Briefly Noted

Jul 30, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Media content hearing soon?
The Senate Commerce Committee plans to hold a hearing on media content in the fall, but may be able to squeeze it in over the next few weeks before they recess for their summer break. The panel, headed by Sen. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C., would debate his so-called safe harbor legislation, which relegates television programs with gratuitous violence to late-night hours when presumably fewer kids are watching. The senator has repeatedly said that passage of the bill is one of his top legislative priorities.
PBS wants digital intervention
Public broadcasters are urging the Federal Communications Commission to consider a plan that would require cable operators to carry the digital and analog TV signals of broadcasters during the transition to the new technology, but with a new twist: All major systems in markets where at least two DTV stations are on the air would have to carry both broadcast signals within a year.
Under the public broadcasters’ plan, which is being promoted at the FCC by the Association of America’s Public Television Stations, the Public Broadcasting Service and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the deadlines for broadcasters to launch DTV operations also would be reconfigured and tied to DTV set-penetration levels. Marilyn Mohrman-Gillis, APTS vice president, policy and legal affairs, said the plan was intended to break the logjam that’s currently blocking DTV’s rollout by calling for “limited” government intervention.
D.C. watchdog called a front
A new watchdog group held a kickoff press conference in Washington last week to support emerging video and Internet technologies that can bring consumers more choices and lower prices if they are permitted to compete. But the group, Equal Airways Right Now (EARN), may not be what it claims to be. Critics, such as the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, think it’s a front for Austin, Texas-based Northpoint Technology, which for years has been battling dish TV providers for the right to share their frequencies so it can launch its planned nationwide wireless terrestrial-based video and high-speed Internet access service. However, the only technology EARN has endorsed so far is Northpoint’s. The company also has contributed public relations resources and Washington contacts, group founder and Executive Director Peter Pitts said during a phone interview.
Toni Cook Bush, executive vice president of Northpoint, said the company would consider making financial contributions to EARN if members are solicited for funding. “I don’t believe that this is a front group, and I resent that,” Ms. Bush said. She said Mr. Pitts contacted Northpoint about starting the group, not the other way around. “We support any technology that brings consumer choice and competition to the marketplace,” Mr. Pitts said. But he was at a loss to name even one other technology his group might support. He emphasized that his group is brand-new and that he’s still researching other technologies.
Daily Herald, WMAQ team
NBC-owned WMAQ-TV, Chicago, and the Daily Herald, the third-largest newspaper in Illinois, will begin a partnership on Monday. The newspaper’s next-day headlines will be featured on WMAQ’s 10 p.m. newscast. In addition, a daily poll will be conducted on both the station and the newspaper’s Web sites, the expertise of the WMAQ weather team will be used on the newspaper’s weather page, and WMAQ’s sports team will also contribute to the paper.
Schiller new KYW news director
Susan Schiller, a producer for the “CBS Evening News With Dan Rather,” becomes news director at CBS-owned KYW-TV, Philadelphia. She’s already familiar with the Philadelphia market because from 1987 to 1990 she was assistant news director at NBC-owned WCAU-TV.
All 50 states now allow cameras in courtrooms
A ruling released last week by the South Dakota Supreme Court to allow electronic coverage of its oral arguments means that cameras now are allowed in courtrooms in all 50 states. The ruling takes effect immediately. Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, said that the South Dakota move and the decision of the Mississippi Supreme Court in April to allow camera coverage of its hearings (and to consider cameras in the state’s appellate courts), in addition to new legislation in both houses of Congress to open federal courts to TV and radio coverage “all give us great hope that Americans will soon have direct access to the third branch of government in every state and at the national level too.”
PBS schedules documentaries for next season
PBS has picked up two documentaries for next season-“The Journey of Man” and “Einstein’s Wife.”
“The Journey of Man,” which comes from Jeremy/Bradshaw/Tigress Productions (“In the Wild,” “Africa”), examines the latest in genetic evidence to tell the story of the great migrations of man through history. “Einstein’s Wife,” from Oregon Public Broadcasting and Melsa Films, will spotlight the scientist’s first wife, Mileva Einstein-Maric.