Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


August 1, 2012

Services for Joe Gans, Sr. include a viewing from 4:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, August 3 at Frank Bonin Funeral Home, 542 N. Wyoming Street in Hazleton, Luzerne County (map). The funeral service will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 4 at St. John Bosco Church, 573 State Route 93, Conygham, Luzerne County.

In 2001, Joe and Irene Gans sat down with PCN for an interview about their experiences building some of the countries earliest cable systems. That interview will re-air on PCN tonight - Wednesday, August 1 - at 6:00 pm.

The man who designed and built the first cable television system in Hazleton some 60 years ago passed away early Tuesday morning at The Laurels senior living community in Hazle Township.

Joseph S. Gans, 85, of Sugarloaf, designed and built Hazleton's cable television system in 1950 while working as an engineer for the local Mountain City Cable TV company. On evenings and weekends, Gans continued building cable systems of his own in Weatherly and, later, Berwick, Nuremberg, Benton, Shickshinny, Dunmore and Clairon. Eventually, Gans owned and operated cable television system franchises in more than 50 communities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Delaware and Arizona.

But for all the fame and wealth, Gans' business success earned him and his wife, Irene, the Gans never overlooked the needs of the people in his Hazleton hometown. "It's hard to think of an organization around he that he didn't support," said L.A. Tarone, local television personality on the Gans-owned WYLN TV of Hazleton. For his contributions to the American Cancer Society, the Gans' received the organization's highest award, the Lifetime Excalibur.

For 24 consecutive years, Gans-owned cable companies telecast the American Cancer Society fund-raising telethon. He also developed and telecast the regional Red Cross and Easter Seals telethons, raising more than $2 million for the organizations. He also dedicated Channel 29 to the Scranton Diocese. He and his wife have also been major benefactors to Penn State University, the former Bishop Hafey High School in Hazleton, St. Stanislaus Church, St. John Bosco Church, Catholic Social Services, and Helping Hands. The latter organization has named a building in honor of Gans and his family. "He made a lot of money and he had a very free hand in giving to organizations in his community," Tarone said. Barry Jais, general manager at WYLN, on Tuesday described Gans as both a pioneer and a visionary. "He was truly a visionary. He was a pioneer in the real meaning of the word pioneer," Jais said. "Even in his later years, I was amazed at how he kept up with technology with the business."

Tarone also marveled at Gans' entrepreneurial spirit."When you look at what Joe Gans did and when he did it, he took an incredible risk at a time when it was not completely certain that TV would be a success, let alone cable TV," Tarone said. "He took a huge risk and he was one of only four or five guys who proved it could work. "That's the thing about entrepreneurial pioneers - most people think they will fail. Most people think they're crazy. Sometimes they are crazy and they do fail. But sometimes they get it right, and Joe Gans did," Tarone said.

A graduate of Hazleton High School, Class of 1944, Gans was drafted during World War II and served with the Army in Europe. He continued his education at the Hazleton Technical School, the University of Pennsylvania, Scranton University and Raytheon. With the exception of his two years in the Army, Gans and his wife have been life-long residents of the Hazleton area.

Hazleton Standard-Speaker

The launch of subscription service Hulu Plus on Apple TV is more than just another incremental video distribution deal. It should be a win-win for both companies, and most importantly - it gives us a glimpse of what Apple has planned for its Apple TV service. CEO Tim Cook is clearly looking to make Apple TV the destination for premium content without a cable subscription, even if that means opening the door to more competition for Apple's iTunes. This announcement is a big deal, in that it's the first time ad-supported TV content is available through the Apple TV box.

Bottom line: The future of Apple TV may be less about a gadget, and more about access to premium content. Apple is making a carefully calibrated tradeoff. It's giving Apple TV owners easy access to Hulu Plus content, which competes with some of Apple iTunes' video-on-demand offerings. But it's willing to make that compromise to amass the kind of premium content to help it sell more Apple TV devices. Plus, it'll earn some incremental revenue from selling access to Hulu Plus through iTunes - we can assume it'll get a cut of the $8-a-month subscription. And it'll get access to more information about all those subscribers.

Hulu should benefit too - the device should drive new subscribers to its service. Plus, even more important, all those extra viewers will provide additional TV ad revenue. Since Hulu is serving up those ads within its app, it's unlikely that the video streaming service will have to share its ad revenue. This isn't the first app with ads - WSJ Live, which was added to Apple TV last October, had ads. But this is certainly the biggest video app to launch with ads. With this deal Apple TV's content is catching up to competitors like Roku and Microsoft's Xbox 360. We'll see what Apple launches next - either in terms of functionality or in terms of content - to distinguish its Apple TV from the other "over-the-top" set top boxes.

Social networks and Internet advertisers are likely to face new restrictions on how they interact with children online. The Federal Trade Commission is expected to announce Wednesday new rules that close loopholes that currently allow companies to gather information despite a 1998 law that was supposed to protect kids' online footprint. The rules could affect popular features such as Facebook Inc.'s "Like" button, as well as new social networks for playing games on smartphones.

Websites aimed at children already have to get parental consent before gathering information-such as name and email address-from users under 13 years old. But the original law, known as the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, hasn't adapted to advances in Web technology and marketing. Those advances have allowed so-called third parties to gather data without parents' knowing. For example, some iPhone games popular with kids, include the option to join social networks that collect personal data from users without asking for a parent's permission.

An investigation by The Wall Street Journal in 2010 found that popular children's websites installed more data-gathering technology on computers than websites aimed at adults. "Now everybody's got a computer in their pocket," said Mary Engle, head of the FTC's advertising practices division, which enforces Coppa. "There are so many more opportunities for kids to provide information online." Under the proposed rules, which could go into effect after a 30-day comment period:

  • Third parties like advertising networks or Facebook that know or have reason to know they are attaching software to children's websites won't be allowed to collect any personal information without first obtaining parental consent. Currently, many websites secure consent by sending an email to an address provided by the child.
  • Those third parties will be responsible for any unlawful data collection. The rules will also make the host website responsible for those infractions.
  • The FTC will tighten proposed rules prohibiting advertising to children based on their previous online behavior.

Online companies and advertisers have already begun pushing back against the rules, which have been under discussion for years. They say that industry standards already prohibit many of these practices, such as targeting ads to kids based on their browsing behavior. Facebook, in a filing with the FTC in December, spent four pages arguing that software such as its "Like" button should be exempt from Coppa. Data gathered by such software isn't used to target ads based on users' behavior, Facebook said. Exempting the software from Coppa, Facebook said, "would create more legal certainty for operators and facilitate the development of innovative, engaging online content for teens."

Congress passed Coppa in 1998 after the FTC found sites such as GeoCities Corp.-a personal website company in the 1990s-were improperly collecting data from kids. But back then, online marketers didn't have the same capacity to collect and exploit customers' personal data. Personal data is now harvested across the Web and on smartphones by any number of advertising networks and information brokers. That flow of data underpins a lucrative online advertising business that supports much of the content available on the Internet. The FTC earlier this year investigated a social network called OpenFeint over possible Coppa violations. The agency said this week it was closing the investigation without taking an enforcement action in part because the existing Coppa rules aren't sufficiently clear over whether software such as OpenFeint is covered. OpenFeint was acquired last year by Japanese gaming giant Gree Inc. for $104 million. Gree declined to comment.

Privacy advocates are concerned the FTC lacks the resources to vigorously enforce the law. Under Coppa, the FTC has brought 19 cases in which companies or individuals were charged with violations of children's privacy laws. Sometimes companies aren't ordered to pay civil penalties at all, and when they are the fines are often not very expensive. In 2008, Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed to pay $1 million as part of a settlement to resolve FTC charges that it improperly collected information on its websites from at least 30,000 children under 13. The largest penalty to date issued for a violation of Coppa came last May when Walt Disney Co. subsidiary Playdom agreed to pay $3 mi ion to settle FTC charges that on 20 websites it illegally collected and disclosed personal information from hundreds of thousands of children without parents' consent. "How industry has treated this law all along is they have not embraced it," said Denise Tayloe, chief executive of Privacy Vaults Online, a McLean, Va., firm that consults companies on how to comply with Coppa. "They've looked for ways to scoot around it."

Lorrie Faith Cranor, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University who studies online privacy, said that enforcing Coppa has always been a challenge. "There are a lot more gray areas where it is difficult to enforce," she said. "Some more guidance would be helpful." Wall Street Journal