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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Time for Unions and Reform in Entertainment Industry. Cable takes over Boston! Probing Uncle Walter. Robin Gibb remembered. Tiered Internet Pricing coming soon to a WiFi near you. Call of Duty Battle Continues. Innovation Consumer Driven.




 



After the coffee. Before deciding if my status updates are what caused Facebook stock to fall. 

The Skinny: ESPN Classic was running old episodes of "Battle of the Network Stars." For those who don't remember this gem, the network stars would compete in races and endurance contests with Howard Cosell anchoring. Time for a revival with Bob Costas or Dan Patrick hosting. Wouldn't you watch a race between the cast of "Two Broke Girls," "New Girl" and "The B in Apartment 23?" Ratings gold! Tuesday's headlines include a look at what Dalian Wanda Group's deal for AMC Entertainment means, a recap of the cable show in Boston, and a review of a new Walter Cronkite biography.

Daily Dose: It was 20 years ago today that Johnny Carson signed off as host of NBC's "Tonight Show." What better way to remember the king of late night than a Facebook trivia game? That's right, Carson has now been immortalized with "Here's Johnny," from Carson Entertainment Group. Want to test your knowledge of all things Johnny? Here's a link.



Walter Cronkite
A new biography probes the legacy of CBS journalist Walter Cronkite. (CBS / May 22, 2012

And that's the way it was. An exhaustive new biography of legendary CBS anchor Walter Cronkite by Douglas Brinkley leaves no stone unturned and uncovers a few nuggets that do more than suggest a liberal bias. There are also examples of some questionable reporting practices. Daily Beast media columnist Howard Kurtz zooms in on the dirt from "Cronkite." I can't wait to read it but my hunch is what will be most revealing to me is just how much the media landscape has changed since Uncle Walter was telling us what was what, and not whether he took a free flight or two from Pan Am or had a wild time in a strip club one night. Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Getting the word out. Just as it did at the time the Screen Actors Guild and AFTRA were formed in 1933 and 1935, and President Roosevelt had to intercede using anti-trust and new laws,  consolidation among movie studios, production companies and movie theater chains continue, it is tougher than ever for independent films to find a way to reach consumers. Power is begin centralized as never before, well beyond the heyday of the studio system. One platform that is starting to emerge for indie filmmakers is video on demand. Besides big cable operators offering the service, there are smaller video-on-demand online options popping up to try to boost independent cinema. The Los Angeles Times looks at Prescreen, a site that is less than a year old but is already starting to get noticed.

China's coming! The $2.6-billion acquisition of movie theater chain AMC Entertainment by Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group has Hollywood wondering if it will be the first of many investments from that part of the world. Dalian also has invested in karaoke clubs so I hope they are not thinking of putting karaoke in theaters. A look at Dalian Wanda and what the deal may mean for the entertainment industry in Hollywood and China from the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times.

Stay out of our way. Former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael Powell, who is now the chief executive of the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. and the industry's top lobbyist, said the government needs to take a light touch when it comes to regulating the Internet. Powell made his remarks at the cable industry's annual convention in Boston. Other news out of the show included several cable operators agreeing to a WiFi partnership of sorts. News about the show from the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Multichannel News and Fierce Cable.

 
 

Carson Daly will help NBC's Olympic promotion effort.

Carson Daly will help NBC's Olympic promotion effort. (Lewis Jacobs / NBC / May 22, 2012

NBC prepares marketing blitz for online viewing of Olympics

The entire set or list of posts below are from the LA Times Company Town Blog. Click here for the latest industry news from the LA Times.
 
Looking to make consumers who subscribe to cable or satellite television aware that the bulk of the Summer Olympics can be watched online at no additional charge, NBC is going to embark on a large marketing campaign in advance of the London Games.

"There will be a barrage of information sent out to the American public about how one can access this content," said Gary Zenkel, president of NBC Olympics. Zenkel made his remarks during a panel session at the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn. annual convention here. To read more of this posts click on More..

FCC Chairman Juluis Genachowski supports usage-based pricing for broadband.

FCC Chairman Genachowski on board with usage pricing for broadband

 Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said he supports cable and telecommunication companies adopting a usage-based pricing plan for broadband.

"Usage-based pricing could be a healthy and beneficial part of the ecosystem," Genachowski said in an appearance at the National Cable & Telecommunications Assn.'s annual convention here.

Genachowski, who was interviewed by former FCC Chairman and current NCTA Chief Executive Michael Powell, added that a tiered pricing approach may "increase consumer choice and competition" and "result in lower prices for people who consume less broadband."

Genachowski made his endorsement of usage-based pricing for broadband consumption just days after cable giant Comcast Corp. said it would adopt that model. Comcast is going to introduce a fee for consumers who use more than 300 gigabytes a month. Comcast Executive Vice President David L. Cohen said the amount would likely be $10 for every 50 GB over the base allowance.

The FCC chairman also addressed concerns in the cable industry about increasing regulatory oversight of distribution negotiations between cable operators and broadcast television stations. The cable industry has been calling for an overhaul of FCC rules regarding so-called retransmission consent negotiations.

While Genachowski continued to indicate that broadcasters have the right to seek cash in return for distribution of their channels, he did question whether broadcasters have too much leverage in some negotiations.

For example, some television stations that have different owners have entered into what is known in the industry as a "shared services agreement." Such arrangements can result in one company negotiating on behalf of as many as three television stations.

"That raises real issues," Genachowski said. More..

Ed Burns is embracing new platforms for his movies.
Ed Burns is embracing new platforms for his movies. (Jim Cooper / Associated Press / May 22, 2012)

 

Consumers, not media industry, will drive innovation

A new generation of consumers who have little regard for historical distribution systems will be what drives media companies to rethink their role as gatekeepers to content.

"It always seems to be about the kids," said filmmaker Ed Burns who has taken to releasing his movies on non-theatrical platforms, including Apple's iTunes, and on video-on-demand.

Speaking at the National Cable Telecommunications Assn. here, Burns said that young people today "are not nostalgic for the way we consumed entertainment. They still want this content. They’re just not willing to get into the car and drive to the theater."

While Burns didn't say the demise of the movie theater was near, he did say it will be tougher for non-blockbuster movies to find a place there. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing for the long term. Now through on-demand and other platforms, it may become easier for Burns and other small filmmakers to have a "more direct relationship with the consumer and reach a much wider audience."

"The consumer demand will pull the technology and industry where it wants to go," said Neil Smit, president of Comcast Cable.

Part of the challenge for media companies is balancing the desire of consumers to get content the way they want it, where they want it, without disrupting the business models that have been the backbone of the industry for decades.

While distributors and programmers are embracing putting content on mobile phones and on tablets, there is still great resistance to altering the overall system. For example, consumers want to cherry pick the cable channels they want, which is an approach that programmers and distributors are not willing to embrace.

That may eventually have to change too.

"We're going through a generational shift from a generation that values ownership to a generation that values access," said Rio Caraeff, CEO of online music video company Vevo.

An image from "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2."

Activision Bungie contract unsealed in Call of Duty case

Details of video game publisher Activision Blizzard Inc.'s high-profile deal in 2010 with Bungie Inc. to make an original game series has been made public for the first time as part of a separate lawsuit involving the Call of Duty game franchise.

The deal with Bungie, considered one of the hottest studios in the industry, at the time helped Activision save face in the midst of an ugly legal fight with former Call of Duty developers Jason West and Vincent Zampella, whom Activision had fired a month earlier in March 2010. But at what cost? To continue reading click on More..


More...
''Call of Duty'' games, produced by Activision Blizzard Inc.

Activision clash with Call of Duty developers dates back years

Activision Blizzard Inc.'s testy relations with the two creators of the Call of Duty franchise dated back at least a year before the company fired them, according to emails recently unsealed in the company's $1-billion lawsuit against the developers.

Publicly, their relationship fractured in March 2010, when Activision fired Jason West and Vincent Zampella, the former heads of the Infinity Ward studio responsible for making the Call of Duty titles, which have generated more than $6.75 billion in revenue for the Santa Monica game publisher. For additional information click on More..

Thought of the day. This is a little outside the wheelhouse of the Morning Fix but good advice should be shared. Former Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt told graduates of Boston University to take a break from the computer and "have a conversation, a real conversation." If the man who ran the company that made it easier for us to waste all that time online says to turn the computer off for an hour a day to actually engage with real people, then it must be worth doing. More on Schmidt's remarks from Reuters.

The Bee Gees' Robin Gibb, center, died on Sunday
 Photo: The Bee Gees, from left, Maurice, Robin and Barry Gibb, perform in Miami Beach in November 1979. Robin Gibb died Sunday after battling cancer. He was 62. Credit: Phil Sandlin / Associated Press. 


Their hits could fill an entire Saturday night, last until the first church bell rang on Sunday morning and provide a sweat-drenched workout on the dance floor that broke only for the slow numbers. Even more remarkable was that each classic gem of the Bee Gees, whose co-founder Robin Gibb died Sunday after a long battle with cancer, would be packed with feeling.

There’s “Jive Talkin’,” the group’s frenetic ode to a lying lover, which highlights a skeptical Gibb’s sweet tenor. “How Deep Is Your Love” finds Gibb, who co-founded the Bee Gees in 1958 with brothers Barry and Maurice (Robin’s fraternal twin), describing him and his lover “living in a world of fools breaking us down,” when they should really just leave them alone. That song alone was responsible for countless dark-corner slow dances.

The climax, of course, would hit with the first few notes of “Staying Alive” from “Saturday Night Fever,” the 1977 double-album soundtrack that made Robin and his brothers  international superstars and helped define disco — and the 1970s. Continued Inside the Los Angeles Times: An appreciation of Robin Gibb.

Follow me on Twitter. I get up awful early to do this column for you. Twitter.com/JBFlint

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