Headlines Extra: Broadcasting

Gary Handman (ghandman@library.berkeley.edu)
Mon, 13 Dec 1999 15:34:29 -0800 (PST)

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>From: "Le Blanc, Jamal" <jamal@BENTON.ORG>
>Subject: Headlines Extra: Broadcasting 12/07/99
>Headlines Extra is a free online news service provided by the Benton
>Foundation (www.benton.org). 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.
> Federal Aid Merely Trickles For DTV Transition (Current)
> Affils Wary of Fox DTV Plan (B&C)
> A Mouse In-House (B&C)
> FCC Hears Creative Pitches (B&C)
> Without Reforms, Public TV Is headed For the Periphery (Current)
> Moonves Testifies At NAACP Hearing on TV Racial Diversity (Comm
> FCC Hears From File Foes (B&C)
> Panel Weighs Continued Subsidy For Minority Radio Network (Current)
> At Long Last, Local (B&C)
>Issue: Digital TV
>With Congress only granting a fraction of the requested $771 million in
>federal aid for public television's conversion to digital, stations are
>scraping to raise funds for the mandated transition. The Corporation for
>Public Broadcasting is having great difficulty distributing the smaller
>amount that Congress allotted them. CPB's digital aid recently decided to
>take a sabbatical until more money is available. "There is no money, at the
>moment, to talk about," explained Doug Weiss, vice president of CPB. This
>means that the Federal Communications Commissions' deadlines for the
>conversion may not be met. Since the Clinton Administration has balanced the
>content and fiscal responsibilities between CPB and Public
>Telecommunications Facilities Program (FTFP) there has been confusion as to
>how the funding should be divided between the two.
>[SOURCE: Current, November 29, 1999, (p.1), AUTHOR: Karen Everhart Bedford]
>Issue: Digital TV
>Although Fox doesn't have a digital plan yet, it doesn't want its affiliates
>executing their own unilateral digital strategies either. Furthermore, News
>Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch and Fox Television Chairman Chase Carey denied
>any intention on Fox's part to capture affiliates' digital spectrum rights
>for its own use. However, Fox does seem to have some applications in mind
>that would require the network and its affiliates to work as partners. Such
>joint programs are a touchy subject since Fox tried earlier this year to
>exact payments for ad inventory that was previously included in an
>affiliate's overall agreement. Some affiliates assume that the new plan is a
>way for Fox to use their spectrum without paying for it. Murdoch counters
>that "it's not a question of taking it away. We are just asking them to be
>prepared to cooperate in some way." Neither Murdoch nor Carey would rule out
>going back to affiliates at some point and asking for payments to help
>support major programming events.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable, Nov. 29, 1999 (p.14), AUTHOR: Steve
>Issue: Merger
>Stu Bloomberg and Lloyd Braun became co-chairmen of the newly formed ABC
>Entertainment Television Group after the merger of ABC's primetime
>entertainment division and Disney's TV studios, Buena Vista Television
>Group. The consolidation, an attempt to reap the benefits of vertical
>integration, marked the first of its kind in Hollywood. Now at ABC,
>production and prime time scheduling will be under one roof, with Disney
>Studios producing TV shows for ABC first and for other networks second.
>While rival networks disliked the idea that they would settle for seconds,
>the ABC/Disney alignment has now become an accepted part of the Hollywood
>landscape. Others, such as CBS and Viacom, are getting close to the level of
>integration achieved at ABC and Disney. However, ABC currently has just five
>Disney-produced shows on the air and three more planned for mid-season. The
>limited number of Disney products funneled to ABC has resulted in a dearth
>of off-syndication revenue for Disney's bottom line. The absence of Disney
>products at ABC has been due to a "frosty" relationship between studio and
>network executives.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable, Nov. 29, 1999(p.22), AUTHOR: Joe Schlosser]
>Issue: Merger
>AT&T and Viacom lawyers are trying to convince the Federal Communications
>Commission to approve pending mergers despite the appearance of regulatory
>entanglements. AT&T is pushing for a lenient reading of new cable ownership
>rules, saying it will be well under the 30% cap on national audience reach
>after merging with MediaOne Group. Critics say the new company would reach
>more than 40% of the country's multichannel subscribers. AT&T says
>subscribers obtained through MediaOne's stake in Time Warner Entertainment
>should not be included when calculating audience reach. Viacom says it
>should be able to keep its 50% stake in UPN after merging with CBS. Existing
>rules prevent any company from owning more that one network. Viacom
>officials say the limit is invalid because UPN is not really a network.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable, Dec. 6, 1999 (p.22), AUTHOR: Bill McConnell]
>Issue: Public Television
>Christiansen says inadequate funding and political manipulation have blocked
>public television from achieving its potential, and steps need to be taken
>to purge them from public television's future. "Commercial broadcasters
>today face competition from many more sources than public television, but
>the imperative for commercial broadcasters to keep public television poor
>has not changed." It has never nor will it ever be in the self-interest of
>commercial broadcasters to have a strong competitive public broadcasting
>television presence in the US. Politically, Congress and the Executive have
>been unwilling to establish the means for protecting funding for public
>television and end program manipulation. Christiansen considers the
>conflicting visions and paradigms, the mission of public television, what it
>means to be an educational institution, the role of the next president of
>PBS, the external system-wide agenda of PBS, and the internal changes
>required at PBS.
>[SOURCE: Current, Nov. 29, 1999 (p.13), AUTHOR: Bruce L. Christiansen,
>formerly presided at PBS from 1984-1993 and is now dean of the College of
>Fine Arts and Communications at Brigham Young University]
>Issue: Diversity
>Last week the NAACP session on lack of diversity in the television industry
>blasted major networks for continuing to deny opportunities for minorities.
>CBS TV CEO Leslie Moonves was the only high-level executive from the
>networks to speak. NAACP President Kweisi Mfume criticized networks for lack
>of progress not only in putting more minority actors on camera, but also in
>not hiring more minority writers, producers and other decisionmakers.
>Moonves defended CBS' record on racial diversity, pointing out that 17 of
>its 21 prime-time shows feature minority actors in major roles. Moonves also
>said there must be change in terms of increasing minority ownership of TV
>and radio stations. He said CBS executives were assisting new $1 billion
>Prism Fund by providing $50 million for fund that will help minorities
>acquire media properties. Mfume praised Moonves and criticized the other
>network executives for not attending. "I think it speaks volumes that
>they're not here," said panel member and former U.S. Representative Estaban
>[SOURCE: Communications Daily, November 30, 1999, AUTHOR: David Ward]
>Issue: Minorities/Ownership
>The Federal Communications Commission is currently deciding between two
>record keeping options for minority and women hiring at broadcast stations
>and cable systems. One would require them to post job openings in print
>media and make the notice available to any agency that requests it. The
>second would require companies to actively recruit at locations where those
>demographic groups are found. Here, broadcasters would have to keep records
>identifying which sources they have contacted to create a diverse pool of
>potential employees. With either option, broadcasters would have to file
>annually details of their employees gender and ethnic make-up. None of this
>data, however, can be used against a renewal of a telecommunications license
>because a federal appeals court struck down that rule in April of 1998.
>Broadcasters would like the rules that would allow them to advertise on the
>Internet, which the FCC might be willing to accept.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable, December 6, 1999, (p14), AUTHOR: Bill
>Issue: Radio/ Minorities
>NPR is considering phasing out the free satellite access that has been
>enjoyed by radio networks serving the Native American and Latino
>communities. Some member of NPR's Distribution/Interconnection Committee
>would like to end American Indian Radio on Satellite's (AIROS) and Radio
>Bilingue's Satellite service's free use of the NPR-managed Public Radio
>Satellite System (PRSS). The members are concerned that other users of PRSS
>unknowingly have to subsidize the two networks' satellite time. Frank
>Blyth, head of AIROS, has reported said that network would have to pare down
>its 24-hour service to just one hour a day, if it was forced to pay
>interconnection fees. Distribution/Interconnection Committee member Susan
>Braine, who was AIROS's first network manager, said that charging the
>minority-oriented networks would send the wrong message on Capitol Hill,
>where NPR has recently used underserved audiences as a lobbying point to
>secure funds to replace the existing satellite.
>[SOURCE: Current, Nov. 29, 1999 (p.1), AUTHOR: Mike Janssen]
>Issue: Satellite
>President Clinton has signed the Satellite Home Viewers Act into law so now
>half of the nation's households will have the opportunity to get local
>television signals via their satellite carrier. The bill allows the
>approximately one million satellite subscribers to keep receiving imported
>signals even though a court had ruled those subscribers ineligible to
>receive such signals. The cost for getting the new local signals ranges
>from an additional $5 to $6 a month onto customers' DBS bill. The big
>problem faced by satellite providers is the potential fines they'll
>encounter if they continue to carry local signals without agreements with
>local stations after six months. Some companies fear that broadcasters will
>sit around until the end of that deadline and force the satellite carriers
>to pay big money to carry their signals. This bill only effects the top 30
>TV markets, if customers are not in those markets, they may have to wait a
>few more years to begin receiving their local signals.
>[SOURCE: Broadcasting & Cable, November 29, 1999, (p4), AUTHOR: Paige
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Gary Handman
Media Resources Center
Moffitt Library
UC Berkeley 94720-6000

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