Television and Radio

Television and Radio
▪ 1995

      Dominant trends in television and radio in 1994 included continuing globalization of services and programming and increased competition between cable and telephone companies. The industry's battle cry was expand or exit. Communications satellites in space, satellite dishes on rooftops, and underground fibreglass cables improved transmission between nations. Viewers, subscribers, and advertisers were offered increased coverage and choices. With the blurring of boundaries, the entire world became the battlefield for competition.

      In the United States 1994 was supposed to be the year of convergence. Cable and local telephone companies would get together to create Vice Pres. Al Gore's "information superhighway"—a two-way, high-capacity network interconnecting homes and businesses for communications, TV, and multimedia entertainment and information. The $30 billion merger of Bell Atlantic Corp. and Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), one the biggest telephone companies and the largest cable company, announced in October 1993, was to have been the model that others would follow. The Bell Atlantic-TCI deal abruptly collapsed in February, however. Fingers were pointed at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which had recently restricted cable rates and made TCI and other cable companies less attractive assets.

      In any event, convergence soon became divergence. Cable and telephone providers seemed intent on going their separate ways and getting into each other's core businesses—telephone into cable, cable into telephone. That homes and business might one day be able to choose between two providers of telephone and cable services became a real possibility.

      In what they expected would be a year of peace and plenty, the big three broadcast networks—ABC, CBS, and NBC—found themselves in a scramble to secure affiliates in dozens of cities—something they had all taken more or less for granted. Affiliates are TV stations that agree to air the network programming for some of the advertising time in it and for hefty "network compensation" payments. The scramble was touched off by Fox, Rupert Murdoch's aggressive fourth network, which was determined to replace current ultra-high-frequency (UHF) affiliates with very high-frequency (VHF) affiliates. Since its inception Fox had been handicapped by an affiliate lineup laden with UHF TV stations, which broadcast only on channels 14 and above. UHF signals are weaker and afford poorer reception than VHF signals, channels 2 through 13.

      In May Fox announced an affiliation agreement with New World Communications Group Inc. A dozen stations owned by New World would drop their affiliations with the big three networks and pick up Fox. That caused chaos in the 12 markets as the jilted Fox affiliates looked for a new network and the big three courted other VHF stations, hoping not to end up with UHF outlets. The chaos spread to other markets as the big three signed multistation affiliation agreements of their own. By autumn 1994 some 65 stations in 31 markets had made or were planning affiliation transfers.

      In the aftermath of Fox's successful bid in 1993 for rights to the National Football Conference games of the National Football League (NFL), payments by the NFL's other TV outlets—ABC, NBC, ESPN, and Turner Network Television—were driven up. Altogether the contracts totaled nearly $4.5 billion over four years, a 21% increase over the previous deal.

      Despite the turmoil, the broadcast TV business enjoyed one of its best years in recent memory. Audiences, advertising revenues, profits, and station values were all on the rise, deriving momentum from the healthy overall economy. Among the most telling facts was the rise of the broadcast networks' share of the TV audience for the 1993-94 prime-time season by one point to 61%. It was not much, but it marked a reversal in the 30-point slide that began in the late 1970s, when cable became a strong competitor.

      The broadcast networks suddenly became desirable properties as their revenues and profits swelled. The most interested buyers were the major Hollywood film studios, which saw ownership of a network as a way of guaranteeing distribution of their prime-time TV productions and a way of keeping the networks out of their business. A series of decisions by the FCC and the federal courts between 1991 and 1993 eliminated the legal barriers to common ownership of a network and studio.

      The number of broadcast stations in the U.S. inched upward. According to the FCC's October count, there were 1,520 TV stations, 1,157 commercial and 363 noncommercial. In addition, there were 11,701 radio stations, including 4,923 commercial AM, 5,070 commercial FM, and 1,708 noncommercial FM.

      Times were not quite so cheery for cable TV, which was buffeted by tough federal rate regulations, the advent of competition, and the threat of more to come. Reed Hundt, whom U.S. Pres. Bill Clinton appointed to head the FCC in November 1993, began making his mark in February 1994 by tightening up cable rate regulations spawned by legislation in 1992. As a result, many cable subscribers across the country saw their monthly cable bills drop a dollar or two. Cable operators calculated that the regulations would cost them some $3 billion in revenues in 1994, 15% of the total. In November, however, the FCC ruled to allow cable companies to raise costs for new cable services, a move that was expected to bring in about the same revenue as had been lost in February. Some 58.8 million homes in the U.S. subscribed to cable in November.

      Believing that what cable TV ultimately needed was competition, the FCC in October adopted final rules governing the entry of telephone companies into TV. The so-called video dial tone rules permitted local telephone companies such as Bell Atlantic and NYNEX Corp. to build video networks without having to submit to local regulations (and having to pay stiff local "franchise fees"), as cable operators did. But they also required telephone companies to make room on their networks for any video programmer prepared to pay for it.

      Most big telephone companies intended to be programmers as well as operators of their video networks. They were helped toward that goal by a series of federal appeals court rulings striking down the federal statute prohibiting them from programming where they provided telephone service. Underscoring their interest, six of the Baby Bells found strategic partners to help them package and develop conventional and interactive TV programming. Bell Atlantic, NYNEX, and Pacific Telesis Group hooked up with the Creative Artists Agency, while Ameritech Corp., BellSouth Corp., and Southwestern Bell Corp. struck a deal with the Walt Disney Co.

      The prospect of competition from telephone companies was not the only threat the cable operators had to worry about. After 15 years of development, high-powered satellite broadcasting finally was brought to fruition in the summer of 1994. DirecTV, a subsidiary of General Motors' Hughes Electronics, and Hubbard Broadcasting's United States Satellite Broadcasting (USSB) began beaming programming via satellite to subscribers with "dish" antennas 46 cm (18 in) in diameter.

      The new satellite service was not cheap. Subscribers had to pay at least $700 for the RCA reception equipment and a monthly fee of $65 for the programming, which included all the popular cable services. For additional charges, they could choose pay-per-view movies scheduled with frequent start times and watch all the games of the NFL. Recognizing the threat posed by DirecTV and USSB, a group of the largest cable operators, led by TCI, countered with a similar service of their own. Primestar required a bigger dish (one metre [39.4 in]), but the cost of the reception equipment was included in the monthly subscription fee of approximately $35.

      STAR TV, Murdoch's Hong Kong-based satellite TV network, began officially beaming to India (where cable operators with satellite dishes pirated transmissions) after acquiring 49.9% of the Hindi-language Zee TV. Doordarshan, India's state-run network, stopped airing three of its five new channels, launched in 1993 to counteract STAR, owing to rampant criticisms of its programs. STAR's glowing success overseas was, however, tarnished by setbacks at home. After only five months of service, James Griffiths was replaced by Gary Davey, the fourth managing director in two and a half years. The pullout from the network of Taiwanese advertising agency Satellite Television Marketing (STM) prompted STAR to sue STM's parent company, United Communications Group. Another dispute erupted over failure to come to terms about channeling STAR programs through Wharf Cable, the exclusive licensee. Wharf's HK$5 billion pay-TV 20-channel system (with eight already operational) was a first in Hong Kong.

      Murdoch's closest competitor, Turner International, launched TNT & Cartoon Network in Asia, the first 24-hour Hollywood film and cartoon service in the region. In the Philippines STAR's competitor, Sky Cable, extended its coverage throughout the nation. But the largest local TV network competed elsewhere; delivering the first trans-Pacific Asian program service via PanAmSat 2, ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corp. developed the Filipino Channel for some two million Filipino immigrants in the United States. Similarly, Shaw Media Corp. of Hong Kong and the United Kingdom's Wilton Group set up the Chinese Channel, beamed via Astra satellite, for the 800,000 Chinese living in Europe. All programming—in Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese—for the subscription-only channel came from Hong Kong's Television Broadcast (TVB).

      Competition intensified between Indonesian private networks after the government allowed stations to broadcast nationwide instead of being limited to certain cities. Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Thai Sky TV and International Broadcasting Corp. were allowed by the government's Mass Communication Organization of Thailand to expand outside Bangkok in the face of strong competition from direct satellite operators. The existing situation of too many TV programmers and too few transponders, in fact, had experts predicting that orbiting satellites over Asia might soon be bumping into one another. (A transponder is a radio or radar set that, upon receiving a designated signal, emits a signal of its own.) For example, China-backed APT Satellite Co. launched Apstar 1 in a controversial orbital slot, risking disruption of its signal and that of two orbiting neighbours.

      With capital for expansion, Asian private commercial media boomed. A second private station, TV 4, was opened in Malaysia. It was granted to a consortium of seven companies, including Metropolitan (M) Sdn. Bhd. (40%) and the largest Malay publishing group, Utusan Melayu (35%). In Indonesia problems were foreseen with Government Decree 20/1994, allowing foreign investments in media, telecommunications, shipping, railroads, and power supply. In joint ventures foreign partners could hold up to 95% equity, but Press Act 21/1982 stated explicitly that capital used to set up mass media companies must have originated from within Indonesia. In China as well, no foreign firms were allowed to set up or operate cable TV stations, not even as joint ventures.

      Elsewhere, a U.S. partner, Continental Cablevision Inc., joined with Singapore CableVision in a S$500 million cable TV project to wire 116,000 Singaporean households by the end of 1995. Singapore's government, however, chose to keep a firm grip on Singapore Broadcasting Corp. (SBC).

      Benefiting from these privatization trends was the new Asian satellite alliance of five of the world's leading TV networks: Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. (CNN), TVB International of Hong Kong, the Australian Broadcasting Corp., Home Box Office (HBO) Asia, and ESPN International. Leasing transponders on Palapa B2P and Apstar 1, the alliance served Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

      In Europe signals from the paging system Euro-Funkruf were interfering with German cable TV. A different kind of interference—in terms of viewership and advertising revenues—from (mainly U.S.) satellite and cable TV networks was met by a global strategic alliance between the BBC and British media conglomerate Pearson, which bought an interest in Thames TV, Britain's biggest independent producer. The Netherlands' biggest producer, Endemol, merged with Veronica, the largest broadcasting association. By the terms of the merger, Veronica gave up a government subsidy of up to 8 million guilders but hoped to cash in on increased revenues from advertisements and program sales.

      Market positioning by European companies led to media concentration. Kirch Group, Bertelsmann AG, and Germany's telephone monopoly Telekom formed Media Service GmbH to provide video-on-demand and other interactive services soon to be available on pay-TV. Joachim Theye, a lawyer, claimed that as an international company, the new firm was not subject to the anticartel law. Consequently, the German government planned on changing rules governing media to guard against media concentration and to restrict each network's televiewing share.

      Italy had similar problems after electing as prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (see BIOGRAPHIES (Berlusconi, Silvio )), owner of its second largest private company, Fininvest, which had interests in telecommunications, pension plans, insurance, and sports and owned the nation's largest publishing house, Mondadori. Berlusconi's national networks—Canale 5, Rete 4, and Italia 1—gained half of Italy's total TV ad revenues. As prime minister, he also had jurisdiction over the government networks RAI 1, RAI 2, and RAI 3, prompting calls to set up a "blind trust" for his company financial interests.

      After elections in Russia, Pres. Boris Yeltsin replaced Vyacheslav Bragin, controller of two of four nationwide TV channels, with Aleksandr Yakovlev, the former chief of the Communist Party's Central Committee department for Soviet radio and TV. Next he replaced the two rivals for media control, the Ministry of Information and the unpopular Federal Information Centre, with a media-monitoring unit. Then he allowed NTV, Russia's first nationwide independent channel, to use the existing fourth channel's frequencies.

TV Programming.
      In the U.S. CBS dominated network TV through the 1993-94 season, finishing first in ratings in prime time, daytime, and late night—the first time that had happened since the rise of ABC in the early 1960s. In prime time, CBS pulled a 14.1 rating and 23 share, ABC 12.5/20, NBC 11.1/18, and Fox 7.2/11, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co. (A rating is the percentage of the 94.2 million homes with TVs; a share is the percentage of homes with their TVs on at the time of the program.)

      CBS's strength came primarily from such perennials as "60 Minutes," "Murphy Brown," and "Murder, She Wrote." The other networks stayed competitive with successful new series. ABC's winning newcomers included "NYPD Blue" and "Grace Under Fire." NBC was able to partially fill the void created by the retirement of "Cheers" with "Frasier," a new series based on one of its characters. The good news of spring failed to sustain CBS in the fall, however. By mid-November the network was in a virtual second-place tie with NBC behind ABC, which was riding high on the strength of its Tuesday- and Friday-night schedules. ABC's dominant lineup on Tuesday included "Home Improvement," "Grace Under Fire," and "NYPD Blue," which survived the loss of one of its lead actors, David Caruso. (See BIOGRAPHIES (Caruso, David ).) The season's big hit, however, was NBC's "ER," a fast-paced hospital drama.

      At the 46th annual Emmy awards, CBS's "Picket Fences" won as best drama series for the second year in a row, and "Frasier" was named best comedy series. The British-made "Prime Suspect 3," starring Helen Mirren (see BIOGRAPHIES (Mirren, Helen )), won as best miniseries or special.

      CBS's David Letterman solidly established himself as the funniest man in late-night TV, consistently outscoring NBC's Jay Leno in the ratings. After a five-year run, Paramount's "Arsenio Hall Show" slipped into late-night history.

      One of the major events of the new season was Ken Burns' "Baseball," aired on PBS for 18 1/2 hours in September. Produced in a style similar to Burns' "The Civil War," the series used a blend of action on the field, historic photographs, and commentary from baseball enthusiasts ranging from Walt Whitman to Mario Cuomo to evoke a sense of the sport's place in the life of the nation.

      The European Union (EU) moved toward bolstering its film and TV industries by excluding an increased number of foreign films and broadcasts and by funding Europe-wide programming and distribution. The proposals were embodied in the "Green Paper," an EU Commission discussion document intended to lead to legislation.

      The widening of Asian media's ownership base led to more specialty programming but also to abuses from all sides. Malaysia's Ministry of Information announced the amendment of the Broadcasting Act of 1988 to enable Malaysians to use a wider range of broadcasting facilities, "but there will be no open sky policy . . . no pollution of culture and values." It banned ads for rock concerts on TV because of "negative behaviour and activities" such as cigarette smoking and beer drinking by concert-watching youths. China's curb on foreign cable TV stations allowed only those foreign shows approved by central broadcast authorities to be aired. (See Spotlight: Asian Values .)

      Japanese media, particularly the public television NHK, earned praise from disaster-prevention officials after Hokkaido was struck by a 7.9-magnitude earthquake on October 4. With the newly installed system linking Meteorological Agency seismographs to TV and radio stations, the quake automatically triggered warnings on the screen and voice-over announcements, helping to limit casualties.

      Hong Kong's two broadcast stations and its cable provider came under fire from the Broadcasting Authority for breach of standards. TVB, ATV, and Wharf were reprimanded or fined for various offenses, including "inhumane" scenes of animals fighting, "vulgar and offensive" language, and "unsuitable" elements for children's viewing. TVB Pearl and ATV World were also rebuked for inaccurate news reporting.

      The popular French show "Lovin' Fun" was canceled by the Superior Audiovisual Council for using earthy and brutal language in responding to questions about sex that were phoned in, mostly by young people. The youths' furious reaction caused the program to be restored.

      Indonesia's educational TV channel, Televisi Pendidikan Indonesia, chose to become a family TV station without abandoning its original mission. The license change allowed it to compete for advertising revenues against fully commercial stations, which mostly broadcast U.S.-made action films. A cable TV channel for health professionals, Philippine Medical Television, was launched as a cooperative venture between the Philippine Medical Association and the American Medical TV Network, which was to supply 80% of the programming. Also in the Philippines, RJ TV 29, a music and home-shopping channel, signed up cable distributors for a new nationwide UHF TV channel. The program mix of the country's only video-marketing show was Filipino music and home TV shopping.

      Germany's mail-order giants—Quelle, Otto, and Neckermann—introduced television shopping, already popular in North America, Italy, The Netherlands, and France. Otto could easily go into teleshopping because the son of its founder owned shares in two TV channels (Viva, Hamburg I), three radio stations (OK Radio, Hamburg; Delta Radio, Kiel; Kiss FM, Berlin), and, with partner Time Warner Inc., Catalog 1 home-shopping channel of the U.S.

      In Britain the success of an adaptation of George Eliot's Middlemarch led to a renewed interest in adapting 19th-century novels. Later examples included Charles Dickens' Hard Times and Martin Chuzzlewit.

      "La Chaine d'information," France's 24-hour, seven-day news and information service, began on private cable TV station TF1. Radio Television Brunei (RTB) started "RTB-Sukmaindera," a daily one-hour international satellite TV information service. For Malaysian commuters on the North and South expressways, Highway Radio provided information and entertainment, a joint venture of Time Engineering, the Ministry of Finance, and the privately owned Bernama (Malaysia News Agency). Japan's 250-channel Visual Information Radio allowed users to call up traffic information, news headlines, sports scores, or stock market data on a 60-character screen.

       Radio also enjoyed a good year in the United States. According to the Radio Advertising Bureau, local and national ad revenues for the first nine months of 1994 were up 11% over the same period of 1993.

      The news/talk format continued its resurgence in radio, claiming at midyear more than 900 stations. Listeners could tune into personalities for advice on health, money, and sex or for topical political commentary.

      President Clinton's frustrations about the incessant criticism of his administration by conservative radio talk-show hosts boiled over during the summer. In an interview broadcast on KMOX (AM) St. Louis, Mo., he complained about the "unremitting drumbeat of negativism and cynicism."

      A clampdown on six underground radio stations caused violent riots in Taiwan. Although relaxation of the broadcasting monopoly was part of the nation's overall political liberalization, stringent capital requirements allowed only the rich to own stations. Licenses for 13 new FM stations were approved. Buddhist Thailand gave the Roman Catholic Church an opportunity to air a TV program every other Sunday on Channel 9, alternating with a Protestant program. An Islamic program was aired every Friday, and Buddhist programs were broadcast on the other five days. Islamic missionary programs were broadcast from a Brunei-based radio station set up by Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia, which had a combined Muslim population of 220 million. By contrast, Radio Tanger was authorized in France by Interior Minister Charles Pasqua (see BIOGRAPHIES (Pasqua, Charles )) to counter extremist Islamic propaganda.

      In the Philippines, Kids Radio, a partnership between City Lite 88.3 FM and DWSS-AM Stereo, began broadcasting an array of programs for children, with a difference—the program hosts were children. Patterned after Radio AAHS in the U.S., it gave children a radio station to which they could relate. (RAMONA MONETTE S. FLORES; HARRY A. JESSELL; LAWRENCE B. TAISHOFF)

Amateur Radio.
      At the prompting of the American Radio Relay League, which represented 170,000 amateur (ham) radio operators, President Clinton on October 22 signed a congressional resolution recognizing the continuing importance of amateur radio and urging the FCC to permit the service to employ new technology and provide "reasonable accommodation" for its future growth. Although not binding on the agency, the resolution was expected to help the league in its fight to preserve two bands of microwave frequencies for amateur use. The U.S. Department of Commerce had proposed reallocating the bands from government to commercial use.

      The number of ham licenses rose to 631,399, according to the FCC's May accounting. But officials believed that there were far fewer active operators, noting that the policy of granting 10-year licenses begun in 1983 made it difficult to calculate the number of active licensees.


      See also Advertising (Business and Industry Review ); Telecommunications (Business and Industry Review ); Motion Pictures ; Music .

      This updates the article broadcasting.

▪ 1994

      On Oct. 13, 1993, Bell Atlantic Corp., one of the nation's largest telephone companies, announced that it would pay $30 billion for Tele-Communications Inc. (TCI), the nation's largest operator of cable systems, and an affiliated cable programming company. The combination of the firms' financial might, skills, and technologies was likely to speed the advent of interactive video and information services. Most places would be served by two networks, according to Bell Atlantic chairman and chief executive officer Ray Smith. "They will provide voice and data and video and interactive services, and there will be fierce competition based on value and reliability," he said.

      The Bell Atlantic-TCI merger, which was subject to government approval and was not expected to be completed until late 1994, was the largest in a series of matchups between telephone and cable companies in 1993. U.S. West Communications Inc. invested $2.5 billion in Time Warner Entertainment, owner of cable systems and Home Box Office (HBO) and Cinemax. Southwestern Bell Corp. bought two large cable systems in suburban Washington, D.C., and launched a joint venture with Cox Enterprises Inc. The same day the Bell Atlantic-TCI deal was announced, BellSouth Corp. said it would invest up to $1 billion in Prime Cable. It later put up $1.5 billion to back the bid of cable programmer QVC Network Inc. for Paramount Communications Inc.

      All the companies shared the belief that consumers were ready for video-based interactive services. They included video-on-demand (ordering a movie or program from a menu of thousands for immediate viewing), home shopping and banking, electronic yellow pages, video games, the long-promised picture phone, and others.

      While the electronic media's future was being invented, their present slowly expanded. According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's (FCC's) July 1993 count, 1,682 TV stations and 12,815 radio stations vied for the attention of the American public. Of the radio stations, 7,680 were found in the FM band and 5,135 in the AM. Although most of the 92.1 million homes with television sets could receive broadcast TV signals off the air, 55.8 million, or 60.6%, chose to get them—along with an ever growing array of cable programming services—through cable, according to the A.C. Nielsen Co.

      Almost lost in all the talk about the consolidation of the telephone and cable industries in 1993 was the imminent arrival of a new TV medium, direct broadcast satellite (DBS). Hughes Aircraft's DirecTV and Hubbard Broadcasting's United States Satellite Broadcasting planned to begin beaming cable and other video services via satellite to subscribers with "dish" antennas just 46 cm (18 in) in diameter. The service was expected to reach most homes, but consumers would have to pay $700 for the home-reception equipment before subscribing.

      Over the objection of Pres. George Bush, Congress had passed a law in 1992 regulating cable rates. But implementing the law proved difficult for the FCC. Although the agency promised that cable subscribers would save up to $1.5 billion, many found their cable bills went up after the new regulations went into effect in September. The FCC explained to Congress and angry consumer groups that cable operators were able to increase some rates as long as they reduced others and kept total revenues down. A hasty survey revealed that 70% of subscribers did get a break on their cable fees.

      After a long legal and regulatory battle, the big-three networks were on the verge of entering the lucrative program-rerun business. In November a federal judge lifted consent decrees that had barred them from acquiring a financial stake in the comedies and dramas that appeared on their prime-time schedules. As a result, they could look forward to a share of the profits from reruns. FCC rules continued to prohibit the networks from actually selling shows to stations in the U.S., but those were scheduled to expire in late 1995.

      Broadcasters across Europe faced the continuing effects of the economic recession coupled with increased competition. They also feared that U.S. programs would become dominant in their continent, a fear that resulted in a campaign—successful for the moment at least—by broadcasters and producers to exclude audiovisual productions from the provisions agreed upon under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

      Under the terms of the Television Directive of the European Community (EC), quota systems to protect domestic television production were maintained. But there were protests from Earth-bound broadcasters that quotas were not imposed on satellite channels and particularly not on the U.K.-based British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) services operated by Rupert Murdoch's News International.

      The French government threatened to lodge a formal complaint against the U.K. government with the European Commission over Britain's alleged failure to implement EC legislation requiring television channels to broadcast a minimum of 50% of European content. The subject of the complaint was the U.K.'s licensing of two of Ted Turner's U.S.-originated satellite channels—the feature-film service TNT and the Cartoon Network.

      In the U.K. the advertising-funded Independent Television (ITV) companies were divided over how to meet the threat of takeovers from overseas. The larger ITV companies sought government approval to allow them to merge with their smaller regional neighbours as a protection from such takeovers. The regional companies, in turn, sought an extension of the moratorium on company mergers that was due to expire at the end of 1993.

      The BBC also faced the threat of upheaval, with the government considering renewal of the corporation's royal charter and the future of the licensee fee system. The introduction by the BBC's newly appointed director general, John Birt (see BIOGRAPHIES (Birt, John )), of a radical measure to improve efficiency and introduce programming "of high quality and originality" provoked widespread controversy, not least from within the BBC itself. One of its best-known broadcasters, Mark Tully, the longtime correspondent in India, launched a well-publicized attack on the Birt proposals.

      Throughout Europe broadcasters faced cutbacks and restructuring. The Dutch public service channel NOS was warned that its 100 million-guilder annual government subsidy could be cut if its audience share fell below the current 50%. The Belgian public broadcaster RTBF, facing a possible BF 1 billion loss, shed 500 jobs and halted investment in films and high-cost productions.

      The Spanish public station RTVE cut 2,700 jobs in an effort to offset accumulated losses of 150 billion pesetas. In response, the government agreed to a subsidy of 29 billion pesetas—its first since 1982.

      But all was not gloom in Europe. A survey by the Carat advertising group revealed that spending on television advertising had been growing faster than the continent's gross domestic products, up 360% during the previous 12 years. This was due in large part to deregulation and privatization.

      Fears that the centre-right government in France would introduce a radical upheaval of broadcasting appeared to be unfounded. Instead the new communications minister, Alain Carignon, made modest proposals that included increasing the limit of share ownership in television from 25 to 49%, extending station licenses from 10 to 15 years, and granting an extra F 140 million for public broadcasters in 1994.

      Satellite and cable channels continued their steady growth throughout Europe. The U.S. broadcaster NBC acquired control of the U.K.-based Super Channel service from its Italian owners, and U.S. cable operators expanded their holdings in Europe to such new markets for pay-TV as Hungary and Turkey.

      As the year drew to a close, however, most attention turned to Asia following Rupert Murdoch's $525 million acquisition of the Hong Kong-based pan-Asian satellite service STAR TV. Other major media companies such as Pearson in the U.K. and the U.S. operators Cable News Network (CNN) and HBO prepared to follow with major Asian expansions.

      In China a government decree restricted the sale and installation of domestic satellite receiver dishes. Six of China's major stations, serving an audience of 55 million, formed the City Network Corp., a move seen as a significant step to a general updating and restructuring of the nation's broadcasting industry.

      Following the Israeli-Palestinian accords, a Palestine Television Authority was set up in the West Bank town of Ramallah with a $3 million grant from the French government and the promise of additional funding from the EC and Japan.

      Just as U.S. viewers were becoming comfortable with Fox as the fourth broadcast network, two major Hollywood studios, Warner Brothers and Paramount, competed to create the fifth. They chased after the same independent TV station groups in hopes of signing them on as affiliates. Some observers picked Warner Brothers to prevail because of its early start and its affiliation agreements with two large station groups, Tribune Broadcasting and Gaylord Broadcasting. But others gave it to Paramount on the strength of its popular "Star Trek" series and its partnership with the Chris-Craft station group.

      Reaction from the established networks to the would-be competitor ranged from apprehension—they relied on Warner Brothers and Paramount to produce much of their prime-time programming—to disdain. Neither one had "even the potential distribution to compete with us," said one network executive.

      It was unclear what impact a bidding war for Paramount might have on its network plans. Viacom Inc., a major program syndicator and cable programmer, agreed to buy the studio in September for about $8.2 billion. But QVC Network Inc., a cable home-shopping network headed by former Paramount and Fox executive Barry Diller, decided that it wanted Paramount and began bidding aggressively for it. By year's end the price had reached $10.8 billion.

      CBS demonstrated that its triumph in the 1991-92 prime-time season was no fluke. With a 13.3 rating and a 22 share, it outpaced ABC (12.4/20) and NBC (11/18) during the 1992-93 season, according to the A.C. Nielsen Television Index. (A rating is the percentage of the 92.1 million homes with television sets; a share is the percentage of homes with sets on during a program's time slot.)

      CBS was helped by some comparatively new entries, notably the comedies "Love & War" and "Hearts Afire." But it was the perennial favourites that powered the network: "60 Minutes," "Murphy Brown," and "Murder, She Wrote."

      Celebrating its 25th anniversary in a two-hour special on November 14, "60 Minutes" was the season's top-rated show (21.9/36). ABC's "Roseanne" placed second (20.7/31), and ABC's "Home Improvement" was third (19.4/29). In November it was announced that the cable audience had declined for the first time since its explosive growth in the 1980s. For the first seven weeks of the new season that began on September 20, cable's prime-time rating was 13.4, as compared with 13.7 for the same period in 1992. By contrast, the combined rating for the four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox) rose from 43.8 to 44.6 during the same period, reversing a long decline.

      After an 11-year run on NBC, the ensemble comedy "Cheers" signed off with a two-hour special on May 20. The show scored a 45.5 rating and 64 share—big numbers, but good for only 13th place on the all-time list of most-watched shows. The last episode of "M*A*S*H" in 1983 continued to top the list with a 60.2 rating and 77 share.

      Portraying with gritty realism the lives of two New York City detectives, "NYPD Blue" was the 1993-94 season's top-rated new drama. It broke into the top 20 shows, despite (or perhaps because of) rough language, partial nudity, and a campaign by a fundamentalist religious group to persuade ABC affiliates not to air it and advertisers not to support it.

      Only two other new series—both comedies—did better than "NYPD Blue" in the ratings. But NBC's "Frasier" and ABC's "Grace Under Fire" benefited from strong programs that preceded them. The former followed "Seinfeld" (see BIOGRAPHIES (Seinfeld, Jerry )); the latter, "Home Improvement."

      HBO, cable's top pay-TV network, walked off with 17 Emmy awards in September, more than any of the broadcast networks. HBO's original movies carried the day, with Stalin alone winning four awards. The broadcast networks collectively still won more than twice as many awards as the cable networks, however—42 to 20. NBC received 16 awards, CBS 14, and ABC 12. "Seinfeld" was the top comedy series, and Ted Danson of "Cheers" and Roseanne Arnold of "Roseanne" took the prizes for lead comic actor and actress. CBS's "Picket Fences" was singled out as the best dramatic series, and its leading actor and actress, Tom Skerritt and Kathy Baker, won the awards for lead dramatic performances.

      David Letterman (see BIOGRAPHIES (Letterman, David )) emerged as the king of late-night television. Emanating from New York's Ed Sullivan Theater, "The Late Show with David Letterman" debuted on CBS on August 30 and quickly established itself as the top-rated late-night show. The "Tonight Show," which NBC had handed to Jay Leno after Johnny Carson said good-bye in May 1992, struggled to keep pace.

      "Saturday Night Live" alumnus Chevy Chase was the year's major casualty in the late-night wars. He premiered on Fox on September 7 and drew a good-sized audience but also some of the nastier reviews in memory. "This new model Chevy is an Edsel," wrote TV critic Tom Jicha. Ratings went downhill, and after just 29 airings the show was off the air.

      Dozens of new cable networks—some real, some little more than a business plan—vied for places on U.S. cable systems. Most of them targeted narrow audiences—the History Network, the Golf Channel, Romance Classics, the Military Channel, the Television Food Network, and America's Talking. An exception to this rule was FX, a proposed general-entertainment network from Fox and its affiliates.

      Although the largest cable operators planned to use digital technology to increase channel capacity, the expansion would not come fast enough to accommodate all the new networks. Cable networks owned by broadcasters had an advantage in obtaining cable carriage. Cable systems traditionally carried the signals of most local TV stations without having to pay for them. But the 1992 Cable Act, which went into effect in 1993, stated that TV stations could now charge cable systems for their signals. Most cable operators refused to pay, but some agreed to provide cable carriage of local and national networks owned by the stations.

      Agreeing to share some of the rewards and risks of televising the national pastime, Major League Baseball formed a joint venture with ABC and NBC to broadcast a series of regular-season games and an expanded slate of postseason action. (Another round of play-offs was to create up to 20 additional postseason games). The six-year partnership—the Baseball Network—was to begin at the start of the 1994 season. The baseball owners approved the venture after it became clear that no broadcast network was willing to pay anywhere near the $1.1 billion that CBS had for a four-year pact that ended with the last pitch of the 1993 World Series. CBS lost hundreds of millions of dollars on the deal.

      ESPN in September signed a new six-year contract with baseball, agreeing to pay $250 million for an extensive regular-season cable schedule. This was about half of what the cable sports network paid for its original four-year package, which generated $160 million-$200 million in losses through the 1993 season.

      Sports and media watchers were startled in mid-December when it was announced that the Fox Network had outbid (possibly by as much as $100 million) CBS for the rights to broadcast National Football Conference games beginning in 1994. This would be the first regular sports programming by the Murdoch-owned network. Unlike baseball and football, basketball had been a moneymaker on national TV, and the two new contracts the National Basketball Association signed with NBC and Turner Broadcasting Systems in 1993 underscored the fact. Both four-year deals represented big increases. NBC would pay $750 million plus 50% of the advertising revenues in excess of $1,060,000,000. Turner, which telecast games on its TNT cable network, would pay $350 million and 50% of the revenue in excess of that amount.

      The stark pictures of war, revolution, and terror overshadowed much of current affairs programming on networks throughout the world. In Russia during the failed coup, it was the Ostankino television station itself that became a key target for both the insurgents, who attempted to seize the Moscow studios, and the military loyal to Pres. Boris Yeltsin. Elsewhere the graphic pictures of war and suffering from conflicts as far apart as Bosnia and Somalia touched the world's conscience. In the United Kingdom it was the image of one injured and desperate five-year-old Bosnian child, Irma Hadzimuratovic, that resulted in widespread demands that frontiers be opened to allow the sick and wounded refugee children to be airlifted and admitted for medical treatment. This demand was taken up by the public in many other European countries.

      In view of the growing impact of television news pictures on the public, it was perhaps strange that ITV in the U.K. decided to move its long-running evening news program "News at Ten" to an earlier off-peak time slot. The proposal brought protests from politicians and public alike. Prime Minister John Major voiced his disapproval, and the regulatory authority, the Independent Television Commission, vetoed the move.

      In another significant legal action, the U.K. Court of Appeal overturned an injunction preventing the commercial Channel 4 network from screening excerpts from Stanley Kubrick's controversial feature film A Clockwork Orange without the consent of the copyright owner, Time Warner Entertainment. The film had been withdrawn from public exhibition for almost 20 years. The court gave Channel 4 permission to show limited excerpts on grounds of "fair dealing."

      In Italy coverage of the country's political corruption scandals, the economic crisis, and the war in nearby former Yugoslavia switched viewing habits away from the traditionally popular game shows and entertainment to current affairs and news. The audience ratings research organization Auditel, which together with a Milan advertising agency, M&CS, monitored the output of state broadcaster RAI's three channels and the three private networks of the Finninvest group, discovered an increase of more than 100 hours of news during the first quarter of the year compared with the same period in 1992. Game and variety shows were down by a third, and sports on the RAI Uno network declined 30%.

      The newly appointed president of RAI, Claudio Dematté, announced proposals to increase the quality of the programming and canceled two of the network's most popular prime-time entertainment shows, "Biberon" and "Saluti e Baci," which had been watched by an audience of 10 million viewers on Saturday nights. Dematté claimed that the production budget of 10 million lire was "excessive" at a time of economic recession.

      The general election in Spain resulted in a similar swing of viewing habits toward current affairs programming, attracting the largest audiences since private television was introduced in 1990. The televised debates between Prime Minister Felipe González and his opponents boosted audiences for the two private channels, Tele 5 and Antena 3, to a total of some 13 million viewers.

      The economic recession also had a significant impact on program production in France, where a report by the Centre National de Cinematographie revealed an 18% decrease in the production of drama, animation, and documentaries across all TV networks during 1992. Spending also dropped by 13% to F 4,720,000,000—the first decline ever recorded. This was due in part to the bankruptcy of La Cinq network in 1992 but also resulted from a shift of programming into entertainment shows by the surviving channels.

      U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno (see BIOGRAPHIES (Reno, Janet )) during the year warned TV programmers that if they did not curb the violence on television, the government would step in early in 1994 with stiff regulations. Such regulations, she told a Senate panel in October, would not conflict with the First Amendment. TV executives were at a loss as to how to respond to Reno's ultimatum. They had already promised to limit gratuitous violence and to air advisories before violence-laden shows. Some were privately saying that they looked forward to testing Reno's First Amendment opinion in court. Those seeking to regulate TV violence had a model for doing it—the FCC's regulation of broadcast indecency, which had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. The regulation did not ban indecent programming but restricted it to times when few children are in the audience—late at night.

      Talk continued to be the talk of radio. Radio personalities offering nothing but information, interviews, strong opinion, or barbed satire threatened to wrest the medium from music, which had dominated the airwaves since the 1950s. More than 1,000 stations boasted a talk or news and talk format in 1993, according to the Broadcasting & Cable Yearbook. Country music, however, with 2,651 adherents, was still the most common format.

      The popularity of talk may have even stopped the migration of the audience from AM to FM. According to radio analyst Jim Duncan, AM's share of radio listenership in 1993 nudged up to 25.6% in 1993 from 25.4% in 1992.

      Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh (see BIOGRAPHIES (Limbaugh, Rush )) led the gab attack, attracting millions of listeners through national syndication and earning themselves a Time magazine cover in October. Stern's popularity was confirmed with the October publication of his autobiographical Private Parts. It raced to number one on the New York Times best-seller list. A book signing by Stern in New York City drew 10,000 people and forced police to close off Fifth Avenue. Stern received unwanted attention from the FCC. By the year's end the agency had fined stations that carried the Stern show $1.2 million for allegedly indecent programming. At the very end of the year, the FCC decided to delay action on bids by Infinity Broadcasting Corporation, which employed Stern, to purchase three more radio stations until the complaints against Stern's program were resolved. The delay could cost Infinity millions of dollars in financial penalties. (MARTIN JACKSON; HARRY A. JESSELL;


Amateur Radio.
      The FCC had taken several steps during the past few years to open up ham radio to more users. In 1993 it liberalized some previous restrictions. Gone was the strict prohibition against doing business on amateur radio. In its place was "greater flexibility," allowing operators to use ham radios for "public service projects and personal matters."

      The new rules contained many gray areas, but the FCC said that licensees could now use their radios for personal communications as long as they did not overdo it—for example, try to substitute it for a cellular telephone—or use it for "pecuniary benefit." "You can order a pizza," said one FCC official, "but the pizza shop still can't give directions to the delivery boy in his car."

      The FCC earlier had moved to make ham radio more accessible by eliminating the Morse-code requirement for licenses that allow for local communications. According to the American Radio Relay League, as of September there were 628,629 licensed ham operators, and more than a third of those held no-Morse-code licenses.


      See also Industrial Review: Advertising (Industrial Review ); Telecommunications (Industrial Review ); Motion Pictures ; Music .

      This updates the article broadcasting.

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

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