70 Years After Liberation, Survivors Revisit Auschwitz

Tuesday (Jan. 27) marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation by Red Army soldiers of the Nazis’ Auschwitz death camp in Poland.

“We have to say this clearly; the 70th anniversary will be the last big anniversary that we can commemorate with a numerous group of survivors,” Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywinski, the director of the Auschwitz Memorial, noted in a statement.

That sentiment helped motivate Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav and filmmaker Steven Spielberg to lead an effort to send 100 Auschwitz survivors and liberators to the ceremonies.

Zaslav chaired a committee that will also (through Discovery Education and the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation) send 25 educators to the event for professional development experiences, enabling them to bring the lessons of Auschwitz back to their classrooms.

The Jan. 27 ceremonies will be broadcast on the Web, via 70.auschwitz.org, beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET. They will include an assembling of nearly 300 survivors in front of the infamous Death Gate.

Dignitaries from around the world will attend on Tuesday, including members of the Auschwitz: The Past Is Present committee, notably Zaslav and Spielberg; Access Industries chairman Len Blavatnik; NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer; media entrepreneur Haim Saban; Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz; and CNN president Jeff Zucker.

Leading up to the solemn occasion, Discovery Channel and American Heroes Channel were set to air the special One Day in Auschwitz at noon ET on Sunday (Jan. 25), about a woman, Kitty Hart-Moxon (pictured), who survived the camp and returned 70 years later. AHC also was set to air Spielberg’s Schindler’s List without commercial interruptions that night.

Built by the Germans in 1940 as an incarceration camp for Poles, starting in 1942 Auschwitz became the largest site of the extermination of European Jews, according to The Auschwitz-Berkenau Foundation. At least 1.1 million people perished there, mostly Jews but also Poles, Sinti and Roma, and Soviet prisoners of war.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum was created at the site of the former Auschwitz I and Auschwitz II-Birkenau camps in 1947. In 2014, more than 1.5 million people worldwide visited the museum.

The camp’s physical condition has deteriorated over time, and the foundation wants to help preserve the site in perpetuity. In 2009 an Endowment Fund for Preservation of Auschwitz-Birkenau was established. The Auschwitz-Birkenau Foundation has raised more than 108 million euros (about $123 million) toward a goal of raising about 120 million euros as a perpetual fund.

CTIA’s Reporter on Street Tells Actors FCC Would Mess With Wireless Perks They Love

CTIA–The Wireless Association took to the Web last week to lobby against the government applying Title II regulations to mobile broadband. The video was initially billed as polling consumers, but it was pretty clear they were actors reciting talking points — and rather obviously so.

CTIA initially billed the video, posted on its blog, this way: “CTIA asked consumers for their thoughts on what happens if Title II is imposed on their mobile experience.”

For example, the interviewer sits next to a guy who’s sitting on a bench with headphones on. The following conversation ensues.

Interviewer: “What are you listening to?

Bench-sitter: “Pandora, it’s free.” [Did anyone ask whether it was free? That’s like someone asking you what you are eating and you answer: “A sandwich, it cost $4.99.”]

Interviewer: “It’s free? How’s that work?”

Bench-sitter: “Well, the data usage doesn’t count against me. The carrier pays for it.” [Actually, that is something a resident of policy-wonk-filled D.C. might say, but we digress.]

Interviewer: “Really? You know that kind of offering, the government is actually trying to ban it. It’s called sponsored data, so if the FCC gets its way, that kind of perk’s going to go away.”

Bench-sitter: “Yeah, that makes no sense.”

The CTIA has been arguing that mobile’s network-management issues are different — they are — and should not be lumped in with wired companies, given how much more competition wireless carriers face than wired ones.

The cellphone trade group did not exactly throw cable under the bus in seeking a carve-out from Title II, but it was sort of nudging it toward the wheels in its own, understandable self-interest.

When asked, a CTIA spokesperson said the initial video description on the blog had been the wrong one: those weren’t “consumers.” The description soon was changed to “CTIA asked what happens if Title II is imposed on mobile.”

— John Eggerton

Manny Pacquiao PPV Flick Not Enough for Fans Who Want Mayweather Fight

Distributors last week premiered a pay-per-view movie profiling multidivision boxing champion Manny Pacquiao’s life both inside and outside the ring.

But as fascinating as Manny: Untold Story of Boxer Manny Pacquiao might be, boxing fans are only clamoring to see the Filipino fighter on PPV if he’s in the ring trading punches with world champion Floyd Mayweather.

Talks for the mega-fight continue as both the Pacquiao and Mayweather camps said they want the fight. But the clock keeps ticking.

Ideally, to make a May 2 fight date, a deal would have to be in place around Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1), industry observers tell The Wire.

Earlier this month, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum said his fighter had agreed to the terms for the bout, but last week Pacquiao said he would move on to another opponent if the proposed May 2 fight was not signed by Jan. 31.

Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza said Mayweather, boxing’s pound-for-pound champion, is “laser focused” on getting a deal done for a Pacquiao fight — which would most likely be co-promoted by Showtime and HBO — but had yet to sign a deal.

At stake is a potentially record-breaking PPV revenue take that most industry observers say would shatter the current $150-million mark set by the 2013 Mayweather- Canelo Alvarez fight.

— R. Thomas Umstead

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.