Reuters blog archive
By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reteurs Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
The latest TV industry technophobia is just a bad 1980s rerun. U.S. broadcasters, including Walt Disney-owned ABC, have won support in their Supreme Court bid to shut down online video startup Aereo. The arguments echo those used 30 years ago when networks tried to block the VCR, after which business boomed. For a creative profession, Big Media sure can lack imagination.
So far, courts have favored Aereo, saying its method of using thousands of separate dime-sized antennas to stream free-to-air programming to customers over the internet doesn’t violate copyright law.
In a brief that backs the appeal from broadcasters to the top U.S. court, the National Football League and Major League Baseball threatened to move games to pay-TV channels that are beyond Aereo’s reach, essentially heralding a doomsday scenario where stations “will become less attractive mediums for distributing copyrighted content.” The Supreme Court must, they say, “prevent the unraveling of a marketplace” by the use of “technological chicanery.”
from India Insight:
Star India wants to attract English-speaking audiences with a television channel that syndicates the latest seasons of American TV shows such as the counterterrorism thriller Homeland and the comedy Modern Family.
Several channels broadcast U.S. shows in India, but Star World Premiere HD is the first to broadcast episodes a day or two after they air in the United States.
from India Insight:
India on Monday imposed a 36 percent duty on flat-screen televisions that travellers bring back from other countries, seen as another step to support a falling rupee. The move, however, will do little to help the economy but will cheer television manufacturers in India and hit grey markets, experts said.
India has taken various measures in recent months to deter the import of commodities such as gold as Asia's third-largest economy tries to tamp down its current account deficit and a weak rupee that touched record lows below 65 per dollar this week.
from Jack Shafer:
Allow me to defend cable TV's extended live coverage of the George Zimmerman murder trial, even though I've not watched a second of it, nor have I tuned in to any of the nightly rehashes aired on CNN, HLN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel. Championing the Zimmerman telemania puts me at variance with the critics of tabloid TV, who want the cable news networks to focus their cameras instead on the Cairo uprising, President Barack Obama's climate speech, the slaughter in Syria, voters’ rights, the NSA outrages, Wall Street, congressional hearings, and other examples of "meaningful" and "important" news. Directly disparaging CNN's Zimmerman surplus at the expense of the Egyptian uprising is New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen, who asserts that the network's new president, Jeff Zucker, "wants everyone in his company to know what the priorities are: Mini-series in the center, world events off to the side."
Rosen is right about what Zucker wants. But the call for more broadcast hours devoted to news "that matters" and fewer hours of TV trials -- that, as many have accurately put it, are barely distinguishable from CSI episodes -- might have been more persuasive in the days when the television audience had only the three broadcast network newscasts to choose from, when the only national newspaper was the business-oriented Wall Street Journal, when there was no real-time access to foreign newspapers and broadcasts, and when researchers were only fantasizing about something as ubiquitous as the Web. But today's media menu gives the news audience more opportunities than ever before to find the news that others might describe as meaningful and important. It might have made sense three decades ago, when CNN was getting started, that its over-coverage of one story was blotting out other, more worthy stories. But that critique doesn’t apply to 2013. CNN, which used to be the only TV news meal at times of breaking international news like this, is only one of the entrees. Any number of sites have live-streamed the Egyptian protests on to the Web and sharply reported, photographed, and filmed accounts from Cairo are only a hashtag search away the reader's eye. Go ahead and complain about CNN if you want to, but footnote your critique with easily accessible alternative sources.
from The Great Debate:
In the end, I think what sucked me in were those damned ducks.
I’ve been thinking about James Gandolfini, the actor who died on Wednesday, and whose performance on HBO’s The Sopranos became iconic. That series revolutionized TV drama and ushered in what has been described as a golden age of television.
Gandolfini was cast in the difficult, crucial role of Tony Soprano, and from the outset the show’s fate rested largely on his broad shoulders. But the actor grappled with a dilemma. Play the role too sympathetically, and you’d have a show that was sentimentally dishonest about organized crime and the capacity of a sociopath to redeem himself. Play it too harshly and you’re left with a far less complex and dramatically compelling character.
from India Insight:
(Any opinions expressed here are those of the author and not necessarily of Reuters)
Comedy Central was back on Indian television screens on Tuesday, getting what appeared to be a court-ordered reprieve four days after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting banned the network for 10 days for showing content deemed unsuitable for Indian audiences.
from India Insight:
(The following post contains some essential Hindi translation help from my colleagues Arnika Thakur, Suraj Balakrishnan and Havovi Cooper. Any remaining errors or lack of precision are my fault as I reviewed and participated in all translations. Additionally, any opinions here are those of the author, and not necessarily those of Thomson Reuters Corp.)
from Stories I’d like to see:
1. Obama administration malingers on hospital bill collecting abuses:
Here’s a compelling story for any reporter who wants to shine light on a failure of basic competence – or maybe it’s backbone – by the Obama administration on an issue that affects millions of middle class and poor Americans and that was supposed to be the president’s number one priority.
In the article about healthcare prices that I wrote last month for TIME, I reported that supposedly non-profit hospitals not only charge ridiculously inflated prices (from a price list called the chargemaster) to people who are uninsured or underinsured, but they also routinely sue and demand that those full prices be paid. It’s a prime reason medical bills are the cause of more than 60% of personal bankruptcies and even more demolished credit ratings across the country.
Boxee CEO Avner Ronen recently sat down with me for a wide-ranging video interview on the state of television, and its future. His company just released a $99 device that uses the Amazon cloud to give its users an infinitely-sized DVR. If it takes off, the Boxee TV could fundamentally change the way cable customers consume content -- and the way they pay for it. Users will also be able to watch their recordings from devices like the iPad. Can Boxee play nice with an industry it's trying to disrupt? Ronen says yes. But between the Aereo lawsuit and the Apple TV rumor-mill, it's a crowded, competitive landscape. So, can the company keep competing with the next generation of startups that have the television industry in their targets? Please watch, and find out:
By Jeffrey Goldfarb
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
Comcast has smartly ad-libbed on an already winning script. Back in 2009, the U.S. cable operator engineered a complex, multi-step deal with General Electric to buy NBC Universal. It has now smoothly accelerated and slightly rejigged the acquisition of the 49 percent of the TV and film group it doesn’t own for $16.7 billion. With the financial side of things now sorted, Comcast boss Brian Roberts must prove he’s the right owner.