'Magazine' in video form probes FCC, other industry issues
Radio and television in America will not only be deregulated, they will be totally ''unregulated,'' if new FCC chairman Mark Fowler has his way. Radio will be first and then will come TV, with a possible 1982 deadline, according to Mr. Fowler.
In an interview in the initial issue of Video Newscasting Network, an innovative magazine in video form aimed at around 150 subscribing television stations, the new chairman also indicated that he plans to provide for the automatic renewal of station licenses as long as the broadcasters ''obey the rules of the FCC.''
This would eliminate the much-debated requirement that licensees periodically prove that they are providing public services in order to continue to hold exclusive access to the public airwaves, something the broadcasting establishment has been demanding be repealed for many years.
Mr. Fowler also indicated he is in favor of a ''straight nonpreferential lottery'' to assign future new channels, thus eliminating any opportunity for ''affirmative action'' which would aid minority groups to acquire more of a stake in broadcasting.
The new electronic-age ''magazine'' also features interviews with top TV policymakers such as Paul Klein, recent NBC vice-president, who reviews some of the secrets of network programming, revealing the very low opinion of mass audiences generally held at top scheduling levels.
Almost as thought-provoking as Mr. Fowler's statements is the appearance on the VNN cassette of Michael Weinblatt, president of Showtime, the second largest pay-TV system in America. He shows excerpts from a new cable ''serial,'' titled ''Romance,'' which seems to combine soft core pornography with the titillating soap-opera genre.
Although not available to the general public, for $330 per year Video Newscasting Network offers people in the TV trade much of the type of material that would enable television consumers to understand the decisionmaking process, and, perhaps, be able to do something about it rather than depend upon single-minded pressure groups.
Recently NBC inaugurated a Rona Barrett ''Television Inside and Out'' Saturday night show which promised some of the same kind of material but so far has delivered little but tasteless and innocuous gossip. The ratings have been dismal, with the show ranking among the least watched of the week.
The president of VNN, Tom Madden, a former Fred Silverman aide at both ABC and NBC, says that it is possible that eventually a consumer-oriented version of the new magazine, using the best of the trade magazine, may be offered to audiences on either PBS or cable.