June 1, 2007
Organ Donor Reality Show a Hoax
That Dutch organ donor reality show "The Big Donor Show" turns out to have been a hoax, intended to highlight the need for organ donation. Reuters reports that at the last minute "Lisa", the woman who was billed as the terminally ill person set to choose the recipient of her kidney, was revealed as an actress playing the part of a sick woman. The recipients, however, are kidney patients, according to the Reuters story. Read more here. Here's more about the show in a CBC article, which also notes that it was broadcast on the fifth anniversary of the death of the network's founder, who died waiting for an organ transplant.
New FCC Actions: Emergency Alert System
FCC TAKES ACTION TO FURTHER STRENGTHEN NATION’S
EMERGENCY ALERT SYSTEM
Order to Ensure Efficient, Rapid Transmission of Emergency Information to the Public
Washington, D.C. – The Federal Communications Commission (“Commission”) today adopted a Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Order” or “Further Notice”) that strengthens the nation’s Emergency Alert System (EAS). The Commission’s Order promotes the development of fully digital Next Generation technologies and delivery systems that will better serve the American public.
The Order requires EAS participants to accept messages using Common Alerting Protocol (CAP), the groundwork for Next Generation EAS delivery systems, no later than 180 days after FEMA announces its adoption of standards in each case. The use of CAP will help to ensure the efficient and rapid transmission of EAS alerts to the American public in a variety of formats (including text, audio and video) and via different means (broadcast, cable, satellite, and other networks) and to promote the development of Next Generation EAS.
One result of these developments will be enhanced access to EAS alerts and warnings for persons with disabilities and for non-English speakers. The Further Notice seeks comment on how best to deliver EAS alerts as well as broader emergency and public safety information to these groups, and commits to adoption of a final order within six months. In light of the examination of these issues in the Further Notice, the Order leaves open the issues raised in a petition filed by several groups representing non-English speaking persons. The Commission directs the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau to convene a meeting – or series of meetings – as soon as possible on providing emergency information to non-English speakers. The stakeholders should submit into the record a progress report on these discussions within 30 days of the Order’s release.
The Order also requires terrestrial EAS participants to transmit state and locally targeted EAS alerts that are originated by governors or their designees. The Further Notice seeks comment on whether Participants should be required to deliver EAS alerts originated by local, county, tribal, or other state governmental entities.
Link to Chair Kevin Martin's Statement.
Link to Commissioner Copp's Statement.
Link to Commissioner Adelstein's Statement.
Link to Commissioner Tate's Statement.
Link to Commissioner McDowell's Statement.
May 31, 2007
U. S. District Court Dismisses Defamation Action Against Newspaper
In Filippo v. Lee Publications, the U. S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana held that in order for the plaintiff to overcome the actual malice standard applying in matters of public interest here (drunk driving) she would need to demonstrate evidence that the defendants entertained serious doubts as to the truth of the publication. The plaintiff was active in anti-drunk driving causes in the area; she had alleged defamation and invasion of privacy arising from articles and a cartoon published after news of her arrest on drunk driving charges.
"After New York Times and Curtis, it was clear that the First Amendment of the United States Constitution would not protect a publisher by imposing the actual malice requirement on a private citizen bringing a defamation suit. However, the Court left the door open for states to afford publishers extra protection beyond that provided by the First Amendment....In Journal-Gazette Co., Inc. v. Bandido's, Inc., the Indiana Supreme Court did exactly that by holding that if a defendant's speech relates to a matter of public concern or interest, then the speech is qualifiedly privileged and the plaintiff must establish that the defendant speaker acted with “actual malice,” even if the plaintiff is a private individual....The court stated: “‘If a matter is subject [sic] of public or general interest, it cannot suddenly become less so merely because a private individual is involved, or because in some sense the individual did not “voluntarily” choose to become involved.’”
The case is Filippo v. Lee Publications, 35 Med. L. Rptr 1646 (U. S. D. C., N. D. Ind., 2007).
Arguments Against Regulating Video Game Content
Adam Thierer of the Progress & Freedom Foundation contends that legislation regulating video game content relies on myth and misconception. He explores this idea in a new paper, ""Fact and Fiction in the Debate Over Video Game Regulation," Progress & Freedom Foundation Progress on Point Paper Number 13.7. Here is the abstract.
Recent federal, state and local proposals to regulate electronic game content are driven by myths that should not serve as the basis for government intervention. Six myths commonly used in support of government regulation of game content are addressed as follows:
Contrary to current misconceptions about voluntary ratings enforcement, the industry's self-imposed ratings system is the most sophisticated, descriptive, and effective ratings system ever devised by any major media sector in America.
Additionally the vast majority of video games sold each year do not contain intense violence or sexual themes, despite what can be perceived otherwise.
The expectation that proposals to restrict the sale of violent video games will be deemed constitutional in the courts is misguided as well, given that state and local laws attempting to regulate video games were struck down as unconstitutional in the past, citing First Amendment concerns, vague legislative language, and lack of scientific evidence of a link between aggressive behavior and video games.
And despite the myth that federal regulation will build on the industry's ratings system, in reality congressional intervention could cause game developers to abandon the industry's voluntary ratings system because of fear of legal liability.
Also opposite what industry critics may have us believe, there is no direct correlation between exposure to violent video games and decline in social and cultural indicators. Moreover, almost every social/cultural indicator of importance, such as juvenile violent crime, has been improving in recent years and decades even as media exposure and video game use among youth has increased.
Finally in contrast to the notion that video games have no social or educational value, video games might have some beneficial effects, especially that of a cathartic nature, that critics often overlook.
Download the entire paper from SSRN here.
May 29, 2007
Diana Documentary Sparks Criticism
Channel 4's planned airing of a new documentary called Princess Diana: The Witnesses in the Tunnel has caused an enormous amount of criticism and calls for the program to be blocked. The program is described as including photos of the car crash and its aftermath. Very little material of this type has previously been available. Channel 4 defends its plans to show such material as in the public interest. Close friends of the princess's sons and family say it would be an invasion of privacy and highly insensitive. Read more here in an ABC News Online story and here in a Reuters story.
"Write & Wrong" Brings Graylisting to the Small Screen
Kirstie Alley stars in a Lifetime original movie about graylisting on June 3 at 8 EDT, 7 Central time. Here's a link to the synopsis, describing the film.
Terminally Ill Woman to Choose Recipient of Kidney on New Reality Show
A terminally ill woman will choose the recipient, one among three contestants, of one of her kidneys on Dutch TV, much to the dismay of many, including some members of the Dutch parliament. Creators of the program, called "The Big Donor Show," said it will highlight problems with the lack of organ donors. Read more here.
May 28, 2007
Opposition Venezuelan Station Goes Off the Air
Radio Caracas Television, a privately owned Venezuelan television station known for its opposition to President Hugo Chavez went off the air late Saturday evening and was replaced by government-owned TVES. Supporters of RCTV protested until the end. Read more here in a Houston Chronicle article.
May 27, 2007
Australian "Big Brother" Criticized For Withholding News of Contestant's Father's Death
The Australian producers of the "Big Brother" spinoff are taking heat for not informing one of the contestants, Emma Cornell, that her father has died from cancer. Read a BBC story about the criticism here. As part of the reality series, she is living in a house with other contestants and isolated from outside information. But her family says that all members discussed the possibility that Raymond Cornell might die during the course of the series. Here is a link to her brother's letter explaining their position.