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Capital Watch

Tauzin Prepares Broadband, Copyright Bills

While industry representatives work to find compromises on the issues of digital copyright and broadband deployment, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is working on new drafts of bills on both.

Tauzin will be ready to introduce a new bill on digital copyrights as early as next month, with hearings to follow in March or April, he said after a speech at the NATPE convention in New Orleans last week. "In the end, the last bill I file and that we pass will be very simple. It will codify and enforce industry agreements."

Tauzin also plans a mid-February introduction for a new broadband-deployment bill. Last February, his broadband bill, co-authored with Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), won a vote in the House but found little support in the Senate. Tauzin said telecommunications companies are motivated to find some compromise because they are looking for a jumpstart in tough economic times. Tauzin also will watch what the FCC does while it works on several broadband-related proceedings.

Tauzin didn't predict success for an effort by independent producers to get the FCC to put a 75% cap on the networks' amount of self-owned programming.

FDA Study Supports DTC Ads

According to the FDA's new direct-to-consumer–advertising impact survey, a study of 500 doctors concluded that drug ads "can and do help increase patient awareness about the availability of effective treatments for their health problems."

Arguably as important to advertisers was the survey's finding that 92% of patients had asked about an advertised prescription drug, with 86% identifying the brand and 59% requesting a prescription for that drug. The FDA has generally been supportive of DTC advertising, but the ads have come under fire in Congress as part of a broader reform movement that portrays them as a major contributor to the escalating cost of health care.

Beales Will Be Back

Char Beales, president and CEO of the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, has agreed to a new three-year contract extension (through 2005). Beales joined the association in February 1992 from Comsat Video Enterprises. Before that, she spent a decade guiding marketing and programming strategies for National Cable & Telecommunications Association.