Benton's Communications-related Headlines For Friday June 8, 2007

Some big events late next week -- 1) Top Bush=20
Administration officials will highlight broadband=20
wireless policy perspectives in the U.S. and=20
globally during a keynote-level session on=20
Thursday, June 14 at the Wireless Communications=20
Association convention, 2) Mirror Awards will be=20
presented for excellence in coverage of the=20
media, and 3) the first Chicago Media Summit will=20
be held Thursday and Friday. For these and other=20
upcoming media policy events, see=20

Over Half of U.S. Households Subscribe to Broadband Internet
Boucher Wants to Improve America's Broadband
House Subcommittee Supports Rural Broadband Funding
Network Neutrality is Essential to a Democratic and Dynamic Internet
Important FCC Spectrum Decision

Funding for Public Broadcasting
FCC Proposes $3 Million in DTV Tuner Fines
Closed Captioning for Digital Television
C-SPAN-Like TV Pops Up on Local Level

In search of media diversity
NAB President Asks Karmazin To Nix Merger
Hispanic Chambers of Commerce Backs XM/Sirius Merger
Mexico=92s Court Limits Reach of Big Media

Journalism isn't dying, it's reviving
Aid projects need more critical media coverage

QUICKLY -- CDT Applauds Oversight of Warrantless=20
Snooping; Job Opportunities: New America Foundation


[SOURCE: Leichtman Research Group press release]
New consumer research from Leichtman Research=20
Group finds that 53% of all US households now=20
subscribe to a broadband high-speed Internet=20
service at home. Broadband services now account=20
for about 72% of all home Internet subscriptions=20
-- compared to 60% last year. While broadband=20
subscriptions continued to increase across the=20
country in the past year, broadband penetration=20
remains strongly correlated with household=20
income: 68% of all households with annual incomes=20
over $50,000 now get broadband -- compared to 59%=20
last year -- and 39% of all households with=20
annual incomes under $50,000 get broadband --=20
compared to 27% last year. Other findings=20
include: 1) While 81% of all US households have=20
at least one computer, only 56% of those with=20
annual household incomes under $30,000 have a=20
computer at home. 2) Just 45% of households with=20
annual incomes below $30,000 subscribe to an=20
Internet service at home -- compared to 92% of=20
households with annual incomes above $75,000. 3)=20
Overall, 7% of all Internet subscribers say that=20
broadband is not available in their area. =93Nearly=20
three-quarters of households in the US now=20
subscribe to an Internet service, and broadband=20
has grown to account for over 70% of all online=20
subscribers at home,=94 said Bruce Leichtman,=20
president and principal analyst for Leichtman.=20
=93LRG forecasts the total number of broadband=20
subscribers will increase by over 40 million over the next five years.=94
* Leichtman: Broadband Crosses 50% Threshold

[SOURCE: Public Knowledge, AUTHOR: John Bergmayer]
[Commentary] Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) gave the=20
opening keynote at the Broadband Policy Summit on=20
June 7. He detailed a number of plans he thinks=20
would help improve broadband penetration in=20
America: 1) He urged summit attendees to contact=20
their Congressional representatives to ask them=20
to support his Universal Service Reform Act of=20
2007 (HR 2054 see=20 2)=20
He would eliminate legal barriers to municipal=20
deployment of broadband, including municipal WiFi=20
and mesh networks. 3) He sees the pending=20
agriculture bill as providing an opportunity to=20
reexamine funding for rural broadband deployment=20
[see related story below]. 4) He discussed the=20
connection of telecommunications to possible=20
=93smart grid=94 power systems, and discussed the=20
potential of broadband over power lines (BPL) for=20
providing broadband competition. 5) He cited the=20
example of =93Connect Kentucky,=94 which he believes=20
has been a successful program for increasing=20
broadband deployment. He thinks that it is an=20
example worthy of emulation and for which a=20
federal complement might be developed.

[SOURCE: House Agriculture Committee]
On June 6, the House Agriculture Subcommittee on=20
Specialty Crops, Rural Development, and Foreign=20
Agriculture approved proposals for the Farm Bill=20
sections under its jurisdiction. The Subcommittee=20
approved by voice vote discussion drafts=20
outlining the Rural Development. The bill would=20
reauthorize loans to local entities for the=20
expansion of rural 911 access. The discussion=20
draft approved by the Subcommittee changes=20
program eligibility requirements to improve=20
access to broadband telecommunications services=20
in rural areas, and would also establish a=20
National Center for Rural Telecommunications=20
Assessment. An amendment by Rep John Salazar=20
would mandate a comprehensive rural broadband=20
strategy from the Secretary of Agriculture. The=20
strategy would : 1) promote interagency=20
coordination of policies and resources, 2)=20
coordinate existing rural initiatives, 3) address=20
both short- and long-term solutions and 4)=20
cataloging best practises for addressing rural=20
broadband needs. The plan is to include goals and timeframes.
* See a summary of the bill at=20
* See the Salazar amendment at:=20

[SOURCE:, AUTHOR: Mark Cooper, Consumer Federation of America]
[Commentary] A recent blog from the Center for=20
Digital Democracy attacked the broad coalition=20
fighting for network neutrality and called on=20
public interest advocates to change their focus=20
on Internet policy. This proposed change would be=20
a huge mistake for public interest advocates=20
fighting to promote consumer and citizen=20
interests. Protecting consumers and citizens from=20
abuse by the commercial sector and promoting=20
consumer sovereignty and democratic discourse are=20
interrelated, but distinct objectives. Both are=20
essential for a vibrant and innovative online=20
economy and public sphere. And consumer advocates=20
must be vigilant about both. The suggestion that=20
a neutral network would be =93open in name only=94=20
rests on a fundamental failure to understand what=20
is happening on the 21st century Internet, while=20
projecting the evils of the twentieth century=20
broadcast media model into an entirely different=20
communications space where it just does not fit.=20
Network neutrality/open access is critical=20
because it ensures that consumers and citizens=20
can easily escape from the walled-gardens and=20
gated-communities that the cable and telephone=20
companies like to build. And the world they=20
escape into is a communicative space that is more=20
varied and vibrant than any that has ever=20
existed, or had even been contemplated. The=20
communicative space created by network=20
neutrality/open access combined with the=20
Internet=92s =93end-to-end=94 principle is varied and=20
raucous primarily because the production of=20
content by people (not corporations) dominates in=20
cyberspace, but also because the ease of entry on=20
a neutral, digital network ensures a continuous=20
flow of new commercial content and innovative applications.

3650-3700 MHZ BAND ORDER
[SOURCE: Media Access Project press release]
Harold Feld, Senior Vice President, Media Access=20
Project, had the following statement in response=20
to the FCC's Order on Wireless Operation in the=20
3650-3700 MHz Band (OET Docket No. 04-151). =93For=20
more than two years, private interests hoping to=20
capture a valuable portion of the public airwaves=20
and lock competitors out have held up development=20
of this band. Meanwhile, rural Americans who=20
could have enjoyed the benefits of this spectrum=20
have lacked the affordable broadband choices and=20
the benefits of wireless competition. Today's=20
Order essentially reconfirms the approach to this=20
band the FCC adopted in 2004, a set of rules that=20
balances the legitimate concerns of licensees=20
with the power of open spectrum to create new=20
broadband providers and opportunities. It opens=20
50 MHz of spectrum under a "licensing lite"=20
regime that will allow wireless ISPs (WISPs),=20
municipal broadband systems, and community=20
wireless networks to share spectrum outside the=20
currently overcrowded "junk bands" used by=20
commercial wi-fi systems. While important,=20
today's action is only a small step toward=20
addressing our overall need for policies that=20
make open wireless available to everyone.=20
Hopefully, it signals an willingness by this=20
Commission to move forward on more significant=20
proposals to open more spectrum for=20
non-interfering uses rather than requiring=20
Americans to access the public airwaves through a=20
handful of licensed gatekeepers offering=20
carefully controlled walled gardens under the=20
guise of Internet access. While we applaud the=20
FCC for its modest step forward today, the need=20
to make more spectrum open and available for=20
competition remains great. We therefore renew our=20
call to the FCC in the next few months to open=20
the broadcast "white spaces" for unlicensed use=20
and to set aside half the spectrum in the=20
upcoming 700 MHz auction for affordable, wholesale access.=94
* Petitions for Reconsideration in the 3650-3700=20
MHz Band Proceeding (FCC order)
* FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein
"Our licensing regime for the 3650 MHz band will=20
serve as a wireless highway between small towns=20
and the big city - it will facilitate the=20
delivery of broadband to all corners of the=20
country by serving a different user group, one=20
that often is driven by more localized, community based needs."


[SOURCE: Corporation for Public Broadcasting]
On June 7, the House Appropriations Subcommittee=20
on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education=20
approved the FY 2008 appropriations bill which=20
provides funding for the Corporation for Public=20
Broadcasting (CPB). The legislation approved by=20
the subcommittee provides CPB a $420 million=20
advanced appropriation for FY 2010, as well as=20
$29.7 for digital conversion and $26.75 for the=20
public radio interconnection system for FY 2008.=20
In addition, the bill provides $24.255 in funding=20
for Ready to Learn. If enacted, the proposed=20
advance for FY 2010 would represent a 5% increase=20
over the FY 2009 level. The House Appropriations=20
Committee could consider the bill as early as=20
next week, followed by action by the House of=20
Representatives. The Senate is expected to=20
consider its version of the bill in late June or July.
* CPB Gets Pay Raise

[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
The FCC is apparently very serious about=20
enforcing its DTV tuner mandate. The Commission=20
has issued its first two fines to companies that=20
illegally shipped TV sets that don't contain a=20
DTV tuner. The fines total nearly $3 million. The=20
Commission fined a company called=20
Syntax-Brillian $2,899,575 for importing over=20
72,000 TV's without tuners. The FCC also cited=20
Regent U.S.A for shipping 2,179 non-compliant=20
sets "The DTV tuner requirement promotes an=20
important public policy goal of helping to speed=20
the transition to digital television," said the=20
FCC in proposing the fines. "And we therefore=20
find violations of this requirement to be more=20
egregious, in general, than many other types of=20
equipment marketing cases that come before us."
* FCC Warns Retailers To Label Analog-Only Sets Online
The FCC has warned K-Mart, Best Buy, Circuit=20
City, Radio Shack, and CompUSA that if they don't=20
start placing a warning "in close proximity" to=20
analog-only sets, even those sold online, the=20
stores will face an $11,000-per-day fine, up to $97,000.

[SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission]
The Federal Communications Commission is=20
concerned that consumers may experience=20
difficulty in receiving and/or viewing closed=20
captioning on some digital television (DTV)=20
programming, including high definition television=20
(HDTV), provided by a programming distributor=20
such as a cable company or a satellite television=20
provider. These difficulties generally could=20
arise from two causes: 1) the consumer's set-top=20
box and/or DTV are not properly set to allow=20
closed captions to be displayed; or 2) there are=20
technical problems with the cable or satellite=20
provider's system that prevent closed captions=20
from being received and decoded by the set-top=20
box and/or DTV. If you have difficulties viewing=20
closed captions on DTV programming, including=20
HDTV, received from your cable company or=20
satellite television provider, you should: 1)=20
consult any consumer information and=20
manuals/guides on closed captions for DTV=20
programming provided by your cable or satellite=20
provider; 2) ensure that the captioning function=20
on your set-top box, if applicable, is turned on;=20
3) ensure that the captioning function on your=20
DTV is turned on. If you are still unable to view=20
closed captions on DTV programming, you should=20
contact your cable company or satellite=20
television provider for assistance. If your=20
provider is unable to help, you can contact the FCC's Consumer Center.

[SOURCE: Associated Press, AUTHOR: Paul Davenport]
People who can't get enough C-SPAN are getting=20
more chances to watch legislative coverage from=20
the comfort of their couches. At a time when news=20
media coverage of most state legislatures is=20
increasingly sparse, there are now more than 20=20
channels across the country offering=20
gavel-to-gavel legislative coverage. That's up=20
from a handful in the 1990s. Only about a dozen=20
offer full broadcast slates. Others offer=20
limited, part-time programming. The programming=20
isn't all humdrum public policy stuff: There are=20
corruption scandals and election controversies=20
and juicy hearings. Those in the fledgling=20
industry say the coverage goes beyond sound bites=20
to let citizens see how their state governments=20
-- and their elected representatives -- do the=20
public's business. "What we bring to the table is=20
a primary source for people," said Paul Giguere,=20
president of the National Association of Public=20
Affairs Networks and founder of Connecticut's=20
CT-N, one of the nation's oldest systems. "This=20
is an opportunity for people to watch for=20
themselves and make up their own mind."


[SOURCE: Hispanic Link, AUTHOR: Joseph Torres, Free Press]
even though people of color make up a third of=20
the U.S. population, the media are still=20
struggling to integrate diverse voices in news=20
coverage and staffing. Media companies are quick=20
to pledge their support for newsroom diversity,=20
but their actions still fail to match their=20
rhetoric. The same can be said for the Federal=20
Communications Commission's commitment to=20
fostering greater racial, ethnic and gender=20
diversity on our airwaves. It has failed to take=20
any action on this growing crisis. And it is a=20
crisis. FCC issued a new rulemaking procedure=20
last year and is once again considering relaxing=20
the broadcast ownership rules. It still has not=20
addressed how to bring parity to ownership. A=20
history of racism and segregation in the United=20
States prevented the integration of the airwaves,=20
not only in ownership, but in the presence of=20
people of color working on radio and TV and in=20
programming addressing the needs of communities=20
of color. Sadly, 180 years after the founding of=20
Freedom's Journal, people of color are still=20
struggling for a chance to "plead their own=20
cause." It's time we got the chance to speak for ourselves.

[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
National Association of Broadcasters President=20
David Rehr has written personally to Sirius=20
Satellite Radio CEO Mel Karmazin to ask him to=20
withdraw the application to merge with XM. Rehr=20
appeared to be reacting in part to reports that=20
Karmazin had labeled the NAB's lobbying against=20
the issue "disgraceful," according to a press=20
report cited in the letter. Rehr called that=20
indictment "misguided." He conceded NAB had paid=20
for published studies taking aim at the merger,=20
but also pointed to "hundreds" of comments filed=20
at the FCC opposing the merger, "all without prodding from NAB."
* Text of letter:=20

[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
The Hispanic Chambers of Commerce says it=20
supports the merger of XM and Sirius. =93With=20
expanded choices and better prices, satellite=20
radio will be an even more attractive option for=20
consumers, and this ultimately benefits our=20
Chamber members and the two-million Latino-owned=20
businesses in the U.S.=94 said chamber president=20
Alfred Placeres. =93Our community is more informed=20
and better prepared to make important business decisions as a result.=94

[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Elisabeth Malkin]
The Mexican Supreme Court overwhelmingly voted=20
Thursday to declare parts of a new media law=20
unconstitutional, a blow to the country=92s two=20
main broadcasters who had hoped to extend their=20
dominance in television to the Internet and=20
telephone service. The decision confirmed several=20
preliminary votes by the court=92s members in the=20
last two weeks as they went through the disputed=20
parts of the law. In an unprecedented move, the=20
hearings were televised and the court members=20
heard experts speak for and against the law. Now=20
it goes back to Congress to be rewritten.=20
Although legislators agreed that the existing=20
47-year-old television law needs to be changed,=20
no one has stepped forward with a proposal. That=20
may force President Felipe Calder=F3n to come up=20
with his own legislation and send it to Congress,=20
which is out of session until September. The law=20
was passed in the heat of an election campaign=20
last year, and critics said that it gave new=20
power to the nation=92s broadcasting duopoly,=20
Televisa and TV Azteca, which control about 90 percent of the industry.
(requires registration)
* Ruling hits 2 media giants,1,5217996...


[SOURCE: San Francisco Chronicle, AUTHOR: Dan=20
Gillmor, Center for Citizen Media]
[Commentary] Journalism's old guard is in a=20
panic. With the latest bad news -- massive=20
editorial staff reductions coming at the San=20
Francisco Chronicle and believable rumors of=20
similar cuts at an already shrunken San Jose=20
Mercury News, among other things -- it's no=20
wonder that people who care about the traditional=20
journalism business are frightened. But if the=20
issue is the future of journalism -- as opposed=20
to corporate business models -- there's at least=20
as much reason for optimism as paranoia. The same=20
technologies that are disrupting the news=20
industry are offering unprecedented opportunities=20
for creating a more diverse, and ultimately more=20
vibrant, journalistic ecosystem. The journalistic=20
ecosystem could end up healthier in the end, if=20
we get this right. What's coming won't be the=20
responsibility of just a few companies or=20
nonprofits. It'll be up to all of us. We will get this right, if we try.

[SOURCE: The Christian Science Monitor, AUTHOR: Edward Girardet]
[Commentary] The forced resignation of former=20
World Bank director Paul Wolfowitz for nepotism=20
was largely the result of intense pressure by an=20
irate staff who saw his actions as lacking in=20
dignity and concern for the well-being of the=20
organization. The willingness of the press to=20
pursue the issue was another contributing factor.=20
Wrongdoing, of course, is nothing new to the=20
international aid industry. But in most cases=20
there is no dogged media reporting or public will=20
to bring the culprits to task. The best solution=20
would be the creation of a viable media watchdog=20
capable of reporting the real causes behind=20
humanitarian predicaments, including how the=20
international community responds. Most=20
mainstream news organizations are unlikely to=20
cover the global aid business on a consistent=20
basis. On the other hand, a pooling of media,=20
corporate, and foundation support for a=20
specialized reporting entity could prove to be=20
the answer. Any other approach that does not=20
guarantee complete independence would be a waste of time and money.


[SOURCE: Center for Democracy & Technology]
The Administration must come clean with a full=20
accounting of its domestic surveillance=20
activities before Congress can be expected to=20
make any changes to the laws that protect=20
Americans against uncontrolled government=20
snooping, CDT said today. CDT applauded the House=20
Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the=20
Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties=20
for holding a critical hearing on the topic=20
today, and urged lawmakers to fully explore all=20
aspects of the government=E2=80=99s domestic spying=20
activities. The White House has been aggressively=20
promoting legislation aimed at "modernizing" the=20
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA),=20
which governs how national security surveillance=20
is conducted in the United States.
* Press Release: NSA Oversight:

[SOURCE: New America Foundation]
The New America Foundation is seeking candidates=20
to fill two senior positions in its Wireless=20
Future Program: a Director of Research and a=20
Senior Policy Counsel. Mail, e-mail or fax a=20
resume, brief cover letter summarizing your=20
interests/qualifications, a writing sample=20
(ranging from academic to published article), and=20
contact information of three references (letters=20
not necessary) to: Human Resources, New America=20
Foundation, 1630 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 7th=20
Floor, Washington, DC 20009. Fax: 202-986-3696.=20
E-mail: jobs( at ) Please state "Job=20
Search:Wireless Future Program" in e-mail subject=20
line. Salary commensurate with experience and=20
excellent health/pension benefits, in total=20
comparable to federal sector. The New America=20
Foundation is an equal opportunity employer.
...and we are outta here. Have a great weekend.
Communications-related Headlines is a free online=20
news summary service provided by the Benton=20
Foundation ( Posted Monday=20
through Friday, this service provides updates on=20
important industry developments, policy issues,=20
and other related news events. While the=20
summaries are factually accurate, their often=20
informal tone does not always represent the tone=20
of the original articles. Headlines are compiled=20
by Kevin Taglang headlines( at ) -- we welcome your comments.