Media Briefing for Monday, January 8, 2007
Eleven years ago, when the 1996 Telecommunications Law was enacted, allowing broadcasting consolidation, there was little publicity or debate. Most people outside the industry did not know about it. The rules allowed one company to own up to 8 radio stations in a market, among other things. Now the FCC is considering further relaxing the rules, and permitting more consolidation, and this time there is public debate. The National Conference for Media Reform is a three-day forum being sponsored by Free Press, a non-partisan and nonprofit organization concerned with issued of media consolidation, ownership of local stations and newspapers by giant corporations, and government funding of public broadcasting. Speakers include Bill Moyers of PBS, White House reporter Helen Thomas, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, and U.S. Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who has been key in communications issues. The conference is being held this coming weekend, Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Memphis, Tennessee, according to the Commercial Appeal of Memphis. BlogThirteen will be on hand with some special reports from the conference. So stay tuned!
It is more than 60 years since the Nazi holocaust, and anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head in parts of Europe and in the Middle East. Anti-Semitism in the 21st Century: A Resurgence is a documentary that will be shown on many PBS stations including Thirteen/WNET this evening. The libeling of a people surges with a vengeance, says the New York Times. The documentary keys on the falsehoods that drive anti-Semitism, according to the Boston Globe. The documentary will discomfort viewers of all stripes, says the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, quoted on the Democracy Broadcasting Blogspot. The documentary does a good job of describing the phenomenon, says the Washington Jewish Week in its review. It provides an eye-opening look at anti-Semitism, says the Star Ledger of Newark.
The FCC has released 88 reports and studies on the issue of station ownership and media consolidation. But the FCC, which is considering relaxing the rules even further, allowing more consolidation, is withholding another 1,400 pages of documents on this issue, maintaining it is privileged information, reports Broadcasting & Cable.
Members of the U.S. Supreme Court are now appearing on television. The once rare public address by a Supreme Court justice is not so rare any more, reports the Washington Post.
In February 2009, just two years from now, all TV stations in the U.S. will be required to stop broadcasting in analog, and to broadcast all programming in digital. If you are receiving broadcast TV with an antenna, you’ll only receive static if you have an analog TV set. Do you have a digital TV set or a digital converter, asks the Washington Post.
The power of cellphone video in television news coverage is skyrocketing. Two very recent examples of this power include the videotaping by cellphone of the hanging of Iraq president Saddam Hussein, and the capturing on video of the racial rant by comedian Michael Richards. Associated Press reports.
Samsung has introduced new technology that allows broadcast TV stations to enhance their signals so they are easily received on mobile television sets, portable TV sets and regular TV sets in hard-to-reach areas. The device is called A-VSB and uses existing digital spectrum space, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s SF Gate. Meanwhile Verizon is promising it will be offering broadcast quality TV on cellphones within months, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s SF Gate.
The FCC has mandated that all cell phone companies provide enhanced 911 service so that emergency call centers receiving 911 calls will immediately know the location of a wireless caller. Cell companies have asked for an extension of time to comply, but the FCC has denied any extension, according to Associated Press.
The search engine Google.com is collecting millions of pieces of information, and retaining copies of all emails received and sent by customers of its Gmail service, according to the Tribune-owned Advocate, the alternative newspapers of New Haven, Hartford and the Valley of Western Massachusetts. This may not be a good thing, suggests the Advocate weekly group.
Fifteen news organizations are asking a federal judge to release audio tapes of the upcoming trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the embattled former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, Associated Press reports.
Free wireless internet service is a step closer to reality in San Francisco, where the mayor has signed an agreement with Earthlink and Google to provide it, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Seattle already has free citywide wireless internet service. In Florida, the community of Saint Cloud introduced free wireless internet service, and there have been benefits beyond those originally envisioned, reports the Orlando Sentinel.
A survey has found that 40% of internet users do not activate their security systems because of the the process, reports Associated Press.
A new survey shows that when making friends or establishing relationships, teenagers are more likely to ask for their internet site profile than a telephone number. The survey shows 70% of girls 15 to 17 have profiles on internet social networking sites, while 57% of teenaged boys 15 to 17 do. Associated Press reports.
A study shows that TV viewing habits developed when boys are boys, remain after boys become men, reports Media Daily News.
AT&T says it will not sell premium fast-speed delivery on the internet for at least 2 more years, which apparently guarantees net neutrality for now. This means that giant corporations and small entities and individuals will all enjoy equal speed when net surfers call up their sites on the web. Some have been proposing that net neutrality be set aside, and that large entities be able to buy a fast lane on the internet, leaving those entities that do not pay the fees to slow lanes, and slow delivery. AT&T’s decision may even spur Congress to pass a law protecting net neutrality, says the Los Angeles Times.
Hollywood studios have approved an agreement that removes a major obstacle for viewers who wish to burn movies they download digitally, onto DVDs. The Associated Press reports.
In Washington, Howard University’s WHUR 96.3 has gone digital. Columnist Marc Fisher tells the story and traces WHUR’s 35-year history as a black station that covered the black community with news and talk programs in the crucial years of the 1970s. The station, the former WTOP-FM donated to Howard by the Washington Post, carried extensive coverage of the civil rights movement and serious racial issues. It was in sharp contrast to most black oriented stations which were white owned, on the AM dial, and which stuck to playing the hits, such as the Sonderling group that included WOL 1450 Washington and WWRL 1600 New York, according to Fisher, whose piece is in the Washington Post.
The New York Times is selling its AM radio station in New York City which it has owned since 1944. The Times is selling WQEW 1560, a 50,000 watt clear channel station heard during hours of darkness up and down the east coast, to ABC for $40 million. The Times will retain WQXR-FM 96.3 and its classical format. The Times had acquired 1560 (then WQXR-AM) and 96.3 WQXR-FM 96.3 in 1944 from the founder of the stations, John Hogan for $1 million. The AM station at 1560 simulcast the classical programming with WQXR-FM until 1992, and then adopted a format of music standards, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, and big bands. Then in 1998 the Times sublet WQEW’s programming to ABC which has been running its Disney Radio format aimed at children, since that time. Inside Radio reports the Disney format will continue.
The Philadelphia Women column of the Philadelphia Inquirer says that public WHYY-FM 90.9 soundly beats its FM rivals for good listening.
The more the public becomes involved with HDTV sets, the more involved it becomes involved with prime television viewing, according to a CBS Research study. The study also shows the more the public is aware of the 2009 deadline just 2 years away that all broadcast TV stations must be digital, the more likely the people are to buy a high definition television set.
Satellite radio operator XM missed its projected increase in receivers it had said would be sold during 2006, and sales of the XM satellite radio receivers in stores in the final quarter of 2006 were down 50% from the same period one year ago, reports Associated Press. The number of subscribers to the Sirius radio satellite service has increased from 600,000 in 2004 when Howard Stern was signed, to six million today, reports the Boston Globe.
Slingbox, which created a device to allow people to view their local television stations on their laptop while away from their home viewing area, has a new device which does the reverse. It allows people to bring in web video on their television sets, according to Associated Press.
Two retailers of electronic products, Best Buy and Circuit City, both had strong sales in December, unlike many other retailers, reports Associated Press.
Music album sales were down by 5% in 2006, compared to the previous year, but overall music sales were up, thanks to digital downloading on the internet, reports Associated Press.
The stocks of cable TV companies were up sharply in the last year, some companies up as much as 50%, to the highest level in years. The triple offerings of cable TV, internet and telephone service was a major boon for the companies, reports Dow Jones newswires.
CD players in the automobile could go the way of the 8-track tape. Microsoft and Ford are introducing a new dashboard system that will link it with cellphone service and personal music players, according to Associated Press.
Associated Press says entertainment is going extreme as content providers, distributors and electronics product makers hold their giant conference, the International Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas this week, according to Associated Press. Americans really love their gadgets. The average household will spend $2,000 on electronics this year, compared to $1,250 in 2005, and has 26 electronic devices, including 3 TV sets, according to the sponsors of the show. San Francisco’s SF Gate reports. At the show, Apple is expected to introduce a new device allowing people to send video from their computer into their TV sets, according to AP. Being introduced this week are two devices that accommodate the two differing types of HDTV recording, thus precluding a reoccurrence of the 1980s battle between VHS and Beta TV recorders. LG and Warner are offering the new HD DVD recorders, says Associated Press. Sharp is introducing a 108-inch (that’s 9 feet wide!) TV set at the show, says AP.
“Steve Jobs: The Showman, The Scandal” is the headline of an in-depth look at the Apple founder and head and the troubles at the company. The piece appears in the San Jose Mercury News, which says Jobs’ job is safe, for now.
Time magazine is reinventing itself on the web, introducing blogs and emphasizing breaking news, reports Online Media Daily.
The Washington Times, the daily print organ of conservatives in the nation, may be in for a change in leadership. The owner, the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, is now 86, and the paper may soon be run by the Rev. Moon’s son Preston Moon, according to Marc Fisher’s Washington Post column.
Unlike many newspapers, Politico, the new Washington, D.C. paper focused on politics, is hiring, and seasoned journalists are leaving once-secure positions at major papers to join, reports the New York Times.
Is there intelligent life on other planets? Astronomers are planning to search for TV and radio signals from 1,000 stars in search for broadcasts they may be sending, reports Reuters.
Amber alerts are broadcast on local TV and radio stations when a child has been abducted and is in imminent danger. The National Association of Broadcasters website has a special page with information about the Amber program, and help for stations to become involved.