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Media Briefing for Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2007

Media Briefing for Tuesday, January 2, 2007

President Gerald Ford was not at war with the press, and indeed had a warm relationship with journalists during his tenure as president. Media columnist Howard Kurtz takes a look in the Washington Post. PBS has presented a documentary on President Ford entitled, Time And Chance: Gerald Ford’s Appointment With History, and it was broadcast on a number of PBS stations nationwide after Ford’s death, including on KCTS channel 9 Seattle, reports the Seattle Times.

Viewers looking on the web for graphic video of the hanging of Saddam Hussein did not find it on MBNBC.com which followed the standards of NBC. An NBC executive said the network does not show graphic video of executions. On the other hand the Fox News website did show portions of the video, reports Reuters. Friday evening was a tense night for the networks and cable news channels with reports of imminent death for former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. For a time it was not certain whether the hanging would even take place at that time, reports Associated Press.

PBS is planning to run 3 pilots for a proposed science series. PBS viewers get to vote on their favorite pilot, and the winner will become a multi-part series on the network later this year. The Philadelphia Inquirer gives a detailed look.

Philadelphia Inquirer TV columnist Jonathan Storm reviews the year 2006 in television. Storm singles out 3 PBS series, Country Boys, Bleak House and Prime Suspect: Final Act as “three wonderful extended series,” in his piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Jared Nathan, a former star on the PBS series Zoom, has died at the age of 21. He was killed Thursday in an alleged drunken driving automobile accident in New Hampshire, reports the Nashua, New Hampshire Telegraph. The Associated Press also has a story.

A new show featured on PBS Sprout, Pingu “will not drive you crazy,” says the San Francisco Chronicle.

New York remains the media capital of the nation. The concentration of media headquarters in Manhattan is getting denser, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Old media and new will have one focus in the year 2007: Google and the internet, according to the Los Angeles Times. Whenever a brand or service is introduced and becomes highly successful, there is always then an explosion of competitors. Google has become enormously successful, and now there are many others looking to be the next Google. Everybody wants a slice of the websearch pie, including such startups as Powerset.com, also Snap.com, and ChaCha.com, reports the New York Times.

With many decrying what media consolidation has done so far to radio and television in the United States, the FCC is considering allowing even further consolidation of ownership. Now, the FCC has decided to make all the studies it has on the issue of media ownership and consolidation available to the public. The studies will be posted on the web, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Meanwhile, the FCC may back off from further relaxing the rules now that the Democrats are in control of Congress, Media Week reports.

Could disc jockeys on radio be on the way out, the latest victims of technology? In the United Kingdom, the Manchester Evening News reports that digital voices may be replacing live people as radio disc jockeys. The reports.

Satellite radio has acquired big-name stars such as Howard Stern and others. Its audience increased again in 2006. Will there now be a merger between the two satellite radio companies, Sirius and XM, asks the New York Times.

France is holding its first-ever internet based primary election, reports the Chicago Tribune.

Health care websites once had static pages of information and data, but now many of them have turned into interactive sites where people with diabetes, cancer, AIDS, and other diseases and ailments can share information and compare experiences. The sites now often have blogs and sometimes iPods, according to the Wall Street Journal.

To engage children and young people in opera and the arts, the Metropolitan Opera is now presenting an English language version of Mozart’s classic The Magic Flute, which also has been shortened to 1 hour and 40 minutes. Judging from its first performance, it was a hit among young people, reports the Associated Press. (The production will be broadcast as part of the new PBS series Great Performances at the Met, which debuts this month, check local listings at your PBS station website.)

On Friday the FCC approved the big merger between AT&T and BellSouth. There will be a number of important consequences for consumers, reports Associated Press.

The world of cellular telephones and instant messaging is making it more difficult for parents to keep in touch with their children’s lives. It’s not like the 20th century when children had to call on the telephone and often speak to their friends’ parents, reports the Hartford Courant.

Disney’s popular websites Disney.com, ABC.com and ESPN.com are consistently among the top 10 most visited websites at work and at home, according to Nielsen Netratings which tracks online traffic. But critics maintain that the Disney websites are hard to navigate. So Disney is planning to introduce a sleek makeover, reports the New York Times.

Broadcasters have the National Association of Broadcasters. Telephone companies and pharmaceutical companies have large lobbying organizations to deliver their messages to political leaders in Washington. But companies involved in technology and the internet have no such major lobbying organization. Maybe they should, says the Los Angeles Times.

In the United States, young people are turning to websites without rules, including YouTube.com, MySpace.com, and many others, reports the New York Times.

Even traditional 50,000 watt broadcast radio stations often have signal fading and dropout problems in Manhattan and New York City. Cellular telephone companies are concerned about dropped phone calls, and are now undertaking an effort to learn where the dead spots are. So they have placed special electronic equipment in city taxicabs, since they travel all over the city, and will reveal problem areas, reports Associated Press.

Visually impaired people in Vermont will now have access to news stories in 3 Vermont newspapers, the Burlington Free Press, Brattleboro Reformer and Bennington Review. They receive the service through the telephone – a service with a mechanical voice that also provides stories from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and a total of 230 newspapers, reports the Associated Press.

With the death of Ed Bradley in November, CBS has no plans to replace him right away on 60 Minutes. The workload will be spread around the other correspondents and it will take a long time to find a replacement, according to Associated Press.

Former Los Angeles TV reporter Ron Fineman, who ran a website devoted to news and journalism, Ron Fineman’s On The Record, has died at age 54. Fineman’s website was widely read by those in the industry, and he often took off the gloves on stations that he felt were slipping into tabloid journalism, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The decision of the government of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to not renew the license of RCTV, Radio Caracas Television is raising questions in the country about whether Chavez is now stifling criticism and debate. RCTV has been a strong critic of his regime, reports the New York Times.

A government-run radio station in Iran is letting critics vent about Iran’s tough stance on nuclear power. The station, which went on the air in May, has allowed critics to vent on a number of subjects that were once taboo on Iranian airwaves, reports the New York Times.

The ABC soap opera All My Children is taking on a risky subject. A flamboyant rock star on the show reveals he is transgendered. The Los Angeles Times reports.

The impending demise of classical music on Washington’s WGMS 104.1 is part of a national trend, with classical music disappearing everywhere in the nation, notes the Washington Post. WGMS is being acquired by the owner of the football Washington Redskins, who has made a number of financially unsound decisions in recent years, according to the Washington Times.

There are only about 30 all-classical music radio stations left in the United States. Such major cities as Detroit, Philadelphia and Miami no longer have classical stations.

In addition to the approximately 30 fulltime stations, there are other stations that offer classical music during certain periods of the day and they may be found at Classical Webcast.com

Here are the fulltime classical stations, all of which also stream their music on the internet:

Classical music stations streaming

ARIZONA

KBAQ 89.5 Tempe

CALIFORNIA

KUSC 91.5 Los Angeles

KXPR 88.9 Sacramento

KDFC 102.1 San Francisco

COLORADO

KVOD 1340 and 90.1 Denver

CONNECTICUT

WTMI 1290 Hartford

WMNR 88.1 Monroe

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

vocal and operatic music (internet only)

WGMS 104.1 Washington (may soon drop classical format)

WETA 90.9 Washington (will adopt classical if WGMS drops it)

ILLINOIS

WFMT 98.7 Chicago

KENTUCKY

WUOL 90.5 Louisville

MARYLAND

WBJC 91.5 Baltimore

MASSACHUSETTS

WCRB 99.5 Lowell/Boston

MICHIGAN

Classical Music America (internet only)

NEW JERSEY

WWFM 89.1 Trenton

NEW YORK

WQXR 96.3 New York

WBKK 97.7 Amsterdam

WNED 94.5 Buffalo

WXXI 91.5> Rochester

WMHT 89.1 Schenectady

WHPW Staten Island (internet only)

<a href=www.wcny.org/classicfm/ WCNY 91.3 Syrcause

NORTH CAROLINA

WDAV 89.9 Davidson

WCPE 89.1 Raleigh

OHIO

WCLV 104.9 Cleveland

WOSU 89.7 Columbus

WDPR 88.1 Dayton

OKLAHOMA

KCSC 90.1 Edmond

OREGON

KBPS 89.9 Portland

PENNSYLVANIA

WQED 89.3 Pittsburgh

TEXAS

WRR 101.1 Dallas

WASHINGTON

KING 98.1 Seattle

WISCONSIN

WFMR 106.9 Milwaukee

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Media Briefing for Friday, December 29, 2006

Friday, December 29th, 2006

Media Briefing for Friday, December 29, 2006

The latest review for the PBS documentary When Parents Are Deployed comes from the Boston Globe, which notes the program, hosted by Cuba Gooding Jr., is totally apolitical, and points out there are 700,000 children aged 5 and under with parents deployed in the war. The Boston Globe has this review. And there are web links for the TV show, which also features Elmo from PBS‘s Sesame Street, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Mozart’s masterpiece opera The Magic Flute marks the premier of a new series by Thirteen/WNET’s Great Performances and the Metropolitan Opera. The opera will be televised on PBS on January 24, reports Associated Press. The opera is one of six Met operas that will also be shown in high definition in theatres and broadcast on radio, notes the Chicago Tribune.

The downside of consolidation of ownership of media is brought to the fore in two letters to the editor from readers of the Seattle Times. The FCC currently is considering even further relaxing ownership rules to allow big conglomerates to acquire more local stations, and these listeners detail why consolidation has not been good, in their letters in the Seattle Times.

With the stunning rise of YouTube.com and other sites, the influence and power of the internet in entertainment widened dramatically during 2006, including in TV, radio and movies, according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

People in the same house, even spouses, may have very different opinions on which TV shows they wish to watch, reports a study examined by Associated Press.

Microsoft is working to target ads directly to potential consumers. The Wall Street Journal explains that Microsoft is asking people 13 personal questions when they sign up, including their ages and addresses, and Microsoft is also monitoring searches made by email customers as well as those who visit its msn.com sites and other sites. The Wall Street Journal has a full report.

Mark Cuban, the president and founder of HDNet, the network with Dan Rather, says ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are spending too much time on the internet and streaming video. Instead, they should be focusing on HDTV, Cuban says in TV Predictions.com.

If you just received a high-definition television set, you may also want a recorder that can record in HD. If one subscribes to cable or satellite, the accompanying boxes often come with a device only a basic recording device limited to 15 hours of material, for example. TiVo is now offering a special HD video recorder that can save 35 hours of programming. The device costs around $800, plus the $13 monthly TiVo fee, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Two weeks after the big Pacific Northwest storm, some 2,000 Comcast customers are still without cable TV, internet and telephone service, reports the Seattle Post Intelligencer.

Google is investing in a Chinese firm that assists computer users in downloading video from the internet, reports Venture Beat.

Italy will start selling WiMax licenses by June. Holders will be able to have wireless technology that can be measured in kilometers rather than meters, explains Reuters.

Death is generally a sad occasion, but the coverage of the death of former President Gerald Ford has been almost a cheery event on television, reports the New York Times. Ford’s death will not receive wall-to-wall several-day Ronald Reagan-style coverage on TV, reports Reuters. CBS did not interrupt programming when news of the death of former President Gerald Ford broke. Instead, the network used a crawl at the bottom of the screen, according to Associated Press.

Declaring the right to own a color TV a basic human right, a political party was swept into power in southern India in May, and has given away 60,000 free TV sets so far. The party plans to give away 30,000 more free sets in the coming months, reports Associated Press.

Islamic fundamentalists will probably not like it, but MTV has signed an agreement with an Arabian television network based in Dubai. The new service will provide an MTV channel for Arabic young people in the Middle East, reports Variety.

The Mercury News of San Jose’s list of the top 25 shows of 2006 includes PBS’s Prime Suspect: The Final Act. Here is the Mercury News list. And the miniseries Bleak House on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre makes the top shows list of the New York Daily News.

In the big merger deal between AT&T and BellSouth, which observers say would largely restore AT&T to its dominant Ma Bell position, AT&T is making moves to gain FCC approval, says Associated Press.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette TV columnist Rob Owen does not like George W. Bush’s appointment of conservative Warren Bell to the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. But Owen dislikes Bell not because Bell — a contributor to the conservative publication National Review — is too right wing, but because of his TV show on ABC.

The only suburban daily newspaper in King County in northwest Washington state, is ceasing publication. The King County Journal, based in Kent, Washington, will print its final edition on January 21, reports the Seattle Times.

The Washington Times, with a circulation of just 90,000, is the daily organ of the conservative movement in the U.S., and is widely quoted each day by C-SPAN, Fox News and many other networks. But the paper, subsidized by its owner the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, loses money each year, and its position as a news-breaker is being seriously challenged by other conservative publications. The question is now being posed about how long it can survive, in a piece by George Archibald in the HuffingtonPost.com

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says the government will not renew the broadcasting license of Radio Caracas Television, claiming that the network has run programs urging that his government be toppled. Associated Press reports.

Are some children already too obese in their pre-school years because they are spending too much time watching TV? A new study says too much TV is one important factor, according to Associated Press. The study examined children in 20 cities and found that one in three poor children are already obese by age 3, according to the Boston Globe.

This American Life, the popular national public radio show, is moving to national television, with six episodes, starting in March, on Showtime, reports the Chicago Tribune.

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Media Briefing for Thursday, December 28, 2006

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

Media Briefing for Thursday, December 28, 2006

There is good news for advocates of good children’s television. The firm founded by the late Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood on PBS is working on a new TV show. It will be a completely different children’s program and is now in the formative stage, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

For decades Annie Leibovitz offered photographic maps of stars in Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair magazines. Now, American Masters on PBS will show what was on the other side of that great artwork. The documentary Annie Leibovitz: Life Through A Lens will be shown Wednesday on most PBS stations, reports Associated Press.

Among many things, President Gerald Ford is remembered for his efforts to ensure affordable airtime for political candidates, so that the public could be informed. Ford teamed with former President Jimmy Carter to ensure enactment of the rules, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

AT&T has introduced cable TV service in Connecticut, offering hundreds of channels at prices below those of existing cable companies. The AT&T cable TV service began yesterday in Stamford and Danbury in Fairfield County, in Cheshire in New Haven County, and in Newington and Wethersfield in Hartford County, reports the Hartford Courant. AT&T is using its existing phone lines to provide the service, says Associated Press. In its attempts to purchase BellSouth, AT&T is seeking the national dominance it had before the breakup of ma bell in the 1980s, reports the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, cable TV giant Comcast is laying 2,200 miles of new cable in the San Francisco Bay area to offer telephone service to more towns, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Often networks and stations do year-end news programs showing video of the top news stories. But now there is a posting online. The best of the year’s videos has been posted on the MSNBC.com site, and the videos have already received more than 1.5 million visits, according to Lost Remote.com

The deputy in California who arrested actor Mel Gibson on drunk driving charges earlier this year is being harassed by officials who question whether the deputy leaked information about Gibson’s anti-Semitic rant to the media. The Los Angeles Times reports.

Wikia, the San Mateo, California company that also owns the Wikipedia online encyclopedia, is launching a social search engine in the first quarter of 2007, and it will be reliant on users, a strategy similar ton the Wikipedia service, reports Venture Beat.

The quality of music being offered on some cellphones is as good as that available on iPods, reports the New York Times.

Two months into a test program introduced by Google to allow small merchants to advertise in newspapers and online, the program is being termed a major success. The program involves 66 newspapers, and the year 2007 will see an expansion of the program, reports the Washington post.

AZT, the Comcast owned network aimed at Asian Americans, is adding several new programs for the new year. Among the programs are some in Chinese and Vietnamese, reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

Radio often claimed it was the last advertising medium to reach the shopper before the shopper would enter the store, but now a new technology called a “radio tag” is available in central Tokyo, Japan to reach the consumer when he or she is already in the shopping district. The shopper either rents a small device that provides digital readouts, or uses the cellphone to receive special messages from stores the shopper might be interested in, according to Associated Press.

Microsoft has started researching and keeping information on web searching habits of hotmail and other email services, so it can target advertising to them more effectively. In doing so Microsoft joins Yahoo which is similarly assembling information about web searchers, reports Associated Press.

Swarms of people with iPods and iTunes and who received Apple iTunes gift cards, overwhelmed the system during the holiday period, which resulted in error messages and, in some cases, 20 minute delays for those trying to download a single song. Associated Press reports.

Parents are finding a new way to bridge the communications gap with their teenaged children: instant messaging, and using cell phones. The Boston Globe reports.

An earthquake disrupted telephone and internet service in Asia. But it also shook trust and confidence in the telecommunications system and its reliability, reports Associated Press. Service in portions of East Asia was disrupted for a time, reports the New York Times.

The percentage of homes with DVDs has surpassed the percentage of homes with VCRs. The percentage of DVD homes is 81% compared with 79% that have VCRs. This is a dramatic turnaround from 1999 when 89% of homes had VCRs and only 7 per cent had DVDs, reports Associated Press.

Group radio station owner Entercom has agreed to pay $4.25 million to settle a suit accusing it of payola, accusations brought by the office of New York state attorney general Eliot Spitzer. In New York state, Entercom owns stations in Rochester and Buffalo, including 50,000 watt clear channel WWKB 1520 Buffalo which is now airing a liberal talk format. In making the settlement, Entercom does not admit to the payola accusations, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The 1950s was a difficult time for a woman to be in television. Eleanor Schano who was a major figure in TV news in Pittsburgh and who now hosts LifeQuest, a show for senior citizens on PBS station WQED channel 13 Pittsburgh, addressed an elementary school class, and described how in 1959 she had to hide her pregnancy on the air and among her co-workers. She had to do so, even the very day before she gave birth, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Radio in earlier decades was vibrant and on the cutting edge. AM stations in the 1950s were playing black music. FM stations were on the cutting edge of the counter-culture movement in the 1960s. Now, however, radio has become dull and sterile, in part because of consolidation of ownership of stations, according to Marc Fisher, a Washington Post reporter who has written a new book, “Radio, Rock and the Revolution That Shaped A Generation”, which is reviewed by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Garrison Keillor of NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion gives his take on New Year’s Eve and the year 2006, in a column in the Chicago Tribune.

James C. Dolan, a pioneer in announcing voice-over radio and TV commercials and programming, who worked with Dave Garroway of the Today show and John Chancellor of NBC news, has died in Florida. Among other things, he co-founded a voice-over recording company and was the voice of the Marlboro cigarette campaign, reports the Chicago Tribune.

What is the effect when the mother or father or both are called up and have to go to the war in Iraq? A PBS special, When Parents Are Deployed, takes a look, reports AP.

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Media Briefing for Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

Media Briefing for Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dr. Frank Stanton, who helped make CBS for a time the most dominant and most prestigious communications company in the world, has died at age 98. His career was marked by his strong stand persuading CBS founder William Paley to get into television, when Paley was fixated on radio and initially viewed TV as a threat to radio. Among other things Stanton oversaw the institution of a security department at CBS in 1950 during the McCarthy era, which checked on the political views of CBS employees. But in the Vietnam War years he became known as one of the strongest advocates of the First Amendment and press freedom, and was even threatened with jail during the Richard Nixon presidency, in 1971, reports the New York Times. It was Dr. Stanton who built CBS News into the most respected broadcast news operation, reports the Associated Press. It was during his tenure that CBS became known as the Tiffany Network, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Journalists once had the power to take people where they could never go, but the internet has changed all of that, allowing individuals to go everywhere and share it with millions. Washington Post media columnist Howard Kurtz reports.

When Parents Are Deployed is a PBS documentary debuting Wednesday evening on PBS stations across the country. It examines what happens to children when their mother or father or both are sent away in a war, reports Associated Press.

A new NOVA episode focuses on Peter Robbins, a man who designed a special 6-person submarine that allows everyone on board full vision of the waters outside, reports Associated Press.

There is a special treat for opera fans this season. A series of six Metropolitan Operas which will be heard live on radio will also be simulcast in high definition in movie theatres across the country. They then will be broadcast a month later on PBS, reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

The San Francisco Chronicle lists two PBS series among the top 10 for the year. One is Country Boys which focused on the lives of two boys in eastern Kentucky, and the other is the mystery program Prime Suspect. The list is in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Ray Suarez is a familiar face on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS each weekday evening, reporting as a senior correspondent, and sometimes filling in as anchor for Jim Lehrer. The Chicago Tribune takes a look at his career and background.

Religion scholar Hustin Smith rose to national prominence when he was featured in a 5-part PBS series called The Wisdom of Faith with Hustin Smith in 1996. After 14 books, he is now working on his memoirs, according to the Los Angeles Times.

WQED channel 13, the PBS station in Pittsburgh, has just cut the ribbon on a new $4.3 million digital master control facility, helping bring the station into the digital age. In addition, the station ended its 2005-2006 fiscal year more than $109,000 in the black, and station executives are bullish about 2007. The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports. Meanwhile the daily newspaper in Pittsburgh has great praise for an independent film broadcast on WQED on Christmas Eve, entitled Mister Christmas. Here is the review in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

On the issue of press freedom, there is growing support for a federal shield law that would protect journalists from government agencies trying to force them to turn over confidential information and the names of sources in stories. There is growing support for a shield law among both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The FCC says it is “reasonable” that the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” — in which her breast was very briefly exposed on CBS television — was clearly a violation of the FCC’s indecency rules, since Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were effectively CBS employees for the broadcast. The FCC, which fined CBS owned stations $550,000 for the incident, makes its claim in federal court, in a legal challenge to the FCC’s indecency policies being waged by the Fox, CBS and NBC networks, reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine. In its brief, the FCC says CBS ignored signs that Janet Jackson might bare her breast, reports the wire services of the Los Angeles Times.

An activist group called Oregon Alliance To Reform Media has asked the FCC to not renew the licenses of Portland, Oregon’s commercial TV stations, arguing that they did not meet the FCC standard of public service in their coverage of political and election issues leading up to Election Day. Broadcasting & Cable magazine has the story.

Seattle is now offering free wireless internet service which may be used anywhere in the city limits. Now San Francisco is planning to do the same thing, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

HDTV shows crisp, clear pictures that reveal much more detail than traditional analog TV. But some entertainers are concerned that HDTV is also showing facial flaws and wrinkles that make them look less attractive, reports Associated Press.

Telephone giant Verizon Communications has flooded mailboxes, gone door to door and is even giving away free ice cream to promote its new FiOS service that offers combined TV, internet and telephone service. Associated Press reports. Verizon is also running advertising on its service, including sites for news, weather and sports and other Internet sites, according to the New York Times. .

Political candidates are turning to the internet as a major campaign tool. Even though Howard Dean did not win, his 2004 effort on the web is now a model for candidates, reports the Associated Press.

Advertising costs on the web are increasing next year, and this is no surprise. Trends have shown that web advertising is rising while advertising for the more traditional media has not been growing as rapidly, and has even been dropping. But some are now saying the increase in web ad rates are becoming irrational, says the New York Times. Meanwhile, traditional media are continuing to get directly into online advertising as a way to increase revenue, according to Associated Press.

To help consumers avoid websites that may not be legitimate, Microsoft has created a “safe” website designation. However, Microsoft’s new coding system may leave out new merchants, reports Associated Press.

Microsoft’s new Window Vista operating system for corporate consumers has been found to have potential flaws. Hackers and computer security experts have found vulnerabilities, reports the New York Times. Microsoft is downplaying the flaws, reports Associated Press. Microsoft is investigating, reports the Seattle Times.

Are MySpace users targets for identity thieves? Some say yes, reports Associated Press.

“Can you hear me now?” Cell phone employees are continually conducting tests of their phones, to help ensure quality service. But the results of those tests are never shared with the general public, and remain private, says the Boston Globe.
A
T&T is seeking government approval to take over BellSouth. If it succeeds, AT&T will recover much of the dominant position it had before the breakup of “ma bell” in the 1980s, says the Chicago Tribune.

A newly launched satellite channel in the Middle East is providing 24 hour a day propaganda supporting the insurgents in Iraq. The Al Zawraa channel has become something of a sensation throughout Iraq, while drawing condemnation from U.S. officials and Iraqi politicians, says the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to being an icon in American popular music, soul singer James Brown, who died on Christmas at age 73, was a major figure in the advancement of black civil rights, with such hit songs as “I’m Black and I’m Proud.” Brown, who also formerly owned radio stations including WEBB 1360 Baltimore and WRDW 1480 in his home area of Augusta, Georgia, transformed American music, reports the New York Times.

Should the FCC allow low power devices to operate on so-called unused “white” space between the broadcast TV channels? Opponents say it would create interference, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

It is the age of conglomerates and absentee ownership on the FM dial. However a Cincinnati man wanted a radio station to play his favorites, and after a 7-year battle with the FCC, he now has his own FM station, WMWX, playing 6,000 of his favorite oldies, Class X Radio. The Cincinnati Enquirer reports. And in California another individual, Bill Goldsmith, is playing what he likes on his internet Radio Paradise, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Richard Kaye, who helped introduce classical music to radio listeners in the Boston area through WCRB-AM 1330 and WCRB-FM 102.5, has died. With special marathons he also raised $3 million for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, reports the Boston Globe.

The Washington D.C. area media web site DCRTV.com is reporting that the sale of WGMS 104.1 from Bonneville to the owner of the football Washington Redskins may have collapsed. This was to have meant the classical music format would be dropped and replaced by all sports. But DCRTV.com says that even if the sale collapses, the classical format may still well end on WGMS. In the event that WGMS abandons classical, the board of public WETA-FM 90.9 has decided to restore the classical music format on WETA-FM, which had been abandoned in February 2005.

A weekly radio show, From the Top, is airing on stations across the country. The host, Christopher O’Riley, is concerned that these days there are so few opportunities for young people to be introduced to classical music. The Washington Post reports.

A skit called the Homeless Shopping Spree was recently broadcast on more than a dozen FM stations, as an opportunity to gain laughs by ridiculing homeless people. The skit was on the Opie and Anthony shock jock show on WFNY 92.3 New York City, WBCN 104.1 Boston, WYSP 94.1 Philadelphia, WJFK 106.7 Washington, and other stations, and was condemned by the mayor of Boston for its mean-spiritedness. Now, the communications director of Boston’s Rosie’s Place, which assists homeless women, says in the Boston Globe that instead of ridicule, the homeless deserve support.

Another major daily big city newspaper has been sold by a newspaper chain. McClatchy newspapers is selling the Minneapolis Star Tribune. The price in this unexpected sale is $530 million, reports the New York Times.

Rebecca Roberts, the daughter of journalists Cokie Roberts and Steve Roberts, now has a daily radio talk show called The Intersection on public WETA 90.9 Washington, reports Washingtonian magazine.

Is Morse Code going to fade away in the coming decades? The FCC has decided that it will no longer require proficiency in Morse Code in granting amateur radio licenses, reports the New York Times.

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Media Briefing for Friday, December 22, 2006

Friday, December 22nd, 2006

Media Briefing for Friday, December 22, 2006

After the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate this year failed to approve George W. Bush’s appointment of an ultraconservative to the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Bush appointed him this week in a recess appointment. This means the nominee, Warren Bell, will be able to serve about a year, without Senate approval. Bell’s appointment had been stalled after public broadcasting stations raised concerns that Bell would politicize the post, with his conservative views. There is an outcry, reports the Los Angeles Times.

This week the FCC acted to make it easier for telephone companies such as AT&T to offer cable TV station. Yesterday, in a move unrelated to and just coincidental with the FCC decision, AT&T began cable TV service to certain areas in the San Francisco Bay Area, offering competition to the established cable TV systems. The San Francisco Chronicle reports.

In an editorial the Seattle Times praises the two Democrats on the five-member FCC for opposing the huge merger between AT&T and BellSouth. The Seattle Times says they are serving the public interest by opposing the merger.

The George W. Bush administration has placed programming from the government-operated anti-Fidel Castro broadcast service Radio and TV Marti on commercial radio and TV stations in Miami, paying for the air time, as a way of getting to audiences in Cuba through the “back door.” This is because Radio Marti on 1180 AM and TV Marti on channel 13 are jammed and few Cubans ever hear or see the broadcasts. The Sun Sentinel of South Florida is criticizing the Bush administration for its decision, saying it is backpedaling into the past. Meanwhile, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has strong praise for Radio and TV Marti, according to the Miami Herald.

Could the utterance of a single profane word damage a child? Fox Network, which was cited by the FCC for a profane word on its Billboard Awards show, argues that a child would not be damaged. Media Daily News reports.

Kimberly Dozier, the CBS reporter seriously injured in an attack in Iraq earlier this year, is thanking the U.S. military for rescuing her and saving her life, according to Associated Press. Dozier has written an essay on her experience, posted on CBS News.com

Air America will stay in Madison, Wisconsin. Plans by Clear Channel Communications to drop liberal talk programming and Air America from its Madison FM station WXXM 92.1 with Fox Sports Talk resulted in a huge backlash, with public demonstrations. Clear Channel had said it was making the change because it could not sell advertising on the liberal talk format, but now Clear Channel says businesspeople in the Madison area have come forward and said they will support the format, after the public outcry. Associated Press reports.

A group of technology bloggers have taken a tour of XM Satellite Radio’s headquarters on New York Avenue in Washington, D.C. The Washington Post reports.

The “f” word and other indecent words were aired without bleeping on C-SPAN which televised live this week’s court hearings on the challenge to the FCC’s indecency campaign by NBC, CBS and Fox. The media website DCRTV.com reports the hearing and words were also broadcast on WCSP-FM 90.1 Washington, D.C., which simulcasts C-SPAN on the FM dial. The New York Daily News reports.

When is homework too much? When it cuts into TV time, according to some. The Washington Post reports.

TV shows and segments are moving increasingly to the web. The Justin Timberlake skit on NBC’s Saturday Night Live about “his special Christmas gift”, which NBC censors kept off the over-the-air network, was then posted on YouTube.com and is the most popular television segment on the internet.

ABC television stopped running the drama Day Break over the air, but is running episodes on ABC.com, with a new episode posted online each week. The Detroit News reports.

Are traditional media companies lining up to buy America On Line and Yahoo? Wall Street is “abuzz”, reports the Media Daily News.

At one time it was assumed that the internet would take sales away from local stores and hurt local business, but now internet sites are helping shoppers find what they’re looking for and spend their money locally, according to the Wall Street Journal.

High schools across Massachusetts are threatening to punish athletes if they are spotted drinking alcohol or using drugs in photographs posted on MySpace, YouTube or other online sites. School officials are turning to online sites to catch rule-breakers, reports the Boston Globe.

In South Brunswick, N.J., two teenaged girls weren’t satisfied with arranging to have another teenaged girl physically attacked, according to allegations from authorities, who say they also arranged to have the attack videotaped and then placed online so it could be viewed over and over, to further harass the victim. The two teenaged girls now face charges, reports Associated Press.

Composer Tan Dun collected folk songs in his native China, then performed them on the streets of New York City to buy food. Last night his operatic composition was performed in a $3 million production at the Metropolitan Opera, broadcast live on the Sirius satellite network. There will be another performance Saturday, January 13, and this performance will be broadcast live on the Met’s radio network and also transmitted in high-definition to movie theatres around the world. Associated Press reports.

A report says that the media in Hawaii were not prepared to offer coverage of the emergency situation caused by this year’s earthquake. The Pacific Business News reports hotels in Hawaii were prepared, but the media were not.

The WPIX channel 11 New York Yule Log telecast continues to receive wide and favorable press. It will be seen in nearly a dozen markets across the country. Logs burning in a fireplace are also seen on the Shaw Cable TV system in British Columbia, but there they are accompanied only by the sound of crackling. The WPIX program being seen across the U.S. is accompanied by Christmas music, and continues to attract strong ratings, according to the Associated Press.

And Thirteen has created a new twist on the Yule Log with its two-hour special version of the HD Nature special Christmas at Yellowstone, which features spectacular winter landcscape and wildlife imagery from the series with seasonal music rather than narration. The special may be seen on Thirteen HD during the holiday season.

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Media Briefing for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Media Briefing for Thursday, December 21, 2006

The FCC has acted to allow telephone companies obtain cable TV franchises. It was voted by the Republican majority on the FCC. The Democrats were quoted as saying reform was needed to bring competition to cable TV and video franchising, but the FCC went too far and their decision may well be turned down by the courts. The decision was sharply divided along party lines, reports Associated Press. Telephone giants AT&T and Verizon praised the decision, notes Broadcasting & Cable magazine. Meanwhile Democratic U.S., Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts, who will head the House Telecommunications Subcommittee, says he plans to review the FCC decision, reports Broadcasting & Cable. The decision will “juice cable competition,” says the Boston Globe. The FCC ruling is a big victory for telephone companies but will hurt cable TV companies, is the take the Washington Post has on the story. In its ruling the FCC ordered local government agencies that grant cable TV franchises to set time limits for timely decisions on allowing new franchises, instead of allowing the application process to drag on in an open-ended manner, according to Reuters. With the ruling, competition for cable TV service may be closer to reality, reports the Baltimore Sun. The FCC backs the phone giants, allowing them into cable and video, says the Chicago Tribune. The phone companies win a skirmish in the cable wars, says the New York Times. The FCC is backing the phone companies in a TV fight, says the Los Angeles Times. Powerful Democratic Congressman John Dingell is saying that the FCC may have exceeded its authority in making this ruling, according to Associated Press which says Dingell will be chairing the House Energy and Commerce Committee starting in January.
In federal appeals court, the Fox Television Network has asked that the FCC’s new indecency enforcement policies be overturned, arguing that they exceed the FCC’s authority. The Boston Globe reports. The court sharply questioned the FCC about how it makes a decision in imposing the large fines, says Reuters. The court did not immediately issue a ruling after the hearing, reports Associated Press.

Nielsen Research has issued its “most popular” lists for 2006, including TV shows, videos, movies, books, and much more. Here are Nielsen’s lists.

In letters to the editor of the Washington Post, one writer says anger about the demise of classical music in Washington should be directed not at the owner of the football Redskins or Bonneville, which owns commercial radio station WGMS 104.1, and which reportedly will drop classical for all-sports. Instead he says anger should be directed at public WETA-FM 90.9 which dropped classical music in February 2005. Another reader says there is an excellent all classical station in nearby Baltimore, WBJC 91.5, in her letter to the Washington Post. It should be noted that the board of WETA-FM has just voted to reinstate the classical music format if WGMS is indeed sold to the Redskins owner and WGMS drops classical.

There are small tabloids in New York City, San Francisco and other big cities aiming to reach the young demographics who often are not reading the old traditional broadsheet dailies. Now, the New York Times is considering a tabloid to reach the younger generation, according to the New York Observer.

This week marked the final night for the news crew of WLVI-TV channel 56 Boston, thanks to consolidation. WLVI was sold by Tribune to Sunbeam, which owns WHDH-TV channel 7 NBC Boston, and which installed a version of its own news on WLVI at 10 p.m., replacing the old broadcast and leaving 150 people without their jobs. “It was like the Gestapo”, says the Boston Herald.

Certain portable satellite radios, iPods and DVD players can cause bleeding of satellite radio onto traditional FM frequencies, especially the low non-commercial end of the FM dial. Regulators and device makers are trying to fix the problem of satellite radio bleeding into FM, and are “getting Howard Stern off NPR,” reports the Boston Globe.

While huge TV screens are in, tiny screens on cellphones are also in, with millions of viewers watching videos of TV shows and other offerings. The tiny screens are creating major challenges for filmmakers, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Strict parents may harbor the fantasy of tracking their children, wherever they are. It is now possible, says the New York Times.

While the internet has been with us for some time, the Baltimore Sun says 2006 was the year that it really became dominant in everyone’s lives. The year 2006 should be designated “The Year The Web Arrived”, says the Sun.

A skit was kept off the air by the censors at Saturday Night Live, but NBC then placed the censored skit on the internet, on the NBC site on YouTube.com, so everyone could see it. The New York Times reports.

President George W. Bush has placed a conservative on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which provides money for the operation of PBS stations, according to the Reuters.

The daily Roanoke, Virginia Times criticized what it called the “war on Christmas nonsense”, the argument being pushed by conservative commentators that American society is becoming too secular and is pushing Christmas out of the holidays. It specifically criticized Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, who then fired back at the Roanoke paper on his national radio talk show and on his Fox News TV broadcast. Now there has been a firestorm of reaction and it has become a major news story in Roanoke media, reports The Roanoke Times,

A wide assortment of music from traditional classical to jazz will be presented Sunday in the 47th annual Los Angeles Holiday Celebration, with performances by dance companies, jazz ensembles, the Los Angeles Chorale, the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, an historian-performer, and many others. KCET channel 28, the PBS station in Los Angeles, will televise it live, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Fred Thrower, general manager of WPIX channel 11 New York in the 1960s, conceived of a unique idea: televising a picture of logs burning in a fireplace, with audio of Christmas music., The log was first aired in 1966, and 40 years later, is enormously popular in New York and across the nation, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Some 300 FM stations nationwide are broadcasting all Christmas music. Now an all sports talk AM station in Pittsburgh is providing Christmas music in a unique way. It is broadcasting Christmas music behind all local talk shows. The only exception for the station, WEAE 1250, is that it is not carrying music behind ESPN network programming, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

With the advent of HD Radio, some FM stations are offering up to five additional formats available to those who buy HD receivers. This allows niche programming. Now, Connecticut has an all-gay radio station called Pride Radio, which is one of the HD channels being offered by 50,000-watt equivalent WKSS 95.7 Hartford-Meriden, Connecticut. IN Newsweekly reports.

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Media Briefing for Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Thursday, December 21st, 2006

Media Briefing for Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The New York Times has published a major review of Picturing Mary, the PBS documentary on the various and many images of the Virgin Mary over the past two millennia. The documentary, whose executive producer is Thirteen/WNET President Bill Baker, focuses on images of Mary found in a sweeping tour of the world’s great museums, galleries, basilicas, and cathedrals, according to the New York Times review.

Are TV ads making children fat? Now that the Democrats are in control in Congress, there will be a serious attempt to regulate TV advertising of fast food and sweets aimed at children, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Media Bistro’s TVNewser blog is reporting — exclusively — that MSNBC is teaming up with LX.TV. Says TV Newser: “The creators of LX.TV, ‘a broadband television network featuring the latest in lifestyle and cultural programming’ are cutting a deal with MSNBC to produce primetime programming.”

Competing Boston public broadcasting stations WBUR 90.9 and WGBH-FM 89.7 and WGBH-TV channel 2 are uniting to create a live broadcasting of the upcoming gubernatorial inauguration in Massachusetts. This cooperation between WBUR and WGBH is a first, says the Boston Globe.

The ultraconservative Parents Television Council (PTC) has filed a friend of the court brief supporting the FCC in defending its anti-indecency policy which includes power to impose $325,000 fines on broadcast stations for each incident of indecency. PTC was behind the outcry over the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction on the Superbowl telecast, and was behind 99% of the hundreds of thousands of filings of complaints to the FCC over the telecast. Broadcasting & Cable reports.

Already involved in legal challenges over copyright issues, Google is moving ahead with its plans to scan and offer many thousands of books from 9 major libraries, including the Boston Public Library and Metropolitan Museum of Art, according to the Associated Press.

In another move, Google is expanding into PayPal’s territory, reports the New York Times.

YouTube.com executives are traveling to Japan to meet with top media officials who have protested what they say is YouTube’s violation of copyright laws, reports Reuters.

The Hearst Argyle group of TV stations, which includes WCVB channel 5 Boston and WBAL-TV channel 11 Baltimore, sees TV station websites as an important part of the digital future of television, reports Media Daily News.

Meanwhile the Clear Channel TV stations are upgrading their websites to increase revenue, reports TV Newsday.
To compete with the wildly popular YouTube.com, 3 of the major networks, including NBC, Fox and CBS, had planned to create a website to compete head-on with YouTube. But now CBS-Viacom is dropping out, possibly scuttling the entire proposal, reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

A California company known as Spock is planning to introduce a search engine service focused on people, and it has raised $7 million to allow it to begin in 2007, reports Venture Beat.

Most people have experienced dropped calls and other problems with cell phones. Then, if they want to drop the cell company because of poor service, they are charged a hefty fee for doing so. Now, the Massachusetts state legislature is proposing a bill that would force cell companies with poor service to stop charging the big fees when dissatisfied customers wish to cancel, reports the Boston Globe.

While broadcast and print media operations are cutting back, P.R. firms have been growing in recent years, reports Venture Beat.

Air America, the liberal talk network, is losing its two affiliates in the Boston market, WKOX 1200 Framingham and WXKS 1430 Medford, which switch to a Spanish-language Latino format Thursday, according to the Boston Globe.

While NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams continues to lead the ratings among all age groups, ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson has edged NBC for the second week in a row among the coveted 25-to-54 demographic, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

NBC veteran anchor Tom Brokaw is coming out of retirement to anchor a one-hour documentary on the issue of illegal immigration, from a perspective in Colorado. The documentary, which took 8 months to create and which airs Tuesday night, closely examines the issue in Aspen and Vail, Colorado, according to the Rocky Mountain News of Denver.

Radio Marti and TV Marti, the anti-Castro operation operated by the U.S. government, will be investigated by the new Congress. Among other things, one controversy involves a federal law forbidding a U.S. government-operated propaganda stations from aiming programming at American audiences, and now TV Marti is being carried on a TV station in Miami and Radio Marti programming is on a powerful Miami radio station. The Miami Herald reports. TV Marti is almost never seen in Cuba because of jamming by the Cuban government. But for the first time TV Marti programming is being seen by a substantial audience, on Miami’s WPMF-TV channel 38, according to the Associated Press. The TV Marti reports are seen as a way to boost the Cuban audience, reports the Sun Sentinel.

Meanwhile the Manhattan media website Jossip.com says Barbara Walters has secured an interview with Fidel Castro. Here is the Jossip.com story.

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Media Briefing for Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006

Media Briefing for Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The FCC has extended the deadline for filing public comments regarding its proposal to further relax media ownership rules and allow more media consolidation. The deadline has been moved from December 21 to January 16, reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

That censored PBS bunny is returning, even after he left in a storm of controversy and criticism from conservatives because he dared to speak to lesbians on his show. Postcards From Buster returns for a second season, reports the New York Times.

Broadcasting & Cable magazine says everyone interested in the FCC indecency crackdown policy should watch C-SPAN’s telecast of the court proceedings in the case Wednesday. Broadcasting & Cable says viewers will learn why the FCC policies are flawed.

After much controversy and criticism about possible conflict-of-interest, an FCC commissioner has decided to refrain from taking part in one of the most important FCC votes ever in terms of money and people, the proposed merger of the AT&T and BellSouth telephone companies. It is not clear whether he acted out of obligation, but it is a good thing, says the Los Angeles Times. This is an $86 billion deal, says the Los Angeles Times.

With the decision by public WETA-FM 90.9 Washington, D.C. to reinstate its classical format abandoned in February 2005, in the event commercial WGMS 104.1 goes all sports and drops classical music, the Washington Post says WETA-FM has come to its senses.

Oregon Public Radio has dropped classical music entirely. The Statesman Journal of Salem, Oregon reports.

Clear Channel Communications may have to sell more radio stations to meet FCC requirements in taking the company private, reports the Dow Jones Newswires.

The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating whether the Saudi Arabian government violated U.S. law by deceptively funding a marketing campaign for Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah’s Middle East peace plan. Newsweek reports.

Subaru has replaced Toyota as the sponsor of Antiques Road Show on PBS, according to Advertising Age.

The year 2006 was the year TV shows made a major entry into the world of the internet, reports Associated Press.

The city of Seattle recently established free wireless service throughout the city, and now another major American city, Chicago, is on the road to doing the same, according to the Chicago Tribune.

While internet service is far more widely available in hotels than it was five years ago, it is often still a challenge getting good, reliable internet service in hotels, business people are finding. The New York Times reports.

EBay is opening a Chinese language service. EBay is doing so in cooperation with a Beijing-based internet company, according to Associated Press. As part of the deal, EBay is closing its auction site in China, reports the New York Times. However in a different view, this deal, which comes after EBay spent $300 million in China, is being called another “rout in China” by Venture Beat.

As the Worldwide Web keeps changing, America On Line (AOL) is facing many challenges. The New York Timestakes a look at the long term view being taken by AOL’s new CEO, Randy Falco.

Members of the Led Zeppelin and Grateful Dead rock bands of the 1960s and 1970s are bringing suit to stop the sales on the internet of memorabilia and trinkets and free concert recordings of their music, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

A new study shows that people’s perceptions of gay people are strongly influenced by their portrayal on television, reports Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

Longtime NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw has been inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Hall of fame in Los Angeles, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Even though almost no one in Cuba is seeing the anti-Castro programming of the U.S. government sponsored TV Marti, viewers in the Miami area will be able to do so soon, on WPMF-TV channel 38, reports Associated Press.

With sharp cutbacks in staff, Time magazine is having to make do with fewer reporters and Time-style reporting, according to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post.

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Media Briefing for Monday, December 18, 2006

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Media Briefing for Monday, December 18, 2006

Time Magazine has named you — yes “You” — as its Peson of the Year. “For seizing the reins of the global media,” write the magazine’s editors, “for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME’s Person of the Year for 2006 is you.” But not everyone is so pleased Time’s pick. Steve Safran of Lost Remote, writes about the “wussification” of the once-prestigious award. Tracing what he sees as the progressive dilution of the award’s value, Safran writes: “Nice sentiment, but pretty wussy. And totally in keeping with their disturbing recent trend of making safe, largely uninspired choices that are no longer in line with the original mission of the honorific ‘Person of the Year.’ Seriously — what could be safer than giving it to all of us?”

Picturing Mary is a one-hour documentary focusing on the many images of the mother of Jesus, the Holy Blessed Virgin Mary, during the past two thousand years. The executive producer of the show is Dr. William Baker, president of Thirteen/WNET. Not everyone can travel to Rome, Mexico or Ethiopia to see historic images of Mary, Dr. Baker said in a story about the documentary by the Religion News Service. The documentary was shot in 22 cities in 13 countries, according to the Catholic News Service. The Miami Herald says the documentary gives a look at how different cultures portray Mary. There is a website devoted to the documentary, PicturingMary.com , which features multiple pages of information including listings of PBS stations showing the program across the nation. In metro New York it may be seen Wednesday at 9 p.m. and Christmas Eve Sunday night at 7 p.m. on Thirteen/ WNET. It may be seen Thursday at 8 p.m. and again at 12 midnight, and Saturday at 3 p.m. on WLIW21. In New Jersey, some viewers may also see it on WHYY channel 12 on Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m., on WHYY-HD on the arts and culture channel multiple times, and on WLVT channel 39 Allentown PA on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. Some viewers in the Hudson Valley may be able to see it Wednesday night at 10 on WMHT channel 17 Schenectady.

Exposure on PBS has allowed a unique percussion instrument to gain admission to the Smithsonian Institution. The percussion instrument is made of skillets, pot lids, hubcaps, cowbell, and taxi horn, and was initially turned down by the Smithsonian. But after it was featured on PBS’s Antiques Roadshow, the Smithsonian decided to accept it, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

It is now certain that the Washington, D.C. radio dial will not become devoid of classical music, in the event the football Redskins do indeed purchase WGMS 104.1, and introduce a sports format, replacing classical music. The board of directors of public broadcaster WETA-FM 90.9 have voted to go to a classical format, in the event WGMS drops the format, reports the Washington Post. WETA-FM had provided classical music each day until February 2005 when it dropped it entirely to go news/talk. This generated a strong backlash among classical fans.

After its bankruptcy filing, recriminations are flying at Air America, the liberal talk network heard in New York City on WWRL 1600, in New Haven on WAVZ 1300 and in Washington, D.C. on WWRC 1260. The New York Times reports. An Air America spokesman says the liberal network is close to a deal with a buyer, reports Associated Press.

Shock radio continues to be just that, as homeless people are put up to ridicule. Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino is condemning the Opie and Anthony show for a skit in which it brought homeless people to a shopping mall, ridiculing them on the air as smelling bad, irresponsible, and as people who waste money on frivolous things. During the broadcast affluent and well-to-do shoppers were asked what they thought of the homeless people, in apparent attempts to further ridicule them. The show is heard in more than a dozen markets, including WFNY 92.3 in New York City, WPBZ 103.1 West Palm Beach, in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Cleveland, and in Boston on WBCN 104.1, which was specifically condemned by Mayor Menino for carrying the broadcast, according to the Boston Globe.

There is continuing reaction in the wake of the FCC‘s hearing in Nashville, Tennessee last Monday, December 11. An announcer at Clear Channel Communications radio station WSIX Nashville, become involved in an on-air argument with the wife of award-winning country-and-western singer George Jones, with Mrs. Jones claiming consolidation was destroying country music for artists and writers. A letter to the editor of the Sunday Tennessean says she must side with Mrs. Jones.

The FCC’s head commissioner says that cities and local government agencies are blocking competition in cable TV. As other communications costs decrease, cable rates keep going up, notes the FCC chairman. Associated Press> reports. The FCC will vote this week on opening up cable TV to competition, according to Associated Press. The new year 2007 will be the year of the big contest between phone and cable systems; phone companies offering cable TV and cable systems offering telephone service. Associated Press reports.

Oprah Winfrey and ABC have announced plans to create two reality shows, marking Oprah’s first entry into prime-time programming, and the initial effort of the new TV unit of her company, Harpo Productions. She is scheduled to appear in at least one of the shows, report the New York Times and the Associated Press. Meanwhile, Oprah Winfrey has donated $40 million for a new school for girls in South Africa, reports USA Weekend.

Dr. Joyce Brothers, the pioneering television psychologist, has been honored by the Museum of Television and Radio as one of 50 prominent women in media. Dr. Brothers was honored as part of the initiative “She Made It: Women
Creating Television and Radio.” The 3 year initiative celebrates the achievements and aims to preserve the legacy of women in television, radio and new media. Dr. Brothers originally gained prominence appearing on a TV game show, The $64,000 Question, reports the Bergen Record of New Jersey.

A series of studies presented at the American Public Health Association’s recent annual meeting demonstrates the powerful influence exerted on viewers by TV doctors and their patients. So, federal health agencies and university medical specialists are collaborating with the creators of these shows to hone their messages, reports the Boston Globe.

Can MyNetwork TV, seen in metro New York on WWOR channel 9, survive poor ratings? Media Daily News ponders this question.

Many TV stations around the country are airing their local news shows starting at 5 a.m., cutting into an area once held exclusively by radio. Now, the NBC Chicago station WMAQ channel 5, is considering creating a local morning show that would start even earlier, at 4:30 a.m., according to the Chicago Tribune.

New York City taxicabs will soon be equipped with television sets, allowing passengers to watch TV while riding. In addition the sets will contain devices making it much easier for riders who left behind umbrellas and other items in taxis, to track down the specific cab they were in, and retrieve the items, according to the Associated Press.

Iran’s bloggers are testing the regime’s tolerance for dissent. There are so many blogs in Iran that Farsi, Iran’s language, is one of the top 10 languages in the world for blogs, reports Boston Globe.

The Venice Project, a super-secret online video file sharing service, promises to transform the television business, according to Media Daily News , which reports that the Venice Project is asking thousands of people to begin using its Beta service to test it and help the developers work out the bugs.

When YouTube emerged as one of the internet’s most popular sites last year, many TV executives dismissed it as a flash in the pan, and a largely illegal one at that, with postings of videos without legal rights to do so. But after Google agreed to pay $1.65 billion for YouTube in October, they adopted a radically difference stance: suddenly they wanted to take it on, says the New York Times.

Meanwhile, in Hamilton, Ontario, police decided to use the internet service when they wanted to circulate a surveillance video to try to solve an apparent murder outside a hip-hop club. The police thought of their own young adult children, and posted the video on YouTube, says the New York Times.

One of the founders of Google, Sergey Brin, was born in Moscow, but Google is having a difficult time finding its footing in the Russian market, reports the New York Times.

Facebook, the social networking website, is being courted by Yahoo, which wishes to buy it, but Facebook is not for sale, according to a board member quoted by Venture Beat and Bloomberg.

The internet has been a great thing for thinking and thinkers, says the Seattle Times.

A new California based startup company, mywaves, is hoping to draw cell telephone users with a new service being formally introduced today. The service allows cell phone users to design channels for watching videos on their phones, reports Associated Press.

Microsoft is planning to release its long-awaited Vista operating system for personal computers next month, January 30. Will this cause consumers to put off computer purchases until after the holidays, asks the Boston Globe.

ExtendMedia of Newton, Massachusetts has reached a deal with an internet video startup company co-founded by actor Morgan Freeman to produce software that will provide a behind-the-scenes service. The software will format movies to play on desktop computers or TV sets. The software will, among other things, limit the number of times a film can be shown, according to the Boston Globe.

The RoverTV mobile media player is dogged with technical shortfalls, but also has positives, according to the Chicago Tribune.

The 2008 New Hampshire presidential primary is more than two years away, but a group encouraging Senator Barack Obama to run for president is running TV ads in New Hampshire and the District of Columbia already. The ad has already been viewed tens of thousands of times on YouTube.com, according to the Boston Globe.

Thanks to consolidation, another local television news department is being wiped out, this time in Boston. WLVI channel 56 is being sold by the Tribune Co. to Sunbeam Television, which owns the NBC affiliate WHDH channel 7, and the WLVI 10 o’clock news crew is out. The independent 10 p.m. news show had been on the air for 22 continuous years. In all, 150 WLVI employees are losing their jobs, reports the Boston Globe.

MediaNews Group of Denver, headed by Dean Singleton, is buying the Daily Breeze, based in Torrance, California. MediaNews Group also owns the Denver Post, the Connecticut Post of Bridgeport and other newspapers across the nation. The Daily Breeze, being sold by the Copley group, was started in 1894 by a political activist, according to the Associated Press.

Anyone who has a short wave radio know notices two time stations on various frequencies, WWV in the United States on 5,000, 10,000 and 15,000 kHz and also CHU from Canada. Both stations feature the sound of ticking clocks 24/7, with an announcer giving the time at the top of every minute. Because of new frequency allocations by the International Telecommunications Union, CHU will have to abandon then strongest of its frequencies, 7,335 kHz with 10,000 watts. CHU also operates on 3,330 and 14,670n kHz, both with 3,000 watts. CHU is inviting listeners to contact it by email at radio.chu@nrc.gc.ca regarding whether it should change frequencies or go silent, according to the Wikipedia website.

The Yule Log – audio of holiday music and video of logs burning in a fireplace, will once again be seen on WPIX channel 11 New York, WGN-TV channel 9 Chicago and other stations this year, after WPIX revived it in 2001 following the World Trade Center attack. This year, there will be a competing log, on INHD, a high definition network, according to Associated Press.
In the United Kingdom, new ground was broken when the popular radio soap opera on BBC4, “The Archers” featured a gay marriage. United Press International reports.

Meanwhile the creator of “The L Word” on Showtime is creating a new social networking website, OurChart.com , which launches in January. The Showtime site has details.

Keith Olbermann is seeking a four-fold increase in pay because his show has caused a spike in the ratings at MSNBC. Olbermann, who has been making $1 million a year, is now seeking $4 million, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

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More media is not better media by Bill Baker

Monday, December 18th, 2006

Bill Baker’s Weekly Column for Monday, December 18, 2006

More media is not better media

Next year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (as reported in USA Today), Americans will spend nearly half of their lives consuming media.

The paper reports that, according to the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2007, ?Americans will spend 3,518 hours with their beloved media, including 1,555 in front of the TV.” This compares to the 3,333 hours the average American spent with the media at the beginning of the decade (including 1,467 spent watching TV in 2000).

The intelligence comes from media research company Veronis Suhler Stevenson, which collaborated on collecting data for the abstract. US Today quotes Leo Kivijarv, vice president of research at PQ Media, which worked with Veronis Shuler Stevenson in its research, as saying: that ?people want to have — and almost need to have — information and entertainment at their fingertips now, 24 hours a day.”

Inevitably, as the media come to be integral to more and more aspects of our daily lives ?- from business to education to social and even familial interaction ?- television, radio, the Internet and other forms of electronic media are going to have increased influence on our behaviors, our outlooks and our ideals.

With this in mind, we might read with interest an essay by a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Peter R. Kann, the chairman of Dow Jones, which appeared in The Wall Street Journal last week. In The Media Is in Need of Some Mending, Kann looks at ?10 current trends in the mass media that ought to disturb us.”

Among the troubling tendencies in Kann’s list are ‘the blurring of the lines between journalism and entertainment?; ‘the blending of news and advertising, sponsorships and other commercial relationships?; ‘the growing media fascination with the bizarre, the perverse and the pathological?; and ‘the media’s short attention span.”

Most media observers and critics — and surely a sizable majority of the public ?- are already quite aware of some of these trends and turn their attention to individual issues on a regular basis. But Kann’s codification of this series of problems in one place helps us think about the entire panorama of the media, and what appears to be systemic shortcomings in the way we are producing and consuming media in America today.

As the Census Bureau study points out, with each passing day we are spending more time with media. And, collaterally, new media forms and venues are coming online all the time. Indeed, it seems that the efforts of media purveyors — be they content creators, distribution networks, or technology developers ?- is to promote an ever-expanding universe of options.

But, just as with many things in life, more media is not necessarily better media.

One could easily argue that we have more than enough outlets to accommodate our societal needs at the moment. What cannot be readily argued is that the quality of content is improving on a par with the growth in distribution channels. In fact, as Kann suggests, the media is beset by issues that may be directly related to the exponential increase in the quantity of media available to us, and the competition that the new wealth of choices engenders.

The short attention span, the encroachment of commercialization on news and information programming, the blurring of lines, and the dominance of spectacle and sensationalism are all symptoms of an environment that has become hyper-competitive.

As the FCC once again considers easing ownership rules, we should recall that one of the big arguments being made less media regulation is that it would allow consumers more choices. But is more choice what American media needs right now? Or is it time to start paying more intention to the nature of the content that fills up those many hours we devote to our ?beloved media.”?

At a time when the media seem to be increasingly subordinate to commercialism, materialism and the profit motive, a final note in the USA Today article cited above should not be overlooked.

The same Census report that charted the steady rise in American media use, also looked at a wide range of issues defining American life today. The article noted one fascinating statistic about college students:

“The majority (79%) of freshmen in 1970 had a personal objective of ?developing a meaningful philosophy of life.” By 2005, 75% said their primary objective was ?being very well off financially.”?

A seismic philosophical shift. My question is: is our media simply reflecting that reality? Or is the reality a reflection of our media?

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