Buying the war

Bill Moyers Journal - Buying the War

PBS correspondent Bill Moyers launched his new series Bill Moyers Journal this evening, and promptly launched into the media for helping Americans “buy” the invasion of Iraq. [The full 90-minute program can be viewed online.]

Moyers interviewed several journalists, including some of the few he says seriously questioned the merits of invading a country which had not attacked the United States. It all seems to point to a decline in the quality of journalism, particularly a reduction in investigative reporting as publishers and networks cut costs to maximize profits.

Tom Shales at washingtonpost.com calls this evening’s Journal “one of the most gripping and important pieces of broadcast journalism so far this year, but it’s as disheartening as it is compelling”.

It’s always depressing to learn that you’ve been had, but incalculably more so when the deception has resulted in thousands of Americans dying in the Iraq war effort.

And for even more depression, try reading Naomi Wolf’s commentary at guardian.co.uk: Fascist America, in ten easy steps, which compares the curtailment of civil rights and concentration of presidential power under George W. Bush, with the precursors of fascism in Europe of the 1930s.

CBS still covering up

Katie Couric’s podcast commentary on Barack Obama [“Is America ready to elect a president who grew up praying in a mosque?”] has been removed from CBSnews.com and replaced by an extensively edited text-only version that highlights new wording while giving no indication of what was removed. [jadegreen, however, compares the edited commentary with the original on her blog.]

There’s no explanation for the changes and, just as in the earlier plagiarism case, CBSnews.com has disabled comments on this item.

So much for accountability.

Footnote: Andrew Ferguson of the Weekly Standard has an amusing look at the practice of ghostwriting for television.

CanWest profit up, helped by 30% online ad growth

CanWest’s Canadian web portal canada.com

Winnipeg-based media giant CanWest Global on Friday reported strong results for the second quarter and half year ending February 28, helped by the surge in online advertising and a turn-around at the company’s Canadian television operations.

The official announcement said:

Publishing revenues were flat as compared to the prior year, reflecting a soft print advertising market bolstered by growth in the Company’s online classified revenues (up 30% as compared to the prior year).

Canadian television revenue rose eight per cent to C$166 million. The company did not provide a figure for online revenue, but said its canada.com portal “achieved a 55 per cent increase in audience over the same period last year to over 5.2 million unique monthly visitors”.

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What we love about site design

Lost Remote has tips on what viewers love about their local TV websites (tongue in cheek, but oh so believable). For example:

“My friends are forever asking “What do you suppose that anchor is doing in the community?” I’m glad I can find that.”

“Please tell me more about your weekend, overnight photog and how wacky he is. I want to see bios for everyone at your station!”

“This website would be better if it helped service the station’s brand more.”

And there are many more.

Rogers picks up former CHUM TV stations from CTVglobemedia

Rogers 

Canadian broadcaster/publisher/telco and video shop operator (etc.) Rogers Communications is buying ten television stations from CTVglobemedia. The C$137.5 million deal comprises:

  • the A Channel group of six over-the-air stations
  • CKX-Television, an over-the-air conventional CBC affiliate in Brandon, Manitoba
  • ACCESS Alberta, the designated provincial educational television broadcaster for Alberta, available over-the-air and via cable, satellite and telco distributors
  • CLT (Canadian Learning Television), Canada’s only national educational television specialty service, available via cable, satellite and telco distributors
  • SexTV: The Channel, an English language digital service, available across Canada via cable, satellite and telco distributors.

The channels were owned by CHUM Limited, which was purchased by CTVgm last year.

The transaction is subject to Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and Competition Bureau approval. It is also subject to CRTC approval of CTVgm’s acquisition of CHUM, which included a commitment to divest these assets.

Rogers Media press release

Activists sue Viacom over removal of YouTube video

It must be a wonderful time to be a copyright lawyer.

Just a week after Viacom began suing YouTube and its parent Google, alleging copyright infringment, two activist groups have launched a suit against Viacom, claiming that the cable network had no right to ask YouTube to remove a parody video which used portions of Viacom’s Colbert Report.

The activists say their use of Colbert was permitted under “fair use” provisions of copyright legislation. Viacom says it did not request removal of the video from YouTube and has no problem with it staying on YouTube.

It’s unclear whether the video was, in fact, ever removed from YouTube. It’s on the site now.

I can’t quite figure out its purpose though. The Colbert Report is already a parody. It’s sharp, funny and it’s a hit. The activists’ video, by comparision, just makes them look like they don’t get the joke.

Ganging up against YouTube

NBC and News Corp say they’ll supply video content, with commercials, to be distributed by MySpace, Yahoo, MSN and AOL. The new service is to be launched in a few months.

Apparently people will prefer this to watching the same content, without commercials, on YouTube. Or, if Viacom succeeds in its lawsuit, YouTube will be prevented from carrying the networks’ content.

Wendy Davis at MediaPost reports:

…shows that will be available via the joint venture include “Heroes,” “24,” “House,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “The Simpsons.” Movies slated for free distribution include “Borat,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “The Devil Wears Prada.” Cadbury Schweppes, Cisco, Esurance, Intel Corporation and General Motors have signed on as charter advertisers.

Could this be an attractive alternative to YouTube for the consumer? I think so. There’s certainly room to improve the user experience on YouTube, e.g. in terms of picture size, and searchability.

Television considers the pop-up ad

The ABC television network is proposing to position commercials “seamlessly” within programmes in a manner that takes product placement to a new level.

As reported by Wayne Friedman on MediaPost, ABC unveiled the idea at a program development meeting with media buyers in Los Angeles  yesterday:

For example, in According to Jim, a real commercial would appear in the living room TV of Jim and Cheryl’s suburban home. That real commercial would then run full-screen.

To those who attended, ABC used 10 examples – all comedies, such as Ugly Betty – where commercials would pop up out of media props such as TV, cell phones, and print ads in magazines. It used marketing messages of automotive, beverage, and sinus remedy brands for its sample reel.

Will TV producers go along with the idea? One person at the meeting told Friedman: “I  imagine more powerful producers would say, ‘no way, Jose’.”

Taking live vlogging to the street

Click to view clip on blogtv.ca

Online videocaster blogtv.ca is transmitting live from the streets of Toronto using its high-profile Hummer.

This morning the Hummer was parked right in front of the prominent street-front studios of City TV on Queen St West, no doubt borrowing a little attention. City TV is, of course, part of the Chum Group recently acquired by CTVglobemedia, while Blog TV is owned by Alliance Atlantis which is in the process of being acquired by CanWest.

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Viacom sues YouTube and Google for US$1 billion

Just six weeks after it demanded that Google remove all Viacom content from its YouTube video sharing site, Viacom has decided to take the dispute to court.

The company behind such hit TV shows as The Colbert Report and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has filed a lawsuit against YouTube and Google, alleging deliberate copyright infringement and seeking US$1 billion in compensation.

Last Saturday, Variety published an interesting look at the disconnect within Hollywood between marketers who promote their shows using YouTube and their studio legal departments who try to get content removed from the site.