....LMB: "Wonks Get Goofy"....

April 02, 2004

Although most of the April Fool's Day gags I saw this year were pretty lame, I did like this bit from the usually straight-laced "Benton Foundation Communications Policy Mailing List". But then, I'm a geeky media analyst, so...


STUDY: 90% OF TV CONTENT INDECENT Preliminary data for a report due to Congress January 1 finds that 90% of television programming is "indecent," according to regulators' new definition. "Wow, this problem is much worse than we thought," said one staffer. Broadcasters were quick to dispute the findings. "The study is ridiculous," argued an executive at the American Association of Television People. "Most of our programming is crass commercialism and shameless self-promotion. We're doing stuff legislators never dreamed of when they wrote indecency laws. And, anyway, you can block some of it with the V-chip." [SOURCE: FCCMonitor]

LOW POWER BUT HIGH VOLUME Seems established broadcasters were right along, low power radio can cause extra interference in the markets where it has been introduced. Apparently, DJs are encouraging listeners to turn their volume settings at the highest levels as they leave their homes for work. The ensuing noise drowns out any other commercial or noncommercial messages in the area. "This is a temporary protest," says on LPFM station owners. "We want our radio brethren to know what real interference is." [SOURCE: Inthefield.com, AUTHOR: Dee Dee Devine]

DTV TRANSITION UPDATE: WHERE TO PLACE THE BLAME After some public bickering earlier this week, lobbyists for TV, cable and consumer electronic industries finally agreed, it is the fault of the American public that the transition to digital broadcasting isn't going smoother. "Some say chicken or egg, programming or hardware," said one lobbyist. "I say its that darn guy who keeps buying the Egg McMuffin when we're offering quiche. Buy the quiche! Sure, it is expensive and you get more than you want, but it tastes better." Continuing the poultry metaphor, one K Street maven asked, "Pretty picture, better sound...what do you want, eggs in your beer?" The industries are working on a joint proposal to the FCC that will allow broadcasters years to return analog TV spectrum in case they find a really profitable use for it and cable operators will be able to double prices for carrying both analog and digital TV signals (no, wait, they've already done that). Expect a decision sometime after the November election. [SOURCE: Will Street Journal, AUTHOR: Will McCunnell]


YOUR NEXT PHONE Consumer electronics executives meeting this week in Lubbock, Texas are touting the next generation of wireless phones. Instead of being tied to one carrier, the phones will automatically search for the best carrier to complete each call as directed by priorities set by the owner including cost, reliability and privacy. "For once," an executive told the press, "we're saying we're putting choice into people's hands and we really mean it." The phones will be compatible with WiFi and VoIP and be easily upgraded with new software to allow use of emerging technologies like WiMax. The phones will be the embodiment of convergence acting as computer, (with dozens of applications) communications device (telephone, e-mail and pager) and entertainment appliance (camera, MP3 player, videogame console, VCR programmer). The phones will offer high-speed Internet access allowing users to stream video, download songs and check email. All commands will be speech activated. Basic model will retail for $20, but can be affordablely upgraded to include features that allow the phone to walk the dog and put the kids to bed, too. [SOURCE: Mrropers, AUTHOR: Bill Kane]

PRESIDENT REVISES BROADBAND GOAL Combining two popular recent proposals, President Bush urged Congress to adopt as a national goal broadband access on mars by 2020. "Look," the President said, "we're already planning on sending scientists, astronauts and Al Gore to Mars, they will need information flowing across cables and telephone lines in a fast way. We can help. That's what broadband technology is. It means we'll open the interplanetary highways of knowledge -- new interplanetary highways of knowledge." The President added later in the day that broadband access on Mars should not be taxed. [SOURCE: WhiteHouseWatch.com, AUTHOR: Orville Ovalle]

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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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