Mar 12, 2010

Former FCC Chair Hundt says decision to favor Internet over TV was made in '94

In a speech that he described as "confession or admission," former FCC Chair Reed Hundt yesterday told a Columbia University audience that his decision to favor broadband over broadcast goes back to 1994, and that the March 17 National Broadband Plan "will reflect ... the end of the era of trying to maintain over-the-air broadcast as the common medium and the beginning of a very detailed, quite substantive, commitment to having broadband, the son of narrowband, be the common medium,"according to TV News Check. He also said the plan "will have in it a specific pathway to shrinking the amount of spectrum that broadcast will be able to use. In all previous eras, the government has expanded the spectrum for broadcast so as to give it a chance to thrive as it moved from analog to digital. Now, it's going to be moving in reverse." He added that he found it "simply astonishing" that the feds assisted broadcasters through the digital transition last year by subsidizing converter boxes for viewers. "Those people would have been much better off getting a voucher for broadband Internet subscriptions." Watch his entire hourlong speech here.

Sesame Workshop, PBS, get passing grades on children's food marketing report card

Sesame Workshop has received a grade of C and PBS a C+ from the Center for Science in the Public Interest on their marketing of food to children. While that sounds "average," of 128 firms surveyed more than 95 received a failing grade. The nonprofit group's Report Card on Food Marketing Policies (PDF) examines whether companies that market food to children have adopted a policy on marketing, and the adequacy of that policy. During research last year the center evaluated several elements of each company's approach to children, including the strength of its nutrition standards, the scope of media covered by its policies, and definitions for “child-directed” media. The report said that PBS and Sesame Workshop had "good policies for restricting food product placement through its programs or other media outlets."

Programming veteran Ron Hull details his first production

Here's an interesting video interview from the collegiate News Net Nebraska with longtime pubcaster Ron Hull, a passionate advocate for cultural and historical programming who helped start American Experience. In the interview, Hull recalls his first foray into television. It was in the Army, just after the Korean War armistice was signed in 1953. While stationed in Oklahoma, Hull was approached by a general looking for someone to produce a half-hour show. "He said, 'What do you know about TV?'" Hull recalled. "I didn't even have a set." Hull went to the local library and researched scriptwriting, then called the local TV station. "I don't know what cameras can do," he told an engineer. "It's easy," was the reply. His show -- "I made it up out of whole cloth" -- featured the 87th Army band and interviews with soldiers just back from the conflict. His career went on to include 47 years at the University of Nebraska’s public TV network, as well as a stint as director of the CPB Television Program Fund. Since his retirement in 2002, adventures have kept him busy: He just returned from a tour through the Himalayas in a Toyota Landcruiser. Hull turns 80 years old in May.