Benton's Communications-related Headlines For Thursday June 7, 2007

Spectrum Auction Breakdown

Court Ruling Propels TV Indecency Debate
Stars Shine Light on Media Literacy Efforts
More Stations Face Television Fines for Children's Programming

Converters Signal a New Era for TVs
Why Give Away the Airwaves?
Can newspaper-on-the-radio format work?

Independence Still the Issue at Dow Jones
Measure against journalists shelved

QUICKLY -- Official: Cheney Urged Wiretaps;=20
Firing a digital broadside at Chinese media=20
pirates; Antitrust Group Opposes XM/Sirius; House=20
approves second, stricter anti-spyware bill;=20
Buying the Right TV; As Cellphones Multiply,=20
Phone Books Get Slimmer ; Jack Valenti=92s Memoir Suffers Without a Key Sal=


[SOURCE: New America Foundation release]
At a New America Foundation Senate forum on June=20
1st, participants discussed how the upcoming=20
auctions can bring new competitors into the=20
broadband marketplace. At the event, New America=20
released a Working Paper by economist Greg Rose=20
showing that current FCC auction rules allow=20
incumbent wireless providers to engage in=20
"retaliatory bidding" and "blocking" to prevent=20
the emergence of new national competitors. New=20
America and the Public Interest Spectrum=20
Coalition (PISC) filed comments in response to=20
the FCC's Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking=20
on the upcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction. The=20
comments urge the Commission to maximize=20
competition for wireless broadband services by=20
adopting rules such as "anonymous" bidding,=20
incumbent exclusion, "open" (wholesale) access,=20
and other mechanisms to encourage competitive entry.
* Working Paper
* FCC Comments:
* A Broadband Pipe, or a $12 Billion Pipe Dream?


[SOURCE: Associated Press, AUTHOR: John Dunbar]
On Monday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals=20
in New York rejected by a 2-1 vote the Federal=20
Communications Commission's policy on how it=20
polices indecent speech on the airwaves. The=20
court noted the FCC's about-face, blaming it for=20
"failing to articulate a reasoned basis for its=20
change in policy." The judges' decision was based=20
on that change in policy, not on constitutional=20
grounds. Despite that, the two judges went on to=20
write that they were "skeptical that the=20
commission can provide a reasoned explanation for=20
its fleeting expletive regime that would pass=20
constitutional muster." The argument, known in=20
legal jargon as "dictum," is not relevant to the=20
actual ruling, and that may make it more=20
difficult for the government to take the case=20
directly to the Supreme Court, said Andrew=20
Schwartzman, president and CEO of the Media=20
Access Project, one of the participants in the=20
case on the broadcasters' side. As the government=20
ponders its legal options, the FCC is stuck,=20
unwilling to act on an unending stream of=20
complaints it receives from the viewing and=20
listening public until the legal issues are=20
resolved. In fact, the FCC hasn't proposed a new=20
fine for indecency since March of 2006. Among=20
those options: a direct appeal to the U.S.=20
Supreme Court, an action urged by the chairman of=20
the Senate committee that oversees the FCC. The=20
final decision on whether to appeal will be made=20
by the U.S. Solicitor General, who represents the=20
government in Supreme Court cases. Department of=20
Justice civil division spokesman Charles Miller=20
said the case is under review and no=20
determination has been made. The Solicitor=20
General has 90 days from the date of the decision=20
to file. Another option would be to ask the 2nd=20
District for a rehearing before the full panel of=20
appeals judges. The FCC has 45 days to decide=20
whether to pursue that option. The agency could=20
also try again with the three-judge panel or=20
simply do nothing. Neither of these options is considered likely.
* Sen Rockefeller (D-WV) Slams Profanity Decision

[SOURCE: TVWeek, AUTHOR: Ira Teinowitz]
Worried about congressional calls for legislation=20
and regulation, Hollywood's creative community is=20
rolling stars out to Washington to deliver a=20
message about boosting media literacy efforts. In=20
an appearance on Capitol Hill, Creative Coalition=20
co-president Joe Pantoliano joined actors Tim=20
Daly, Kerry Washington, Wendie Malick, Richard=20
Schiff and Hallie Kate Eisenberg and U.S. Rep.=20
Mary Bono, R-Calif., to promote media literacy=20
efforts as a way to avoid First Amendment=20
regulatory issues. At a press conference to=20
launch a task force on children's online safety,=20
the actors said they envisioned their efforts=20
being about more than just the Web. However,=20
they're open to working with legislators to craft=20
a program that would meet children's needs.
(requires free registration)
* Cable Industry Teaches Parents, Kids to Surf Safely
* FCC Commissioner Tate: "I welcome initiatives=20
like these --and others-- and encourage members=20
of the arts and entertainment community,=20
including every cable operator and programmer, to=20
offer consumer education regarding media literacy."

[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
The FCC Wednesday fined three stations a total of=20
$31,000, and reprimanded two more, for violating=20
its children's TV rules. Viacom's KTX Dallas-Fort=20
Worth was hit with the largest proposed fine.=20
of $18,000 for failing to put records of its=20
compliance with advertising limits in its public=20
files. The fine also covers the station's=20
violation of commercial limits on three=20
occasions, including two program-length=20
commercials. The FCC limits advertisements in=20
children's shows to 10.5 minutes on weekends and 12 minutes on weekdays.


[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Jacques Steinberg]
At midnight on Feb. 17, 2009, the rabbit ears and=20
the rooftop antennas that still guide television=20
signals into nearly 1 of every 5 American homes=20
will be rendered useless =97 unless they are=20
tethered to a new device, including two versions=20
unveiled yesterday, that the government will=20
spend as much as $80 a household to help families=20
buy. The V-shaped rabbit ears, which have stood=20
sentry in some living rooms and dens since the=20
early 1950s, risk going the way of the=20
eight-track tape player or Betamax in 20 months=20
because that is when local television stations=20
will cease sending their signals over the analog=20
airwaves, and instead begin transmitting their=20
programming exclusively over the more modern=20
digital spectrum. The change, which was set in=20
motion by Congress and the Federal Communications=20
Commission in the mid-1990s, is being made at=20
least partly to give viewers a better picture and=20
to make it easier for stations to broadcast their signals in high definitio=
(requires registration)

[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Ralph Nader & Matthew Hale, Seton Hall]
[Commentary] Two interesting responses to the=20
June 2nd op-ed by FCC Commissioner Michael Copps,=20
"The Price of Free Airwaves." Ralph Nader=20
suggests the government charge radio and=20
television stations rent for use of public=20
airwaves. Some of the rental income could=20
adequately finance studios, reporters and=20
producers for audience networks. Professor Hale,=20
whose work was quoted by Commissioner Copps,=20
suggests that broadcast stations should be=20
required to create an online searchable database=20
of their news, public affairs and children=92s=20
programming. Unless the public has access to such=20
a database, stations can easily continue to skirt=20
their duty to serve the public interest.
(requires registration)

[SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: Paul Farhi]
Faced with continuing financial losses and=20
stubbornly low ratings for Washington Post Radio,=20
Bonneville International Corp. and The Washington=20
Post are reassessing programming on the station,=20
which the two companies launched 14 months ago.=20
WTWP (107.7 FM, 1500 AM) primarily airs news and=20
talk programs, much of it featuring reporters and=20
editors from The Post. The newspaper-on-the-radio=20
format is unique in the radio industry. WTWP has=20
struggled to attract listeners since its=20
inception. Although its ratings have begun to=20
improve, the station has never exceeded a 1=20
percent share of the local radio audience in any=20
of the quarterly audience surveys conducted by=20
Arbitron Inc. The station continues to lose=20
money, although the privately held Bonneville --=20
which owns WTWP and is owned by the Church of=20
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Salt Lake=20
City -- hasn't disclosed its financial results.
(requires registration)


[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Richard Perez-Pena]
In 1981, Rupert Murdoch and a division of his=20
News Corporation made extraordinary promises=20
about not meddling in the news pages of The Times=20
of London and The Sunday Times, which they were=20
about to take over. But in short order, no one=20
doubted who was firmly in control of the=20
newsrooms. Now, Mr. Murdoch has his sights set on=20
Dow Jones & Company and its centerpiece, The Wall=20
Street Journal. But the Bancroft family, owners=20
of a controlling interest in the company, along=20
with their advisers and Dow Jones officials, are=20
trying to come up with a stronger system for=20
keeping the newsroom independent of Mr. Murdoch.=20
The Bancrofts want to create an editorial board=20
with the power to hire and fire The Journal=92s top=20
editors, but Mr. Murdoch spurned their initial=20
proposal in their face-to-face meeting on Monday.=20
Family members have conferred about their options=20
since then, and it is a sign of how seriously=20
they take the issue of editorial independence,=20
that the purchase price was not discussed in the meeting with Mr. Murdoch.
(requires registration)
* Dow Jones chief neutral about bid
* Now Tierney May Want to Join Fight for Dow Jones
He led a group that came out of nowhere to buy=20
the two main dailies in Philadelphia last year,=20
and, for over $500 million. Now Brian=20
Tierney has at least one eye on the big prize: The Wall Street Journal.

[SOURCE: Los Angeles Times]
Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz ordered the=20
withdrawal of a complaint initiated against about=20
200 journalists who had defied a ban on rallies=20
to protest curbs on the media, the government=20
said. Although no journalists have been arrested=20
for rallying in Islamabad, the capital, the=20
government has come under sharp criticism for=20
what appears to be a crackdown on press freedoms.,1...
(requires registration)


[SOURCE: Washington Post, AUTHOR: Dan Eggen]
Vice President Cheney told Justice Department=20
officials that he disagreed with their objections=20
to a secret surveillance program during a=20
high-level White House meeting in March 2004, a=20
former senior Justice official told senators=20
yesterday. The meeting came one day before White=20
House officials tried to get approval for the=20
same program from then-Attorney General John D.=20
Ashcroft, who lay recovering from surgery in a=20
hospital, according to former deputy attorney=20
general James B. Comey. Comey's disclosures, made=20
in response to written questions from the Senate=20
Judiciary Committee, indicate that Cheney and his=20
aides were more closely involved than previously=20
known in a fierce internal battle over the=20
legality of the warrantless surveillance program.=20
The program allowed the National Security Agency=20
to monitor phone calls and e-mails between the=20
United States and overseas. Comey said that=20
Cheney's office later blocked the promotion of a=20
senior Justice Department lawyer, Patrick=20
Philbin, because of his role in raising concerns about the surveillance.
(requires registration)
* Cheney reportedly halted Justice official's promotion,1,...

[SOURCE: Los Angeles Times, AUTHOR: Evelyn Iritani]
Ronald Stein's shiny silver discs don't look=20
revolutionary, but if he and his crew are=20
successful, the technology embedded in them will=20
become a powerful weapon in China's battle=20
against piracy. Stein's family-owned media=20
company, Crest Digital, has linked up with=20
Philips, the European electronics giant, to=20
develop traceable authentic content technology,=20
which they call TRAC. Hollywood-based Crest=20
Digital also has teamed with the leading film=20
company in China to bring the system there, the=20
world's largest producer of both legitimate and pirated CDs and DVDs.,1,700471...
(requires registration)

[SOURCE: Broadcasting&Cable, AUTHOR: John Eggerton]
The American Antitrust Institute has weighed in=20
against the merger of XM and Sirius satellite=20
radio companies. In a filing with the FCC, the=20
nonprofit backers of vigorous antitrust=20
enforcement, argue that neither company has=20
demonstrated that the merger is in the public=20
interest. It also says that neither XM or Sirius=20
has demonstrated that the FCC's 1997 decision not=20
to allow one company to hold both licenses has been superceded by events.

[SOURCE: Reuters]
The House of Representatives passed on Wednesday=20
legislation that would impose new requirements on=20
software companies and advertisers to protect=20
computer users from spyware. House lawmakers=20
approved an anti-spyware bill that would require=20
software distributors to clearly notify and=20
obtain consent from consumers before programs can=20
be loaded onto a computer. The bill passed on a=20
vote of 368 to 48. The legislation is opposed by=20
the software industry, which argues that new=20
regulatory requirements could hurt innovation and technology investment.

[SOURCE: Federal Communications Commission]
The FCC released a two-page flier to help inform=20
consumers about the upcoming transition to digital TV broadcasting.

[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: Jeremy Peters]
The fat phone book, a fixture of the urban=20
American household in the last century, is losing=20
some of its girth as more people give up their=20
land lines for cellphones. When they do, their=20
names disappear from the phone book. Phone books=20
in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles,=20
Denver and Phoenix have also been shrinking, even=20
as the populations have grown. Americans have not=20
been eager to list their cell numbers in phone=20
books. Consumers and privacy advocates balked at=20
the idea in 2004, when most of the big wireless=20
carriers said they wanted to compile a nationwide=20
directory. Cellphones may make it easier for=20
people to reach each other, yet Americans are=20
very guarded about whom they want calling them.=20
But what people gain in privacy is lost in a=20
sense of community, reflected in shrinking phone=20
books, said James E. Katz, chairman of the=20
communications department at Rutgers University.
(requires registration)

[SOURCE: New York Times, AUTHOR: David Halbfinger]
Jack Valenti, a onetime Houston advertising man=20
who became a confidant of President Lyndon B.=20
Johnson and then, for nearly four decades,=20
Hollywood=92s spokesman as chairman of the Motion=20
Picture Association of America, died on April 26,=20
just weeks before the release of his new memoir.=20
Now his publisher, Harmony Books, and his=20
survivors are struggling to ensure that the=20
autobiography gets a modicum of the attention it=20
would have received had Mr. Valenti, a singular=20
raconteur, been around to talk it up himself.
(requires registration)
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.