Media Briefing for Monday, December 4, 2006

staff | December 4th, 2006

Doctors are asking for a crackdown on ads aimed at children. The American Academy of Pediatric says inappropriate ads contribute to many childhood ills including obesity, anorexia, and drinking alcohol, and Congress should act, according to Associated Press.

Children are not getting the building blocks of life from high technology play, according to a group that has created a list of toys that help build human communication in children. A group known as TRUCE, Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment ( http://www.truceteachers.org ) says children involved in high tech only are suffering from compassion deficit disorder, according to a report in the Boston Globe. But computers continue to be a major part of children’s lives, and Google is now giving away spreadsheets and programs that allow certain desktop computer functions to be done easily. Google is targeting children from kindergarten through high school age, according to the Associated Press.

Cellphone technology is overtaking the computer for teenagers. Cellphone technology is allowing teenagers to notify friends exactly where they are, and to socialize in many ways, according to the Boston Globe. At the same time, despite spending billions of dollars, the cell phone companies are not delivering reliable service, according to the San Francisco Chronicle which says dropped calls are still a major problem.

As online viewing is booming, amateurs are now able to become broadcasters themselves, challenging the media titans. No multimillion dollar FCC broadcast license is required, reports the San Jose Mercury News.

Steven Spielberg spoke out to the board of the International Emmys that networks need to be more cautious about presenting graphic violence in prime time when children are watching, saying “I’m a parent who’s very concerned.” Now there are TV shows that are non-violent and family friendly, and at the same time are not sugar-coated and too sweet, according to the Boston Globe.

While some in the media have compared NBC’s decision to redefine the Iraq War as a civil war as bold, similar to Walter Cronkite’s description of the Vietnam War as unwinnable after the Tet Offensive in 1968, New York Times columnist David Carr takes pause and says, in effect, “not so fast.” The mainstream media have been willing to redefine terminology and coverage of the war only after the George W. Bush administration suffered a major setback in the November election, Carr says in today’s Times.

This past Friday, some 900,000 customers of the Dish satellite TV service lost their ability to tune in so-called distant TV stations. Viewers in White River Junction, Vermont, for example, could no longer tune in to watch the local news on WMUR channel 9, the ABC station in Manchester, New Hampshire, because that channel is considered “distant.” Dish Network was flooded with calls, according to the Boston Globe which reports this end of service – leaving many rural viewers without access to full major network programming – is the result of a 9-year-long legal battle.

The Spanish language TV network in the U.S., Telemundo, owned by NBC, was forced to terminate its election coverage of the Venezuela presidential election – won handily by President Hugo Chavez. The broadcast was interrupted when individuals identifying themselves as being from a Venezuelan state regulatory agency ordered the Telemundo crew to stop telecasting from the South American nation, according to Associated Press.

Two former FCC officials say the current indecency censorship crusade of the FCC is illegal. Broadcdasting & Cable reports.

Thanks to XM and Sirius satellite radio, it is possible to gain airplay for music and songs that are not classic hits, which traditional AM and FM radio stations play over and over again, to the exclusion of non-hits. Offering hundreds of music channels, the barrier that had existed for all but the most popular songs has been lifted, according to the New York Times.

A new survey of Internet users shows that conservative Republican web browsers tend to click on right wing political sites such as Rush Limbaugh’s site and that of the Weekly Standard, while Democratic Web browsers go – not to left wing sites – but to non-political ones, cultural sites such as black-oriented Web sites. The New York Times says Democrats are going to sites for communities that are heavily Democratic. One analyst says “I don’t know whether this tells us that Democrats haven’t figured out how to make politics entertaining.”

Reuters and Yahoo are hoping to turns the millions of people with cameras and video phone recorders into photojournalists. They are establishing a site that will feature photographs submitted by people in the general public, according to the New York Times.

The future of Internet advertising is in the United Kingdom. Web advertising is soaring there, and anyone interested in seeing how it works should travel to Britain, according to the New York Times.

Thanks to sharp-edged hosts such as former prosecutor Nancy Grace, and conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck, primetime ratings for CNN’s Headline News channel are spiking, according to the New York Times.

The Wall Street Journal has been expanding over the past several years, adding new sections and launching a Saturday weekend edition. But now the Wall Street Journal is shrinking – in a different way, according to the New York Times.

The Washington Post Sunday Magazine is 20 years old, and to mark its anniversary interviewed prominent people in D.C., including Larry King, current CNN host and former Mutual radio network host. Here is the Washington Post story.

CBS is tweaking the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric, injecting a more aggressive approach, the Washington Post reports.

CNBC today relaunches its Web site, focusing on additional video and more investor tools, according to Reuters.

The TV news industry Web site Newsblues.com has issued a list of best radio and TV news Web sites. The Web sites cited by Newsblues include national sites such as one listing salaries of TV news anchors, and local ones such as Tampa, Florida and Asheville, North Carolina.

When new local owners took over the Philadelphia Inquirer there were sharp cutbacks, and the union has threatened a strike. But a tentative agreement was reached today on non-wage issues, which reduces the possibility of a strike, according to the Inquirer.

The celebrated chef Jacques Pepin is featured in a published interview today, discussing his life and career. Pepin has hosted no fewer than 13 PBS TV shows, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Verizon has agreed to carry PBS Kids Sprout on its television service, according to a story on the fierce competition between Verizon and Comcast, in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.