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Weekly Media Briefing October 10th-14th

By Michael Hurtig
Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

Experimentation continues with premium video on demand as studios plan to release ‘Tower Heist’ on VOD three weeks after its theatrical release – for 59.99. The hefty price tag for viewing the early release tops recent efforts by operators to shave time off of the post-theatrical window. Earlier this year, studios entered into agreements with cable operators to offer a select number of films on VOD for 30 dollars beginning 60 days after their theatrical run. Whether consumers will be willing to pay such a high price to watch a movie at home is a major test for the film industry, which is setting a new course as the DVD market shrinks and the studio-backed ultra violet digital locker system is rolled out. UPDATE: Universal has canceled its plans for the experimental release, via THR.

Time Warner and Vivendi have placed bids on Polish broadcaster TVN. TVN’s parent company, ITI Group, is seeking the sale of its controlling 56% stake in the broadcaster.

A new report from Digital TV Research indicates that global online tv and video revenues are expected to grow “more than five fold” their current levels by 2016.

The Federal Communications Commission is trying to encourage more Americans to use high speed Internet. In collaboration with various private companies, the FCC plans to offer free computer training to individuals in disadvantaged communities.

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Pete Hamill Talks Deadlines at Center for Communications Panel: Pages from the Past

By Michael Hurtig
Tuesday, October 4th, 2011

On Monday, American journalist and author Pete Hamill joined New York Post theatre columnist Michael Riedel at the Center for Communications Panel, Pages from the Past. Hamill is best known for his international reporting and his best-selling memoir, A Drinking Life.

The panel was a part of a screening event, which featured the films Deadline- U.S.A. (1952) and The Paper (1994). Each film recalled a journalist’s experience at a newspaper at the height of the print era.

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Following, Hamill reminisced about the “old way of doing things,” the newspaper printing process before the rise of digital media. The social atmosphere, said Hamill, is an essential part of newspaper production. Approaching the 5 o’clock deadline was “the biggest adrenaline rush of all time” which included the “furious clacking of typewriters” and celebratory drinks following the day’s successes.

According to Hamill, the Internet takes away the “climax” of a newspaper’s front page.  Online, the newspaper is capable of moving onto something new in the “next thirty seconds” after publishing a big story. The ability to constantly inform the public leaves no room for finality, or achievement.

“[The publishing industry] is prematurely surrendering, says Hamill, “there’s no reason why they can’t coexist with the internet like stick shift and automatic did for years.”

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Weekly Media Briefing October 2nd-8th

By Michael Hurtig
Monday, October 3rd, 2011

NPR names Sesame Street Executive as its new Executive, says the New York Times.

Even though the drama of previous months has lessened, Google and the Association of American Publishers are still attempting to reach a settlement, guided by Judge Denny Chin.  Need to brush up on your knowledge of the Google Books settlement?  Here is an excellent piece from the New York Review of Books on what the stakes are.

E.W. Scripps company is expanding with the purchase of nine McGraw Hill TV stations.

Millions of young Russians are choosing the internet over television as a source of entertainment. Overwhelming declines in ratings and advertising revenues are forcing channels to reformat their programs with American dramas and reality shows.

Clear Channel, the country’s biggest radio station operator, has a new CEO. Robert Pittman will lead the company as it continues an effort to give its collection of 850 radio stations a strong presence online and maintain its position in the outdoor advertising market.

The St. Petersburg Times is now offering its political fact checking system, Politifact News Service, to newspaper publishers.

ABC News is partnering up with Yahoo to create an online news-programming model. Content from ABC News will be merged into Yahoo news, the Yahoo homepage, and more. According to Ben Sherwood, president of ABC News, the  new relationship “will give ABC News an unrivaled ability to reach across the Web, combining Yahoo’s vast distribution and cutting-edge technology with our award-winning journalism.” Via Los Angeles Times.

With 17 million visitors last month, Mashable is expanding its scope to include world news, among other new sections.

Youtube has strong original content deals on the horizon with everyone from media majors like News Corp. to celebrities and established executive producers. The Google-owned video streaming site isn’t waiting for the convergence of television sets and internet search to make its mark in entertainment.

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Bill Baker’s Blog

By Michael Hurtig
Thursday, September 29th, 2011

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Fabio Luisi Steps in as Principal Conductor as the Metropolitain Opera’s James Levine Takes Leave

By Michael Hurtig
Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

Last Saturday in the NYT, Daniel Wakin described the uncertain fate of the Metropolitain Opera’s legendary music director, James Levine.

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Weekly Media Briefing September 26th-30th

By Michael Hurtig
Monday, September 26th, 2011

Dish’s first big move following its acquisition of Blockbuster in April is the introduction of the Blockbuster Movie Pass, which will be available only to qualifying Dish subscribers. The ‘pass’ resembles Netflix’s previous model – a limited number of streaming titles and a large selection of dvds by mail, but added to that, subscribers opting for the service will also receive a set of movie channels delivered via the Dish Network. Another valuable component which makes this offer competitive with Netflix’s offerings (for those already subscribing or willing to subscribe to the Dish service) is the ability to swap rented dvds in Blockbuster stores or by mail, a holdover from the days of Blockbuster’s dvd-by-mail service.

Over the last ten years, ‘reality tv’ programming has come to dominate tv sets across the country. Nielsen’s latest review of the popularity of different genres in primetime shows that since 2002, reality tv has on average reached over 50% of primetime audiences.

TV is not the sole source for local news, says a new study by Pew, reported by the New York Times.

Amazon continues to grow its library of titles for online streaming, signing a deal to stream many Fox titles.

Twitter is anxious to get involved with TV. And on Sunday, without any involvement by the company, user Ryan Storms prevented the elimination of two contestants on CBS’ primetime show, The Amazing Race.

“Pew survey finds that human interaction trumps all but but TV when it comes to community news,” says Slate.

The Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) gets new leadership.  The CCC has thrived because of the death of the Google books settlement, and the vacuum in digital rights management for book length intellectual work it created.

An SNL Kagan report forecasts that the major 4 US television networks (CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX) will close out 2011 with strong numbers.

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Weekly Media Briefing September 19th-23rd

By Michael Hurtig
Monday, September 19th, 2011

Google is coming under anti-trust scrutiny in the US.

So Netflix is now Qwikster?  And you will get less and somehow pay more?  Or not, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings tells us, as hastily and confusingly as he announced the now defunct price hike.

Is Gamification the future of literature?

Harry Sloan and Jeff Sagansky, two entertainment industry veterans, have their new company’s sights set on high growth media companies in emerging markets. More specifically, Sloan offered that their interests lie in traditional media companies outside of the U.S. in “big, high growth markets,” or new media business in the U.S. Their strategy notably does not include newspaper investments, however they admittedly have little experience in that arena.

How to keep 3D and 2D audiences happy? James Cameron is advocating the merger of 2D and 3D crews and equipment shooting live events and sports to cut costs and save time for broadcasters and other organizations.

Stanford is cataloging a very specific type of ephemeral media: sound.

Facebook is now making it easier for journalists to gain subscribers through a new feature which enables Facebook users to subscribe to public page updates. There is no limit to how many subscribers one page can have which means that journalists can build large fan bases, unlike normal Facebook profiles which are limited to 5000 “friends.” On the Facebook website, there is now a page titled “Facebook and Journalists” that outlines the do’s and don’ts for journalists who are using Facebook as a platform. More about this on Poynter.

News may circle the world at the speed of light, but getting it to the newsroom in paper or digital form can still be a cumbersome process.  Texas-based company latakoo is trying to change that.

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Marshall McLuhan’s unmediated faith

By Michael Hurtig
Monday, September 12th, 2011

by Bill Baker & Evan Leatherwood

by permission from The Catholic Herald, where this piece originally appeared.

Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan, who coined “global village” and “the medium is the message,” and who predicted the internet and the rise of social media, was born a century ago this past July.  He is considered one of the 20th century’s intellectual giants.  Along with Marx, Freud, and Darwin, McLuhan is one of those rare thinkers with a persuasive “theory of everything.”  He was also a devout Catholic, who taught almost exclusively at Catholic universities and attended mass nearly every day of his adult life.

Read More …

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Weekly Media Briefing September 11-17

By Michael Hurtig
Monday, September 12th, 2011

E-book sales explode while print sales continue their steady decline.

Nielsen’s newly released Social Media Report is packed with fascinating information, like the fact that internet users over 55 are driving social media use via mobile devices.

Is The Toronto International Film Festival the Cannes of North America?

While we don’t really want to admit it, the time has come to start paying attention to the 2012 Presidential Race, and the Columbia Journalism Review is a good place to start.

More evidence that the internet seems designed to reward content aggregators rather than content producers.  With too many sources of material, not enough time to sort the bad from the good, and never enough buyers, the content creators always lose out — a sad state of affairs.

The Murdoch phone hacking scandal (remember that?) continues to change the way the UK is thinking about privacy, and has emboldened Harry Potter creator J. K. Rowling and other celebrities to initiate and inquiry about violations of their privacy by gossip-mongering journalists.  Let’s hope that the citizens of the UK can get something good out of this spectacle.

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Is the golden age of novels and short stories about to return?

By Michael Hurtig
Friday, September 9th, 2011

An unbound chapter from Bleak House's original run. (credit: Evan Leatherwood)

According to this piece from Fast Company, short pieces of writing, like recipes and single articles, are now being sold on Amazon and at the Apple store for prices ranging from ¢99 to a few dollars, for download to the Kindle, iPad, etc.  The article asks: what sort of writers will benefit from this new form of publishing?

Have we come full circle? (credit: Corey Nascenzi)

First off, this is not really a new form of publishing, but a really old one.  Before the mass reading public had a taste for bound books, they bought printed works in single sheets, or in unbound sheaves of paper, priced to move and made for single-serving consumption, not unlike downloading single episodes of your favorite TV show to your iPhone to watch on the subway.

This is how the essays of Samuel Johnson were first published, and how millions first consumed the novels of Charles Dickens, chapter by chapter.  Read More …

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