What Are You Missing? – Antenna http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 What Are You Missing? Jan 13 – Jan 26 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2014/01/26/what-are-you-missing-jan-13-jan-26/ Sun, 26 Jan 2014 15:00:00 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=23519 Here are ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

net-neutrality1) A federal appeals court in Washington D.C. has dealt a massive blow to ‘net neutrality’ rules, finding the FCC overstepped its authority by requiring broadband providers like Verizon and AT&T to treat all Internet traffic equally. While it is unclear how much authority the FCC will retain, it is clear the decision greatly decreases the FCC’s ability to retain several such rules. For much more information on this course case, it’s impact on the future of the Internet, and how you can help be heard, I highly encourage you to read Danny Kimball’s recent piece on Antenna.

2) The FCC may soon have another massive decision on its hands, as multiple names and companies have become revealed as potential buyers of Time Warner Cable, a move that would bring yet more consolidation to an already oligarchic system and thus would likely come with ‘bundles’ of strings from regulators. Original reports saw Charter Communication going public about plans to acquire TWC, with the company under the leadership of John Malone making a public plea to TWC investors after the company itself didn’t take original talks seriously. The proposed deal was originally for $61 billion, roughly $132.50 a share. Not long after these reports surfaced, new movement came out of a possible split-deal between Charter and Comcast for TWC, though the proposed deal is unclear of whether it means both buying the company together or Charter buying wholesale but selling particular regions to Comcast. The reports mostly end there, but the deal is clearly heating up and it seems something ought to give soon enough.

3) While we’re on the subject of “great things happening to undeserving cable providers,” Verizon this week announced it has agreed to acquire Intel Media, a broadband streaming video service from the technology company. While no precise amount has been released, the approximation based on earlier valuations put the deal around the $200 million mark. It is not entirely clear how or when Verizon plans to integrate the Internet TV service with its own broadband and FiOS network, but the over-the-top service is expected to launch before the end of 2014.

4) Big money is certainly on the table for the NFL’s Thursday Night Football, as Fox, CBS, ESPN, and Turner Broadcasting have all submitted bids, with NBC expected to join in as well. The NFL is looking for offers of 6 to 8 games in a package for a one-year deal. Despite bids from ESPN and Turner, the belief is the NFL wishes to land a network deal, ensuring higher ratings to in turn boost valuation when the bidding takes place again next year.

5) Reorganizations are happening at Viacom, with two next units being announced in the past two weeks. One is a new Programs Acquisitions Group, a unified group that will control all aspects of the acquisitions process across all of Viacom’s U.S. media networks. The second change is a new ad-sales unit called Viacom Velocity that will create special content for advertisers using their various networks. Viacom executives referred to a recent campaign done exclusively on Comedy Central to promote Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World featuring the film’s Tom Hiddleston. Did I mention this story just so I could link to this video? You tell me:

What Are You Missing? Jan 13 – Jan 26

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

6) Fox has once again been denied an injunction and even a rehearing of its case against Dish and their ad-skipping DVR  the “Hopper.”  Fox had petitioned for a rehearing after being denied the injunction last summer, and their goal of proving infringement in court looks slim. Fox might choose to try and take the case to the Supreme Court, but with the Aereo case already set to be decided their, it is unlikely the High Court would take such a similar dispute.

7) If you read “What Are You Missing” regularly, you are no doubt aware of the recent spat of musicians and artists filing lawsuits against their labels over missing digital royalties owed via various music streaming sites/services. The Counting Crows are now the newest addition to that growing list, which now includes artists as far ranging as Peter Frampton, George Clinton, and Rick James.

8) An interesting case out of an appeals court could change the way Internet gossip is seen and tried in future cases. The court found that Internet bloggers can in fact use First Amendment rights as a defense against defamation lawsuits, claiming the speaker does not need to claim status as a trained and employed journalist as long as the public importance and public image of the subjects in question is established.

9)  China is taking stricter measures to control online video and book publishing in order to help combat piracy and regulate content. The new regulations require posters of “microfilms,” a burgeoning market alternative to state-approved media, to submit their real names when uploading content to video streaming sites. While this could have much broader impacts, the language of the regulatory body’s announcement seems to indicate a more narrow focus on these microfilms, rather than the much larger swath of user-generated content.

10) The little guy is fighting back as an independent regional movie theater chain in the Southeast, Cobb Theaters, has filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against AMC, claiming the national chain as coerced film distributors to deny product to the smaller chains. The claim accuses AMC of contacting major film distributors and studios asking them to deny product to the regional chain, using its market control as leverage.


What Are You Missing? Dec 30 – Jan 12 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2014/01/12/what-are-you-missing-dec-30-jan-12/ Sun, 12 Jan 2014 14:00:09 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=23300 Happy New Year! Here are ten or more media industry news items you might have missed recently:

WWE Network1) WWE announced during CES this week the upcoming launch of WWE Network for February 24th, a first of its kind over-the-top 24/7 streaming channel with on-demand access to a vast library of content. The move comes after years of speculation as to the form the previously announced WWE Network would take, with WWE attempting deals with both cable and satellite providers for a more traditional system WWE Network will be accessible on nearly all digital platforms like Android, iOS, Kindle Fire, Roku, Playstation, XBox, smart TVs, and more all through a single subscription fee of $9.99 a month with a six month commitment. The fact that the content (both new originals and archival) will include WWE’s monthly Pay-Per-Views at no additional cost has ruffled some traditional outlet’s feathers, as DirecTV has threatened to stop offering PPVs since the WWE Network will essentially compete against them. With WWE about to enter renegotiations with cable channels for airing rights to its television shows, the Network’s upcoming launch will certainly play a factor.

2) Following up on rumors of a deal for Time Warner Cable, John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp has said it plans to buyout SiriusXM, putting Malone in a clearer position in consolidation with Time Warner Cable due to Liberty’s controlling stake in competitor Charter Communications. It is a very complicated plan, involving the creation of a new class of stock for the company, but the bottom line is it makes for even more consolidation and puts Liberty in a better position to acquire Time Warner Cable through its Charter holdings. There are those who object, notably shareholder Ralph Nader, but Liberty defends the plan as leading to a more rational structure.

3) A big week for online television service Aereo, as the Supreme Court has announced it plans to hear the case between the startup and four major broadcasters. The case is an appeal made by CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox and others after they were denied an injunction over whether Aereo’s system that captures their broadcast signals and reroutes them to customers Internet devices violates performance rights. This is a massive case, ABC Television Stations vs. Aereo for those playing at home, as the future of network television and its relationship to Internet platforms hangs in check. The news of the high court taking the case came just days after Aereo had closed on $34 million in additional financing, putting them at $97 million raised to date. How much that is really worth will be decided by the Supreme Court in their upcoming docket.

Springsteen-Good-Wife4) If you plan on watching CBS’s The Good Wife on Sunday night (and why wouldn’t you be!?), you can look forward to three songs from Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming new album High Hopes, part of a larger partnership between Springsteen and CBS to promote the upcoming album’s release. The albums is currently streaming on CBS.com as a sneak preview, a move promoted after last week’s episode of The Good Wife. This is a rare move for a network to host an album debut on its website, something more traditional online and music retailers are sure to dislike.

5) Speaking of online music retailers, they have more bad news this year as 2013 marks the first time digital music sales have decreased. The drops come in the form of both individual track sales as well as album bundles, despite the latter starting the year strong. The main culprit being blamed is the increase in popularity of ad-based and subscription-based music streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, though streaming numbers for 2013 have yet to be released.

6) Not to fear, as 2013 was also a year of massive rises in media company stocks. Most major media conglomerates closed out 2013 at 52-week highs, with Disney being a big winner with their stock gaining over 51% this past year. When you expand to look at the entire market, Netflix had an astonishing year growing 296%, placing it as the second-highest performing stock of 2013 behind only Tesla, the up-and-coming luxury electric car manufacturer. When it comes to films, Lionsgate did well off the back of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, rising 99.2%. For television, AMC did quite well closing 2013 up 34%.

7) Perhaps bolstered by its stock’s performance, Netflix raised the salary of CEO Reed Hastings by 50%, bringing it to $6 million for 2014. This is the man who just two years ago helped announce Qwikster, which almost signaled the end for the video-streaming service that is now outpacing every prediction.

8) The Parents Television Council is pushing for an overhaul of film and TV ratings, claiming the current system is inaccurate. PTC president Tim Winter criticized the systems by saying, “content ratings much be accurate, consistent, transparent and publicly accountable. The current system is none of that.” While the MPAA has yet to comment, industry-supporting organization TV Watch has pushed back, arguing the PTC uses flawed methodology and false claims to push their agenda.

Chinese multimillionaire Chen Guangbiao gives money away to street cleaners during an event organized by him in Nanjing9) Mostly because I wanted to include a picture of that suit, controversial Chinese tycoon Chen Guangbiao has intentions to buy the New York Times Co., what he deems the most influential news outlet in the world. Making millions in waste management, Chen claimed to have set up a meeting with the company, which is an odd choice since the NYT’s website is currently blocked in China. After this meeting was rebuffed, Chen admitted it would be a difficult acquisition, but insured others his intentions were genuine.

10) Staying with China the country has temporarily lifted a 14-year ban on video game consoles. The ban started in 2000 with the Chinese government claiming they were dangerous to one’s health. This opens the door for foreign console manufacturers like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo to begin manufacturing in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.


What Are You Missing? Nov 25 – Dec 8 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/12/08/what-are-you-missing-nov-25-dec-8-2/ Sun, 08 Dec 2013 15:00:09 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=23082 Here are ten or more media industry news items you might have missed recently:
(NOTE: This edition will be slightly more brief, thanks to the increased December workload.)

hotfile_logo1) A huge anti-piracy decision was handed down through the courts as cyberlocker Hotfile has been charged with infringing copyright, granting Hollywood Studios $80 million in damages. The MPAA initially brought the case back in 2011, claiming the site enabled piracy and did not do enough to combat it. What’s more, Hotfile has permanently shut down, leaving behind the note, “If you are looking for your favorite TV shows and movies, there are more ways than ever to get high-quality access to them on legal platforms.”

2) Start saving up because the FCC is having an auction! An announcement from new chairman Tom Wheeler revealed the agency’s plans on having an auction of the broadcast spectrum for wireless use to further open them up to new mobile and telecom firms, effectively reshuffling ownership. Being regarded as the most complex undertaking of the FCC ever and originally scheduled for late 2014, the auction has been pushed back to 2015 to ensure the software works properly (healthcare.gov anyone?).

3) The Fox Searchlight-Interns legal battle will not go away. An appeals court is now looking into the case which sees former interns on the film Black SwanThe original ruling found in favor of the interns, claiming they were working as employees but not being paid, while the studio argues they should not be considered employees. The case will likely have far reaching consequences for other entertainment and media internships, a field we all probably know a little something about.

4) Another appeals case has been settled, this one upholding a ban on political advertising on public television. The ruling was being challenged as a violation of First Amendment rights, but the court felt such advertising would “change the character” of public broadcasting and undermine its goals.

Amazon Drone5) Amazon has started taking its ideas from The Onion articles, as the company announced on 60 Minutes future plans for automated drone-based delivery of several of its items. Jeff Bezos unveiled their working prototypes for the service called Amazon Prime Air, which will come out in 2015 depending on FAA approval. No word on what sorts of defensive capabilities the drones will have, as I don’t want some nut to shoot down by DVD set of Psych Season 5!

6) Speaking of ridiculous things, a new report from Nielsen claims Americans spend more time listening to traditional radio than browsing the Internet or using DVD players and game consoles. Only television reigns supreme over radio in terms of time spent using. Of course, this report also reminds us the average media user is between the ages of 45 and 54, but my YiaYia (Greek for grandmother) emails me all the time. She’s getting those links from somewhere!

7) In a case WAYM has been following for months, it seems that the case against SiriusXM will be moving forward in California. The satellite radio giant is facing a $100 million class-action lawsuit for distributing pre-1972 recordings without repayment, as that was the year sound recordings began falling under federal copyright. The case could be monumental, as giving public performance rights to the copyright holders could impact not just radio, but television and film as well.

8) In other music legal news, singer-songwriter-awesome human being Aimee Mann has won the first round of her lawsuit against a company called MediaNet that delivers songs to online music streaming services. Mann claims the company has infringed upon her copyrights, using the songs after the contract expires. She is not alone in the case, as other artists are taking this as a lead to push back regarding their own copyrights.

9) Jerry Bruckheimer has found his new home. The blockbuster producer has signed a three-year first look deal with Paramount that begins next April. This will be the first time in nearly 20 years Bruckheimer will not be under a deal with Disney. First up: new installments for Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun. I’m glad to see Bruckheimer is still as creative as ever!

tennis-channel-logo10) Looks like The Tennis Channel is looking to the biggest court in the land, as The Tennis Channel has filed a petition with the Supreme Court to review their case against Comcast over whether a cable company discriminated against their channel by placing it in a separate tier from Comcast-owned cable sports channels like Golf Channel & NBC Sports Network. The original case ruled in favor of Comcast, citing a lack of evidence, but The Tennis Channel is continuing the volley, hoping to serve up some justice and take advantage on the (or in) court… I’ll stop.


What Are You Missing? Nov 11 – Nov 24 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/11/24/what-are-you-missing-nov-11-nov-24/ Sun, 24 Nov 2013 14:00:45 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=22920 Here are ten or more media industry news items you might have missed recently:

The_Simpsons_FXX1) The Simpsons are going to… cable! FXX, the recent comedy-focused spin-off of Fox-owned FX network has claimed the first cable rights to The Simpsons in a massive, $750 million dollar deal (though this could rise as new seasons are produced) that includes over 530 episodes (and counting). This is the biggest off-network deal in television history, adding another record to the long-running series. Perhaps even more intriguing is the deal’s inclusion for online streaming on the soon-available FXNOW mobile app as well as via video-on-demand. More details on the deal and scheduling are sure to emerge before the syndication begins next August.

2) An even bigger deal may be soon on the horizon as Time Warner Cable appears to be on the market with interest from both Comcast and Charter. First, the Wall Street Journal reported Charter Communications Inc. was nearing an agreement to raise funds for the purchase, a move that falls in line with Liberty Media’s John Malone’s (which owns 27% of Charter) recent pushes for cable consolidation. If that wasn’t enough, CNBC reports Comcast is also interested in a deal for Time Warner Cable, a move supported by their shareholders. This officially makes Time Warner Cable the belle of the ball, as TWC stock jumped to a 52-week high amid the purchase chatter. The FCC hasn’t said anything yet because of course not. But one has to wonder what role they’ll play.

3) Speaking of those guys, the FCC, under newly-appointed chairman Tom Wheeler, has voted to raise the cap on how much foreign entities can own of broadcast stations, both radio and television. Currently, there is a 25% cap on how much foreign companies can invest, a level current commissioners are described as outdated.

4) A new study out of (the) Ohio State University and Annenberg Public Policy Center has found the level of gun violence in PG-13 films is now greater than R-rated films. The study looked at 945 films from 1950 to 2012, noting an overall increase in gun violence and a marked increase in PG-13 rated films since that rating’s inception. The authors call for new restrictions from the MPAA as related to gun violence, particular in those lower rated films.


5) Two of the most iconic pop culture figures of the last 50 years, Superman and James Bond, have now had long-standing copyright lawsuits settled. First, Warner Bros. won an appeal case against the estates of Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, ending a copyright claim filed back in 2003 and giving them complete control. Next, MGM & Danjaq have now acquired all copyrights for James Bond after settling with the estate of Kevin McClory, who opened the case 50 years ago after claiming he proposed the idea for making a Bond film to creator Ian Fleming.

6) A big courtroom victory for Google and fair use as a federal judge has ruled Google Books is considered fair use and “provides significant public benefits.” The case had been active for nearly 10 years, when a coalition of authors and publishers started the case in 2005. The ruling will surely move to appeal, but the precedent for fair use is powerful and will certainly have impact beyond just Google’s service.

7) From lawsuits ending to one just beginning: the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) held a conference where they announced their intention to take legal action against music lyric websites, claiming the sites profit from copyrighted works through their ad revenues. The publishers have targeted 50 websites and sent takedown notices, claiming they will not push for legal action unless the requests for heeded.

8) A new wrinkle in the enduring, critical lawsuits against network streaming startup Aereo as the National Football League and Major League Baseball have taken a side against Aereo, claiming they will move all of their games to cable if Aereo is found to be legal. This “friend of the court” filing with the Supreme Court aims to sway judges and show support for the multiple broadcasters taking Aereo to court. Barry Driller, a major investor of Aereo, doesn’t seem fazed, claiming the NFL is “just making noise.”

9) In the same week Sony released its next-generation video game console Playstation 4 with over 1 million sales, the company announced plans to cut $100 million from Sony Entertainment, making the company leaner and more focused. A large part of this will be reduced film production, a move Amy Pascal says will create “a more equitable balance between risk and reward.”

10) It probably won’t lead to Obamacare level criticism, but Barack Obama hasn’t made friends with some visual effects artists. After it was announced President Obama would visit DreamWorks Animation studio for a speech and visit with Jeffrey Katzenberg, visual effects artists at the company have planned to protest the visit due to the increased outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries.

And finally, two silly stories from a silly industry:

Its-A-Wonderful-Life-570x429The Internet exploded this week when it was reported an “It’s A Wonderful Life” sequel was being planned. In a surprising twist (like in the movie!), Paramount announced it would fight any proposed sequel, claiming any project would require a license from the studio. With the film possibly dying a quick death, we will all have to ask an angel to show us a world where this sequel did, in fact, get released.

Mike “The Situation” “The Stupid Nickname” Sorrentino of Jersey Shore ‘fame’ is under federal investigation as the U.S. Attorney’s office has issued subpoenas for company records from businesses Sorrentino owns like MPS Entertainment and a clothing line. I would make a joke about this, but I don’t know enough about this ‘celebrity’ to say something witty.


What Are You Missing? Oct 28 – Nov 10 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/11/10/what-are-you-missing-oct-28-nov-10/ Sun, 10 Nov 2013 14:00:55 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=22701 Here are ten or more media industry news items you might have missed recently:

Twitter IPO1) We’re all going to be millionaires! Well, 1,600 of us are after Twitter’s IPO, which had been raised to $26 a share before going public Thursday, saw shares open at $45.10 on the NYSE before closing at $44.90. What’s that mean? Twitter raised as much as $2.1 billion ending with a market capitalization of $25 billion. The big numbers have raised eyebrows as to what might be the next big Internet company to jump to the exchange. Others, however, saw the IPO as a failure, though this Forbes column is well over 140 characters, so who has the time to read it, am I right?

2) Like all things in Congress, it took longer than it should have, but the Senate has officially confirmed Tom Wheeler as the new FCC chairman. Wheeler was unanimously voted in after the confirmation was held up by  (who else?) Ted Cruz, who put a hold on the nomination two weeks ago. Wheeler didn’t waste time holding his first staff meeting in which he called for a “nimble” department, referring to the FCC as an “optimism agency” that promoted competition, innovation, and consumer protection.

3) Wheeler’s FCC might see a possible merger come across their doorstep sooner rather than later. After it was revealed Time Warner Cable was hurting more than it let on after its summer battle with CBS resulting in losing 306,000 television subscribers, news emerged that Charter Communications was weighing a bid for the cable provider. Though the initial talks began near the beginning of this year, recent troubles see Time Warner Cable being more open to the deal, spearheaded by John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp, partial owners of Charter. This may be best for everyone, as Time Warner Cable’s stock spiked considerably after the news broke.

4) A story involving California, a politician, the entertainment industry, and bribes… stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A report from Al-Jazeera America revealed California state Senator Ronald Calderon accepted bribes as part of an undercover FBI sting, just one of many claims to Calderon’s corruption. Calderon was one of the primary champions of a recent local film production incentive program and the chair of the Senate Select Committee on California’s Film and Television industries. After the report, Calderon was removed from that committee. The affidavit reveals FBI agents posed as executives from a fictitious studio offering a bribe of $60,000 in exchange for the industry friendly tax break program. I can’t wait to see the movie based on this! Call Ben Affleck.

Defenders-482x2765) Marvel and Netflix have come to terms on what both are calling an “unprecedented deal” that will see Marvel Television develop four original live-action series for the streaming service followed by a miniseries featuring the four characters from each. Focusing on more ‘street-level’ heroes Daredevil (recently reacquired from Fox), Luke Cage, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist, the deal includes a commitment of four 13-episode series plus the culminating “Defenders” miniseries, taking a similar narrative approach to the Avengers team-up.

6) Turning to international news, Italy might be planning to privatize it’s state-run broadcaster RAI after losing more than $250 million last year. The move would be in line with the country’s recent steps to reduce its debt (second in the EU only to Greece) without further raising taxes. While the idea of privatizing has been brought up multiple times before, the larger fears for the country seem to indicate these talks are more serious and possibly more likely to come to fruition.

7) A new Royal Charter being discussed in the U.K.’s Parliament with new press regulations faced threats of injunction from the country’s The Newspaper Society. This attempt failed, however, and the Royal Charter made its way to Her Majesty, the Queen for final approval. The Charter is an attempt to create a more powerful watchdog group to hold accountable those publications that break rules and regulations.

8) In an effort to build upon the importance of the Chinese market and co-productions, NBCUniversal vice chairman Ron Meyer announced plans to open a film office in Beijing to act as a local “base of operations.” The MPAA supported the announcement, expressing excitement over the tighter connection with the bustling market and the door to more co-productions.

9) If you are at all interested in media industry news, the name Nikki Finke is assuredly familiar to you. The founder and editor-in-chief of Deadline Hollywood will be leaving the site, now owned by Penske Media Corp. There have been rumblings about Finke’s displeasure and desire to leave for months, with her departure coming before the end of her current contract through 2016, thus resulting in her leaving substantial money on the table.

Blockbuster-is-Gone10) It’s the end of an era, as Blockbuster has announced it will close its remaining 300 vide0-rental stores. Now owned by Dish Network, Blockbuster will also stop its DVD-by-mail business and instead be primarily focused on its Video-On-Demand service Blockbuster@Home. As it is wont to do, The A.V. Club perhaps summarizes the story best with the simple headline “Blockbuster Video closing all the stores it still apparently had.”


What Are You Missing? Oct 14 – Oct 27 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/10/27/what-are-you-missing-oct-14-oct-27/ Sun, 27 Oct 2013 13:00:22 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=22437 Here are ten or more (spooky?) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

hbo-vs-netflix1) Our top story sees what could be a monumental shift in the battle between online streaming and cable operators, as Comcast has plans to offer a new promotion called “Internet Plus,” a broadband internet bundle that includes limited basic TV and, for the first time being offered through a broadband package, HBO and HBO Go. The move is seen as a reaction to recent gains in Netflix subscribers, the rise in piracy (particularly of HBO), and the increasing number of cord-cutters throughout the nation. This would be the first time HBO is available to consumers without a cable package, placing them in a better position to challenge Netflix.

2) The timing of the (apparently) insider information is intriguing, as just last week reports came out that Netflix was in talks with pay-TV companies like Comcast about making the streaming service available via set-top boxes. While Netflix is available on other entertainment boxes like Roku, XBox, and PlayStation, this would be the first time Netflix would be available through a cable company’s box. The report comes alongside even more good news, as Netflix has come to its first production deal with a major Hollywood studio, Sony Pictures Television. The order is for 13-episodes to be released exclusively on Netflix. All this news was good for Wall Street, as Netflix shares went up 8 percent following the reports.

3) FilmOn X, the broadcast-streaming rival to Aereo with a terrible name, is faring poorly in the courts, as a U.S. District Judge has refused to lift a near-nationwide injunction against the service as part of its lawsuit with multiple broadcasters. After restarting transmissions in Boston after Aereo won a similar (but different) ruling, Judge Rosemary Collyer was so upset with FilmOn X, she threatened to hold the company in contempt if they are unable to provide evidence as to why she should not. Meanwhile, Aereo continues to avoid injunctions, though broadcasters in that case are now petitioning the Supreme Court to address the suit.

4) One of the Internet’s largest BitTorrent websites, isoHunt has officially been disabled following a piracy lawsuit that saw the site settling for $110 million. The settlement was made between the operators of isoHunt and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) after the site was being sued by multiple Hollywood studios. And with this settlement, Hollywood will never have to worry about piracy again!

playground-productions5) A new challenger approaches… The world’s largest toy manufacturer, Mattel has entered the original entertainment market with the launch of Playground Productions, an in-house studio devoted to multiplatform storytelling arm that will utilize a variety of Mattel brands like Hot Wheels, Barbie, He-Man, and more. The move is seen as a way for Mattel to retain more control over its intellectual properties, as well as a way to more directly enter the lucrative entertainment market of TV, video games, and direct-to-video titles. The approach known as “push-to-play” emphasizes how Mattel wants the entertainment properties to encourage kids to play with the toys associated with the property.

6) The Federal government shutdown might be over, but Ted Cruz is still devoted to making sure nothing gets accomplished on Capitol Hill. The Texas Senator and Tea Party favorite has blocked the nomination of Tom Wheeler as the next FCC chairman. The hold, according to Cruz, is due to Wheeler not addressing a question about whether the FCC has the authority to require campaign spots to reveal the source of their funding. So, once again, hooray Congress!

7) Break out those checkbooks but keep the memo to 140 characters, as Twitter has set its IPO price at $17-$20 per share. The social media company anticipates selling 70 million shares, which would come out to… well, the company would be valued at $12 billion. #baller

8) In the latest update to the ongoing legal troubles of SiriusXM, the satellite radio company has struck back against the class action lawsuit brought against them for distributing pre-1972 recordings without license. The company contends that no state law requires them to pay such fees, and federal copyright of sound recordings didn’t apply before 1972. SiriusXM claims the lawsuit would upend traditional practice for use of pre-1972 sound recordings, massively shifting the industry and causing major harm.

sony-sues-united-airlines9) Sticking with music, Sony Music is suing United Airlines for copyright infringement, claiming the airline did not obtain permission for use of licensed music for inflight entertainment. Sony is seeking an injunction and damages, citing the music system on the airline being “interactive, on-demand” means the use is not covered by an outside royalty collection firm.

10) A new study out of Cologne University in Germany has finally answered the question no-one realized was being asked: Eating popcorn makes theater ads less effective. The awesomely-titled report “Popcorn in the Cinema: Oral Interference Sabotages Advertising Effects,” is in the latest issue of the Journal of Consumer Psychology.


What Are You Missing? Sept 30 – Oct 13 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/10/13/what-are-you-missing-sept-30-oct-13/ Sun, 13 Oct 2013 13:00:29 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=22135 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

AFN1) The top story in the U.S. these past two weeks is most certainly the government shutdown, and it is having some particular media-related impacts. First, many on-location film shoots in Los Angeles had to be cancelled or moved due to a hiatus on Federal locations like the Angeles National Forest, L.A. River, and Sepulveda Dam, as well as the popular Paramount Ranch now owned by the National Park Service. On the television side, a shutdown of the Armed Forces Network was preventing overseas troops from watching beloved NFL games. While recorded programs could play due to pre-set breaks, live NFL games require a technician (considered a non-essential government employee) to manage the breaks in the broadcast. However, this past Monday an act from the Secretary of Defense brought football and other entertainment programming back to AFN, recalling employees who contribute to boosting morale and well-being. And finally here is one more bright spot, as AMC Theaters are offering free popcorn to government employees at all its locations.

2) The network streaming service Aereo is back in the news with new litigation, new decisions, and a possible trip to the highest court in the land. While Aereo has a new suit in Utah from three local broadcasters and Fox, they won another case in Boston with a judge denying ABC-affiliate WCVB’s preliminary injunction motion. The biggest news on the Aereo-front, however, comes from a new petition from the four major broadcasters for the Supreme Court to review a decision back in April that denied their request to halt Aereo’s services while litigation proceeded. You can read the broadcasters’ full argument here.

3) Despite L.A.’s 19.3% rise in on-location filming last quarter, the MPAA and others are calling for an expansion to California’s tax credits for film and television. The situation is prompting unlikely cooperation from labor unions and business representatives as they petition California lawmakers, a measure that already has support in the state’s legislature with an extension to the state’s incentive program already being drafted. While this happens at the state level, some local areas are pushing their own programs, like Santa Barbara’s cash rebates being offered to unscripted TV shows.

4) A $1.3 billion acquisition in the world of ratings as Nielsen has completed its purchase of Arbitron, the research firm best known for tracking U.S. radio ratings. Arbitron will be renamed Nielsen Audio, meaning we will be losing everyone’s favorite statistician-Transformer. You will be missed, Arbitron.

social tv5) Sticking with Nielsen, they have unveiled their first batch of Social TV metrics, hoping to measure the top-tweeted shows and compare those numbers with more conventional ratings. Nielsen believes networks and programmers will promote Social TV metrics just like traditional ratings, despite a lack of clarity in the efficacy or impact of Twitter chatter. Still, the first week’s numbers revealed, quite unshockingly, little to no overlap between top-tweeted shows (like Breaking Bad’s finale) and total viewership (Breaking Bad was outside the Top 20).

6) The partnership with Nielsen is sure to play a factor in Twitter’s upcoming IPO, which was officially filed for back on Oct. 3. Trading under the symbol TWTR, Twitter is planning for a $1 billion initial public offering. The IPO could occur in November pending the length of Twitter’s “roadshow,” a trip where the company will attempt to sell itself to potential investors. So like the Antiques Roadshow except not at all.

7) After pressure from the Republican National Committee, both NBC and CNN have dropped documentary/miniseries projects that would have focused on the life of Hillary Clinton. RNC Chairman (and natural enemy of spellcheck) Reince Priebus called the double cancellation a “major victory against mainstream media” after he and the RNC threatened to deny NBC and CNN access to Republican primary debates. Just one day after the two networks announced their dropped plans, Citizens United, the conservative organization best known for the eponymous Supreme Court case over an earlier Clinton-movie project, has announced its own Clinton movie plans, this one focusing on her time as Secretary of State. And I’m sure we all know what that will look like.

8) It has been a bumpy road, but it appears Activision Blizzard will finally be able to buy itself from French-conglomerate Vivendi. After being stalled by a temporary court injunction pushed by a shareholder, the $8.2 billion deal will see Vivendi sell stock in Activision Blizzard back to the company and an investment group headed by company CEO Bobby Kotick. Activision Blizzard is the most successful video game maker on the planet, with both World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty franchise to its name.

9) Perhaps I feel compelled to keep reporting on this story because of my own intern ‘experience,’ but the internship-based ruling that saw two unpaid interns who working on Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan sued and won over minimum wage and overtime laws. Yet the story will not end there, as Fox Entertainment Group has filed a petition to appeal the decision made this past June. The case (and this possible appeal) could have major precedent for future media intern lawsuits, as well as internship cases across industries as the number of unpaid internships in the U.S. has grown exponentially during the recession.

exxon_mobil_logo_fxx_logo10) Can you own interlocking X’s? That is the question at the heart of this new lawsuit that sees Exxon-Mobil suing FX Networks over the logo to their recently launched cable channel FXX, as they claim the interlocking double-X’s infringes on their copyrighted logo, claiming “it is likely to cause confusion, to cause mistake, or to deceive customers and potential customers of the parties” because gas and cable channels, that’s why. If that quote wasn’t hilarious enough on its own right (and it most certainly is), the suit cites comments on Internet forums and comment-sections such as NeoGAF, TV.com, and AVClub as ‘proof.’ Here are a few. “The Enchanted Goatee” may be an expert witness:

  • A comment on NeoGAF.com by user “GungHo” copying the FXX logo from a previous post and asking “‘Were they inspired by the Exxon logo?”
  • A comment on AVclub.com by user “The Enchanted Goatee” stating “It looks like a misprinted Exxon logo “
  • A comment on HeapersHangout.com from user “lee4hmz” stating “Just saw the FXX logo….who thought it was a good idea to rip off Exxon?”
  • A pair of comments on TV.com from user “JT_Kirk.” The first states “ThatFXX logo has to go, that is awful on a plate. Also, Exxon is going to be pissed.”


What Are You Missing? Sept 16 – Sept 29 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/09/29/what-are-you-missing-sept-16-sept-29/ Sun, 29 Sep 2013 14:15:59 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=21954 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

wanda-ceremony1. A Chinese investor is looking to challenge Hollywood with a new, expansive movie-themed real estate development. Dalian Wanda Group chairman Wang Jianlin announced plans for the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis, a massive studio space featuring 20 sound stages, retail facilities, and a theme park. Costing between $4.9 and $8.2 billion, Wanda hopes to compete with nearby Shanghai Disneyland as the development’s description focused more on the theme park and commercial attractions than any actual movie making.

2. Speaking of Disney, the movie studio will end a nearly 20-year first-look deal relationship with producer Jerry Bruckheimer in 2014. Responsible for 27 movies at the company, including huge hits like the National Treasure and Pirates of the Caribbean series, Bruckheimer will continue to work on future installments in those series among other projects. Although following the disappointment of his latest at Disney, The Lone Ranger, Bruckheimer insists that flop is not the reason but rather a desire to make different kinds of films.

3. NBCUniversal has made two differing moves for top executives this past week. First, NBC Entertainment Chairman Robert Greenblatt’s contract has been extended through 2017 despite struggling ratings, showing a sign of trust in Greenblatt’s future slate of projects. Next, 12-year veteran of the company executive Lauren Zalaznick will be leaving her post overseeing digital properties, a position see took after being moved away from cable with her channels placed under Bonnie Hammer in February.

4. In other network news, both Fox and ABC lost court requests to halt the sales of Dish’s ad-skipping Hopper system. Fox and NBC are fighting Dish out in California with CBS and ABC suing in New York, and both cases are simply a denial of an injunction, with a full decision yet to be reached. While Dish touts this as a huge victory, Fox and ABC remain convinced they will win out in the end.

Grand-Theft-Auto-55. If you have a friend who has been mysteriously absent for the past two weeks, chances are he or she is playing Grand Theft Auto V, the latest video game in the blockbuster franchise that released Sept 17 and earned $800 million in that single day. Even more impressive, however, is the record-breaking $1 billion the game earned in just three days, making it second only to Marvel’s Iron Man 3 in terms of money generated from a single media release this year.

6. In much less reassuring video game news, a U.S. court has denied Vivendi’s plan to sell $8.2 billion in game company Activision-Blizzard (the second largest in the world to Nintendo). The decision comes from a lawsuit brought forth by an Activision shareholder, but only stands as an initial injunction, meaning Activision-Blizzard will pursue other routes to complete the sale and gain its independence.

7. Nielsen ratings are about to get another facelift, as the company plans to announce the addition of mobile viewing platforms, like tablets and smartphones, to its TV ratings system. Look for the announcement during Advertising Week in New York, though the full plan will not role out until the fall 2014 season. The move is an attempt to account for the increasing amount of viewership away from traditional boxes, with Nielsen also working on a product to track popularity via Tweets.

rotten tomatoes8. For those more interested in critical reception of television, the movie review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes will be expanding into television shows. Like it does for film reviews, Rotten Tomatoes will grant a “Certified Fresh” rating to a television season with over 60% positive reviews. The obvious differences between film and television, like whether to review shows, seasons, or series, are being worked out, but for now they are focusing on past seasons of currently running shows.

9. The FCC has handed down a new ruling this past Thursday when it found in favor of Bloomberg in its complaint against Comcast for not placing the channel within the same ‘neighborhood’ of news channels in its lineup. The decision came back to an agreement in 2011 when Comcast purchased NBCUniversal. The FCC did not find Comcast’s First Amendment argument convincing and has ordered the cable giant to put the Bloomberg business channel alongside NBC business/news channels like CNBC and MSNBC.

10. A new bill in California has been signed into law that enacts tougher penalties upon paparazzi who harass the children of public figures and celebrities, with violators facing a maximum one year jail time and a fine of $10,000. The bill was publicly backed by Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner, who both delivered emotional pleas in support of the bill during its deliberation.


What Are You Missing? Sept 2 – Sept 15 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/09/15/what-are-you-missing-sept-2-sept-15/ Sun, 15 Sep 2013 13:00:15 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=21711 Here are ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

Apple-iphone1) Our top story because APPLE: This past Tuesday an Apple press event marked the announcement of two new lines in the massively popular iPhone series, the 5C and 5S. The 5S is presented as the fully upgraded new model with the 5C as a budget-friendly (relatively) version of last year’s iPhone 5. The most talked about new feature of the 5S is TouchID, a thumbprint authentication security system that has some excited over an end to PINs and others fearful of the possible hacking opportunities the feature opens up. Wall Street seemed less impress than this Tokyo man already in line, as Apple stock took a large tumble following the announcement, losing $30 billion in market cap value.

2) IT. IS. OVER! The beginning of September brought an end to the month-long blackouts of CBS, Showtime, and other channels from Time Warner Cable in a disputed negotiation over retransmission fees. It seems CBS eventually came out on top, gaining increases in fees and a rise in their stock following the new deal. CBS head Leslie Moonves claims the blackout had no financial impact on CBS, calling the cost “virtually nothing.” Time Warner Cable, on the other hand, did lose subscribers during the blackout, as well as costs for marketing expenses, distributing free antennas, and other promotions. If this story was more exciting for you to follow than, say, CBS programming, don’t worry! Analysts say more blackouts are bound to happen in similar disputes, with prices likely going up for cable consumers. Hooray!

3) There were two type of shakeups at NBCUniversal over the past two weeks. The first comes within their management, as TV executive Jeff Shell is moving up to head Universal Studios replacing Ron Meyer, who is being promoted within Comcast. The movement is seen as a bit of a shocker, as this means former Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson is out, despite performing adaquetly but focusing on domestic distribution and marketing. Shell’s previous position at Universal International within Comcast indicates this is a shift towards a more internationally-focused campaign for Universal.

Esquire Network4) The second NBCUniversal shakeup comes on the cable channel end, as the previously announced Esquire Network will take over and replace Style on September 23, and not G4 as previously announced. Cable group chairman Bonnie Hammer noted in a memo that the shift was due to Style presenting a “brand overlap” with other NBCUniversal networks like Bravo, E!, and Oxygen. This means G4 will remain for the time being, despite canceling most of its gaming/technology original programming in anticipation of the rebrand. There are always COPS reruns to show.

5) Twitter has officially announced plans to go public, with the social media giant filing for IPO being officially announced in, appropriately, a Tweet. Estimates place the company at a worth of about $10 billion with the company making $583 million in revenue this year. This is the second major social media giant going public, and after the fiasco of Facebook’s opening that saw initial prices plummet, Twitter’s offering poses to renew the battle between the sites, as well as impact values of burgeoning social media enterprises.

6) BBC executives faced Parliament last week over excessive severance packages paid out to senior execs during widespread austerity cuts in the country. Most of the attention is on former BBC director general and current CEO of The New York Times Mark Thompson, who is trying to shift some of the blame to BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten, claiming he was misleading Parliament about the severances. In front of Parliament, Thompson made the argument that, and this is true, the severance payments helped reduce costs. The entire ordeal has lead many in Britain and Parliament to call for tighter scrutiny over the operations at BBC, with an upcoming review of the internal governance systems and relationship between BBC management and the BBC Trust, the broadcaster’s regulator.

7) In a move that seems to indicate a refocused direction, Microsoft has eliminated all contract and freelance writers from the company’s online news portal MSN. Despite the site getting solid U.S. traffic, comparable to AOL and Yahoo, all current assignments will be cancelled at the end of the month. It has not been revealed the fate of the site, or the amount or status of the freelancers affected.

8) While broadcasters continue to struggle in court over Aereo, they did gain a victory against another internet streaming service, as a collection of networks have successfully filed an injunction against FilmOn X, a service allowing live streaming of local networks online. Although just a preliminary decision, the case marks a departure from the standards set in the Aereo ruling which allowed the streaming service to continue operating during hearings. The differing opinions could lead to a date at the Supreme Court down the road.

9) SirusXM, the satellite-radio giant, is facing a fourth $100 million lawsuit in just this past month over SiriusXM not paying rights fees for playing pre-1972 recordings which are protected under state laws. It doesn’t stop there, as SiriusXM is facing its fifth and largest lawsuit yet, this one coming from major labels Sony Music Entertainment, UMG Recordings, and Warner Music Group. SiriusXM has yet to respond to any of these lawsuits.

UpFail10) And to end on a lighter (ha) note, here’s the story of a man, inspired by the Pixar film Up, who tried and failed to cross the Atlantic via a cluster of balloons. Just 12 hours after his departure from Maine, a “technical glitch” forced him down in Newfoundland. Though 12 hours, that’s something!


What Are You Missing? Aug 19 – Sept 1 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2013/09/01/what-are-you-missing-aug-19-sept-1-2/ Sun, 01 Sep 2013 13:00:58 +0000 http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/?p=21549 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently

frontline11) The NFL season kicks off this week, but the organization has been in the news for less-positive reasons as of late. First, ESPN cut ties on an upcoming collaboration with PBS’ Frontline for a special investigating concussions (“League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis”) after allegedly bowing to pressure from the NFL, an accusation ESPN denies. The special was meant to include ESPN images and logos in a co-branded production. While it is not clear exactly why ESPN pulled out, though ESPN president John Skipper claims his viewing of a promotional trailer that appeared “sensational” made him turn sour on the deal. PBS plans to move forward with the special, condensing the two-part series into a single broadcast backed by a massive media blitz. While the NFL can deny involvement in ESPN’s decision, they cannot deny the recent $765 million settlement to thousands of former players over long-lasting injuries (including Alzheimer’s, dementia, and encephalopathy) caused by concussions. The agreement avoids the hassle of addressing all the individual claims, but may set a wide-reaching precedent for future lawsuits against them or in other sports.

2) Turning to what I’m calling the “Story of the Summer,” Time Warner and CBS are still fighting over retransmission fees, with the CBS blackout in three major markets lasting over a month hurting consumer perception of both brands. In the meantime, CBS has extended its deal with Verizon’s FiOS, with CBS CEO Les Moonves claiming Time Warner Cable has been offered and rejected a similar deal. There was a brief détente when Time Warner agreed to suspend the blackout in New York City for the airing of two high-profile political debates, making this the biggest news a comptroller debate has ever made (Thanks, Spitzer!). Both sides have taken strides to curry favor, with Time Warner offering a free preview of the Tennis Channel during the U.S. Open as well as offering free antennas, as well as providing a $20 credit through Best Buy to buy their own. CBS, on the other hand, has begun airing ads in the three major markets featuring NFL stars Peyton and Eli Manning emphasizing the lack of NFL coverage should the blackout continue. And if you are wondering what the FCC is doing, they have finally stepped up to help end the dispute in a limited capacity.

3) From the “Story of the Summer” to the unofficial “Song of the Summer” (though I give it to Daft Punk if only for the Stephen Colbert clip), Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” has come under attack from the estate of Marvin Gaye over the song’s similarities to “Got to Give it Up” and Funkadelic’s “Sexy Ways,” leading the song’s producers (Thicke, Pharrell, and T.I.) to file a pre-emptive lawsuit. Thicke’s side offered a six-figure settlement, which Gaye’s family allegedly declined. You can judge for yourself, with this YouTube mashup featuring a guy’s cat playing with fish:

What Are You Missing? Aug 19 – Sept 1

Click here to view the video on YouTube.

4) Speaking of YouTube and copyright infringement, Lawrence Lessig has filed a lawsuit against Liberation Music Pty Ltd after a video of a lecture of his featuring a set of clips to the song “Lisztomania” by Phoenix was taken down from YouTube with the claim it violated Viacom’s license. The founder of Creative Commons is now fighting for the very thing his organization strives for: more open creative uses of licensed content.

5) Ok, one more music-based lawsuit. Satellite radio powerhouse SiriusXM is being sued for compensatory damages by SoundExchange (a nonprofit music royalty collector), alleging SiriusXM has been underpaying copyright owners, especially those from pre-1972 recordings. The suit claims between $50 million and $100 million in back payments. In a hilarious quote from SoundExchange’s attorney, he states, “This is serious. Pardon the pun.”

6) Another large lawsuit just ended, with the MPAA winning its copyright infringement case against cyberlocker Hotfile, a site that allows for the uploading, storing, and then downloading by other parties of copyrighted material. This looks to be a landmark case, as it is the first time a US court has held a cyberlocker like this accountable for copyright infringement.

7) In an update on the Fox Searchlight/intern lawsuit from a few months back, in which interns on the film Black Swan filed a class action suit for fair labor, Fox Searchlight has won the next battle, with the judge granting a limit on the time period others can join the suit, limiting the scale Fox will have to deal with and possibly pay/settle.

8) One last lawsuit, I swear. In this one the newly launched Al-Jazeera America is suing AT&T for not carrying the network for its U-Verse subscribers. Al-Jazeera America is claiming AT&T wrongfully terminated an existing contract that existed prior to Al-Jazeera’s purchase of Current TV possibly for religious reasons, with the high number of U-Verse subscribers in conservatives states in the South.

Because it is a slow news time, here are two silly stories to lighten the mood as summer unfortunately comes to an end.

BBGuac9) Hopefully you have been following Jason Mittell’s weekly feature here on AntennaBreaking Bad Breakdown. If so, you’d be happy to hear that after last week’s episode, the Mexican restaurant featured prominently in one scene (Garduno’s Dip) reports a surge in orders for table-side guacamole (It’s made in front of you!), due in no doubt to the server in the episode’s insistence upon its deliciousness.

10) In an update to our last edition’s story of Michael Jackson’s glove, which the US is currently suing for against the son of the dictator of Equitorial Guinea, I am pleased to report that while the case is far from over, the US will get to retain the glove during the trials proceedings. U.S.A! U.S.A! U.S.A!