November 19, 2017

Radio Pirates, of the Caribbean No Less, Are Pulled Off the Air

“People are driving and all of a sudden they run into a Caribbean station,” said Jason Finkelberg, the station’s general manager, describing the listener complaint that constantly bedevils K104.7.

It is not some quirk of the dial, or a blip in the airwaves. The Caribbean music that bleeds into the Top 40 sounds came from the Bronx and Brooklyn version of 104.7, the FM frequency on which a pirate radio station, 104.7 the Fire Station, has squatted for at least the past decade. It has colorful DJs, live special guests, commercials and devoted listeners. What it does not have is a Federal Communications Commission license for its frequency.

At the moment, it is also off the air, after two of its operators, DJ Fresh Kid and Solomon Malka, were arrested last week on charges of unauthorized radio transmission. Police detectives, accompanied by an F.C.C. engineer, raided their studios, seized their equipment and forced a shutdown.

But dislodging pirate radio operators from the airwaves may be no more useful an exercise than playing Whac-A-Mole: dozens, if not hundreds, of underground radio operators crowd the FM dial in New York, mainly in neighborhoods like Flatbush, Brooklyn, where immigrant communities clamor to hear dance hall and soca Caribbean music and news from home.

Some flicker on and off, beholden to no set schedule and no one frequency; others are more established operations, with Web sites, revenue from commercials and fan bases. The Fire Station had regular shows and ran around the clock on weekends, playing in the afternoons and evenings during weekdays.

If this is not quite the stuff of outlaw fantasy, as depicted in the movie “Pirate Radio,” the operators often claim that they are giving underserved communities a voice that they cannot find elsewhere. It is the kind of programming that cannot be heard on mainstream radio stations in the city.

“The message that we’re trying to bring across is we are people who have great ideas, who are independent, and there’s a lot more to offer than the big-time radio stations have to offer,” said Timo Flex, a manager at VYBZ Radio, a reggae and soul station. He said the station broadcasts only online, but it and its frequency, 107.1, have been mentioned as being run by pirates on local Web sites and radio message boards.

“There are things going on in the community we wish to share in the world,” he said. “It’s not just local vibe. It’s local vibe community radio.”

Transmission equipment is cheaper and easier to set up than ever before, said Allan Sniffen, a radio worker-turned-dentist who has run a message board about New York-area radio since 1997.

“Used to be, 30, 40 years ago, you had to be an engineer. Now it’s pretty much plug and play as far as this stuff goes, and anyone can do it,” he said, estimating the cost of setting up a station at less than $500. He said weak enforcement from the F.C.C., which controls licensing, has meant a proliferation of the tiny stations. “It’s like you have a 55-mile-per-hour speed zone and everyone goes 80 miles an hour, ’cause they know police never patrol the area.”

Obtaining a new license in the city is nearly impossible because most of the city’s frequencies are already licensed, he said; buying a radio station and its license outright can cost millions.

The F.C.C. mainly responds to complaints, though it occasionally scans frequencies known to host pirates, using direction-finding equipment to track down the signal. Fines can run as high as $16,000 for each violation or each day of a violation, a spokesman said.

New York State has had the most F.C.C. enforcement activity of any state since 2003, with about 23 percent of all activity, according to an online database maintained by the agency. (The next most pirate-packed state is Florida.)

Add Mr. Malka, 51, and DJ Fresh Kid — whose real name is Seon Bruce, 40 — to the list. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office said detectives set up an undercover sting operation for the underground DJ by buying airtime for a commercial, then tuned in to confirm that the commercial was playing at the appointed time on 104.7. The detectives were directed to deliver $500 in cash to a barbershop on Nostrand Avenue; it is unclear what the faux commercial purported to sell.

Detectives tracked the radio signal for 104.7 to a room on the rooftop of 30 Broad Street, a 50-story building in Lower Manhattan. They also found transmitting equipment for another frequency, 91.7 FM, on the roof of 611-615 East 76th Street in Brooklyn, on the border between East Flatbush and Canarsie.

Neither Mr. Malka nor Mr. Bruce could be reached for comment.

But Caribbean music fans may have hope yet.

“As quick as they can shut them back down, they pop back up in a different building,” Mr. Finkelberg said. “I hope not, but I would not be surprised if they were back on Monday somewhere.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/05/nyregion/radio-pirates-of-the-caribbean-no-less-are-pulled-off-the-air.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Station Had Listeners, Just Not a License

“People are driving and all of a sudden they run into a Caribbean station,” said Jason Finkelberg, the station’s general manager, describing the listener complaint that constantly bedevils K104.7.

It is not some quirk of the dial, or a blip in the airwaves. The Caribbean music that bleeds into the Top 40 sounds came from the Bronx and Brooklyn version of 104.7, the FM frequency on which a pirate radio station, 104.7 the Fire Station, has squatted for at least the past decade. It has colorful DJs, live special guests, commercials and devoted listeners. What it does not have is a Federal Communications Commission license for its frequency.

At the moment, it is also off the air, after two of its operators, DJ Fresh Kid and Solomon Malka, were arrested last week on charges of unauthorized radio transmission. Police detectives, accompanied by an F.C.C. engineer, raided their studios, seized their equipment and forced a shutdown.

But dislodging pirate radio operators from the airwaves may be no more useful an exercise than playing Whac-A-Mole: dozens, if not hundreds, of underground radio operators crowd the FM dial in New York, mainly in neighborhoods like Flatbush, Brooklyn, where immigrant communities clamor to hear dance hall and soca Caribbean music and news from home.

Some flicker on and off, beholden to no set schedule and no one frequency; others are more established operations, with Web sites, revenue from commercials and fan bases. The Fire Station had regular shows and ran around the clock on weekends, playing in the afternoons and evenings during weekdays.

If this is not quite the stuff of outlaw fantasy, as depicted in the movie “Pirate Radio,” the operators often claim that they are giving underserved communities a voice that they cannot find elsewhere. It is the kind of programming that cannot be heard on mainstream radio stations in the city.

“The message that we’re trying to bring across is we are people who have great ideas, who are independent, and there’s a lot more to offer than the big-time radio stations have to offer,” said Timo Flex, a manager at VYBZ Radio, a reggae and soul station. He said the station broadcasts only online, but it and its frequency, 107.1, have been mentioned as being run by pirates on local Web sites and radio message boards.

“There are things going on in the community we wish to share in the world,” he said. “It’s not just local vibe. It’s local vibe community radio.”

Transmission equipment is cheaper and easier to set up than ever before, said Allan Sniffen, a radio worker-turned-dentist who has run a message board about New York-area radio since 1997.

“Used to be, 30, 40 years ago, you had to be an engineer. Now it’s pretty much plug and play as far as this stuff goes, and anyone can do it,” he said, estimating the cost of setting up a station at less than $500. He said weak enforcement from the F.C.C., which controls licensing, has meant a proliferation of the tiny stations. “It’s like you have a 55-mile-per-hour speed zone and everyone goes 80 miles an hour, ’cause they know police never patrol the area.”

Obtaining a new license in the city is nearly impossible because most of the city’s frequencies are already licensed, he said; buying a radio station and its license outright can cost millions.

The F.C.C. mainly responds to complaints, though it occasionally scans frequencies known to host pirates, using direction-finding equipment to track down the signal. Fines can run as high as $16,000 for each violation or each day of a violation, a spokesman said.

New York State has had the most F.C.C. enforcement activity of any state since 2003, with about 23 percent of all activity, according to an online database maintained by the agency. (The next most pirate-packed state is Florida.)

Add Mr. Malka, 51, and DJ Fresh Kid — whose real name is Seon Bruce, 40 — to the list. The Brooklyn district attorney’s office said detectives set up an undercover sting operation for the underground DJ by buying airtime for a commercial, then tuned in to confirm that the commercial was playing at the appointed time on 104.7. The detectives were directed to deliver $500 in cash to a barbershop on Nostrand Avenue; it is unclear what the faux commercial purported to sell.

Detectives tracked the radio signal for 104.7 to a room on the rooftop of 30 Broad Street, a 50-story building in Lower Manhattan. They also found transmitting equipment for another frequency, 91.7 FM, on the roof of 611-615 East 76th Street in Brooklyn, on the border between East Flatbush and Canarsie.

Neither Mr. Malka nor Mr. Bruce could be reached for comment.

But Caribbean music fans may have hope yet.

“As quick as they can shut them back down, they pop back up in a different building,” Mr. Finkelberg said. “I hope not, but I would not be surprised if they were back on Monday somewhere.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/05/nyregion/radio-pirates-of-the-caribbean-no-less-are-pulled-off-the-air.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

F.C.C. Nominee Favors Competition Over Regulation

WASHINGTON — President Obama’s nominee to head the Federal Communications Commission told a Senate committee on Tuesday that his top priorities, if he is confirmed, would be consumer protection, increasing competition and providing sufficient predictability so companies know what rulings to expect.

The nominee, Tom Wheeler, told the Senate Commerce Committee that the F.C.C.’s support of competition was especially important given Americans’ heavy dependence on communications networks in education, public safety and consumer services.

He said that his experience as a telecommunications executive and as the leader of lobbying groups for the cable television and cellphone industries had convinced him that the agency needs to promote competition over regulation.

“Competition is a power unto itself that must be encouraged,” he said. “Competitive markets produce better outcomes than regulated or uncompetitive markets.”

Mr. Wheeler backed away, however, from his comments in 2011 on his blog. In the post, he said the F.C.C. might have expanded its authority over wireless companies if it had approved the merger of ATT and T-Mobile by imposing conditions that could later be applied to all wireless companies.

In response to questions, Mr. Wheeler said that any merger review must consider the facts before the commission and not deal with theoretical questions of the sort he raised in the blog post.

“In a hypothetical musing, it is possible to do that,” Mr. Wheeler said. But in a merger review, he added, “I am guided by precedent, the statute and the facts before me.”

Most of the other questions posed to Mr. Wheeler were friendly, and several Republican senators expressed confidence that he would be confirmed by inviting him to visit their states once he took office.

Mr. Wheeler also said that his experience as a lobbyist would not prejudice him in regulating the industries he formerly championed. “I was an advocate for specific points of view, and I hope I was a pretty good advocate,” Mr. Wheeler said. “If I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, my client will be the American public, and I hope I can be as effective an advocate for them as humanly possible.”

Nevertheless, Mr. Wheeler also said it was his experience in the wireless and cable industries — which, he acknowledged, are much changed today from when he worked for them — rather than as a regulator that provides his primary strengths.

As chief executive of what is now the National Cable and Telecommunications Association in the 1980s, “I fought against the F.C.C.’s rules limiting cable’s ability to compete with new video services,” Mr. Wheeler said. “I worked for the ability of competitors to bring services into the home.”

Similarly, Mr. Wheeler said that his tenure in the 1990s as head of the cellular phone trade group now known as CTIA-The Wireless Association, was one in which start-up and rapidly growing cellphone competitors were at the forefront of wholesale changes in communications.

“During my tenure, that competition was expanded by the auctions of 1994, wireless was increasingly used in place of wire line, and wireless data turned the phone into a pocket computer,” Mr. Wheeler said.

“All of these developments brought with them new policy challenges,” he added, challenges that are no smaller now as wireless becomes the primary method of broadband and voice communication for millions of Americans.

Mr. Wheeler also promised to look into the favorite topics of most of the lawmakers on the committee. Those topics include continuing the E-Rate program, which provides subsidies for broadband connections at schools and libraries; raising revenue from the spectrum incentive auctions to help finance a public service communications network; and figuring out how to address consumer frustration over disputes between broadcasters and cable providers that often leave cable subscribers with blackouts of certain channels.

Mr. Wheeler also addressed television decency standards, something that the F.C.C. has wrestled with for decades. He said the bully pulpit might have more influence than any regulations the agency could write.

“I do believe it is possible to call upon our better angels with some leadership,” Mr. Wheeler said. He recalled that the “vast wasteland” speech of Newton N. Minow, the former F.C.C. chairman, “caught people’s attention.” He added: “Maybe it’s time to do the same type of thing today.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/19/business/fcc-nominee-points-to-his-lobbying-experience.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Advertising: Univision Reset Sights After Ratings Win Over NBC

Univision was emboldened by February sweeps numbers showing that it beat NBC, coming in fourth place with adults in the 18- to 49-year old demographic, while NBC finished fifth. As a result, network executives spent less time focusing on their Spanish-language competitors at the presentation and more time taking direct aim at their competitors on network and cable television.

“By the end of the week you’re going to have a tough time pairing which shows go with which networks,” said Steve Mandala, the executive vice president for advertising and sales at Univision, commenting on the crush of offerings during upfronts week, the New York event when cable channels and network television present next season’s shows to advertisers. “They all seem to be asking for more in the face of declining audiences.” Mr. Mandala stressed Univision’s young “DVR-proof” viewers who watch a majority of the network’s programming live.

The highlight of the presentation, held at the New Amsterdam Theater, was the announcement that Univision would team up with the El Rey Network cable channel, created by the filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and FactoryMade Ventures, a media development and consulting firm.

El Rey was born out of a series of conditions that Comcast had to meet before completing its deal to take control of NBCUniversal. The conditions, mandated by the Federal Communications Commission in 2011, required Comcast to promise to carry several channels owned by minorities to win approval for the deal. Univision will be handling advertising sales and other day-to-day operations for El Rey.

The partnership, which is aimed at second- and third-generation Latinos, allows Univision to further expand its footprint among Hispanics in the United States with English as their dominant language. It is the most significant expansion into that space since the creation of Fusion, a joint venture between ABC News and Univision, announced last year. Though a full slate of programming for Fusion is expected later this year, there was only a passing mention of the channel at the upfront.

Mr. Rodriguez, with Randy Falco, the chief executive of Univision Communications, said in an interview before their presentation to advertisers that his vision for El Rey was to create “cutting-edge, high-quality, expensive programming for young adults, competing with all the English-language networks.” The first show announced will be a serialized version of Mr. Rodriguez’s 1996 film “From Dusk Till Dawn.” El Rey is expected to have its debut in December and be distributed by Comcast.

“It’s something that we think is important to the future,” Mr. Falco said. “Our main aim is to service all Latinos in this country. That includes English-dominant.”

On the Spanish-language side, however, Univision did not stray from its roots, presenting a predictable slate of steamy telenovelas, sports and other event programming.

Cesar Conde, the president of Univision Networks, presented a lineup that included “La Tempestad,” (“The Storm”), a Televisa production featuring the former Miss Universe Ximena Navarrete and the actor William Levy, who were both at the presentation. Other shows included “La Viuda Negra” (“The Black Widow”), based on the life of Griselda Blanco, known as the Cocaine Godmother, a prominent figure in the drug trade of the 1970s and ’80s. “Gossip Girl Acapulco” and “Metastasis” are both Spanish-language versions of the popular English-language shows “Gossip Girl” and “Breaking Bad” that will be shown on UniMás, the Univision network aimed at a younger Latinos.

Executives at a Univision competitor, Telemundo Media, a division of NBCUniversal, were ramping up for their upfront presentation on Tuesday evening. In a preview for the media last week, network executives made a series of programming announcements including the debut of a multiplatform media studio called Fluency, which the network would use to develop bilingual programming for Hispanics.

Telemundo also announced a partnership with Ryan Seacrest Productions for a variety show where two musicians will compete before a panel of judges and a second season of the children’s version of the popular NBC show “The Voice” called “La Voz Kids.” Executives also announced five prime-time telenovelas with titles like “Dama y Obrero” (“The Lady and the Worker”), “Camelia la Tejana” (“Camelia the Texan”) and “Reina de Corazones” (“Queen of Hearts”).

“We are healthy, we are growing and we have a great business that’s really thriving,” said Emilio Romano, the president of Telemundo Media. “The fact that we are able to produce the content for the U.S. gives us a unique advantage.”

Mun2, Telemundo’s sister station, which is focused on a younger, bilingual and bicultural Hispanic audience, made its presentation to advertisers last month. It included 200 hours of programming for the 2013 and 2014 seasons that focused mainly on celebrity-infused reality shows.

Another Hispanic media company taking an aggressive stance during its upfront presentation this week was Discovery U.S. Hispanic, a division of Discovery Communications that operates two cable channels for Spanish-speaking viewers, Discovery en Español and Discovery Familia.

On Tuesday afternoon, Ivan Bargueiras, general manager for Discovery U.S. Hispanic’s networks, described how ratings for his channels were “steadily growing,” with ratings for Discovery en Español up 18 percent last year compared with 2011.

Discovery en Español will add programming aimed at car lovers, including series like “El duo Mecanico,” and will increase soccer on its schedule. Discovery Familia will add series that include “Limpieza Obsesiva” (“Obsessive Cleaners”).

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/media/univision-resets-sights-after-ratings-win-over-nbc.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

F.C.C. Has Yen for Broadway’s Wireless Spectrum

An hour before curtain at “Mamma Mia!” at the Winter Garden Theater on Broadway, Craig Cassidy, the head sound man, starts his nightly ritual of testing the wireless microphones that the performers wear hidden in their white spandex bell bottoms.

The run-throughs by Mr. Cassidy ensure that the microphones are transmitting on their assigned frequencies, a narrow sliver of the nation’s airwaves. The same process takes place every night at nearly four dozen other Broadway theaters, where an inadvertent twist of a dial can put a cordless microphone on the wrong frequency — wreaking havoc if it should send the harmonies of Abba in “Mamma Mia!” into the speakers of a performance of “Wicked” across the street.

“It’s quite a juggling act we have to perform in this area to coordinate the use of all of those microphones,” Mr. Cassidy said.

But Broadway producers are alarmed that this carefully balanced system is about to crumble. The Federal Communications Commission is considering plans to force the users of cordless microphones — not only Broadway producers but an unlikely alliance of megachurches and the National Football League — to move to a less desirable spot on the nation’s airwaves. The F.C.C., backed by Congress, hopes to auction off those prime airwaves now used by singers, preachers and coaches to data-gobbling smartphone companies, potentially for billions of dollars.

“We’ve been doing this for years,” said Colin Ahearn, a sound assistant on “Mamma Mia!”

“We found out how to make it work. Then the government comes along and says, ‘Hey, we can make some money from it.’ That’s not right.”

The F.C.C. counters that the airwaves are public property and that theater owners and other unlicensed users have long gotten free access to the frequencies. The commission also points out that the first $7 billion raised by the auction is to build a nationwide public safety communications network, and that many members of Congress have urged the commission to sell everything it can to raise money to reduce the nation’s deficit.

Still, Broadway producers say that moving to a new spot on the airwaves, or spectrum, will compromise the sound quality of “Mamma Mia!” hits like “Dancing Queen,’’ and “The Name of the Game,’’ making the melodies less full and rich. They say a failure of a wireless intercom could endanger a performer or crew member and that they will be forced to buy expensive new equipment or risk having their transmissions overwhelmed by smartphones that use the same airwaves.

“It is easy for other users of the same spectrum to overpower wireless microphones,” the Broadway League said in comments filed at the F.C.C. That interference “could devastate the sound and stagecraft at major productions, potentially causing physical harm to actors and production workers, serious artistic and cultural losses and — considering the importance of live entertainment to the American economy — significant financial damage.”

The N.F.L. has also told the F.C.C. to back off, citing the need for the use of hundreds of wireless microphones at its games. “Despite N.F.L.’s best efforts to manage its wireless microphones on its increasingly scarce spectrum,” the football league wrote in a letter to the F.C.C., “N.F.L. has received numerous recent reports of wireless microphone interference during games, rendering coaches unable to communicate plays to their quarterbacks and referees unable to consult one another on calls.”

Wireless microphones are one of a number of consumer gadgets — including baby monitors, Wi-Fi routers, garage door openers, television remote controls and electronic car key fobs — that enjoy unlicensed access to the airwaves and which have contributed billions of dollars to the economy. The gadgets can operate without an F.C.C. license, unlike a cellphone company, which must buy a license to operate on a certain segment of the airwaves, or television broadcasters, which operate free on assigned public airwaves.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/business/fcc-has-yen-for-broadways-wireless-spectrum.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: The Breakfast Meeting: Murdoch Weighs a Newspaper Deal and Steve Harvey Surprises Daytime TV

Rupert Murdoch finds himself in a familiar predicament as he considers a bid for The Los Angeles Times: awaiting rule changes from the government, Amy Chozick reports. Mr. Murdoch has increased his lobbying efforts to revise a media ownership rule that prevents companies from owning both television stations and newspapers in the same local market (News Corporation owns KTTV and KCOP in the Los Angeles area). Mr. Murdoch has given mixed signals about his interest in The Los Angeles Times, which the Tribune Company plans to sell. The resignation last week of the Federal Communications Commission chairman, Julius Genachowski, could further slow the process. Mr. Genachowski had proposed allowing a rule change to allow a single company to own both a TV station and newspaper in a top-20 market provided the station was not in the top four in audience size.

“Steve Harvey,” a daytime talk show featuring the comedian and sitcom star that debuted in September, has been the surprise hit of daytime TV, Brian Stelter writes. The show has averaged a rating of 0.9 among women ages 25 to 54 and posted a 1.0 rating in February, enough to tie Katie Couric’s syndicated talk show for the first time. The ratings have cemented Mr. Harvey as one of America’s foremost entertainers and drawn comparisons to Oprah, whom Mr. Harvey will interview this April.

NBC’s plan to replace Jay Leno with Jimmy Fallon as host of the “Tonight” show could risk the top spot in the ratings Mr. Leno has enjoyed for the last two decades, one of the few areas the network dominates, Bill Carter writes. Mr. Fallon will almost certainly start the job for a lower salary than Mr. Leno because there is much less profit to go around in late-night television than there once was. He also faces an increasingly fragmented television audience that is leaving late-night shows for diverse options like “The Daily Show” and Cartoon Network or eschewing live television for DVR or the Internet.

Ads are increasingly appropriating social media patois, Stuart Elliott writes. Commercials for brands including Toyota, Snickers Peanut Butter Squared candy and the cosmetics retailer Sephora all crib from the social media lexicon. Such commercials now include mainstream consumers, not just youthful ones, and exemplify a tactic known as borrowed interest by which brands seek to associate themselves with pervasive elements of popular culture.

The government prosecution of Pfc. Bradley Manning for leaking secret information to WikiLeaks is a public prosecution in name only, David Carr reports in The Media Equation. Basic information has been withheld throughout the lengthy pretrial hearings, and when the court agreed last month to release 84 of the roughly 400 documents requested by reporters under the Freedom of Information Act the documents contained redactions that were almost comical. The issue makes it hard going for reporters and fits a pattern of what reporters and lawyers say is a sometimes capricious withholding of information by the government.

Buzzmedia, a Los Angeles-based company that runs a handful of pop culture and music blogs, has decided that second-best is a viable way to gain Internet advertising, Ben Sisario writes. Even though Buzzmedia offerings like Stereogum and Brooklyn Vegan trail Pitchfork in audience and engagement Buzzmedia draws 41 million people a month, according to comScore, more than some of its main competitors like Gawker Media and Mashable. On Monday the company will rename itself SpinMedia, after Spin Magazine, which it bought last year, another move to attract readers.

Two movies opened with $30 million or more in ticket sales for the first time this year, giving studios hope that a dismal stretch might be behind them, Brooks Barnes reports. An animated caveman comedy, “The Croods,” and a thriller, “Olympus Has Fallen,” both broke the $30 million mark over the weekend, but movie ticket sales are still showing a 13 percent decline from the same period a year ago.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/the-breakfast-meeting-murdoch-weighs-a-newspaper-deal-and-steve-harvey-surprises-daytime-tv/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Advertising: A Campaign to Help People Learn Internet Skills

THE Advertising Council and Connect2Compete, a nonprofit group whose goal is to eliminate the digital divide in the United States, are introducing a public service campaign to help those who are not digitally literate find free training to obtain these skills.

In remarks prepared for a speech in Washington last month about Connect2Compete’s efforts, the Federal Communications Commission chairman, Julius Genachowski, said approximately one in three Americans, or 100 million people, still do not have broadband in their homes, with low-income Americans and minorities “disproportionately on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

This matters, he continued, because “over 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies post job openings exclusively online. Over half of today’s jobs require technology skills, and nearly 80 percent of jobs in the next decade are projected to require digital skills.”

According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, one in five American adults — about 62 million people — do not use the Internet. The 2012 Pew Internet and American Life Project said the main reason these people “don’t go online is because they don’t think the Internet is relevant to them.”

To reach adults who share this sentiment, Connect2Compete approached the Advertising Council last year for help creating a public service campaign “with messages that get at the relevance of the Internet, how you can do something, or do something better that you may already do, by being online,” said Zach Leverenz, chief executive of Connect2Compete.

To that end, the Ad Council and the New York office of Young Rubicam, part of the WPP Group, created a multimedia advertising campaign that begins on Thursday, a date chosen because its numbers (3-21) stand for a three-two-one countdown to get “everyone on” the Internet. The campaign’s Web site is EveryoneOn.org.

Advertising being distributed by the Ad Council includes a TV spot featuring Reginald, an actual truck driver from California whose instructor shows him how to use a computer, get on the Internet, and buy a plane ticket as a surprise for his wife. “She’s going to love me all over again now,” he says. The spot concludes, “But first, he’s going to surprise himself. Get online. Find a free class near you.”

Radio ads feature actors portraying individuals who do not know how to use the Internet. One is a man named Peter, whose instructor shows him how to look for electrician jobs online. The voice-over says, “This is Peter. Recently he got help going on the Internet for the first time to look for a new job. In the past, Peter’s gotten work through people he knew. But he heard there were more jobs online.”

One outdoor ad features a row of people — resembling paper doll cutouts — holding hands; the text says “1 in 5 Americans don’t use the Internet. Luckily help is all around.”

Once the audience for all advertising — which is running in both English and Spanish — calls the toll-free number, they are asked for their ZIP code and given the location of free training classes nearby. Class information is also available via texting. In addition, the campaign’s Web site locates classes — which are being offered by over 21,000 libraries and other centers — by ZIP code.

The advertising being introduced on Thursday was preceded this month by related digital advertising and Facebook and Twitter outreach, directed at those who are already digitally literate and encouraging them to help those who are not.

Cheryl Chapman, a creative director at Young Rubicam in New York, said the agency “knew we couldn’t scare people into using the Internet, so we wanted the advertising to feel disarming, to capture the real emotion of learning something new.”

According to Dzu Bui, campaign director of the Advertising Council, the campaign is directed primarily at adults who are not digitally literate, “since they are the ones who have control over accessing the Internet, they are the decision makers, they make choices for their families.”

Peggy Conlon, president and chief executive of the Ad Council, said the goal of the campaign — the group’s first to address digital literacy issues — was to “overcome the barriers people have to going online.”

She also predicted media outlets — which donate time and space to run all Ad Council advertising — might be motivated to carry this campaign, because it could “help increase their audiences. An informed citizenry is a stronger citizenry. There are many reasons this is good for everybody.”

Experts differed about the campaign and its strategy.

Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor who teaches the economics of information at the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management, called the campaign’s goals “on target,” since, he said, the median wage of Americans today is lower than it was 15 years ago, in part because they have “not kept up with digital technologies.”

Ruth Small, director of the Center for Digital Literacy at Syracuse University, commended the campaign for addressing specific subjects that interest people, like job hunting.

Although Dan Wagner, Unesco chair in learning and literacy at the graduate school of education of the University of Pennsylvania, said “anything that helps people, especially the poor, get access to technology is good,” he called creating relevant content for those who are not digitally literate just as important as showing them how to get online.

James McQuivey, who follows consumer technology adoption for Forrester Research, questioned the campaign’s prospects. “I don’t think it will have the impact they want it to have because most people who are not connected to the Internet are not there by choice. It’s not that these people are sitting and waiting for the Internet and can’t get it.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/business/a-campaign-to-help-people-learn-internet-skills.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Google Pays Fine Over Street View Privacy Breach

The fine stems from the Street View case, where Google deployed special vehicles to photograph the houses and offices lining the world’s streets. But for several years the company was also secretly collecting personal information — e-mails, medical and financial records, passwords — as it cruised by. It was data-scooping from millions of unencrypted wireless networks.

“Consumers have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” George Jepsen, Connecticut attorney general, said in a statement Tuesday. “This agreement recognizes those rights and ensures that Google will not use similar tactics in the future to collect personal information without permission from unsuspecting consumers.”

As part of the settlement, Google agreed that it had acted improperly and agreed to engage in a comprehensive employee education program about privacy and to inform the public about securing wireless networks and protecting personal information. Thirty-eight states participated in the investigation.

Google has repeatedly been faulted by regulators for privacy violations. Last summer the search giant paid $22.5 million to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it had bypassed the privacy settings on Apple’s Safari browser. That fine, the largest civil penalty ever levied by the F.T.C., came after Google agreed to be audited by the agency for 20 years for privacy violations related to a social networking feature.

Some of Google’s most severe critics, who feel that the company is so big and powerful that it often eludes censure, pronounced themselves pleased with the attorneys general’s actions.

“This is a significant privacy decision,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. He noted it was more than 200 times the amount the Federal Communications Commission had fined Google last year for obstructing its own Street View investigation.

Still, the attorneys general’s fine is a pittance for Google, which has a net income of about $32 million a day.

“It is the public opprobrium, not the money, that counts in these cases,” said David Vladeck, a professor of law at Georgetown University who directed the F.T.C.’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “And I think people were rightly unhappy with Google’s collecting the information in the first place and then Google’s lame explanation.”

Google initially denied any data had been collected from unknowing individuals, then sought to downplay what it had and fought with regulators who wanted to examine the data.

“We work hard to get privacy right at Google,” said Niki Fenwick, a spokeswoman. “But in this case we didn’t.” She added that Google has since improved its “systems.”

The attorneys general investigation began in June 2010. Richard Blumenthal, then Connecticut’s attorney general, said his office would lead a multistate investigation into what he called “Google’s deeply disturbing invasion of personal privacy.”

In December 2010, Mr. Blumenthal issued a civil investigative demand, equivalent to a subpoena, to get the data. Google never gave Connecticut any data.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/13/technology/google-pays-fine-over-street-view-privacy-breach.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Republicans Tell F.C.C. Not to Give Away Airwaves

WASHINGTON – House Republicans warned the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday against giving away scarce airwaves that it could auction to telecommunications companies for use in mobile broadband.

The remarks, which came at a hearing by a House communications subcommittee, took direct aim at one of the top priorities of Julius Genachowski, the F.C.C. chairman: to expand the availability of unlicensed airwaves, or spectrum, in order to open up congested mobile broadband networks and for Wi-Fi hot spots.

In September, the F.C.C. proposed freeing up as much as 12 megahertz of spectrum for those unlicensed uses. The unlicensed space on the electromagnetic spectrum would also be used as “guard bands,” which border segments of airwaves that are used by cellphone companies, broadcasters and other communications entities, in order to limit interferences from other nearby users.

“Unlicensed spectrum has a powerful record of driving innovation, investment and economic growth – hundreds of billions of dollars of value creation for our economy and consumers,” Mr. Genachowski told the committee on Wednesday.

But Representative Greg Walden, an Oregon Republican who is chairman of the subcommittee on communications and technology, said that the law that gave the F.C.C. the ability to conduct “incentive auctions” of newly available spectrum required “maximizing the proceeds from the auction.”

For maximum proceeds, guard bands should be no larger than necessary, Mr. Walden said, adding that the 6 megahertz size proposed by the F.C.C. is unnecessarily fat. As proposed, the airwaves set aside for unlicensed use could forgo $7 billion to $19 billion in potential proceeds, Mr. Walden said.

At least $5 billion of auction proceeds are proposed to be used to help build a nationwide public safety communications network for first responders.

“I support the use of unlicensed spectrum to foster innovation” for relief of congested broadband, Mr. Walden said. “What I cannot support,” he added, “is the unnecessary expansion of unlicensed spectrum in other bands needed for licensed services, especially at the expense of funding for public safety.”

The F.C.C.’s five commissioners, all of whom testified before the subcommittee Wednesday, are split 3-2 along party lines over the issue of unlicensed spectrum. Commissioner Robert M. McDowell, a Republican, said he believed it is “premature” for the commission to reserve newly available airwaves for unlicensed use.

Instead, the commission should conduct further work on its current policy – setting aside the “white spaces” between broadcast television channels for unlicensed use, he said.

“At this early stage in the incentive auction process,” Mr. McDowell said, “it is not apparent that we should stop the progress well under way in the TV white spaces arena to create a solution for a problem – an alleged shortage of unlicensed spectrum in lower spectrum bands – that may never exist.”

The F.C.C.’s plans for unlicensed spectrum received support from Democrats on the subcommittee, including Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat. Mr. Waxman said issues of how unlicensed spectrum would be set aside and used were settled during its negotiations on the Public Safety and Spectrum Act, which was enacted earlier this year.

“I am troubled by attempts by some to re-litigate issues that were resolved earlier this year, when the bill passed Congress with widespread support,” Mr. Waxman said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/business/republicans-tell-fcc-not-to-give-away-airwaves.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

DealBook Column: Suggestions for an Apple Shopping List

Timothy D. Cook, right, chief of Apple, with Julius Genachowski, the Federal Communications Commission chairman.Jim Urquhart/ReutersTimothy D. Cook, right, chief of Apple, with Julius Genachowski, the Federal Communications Commission chairman.

Question: What would you do if you had $117 billion?

That’s the challenge facing Tim Cook, Apple’s chief, whose company’s cash hoard keeps growing — by about $1 billion a week.

He could hold onto it. He could increase Apple’s dividend, which he instituted this year for the first time.

Or he could spend it.

Just last week, Mr. Cook acquired AuthenTec, a mobile security company, for $356 million in cash — a price equal to pocket lint for a company with the war chest the size of Apple’s.

The real question is whether Mr. Cook would ever spend Apple’s money on an “elephant” — Wall Street parlance for a huge deal.

Apple denizens often say that the company is not interested in deal making. It has, after all, invented some of today’s most successful consumer products. But that view misunderstands Apple’s history: some of its most important innovations were not invented within Apple; they were purchased from other companies.

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For example, the touch-sensitive gesture technology that made the iPhone and iPad possible was invented and patented by FingerWorks, which Apple acquired in 2005. Siri? Apple bought it in 2010. Even Apple’s current Macintosh operating system was an acquisition of sorts. It is built on the back of NeXT, acquired from Steve Jobs (they got him to return as part of the deal, too) in 1996. (Pixar, Mr. Jobs’s other big success, was an acquisition as well. He bought the company from George Lucas as part of a spinoff from Lucasfilm in 1986.)

A year before Mr. Jobs died, he strongly hinted that Apple would consider a big deal. “We strongly believe that one or more very strategic opportunities may come along, that we are in a unique position to take advantage of because of our strong cash position,” Mr. Jobs said in a call with analysts in 2010.

Having all that money can be daunting, so to help Mr. Cook, here is a potential shopping list — some must-buys and some pie-in-the-sky targets — that he may want to consider:

NUANCE This is the one no-brainer on the list. Nuance, based in Burlington, Mass., provides much of the speech recognition technology behind Apple’s Siri and dictation functions. Right now, Apple has merely licensed it and integrated it into both its mobile devices like iPhones and iPads as well as its new Macintosh operating system. Most users think it is Apple technology, but those services wouldn’t work without Nuance.

It should go without saying, but the importance of speech recognition is only going to increase in the future. Nuance has more patents for it and has developed the technology further than just about any firm in the world. At some point, Nuance will be able to hold Apple for ransom. Google and Microsoft are steadily building their own speech recognition technologies and they are catching up quickly. Nuance’s market value is $6.3 billion. Even if Apple paid twice as much, it would be a worthwhile investment.

TWITTER AND PATH Consider this a one-two punch. Apple should buy the social media companies Twitter and Path. Twitter is well known. The 140-character Twitterverse now has more than 140 million active monthly users. It is one of the few, if only, independent social media properties that could allow Apple to build its own social media platform to truly compete against the likes of Facebook and Google.

Twitter’s price tag is just north of $10 billion, and as my colleagues Evelyn M. Rusli and Nick Bilton reported in The New York Times last week, the idea has certainly crossed the minds of Apple executives.

Path is less familiar, but it would be an integral ingredient for Apple’s push into social media. Path is a fast-growing social media company that works on mobile devices only. It has cracked the code on making the mobile experience of sharing with friends enjoyable. Path would probably cost $250 million to $1 billion. If Apple were to stir together Twitter, Path and its own Photo Stream service — and leveraged all the data it has collected about its users over the years (while mindful of privacy issues) — the company would have quite a product that would keep consumers hooked.

RESEARCH IN MOTION Yes, this one may be a head-scratcher, considering that the iPhone seems to have eaten RIM’s BlackBerry for breakfast — and lunch. But with a marke value of $3.7 billion it is a relative bargain and could be had for four weeks’ worth of Apple’s spare cash).

Such a deal would instantly put Apple into the enterprise market, giving it access to corporate and government customers that require RIM’s highly secure servers. Apple could build access into RIM’s network directly into future iPhones and maybe even create an iPhone with BlackBerry’s famous keyboard, which for many of us would create the ultimate smartphone.

RIM’s relationships with corporate and government customers could be leveraged to sell other products like computers and iPads. RIM also owns QNX, a software that is being used in its next-generation BlackBerry devices. More important for Apple, QNX is used as an in-dashboard operating system, and it is already in 20 million cars, like Chryslers and Porsches.

Finally, there are RIM’s patents, said to be worth $1 billion to $4 billion alone, a virtual treasure trove for a company that is locked in brutal patent wars with rivals. Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility last year, in part, to secure the company’s patent portfolio.

SQUARE Everyone is talking about the mobile wallet. Square, started by the Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, has created a unique new electronic payment system though iPhones and iPads. The next time you go to a coffee shop, there is a chance you can pay with your iPhone simply by saying your name when you get to the cash register.

Square’s value has crept up to more than $3 billion, which is high for a company that is still losing money. But if Apple could integrate Square into iTunes — which has over 400 million active credit cards on file from around the world — it could become a sensation overnight, pushing out rivals like VeriFone and PayPal.

SPRINT
Yes, the phone company. This might seem the most out-there idea. But it solves many of Apple’s biggest problems.

Such a deal would give Apple its own wireless network, which it could upgrade to become the ultimate high-speed wireless carrier in the country. It could eventually use the network to bypass the cable operators to deliver content directly to the home on multiple devices, including the product that everyone speculates is on its way: a TV device.

With a stock market value of $13.5 billion, Sprint can be purchased for a song. Apple could easily spend four times more than that — say, $50 billion — to build out the Sprint network and turn it into a showcase for the next generation mobile technology. Apple could still offer its devices on other carriers, but its premium product would exist on its own network.

Think about it: Apple service, Apple Stores and simple Apple pricing. That would revolutionize the business. And such an investment would force the other carriers to step up their game, which would only help Apple. Most compelling is the possibility of Apple owning the last mile into everyone’s home (wirelessly) and be able to offer televised content. (I had considered Netflix as a suitable acquisition target, but if Apple had its own telephone company, it could negotiate directly with content providers on a level playing field with cable and satellite operators.)

The total cost for this grocery list, takeover premiums and additional investments included, is about $97 billion, give or take a couple billion. (Let’s put aside the thorny issue of how Apple can use its cash, much of which is abroad, without being taxed). That would leave Mr. Cook with $20 billion in the bank for walking-around money.

Article source: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/07/30/suggestions-for-an-apple-shopping-list/?partner=rss&emc=rss