser reports, phones
will soon be standard equipment in computers. "This all might sound like
science fiction to the average layman out there," says Tapio Hedman, a Nokia
vice president for communications, who reels off scenarios like getting
restaurant menus on the screen of your mobile phone for the neighborhood
you're walking through. "But it isn't science fiction. To some extent, it's
here already."
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (), AUTHOR: Stan Sesser
(stan.sesser@news.awsj.com)]
(http://interactive.wsj.com/articles/SB933614740961626931.htm)

FALLING THROUGH THE NET: DEFINING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE
Issue: Digital Divide
>From the Press Release: More Americans than ever have access to telephones,
computers and the Internet -- tools critical to economic success and
advancement -- but a digital divide between the information "haves" and
"have nots" persists, and, in some cases, has widened significantly,
according to a new Commerce Department report President Clinton released
today as part of his New Markets Tour. Access to computers and the Internet
for Americans in all demographic groups and geographic locations soared at
the end of 1998, due, in part, to the success of pro-competition policies,
the report said. Over 40 percent of U.S. households owned computers, one
quarter of all households had Internet access and 94.1 percent of American
households were connected by telephone at the end of 1998. But the bright
picture is clouded by data that show significant disparities continue
between certain demographic groups and regions and, in many cases, the gap
between these groups has grown over time, the report said. "While we are
encouraged by the dramatic growth in the access Americans have to the
nation's information technologies, the growing disparity in access between
certain groups and regions is alarming," Commerce Secretary William M. Daley
said. "We must ensure that all Americans have the information tools and
skills that are critical for their participation in the emerging digital
economy," Sec Daley said. "America's digital divide is fast becoming a
'racial ravine'," Larry Irving, assistant secretary of Commerce for
Telecommunications said, citing the report's data identifying certain
minorities, low-income groups and residents in rural areas and central
cities as among those lacking in access to the nation's information
resources. It is now one of America's leading economic and civil rights
issues and we have to take concrete steps to redress the gap between the
information haves and have nots."
[SOURCE: NTIA]
(http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/digitaldivide/)

Issue: Intellectual Property
A Federal appeals court for the ninth circuit in Pasadena, CA recently ruled
that consumers can use their computers to make personal copies of digital
works
they have already purchased or legitimately downloaded to listen to them in
different places. In 1984, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark "Betamax"
case that television viewers could make video copies of television programs to
watch later. The practice, known as "time-shifting" is now being modified for
computers and called "space-shifting." The court case, RIAA v. Diamond
Multimedia, was deciding the fate of the _Rio_ portable gadget that stores
music in digital form (in digitally compressed MP3 files) and plays it back
through headphones. The Recording Industry Association of America has long
been
frightened of Rio, saying it encourages music piracy.
[SOURCE: New York Times (CyberTimes), AUTHOR: Carl S. Kaplan)
(http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/07/cyber/cyberlaw/09law.html)

GOP UNVEILS ONLINE TV
Issue: Internet/Politics
Yesterday, the Republican National Committee launched what might be called
GOP-TV, an Internet-based broadcast outlet with a global reach that requires
no federal license. It is a new video streaming technology, which will allow
Republicans to air news conferences and special political events live over
the Internet during the 2000 campaign. RNC Chairman Jim Nicholson said this
is only one tool in a budding "e.GOP Project" that he described as "a
comprehensive cutting-edge commitment by the Republican Party to harness the
Web's power for its communications, organizing and fund raising." Their
first broadcast was a caustic put-down of Vice President Gore called "The
World According to Gore."
[SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News, AUTHOR: Cox News Service]
http://www.sjmercury.com/svtech/news/breaking/merc/docs/049072.htm)

CBS IS ACQUIRING 35% OF MEDSCAPE IN EXCHANGE FOR ADS
Issue: Internet/Advertising
CBS has been expanding its online business by exchanging advertising on its
television, radio and outdoor advertising holdings for stakes in small
Internet companies. Yesterday, it announced that it would acquire a 35%
stake in Medscape, an online provider of medical information, in exchange
for $150 million worth of promotion over the next seven years.
[SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (C4), AUTHOR: Associated Press]
(www.wsj.com)

THE RISE OF NARROWCASTING
Issue: Television
If you want to know what the future of television will be like, turn on your
radio. Each medium was once dominated by large outlets that dominated the
market. Now, the number 1 radio station in a given market may only reach 7%
of the audience -- many stations make money by reaching just 3% of the
audience. It works because advertisers, in this new economic model, are able
to get a fairly precise idea of who will hear their pitch; they don't waste
money trying to sell scouring pads to college guys, Johnson writes. The idea
of broadcasting is dead in radio and TV is following the path to
narrowcasting: " little pop-culture cubbyholes where each viewer gets his
own kind of fare." This is the first in a series of articles the Tribune
will run on the changing television industry sparked by these questions: Who
is hurt and how badly when television ceases to depict a diverse
population? What will be the fallout from the explosion of new,
television-related technologies, many of them designed to serve narrower
audience niches? And is the tradeoff in the more idiosyncratic programming
that can now make it to air worth the loss of an inclusive programming model?
[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (Sec 5, p.1), AUTHOR: Steve Johnson]
(http://chicagotribune.com/leisure/television/article/0,2669,SAV-9907090160,
FF.html)

ONLINE PIRACY TURNS FROM MUSIC TO MOVIES
Issue: Intellectual Property
MPEG, a digital file format for compressing and playing video and audio,
could be to the movie industry was the MP3 format was to the recording
industry. Named after the Motion Picture Experts Group which developed it,
MPEG makes it possible to swap video files -- including illegal copies of
current films -- over the Internet. The files can be played on a computer
desktop or "burned" on a recordable disk called VCD and played on a DVD
player. "The fact that movies can be disseminated digitally on the
Internet, illegally, is a serious concern," said Gordon Radley, president
of Lucasfilm, producers of "Star Wars: Episode I -- The Phantom Menace,"
perhaps the most widely pirated film to date. "Our copyright laws have been
there since the time of the Constitution. Just because there's a new
technological advancement doesn't change things in any way." Some of this
summer's blockbusters have been available online within days or even hours
after release. The Blair Witch Project appeared illegally on the Internet
before being released in theaters.
[SOURCE: New York Times (D1), AUTHOR: Steve Wilson]
(http://www.nytimes.com/library/tech/99/07/circuits/articles/29pira.html)

AT&T PUTS ITS NAME ON TCI CABLE
Issue:
"They are taking a risk putting their brand name on the TCI network at this
early stage when TCI is not known for the same quality and reliability that
AT&T is," said Jeffrey Kagan, an Atlanta-based telecommunications
consultant. "You have to wonder if they aren't jumping the gun and putting a
Mercedes name on a lemon." It may have been inevitable, but some are
questioning the timing of AT&T's move before upgrading TCI's cable systems
and enabling them to deliver high-speed Internet and local phone service.
[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (Sec 3, p.1), AUTHOR: Jon Van]
(http://chicagotribune.com/business/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV-99072801
37,FF.html)
See also:
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
[SOURCE: New York Times (C11), AUTHOR: Stuart Elliot]
(http://www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/news/financial/att-ad-column.html)

FCC CABLE CHIEF LATHEN CALLS FOR MARKETPLACE SOLUTIONS IN ERA OF CONVERGENCE
Issue: Cable/Broadband
Yesterday, in a speech to the Strategic Research Institute's 1999 Forum,
Deborah A. Lathen, Chief of the Cable Services Bureau of the FCC, said that
"the emergence of convergence" puts cable television in the forefront of the
new wave of advanced communications services, known as broadband. She said,
"The development of cable modems and DSL technology should introduce us to a
world in which all communications modes - video, voice and data - are readily
accessible and conveniently bundled." Lathen outlined three major roles of
regulators in an era of convergence: 1) Ensure that the regulatory environment
is not a hindrance to the construction and deployment of advanced services and
technologies; 2) Ensure that the deployment of advanced services benefits the
greatest number of Americans; and 3) Maintain a neutral posture to avoid
promoting one technology over another. She also said that the FCC should allow
the marketplace to determine the winners and losers. Lathen added, "At every
stage of every decision, we must ask ourselves is this in the best interest of
the American consumer," including bridging the "digital divide" gap between
the
"information haves and have-nots."
[SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission]
(http://www.fcc.gov/Bureaus/Cable/News_Releases/1999/nrcb9013.html)

PUBLIC APPEAL TARGETS CHANGES BY HOLLYWOOD
Issue: Media & Society
Tuesday, lawmakers announced a campaign focusing on putting pressure on
Hollywood to clean up its act. Empower America's Bill Bennett along with
Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Sam Brownback, (R-KS), Kay
Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) and Kent Conrad (D-ND) met to announce the Appeal to
Hollywood Initiative. It is petition-based, so no legislation was
announced. It
will be carried out through a site (www.media-appeal.org). Entertainers who
have signed on include Steve Allen, Naomi Judd, Carol Lawrence and Joan Van
Ark. Other people who have signed on are former Presidents Gerald Ford and
Jimmy Carter, as well as Colin Powell, Norman Schwarzkopf and former-NY
governor Mario Cuomo. This campaign calls for people to call, e-mail or write
Hollywood executives to reduce the violence and sexual content.
[SOURCE: USA Today (1D), AUTHOR: Ann Oldenburg]
(http://usatoday.com/)
See Also:
PROMINENT SIGNERS URGE MEDIA TO CURB SEX, VIOLENCE
[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (Sec 1, p.20), AUTHOR: Associated Press]
(http://chicagotribune.com/news/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV-9907220414,F
F.html)

PBS STATIONS ACKNOWLEDGE THEY MIXED WITH POLITICS
Issue: Public Broadcasting
At least 28 stations have exchanged donor lists with one or both of the
major political parties in a practice that may go as far back as 1981,
according to a partial survey by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
The Government provides ~15% of public television's $2 billion annual budget
and that support may be in danger. Public TV leaders are agreeing to
cooperate with a independent review of the fund-raising practices of the
nation's 353 public television stations. Some Republicans are asking for the
systems's head: "Big Bird is nearly 30 years old, and it's time to leave the
federal nest," said Rep. Steve Largent (R-OK). Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY)
said that public broadcasting's tax-exempt status "should be revoked, and
Congress should phase out public funding." Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-LA),
Chairman of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, appeared less eager
than some of his colleagues to cut back the funding entirely. But he said he
would introduce legislation to make it illegal for stations to make their
lists available at all, directly or indirectly through intermediaries, to
any political organization or politician.
[SOURCE: New York Times (A16), AUTHOR: Katharine Seelye]
(http://www.nytimes.com/library/politics/camp/072199pbs-donors.html)
See also:
CORPORATION FOR PUBLIC BROADCASTING AUTHORIZATION ACT OF 1999
[SOURCE: House of Representatives]
(http://com-notes.house.gov/cchear/hearings106.nsf/eeae8466ba03a2158525677f0
04b4d11/b851d22782eade84852567af005aaada?OpenDocument)

LESS TV IN ON-LINE HOMES
Issue: Television/Internet
Homes hooked up to the Internet watch an average of 13% less television a day
than unconnected homes. This finding comes from a recent survey conducted by
Nielsen Media Research, commissioned by AOL. It also found that the biggest
movement away from television is after school and work, from 4:30 to 6pm.
During that time viewers watched 17% less television. During prime time (8 to
11pm) viewership in connected homes was only lower than unconnected homes by
6%.
[SOURCE: USA Today (B1), AUTHOR: David Lieberman]
(http://usatoday.com/)

V CLEANUP, CODE PUSHED
Issue: Media & Society
Both politicians and entertainers are urging media executives to clean up
their
act. Some leaders have called for a "programming code of content" that would
establish minimum program standards and require broadcaster to provide more
information about the content of their shows. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and
Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KA) are among a group of Senators who have asked the
television industry revive a "code of conduct" based on the one once used
by the
National Association of Broadcasters. As the "chief purveyors of our nation's
stories," television programming and content "will do much to shape the
values,
attitudes and assumptions of the next generation," said Sen. Brownback. "It is
a tremendous power and ought to be exercised responsibly."
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.18), AUTHOR: Paige Albiniak]
(http://www.broadcastingcable.com/top/top_article.asp?articleID=692237348)

MARKEY CRACKS WHIP ON CHIP
Issue: Children & TV
Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA) author of the law requiring TV makers to install
computer chips that can block out objectionable programming, scolded TV
networks and syndicators for lagging in their efforts to encode programs so
that they can be read by the new technology. "Only an elementary school
teacher
has seen so many excuses for being tardy with or missing an assignment," said
Rep Markey. Program suppliers say they are working as quickly as they can to
comply with the new regulations.
[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable (p.18), AUTHOR: Bill McConnell]
(http://www.broadcastingcable.com/top/top_article.asp?articleID=692237347)

TV AS BACKGROUND NOISE
Issue: Radio/Television
In many households, TV is becoming the medium of choice in the morning --
serving the same purpose radio has had for years. Instead of sitting down to
watch the tube, people are using TV just like radio -- listening to the
audio portion while they move about preparing for the day. "I think people
are going to bed earlier, and getting up earlier. I think they are also more
health conscious and working out," says Larry Wert, WMAQ-Ch. 5's president
and general manager. "I think television (has become) part of their morning
workouts, as they use treadmills at home and at health centers. And I think
also that people are using the medium as a local information source for
weather and traffic." The format of the morning TV news shows is modeled
after radio: "Morning television is radio until you want it to be TV," notes
Channel 5's morning anchor Nesita Kwan. "We purposefully have copied the
radio model because radio figured out that if you put traffic and weather on
at a particular time, people might be (doing) something else, but they'll
come over to get it," added Channel 2 Vice President and General Manager
Hank Price. For now, television's entry into radio's prime time is "on the
radar," but not causing any changes in radio programming.
[SOURCE: Chicago Tribune (Sec 5, p.1), AUTHOR: Allan Johnson]
(http://chicagotribune.com/leisure/tempo/printedition/article/0,2669,SAV-990
7270330,FF.html)

PBS KIDVID IS RANKED HIGH IN QUALITY, DECLINES IN PARENTS' ESTEEM
Issue: Children's Television
The fourth annual study by the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public
Policy Center that was released in June assessed the quality and educational
content of children's programming. The study also measured changes in uses
and public perceptions of children's media. The survey found: 1) the number
of parents who believe that PBS has the best children's shows declined from
61.1% in 1997 to 44.3%; 2) 38.4% of the participants believe that cable
channels offer the best shows for kids; 3) PBS offers the highest number of
high quality programs (194 programs as compared to half that number for
Nickelodeon, its closest
competitor); and 4) A&E, Discovery and the History Channel were found to be
100%
educational. The criteria for this year's study was revised to include
gender, ethnic and racial diversity of characters, problematic language and
sexual references. (The full report can be found at
http://appcpenn.org/pubs.htm)
[SOURCE: Current (p.3), AUTHOR: Karen Everhart Bedford]
(http://www.current.org/)

PUBLIC BROADCASTING

REALIGNMENT SEEKS ACTIVE CPB ROLE IN PROGRAMMING
Issue: Public Broadcasting
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has begun transforming for the
digital age by getting rid of their entire programming/education and research
offices, except for vice presidents. Fifteen positions will be eliminated
as of
September 30th according to CPB President Bob Coonrod. The staffers will be
allowed to apply for other positions but the jobs will be defined differently.
Coonrod said the objective is not to downsize but to "deal with the demands
and
exploit the potential" of the digital age. He said CPB would follow their
three
priorities or "futures agenda" for education and diversity/inclusion.
[SOURCE: Current (p.1), AUTHOR: Jacqueline Conciatore]
(http://www.current.org/)