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Friday, February 17, 2006

So Demanding - The Video-When-You-Want-It World "The phenomenon of appointment TV, where viewers in vast numbers mold their personal schedules to a network's, is pretty rare these days. It's mostly a relic of an era before home VCRs gave the audience a measure of scheduling control. An explosion of newly liberating innovations (streaming video and mobisodes; podcasts, vlogs and TiVo) gives you ever more power over what you see and hear and better access to it, as it spreads everywhere. It's a gold rush, all right, across the digital universe, with bazillions of dollars riding on which gadgetry and content strike the public's fancy." Los Angeles Times 02/17/06

HBO Wants To Ban Viewers From Recording Its Shows "HBO has joined a recent FCC filing in which it argues that its video-on-demand programming-and all 'Subscription Video On Demand' services-should fall into the category of 'Copy Never.' In a broadcast-flagged world, that translate into consumers not being able to record on-demand broadcasts by HBO. No TiVo, no VCR, no video capturing on your PC, no nada." ArsTechnica 02/07/06

Counting Up The Time Shifters Nielsen is now breaking down its rating information by how many viewers watch shows live and how many times shift with digital recorders. Why does it matter? Many of the time shifters zip through the commercials, making them less valuable to advertisers. The New York Times 02/13/06

London Pirates - Now On Air Pirate radio is booming in London. "The more established stations with sizeable followings are able to kit out a studio and buy a transmitter for less than 3,000, while raking in up to 5,000 a week in advertising revenue. In addition to advertising income, up and coming DJs are charged a fee of between 10 and 20 an hour for the privilege of playing and the stations often have links to local nightclubs. At weekends there are now more than 80 pirate radio stations operating in London and more than 150 around the country." The Guardian (UK) 02/17/06

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Denver Library To Offer Online Movies The Denver Public Library plans to become the first major library system in the U.S. to offer free downloadable movies, concerts, and videos to anyone with a library card and an internet connection. Patrons would "check out" the digital films just as they would a book, and the video file would remain playable for a week before erasing itself. Denver Post 02/16/06

Berlin Fest Gets Political The Berlin International Film Festival is all about politics this year, with "dramatized documentaries" playing alongside straight docs and other movies with a message. There is lighter fare as well, but from opening night in Berlin, it was clear that current events would be the main attraction. The New York Times 02/16/06

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Olympics Lose Out To "Idol" NBC's broadcast of the Olympics Tuesday night got trounced by "American Idol." "Since its opening on Friday, the Turin games have been running well below the 2002 Salt Lake City games in viewership interest. Much of that was expected, but Tuesday's ratings was the first alarming sign for NBC that increased TV competition has taken a toll." Yahoo! (AP) 02/15/06

Another DaVinci Dustup A prominent Catholic group portrayed in The DaVinci Code as a power-hungry collection of conspirators is urging that Sony Pictures remove passages of the book that are "insulting to Catholics" from its upcoming film version. Opus Dei, which is based in Rome, stopped short of calling for a boycott of the film, saying instead that "changes to the film would be appreciated by Catholics." BBC 02/15/06

Salary Disclosure Law Irks MPR It isn't often that a public broadcaster will intentionally turn down free money, but that's just what's happening in the Twin Cities, where Minnesota Public Radio is balking at a new state law requiring it to release a list of all employees earning more than $100,000 in order to qualify for $190,000 in funding from the state. The law is the brainchild of a state representative who made news two years ago when he proposed another measure which would have proibited anyone working for an arts organization from making a higher salary than the governor of the state. Minneapolis Star Tribune 02/15/06

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Culture Of Celebrity Swag "Originally conceived at the Academy Awards in 1989 as a way to thank actors for presenting awards at the Oscars, the gift basket has in recent years outgrown its origins to become a marketing juggernaut in its own right, in some cases all but overtaking the events themselves. Even celebrities seem somewhat mystified by the trend." The New York Times 02/15/06

CBC Show Cancelations Could Have Big Consequences Canada's CBC television has announced it is canceling three critically-acclaimed series. "Cancellation of three CBC series without naming replacements is a short-sighted decision that will cost hundreds of jobs and imperil Canadian English-language TV drama, the union representing Canadian actors said yesterday." Toronto Star 02/14/06

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Orphaned Movies Changes of ownership of movie studios can have dire consequences for movie projects in production. "In the wake of two massive show business deals Sony's $4.9-billion pact with MGM and Disney's $7.4-billion purchase of Pixar Animation Studios the production and development on three movies have been terminated, while two finished films have been shelved with no immediate plans for release." Los Angeles Times 02/13/06

Customers Upset At Netflix For Movie Slowdown Some Netflix customers are slamming the company for "throttling" them. The company has been slowing down shipments of movies to customers that its computers identify as heavy renters... Wired (AP) 02/12/06

The Value Of An Oscar (Really) "An Oscar has always been as much about commerce as about art; it ups an actor's asking price and box office appeal. These days the trophy itself can mean cold cash as a collectible, worth up to $50,000 for a "common Oscar," as experts call the technical and tangential awards, and from several hundred thousand dollars to $1.5 million for those bestowed upon famous films and actors. The trade in vintage Oscars through publicized auctions and an underground market has become a parallel universe as competitive and bitter as the annual acting derby itself." The New York Times 02/12/06

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Video, Anywhere, Anyhow "Video has jumped the shark, escaping the bonds of cable, dish, disc or cassette. Every media company from AOL to Zenith is scrambling to sign deals with programmers, allowing consumers to find and purchase nearly any form of moving image to play over any device." Denver Post 02/12/06

Placing Products Takes Off The 30-second TV commercial is old news. Now product placement rules. Over "the last three years, the number of placements, including the new integration, jumped 30% to 108,261 last year. NBC ranked highest with 7,470 instances of a product being shown on its reality show The Contender alone and an additional 3,009 placement shots on The Apprentice." Los Angeles Times 02/12/06

NPR In The Passing Lane While many news organizations have been reducing staff, National Public Radio has been on a hiring campaign. "The NPR news operation has added 50 journalists in the past three years, raising the total from 350 to 400. Ten years ago NPR had six foreign bureaus; it just opened its 16th, in Shanghai, putting it in the running with major national news organizations. The New York Times and CNN both have 26, the Los Angeles Times has 22, the Washington Post has 19." Washingtonian 02/11/06

Does Hollywood Blackball Gay Actors? One of the great mysteries of modern Hollywood is why so many gay actors continue to maintain sham marriages and insist that they are heterosexual in what may be the most devoutly liberal enclave in the U.S. Now, one openly gay actor is publicly accusing the film industry of being unwilling to cast gays in leading roles. Ian McKellen, who is best known for his role in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, says that "It is very, very, very difficult for an American actor who wants a film career to be open about his sexuality. And even more difficult for a woman if she's lesbian." BBC 02/12/06

Radio Pay-For-Play Scandal May Be Biggest Ever Sources at the Federal Communications Commissions are saying that the current investigation into "payola" - the illegal practice of paying radio stations or DJs in exchange for airplay - may be the largest such operation in American history. "Several of the largest radio conglomerates in America - the corporate owners of FM radio stations across the nation - are within the scope of the FCC probe, which was triggered by the two year long pay-for-play investigation by [New York Attorney General Eliot] Spitzer." Hundreds of individual stations across the country and the record companies representing some of the world's biggest pop stars are also being probed. ABC News 02/09/06

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