Gary Arlen

Gary Arlen
FCC Ponders Hollywood’s SOC Plan

Selectable Output Control (SOC) for home video devices is back in the spotlight, thanks to a new Hollywood effort to overturn a ban against SOC in order to accelerate video-on-demand release of new movies.  Reports last week indicated that the Federal Communications Commission’s Media Bureau is on the verge of granting a request from the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to waive the 2003 SOC restriction.

Financial Protection Act Could Affect Advertisers

Although the proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act (H.R. 3126) is being viewed as largely a bank reform act, some of its provisions trickle into the work-a-day world of marketing in all industries.  The proposed CFPA legislation, which handily cleared the House Financial Services Committee by a 39-29 vote, seems to be on a smooth track for adoption by the House; the bill’s fate in the Senate is less clear.

Quarterly Reports and This Week's Other Financial Figures Tee Up Holiday Motif

As the parade of quarterly financial reports continues to emerge, the electronics industry is feeling the whiplash of contradictory results that offer "hope" but no guarantees going into the critical holiday selling season.  In the coming days, we'll hear from Motorola on Thursday, Oct. 29 and Sony on Friday, October 30.  While Wall Street is already declaring victory because overall third-quarter tech sector results so far have "exceeded expectations," others are taking a more measured attitude, based on the inconsistency of figures emerging from the retailing and electronics industries.

The Unintended CE Consequences of the Media Shuffle

No matter how the NBC Universal dance with Comcast comes out or whether the Disney "KeyChest" multi-platform digital plan evolves, they - or similar deals - will affect the ways in which Americans watch video programming.  These kinds of ventures will eventually redraw the media landscape, defining the scope and capabilities of devices on which those programs will be consumed.

Mobile DTV Consumer Trials Set For January

Prototype mobile Digital TV receivers will be on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in January, at about the same time that a consumer field trial is scheduled to begin in the Washington-Baltimore area. 

Shapiro Receives Media Institute's American Horizon Award

Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association, has received the annual American Horizon Award from the Media Institute, a Washington research foundation specializing in communications policy and the First Amendment.  Shapiro is the first recipient who does not come directly from the media industry.

Genachowski Gives "Top Priority" to New Wireless Spectrum

Citing an expected 30-fold increase in wireless communications usage, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is promising to seek more efficient spectrum regulation, including the reallocation of airwaves and encouragement of new technology such as smart antennas.  Speaking at the CTIA Wireless Association's "I.T. and Entertainment" conference in San Diego last week, Genechowski focused on ideas that will speed up deployment of fourth generation (4G) wireless services, including tactics to assure broadband roaming services and high-capacity services in urban and rural areas.

Cisco Accelerates CE Agenda with FlipVideo Remote Control

Cisco Systems, the telecom networking giant that has aggressively pronounced its intentions to expand in the consumer electronics sector, made two significant moves in the past week moving it toward that goal.


Cisco Accelerates CE Agenda with FlipVideo Remote Control, Tandberg Acquisition

Cisco Systems, the telecom networking giant that has aggressively pronounced its intentions to expand in the consumer electronics sector, made two significant moves in the past week moving it toward that goal. Together, these latest initiatives demonstrate Cisco's revived assault on the video and media businesses, using a similar pattern of acquisition and innovation that drove Cisco during last decade's telecom boom. Cisco's recently acquired subsidiary Pure Digital Technologies, which makes the popular FlipVideo HD camera, submitted technical plans to the Federal Communications Commission for an innovative remote control.  A few days later, Cisco bid $3 billion in cash the acquire Tandberg, the Oslo-based supplier of video equipment.  The offered price was 11% higher than Tandberg's previous day's share price, and the friendly takeover is expected to be completed in about six months. With its strong relationships in the global broadcasting business plus emerging technology for online broadband ventures, Tandberg will play a significant role in Cisco's networked video projects.


Home Network Standard Key to NIST's SmartGrid Plan

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has approved the wired networking standard that will hook up to the proposed national "SmartGrid" energy management plan., a standard developed by the International Telecommunications Union for high-speed communications over electrical power lines, phone lines and coaxial cable, controls devices, not the electricity itself.  There are no specific proposals yet for implementation of devices, although the NIST seal of approval is expected to push manufacturers' production timetables.

Victoria Espinel to Become First Copyright Czar

Victoria A. Espinel, who was named last week as the nation's first "Copyright Czar" (or is that" Czarina"?), will oversee the enforcement of Intellectual Property laws in the U.S. and overseas.  The post, which was created by Congress last year under the Pro IP Act (Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act of 2008), must be approved by the Senate.


Accounting Rule Change May Help Tech Companies

The Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) has approved a rule change that could help technology companies by letting them record revenues earlier from products that combine hardware and software, as Apple's iPhone and Palm's Pre smartphones.  The rule goes into effect in 2011, but companies can adopt it earlier - which they are likely to do, since they had pushed for the rule change, contending that reporting revenue from sales over time does not accurately portray how such products are used.   Under existing FASB rules, revenues were booked over several quarters - as much as two years. 

Electronics, Entertainment Fare Well in Nielsen Social Network Tally

  Social networks are hot, and Nielsen's measurement of how Americans use them offers dramatic new data about growth and the displacement factor.  Last month, Americans spent 17% of their online time using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, nearly triple the percentage spent a year ago, according to Nielsen data unveiled last week. The use of social networks and blogs "suggests a wholesale change in the way the Internet is used," said John Gibs, a Nielsen vice president.