|Search news by keyword||Category||Date Range|
Tom – In media and race news the NAACP condemned what it calls a "virtual whiteout" in broadcast TV, saying major networks have stalled in their efforts to further ethnic diversity on-screen and off. In a report released Thursday, the NAACP calls on networks to revisit a 2000 agreement to diversify the ranks of actors, writers, directors and executives. It also seeks to establish a task force with network executives, the NAACP and other civil rights groups. This effort started in 2000 in response to that year’s fall TV schedule that introduced a lineup of new shows that completely lacked minority actors in lead roles, prompting then-NAACP head Kweisi Mfume to call it a "virtual whiteout.” The NAACP and Asian-American, Hispanic and Indian civil rights groups formed a coalition to lobby networks. Broadcasters agreed to create minority recruitment and training programs and to chart minority hiring among actors, writers, directors and managers. The coalition groups have charted their progress with annual reports, although the NAACP has not always participated, often finding sharp underrepresentation of minorities in front of and behind the camera.
Linda - In particular the NAACP singled out the network CW. CW was created from the defunct UPN and WB networks that had featured a number of black-oriented series including "Moesha" and "The Steve Harvey Show." Commented NAACP Head Benjamin Todd Jealous: "Those two networks provided an opportunity for young talent of color in this town. ... They merged into a network which appears to have systematically cut programming targeted to communities of color." CW's lineup includes white-oriented shows "Gossip Girl" and "90210," although it also airs the black sitcoms "Everybody Hates Chris" and "The Game." CW declined comment on the report, as did ABC, NBC and Fox. The number of minority actors in prime-time shows has remained flat or even dipped in recent years, decreasing from 333 in the 2002-03 season to 307 in 2006-07, according to the report. The number of minority writers working during the 2006-07 season was 173, a drop from the 206 employed during the previous season, the report said. The report raises the possibility of political action if progress is lacking, including a boycott against an unspecified network and its major advertisers or class-action litigation against the networks and parent companies.
Tom - In media and government transparency news, FOX Business Network last week filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Treasury Department for being slow to provide information on the $700 billion financial rescue plan. The television network, a unit of News Corp. said in a release that Treasury has not responded to two Freedom of Information Act requests, one on Nov. 25 and one on Dec. 1, regarding the use of funds for Citigroup Inc. American International Group Inc. (AIG) and Bank of New York Mellon. The request sought data on the specific restrictions placed on the firms and the collateral extended as part of their acceptance of federal funds, among other things. A lawyer for the network said that "it has become apparent that the Treasury will not cooperate without mounting legal pressure." The complaint was filed in federal court in New York. A Treasury spokeswoman was not immediately available for comment.
Linda - Federal policymakers have come under increasing pressure to provide more information about their efforts to stabilize the financial system and deal with the stumbling economy. A Government Accountability Office report released earlier this month criticized Treasury for not addressing a number of issues surrounding the implementation of the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Said Kevin Magee, executive vice president of Fox Business Network: "In a critical time like this, amidst mounting corruptions and an economic crisis, we as a news organization feel it's more important than ever to hold the government accountable."
Tom - Reuters News Service is reporting that telecommunications companies are hoping to benefit from a variety of incentives under consideration by Congress and President Elect Barack Obama, including a tax credit to target rural America. Lawmakers are currently drafting an economic recovery plan that could potentially run about $600 billion. Meanwhile, consumer groups want cheaper, more widely available high-speed, or broadband, networks as well as vouchers to help the poor buy laptops. Backers of expanded access to broadband, especially in rural and other under-served areas, are encouraged by President- Elect Obama's view of the technology as a tool for economy recovery. The United States now ranks 15th among developed nations in broadband adoption, according to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development. Said California Rep. Anna Eshoo, a Democrat who is refining a plan she submitted to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi before the election; "We're behind Latvia and Lithuania," "I'm very excited about the prospects that we will have in the stimulus package a plan for building out broadband."
Linda - Obama, who successfully used the Internet to mobilize millions of voters and raise record-breaking amounts of money in the election, recently cited Internet expansion as one of several infrastructure priorities to create jobs. The media reform group Free Press issued a proposal for internet investment last week. The Free Press proposal includes a $15 billion broadband infrastructure fund overseen by the Federal Communications Commission and run by the states, and a $10 billion program to issue corporate bonds for broadband-related investment. Meanwhile, some consumer advocates fear money in the stimulus bill will be hijacked by the telecommunications industry and corporate interests. Telephone companies such as AT&T Inc and cable companies like Comcast Corp could see big gains under proposals for tax credits, among others. Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America want Congress to give direct grants to consumers to buy computers and Internet services, rather than "to corporations with a hope and a prayer that stimulus will trickle down to citizens." Derek Turner, research director at Free Press acknowledged the risk of the effort turning into a corporate hand-out. His group calls for incremental release of funds and for companies to submit specific proposals to Congress before getting tax incentives and other funds, for instance. Said Turner: "This is obviously not meant to be a bailout."
Tom - In internet and copyright news, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that after years of suing thousands of people for allegedly stealing music via the Internet, the recording industry is set to drop its legal assault as it searches for more effective ways to combat online music piracy. The decision represents an abrupt shift of strategy for the industry, which has opened legal proceedings against about 35,000 people since 2003. Critics say the legal offensive ultimately did little to stem the tide of illegally downloaded music. And it created a public-relations disaster for the industry, whose lawsuits targeted, among others, several single mothers, a dead person and a 13-year-old girl. Instead, the Recording Industry Association of America said it plans to try an approach that relies on the cooperation of Internet-service providers. Depending on the agreement, the ISP will either forward the note to customers, or alert customers that they appear to be uploading music illegally, and ask them to stop. If the customers continue the file-sharing, they will get one or two more emails, perhaps accompanied by slower service from the provider. Finally, the ISP may cut off their access altogether. The RIAA said it has agreements in principle with some ISPs, but declined to say which ones.
Linda - The new approach dispenses with one of the most contentious parts of the lawsuit strategy, which involved filing lawsuits requiring ISPs to disclose the identities of file sharers. Under the new strategy, the RIAA would forward its emails to the ISPs without demanding to know the customers' identity. Though the industry group is reserving the right to sue people who are particularly heavy file sharers, or who ignore repeated warnings, it expects its lawsuits to decline to a trickle. The RIAA claims piracy would have been even worse without the lawsuits. Citing data from consulting firm NPD Group Inc., the industry says the percentage of Internet users who download music over the Internet has remained fairly constant, hovering around 19% over the past few years. However, the volume of music files shared over the Internet has grown steadily. Meanwhile, music sales continue to fall. In 2003, the industry sold 656 million albums. In 2007, the number fell to 500 million CDs and digital albums, plus 844 million paid individual song downloads -- hardly enough to make up the decline in album sales.
Tom - The Associated Press is reporting that the election of Barack Obama as the first African-American president was the top news story of 2008 — followed closely by the economic meltdown that will test his leadership. The AP determined this by taking a poll of U.S. editors and news directors. The campaign, with subplots emerging throughout the year, received 100 first-place votes out of 155 ballots cast for the top 10 stories. Two other political sagas — the history-making candidacies of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sarah Palin — also made the list. The vast economic crisis, plunging the U.S. into recession and ravaging many business sectors worldwide, was the No. 2 story, receiving 49 first-place votes. The precipitous rise and fall of oil prices was No. 3.
Linda - The other stories in the top ten included Iraq, the Beijng Olympics, the Chinese Earthquake, the terrorist attack in Mubai and the Russia-Georgia war. Stories that almost made the Top 10 included Cyclone Nargis, which killed more than 84,000 people in Myanmar; Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which wreaked deadly damage in the Caribbean and on the U.S. Gulf Coast; and the seesaw fate of same-sex marriage in California, where a court ruling approving it was later overturned by a ballot measure.