PREPARING FOR OMNICORP

30 DECEMBER 2002: PREPARING
FOR OMNICORP


FROM TODAY’S NEW
YORK TIMES
:

The Balance of Media Power
Is Poised to Change


By THE NEW YORK TIMES

Regulation: F.C.C.’s Chief
Seeks to Remove Restraints


If all goes according to
plan, 2003 will be the most important year in the tenure of Michael K.
Powell as head of the Federal Communications Commission.


    Mr. Powell
is preparing to unleash a set of proposals in the next few months that
will unshackle the nation’s largest broadcasters and telecommunications
conglomerates from restraints that have prevented them from growing. He
is armed with a broad deregulatory agenda and a series of court opinions
that have questioned or struck down some of the agency’s most pivotal and
longest-lasting rules.


    “This
will be the most important year for these industries and the commission
since the passage of the Telecom Act seven years ago,” said Scott C. Cleland,
the chief executive of the Precursor Group and a regulatory analyst.


    While
many of the issues before the commission defy traditional partisanship,
it does not hurt that with a Republican Congress, many of Mr. Powell’s
strongest allies now control the relevant House and Senate committees and
are likely to provide few political obstacles.

    In the
Senate, for instance, Mr. Powell will now be reporting to a commerce committee
that will be headed by Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who
recruited him for the job of F.C.C. commissioner in 1997. Mr. McCain replaces
Senator Ernest F. Hollings, Democrat of South Carolina, who was Mr. Powell’s
toughest critic and opposed many of his proposals.


    At
the top of Mr. Powell’s list is his plan to relax or eliminate a variety
of restraints on the size of the nation’s broadcasters and cable owners.


    The
ownership rules that the commission will reconsider restrict a newspaper
from owning a TV station in the same city. They prevent a media conglomerate
from owning two television networks. They prohibit a network from owning
stations that broadcast to more than 35 percent of the nation’s homes.
They restrict a broadcaster from owning two television stations in the
same market unless there are at least eight other competitors. They restrict
a company from owning more than eight radio stations in the same market.
And they prohibit a cable company from owning more than 30 percent of the
national market.


    The nation’s
largest local telephone companies are also expecting to win substantial
regulatory relief this year, from requirements that they provide the individual
elements of their networks to competitive startups at à la carte
prices that the phone companies say are too low.


    “This
will be a very pro-investment deregulatory decision,” said Mr. Cleland.

    “It will
encourage the incumbents to invest more because they won’t have to resell
at lower prices. It will be great news for the incumbents and for the Lucents,
Nortel and other equipment players. It will be very bad news for the competitors
who depend on regulatory subsidies.”


STEPHEN LABATON

Satellite Television:
DirecTV Is at Center of a Power Shift


After
more than two years of shifting alliances, ferocious bidding wars, and
behind-the-scenes regulatory wrangling, the media moguls Rupert Murdoch
and John C. Malone are within striking distance of acquiring control of
the satellite television service DirecTV, a strategic beachhead that could
alter the balance of power in the industry.


    With
11 million subscribers, DirecTV, part of the Hughes Electronic subsidiary
of General Motors, is the largest satellite broadcaster in the country
and the third-largest pay television service. Federal regulators recently
blocked a deal for G.M. to sell Hughes to its satellite rival EchoStar
Communications as anticompetitive, leaving Mr. Murdoch, the chairman of
the News Corporation, and Mr. Malone, the chairman of the investment company
Liberty Media, as the two remaining contenders for the business, and they
are currently bidding as partners.


    They
want DirecTV in part to help their channels. The News Corporation owns
Fox News and Fox Sports, and Liberty Media owns Starz Encore and has stakes
in Discovery, Court TV and others. A satellite system would guarantee distribution,
increasing the channels’ leverage in talks with the six major cable operators,
which together account for 80 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers.


    Both
Mr. Murdoch and Mr. Malone are old hands at using control of major pay
television systems to benefit favored channels. Mr. Murdoch operates a
satellite network that stretches from Europe to Latin America.

    Mr. Malone
built Liberty Media while he was the chief executive of Tele-Communications
Inc., which before it was sold was the largest cable company in the country;
he made investments in new pay television channels and then carried them
on his company’s systems. Owning a major satellite service would make it
easier for both companies to once again start channels, said Derek Baine,
an analyst at Kagan World Media.


    But it
may mean stiff new competition for cable companies. Analysts say that the
News Corporation can use its size to lower expenses for satellite equipment,
possibly enabling the company to set lower prices, while using its channels
to promote DirecTV. Mr. Baine said both companies are likely to make DirecTV
into a much more vigorous competitor for cable customers.


    And the
means of their competition could send ripples through the rest of the television
business: DirecTV is already wooing customers with digital video recorder
set-top boxes that make it easy for subscribers to record programs, view
them when they want, and fast-forward past the commercials. Analysts say
that they expect the new suitors to escalate the effort, an ominous possibility
for broadcasters who sell advertising.


DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

Magazines: U.S. Publishers
Take Cues From the British


The success of Maxim, the
bawdy British-owned men’s magazine whose start-up in the United States
has taken young male readers by storm, has publishers on this side of the
Atlantic wondering whether the American way is the only way.


    The British
publishing industry is a frantic place that is driven by the whims of the
newsstand ˜ 80 percent of magazines come from single-copy sales. American
publishers have noticed that British editors know their way around a newsstand
and have been hiring them in droves. With costs escalating and advertising
slumping, American publishers are looking to reduce the expense side of
producing a magazine and maximize its impact, a formula the British seem
to have down pat.

    British
magazines may not be the qualitative equivalent of American publications,
but they seem to have no trouble meeting the needs of the magazine-buying
public. Many British magazines make do with staffs that are half the size
of their American counterparts and much less well compensated. And the
lack of layers means that there is no endless editing and reiterating of
copy until ˜ as some writers might claim ˜ most of the life dribbles out
of an idea.


    “The
age of celebrity editors and monstrous staffing are over,” said Felix Dennis,
owner of Dennis Publishing. “This is not a business of sufficient margin
to permit that kind of excess.”


    There
are some components of the British publishing environment that no one in
America is in a hurry to emulate. The dogfight at the newsstand has compelled
publishers to start using “cover-mounts,” a practice in which a consumer
product is “poly-bagged” with the magazine. That means British consumers
can get a garden trowel or a pair of thong underwear along with their magazine.


    Underwear
aside, even the quintessentially American publisher, Time Inc., is looking
to IPC Media, the British publisher the company bought last year, for new
tactics.


    “Postage
is going to continue to increase and paper will rise, so costs are going
to have to be looked at,” said Norman Pearlstine, the editor in chief of
Time Inc., a unit of AOL Time Warner. “There are differences in the market,
but I think there are some approaches in Britain that are worth thinking
about.”


DAVID CARR

na

29 DECEMBER 2002

In 1998, movie director Alexandre
JODOROWSKY and master cardmaker Philippe CAMOIN accomplished the task of
restoring the TAROT of MARSEILLES. Their research led to discoveries: secrets
“hidden” for centuries.


Legendary film director,
master of Tarot, scriptwriter for comic strips and novelist Alexandre Jodorowsky
has studied Tarot for over 40 years. He says: “The Tarot of Marseilles
is the only reference Tarot I have studied for over 20 years.” Alexandre
Jodorowsky decided to restore the Original Tarot with Philippe Camoin because
“knowing secret facts regarding its history, manufacturing, tradition,
symbolism and having the original plates, meant we were the only ones who
could properly restore the Original Tarot of Marseilles.”


Philippe Camoin has studied
symbolism since the age of 14. “I grew up with the Tarot. As a child, the
prints on my bedroom walls were the 78 arcana of Nicolas Conver‚s Tarot
of Marseilles, who founded what later became the Camoin House.”

THE CITY OF THE SUN

27 DECEMBER 2002: THE
CITY OF THE SUN

Cahokia Mounds: The CITY
OF THE SUN

The remnants of the Mississippian’s
central city – now known as Cahokia for the Indians who lived nearby in
the late 1600s – are preserved within the 2200-acre tract that is the Cahokia
Mounds State Historic Site, located just eight miles east of downtown St.
Louis, Missouri, near Collinsville, Illinois.