Bill Baker's Blog

Perspectives on the Media from New York Public Television

Media Briefing for Tuesday, December 5, 2006

staff | December 5th, 2006

Ellen Wartella has devoted her entire career to fighting violence on TV. She is an expert on the effects of media on children, including the negative effects of violence, and she was a prominent researcher in the National Television Violence Study of the 1990s. Now she has just been named to a new position. She is currently a co-principal researcher in the Children’s Digital Media Center, and has just been named a fellow at the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media in the Pittsburgh area, according to Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

In a move to combat crime and improve security, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is placing streaming video cameras and transmitters on city buses, so the insides of the buses may be monitored visually all the time. The streaming video will be transmitted to computers in CTA offices and security vehicles, allowing them to respond quickly, reports the Chicago Tribune.

There is a troubling forecast for advertising for 2007 for the old-line media, but not for the on-line media, reports the New York Times.

The line is blurring between television and the internet. The Washington Post reports the two are converging.

NBC has introduced a new daytime show that began this week allowing viewers to be interactive. SF Gate.com says the show, iVillage Live, is being seen in select cities, including San Francisco, and allows viewers to post photographs and videos so they can be seen on television.

A Japanese group has asked YouTube to stop uploading videos of copyrighted works, reports Associated Press.

Millions of cellular telephones are pouring into India and Southeast Asia, reports the San Jose Mercury.

Veteran sound engineer Tony Bongiovi for decades was disappointed with the quality of sound coming from speakers. Now he has created a chip that provides very high quality sound for listening to music, and it is featured in the JVC car stereo system, according to Associated Press.

While reality shows have faded somewhat in popularity among adults, they are still the favorites among 2 to 11 year olds. Shows such as Dancing With The Stars, Survivor and American’s Funniest Home Videos are among the most popular for children 11 and under, according to Media Life Magazine.

The FCC is holding another of its public hearings on media consolidation, this coming Monday, in Nashville, Tennessee. The hearing will feature testimony from a number of country and western music singers, according to the Hollywood Reporter. While many are expressing great concern about the negative effects of media consolidation, one Washington-based think tank is calling for the elimination of all government rules on media ownership. An executive of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market think tank in Washington, wants an end to all regulation, as stated in his opinion piece in Denver’s Rocky Mountain News. But the Seattle Times editorial page disagrees, saying a strong message was sent at last Thursday’s open forum on media consolidation held in Seattle. The effects are negative, says the Seattle Times.

Doctor Nicholas Perricone’s Seven Secrets To Beauty, Health and Longevity are featured in a PBS special. Bloomberg News says the telecast is here just in time for the holidays.

Austin City Limits, a fixture on PBS for more than three decades, is getting a new studio. Willy Nelson will be a partner, a aprt-owner of the new studio which opens in 2010, according to the Associated Press.

Changes at the top at C-SPAN have been announced, but Brian Lamb, just turning 65, remains on board, according to the Associated Press.

Rene Syler, a member of the four-person anchor team for the CBS Morning News , is leaving the ratings-challenged broadccast. Rene will depart later this month, just before Christmas, according to the Associated Press. Meanwhile the Today show marked its 11th consecutive year as the number one network TV morning show. That’s 572 weeks, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Why is NBC challenging the license renewal of Spanish language KAZA channel 54 Los Angeles? It is the culmination of a long-simmering bitter rivalry between NBC, owner of Telemundo, and TV Azteca, the Mexican based owner of KAZA, reports the Miami Herald.

AskCity is a new website just launched by entertainment magnate Barry Diller. It features directories of information, maps and events calendars for major U.S. cities, according to Lost Remote.com

FM stations across the nation are running a format of all Christmas music until Christmas day, including New York’s top-rated WLTW 106.7. Now, XM satellite radio is running an all Channukah music channel, according to DCRTV.com

Baltimore’s CBS-owned WJZ-TV channel 13 is red faced over a report about Michael Richards appearing in blackface. The Baltimore Sun reports the station ran a news promo that erroneously stated that Richards, recently captured on a video using the “n” word at a standup comedy routine, had appeared in blackface at a celebrity roast for Whoopi Goldberg.

Howard Stern’s touted move to Sirius satellite radio brought a spike in sales of Sirius radio receivers earlier this year. But now sales have leveled off, and sales for the holiday season which began Thanksgiving weekend are lower than had originally been projected, report Reuters and Bloomberg News.

ESPN is buying a London-based sports channel to, among other things, bring more American sports to television in Europe, reports the Associated Press/

A Real World Online

staff | December 4th, 2006

Bill Baker’s Weekly Column for Monday, December 4, 2006

A Real World Online

Is the virtual world becoming more important than the real world?
That may sound like a question for philosophers, but it’s actually an idea suggested by a study just released from the USC-Annenberg Digital Future Project.

The Digital Future Project surveys 2,000 people across the country on an annual basis to chart the affects of digital technology on Americans. For its 2007 survey, the project looked at the impact of the Internet on social and personal interactions, with an emphasis on
the prominence of “online communities.” (The study defines an
“online community” as “a group that shares thoughts or ideas, or works on common projects, though electronic communication only.) In its headline finding, the study discovered that “43 percent of Internet users who are members of online communities say that they ‘feel as strong’ about their virtual community as they do their real-world communities.”

It’s a remarkable finding — especially when you consider that the World Wide Web first became available to the public just a little over a decade ago. But it makes sense when you look at the statistics.
According to the Digital Future Project:

? 77.6 percent of Americans over 12 are Internet users;

? 68.1 percent of Americans use the Internet at home (up from 46.9)
percent in 2000;

? Americans spent an average of 8.9 hours per week online, one hour
more than in 2005.

Clearly the sheer amount of time that people are spending on the Internet is beginning to give the virtual world the kind of significance and prominence in our lives that we traditionally associate with real-world experiences.

The study also found that 56.6 percent of online community members log into their community at least once a day, and 70.4 percent “sometimes or always” interact with those communities. According to the study, online activities also lead users to engage in a range of behaviors off line, including social activism in the real world

So, whether Americans are chatting with fellow hobbyists, discussion politics, meeting new people on social and dating sites, or posting photos and videos to sites like Flickr and YouTube, the Internet appears to be on its way to achieving a degree of influence that no other medium in history has ever had.

Another study out this past week looks at the decline in the number of people who are watching television — especially among the young. According to Reuters, the worldwide study by Ofcom, found that ?around one-third of consumers with broadband access watch less television.”
In addition to spending more time with interactive media, such as social networking sites, the study found that people are using the computers and the Internet to watch both traditional television channels as well as videos uploaded by users, as they ?ditch old-fashioned sit-and-watch viewing habits.”

But — and here’s a big but — a recent report by Nielsen Media Research showed that the time the average viewer spent watching television in America had actually climbed during the 2004-05 season to a record high of 4 hours and 35 minutes a day, an increase of 3 minutes a day from the previous season.

So, what does it all mean? Well, the verdict is still out, and it probably will be for a long time. Some say that the Internet is eating into traditional viewing habits while others believe that the broadcast industry remains as strong and influential as ever. I lean toward the latter camp.

Any way you look at it, though, one thing is undeniable. The media are playing an ever-more-powerful role in our lives. So we should pay great attention to what is happening to it, how we use it, and how it affects us on a day-to-day basis, and over time.

Media Briefing for Monday, December 4, 2006

staff | December 4th, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Media Briefing for Friday, December 1, 2006

staff | December 1st, 2006

For those concerned about the erosion of personal privacy, there is a new reason to be worried starting today. The Seattle Times has published an AP story reporting that new federal rules took effect today requiring companies to keep track of all emails and instant messages sent by employees of their firms.

A new worldwide study shows that young people are abandonjing TV for the internet. The study also reports that radio listening is increasing, because of the internet, according to a report from Reuters.

Most parents think they’re strict when it comes to regulating their children’s video game playing. But the Hartford Courant says the children tell a different story. Meanwhile a watchdog group has criticized 10 video games as being too violent for children and teenagers. Associated Press reports the games include one featuring a chainsaw wielding killer and another a bloodstained shooting scene.

Weekly newspapers have always experienced difficulty in distributing their newspapers in New York City, experiencing difficulty getting the papers to the stands on local streets. Now, a West Bronx community which never had its own newspaper now has one, and its owners have found a way to avoid this barrier. The New York Times reports the Mount Hope section of the Bronx has its own paper being distributed via the internet.

As newspaper circulation drops, advertising will be shifting. The chief executive of a top media buying firm in New York says those advertising dollars from retailers will be moving over to radio. He is quoted in INQ7.net

A parade of Washington state residents, some prominent and some not so well known, testified at a Seattle forum last night to oppose further consolidation of media. The Seattle Times reports among those present and opposing further consolidation, were 2 of the 5 FCC commissioners, the 2 Democrats, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps.

ABC and CBS are now offering all network programming in HDTV, and their local stations in the top 5 markets are now providing local news in HDTV. TV Newsday reports local news in HDTV is now available on at least 2 stations in the New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia markets.

Investigative reporting sometimes uncovers serious problems and brings major responses. Associated Press reports the nation’s largest drug store chains are acting to better ensure the privacy of customers after an Indianapolis TV station found sensitive files on thousands of pharmacy customers in trash bins across the nation. AP reports WTHR channel 13 Indianapolis inspected 300 trash bins and found sensitive files on 2,400 customers.

NBC has asked the FCC to take a Spanish language UHF TV competitor in the Los Angeles market off the air. NBC claims TV Azteca, the owners of the station, KAZA channel 54, are corrupt, and asks that its license not be renewed. This is the first challenge of a TV license on character grounds since 1979, according to the Los Angeles Times which has a full report.

Mel Gibson says he feels Michael Richards’ pain. Both have been ensnared in controversy after making bigoted slurs this year. AP says Gibson makes the comments in the December 8 issue of an entertainment magazine.

Chicago columnist Phil Rosenthal comments on a recent University of Wisconsin study that found that local TV newscasts devoted twice as much time to political TV ads than to actual issues. Rosenthal examines specific examples on Chicago TV in his column in the Chicago Tribune.

ABC is giving its newsmagazine Prime Time a multi-week run starting this coming Wednesday at 10 p.m., a slot it will occupy for the next 5 weeks. The theme of the show will be “Basic Instinct” and will focus in its first episode on, among other things, a bigoted cab driver, and unruly misbehaved children, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

CNN’s Lou Dobbs and his segments on the “War On The Middle Class” which he says is being waged by the Bush White House, and the Republicans and Democrats in Congress, are driving up CNN’s ratings. At the same time, Fox News Channel’s ratings are shrinking, according to New York Magazine which says CNN is foxifying itself.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra is returning to the radio next year. The CSO concerts will be sponsored by BP and the concert broadcasts will be coordinated by Chicago classical music FM station WFMT 98.7, according to the Associated Press.

Great Britain has an advertising watchdog agency which keeps track of offending ads. And the agency has just ruled that an ad showing Prime Minister Tony Blair with an Adolf Hitler-style mustache is not offensive, according to a report in Silicon.com.

The New York Post will start distribution in the San Francisco area starting next week. This will bring the Post’s tabloid style news, gossip and right wing politics to the progressive Bay Area, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

If you are stuck with a cellular telephone contract and want to get out of it without paying a big fee. there may now be a way. A new website has been created in which people wishing to end their cell service can sell it to another person who desires it, thus avoiding the large termination fee, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Media Briefing for Thursday, November 30, 2006

staff | November 30th, 2006

Negative effects from playing violent video games linger in the brain well after they are played, according to a new study. Reuters reports the study, conducted by the Indiana School of medicine Study in Indianapolis, focused on teenagers aged 13 to 17 using a violent military video game, and the resulting emotional and other ramifications.

The AT&T — Bell South merger now pending before the FCC may be the biggest telecommunications deal ever in U.S. history. Top members of the FCC met this week to discuss this complicated deal, and other cases. But the public was not invited. Associated Press reports that while details about this case have been scare for the public, the FCC briefed a small group of investors from Banc of America L.L.C.>

The hosts of this week’s public forum in Seattle on media consolidation oppose further consolidation. The Seattle Times says the two Democratic FCC commissioners are hosting the hearing, and one is urging the public to ‘take control of your media.”

BBC World News originally was brought to the United States by WLIW21 and is now available on PBS stations and on cable systems across the nation. Its audience is continuing to rise and it is now challenging American cable news channels, in the United States, according to Media Bulletin.

American English is different than British English, and it is sayings and phrases often derived from television and media that help define American English. The New York Daily News reports that the cable TV network TV Land is offering a special focus on American English, and the shows they derive from, in December. TV Land Will feature the 100 greatest quotes and catchphrases from American TV during the week starting December 11. Associated Press recalls some include “What’s The Way it Is? from Walter Cronkite, “I?m Not A Crook? from Richard Nixon and “I Want My MTV.”

Nielsen is pushing ahead for its plan to offer ratings for commercials on television. Until now, ratings services have only offered ratings for entire programs or quarter hours, during which commercials appear. Now viewership for the commercials themselves will be rated, according to Reuters which says this service should begin in early 2007.

Google is canceling a service it has offered the last 4 years, in which people may pose a question, and a team of researchers then offer a helpful answer. This is done for a fee. The New York Times says that Yahoo has been offered a similar service for free. Associated Press reports the notice of the service shutdown was posted online.

There are many choices available to the consumer, with the convergence of television, radio and the internet. The choices can be complicated and intimidating, so marketers are trying to make the experience more ‘touchy feely?, according to the New York Times which reports people are now being invited in to try out new products and see how they work, at their own pace. Meanwhile Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Himowitz is blaming the consumer electronics industry for turning a simple device, HDTV, into one of extreme complication, confusing consumers unnecessarily. Here is his report in the Sun.

Even with so many television and radio choices bombarding consumers, there is a market for HD radio receivers. With HD radio, existing FM stations are able to offer as many as 5 additional channels of music or other formats. Special receivers are required. While specific figures are not yet available, anecdotal evidence shows the HD receivers are moving off the shelves, according to Radiolink magazine.

Usually the question is posed, ?how can it be so expensive?? Now, the question is ?how can it be so inexpensive?? The computer industry is focusing on a nonprofit project called One-Laptop-Per-Child which aims to offer a laptop for every child in the third world. The New York Times says that among other things, a way was found to cut the cost of a laptop screen from $100 to $40.

Online retailers are watching you. What you pay when buying items online may depend on your gender, your geographic location, what time of day you order, whether you are an AOL subscriber, and even what searches you make on Google, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For generations the 11 p.m. newscasts have been mainstays at WRC channel 4 NBC, WJLA channel 7 ABC and WUSA channel 9 CBS. Now, the latest ratings show a major drop in viewership for these late night newscasts. The Washington Post reports.

Clear Channel Communications? consolidation of radio, with ownership of 1,200 of the most powerful FM and AM stations in the nation, has been well chronicled. But there is also concern that Clear Channel’s network of live music venues and concert halls may squeeze out local venues. The Washington Post reports a proposed Clear Channel music hall to be known as the House of Blues in the city of Washington is raising concern.

Media Briefing for Wednesday, November 29, 2006

staff | November 29th, 2006

Media Briefing for Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Will video stores be a thing of the past in the coming years? Walmart is getting into the field of selling the downloading of DVDs. The Seattle Times has a story from AP and Bloomberg News saying Walmart is already offering videos online, and is cooperating with Apple and Amazon.com in the venture.

BitTorrent is another firm getting involved in a major way in the expanding world of video sales online, according to the New York Times which also has a full report on Walmart. AP reports on BitTorrent’s expansion. BitTorrent will be cooperating with Paramount, 20th Century Fox, MTV, and others. The San Jose Mercury News reports.

Are children spending too much time on the Internet? AP cites a new university study that finds 1 in 5 parents say yes to that question. However AP reports the study also found that the internet is not impacting school grades negatively.

On Thursday night at 6 at the downtown library in Seattle, the two Democratic FCC Commissioners are holding a public forum on the issue of media consolidation. One, commissioner Michael Copps, has made a statement in the Seattle Times in which he urges people to “take control of your media.” Copps says he continually hears from the public that they want to hear and see local talent, and coverage of local news and politicans and their local city hall.

A radio talk host on a major Washington radio station, WMAL 630, suggested on his broadcast that all Muslims be given special markings, possibly including tatoos. WUSA channel 9 Washington has this report.

Washington Post columnist Howard Kurtz examines the fallout from NBC’s decision to term the Iraq War a “civil war.” The Post says the fallout has been almost as violent as the war itself.

The average person in the U.S. is bombarded with thousands of ads each day, on television, radio, the internet, ourdoor billboards, newspapers, magazines, and much more. Now, taxicabs in Boston are offering ads on TV screens for passengers. The Boston Globe reports cabs are becoming ad vehicles.

For many years it was outspoken conservatives who were able to drive up ratings by taking strong stands and offering intense criticism of government. Now MSNBC’s evening talk host Keith Olberman has driven up ratings with blistering criticism of George W. Bush. The Los Angeles Times says Olberman has taken off the gloves.

For those interested in movies and Hollywood in general, there is a special website — MovieCityNews.com — that offers a wealth of information. Associated Press has this report.

The George W. Bush administration is using trade sanctions specifically to aggravate and annoy the dictator of North Korea, banning plasmam TV sets, iPods and other high tech items the dictators enjoys, according to Associated Press.

After CNN’s Nancy Grace grilled the Florida mother of a missing little boy, the woman, Melinda Duckett, took her own life. Then criticism of Nancy Grace’s tough questioning ensued. She hired a crisis manager, but the New York Observer says things then got even worse.

For those interested in the history of television, New York’s WPIX channel 11 is presenting a history of its annual holiday Yule Log, which shows logs burning in a fireplace with holiday music. The New York Daily News reports that the special program airs December 23rd at 7 p.m. and the paper notes the Yule Log is now downloadable on the web.

Media Briefing for Tuesday, November 28, 2006

staff | November 28th, 2006

The most viewed items on YouTube are not skateboarders crashing into walls, but clips of CBS shows. Media Daily News reports clips of David Letterman and other CBS shows are the most viewed.

YouTube is offering a new service: a channel with clips of its television shows and videos, to be provided by Verizon wireless. The Washington Post reports YouTube’s video service will be offered on cellphones. A $15 a month subscription will be required, reports the New York Times.

Former GE chairman Jack Welch and his group are unphased by their initial rejection in their attempt to buy the Boston Globe from the New York Times Co. The competing Boston Herald reports Welch and his group will aggressively pursue the Globe.

The Baltimore Sun and its parent Tribune Co. are also not ready to sell. The Washington Post says bids will not be accepted for the Sun at this point in time.

Bucking the George W. Bush administration, NBC television news is now describing the situation in Iraq as a civil war. The Boston Globe says Matt Lauer on the Today show described the war this morning as a civil war. NBC’s move is making waves, according to the Los Angeles Times.

On commercial television and radio, it seems the number of back-to-back ads can seem staggering sometimes. Now, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams will have one sponsor and just 3 ads. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on this throwback to the early days of TV when newscasts and shows often had just one sponsor.

Maryland’s courts are planning to webcast the court’s sessions so the general public may listen in. Associated Press reports Mryland’s court system hopefully will beup and running by Monday when a high profile gay marriage case begins.

In Toronto, Ontario, Canada a new device has been created to allow computer users to bypass government censorship. Restrictions on the internet originally began with crackdowns on erotica and have extended to political and news sites. The New York Times reports that with the device there will be no record on the computer that a site was ever visited.

Researchers are working on a translation device, which U.S. intelligence services and other agencies are pushing strongly for. The device has software that would translate Arabic or Chinese broadcasts into English, and then beyond that, offer summaries of the key points, according to Associated Press.

There was a time when podcasting was considered just something for a lunatic fringe of geeks. Now, it is even reaching into the graying baby boomer generation. The San Jose Mercury News reports one in eight baby boomers has downloaded a podcast.

Birds flying in the air are slamming into broadcast and communications towers. Millions of birds are being killed, according to the Baltimore Sun. During bad weather birds in migration sometimes mistake tower lights for stars they use to navigate, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In the wake of the Michael Richards incident last week in which his use of racial slurs was caught on videotape, activists are now seeking an end to the use of the ?n? word by everyone, including comics. The Los Angeles Times reports.

A study conducted by a unit in the Pew Research Center found that newspapers and TV stations are lagging in their use of the internet for breaking election night news. The Baltimore Sun says TV outlets and newspapers are aware of the great potential of the internet in the future, but are not utilizing its full power now.

The Washington TV news Web site www.dcrtv.com today reports on a new PBS series next year, ?America at the Crossroads,” being launched by WETA channel 26 Washington. The site quotes current.org as saying the new show will be hosted by Robert MacNeil.

A conservative columnist in the Boston Herald says the use of a transgender character in the ABC series ?All My Children? represents a major move to the left. Here is the Boston Herald story.

Media Briefing for November 27, 2006

staff | November 27th, 2006

Ken Burns, creator of the acclaimed PBS series on the Civil War, is now creating a series on World War II, which ended more than 61 years ago. Burns says he undertook the project after finding how little younger people know about this war, according to an interview in the Valley News of New Hampshire. Burns focuses on four veterans from World War II, in telling the story, Associated Press reports.

Children are growing up faster than ever. An Associated Press report asks whether that is a good thing. It says marketing campaigns including TV ads aimed at children are part of the reason. AP reports that among other things, a group has set up a website to oppose marketing campaigns aimed at children, http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org

Three of the four major television networks are arguing that the Federal Communications Commission has overstepped its bounds in its new indecency rules, and are asking a court to put a halt to it. The Los Angeles Times has a full report. Associated Press also reports on the networks? conention that the indecency crusade is a gross intrusion that is seriously damaging creativity in television.

In deliberating the issue of allowing more consolidation for television and radio, the FCC is planning to use 10 economic studies. Broadcasting & Cable reports FCC Commissioner Michael Copp, a Democrat, is not comfortable with the use of these studies. Consolidation of media is silencing local voices, according to critics who appeared at a forum in Dutchess County, N.Y. sponsored by Democratic Congressman Maurice Hinchey. Some 300 people attended the forum sponsored by Hinchey at the FDR Center in Hyde Park, according to the Poughkeepsie Journal. Meanwhile, two of the five FCC commissioners, the two Democrats, Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copp, are holding an unofficial forum on the issue Thursday evening at 6 at the Seattle Downtown Public Library, according to the Seattle Times. There is a new movie called “When The Music Died?. The Washington Post says it even has a fictional Clear Channel executive ordering that music playlists be rigid and only include songs that will increase ratings and not drive anyone away. The management at the radio chain will not allow audiences to hear any unproven music.

Native American journalist Jodi Rave said that there is a serious need for more Native American reporters and journalists in the United States. They are needed to provide coverage of the underreported native community in this country, she said. Jodi Rave, who covers stories on a national level, spoke over the Thanksgiving Weekend at the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University, according to a report in the newspaper Indian Country Now.

CBS television networks affiliates are disappointed that they are restricted from posting clips from shows on YouTube for at least 24 hours, but the CBS network itself has no restrictions. Lost Remote has the story.

A major Swedish firm is predicting that mobile TV will be reaching the masses of population soon. Associated Press reports the firm says this will happen by 2008.

Everything keeps expanding and changing rapidly as broadcasting and the internet converge. In France, the operator of an internet hip hop radio station, is expanding in a major way. The New York Times reports he will expand the station into a major blog operation in 4 languages that will offer a wide assortment of programming and information.

The use of iPods in the country is rising. However, Associated Press reports the rise is small, and people with iPods are not using them daily.

Entertainer Michael Richards, known as Kramer on the old NBC Seinfeld show, and who was videotaped using harsh racial slurs during a standup comedy show last week, is the latest in a group of diverse public figures caught on video after making major gaffes. The Baltimore Sun says video-posting on the internet is the ?new grapevine.” Michael Richards has hired a public relations firm. Associated Press reports this is part of Richards? attempts at damage control. Meanwhile two men in the audience are seeking an apology from Richards. Associated Press reports. Now, Jesse Jackson invited Michael Richards as a guest on his national radio show. Associated Press quotes Jackson as saying Richards underwent what he called a public meltdown.

And on the broadcast, Associated Press says Richards stated that he is ‘shattered? by the comments he made.

Meanwhile, in Malaysia, the humiliation of a woman apprehended by police was captured on video. The Washington Post reports the video has created a major stir in the Islamic country.

Viewers have made the Saturday night block of British comedies the most-watched evening for public TV station WEAO channel 49 in the Cleveland/Akron market. Now the station is asking viewers for their opinions on which British shows to add. The Plain Dealer reports viewers are invited to come to a public forum and vote this Saturday afternoon 1 to 3 p.m. at the Sheraton Suites on Front Street in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

John R. Pepper II, who brought the first black oriented format to radio in the nation, on WDIA-AM Memphis, has died at the age of 91. Many black musical stars got their start on WDIA, according to Associated Press.

At a time when big city newspapers are struggling for advertising, with the advent of internet advertising alternatives, college newspapers are doing quite will. The Baltimore Sun reports college newspapers have become a major source for advertisers.

Canadians are still restricted from watching premium American cable channels such as Home Box Office and Showtime and Nickelodian. The Wall Street Journal reports this is to protect Canadian writers and artists and television broadcasters. Even so, the Journal says 700,000 Canadians are receiving the programming illegally.

Also in Canada, major commercial TV networks wish to start charging cable TV systems and satellite companies for their programming. The Globe and Mail reports the cable and satellite industries say this proposal would destroy television in Canada. And CBC also wants carriage fees, according to The Globe and Mail

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Seattle Times have all done major pieces recently on PBS and NPR broadcaster Tavis Smiley. Now another newspaper named the Times — the Saint Petersburg Times in Florida, has a major piece. The Saint Petersburg Times says Tavis is on TV, on the radio, speaking in person, and is everywhere.

Columnist David Broder says he got a peek look at an upcoming PBS documentary on economist Milton Friedman. The Washington Post columnist says the documentary, “The Power of Choice?, will air on PBS next year, and Broder reveals that Milton Friedman was able to see it before he passed away.

Soprano Rene Fleming is appearing on two PBS specials in December, ?Sacred Songs? and the ?Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas Special.” Associated Press has an interview with Rene.

The Washington Post has lost two of its top political reporters to a new web-based news service. Both Washingtonian magazine and Slate.com say the losses substantially weaken the Post’s position as the leader in political news coverage.

Internet sites such as YouTube and My Space are feeding an explosion of what the San Francisco Chronicle says is a ?Look At Me? sensation. The Chronicle says it is partly the result of the society in which we live, which focuses on putting glamorous people center-stage.

Azerbaijan has shut down an independent television station. Associated Press reports.


staff | November 27th, 2006

Welcome to Blog Thirteen.

It’s no secret that we?re in the midst of a media revolution. New developments, ideas and innovations are appearing on the scene every day and change is the new status quo. Given the increasingly important role of the media in our lives, it’s important that we try to get a handle on the complex issues, technologies and policies that define the media environment today. As citizens, we all have a responsibility to try to understand the way television, radio, the Internet, and all the many new hybrid media forms are shaping our lives, our government, and our future.

Blog Thirteen will build on Thirteen/WNET’s educational mission by offering resources, news links, and opinion that will help you make informed decisions about your own media choices — for yourself, your family, your community and your society. Every day, we?ll post a Media Briefing, which will give you quick rundown of what’s going on in the media world, with links to news stories that we find notable.

Once a week, I?ll offer a column with some of my thoughts about significant issues and trends. The blog site also includes links to a useful Media Resources page, which we will update periodically.

We hope you enjoy Blog Thirteen and find it useful. Please stop by every day for the media briefing and consider book-marking this page. Or add this blog to your RSS reader and always be up on the latest news. And while you?re here, take a moment to explore the many fascinating, informative Web sites on Thirteen.org, New York’s public media home on the Web.

Thanks for visiting Blog Thirteen. And thanks for making public television a priority in your life.


Media Briefing for Wednesday, November 22, 2006

staff | November 22nd, 2006

ABC is planning to pull back from its legal challenge in 4 FCC findings of indecency, Broadcasting & Cable which reports the ABC shows involved were NYPD Blue episodes, says CBS, NBC and Fox are expected to continue with their challenges.

A University of Wisconson — Madison News Lab study has found that on local TV newscasts, viewers this election season saw more than twice as much time devoted to political ads, than to election news coverage. Associated Press reports the study showed about 4-and-a-half minutes of political ads in each half hour local newscast, compared with 1 minute and 43 seconds of election coverage in the newscast.

Boston Globe owner The New York Times Company has rejected a bid by GE’s Jack Welch and local investors to buy the Globe. The Boston Globe reports the Times told the group in a letter that the Globe remains an important asset and said the company is not interested in pursuing the sale.

The Rhode Island attorney general has closed the books after a 2 year investigation into earlier plans to sell two Rhode Island AM public radio stations, WRNI 1290 Providence and WXNI 1230 Westerly. Associated Press reports the two stations will remain in public hands. Listeners were angered after they had pledged money for the purchase of the stations to serve as public radio stations, and then plans were announced to sell off the stations. The stations will now remain in the hands of Boston University and its flagship WBUR 90.9, the NPR station in Boston.

Advertising supporting broadcast programming dates back to 1922 when the first ad for a Queens condominium complex ran on WEAF (now WFAN) 660 New York. Will TV in the future become ad-free, following the lead of premium channels like Home Box Office and Showtime? Advertising Agemagazine notes that viewers flee from ads and are already using DVRs and Tivo to eliminate ads. Ad Age asks whether they will instead opt to pay for shows a la carte?

Cable operator Comcast and Disney have signed a multi-billion dollar deal that allows Comcast to distribute Disney content through its cable video-on-demand service. Associated Press reports Comcast would spend $1 billion a year to purchase programming such as popular ABC shows ?Desperate Housewives? and Lost? plus shows from ESPN, the Disney Channel and Toon Disney.<

Cable operators are balking at a new channel operated by the National Football League to show its own games. Associated Press reports. The Washington Post examines the NFL network.

The CBS deal with YouTube is proving to be a boon for CBS. The Hollywood Reporter reports some of the most widely viewed videos on YouTube are CBS product.

College presidents are erasing the divide between themselves and the students, reports the New York Times which says college presidents are getting into blogging themselves.

A new study says the internet ranks behind only TV as the source of science news. <a href=http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/06325/739923-96.stm<associated Press reports on the Pew study.

The Los Angeles Times takes a detailed look at this week’s California Supreme Court ruling limiting liability for internet providers, in libel cases. Here is the Los Angeles Times story.

Search engine company Google keeps climbing. On Tuesday, its stock value reached $500 per share for the first time. Associated Press reports Google is now in the elite of corporations. The New York Times quotes a stock advisor who advised his clients to sell Google after its stock more than doubled after the initial offering. The Times says the advisor now says that advice was a terrible mistake. The Chicago Tribune notes Google’s shares have gone from $85 a share 2 years ago to over $509 now. The San Jose Mercury News says many are predicting even further growth for Google.

The new AOL chief sees parallels with TV. Associated Press reports the AOL chief sees the online business becoming a formidable competitors with TV and other traditional media. Meanwhile online advertising revenue for newspapers is increasing. Online Media Daily reports.

It’s not just political secrets that are being captured and exposed on YouTube. Now it’s corporate culture that until now remained inside the corporate walls. The Wall Street Journal reports multiple examples of inside corporate activities now being made available to the world on YouTube.

In Canada, two new web interactive TV channels were introduced this week. CBC News Plus and TSN Extra were introduced Tuesday. The Globe and Mail reports the two channels are the first stage in what is believed to be the next battleground for cable, satellite and telecom providers.

The O.J. Simpson book and interview, cancelled this week, could end up on the internet. Associated Pressreporter Hillel Italie says it could end up on YouTube or eBay, in this age of leaks of scandalous and secret material to internet sources. He also reports on accusations that Fox’s parent company offered ?hush? money to the family of Nicole Simpson, for the family to remain quiet. Here is the AP report. The Boston Globe also has a major story.

A new study is questioning the popularity of iPod video. The Hollywood Reporter says the Nielsen Media study showed less than 1% of content items played by iPod users on either iTunes or the device itself were videos.

Confusion over high definition television, HDTV, is dampening enthusiasm among consumers, reports USA Today which says people are more interested in watching DVDs and playing video games on HDTV sets than watching TV shows. Meanwhile there is a price war for flat screen and high definition television sets. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

Each year China Central Television, a state-operated station with 15 nationwide channels covering about 95% of the population, holds an auction of its advertising time. Forbes reports that Procter and Gamble, Lenovo, and Bank of China were among those bidding aggressively in the 13-hour auction.

Will audiences accept gay actors playing the roles of straight men? The Los Angeles Times has this report.

Director Steven Spielberg is cautioning against excessive violence on television. Broadcasting & Cable reports Spielberg named specific shows in his public comments.

Wall Street won’t have giant radio operator Clear Channel Communications to kick around any more, says USA Today which reports CEO Mark Mays is pleased with the plan to go private.

Former President Bill Clinton was among those at the memorial service for former 60 Minutes correspondent Ed Bradley. Associated Press reports.

For those wishing to spend Thanksgiving Day listening to fictional crime on the radio, the Los Angeles public radio station KCRW 89.9 is offering 4 hours of it both Thursday and Friday. The Los Angeles Times reports on KCRW’s programs, which can also be heard on the web at www.KCRW.com

Even before his anti-Semitic tirades, Mel Gibson’s film Apocalypto was a tough sell, according to the Los Angeles Times. Now, the Los Angeles Times reports, Disney is starting its publicity campaign for the film which opens December 8. Among other things, Disney is using its ABC network to do so.

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