10 thoughts on “Berlusconi-Murdoch friendship finished

  1. 6 Jun 2009 22:37:28 -0000 [00:37 CEST]

    Millions Will Soon Face Blank Screens in TV Switch

    Posted by: “bigraccoon” bigraccoon@earthlink.net
    Sat Jun 6, 2009 3:14 pm (PDT)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/06/technology/06digital.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

    Millions Face Blank Screens in TV Switch

    June 5, 2009

    WASHINGTON ‹ Millions of households will lose television reception next week when about 1,000 broadcasters around the nation shut off their analog signals and complete their conversion to digital programming, federal officials say. The government has spent more than $2 billion to ease the transition to digital television, and in the last few months has cut in half the number of households that are unprepared for the final conversion on June 12. But the latest survey by the Nielsen Company indicates that as of the end of May, more than 10 percent of the 114 million households that have television sets are either completely or partly unprepared.

    Michael J. Copps, the acting head of the Federal Communications Commission, said that the people most likely to lose reception are society¹s most vulnerable ‹ lower-income families, the elderly, the handicapped and homes where little or no English is spoken. The transition will also hit inner-city and rural areas hardest, he said.

    ³We are much better prepared than we were in February, when the original transition was to have occurred, but there will nonetheless be significant disruptions,² Mr. Copps said in an interview. ³In the past five months we¹ve tried to accomplish what should have been done over the last four years.²

    More than three million homes that do not subscribe to cable or satellite services are totally unprepared for the transition and will lose their reception, according to Nielsen. Another nine million homes that subscribe to cable or satellite services but that have spare television sets ‹ typically in bedrooms and kitchens ‹ that are not connected to any service are also expected to lose reception. The conversion does not affect cable or satellite distribution.

    And officials say that millions more who thought they were prepared are likely to experience technical problems like poor reception or improperly connected antennas. Their problems arise because the way the digital signal travels is different from analog and can be more affected by topography, weather or even heavy auto traffic.

    A list of 49 particularly vulnerable markets includes New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Miami, Boston and Dallas-Fort Worth. Officials said Puerto Rico is also among the most susceptible to problems, as it has the highest rate of households that receive their television signals over the air.

    In the New York broadcasting market, 92,000 homes are completely unready for the transition and another 348,000 are partly unready, according to Nielsen. That represents almost 6 percent of households in the region.

    Early this year, the administration persuaded Congress to postpone completion of the transition to June, from February, and to provide another $650 million, mostly for coupons for converter boxes, on top of the $1.5 billion that had already been spent by the Bush administration.

    The Obama administration has enlisted dozens of groups, including AmeriCorps, the national volunteer organization, civil rights groups and even firefighters to help people install the converter boxes and antennas. The program is the most ambitious technology transition effort since the Clinton administration¹s enormous Y2K program, which was set up to avert major software problems caused by the inability of computers to process data beginning on Jan. 1, 2000.

    Concerned about a possible political reaction, President Obama issued a statement on Thursday urging consumers to take steps so they do not lose television reception. ³We have worked hand in hand with state and local officials, broadcasters and community groups to educate and assist millions of Americans with the transition,² Mr. Obama said.

    ³I want to be clear: there will not be another delay,² the statement added.

    Other officials said that the high number of households reflected the inclination of Americans to put things off.

    ³There are so many people who are always waiting until the last minute, whether it is college students doing term papers, or people filing taxes, or people like me who wait until Christmas Eve to do their shopping,² said the commerce secretary, Gary F. Locke, in an interview on Friday.

    While applauding the government efforts, he said he was frustrated that the early public service announcements did not provide specific enough information about the problem.

    ³Earlier on we could have more crisply and clearly indicated who was affected by the switch,² he said. ³I¹ve been critical of the public service announcements that just say, ŒThe switch is coming¹ or ŒAre you ready?¹ ²

    He added: ³Too many people don¹t know the difference between digital and analog. I didn¹t even know myself until a few months ago when my
    brother-in-law explained it to me.²

    Analog technology transmits a video signal through an electronic impulse. Digital technology breaks the signal into 1¹s and 0¹s, allowing far more data to be transmitted through a far smaller amount of broadcast spectrum.

    The transition has already been a huge windfall to television and equipment makers and retailers, as millions of consumers have had to buy digital television sets or converter boxes and special antennas for their old sets.

    Shawn G. DuBravac, chief economist at the Consumer Electronics Association, said that sales of digital television sets were up 32 percent this year over the comparable period in 2008, even in the midst of a deep recession. Other officials at the association said the spike in sales was attributable to many factors, including declining prices and availability of more programs in digital, as well as the mandatory transition.

    But consumer experts said that many households were buying more expensive television sets and equipment than they needed to continue to receive television signals. Polls by Consumer Reports found that many people were aware of the transition but were confused about how to navigate it, said Joel Kelsey, a policy analyst at Consumers Union.

    Bracing for a wave of complaints, the Federal Communications Commission is preparing to fully staff a $40 million call center on Friday and through the weekend. The government will also continue to supply $40 coupons to households toward the purchase of converter boxes.

    Officials advised consumers to rescan the channels of their television sets after the conversion was completed on Friday to make sure they were pulling in all the correct signals.

    The conversion is the final step in a long-running plan for more efficient use of the broadcast spectrum. The plan took spectrum licenses from broadcasters, replacing them with other frequencies. It will reallocate some of the broadcasters¹ former spectrum to public safety providers. Other frequencies were sold for billions of dollars, primarily to the large wireless telephone companies, whose demand for spectrum has risen with the proliferation of hand-held devices that can surf the Internet and send and receive e-mail.

    Consumers seeking assistance on how to upgrade their television sets or on the availability of digital stations in their communities can go to http://www.dtv.gov or call the government hot line on the transition at 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322).

  2. 2009-06-19 17:41

    Premier slams journalists as spies

    Berlusconi’s phone call to lawyer recorded by [Murdoch owned] Sky news
    (ANSA) – Rome, June 19 – Premier Silvio Berlusconi, who is fending off reports he allegedly hosted paid escorts at his home, told journalists who recorded a private phone call with his lawyer on Friday they were ”spies” who should be ”ashamed of themselves”.

    ”I can’t face an Italy like this,” the premier said in Brussels, on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union leaders.

    The phone call with lawyer Niccolo’ Ghedini, who is also an MP with the premier’s People of Freedom (PdL) party, was picked up by a Sky news video camera microphone prior to the start of the EU meeting and a transcript was released to news agencies.

    During the call, Berlusconi tries to reassure Ghedini that phrases attributed to him and carried in headlines by the Italian press on Friday were wholly made up.

    ”I never said that phrase, that really makes me blow my top ..that is, ‘that I’ll hit back blow by blow’…it’s really incredible…there are things (in the papers) which I never said: I never said anything about ‘an obscure plot’, I never said I was ‘afraid of being spied on’ and I never said ‘my lawyer is crazy’…they’re scoundrels,” the premier told Ghedini.

    ”Come on, Niccolo’, how can you believe I’d say that?,” said Berlusconi, in reference to other alleged remarks about the lawyer carried by the press.

    ”At this point, I’m the one who is taking offence. I’m going to phone (government spokesman Paolo) Bonaiuti so we can release a statement,” the premier is heard telling Ghedini.

    Ghedini later told reporters in Milan that he was ”kidding Berlusconi” during the phone call while telling him that Italy’s privacy watchdog had accepted their injuction request for 5,000 paparazzo photos shot with a long lens of events at the premier’s private villa in Sardinia.

    ”I don’t need to be reassured by Berlusconi: when I referred to the remark about my madness, it was said in jest, affectionately. I’d never think the premier would refer to me in that manner,” said Ghedini. Speaking at a news conference after the summit, the premier lashed out at reporters from the left-leaning press, accusing them of printing ”rubbish and trash”.

    ”I will not reply to questions about presumed scandals, maybe I’ll do so in Milan or Rome,” said the premier.

    ”There’s nothing to clear up. It’s all clear: it’s all trash,” said Berlusconi, stressing that he had fended off personal attacks in the past and would do again.

    The premier also dismissed rumours of rifts within his PdL party and the possibility he would be forced to quit and would be replaced by Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti or Bank of Italy Governor Mario Draghi.

    ”These stories I read about plots in the PdL are just make-believe politics. I get along well with Tremonti, he’s absolutely a friend whom I respect and have faith in… and I also appreciate Mario Draghi’s abilities and fairness,” said the premier.

    Speaking in Rome, Bonaiuti said some of the press headlines were ”completely made up but to make it seem like they were quotes they were placed in inverted commas and attributed to the premier by anonymous sources”.

    Government Programs Minister Gianfranco Rotondi also waved off suggestions of a rift in the centre right coalition, saying ”this is just a little black cloud that will go away”.

    He also accused some dailies of ”cooking up a scandal with set-up interviews and accusations in line with the best policies of the gutter they come from”.

    House Speaker Gianfranco Fini, a PdL heavyweight joined the chorus of those who brushed off talk of a government crisis. But he voiced concern of ”a risk that citizens could lose faith in politics and the institutions”.

    CATHOLIC DAILY TAKES PREMIER TO TASK.

    The premier, however, was taken to task by the influential Catholic daily Avvenire which urged him to provide explanations ”as soon as possible” on a number of private issues.

    It warned him that he could not always ”bank on” the government’s efficiency to avoid clearing up a series of allegations about his private life.

    Berlusconi has been at the centre of a media storm since a public divorce spat with Lario and allegations of links with a teenage girl – Noemi Letizia – which surfaced after his wife accused him of ”consorting with minors”.

    But the premier, 72, has categorically denied any ”steamy or more than steamy” involvement with teenagers, explaining there was nothing ”spicy” about his attendance at the birthday party of 18-year-old Letizia because he had a long friendship with her family.

    The Milan daily Corriere della Sera added fuel to the fire this week when it reported that prosecutors investigating a kick-back scandal in the southern city of Bari had wiretappings of a suspect, who has met Berlusconi, talking about parties at the premier’s Rome home to which he had taken paid escorts.

    One of these escorts allegedly stayed the night.

    The leader of the opposition Italy of Values Party and former graft-busting magistrate Antonio Di Pietro urged Berlusconi to tell parliament what was happening.

    Comparing Berlusconi to the ancient emperor Nero is said to have played the fiddle while Rome burned, Di Pietro urged opposition MPs to sign a no confidence vote his party has been hoping to present to parliament since the storm over the premier’s personal life broke two months ago.

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