Date: Tue, 04 Jan 2000 16:55:23 -0500 From: Curtiss Priest <•••@••.•••> Organization: Center for Information, Technology & Society Subject: more about "better TV" W. Curtiss Priest, Ph.D. Center for Information, Technology & Society 466 Pleasant Street Melrose, MA 02176 E-mail: •••@••.•••, Voice: 617-662-4044, FAX: 617-662-6882 This document may be distributed freely January 4, 1998 An Open Discussion with Government, Foundations, Non-profits and Grassroots Efforts CITS MEDIA WATCH Public Issue #51: "Better TV" *************** Commentary by Dr. W. Curtiss Priest, Director: A few years ago, many of us helped form the Telecommunications Policy Rountable -- North East, and others, the Telecommunications Roundtable in Washington. We held forums (in the Boston area), talked with our Congressmen, and supported SKER (Snowe, Kerrey, Exxon and Rockefeller) for what has been called the e-rate. And, in Section 706, there was a mandate for advanced telecommunications services (and the Alliance for Public Technology -- www.apt.org) have worked with the FCC to help assure that e-rate wasn't just "lifeline" services. But the 1996 Telecom Reform Act was a deregulatory Act. And to the extent that the freeing of the markets and real competition brings lower prices and better services -- this is in the public good. But the market is driven in ways that do not fully capture the values of the public. In the end, the bottom-line is profit -- and, as the history of the U.S. has shown, profit and social values are often in conflict. We witness the "Disneyfication" of American values. We witness many children (and adults) caught up in the hype of product-sales-driven tie-ins -- movies connected to TV coverage of movies and various MacDonald-like fanfare of movie paraphernalia, action-toys, etc. In parallel with this we are witnessing media conglomerates such as General Electric and Viacom that compromise the ability for both TV news and newspapers to critique the trend, as it would be a form of political suicide because of the various relationships (as a recent "Greater Boston" PBS show with Emily Rooney, James Carroll, and Mark Jurkowitz (and others) recently discussed in a November episode.) What is interesting about Mark Lloyd's approach to "better TV" is the coalition building with various nonprofits (listed below). There is a true sense that WE could make a difference if we only spoke up. I am reminded of a favorite quotation by Richard Moore: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world, indeed it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead The following text is from -- http://www.bettertv.org/pbtvtwopager.htm If it takes a village to raise a child, who shapes the village? Increasingly the answer is the media, especially TV. We have, this year, a real opportunity to change television for the better. It is the first such opportunity in over sixty years, and it will not last long. The nation is making a transition to Digital TV. More than just a wide screen and pretty pictures, Digital TV will combine the variety of the Internet and power of TV. In 1996 Congress gave broadcasters $70 billion dollars worth of public airwaves for digital television. Now, in exchange for that gift, the Federal Communications Commission must make set new guidelines for how broadcasters serve the public. Finally, the public will have an opportunity to say how their local TV stations should serve them. You'll find our recommendations below. We must make the most of this moment before television makes the transition to digital and becomes an even more powerful force in American society. We invite you to take action and join People for Better TV. We are parents and teachers and doctors and citizens. We understand that TV has a major impact on our families and our communities. We think Digital TV can bring us many benefits, but without the right sort of guidelines it can also cause us real harm. We are urging action on behalf of viewers. In exchange for free use of the public airwaves, we are asking for a new deal to protect and advance the public good. This new deal should be reasonable and enforceable. The hallmarks of that deal should be fair representation of viewpoints, respect for children and families, and accountability to local communities. Simply put in exchange for the free use of the public airwaves broadcasters should serve the public interest. We represent millions of Americans, through dozens of organizations. Our steering committee includes: American Academy of Pediatrics Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy Communications Workers of America Consumer Federation of America League of United Latin American Citizens NAACP National Association of the Deaf National Council of Churches National Organization for Women Project on Media Ownership You are not alone: 78% of Americans are concerned about sex and violence on television. 87% of Americans agree that ads during childrens television should be limited. 87% of Americans think there should be an independent ratings system. 85% of Americans think broadcasters should provide services for the disabled. 80 % of Americans agree that broadcasters should provide more local programming. GETTING INVOLVED People for Better TV urges all Americans to get involved now. We are not just consumers of TV, we own the airwaves. TV stations get a license to use public property to make money, in return they are obligated to serve the public good. Only the public can say what the public good is. It has been over sixty years since the first guidelines were established, it is now time to write those guidelines again, and your thoughts are important. Write a letter: Using the People for Better TV website write a letter to the Federal Communications Commission. Tell them what you want from TV in the future, and send a copy of your letter to Congress. You can do all this in just a few minutes on the website, or if you like we can send you sample letters and the information you need. Visit your local stations: You have a right to review the public records and program logs of your local television stations. Call your local station. Examine the TV program logs. Write to the FCC and tell them that you want TV that represents you. Form a local group: There are people in your state and neighborhood who also want to take action. Contact People for Better TV for help in getting your community organized. Call local leaders, including teachers and ministers. Invite your friends over to watch a video and talk about the impact of television. Take a Stand: We know most Americans are concerned about the impact of TV in the future, we=ve developed a set of recommendations we think will make TV better. You can find them on our website, or just ask and we=ll fax or mail them to you. And let us know what you think. Become informed: For educational resources, updates, and more information on taking action contact People for Better TV. See the resources on our website: www.bettertv.org You can also email us at: •••@••.•••, or call us toll free at (888) 374-PBTV for more information. Our address is: People for Better TV 818 18th Street, NW Suite 505 Washington, D.C. 20006 *************************** Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2000 10:18:48 -0500 From: Curtiss Priest <•••@••.•••> Organization: Center for Information, Technology & Society Subject: re:Boston Better TV meeting, this Tursday Recently we circulated material about "People for Better TV" -- see http://www.bettertv.org/ We have helped arrange for a Boston Regional meeting here in Cambridge at MIT, Building 4, Room 146 from 11AM to 1PM. Building 4 is at the end of the "infinite cooridor" -- the beginning of that corridor is Bldg. 7 at the main, 77 Mass Ave. entrance. We wish to thank the MIT Communications Forum for helping arrange this at the last minute. The purpose of the meeting is to help us write the FCC during this FCC comment period on the future of (digital) television. It is a rare opportunity to get opportunities and concerns into the public record. A map to the event is at: http://www.bettertv.org/boston1.htm Similar events in other cities are listed at: http://www.bettertv.org/events.htm Regards, Dr. Curtiss Priest -- ***************************************** Date: Fri, 07 Jan 2000 10:14:29 -0500 From: Curtiss Priest <•••@••.•••> Organization: Center for Information, Technology & Society To: Barry Forbes <•••@••.•••>, Charlie Nesson <•••@••.•••>, David Thorburn <•••@••.•••>, Jeff Chester <•••@••.•••>, "List, COMMUNET" <•••@••.•••>, "List, Concerned Americans for Reforming the Economy" <•••@••.•••>, "List, Cyberspace Society" <•••@••.•••>, "List, Public library" <•••@••.•••>, "List, Renaissance Network" <•••@••.•••>, "List, Telecom Policy - NorthEast list" <•••@••.•••>, "List,Telecom Roundtable list" <•••@••.•••>, Marshalynne Seavers <•••@••.•••>, "Mary E. Hopper" <•••@••.•••>, "List, Consortium for School Networking" <•••@••.•••>, "List, Electronic Conferencing" <•••@••.•••>, "List, RRE" <•••@••.•••> Subject: The Open Access Debate Please note that this transmission conforms to The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (see below) W. Curtiss Priest, Ph.D. Center for Information, Technology & Society 466 Pleasant Street Melrose, MA 02176 E-mail: •••@••.•••, Voice: 617-662-4044, FAX: 617-662-6882 This document may be distributed freely January 7, 1998 An Open Discussion with Government, Foundations, Non-profits and Grassroots Efforts CITS IT WATCH Information Technology Issues Public Issue #53: "Open Access" *************** Commentary by Dr. W. Curtiss Priest, Director: In the early days of telephone there were 100's of small telephone companies throughout the first decade of 1900. However, the economies of "scale" (size of a firm) and scope (horizontal and vertical integration of a firm) gave AT&T the edge as it gobbled up small firms (or put them out of business). A few years ago, many pointed to the flourishing of "mom and pop" ISPs as an indication that unfettered competition in telecom- munications would not walk the inevitable road towards a monopoly. However, recent events have raised serious doubts about the possibility that many flowers will bloom, and, in its place, we have a few tall standing sunflowers. *** The current issue is whether cable modem subscribers can choose their own ISP without having to pay twice for the option. With a cable modem, the ISP (Internet Service Provider) is, simultaneously, the cable operator's Internet infrastructure. For cable providers to give "open access" -- i.e. -- to not charge for the "Internet" part of the infrastructure (already in place) and, rather, let an ISP provide the "service" is somewhat redundant, but, for example, one's e-mail address can remain the same. The major corporate voice for "open access" has been AOL. Why pay $19.95 a month, extra, to AOL, when AT&T through its own ISPs (Excite@Home and Roadrunner), provide full Internet access including instant messaging, e-mail, web, etc? Yet, given AOL's continual growth, it is clear that they provide added value services not found with other ISPs. *** Enter Rep. Ed Markey. Concerned about the monopolistic consequences of AT&T's entry into cable, Markey writes (below) of the significance of an agreement between AT&T and Mindspring -- to do something (unspecified) at some (unspecified) future date. AT&T is clearly trying to have its cake and eat it too. Aware of the possibility that it may, soon, again, become a regulated utility (deja the 1920's again) -- the agreement with Mindspring is meant to diffuse the current criticism. Not convinced that AT&T will, say, have a similar (and implemented) agreement with -- say -- AOL -- Markey has "introduced a resolution in Congress calling upon the Federal Communications Commission to ensure open access for cable broadband consumers as a matter of national policy." But, the FCC (under Kennard) is politically in a very tenuous position. There have been many who question the need for the FCC in a period of "full competition." Can and will the Commissioners of the FCC hold back the mighty force of the large players, to ensure true competition? Or, if this industry can, at the least, be an oligopoly -- what steps can the FCC take to level the playing field. The proviso in the Reform Act that excludes the Baby Bells from providing long distance until there was open access to the long distance carriers was the clearest message on this role of the FCC. Or, is the FCC in a "catch-22" position of trying to regulate an "inevitable monopoly" under the guise of free competition as called for in the 1996 Telecom Reform Act? The framers of the Reform Act expected cable to compete with AT&T -- not be bought up by AT&T ! ********************************************************************** NOTICE: Contains copyrighted material, do not redistribute unless you abide to the copyright notice appearing at the end of this article. As provided for under Section 107 of the 1976 Copyright Law, the following piece is being distributed for non-profit purposes and for comment, criticism, and teaching. In cases where the purpose of conveying information is to fully inform the reader, an entire entry or article is reproduced. However, these extracts are typically a very small percentage of the overall original work or publication. Should you wish to convey this material, in the same spirit, you are free to do so. ****************************Advertisement***************************** Subscriptions to the Boston Globe are available at 617-929-2000 Boston Globe archives are available for a fee at www.bostonglobe.com ****************************Advertisement***************************** No chokeholds on the Internet By Edward P. Markey, 1/7/2000 The recent announcement by AT&T Corp. that it would permit Mindspring, an independent Internet service provider, to access consumers through AT&T's cable broadband facilities is an important milestone in the battle to safeguard consumer choice and an open Internet. It may even be a ballot initiative in Massachusetts next year, so it is not too early to begin discussing its importance. The result of the so-called "open access" fight will help determine the prospects for job growth, entrepreneurial opportunity, and innovation in the Commonwealth's high-tech sector. Massachusetts has much at stake in this debate. If AT&T, already the largest cable operator in the nation, is permitted by the government to consummate its purchase of MediaOne next year, AT&T would become the state's largest cable provider, with more than 200 municipal franchises. At its core, the debate about open access is about the nature of the new economy itself. It is not solely a cyberspace spat over whether or not consumers can enjoy open high-speed Internet access over cable systems using the Internet service provider, or ISP, of their choice. It's yet another important contest between would-be (or "recovering") monopolists and the government-designed policy framework that has been established to promote a greater democratization of technology and entrepreneurial opportunity. In the short term, if Massachusetts consumers are denied open access, they will be deprived the full benefits of competition in terms of price, innovation, service quality, and choice. In the long run, however, the effect of allowing the cable industry to become "broadband barons" is far worse. In the new economy, it is critical that Massachusetts consumers, companies, and entrepreneurs have the platform for innovation and choice that open access to the Internet over cable broadband can provide. Without such a platform, independent companies will be at a competitive disadvantage. This battle is critical as Massachusetts continues its transition from our bricks and mortar past to our clicks and mortar future. <snip> Edward P. Markey is the ranking Democrat on the telecommunications panel of the US House of Representatives. This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 1/7/2000. c Copyright 2000 Globe Newspaper Company. ********************************************************************** Copyright Notice: This article is protected under copyright law. The right to disseminate this articles is also protected under copyright law. The copyright law permits copying of materials for personal use under the protection of fair use. The copyright law also permits the copying of recent materials for the "teachable moment." This allows copying for educational purposes. Also, the courts generally interpret copyright protection by economic criteria. If the copying of a material reduces revenues to the copyright holder, the court usually decides in favor of the plaintiff; if the copying doesn't effect or increases the revenues, the court usually decides on behalf of the defendent. 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While a lengthy law, it's main orientation is towards "stored copyrighted materials" and supports the right for libraries and archives to contain copyrighted materials for non-commercial purposes. There is a procedure outlined by which a publisher may ask that material be removed from an archive, but there are no liabilities on the part of the archive site for the storage of copyrighted materials. There is a requirement which every archive site should meet (including the owners of list servers) to provide contact information to the U.S. Copyright Office of a "designated agent" -- a person whom a copyright holder can contact. It is our opinion that it is extremely unlikely that a copyright holder will ever contact an archive site's designated agent when language, as we use, is provided to indicate the "fair use" aspect of its dissemination and storage.