Noncommercial DBS set-aside provision upheld in Time Warner v. FCC, 1996

This U.S. Court of Appeals opinion, Aug. 30, 1996, upholds a provision of the 1992 Cable Act that mandates noncommercial educational or informational programming on 4-7 percent of DBS operators’ channel capacity [DBS provision]. The law was not challenged by DBS operators but by Time Warner, which opposed many provisions of the Cable Act. The decision was a major victory for public TV, which had tried for years to obtain reserved channels in the new media that would be comparable to the FM and TV channel reservations of earlier decades. Current coverage: this court verdict and the subsequent FCC adoption of rules in 1998..]

United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Argued November 20, 1995; Decided August 30, 1996

No.

Reservation of noncomm DBS channels upheld, 1996

This 1996 Circuit Court opinion upholds a provision of the 1992 Cable Act that mandates noncommercial educational or informational programming on 4-7 percent of Direct Broadcast Satellite operators’ channel capacity (DBS provision). The law was not challenged by DBS operators but by Time Warner, which opposed many provisions of the Cable Act. The decision was a major victory for public TV, which had tried for years to obtain reserved channels in the new media that would be comparable to the FM and TV channel reservations of earlier decades. (Current coverage: appeal verdict, FCC rules.)

United States Court of Appeals
FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT
Argued November 20, 1995; Decided August 30, 1996

No. 93-5349
TIME WARNER ENTERTAINMENT CO., L.P., APPELLANT/PETITIONER
v.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION AND THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, APPELLEES/RESPONDENTS

ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA’S PUBLIC TELEVISION STATIONS, ET AL., INTERVENORS

Consolidated with Nos.

FCC refuses to de-reserve WQED’s second station, 1996

Before the Federal Communications Commission
Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of Deletion of Noncommercial Reservation of Channel *16, 482-488 MHz, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Adopted: July 24, 1996
Released: August 1, 1996By the Commission: Commissioner Ness issuing a statement; Commissioner Chong concurring and issuing a statement in which Commissioner Quello joins. 1. The Commission has before it for consideration a “Petition to Delete Noncommercial Reservation” filed on June 24, 1996 by WQED Pittsburgh (WQED or the Company), licensee of noncommercial educational television stations WQED(TV), Channel *13 and WQEX(TV), Channel *16, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. WQED requests that its Channel *16 allotment be dereserved in order to permit commercial broadcasting on Channel 16 in Pittsburgh, and that it be permitted to assign WQEX(TV) to a commercial licensee and use the net proceeds to further WQED(TV)’s noncommercial broadcast operation. WQED’s petition is filed pursuant to the Department of Justice and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1996, Pub.

The best of jobs: to have and serve the public’s trust

Bill Moyers’ keynote at the PBS Annual Meeting, June 23, 1996, grabbed many of the pubcasters where they live, and invited others to come home. Producer Stephen Ives, a second-generation professional in public TV, said later that Moyers’ Sunday-morning talk reminded him “why I was so proud of what my father did for a living.” I must tell you that being here feels very good. Two years ago you invited me to be with you in Florida to celebrate my 60th birthday but I wound up having heart surgery instead and couldn’t come to blow out the candles. But it was a moment I’ll never forget when all of you sang “Happy Birthday” to me over an open telephone line.

Revisiting Brideshead Revisited

You may have recently reacquainted yourself with this classic public TV mini-series. The American Program Service and 20 stations have brought it back for a third set of broadcasts this year, after a few runs on Bravo. Here, David Stewart reminds us of the quality, scope and impact of the production when it premiered in this country 14 years ago. On Monday evening, Jan. 18, 1982, the 11-part, 13-hour television series Brideshead Revisited broke over the PBS audience with the suddenness of a storm.

Baker introduces viewers to the DNA molecule in "The Thread of Life."

Frank Baxter, television’s first man of learning

Like Norman Corwin, the exceptional radio producer profiled in the last issue of Current, Frank Baxter had his great broadcast successes on the cusp, just before his medium became too commercially successful to continue airing the kind of programs that made Corwin and Baxter famous. Both were forerunners of today’s public broadcasters. This Baxter profile was written by CPB’s director of international activities, David Stewart as part of his history of public television programming. When he died in 1982 many were astonished: Frank Baxter still alive in the ’80s! Many remembered him as mature, if not quite elderly, nearly 30 years before when he grasped national attention simply by talking to a TV camera about Shakespeare’s plays and poetry.

America, I do mind dying

This commentary traces public broadcasting back to its earliest days and its root principles of populism and public education. Media historian Robert W. McChesney, founder of the citizen group Free Press, draws on his 1993 book Telecommunications, Mass Media, and Democracy: The Battle for the Control of U.S. Broadcasting, 1928-1935 (Oxford University Press). This is an edited version of McChesney’s March 1995 talk at the University of California, San Diego. Though the federal contribution to public broadcasting is being extended, if at a reduced rate, for two or three more years, the handwriting is on the wall: there may be no more government subsidized broadcasting in the United States by the end of the decade. I believe that it is very much in the public interest for the nonprofit, noncommercial media to be expanding instead.

What we offer: the case distinguishing NPR news

A longtime NPR correspondent — then vice president in charge of the network’s news division — adapted this article from his remarks at Washington State University. Buzenberg later held top news posts at Minnesota Public Radio before moving to a prominent nonprofit newsroom, the Center for Public Integrity. Critics of sleaze, sex and violence in movies, music and the media have given public broadcasters their best chance yet to make a positive case for the value of public broadcasting to American society. In contrast to the anything-goes-as-long-as-it-makes-money values of some commercial media, public broadcasters have a compelling story to tell. It is a story of high standards and public-service journalism, even though public broadcasting also has been under attack, the most serious since it was established by Congress in 1967.