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SPECIAL REPORT from the National Conference for Media Reform

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Blog Thirteen Reports from the National Conference for Media Reform in Memphis, Tennessee

Over 3000 media professionals and activists from around the country have gathered in Memphis to consider the current state of the media and to discuss ways to ensure that television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet remain empowering forces for free expression and democracy.

Bill Moyers opened the conference and stole the day with another in his long line of inspiring oratories.

Invoking the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr., who was assassinated in Memphis and whose birthday is being celebrated on Monday, Moyers compared ?Big Media? to the plantation owners of the Old South. Like the plantation owners, Moyers suggested, the big corporations have nothing to gain from a truly informed public. Which is why, he proposed, while they offer up an ample supply of news and commentary, ‘they tell us very little about who really wags the system.”

But new technology and a reform movement that is gaining steam is offering up new hope in Moyers? eyes, enabling every citizen to become a Thomas Paine.

? This is the moment freedom begins,” Moyers promised. — The moment you realize someone else has been writing your story. And it’s time to take the pen in hand and start writing it yourself.”

“We have to tell the story ourselves.”

Moyers went on to warn that the Internet was in danger of succumbing to the same fate that had befallen radio, TV, and cable, insisting that the issue of Net Neutrality was of vital importance. The public must work to keep the Internet free and equally available to all, he said, noting that, despite the moves by the corporate giants to control the Net, ?People want the media to foster liberty not to quench it.”

Moyers also spoke to the need to keep public broadcasting vital, and he suggested that one of the best ways to accomplish that would be for everyone to contact their local public television stations and urge them to carry Democracy Now!, the Pacifica network news program hosted by Amy Goodman.

?You are the public in public broadcasting. And not just during pledge breaks,” he told the audience.

He also advised everyone to pay close attention to the pending Senate rewrite of the federal telecommunications act.

Suffrage, abolition, the civil rights movement. And now the media reform movement, Moyers told the audience in conclusion, underscoring just how important he sees this struggle. And the people gathered in that auditorium were the people who were on the front lines of the fight to return the media to the public service. ?You are the soul of democracy,” he told them.

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Media Briefing for Friday, January 12, 2007

Friday, January 12th, 2007

Media Briefing for Friday, January 12, 2007

The major newspaper in Memphis, Tennessee, the Commercial Appeal, notes the opening today of the National Conference for Media Reform there, which is expected to draw 2,500, and will focus on the issue of local media ownership and consolidation. The event, at the Cook Convention Center, is sponsored by Free Press.net. Speakers will include Bill Moyers of PBS and veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Here is the editorial in the Commercial Appeal, a daily newspaper which is group owned by the E.W. Scripps corporation, and which says it could choose to take offense at the subject, but it does not. Blog Thirteen will be posting reports during the conference.

There will be much activity regarding broadcasting in Washington during 2007, with indecency, the transition to high definition and cable must-carry requirements among the many issues, according to TV Newsday.

The acclaimed PBS series Nature marks 25 years with a special The Best Of Nature: 25 Years Sunday evening on PBS and on Thirteen/WNET at 8 p.m. The New York Times sums up its subject matter as “An Unforgiving Community: The Tyranny Of The Strong.” The show will focus on the quarter century of the broadcast, according to Associated Press.

They are called Generation Y and Generation Why. Now, the generation aged 16 to 25 gets to speak for itself on a PBS documentary The Next Generation hosted by Judy Woodruff. The Washington Post reports.

A documentary on the genocide in Darfur, Sudan created by actor George Clooney and his journalist father Nick, with previously unseen footage, is being broadcast Monday on American Life TV, according to Associated Press.

The controversial Kenneth Y. Tomlinson may be going as head of the Voice of America and Radio and TV Marti, but he is staying…for now, reports the Washington Post.

The founder and publisher of five black community newspapers in New England has passed away. He is William R. Hales, who in 1975 began his Hartford Inquirer and then added the Waterbury Inquirer, New Haven Inquirer, Bridgeport Inquirer, all in Connecticut, and in western Massachusetts, the Springfield Inquirer. Due to ill health, he published the last edition in May 2006, but his son Reggie is carrying on the family tradition with the Inquiring News. The Inquirer newspapers had the same impact on the region as Jet magazine did nationally, reports the Hartford Courant.

A black community radio voice in Philadelphia has been silenced. The talk and news and community information staff at WHAT-AM 1340 has been let go, and replaced with a national satellite music format, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. There is also a timeline of WHAT’s history in the Inquirer.

The head of Philadelphia’s Free Library Foundation, Linda Johnson, is working to ensure preservation of Philadelphia’s sculpture All Wars Memorial to Colored Soldiers and Sailors, which was originally unveiled in 1934. She seeks to have Philadelphia station WHYY channel 12 TV and 90.9 FM involved in the project, noting that the sculpture, which was in an obscure location for many years because of racism, has great lessons to teach. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Difficult times continue at daily newspapers. In New England, two New York Times-owned newspapers, the Boston Globe and Worcester Telegram and Gazette, are looking to cut 125 jobs, according to the Boston Globe.

The price for the new Apple cellphone, $499, may seem steep to some, but there is a large market for the new phones, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Lawyers are puzzled why Apple would wish to get into a legal fight with Cisco over the name iPhone of its much-hyped new phone, reports Associated Press.

The Seattle Times is editorializing in favor of the protection of internet neutrality. Here is the Seattle Times editorial.

Across the nation, rooftop antennas unused since cable TV became dominant in the 1970s and 1980s have been rusting away, and rabbit ears have become a part of nostalgia for most. But now they are back, with the advent of High Definition Television, which can be received over the air via an antenna. If you don’t know your way around an antenna, Antenna Web.org, provides a wealth of information, including distances to and exact directions of HDTV stations, reports the Hartford Courant.

The tangle of cables, wires and power adapters associated with electronics is gradually disappearing as technology cuts the cord, reports the Boston Globe.

Some are comparing the war between Blu-ray and HD DVD formats for TV video recording to the 1980s fight between the VCR and Beta recorders. Even though devices have been unveiled in recent months to accommodate both Blu-ray and HD DVD, the war continues and there is no clear winner, according to the Associated Press.

Offerings on Current TV, the television channel launched by Al Gore, are even better than those on YouTube.com in the opinion of Lost Remote.com. Viewers post videos on both services.

The reporter on a Connecticut newspaper story says she was planning to do a story on how over-the-top parents are now preparing videos and DVDs on their artsy and athletic children, as part of the children’ applications to gain admission to college. But doing the reporting, she learned that the video is now very realistic and even necessary in applying for college, according to her story in the Hartford Courant.

Laptop computer users who forgot to print out email addresses of those they networked with at conventions, such as this week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, soon won’t have to worry. New technology is being unveiled this month which makes this task easy, reports AP.

RFID, Radio Frequency Identification, involves a small chip contained in a small antenna that allows the identification of the price location of an object within one thousand feet of its location. It may replace bar-coding for products, down the road, reports the Chicago Tribune.

For generations baseball fans up and down the east coast were able to hear the nighttime games of the Baltimore Orioles on Maryland’s clear channel AM station, WBAL 1090, which could be heard during hours of darkness for 750 miles north and south of Baltimore, from eastern Canada and Maine to Dixie. The games were also heard some seasons on a second clear channel AM station, WTOP 1500 Washington. But no more. The Orioles are leaving WBAL and have signed with a Baltimore FM station WHFS 105.7, according to DCRTV.com The reasons for the Orioles move from AM to the more limited-range FM are unclear, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Commuters are spending more and more time in their automobiles, including in tie-ups, according to a study from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America. This apparently is good for those advertising on highway billboards, and possibly on radio as well. Media Daily News reports on the study.

Do radio listeners really want to hear non-stop Christmas music during December. The latest radio ratings in Los Angeles say the answer is yes, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Studios where erotic videos are made in California are being visited and raided by the FBI to ensure all actors are of age, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Media Briefing for Thursday, January 11, 2007

Thursday, January 11th, 2007

Media Briefing for Thursday, January 11, 2007

Consolidation of ownership of broadcasting stations and newspapers, the end of local ownership of media, and public access to the media, will be the focus of a three-day conference in Memphis, Tennessee on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The alternative weekly the Memphis Flyer reports. Among the speakers will be Bill Moyers of PBS, FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, and veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Blog Thirteen will be on hand with reports.

Meanwhile TV talk show host and pioneer Phil Donahue says consolidation and corporate ownership was the reason there was virtually no dissent to or discussion about invading Iraq in 2003. Donahue says we need Rush Limbaugh for democracy to function, and we need Bill Moyers for democracy as well, in an interview in the Memphis Flyer.

The acclaimed PBS series Nature marks 25 years with a special The Best Of Nature: 25 Years Sunday evening on PBS and on Thirteen/WNET at 8 p.m. The show will focus on the quarter century of the broadcast, according to Associated Press.

Parents are being strict about television viewing by their little children. A U.S. Census study shows 67% of parents put limits on viewing by and programming choices of their 3- to 5-year-olds, according to the McClatchy newspapers.

“Dying To Entertain” is the name of a new study by the Parents Television Council on violence on prime time television. The PTC, which until now has been known for opposing sexual content in broadcasting, is now focusing on violence, and says NBC is the worst network as far as blood and mayhem on its shows, according to TV Newsday. ABC has shown the largest increase in violence since 1998, according to the study, but ABC is standing by its programming decisions, says Broadcasting & Cable. The study says the surge in violence on TV represents a threat to children, reports the Los Angeles Times.

A survey of 653 middle school students reveals more young teenagers would rather have dinner with Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton and 50 Cent than with the president. American society’s fascination and obsession with celebrities, and its addiction to glossy fan magazines, movie stars and carpet turns, is examined in a new book, “Fame Junkies: The Hidden Truths Behind America’s Favorite Addiction.” The author is Jake Halpern, a commentator for National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, reports the Hartford Courant.

Connecticut’s first on-air female weather reporter has died at age 81. Cavell Jobert Nappi began in 1953 as the “weather girl” on WKNB-TV (now WVIT) channel 30 Hartford. The objectification of women at the time is evident in a 1956 Hartford Courant headline for a news feature on her, which read “Stormy weather sounds pleasant when promised by Cavell Jobert.” Another woman hosted a children’s show on WNHC-TV (now WTNH) New Haven in the early 1950s, a time when women were allowed only certain roles on TV and radio. The Hartford Courant has the obituary.

With much fanfare and publicity, Apple Computers CEO Steve Jobs this week unveiled Apple’s new iPhone. Now, Cisco Systems has announced that it is suing Apple, because it has had a trademark for the iPhone name since the year 2000, reports the Associated Press. Maybe the real winners in this battle will be the intellectual property lawyers, according to the New York Times. Meanwhile, in Japan, the question is why there is so much fuss about the Apple phone, according to the Los Angeles Times.
That is not the question on Wall Street though. Wall Street likes the new Apple product. Apple stock is nearly double its 52 week low, reports LostRemote.com.

It was 44 years ago that Julia Child introduced the first television cooking show on WGBH channel 2 Boston, The French Chef. Now there is a proliferation of food shows on TV, and in an article headlined “Stovetop Showoffs” the Philadelphia Inquirer examines them.

The BBC science fiction series Doctor Who ended in the U.K. in 1989, but has remained on the air in the United States where PBS stations have continued to show the series. Now the series, which has a strong cult following, is available on DVD, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

TV Guide has gone digital, effective this week. It is now one of 400 magazines being offered in a digital format by Zinio Systems, according to Media Daily News.

With what seemed like a staggering number of back-to-back commercials on the radio, sometimes running up to 6 minutes continuously, Clear Channel Communications introduced its “less is more” campaign, with fewer ads, and has now declared it a success. With far fewer commercials, ratings for its radio stations are up, and revenues for the first 3 quarters of 2005 were up by 5 per cent or more, during a period when radio revenue generally remained flat. Media Daily News reports.

The E.W. Scripps Company, a venerated name in the newspaper business, wants to sell off all its newspapers, and concentrate on cable television. The Scripps newspapers are in 18 markets, including Albuquerque, Denver and Memphis, reports Media Daily News. Newspapers apparently have lost their luster for Scripps, says the New York Times. Companies that own both newspapers and TV stations are selling off one or the other, reports the Washington Post.

Even though iPod remains a 4-letter word in many radio circles, the top show downloaded onto iPods is, and continues to be, a public radio show, This American Life with Ira Glass from public radio station WBEZ 91.5 Chicago. The show is distributed nationally and internationally by Public Radio International. The Post Gazette reports.

Some cell phone companies impose a fee of $175 or more if a customer is dissatisfied and wishes to cancel. The FCC will be taking a look at these steep fees, according to Bloomberg News.

HD radio allows FM stations to broadcast a second format on an HD channel that can be received by an HD radio receiver. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette give a sampling of what is available on HD channels in Pittsburgh.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who is stepping down as head of the federal agency overseeing the Voice Of America, Radio Liberty, and Radio and TV Marti, has sent a letter thanking President George W. Bush for renominating him. A federal report in August 2006 accused him of misusing funds. He also had a stormy tenure on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, previously. Associated Press reports.

In Maryland, the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) is running a TV ad campaign proposing the state tax on cigarettes be doubled, and that the money be used to provide health care for those without health insurance, reports the Baltimore Sun.

The U.S. government is warning about spy coins, coins from Canada that contain tiny radio transmitters inside, to spy. Associated Press reports.

While U.S. television executives look to Europe, Asia and Latin America for proposed TV shows, the Seattle Times suggests they also might to Canada, where Tuesday evenings on CBC, a show called Little Mosque On The Prairie pokes fun at Ramadan, eating goat, and the dangers of watching American Idol and Dangerous Housewives. The Seattle Times has this report.

The power of YouTube.com is once again demonstrated as video clips from a 1994 debate between Republican Mitt Romney and Senator Ted Kennedy have been posted. Romney is shown being at odds with many conservative positions, as he defends a woman’s right to abortion, supports allowing gays in the Boy Scouts, and distances himself from Ronald Reagan. After the YouTube.com posting, Romney is now saying he was “wrong in 1994.” Romney is seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2008 and is trying to assure GOP conservatives he is one of them. Associated Press reports.

For the first time, press seats are being reserved for bloggers so they can cover a major court case –the trial of “Scooter” Libby, former aide to Vice President Dick Cheney, reports the Washington Post.

CNN is defending the tough interviewing style of Nancy Grace, who became embroiled in controversy after her intense on-air questioning of a Florida woman whose little son had gone missing. The woman committed suicide after the interview, and members of the woman’s family have brought suit. Nancy Grace has tripled her ratings since starting the CNN show two years ago, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Some companies spend millions to erect firewalls and to control emailing by employees. But now companies are fretting, as computer-savvy employees have found a way to jump the safeguards and detour their emails past security walls, according to the New York Times.

Some bloggers have found a way to make money, by linking web surfers with the websites of products they wish to buy. The Washington Post reports.

Billboards along highways are one of the oldest forms of advertising. But now billboards have gone digital, changing advertising messages every six or eight seconds, all the better to catch the eye, reports the New York Times.

There is television that is rude, crude, hilarious, and found only on the web, reports the New York Times.

The public can now choose a TV set with many different kinds of features, and ones with screens ranging in size from inches that can be held in the hand, to nine-feet wide TV sets. The New York Times reports.

The cable channel Animal Plant is entering into online programming in March with a “webisode” about a baby otter, reports Media Daily News.

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Media Briefing for Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Wednesday, January 10th, 2007

Media Briefing for Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The National Conference for Media Reform starts Friday. Blog Thirteen will be sending some special reports.

The documentary China From The Inside is airing this week on PBS stations across the nation, including Thirteen/WNET at 9 p.m. Among other things, it reveals China will be the biggest consumer of fossil fuels by 2010, has 5 of the 10 most polluted cities on the planet, and one in four families in China now owns an automobile. The series was 14 months in the making, and tries to avoid finger wagging at China by the West, says the Seattle Times. The documentary shows a diverse people struggling with the issues of money, pollution, religion, and freedom, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

CNN has announced plans for 5 new TV documentary series. They include one on slain civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Martin Luther King: The Words That Changed A Nation, The War Within on the 2005 London Bombing, Secret Iraq in cooperation with London’s Channel 4 on secret death squads within the Iraqi police force, Grady’s Anatomy on Atlanta’s Grady Hospital, and Larry King: 50 Years Of Pop Culture. Broadcasting & Cable reports.

Larry King says he’d like to stay at CNN after his contract expires in 2009, and CNN says he can stay as long as he likes, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Larry King has interviewed 40,000 guests since starting his career in 1957, reports the Hartford Courant. CNN has only one condition for Larry King, says the Chicago Tribune.

Juan Williams, author of Eyes On the Prize and senior National Public Radio correspondent, will speak at the ceremony for Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in Seattle. Seattle is in King County, which is named after the civil rights leader. The Seattle Times reports.

Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who had a stormy tenure on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and most recently headed the agency that oversees the Voice Of America, is stepping down. Tomlinson, a longtime Republican colleague of party operative Karl Rove, has asked that he not be renominated, apparently because of ethical clouds, reports the Washington Post. Tomlinson says he is innocent of any wrongdoing and any accusations about him are attempts to criminalize his conservative political stands.

The new series Little Mosque On A Prairie on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is helping to eliminate stereotypes about Muslims in Canada. The situation comedy is showing that most Muslims are not obsessed with the Middle East and are not fundamentalist extremists, but simply wish to live their lives as anyone else, reports the Globe and Mail.

The CW television network situation comedy series Everybody Hates Chris received the highest number of nominations for the 38th annual NAACP Image Awards, reports Variety.

There are now three warring factions within the CBS television newsroom, according to the New York Observer.

Two months after his death, the office of Ed Bradley at 60 Minutes has been left untouched, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Is there too much blood on prime time TV? The Parents Television Council, which is best known for its campaign against sex on TV, including the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction incident, is now focusing its efforts on violence on television, according to TV Newsday.
Nielsen, the TV ratings service, has begun installing software that allows it to track internet usage in households, reports Media Daily News.

Three major newspaper chains, Gannett, McClatchy and Tribune, have joined forces in a web advertising network to bring internet ad revenues to their companies, reports Reuters.

The Dish Network satellite TV service has lost its bid to provide out-of-market broadcast TV stations to subscribers. An appeal was turned down by the U.S. Supreme Court, reports TV Week.

It has been a good year for cable TV, and Comcast has announced it is hiring 2,800 new employees over the coming year, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.

In Massachusetts, two state legislators have introduced a bill to shift authority for approving cable TV franchises from the city and local level to the state government level. Some states such as Connecticut have always had cable regulation at the state level, but others such as Massachusetts and New York, place control of cable at the local level. The Massachusetts legislators believe state control would enable approval of more competing cable systems, says the Boston Globe.

Some commercials and programs on TV are much louder than others, creating an annoyance for viewers. Dolby Laboratories of San Francisco has created a device that it believes solves the problem, says the Wall Street Journal.

There have been some reports of cell phone users receiving telemarketing calls, for which the recipients would be charged. But it is still illegal for telemarketers to call cell telephone numbers, under FCC regulations, according to a check with the FCC. At the same time, some are proposing creation of a telephone directory of cellular telephone numbers, reports the Pittsburgh post Gazette.

Apple Computers CEO Steve Jobs has introduced two new Apple products. One is a TV set-top box that allows viewers to send video from their computers to the TV set. The other is the iPhone (costing $499) — a “smart” phone that plays music, surfs the internet, and allows users to control their Macintosh computer systems, reports AP. The gadgets mark the birth of Apple as an electronics giant, says the Boston Globe. Apple wants a bigger bite, says the San Francisco Chronicle. Apple is seeking to redefine the telephone, according to the Los Angeles Times. A breakdown of Steve Jobs’ announcements for Apple is provided by the Associated Press. The Apple iPhones will cost $499 or $599, reports the New York Times.

It’s getting harder to tell the difference between a television set and a personal computer, says the Seattle Times.

Fans of CBS primetime TV shows will be able to see snippets of them on the web, reports Associated Press.

Glam is an internet site for women, focusing on women’s fashion and lifestyle, among other things, reports Venture Beat.

Democratic Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota and Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine have introduced a bill to protect internet neutrality. The bill would prohibit the establishment of different levels of internet service for websites. Multichannel News. reports. Senior members of Congress are emboldened by recent developments and are working to create legislation to prohibit charging fees for high priority lanes on the internet, notes the New York Times.

Controversial and strident radio talk show hosts sometimes have difficult and clouded pasts. G. Gordon Liddy, who spent 5 years in prison for Watergate, has had his own nationally syndicated talk show since the 1990s. Oliver North is another example. He has had a daily radio talk show and also is a reporter for Fox News Channel. The Boston Herald reports.

Those interested in radio history may wish to know about a military training film from 1951, 56 years ago, on the operation and management of New York City radio station WMCA 570, then a local station owned by Nathan Straus. The film is in the Prelinger Collection Internet Archive.

The Rev. Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley, a producer at Howard University’s public TV station WHUT channel 32 Washington, has passed away, reports the Washington Post.

Documentary filmmaker Betsy Steinberg, whose work has included programs on PBS, has been named Illinois state film director, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sirius satellite radio is giving Howard Stern nearly $83 million in stock, according to AP The bonus is on top of his original $500 million dollar deal, according to the Los Angeles Times.

A Clear Channel Communications owned radio station in Washington, D.C., has moved a weekly gay program, Radio With A Twist from its 10 p.m. slot Sunday evenings, to 12 midnight, to make way for a Christian call-in program. WIHT 99.5 did so, even though the show was number one in its 10 p.m. time slot. The Washington Blade reports on the controversy.

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Media Briefing for Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Tuesday, January 9th, 2007

Media Briefing for Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The National Conference on Media Reform will be held in Memphis, Tennessee, January 12-14, and Blog Thirteen will be there. Thousands of media activists and others who have interest in strong, public media will be in attendance. Speakers include Bill Moyers, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jane Fonda, Geena Davis, Danny Glover, Helen Thomas, Phil Donahue, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Ed Markey, FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein, Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Van Jones and more. Watch for special reports from Blog Thirteen on this important media event.

The documentary China From The Inside, being shown on PBS this week, shows a diverse people struggling with the issues of money, pollution, religion, and freedom, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Postcards From Buster, the PBS series that became embroiled in controversy after Buster interviewed a lesbian couple, sparking an outcry from the right, is back on the air. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

The chairman of the FCC, Kevin Martin, is promising that the FCC will complete its study and localism and local coverage by broadcast stations before taking any action on the proposal to allow even more media consolidation. Critics have maintained that consolidation during the past decade has been devastating for local coverage on radio especially, and also TV. Martin made the promise at a U.S. Senate hearing, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Martin is extending an olive branch to critics of consolidation, reports TV Week. Meanwhile the Democrats in the Senate are planning on taking a close look at the FCC, says Broadcasting & Cable.

Disney’s KSFO 560 San Francisco has been broadcasting right wing talk shows that have been urging torture, mocking the tortured, calling for the death of newspaper editors, lambasting Islam, and much more. When an online media critic, Spocko, posted excerpts of the right wing talk shows, and contacted advertisers, some advertisers cancelled. The owner, Disney ABC then sent a cease-and-desist letter to Spocko. But now many other blogs and sites have picked up and posted offending audio from KSFO. This is a textbook example of how a corporate giant can no longer suppress a small blog, in today’s internet world, according to Online Media Daily..

A watchdog group is asking the federal government to investigate the use of private commercial broadcast stations in Florida to carry the programming of Radio Marti and TV Marti, which are U.S. government propaganda stations broadcasting anti-Fidel Castro programming. Radio and TV Marti have bought time on AM and TV stations in Miami, in an attempt to reach audiences in Cuba, because its regular broadcasts to Cuba on 1180 AM and channel 13 TV are jammed by the Castro government. U.S. law prohibits the broadcast of U.S. government operated propaganda and information to audiences inside the U.S. The group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, is asking the U.S. Government Accounting Office to investigate, reports the Miami Herald.

The Hofstra University School of Law is planning a conference on media regulation and consolidation Friday, January 19 at its Hempstead, Long Island campus.

One would think George W. Bush’s proposed “surge”, to bring 20,000 or more additional U.S. troops to Iraq, would bring strong comment either pro or con from the editorial pages of the nation’s newspapers. But a survey by Editor and Publisher magazine finds they have not. Other than the daily newspaper in Spokane, Washington, which does not like the idea, there has been almost no comment. Here is the E&P story. Meanwhile, Time magazine has given conservative Iraq War supporter Bill Kristol a regular column in the magazine, and Howard Kurtz examines this decision in the Washington Post.

Next month ABC News anchor and reporter Bob Woodruff, who was seriously injured in Iraq last year, will have a special on ABC talking about his experience and his medical treatment, according to TV Week.

The East is experiencing one of the warmest winters on record, but TV weather reporters refuse to provide any serious reporting about the issue, including analysis of weather patterns, global warming, and the effect on the environment. For the most part, all the TV meteorologists do is show people playing golf in January, says former TV columnist Monica Collins in the Boston Globe.

NBC’s Today show is 55 years old, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Oprah Winfrey is being taken to task for saying that children in inner city American schools often only want iPods or sneakers, while the children in South Africa want uniforms so they can go to class, and this is why she donated $40 million to a school in South Africa. Oprah should be given a “break”, says a column in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Meanwhile the owner of a Chicago business allegedly tried to extort $1.5 million from Oprah, reports the Associated Press.

What James Brown meant to black America is described in a column by Leonard Pitts from the Miami Herald.

The Little Mosque On the Prairie is a daring new situation comedy premiering tonight in Canada on CBC. The star, named Amaar, has soap opera star good looks and wears jeans instead of a robe and scary beard, and was a corporate lawyer in Toronto who gave it up after he received a calling to become an Islamic spiritual leader in Saskatchewan, says the Globe and Mail.

The CBC is available in the U.S. at points near the Canadian border, and on some cable systems there as well such as in Seattle, Detroit, and in some portion of upstate New York and many other areas. For example, in Seattle, the cable system carries CBUT channel 2, the CBC station in Vancouver. In northern and central portions of upstate New York, CKWS channel 11, the CBC affiliate in Kingston, Ontario, is carried on cable systems.

The president of the Oregon Association of Broadcasters is demanding that the daily Oregonian newspaper of Portland retract a quote attributed to him. In it the president was quoted as saying that the 1% of airtime devoted to state and local political issues on local TV news in Oregon was “more than our fill.” But the president says he never said it, reports. Broadcasting & Cable. .

In Argentina, radio broadcasting is being used as therapy for the mentally ill. There are now a radio broadcasts from a psychiatric hospital in Argentina, believed to be a first, according to Associated Press.

Opera fans can now see the Metropolitan Opera in high definition at theatres across the country and around the world for $18, compared to the $375 a ticket for top seats at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center where the Met performs, reports the Baltimore Sun. The Met simulcasts in theatres are a “hit,” says the Chicago Tribune.

Sprint Nextel, the third largest telephone carrier in the U.S., is cutting 5,000 jobs, reports Bloomberg News.

High definition TV sets could outsell conventional analog TV sets for the first time in 2007, reports the Chicago Tribune.

In the United Kingdom, British Sky Television has announced that it has sold more than two million digital recorders. This demonstrates that around the world viewers want to control their own TV schedules, rather than have broadcasters control them, reports the New York Times.

DirecTV the satellite company is expanding its high definition programming in a major way, offering over 100 HD channels, reports Broadcasting & Cable.

Disney’s updated website will provide much more entertainment, music and games, but there will be little opportunity to post personal information or photographs, reports the Los Angeles Times.

While the Democrats have a strong agenda on many issues after taking control of Congress, observers do not expect much in areas affecting technology, reports CNET.com News.

The internet is drawing more eyeballs and advertising dollars, but traditional media are staying in the game by offering online product and advertising, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

At the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, manufacturers continue to roll out a wide assortment of new electronic products. There are 4,000 reporters covering the show and the products, reports the Chicago Tribune.. While all the new devices on display may not become commercially successful, the show gives consumers a chance to see what companies and manufacturers are working on, says the Washington Post. A slew of new devices will pipe the internet to the home television. This is the big story of the show, says the Boston Globe. Lavish parties and extravaganzas are out, and smaller quiet and focused events are in at this year’s show, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Television is dominating the show, says the Denver Post.

Sharp Electronics has unveiled a new 9-feet wide flat TV, reports Associated Press.

Comcast Cable TV has introduced a cable box that includes a TiVo recorder, according to AP.

Verizon Wireless customers will be able to watch a special live TV channel on their cellphones, says AP.

Motorola has introduced a new TV set box that allows viewers to move video around the house to various TV sets, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s SF Gate.

Sony has introduced a new internet video channel that can be watched on TV sets, reports the San Francisco Chronicle’s SF Gate.

Hillcrest Laboratories has introduced a new device that looks like a dumbbell, is motion sensitive, and helps the viewer easily navigate the 500-channel menu on TV sets, reports AP.

Digeo will sell its digital video recorders directly to consumers. Until now Digeo had sold them only to certain cable TV companies, says AP.

Owners of 3rd -generation Treo smart phones using the Palm operating system will soon be able to see video on them, reports AP.

Slingbox is offering a device that brings web video to TV sets, says AP.

XM Satellite Radio and Bushnell Outdoor have introduced a handheld device that integrates satellite radio and weather information with location tracking, according to AP.

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Media Briefing for Monday, January 8, 2007

Monday, January 8th, 2007

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.

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In Memoriam: Dr. Frank Stanton

Monday, January 8th, 2007

In Memoriam: Dr. Frank Stanton

American media enters 2007 without one of its most important figures. In the last week of December, Dr. Frank Stanton, the legendary television executive and champion of the First Amendment passed away at the age of 98.

Frank Stanton was an unusual figure in the world of broadcasting and media. We ordinarily save our hero worship for journalists, anchors and creative types. But Dr. Stanton was a television executive. His domain was the corporate office, not the bright lights of the TV studio. Even so, we cannot build a too high a pedestal for him.

As president of CBS he helped shape the nature and direction of the network news that informed Americans through the entire latter part of the 20th century. For Dr. Stanton, news and public affairs programming was the highest calling of television. Many will recall how, in 1963, when President Kennedy was assassinated, Dr. Stanton had CBS News stay on the air for four straight days, without commercial interruption. For Dr. Stanton, public service was television’s greatest calling.

Perhaps Frank Stanton will be best remembered by the history books for standing tough when Congress he rebuffed subpoenas from the House of Representatives demanding he provide outtakes from the CBS documentary The Selling of the Pentagon. Despite being threatened with jail, he stood firm, and set a precedent that continues to be a model for journalists today.

For me, personally, though, Frank Stanton will be best remembered as a mentor and guiding light. He was the inspiration that led me to pursue a career in television. And when I was studying for my doctorate, I will never forget how he took the time out to speak with me and give the kind of advice that would stay with me throughout my career. Later, he tapped me to be the head of America’s most-watched public television station, Thirteen/WNET, opening my eyes to the incredible possibilities of public service media.

Frank Stanton was a quiet hero, but a hero nonetheless. I urge everyone to pick up a copy of Fighting for the First Amendment by Corydon Dunham. It’s essential reading for any student of American media, and, really, all who have an interest in the constitutional guarantees to freedom of the press.

Not long ago, at a benefit in New York, he leaned over to me and said, ?Always fight for the First Amendment, there is nothing more important.” Words that should be inscribed on the door every media provider in America.

(I?ll be offering a tribute to Frank Stanton in the upcoming issue of Television Quarterly, so I hope you?ll look out for that.)

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Media Briefing for Friday, January 5, 2007

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Media Briefing for Friday, January 5, 2007

The National Conference on Media Reform will be held in Memphis, Tennessee, January 12-14, and Blog Thirteen will be there. Thousands of media activists and others who have interest in strong, public media will be in attendance. Speakers include Bill Moyers, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Jane Fonda, Geena Davis, Danny Glover, Helen Thomas, Phil Donahue, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Ed Markey, FCC Commissioners Copps and Adelstein, Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Van Jones and more. Watch for special reports from Blog Thirteen on this important media event.

The Pew Research Center has created a new unit that is monitoring nearly 50 news organizations in TV, radio, the newspapers and internet, and will issue a weekly list of the 50-most covered news stories. Reuters reports.

Broadcast journalist David Boeri is leaving the glamour of television as a reporter on ABC affiliate WCVB channel 5 Boston, to become a reporter for the Boston NPR news station, WBUR 90.9. He says that instead of stories lasting just seconds, he will be able to do in-depth stories, reports the Boston Globe.

NPR Senior Foreign Correspondent Anne Garrels is in the thick of violence and danger as she covers the Iraq War. Each morning as she wakes up, she says she ponders the risk to herself and Iraqi employees of NPR. WOMENSENEWS has the interview.

Before 1997, WQEX channel 16 Pittsburgh had been a second PBS channel operated by the primary PBS station there, WQED channel 13. But in 1997, WQEX ceased separate programming, and in recent years has been carrying a shopping network, generating $1 million a year in revenues to WQED. Now that shopping network is shutting down in April, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

ABC has sent a cease and desist letter to a media critic and blogger named Spocko, claiming his comments have resulted in advertisers fleeing ABC-owned KSFO 560 San Francisco, a hard right wing talk radio station. Among other things, Spocko says on-air KSFO hosts have urged the public hanging of a New York Times editor who defied the George W. Bush administration and published information about the government’s operations. The hosts also support torture and mock tortured, and lambaste Islam, according to Spocko. When Spocko posted excerpts of the broadcasts on his website, his efforts caused Master Card and Visa and other national advertisers to quit sponsoring KSFO broadcasts, says ABC in its letter to Spocko. Media Daily News reports on the controversy.

In an editorial, the Miami Herald says Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is moving toward authoritarian rule by refusing to renew the license of Radio Caracas Television, which has been critical of his administration. Chavez is silencing criticism, says the Miami Herald.

The marketers of diet supplement pills and medicine, including Bayer, have agreed to a multi-million dollar settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, and to stop the deceptive marketing campaigns on broadcast TV, cable TV, radio, the internet and print. Among other things, the marketers promised the pills would bring permanent weight loss and help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and of cancer, reports Broadcasting & Cable.

The New York Times has agreed to sell its group of 9 television stations to Oak Hill Capital Partners, a group headed by a Texas billionaire. The nine stations are network affiliates located across the country, with none in New York. TV Newsday reports. The Times will use the money to pay down debt and to expand in the internet business, reports Bloomberg News. Until now, Oak Hill has not owned any broadcast stations, says the New York Times. The buying company was founded by the Texas oil billionaire Robert Bass two decades ago. The New York Sun reports.

With so many choices available today it is no surprise that the audience for traditional radio is declining somewhat. Bridge Ratings has created two charts – one showing time spent listening, and another showing a simple percentage of those listening to radio. The charts show each year from 1997 through 2006. Among teens, the percentage listening to radio has decreased from over 98% in 1997 to under 90% today, according to Bridge Ratings.

Net neutrality — which assures all Internet user will remain on equal footing, with the same level of speed — seems assured for the immediate future, and there will be no separate high speed lanes for major corporations and slow lanes for small entities posting sites. It appears there will be no tolls on the internet for now, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Many buyers have been putting off purchasing DVD players because of format differences, recalling the battle between VHS and Beta video cassette records in the 1980s. But the new DVD players resolve the conflict between formats, reports the Wall Street Journal. Warner says it is introducing a DVD disc that can handle what are currently incompatible and rival formats. Associated Press reports.

Holiday spending for consumer electronics gadgetry totaled $8.75 billion, up 6.5% from the previous year. Big screen TV sets were one of the biggest sellers, according to SF Gate. from San Francisco.

The giant International Consumer Electronics Show is being held in Las Vegas, Nevada this coming week, featuring a wide assortment of products from content providers, distributors and electronics makers. They will be displaying their latest gadgets and products in the age of digital media, reports <a href=Associated Press. Among the exhibitors will be those with gadgets that bring internet video to the television screen, reports the Wall Street Journal. The show will display a wide variety of technical “gizmos”, says the San Jose Mercury News.

After watching a video of the hanging of Saddam Hussein, a 10-year-old boy in Houston, Texas died after hanging himself in his bedroom, according to Associated Press.

Geraldo Rivera’s syndicated TV newsmagazine has been cancelled. Rivera, who first gained attention as a local news reporter on WABC-TV channel 7 New York in the 1970s, will still be seen weekends on the Fox News Channel, reports Associated Press. Production on Geraldo At Large will cease in mid-January, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

Starting this year New York City taxicabs will start showing NBC television programs during rides all over Manhattan, reports Media Daily News. Programming from WNBC channel 4, NBC News and NBC Entertainment will be broadcast, reports the San Antonio Business Journal.

Samsung says it has developed a way to broadcast digital television to screens in automobiles, according to Reuters.

In recent decades Colorado Springs, Colorado has been known as a major pillar of the religious right in the United States, becoming the “Vatican” of Christian fundamentalism. It has been the home of one of the most powerful leaders of the Christian right, James Dobson, whose broadcast Focus On The Family is heard on many hundreds of radio stations nationwide. But with the fall of evangelical pastor Ted Haggart, and the defeat of the Republicans in Congress, weakening Dobson’s influence, is Colorado Springs losing its position, asks the hometown newspaper, the Colorado Springs Gazette. In New York, Focus On The Family is heard daily on WMCA 570, WOR 710 and WWDJ 970, according to the organization’s Focus On The Family station locator website.
YouTube.com has run into another hurdle. The government of

Brazil has ordered YouTube to remove a video it finds objectionable, according to Associated Press.

For 35 years, Rafael Pineda has anchored the news on Spanish language Univision’s WXTV channel 41, making him the oldest local news anchor in New York television, according to the New York Daily News.

Matt Lauer marks 10 years as host of the Today show. At age 49, he may not renew after the current contract for Today expires, reports TV Week.

A group known as Citizens For A Two Newspaper Town is asking that shroud of secrecy enveloping an 8-month long legal battle between Seattle’s two daily newspapers, the Times and Post Intelligencer, be at least partially lifted. The Seattle Times has this story.

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Media Briefing for Thursday, January 4, 2007

Thursday, January 4th, 2007

Media Briefing for Thursday, January 4, 2007

NPR is planning a new show to compete head-on with its tremendously successful and highly acclaimed Morning Edition. The new show will aim at 25-to-44 year olds. Noting the success of Morning Edition, NPR chief executive Ken Stern – in an interview in the Los Angeles Times – said that when it comes to news and information, “one size does not fit all”.

A documentary on the history of Canada’s Second City Television, which has spawned many comedians who have made it big, is airing on PBS Chicago station WTTW channel 11. The documentary airs in two parts, and was culled from a 3-part series on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The PBS documentary Annie Leibovitz: Life Through A Lens which debuted this week, has been reviewed by the Orlando Sentinel, which notes that her pictures included Bette Midler on a bed of roses, Whoopi Goldberg in a milk bath, and John Lennon in the nude, wrapped around his wife. Her photographs are indelible pop culture images, says the Orlando Sentinel.

Now that the Democrats are in control in both the U.S. Senate and House, telecommunications reform may take a new turn, but it remains to be seen if the Democrats can pass measures that the president will sign. The Cox News Service provides a detailed look at issues and key players.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will be meeting with officials of C-SPAN to reach a compromise on C-SPAN’s proposal to take control of its coverage of proceedings in the House chamber, including camera positions. Broadcasting & Cable reports..

Are there too many ads on TV? There may be fewer in the year 2007 as networks provide more single-sponsored shows, and there will be a greater variety of ads on the internet, reports the Wall Street Journal.

For nearly 7 decades WELI has been a powerful brand name in New Haven, with a positioning as the station for local news and information. WELI 960 New Haven, a 5,000 watt radio station with a strong signal over New Haven County, and once the top station in the region, with nearly a dozen seasoned broadcast journalists, has shuttered its entire local news operation. The local newscasts on WELI – owned by Clear Channel Communications – will be recorded at a Clear Channel station in Syracuse and then sent to WELI by internet for broadcast, reports the Hamden Daily News. Clear Channel’s other AM station in New Haven, WAVZ 1300, also once a powerful news station winning many awards and national recognition, also now has no local newscasters.

Thom Hartmann, host on the liberal radio talk network Air America, has a new book out called Then Undeclared War On The Middle Class. He says the federal government has turned its back on the founding fathers’ premise of protecting the middle class from the elite, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Even if the owner of the football Washington Redskins does not buy WGMS 104.1, the current operator, Bonneville, owned by the Mormon Church, may still drop classical music on WGMS and go all sports, reports the Washington Post. But the website of co-owned all news WTOP 103.5 says Bonneville is committed to keeping classical music in Washington, according to the WTOP.com News site. The TV news website DCRTV.com reports the deal to sell WGMS to the Redskins owner is still not dead, and that there is a negotiating “dance” going on.

In what he calls the redundancy of competing companies, a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist says there is redundancy in both the satellite TV and satellite radio business in the United States.

WBZ-TV channel 4 Boston has been known in recent years simply as “CBS 4.” The WBZ call letters, which have a brand name in Boston dating back to the 1920s, have been downplayed this decade. When a new general manager was named in 2006, and he took a cab to the station, he recalls the cab driver asked him, “Whatever happened to WBZ?” During most of its first 4 decades after signing on in 1948, WBZ-TV was usually the top station in Boston. But this decade it has been slumping in the ratings, behind WCVB channel 5 and WHDH channel 7. So now, the new general manager is resurrecting the WBZ calls to market channel 4, reports the Boston Globe.

WABC-TV channel 7 New York, the flagship station of the ABC network, has begun broadcasting its local news in high definition, but has not publicized it, reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

The year 2007 is expected to be a big one for TV station sales. Among stations that are up for sale are 35 TV stations owned by Clear Channel Communications and 9 network affiliated TV stations owned by the New York Times, according to TV Newsday.

In the fast-changing world of technology and entertainment, big media companies such as Disney, Fox, Viacom and Sony have made major comebacks, according to Ad Week.

A federal report has found emergency radio communications to be lacking in a study of 75 metropolitan areas in the United States. Washington, D.C. was one of only six cities to receive good marks, but New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia did not. A breakdown of radio communications – the ability of police and fire and emergency personnel to contact each other by radio during an emergency, was a major factor in the large number of deaths in the World Trade Center attack of September 11, 2001. Today, U.S. Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff says the communications systems will be upgraded by the year 2009, according to the Associated Press. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports about its city’s lack of an adequate system.

The Miami Herald praises the anti-Fidel Castro Radio Marti and TV Marti for buying time on commercial stations in Miami in a backdoor attempt to reach audiences in Cuba. The main Marti broadcasts at 1180 AM and on channel 13 TV are jammed by Cuba, notes the editorial in the Miami Herald.

Samsung is introducing local TV newscasts on cellular telephones, according to TV Newsday.

Young viewers are being moved from the small screen to the even smaller screen, MTV is launching service on its N network that will be available on two types of phones, reports Media Daily News.

Kiz Bop To Go is an iPod like device for children that costs $30, offers 20 songs, and requires only a triple A battery to operate, according to the New York Times.

Matt Lauer marks 10 years as host of the Today show. At age 49, he may not renew after the current contract for Today expires, reports TV Week.

There is furor in the United Kingdom over a BBC reality TV show in which teenagers play house with real babies, reports the London Daily Mail.

Those interested in the history of broadcasting may wish to know a major multimillion dollar archive of radio history, which is in the works in Thousand Oaks, California, according to the Ventura County Star.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, GLAAD, has issued a list of what it says are the most offensive stories and broadcasts during the year 2006. On the list are columnist Ann Coulter, also a piece in Time magazine, one in the New York Post, interviews on Imus in the Morning, and the San Maarten newspaper in the Caribbean, along with others, according to GLAAD.

TV stations must provide closed captioned information for hearing impaired viewers, in the event of emergencies. The FCC has issued a list of 6 steps to assist TV stations in assuring they properly broadcast closed-caption alerts in emergencies, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

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Media Briefing for Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2007

Media Briefing for Wednesday, January 3, 2007

As promised, the FCC has released to the public 88 studies on the issue of media ownership. These studies are being used by the FCC in its deliberations regarding whether to relax even further rules that would allow more consolidation of media. A decade ago the FCC and the Congress with its Telecommunications Act of 1996 changed the rules to allow companies to own as many as 8 radio stations in a market. Now giants such as Clear Channel own 1,200 of the most powerful major market AM and FM radio stations, and consolidation is also underway in TV, with Rupert Murdoch’s Fox owning 2 of the 6 commercial VHF stations in New York City, WNYW channel 5 and WWOR channel 9. The studies may be found at the FCC website. There is a story in Media Daily News.

The American Masters documentary Annie Leibovitz: Life Through A Lens debuts tonight on most PBS stations across the nation. She is the most celebrated American photographer today, after 40 years of taking pictures, notes the Boston Globe. Annie Leibovitz, who was born in Westport, Connecticut, took a striking photograph of ex-Beatle John Lennon nude, wrapped around his clothed wife. This was just hours before Lennon was assassinated, reports the Hartford Courant. The documentary is a reminder of how much America values branding, and not just in software, congressional candidates and hamburgers, says the New York Times. In its review, the McClatchy newspapers recall the phrase “A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words.” Here is the McClatchy review. The documentary captures some of Annie Leibovitz’s essence, says AP.

Chef Todd English needs no introduction in food circles, a veteran of PBS’s Cooking Under Fire and the WGBH Boston series Hot Off The Grill. Now he has a new show, Food Trip With Todd English, reports the > Boston Globe.

Tavis Smiley has a daily PBS television talk show as well as one on Public Radio International. Smiley, marking 15 years on the air, also has a best-selling book, reports Associated Press.

Rocky Mountain Newscolumnist Dusty Saunders has praise for Jim Lehrer as both a PBS television news anchor and as an author.

The fast food industry has known for decades that children respond to their advertising. Now, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are saying that children also respond to ads that promote having them engage in more physical activity. Medical News Today reports.

The grainy videotape of the hanging of Saddam Hussein over the weekend and that appeared on cable TV network Al Jazeera and many internet sites is being criticized around the world, from the Vatican and Italy to Iraq itself. In Iraq, Sunnis are demonstrating in the streets, and the government is trying to learn who made the videotape and released it. Associated Press reports. Meanwhile an advisor to the Iraqi government is quoted as saying an official who supervised Hussein’s execution has been arrested and is being investigated in connection with the videotaping, according to Associated Press.

A new study of 75 metropolitan areas in the United States showed that only six received high marks in communications — the ability of emergency teams to contact and speak with eachother during a major disaster. Communications breakdown contributed significantly to the disaster of the World Trade Center in Manhattan in 2001, and this report says New York City still has problems in its communications system, according to the Associated Press.

Cuts at newspaper newsrooms continue. The Philadelphia Inquirer, taken over by a group of local businessmen 7 months ago, is expected to announce today new layoffs that will cut 17% of its newsroom, reports the New York Times.

A different kind of cutback has hit The Wall Street Journal. Its width has been reduced by 3 inches, which will save $18 million a year and allow it to be published in more locations, according to n Associated Press.

One of the biggest victors in the November election was so-called Net Neutrality. The Democrats are planning to pass legislation that would preserve the current system on the internet, in which all items posted move at the same speed. Cable and telephone companies have been proposing that two lanes be created, one fast lane for those paying hefty fees, such as major corporations, and one slow lane that would relegate ordinary people to slow callup. The Democratic plan is one that would protect internet democracy, says the New York Times in an editorial.

In the world of the internet, there is a hidden gender gap in entrepreneurship and especially in engineering, according to Venture Beat.

Online security experts are issuing warnings about organized internet crime efforts. Hackers with infections are slithering onto web sites, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Sports events are usually watched live, while upscale TV shows and shows in competitive time slots are often recorded, and watched later, sometimes as long as 7 days later, according to Media Daily News.

PBS has named Jason Seiken as senior vice president for PBS interactive. He will oversee PBS.org, PBS Kids.org , PBS Kids Go.org and PBS Parents.org , according to TV Newsday.

A few years ago it was widely believed that Dell and other computer giants would be changing the TV world, including integrating it with the internet. But as it turns out, it is small compnaies that are changing TV, reports CNET.com

Gays and lesbians are more likely to use the internet for social networking, reports Gay News.com. Meanwhile in Turkey, the government has begun the trial of the publisher of a newspaper that argues for gay civil rights. The publisher is charged with violating Turkey’s strict morality laws, according to SX News.com of Australia.

Another look at U.S. Census figures recently released that show Americans spend more than 9 hours a day on technology, reveals that Americans spend 2 months a year just watching TV, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Sirius satellite radio increased its subscribers by 82% during the year 2006, and for the final quarter of the year, had its first-ever profitable quarter, according to Bloomberg News.

Geico Insurance’s gecko – the big lizard with the down-under accent – has shaken up the insurance company advertising world. Gone are the days the insurance companies ran staid, boring ads, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Network correspondents and technicians were on their “best behavior” for the Tuesday broadcast of Gerald Ford’s funeral service, according to TV columnist Tom Shales in the Washington Post. TV reporter David Bauder says the correspondents showed utmost respect in their coverage, in his column on the Associated Press newswire.

CNN has apologized for a mistake by its graphics department on a story about the ongoing search for Osama Bin Laden. The story, on Wolf Blitzer’s The Situation Room featured the visual; headline “Where’s Obama?” The office of Illinois U.S. Senator Barack Obama says the senator has accepted CNN’s apology, according to the Associated Press.

Time Warner Cable has announced it will carry Fox News’ new business channel when it launches. Time Warner, which covers much of New York City, has a total of 23 million subscribers nationwide. The Time Warner announcement is significant because Fox has said it will not launch its business channel without 30 million subscribers lined up, reports Broadcasting & Cable.

On his 700 Club television program, the Rev. Pat Robertson says God has told him there be a mass killing in the United States in a terrorist attack late this year. Associated Press reports.

Recently Air America and liberal talk disappeared from the radio dial in Boston. WKOX 1200 Framingham and WXKS 1430 Medford, which had been carrying it, both switched during December to an all-Spanish format. Now a group has formed in Boston, Save Boston Progressive Talk, to challenge the decision by Clear Channel, according to the Boston Herald.

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