China – Antenna Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Bracketing Home: The Asian Century Fri, 03 Jul 2015 13:00:12 +0000 asiaPost by Yiu Fai Chow (Hong Kong Baptist University), Sonja van Wichelen (University of Sydney), and Jeroen de Kloet (University of Amsterdam)

This post is part of a partnership with the International Journal of Cultural Studies, where authors of newly published articles extend their arguments here on Antenna.

The 21st century is often heralded as the Asian, if not the Chinese, Century.

We understand the seduction of such nomenclature. At the same time, we think it is important to be critical and cautious about such narratives that are often accompanied with strong doses of nationalism; after all, who needs another hegemonic power in the wake and form of the United States? But we understand the seduction of calling this century the Asian one, as much as we see the urgency to acknowledge changing dynamics between here and there. It seems undeniable that the Rise of Asia in the global context of our century has been engendering important shifts in geopolitical power relations. They necessitate more nuanced empirical inquiries and intellectual thinking on all sorts of issues, rather than one grand narrative. Mobility is one such issue. In a world that is increasingly globalized, in flux, groups of people are constantly on the move, either voluntarily as businessmen, academics or tourists, or by necessity as migrants or refugees. And yet, we must not forget those who stay put. The majority of Americans, for example, do not have a passport, while their films, music and television shows are likely to constitute the heaviest cultural (and economic) traffic in the world. In the meantime, in nations like China, many citizens have no choice but remain in their hometown, paradoxically involved in paid labour enabled by global capital.

We are, however, not only interested in mobility in a general sense. More specifically, we want to inquire into the “Asianization” side of this. Such more specific configuration of our intellectual curiosity is interwoven in our biographies. All of us traverse between “the West” and “the East,” making do with what we have, occasionally wondering where on Earth we are. And then we become sharply aware that home is not merely a manifestation of personal choice and affect, but also an issue of politics and power, when we are asked by those who insist on asking: Where do you really come from? Where is your real home?


Questions of place, belonging and citizenship have been high on the intellectual agenda since the early 1990s, yet most of these studies take “the West” as their focal point. The Asian turn urges us to rethink these notions. Can we still feel at home in a world that is so much in flux? Is home such a nice and cozy place as we are often expected to believe? The demand to feel at home is ridden with power; it is often imposed upon migrants to enforce assimilation; it may render us less mobile than we would like to be; and it may hinder rather than support the multiculturalist dynamics of a city. A migrant worker who left his hometown in Anhui in search for a better life in Shanghai is less likely to feel at home, given that local urbanite Shanghainese may look down upon him as having less “quality” (suzhi). On the other hand, can he ever feel truly at home in the big city, while his hometown is still struck and stuck by poverty and a lack of opportunities? Home is consequently fraught with longings and belongings that may produce a deadlock, rather than a sense of intimacy, capable of pushing us into a perpetual state of schizophrenia.

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An appeal to reconceptualize “home” seems necessary, not only to find a way out of such schizophrenic states of mind, but also to investigate how the Asian Century contributes to changing the notions of place, belonging, and citizenship so deeply anchored in the colloquial definition of home. Increasingly, we witness disjunctures and fractures between these three different modalities of home. People are forced to move and then even if they do develop a strong sense of belonging to that new place, they have to fight for their citizenship’s rights. Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong, for instance, have left behind their own families to take care of the families of their employers. This displacement of homes plunges them deeply into the workings of global capitalism, without earning them any citizen rights from the authorities. In other fast-changing cities in Asia, such as Beijing, people often feel alienated, negotiating a deep sense of non-belonging with the massive mutation of the cityscape. It is our contention that these disjunctures, as demonstrated in such “Asianization,” will increase in the future; the tensions between home and the actual place we find ourselves living in, between home and our sense of belonging, and between home and the rights attached to it, are increasingly disjointed.


Where home is matters not just geographically, but also historically, politically and culturally. Given the complex realities of home and the persistent simplicity or simplification in its imagination, we want to make a modest plea: to bracket home, not unlike the way we hyphenate identity. We find it necessary to bracket home as (making) place, (not) belonging and (flexible) citizenship-–to foreground the never-ending process of homemaking, the multiplicity of feelings and experiences, and the possibility of transcending old loyalties. To bracket home is to remind us that home is always already implicated in such complexities, thus always already in the processes of making. It is a profoundly sensory enterprise that involves a structure of feeling, an affective mode of belonging, that requires constant maintenance, and that remains perpetually fragile. Perceiving home in this manner paves the way for probing into the role that imagination plays–including old and new media–in the negotiation of home. Campaigns, pictures, and other visual materials (for example in the local branding of Hong Kong) attest to this important role of the imagination, as significantly as the limitations of such. Put differently, they are concerned with moments when memories flow in frustration with imagination, when longings duly evoked run havoc with the construction and maintenance of a sense of belonging.


In the editor’s note to this post, you will find the reference to a special issue of articles on “home,” which, in turn, found its roots in a conference we organized. The conference took place in Hong Kong in early 2013. Let us end with what took place in the city more than a year later, as an extended postscript to underline the urgency to revisit notions of home, belonging and citizenship in the Asian context. The protests loosely grouped as the Umbrella Movement were in many ways implicated with contestations precisely over home. Protesters claimed the streets, eventually calling the occupied areas “villages” with postal addresses, donning flyovers and highways with works of art, equipping public toilets with personal but communal toiletries, in short, making a place yet to be defined. At the same time, other populations fought to “reclaim” their city back to the older manners of running their shops, going to their work, and generally to the place already made. More immediately, the protests, and the counter-protests, were part and parcel of the larger contest over political power, democracy and freedom: who has the right to decide the city’s future? Beijing? Hong Kong? Who in Hong Kong exactly? The protests took place also in the midst of heightening Sino-Hong Kong tension not only in the political arena but also in everyday life. Many “local” people complain that “local” resources are being abused by increasing numbers of newcomers from mainland China, sometimes culminating in instances of intra-ethnic discrimination or downright xenophobic attacks. While mainland Chinese tourists are accused of being “unpatriotic” for spending money in Hong Kong, Hong Kong people are blamed for their lack of nationalistic feelings for their mother land. The latest controversy flared up when the largely local audience booed the national anthem of China when Hong Kong was hosting a football match against Bhutan for the World Cup preliminary match.

Such are the complex realities of home being played out in Hong Kong, China, Asia and, we believe, everywhere else. If this were the Asian Century, it’s time we learned more about place, about home–about the emerging processes of place-making, of belonging and of regulating citizenship statuses.

[For the full introduction to this special issue, see “At Home in Asia?: Place-making, Belonging, and Citizenship in the Asian Century,” forthcoming in International Journal of Cultural Studies. Currently available as an OnlineFirst publication:]

All photos taken by Jeroen de Kloet.


“Faces of Hong Kong”: My City? My Home? Wed, 03 Jun 2015 14:15:42 +0000 brandhk-02Post by Yiu-wai Chu, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

This post is part of a partnership with the International Journal of Cultural Studies, where authors of newly published articles extend their arguments here on Antenna. 

Hong Kong, now a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of China, had been a British colony for 156 years before sovereignty over the territory was handed to China in 1997. Shortly after reversion to its “motherland,” it was expected that Hong Kong people would have a stronger sense of belonging to their home city. The surprisingly stellar rise of China in the new millennium, however, has resulted in many impacts on Hong Kong. Hong Kong people have worried about forced integrations, in particular during the post-free-tour period, when countless Mainlanders crossed the border to purchase different commodities, ranging from luxury goods to baby formula.

The Hong Kong SAR government launched BrandHK, a global communications platform, in 2001 to focus international attention on Hong Kong’s drive to become “Asia’s World City.” In March 2010, a “Faces of Hong Kong” campaign was inaugurated via the BrandHK platform as a new marketing and communications strategy to promote the city and enhance the sense of belonging of Hong Kong people. The strategy of the overhauled campaign endeavored to highlight the “human” side of Hong Kong, thus its main thrust was focused on a series of promotional videos that featured different Hong Kong citizens. While the series of promotional videos feature both celebrities and common folk, familiar faces, such as international film star Chow Yun-Fat, have stolen the limelight. Although Chow Yun-Fat has achieved global success in his film career, he is well-known for being local as well. Praised by local media as “The Son of Hong Kong,” Chow Yun-Fat is famous for living an ordinary local life, despite his enormous success. As such, Chow Yun-Fat was the choice to promote Hong Kong to the world, as this campaign focuses on locals.“Faces of Hong Kong” tactfully used Kowloon City, Chow Yun-Fat’s favourite neighbourhood, as the main setting. In the video there were lots of signatures local stores where Chow has been hanging out for several decades. “Over the years, other parts of Hong Kong have changed a lot, but Kowloon City is a place that still feels the same. Much of what I remember from my childhood is still here. The way of life, the atmosphere, the friendliness of the neighbourhood. It’s the same for me now as it was back in the sixties.” Chow’s voice-over in the video might sound sweet to many years, but my “re-search” of Kowloon City told a different story. If the feeling of being at home is based on “security, familiarity, community and a sense of possibility,” which are actually the underlying themes of the “Faces of Hong Kong” promotional videos, the case of Kowloon City exposes a harsh reality that insists on showing a different picture: these key feelings have no place in the redeveloped district.

Photo 1: Kowloon City wet market; across the street once stood the famous local restaurant Dragon Palace.

Photo 1: Kowloon City wet market; across the street once stood the famous local restaurant Dragon Palace.

Photo 2: New Citygate Chinese Herbal Medicine Store on the left; across the street once stood the district’s largest department store, International, boasting a history of more than 50 years.

Photo 2: New Citygate Chinese Herbal Medicine Store on the left; across the street once stood the district’s largest department store, International, boasting a history of more than 50 years.

My pedestrian inquiry started with Kowloon City’s public wet market, Chow Yun-Fat’s favourite. Just across the road from the market stood a well-known local restaurant called Dragon Palace, but it was closed in 2012 and was subsequently torn down to make way for new luxury apartments (Photo 1). Unfortunately, this was not an isolated event. On the other side of the public market, the same developer demolished another old residential building to make way for its real estate project entitled “Billionaire Avant.” One block away from the public market stands three famous local stores: New Citygate Chinese Herbal Medicine Store (Photo 2), Hoover Cake Shop (Photo 3) and Kung Wo Soya Bean Factory (Photo 4). In the “Faces of Hong Kong” video, Chow Yun-Fat tastes delicious egg tarts at Hoover and consumes thirst-quenching soya bean milk at Kung Wo. These are undoubtedly landmark stores with a long history. However, on the same street many old buildings have already been swallowed up by developers. In the promotional video, Chow Yun-Fat works excitedly with the staff of New Citygate Chinese Herbal Medicine Store. The store is still there but the building just across the road, once housing the district’s largest “international” department store and boasting a history of more than fifty years, was pulled down not long after the video was released. Urban redevelopment is not uncommon in metropolis regions such as Hong Kong; however, what is most troubling is that the retailers of the new buildings are often completely different from their predecessors. As profit is the raison d’être of property developers, it is not surprising that the street stores in the luxurious redeveloped buildings target chain-store renters who can afford higher rates (Photo 5). It is a shame that the recent changes in Kowloon City, which might become a “generic district” in the near future, has told a story opposite to a local sense of belonging.

Photo 3: Hoover Cake Shop on the left; a new luxury apartment project across the street.

Photo 3: Hoover Cake Shop on the left; a new luxury apartment project across the street.

Photo 4: Kung Wo Soya Bean Factory on the right; a new luxury apartment project across the street.

Photo 4: Kung Wo Soya Bean Factory on the right; a new luxury apartment project across the street.

Photo 5: A new building with street shops occupied by chain stores.

Photo 5: A new building with street shops occupied by chain stores.

While “Faces of Hong Kong” highlights the stories of Hong Kong people from all walks of life, they are simply used to illuminate the values of “Asia’s World City,” which desperately brands Hong Kong as a generic global city. Generic cities that embrace neoliberal capitalism are very similar in nature. It is difficult if not impossible to have a strong sense of belonging if the “homes” in these cities are all equals. The problem is that both China and the West would like Hong Kong to further develop into a generic commercial city. The fluid, vibrant, and hybridized everyday life practices, a vital source of multiplicity in Hong Kong over the past fifty years, have been under threat in the past decade or so. Hong Kong citizens recently expressed that it is ever more important to safeguard core local values. Apart from values, sadly, local space cannot remain unfazed as well. Urban redevelopment has been sped up by not only rampant capitalism but also integration with the Mainland, the free tours from which, for instance, profoundly alters the ecology of the local market. The example of Kowloon City has shown that “to belong” has already become a luxury for many Hong Kong people.

[For the full article, see Yiu-Wai Chu, “‘Faces of Hong Kong’: My City? My Home?,” forthcoming in International Journal of Cultural Studies. Currently available as an OnlineFirst publication:]

All photos taken by the author on 23 October 2013.


What Are You Missing? Dec 30 – Jan 12 Sun, 12 Jan 2014 14:00:09 +0000 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 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.


Rethinking Media Distribution Wed, 20 Nov 2013 15:00:21 +0000 Tryon pic

The news that the subscription service Netflix now has more total subscribers than premium cable channel HBO further confirms that media industries are changing rapidly, especially when it comes to the practices of movie and TV distribution. Beyond altering the economics of media distribution, subscription services such as Netflix and Hulu have introduced a whole new vocabulary for both media consumers and industry professionals alike. Activities such as binge watching and “Netflix adultery” were unimaginable just a few short years ago, while more traditional practices—such as the weekly trip to the video store—have practically disappeared. With those changes in mind, Jeff Ulin, a media distribution expert who has worked at Lucasfilm, Paramount, and Universal, has substantially revised his 2009 book, The Business of Media Distribution, for the era of digital delivery, providing a fascinating and engaging road map for both media scholars and industry professionals.

The new edition of the book starts by spelling out how studios and networks manage media properties in order to create value—through managing intellectual property rights, for example—before tracing several different modes of distribution: theatrical, home video, television, and internet. The final sections of the book focus on aspects such as marketing and promotion, especially as those practices have been transformed by the emergence of social media tools. Ulin also reiterates one of the key observations discussed in his first book: the idea that studios are best understood as “financing and distributing machines” that seek to maximize value, in large part by managing the distribution “windows” when movies or TV shows are available through a specific platform. Ulin emphasizes the process by which studios carefully balance when movies are available theatrically, through VOD platforms, on DVD, and eventually through subscription services such as Netflix, in order to maximize the value of a given text.

In his map of the film distribution landscape, Ulin traces several of the key factors that drove the adoption of digital projectors, most notably the role of 3D in serving as a means for justifying surcharges to consumers. But another major factor identified by Ulin is the role of China as a major marketplace for Hollywood theatrical films. Specifically, Ulin points out that the U.S. government negotiated a deal to raise the limit on the number of international films screened annually in China from 20 to 34, with the stipulation that the additional movies be screened in 3D. While Ulin is less explicit on this matter, the clear implication is that China’s theatrical market will likely shape the choices studios make when it comes to picking projects for the foreseeable future.

But the strength of Ulin’s book is his thorough explanation of the changes in the home video marketplace, especially as online video sources are poised to upset DVD rental and sales. As Ulin points out, the conflicts between physical or bricks-and-mortar retailers and online sources including Amazon are often more complex than they appear, especially given incentives such as using DVDs as “loss-leaders” to draw shoppers into big-box retailers such as Walmart and Target. More crucially, however, subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) services such as Netflix and Hulu and transactional video-on-demand (TVOD) retailers such as Amazon and iTunes have upset traditional revenue streams and the distribution windows that were designed to provide various platforms (theaters, pay cable, basic cable) with periods of exclusivity that allowed studios and exhibitors to protect the value of the movie being distributed. These conflicts have played out in the ongoing debates over day-and-date distribution, especially for independent and low-budget movies, or shorter theatrical windows for studio films. But they also inform how TV shows circulate, especially when the interests of production companies and SVOD services such as Netflix compete with the interests of cable TV channels such as TNT and FX that are currently negotiating to extend their “broadcast window” to encompass the most recent season of a show, rather than just the five most recent episodes. Such battles are likely to persist in our current on-demand culture

One of the challenges that faces any book that focuses on the media distribution landscape is that it changes so rapidly. As I was reading Ulin’s book, Blockbuster Video announced that it would be closing its last 300 stores, resulting in the loss of over 3.000 jobs and leaving Redbox as, perhaps, the primary option for DVD rental for most US consumers. However, Ulin’s book remains relevant, in large part because he offers several key principles to describe the ongoing evolution of the media industries. With that in mind, we can read all of the recent changes—Netflix’s competition with HBO, Blockbuster’s closure of its U.S. stores, and China’s emergence as a crucial theatrical market—as part of a larger system in which studios and other media institutions use windows in order to generate and retain value for the films and television shows they distribute, no matter how we access them.


What Are You Missing? Sept 16 – Sept 29 Sun, 29 Sep 2013 14:15:59 +0000 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? Aug 5 – Aug 18 Sun, 18 Aug 2013 13:00:36 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

jeff-bezos-washington-post1) Granted, you probably didn’t miss our top story, as the news of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos purchasing the Washington Post for $250 million was all over the media. It is important to note this is a personal buy, as the Washington Post will be a part of Bezos’s personal portfolio unaffiliated with The large reaction to the story stems both from the possible creation of a new media tycoon as well as the history of the Washington Post, a family-controlled newspaper with a storied history of investigative journalism, most notably the Watergate scandal. While Bezos has said he will take a hands-off approach in the day-to-day operations, tax incentives and write-offs could force him to take more direct control. With Rex Sox owner John Henry buying the Boston Globe, you might be thinking of buying your own paper; however, The New York Times wants you to know they are not for sale. And from the tales of “Be Careful What You Read,” Chinese government-run news agency Xinhua claimed Bezos purchased the Washington Post by accident while browsing the web, a ‘story’ appearing in The New Yorker’s satirical Borowitz Report.

2) Next, our report from the front lines in the never-ending war between Time Warner and CBS over retransmission fees leading to Time Warner’s decision to blackout CBS in New York, L.A. and Dallas which could extend into September. TWC threw a PR strike, claiming they offered a new a la carte option for customers wishing to get CBS, an offer CBS CEO Leslie Moonves called a “public relations gesture,” a “well-wrought distraction,” and finally, a “sham.”  Another TWC letter raises issues with what it calls CBS’s policy of “coercive bundling” with premium channel Showtime, as well as blacking out access to from TWC internet users. The casualties of the blackout for CBS, according to analysts, could range around a loss of $400,000 per day, not bad enough for investors to run away. TWC, on the other hand, is feeling the hurt in the PR war, as their perception score on BrandIndex fell after initiating the blackout. But what about us, the people and our beloved CalmPirateCBS shows, the collateral damage? Well, a class action suit has been filed by TWC customers in Southern California who are seeking recovery of fees paid for missing Big BrotherDexterRay Donovan, and the PGA Championship. But other would-be victims rise above in times of media strife, as piracy of Under the Dome has seen an increase since the blackout. KEEP CALM AND PIRATE SHOWS. (NOTE: The writer of this post and the folks at Antenna do not condone piracy. This is a joke in the vein of the above wartime metaphor.)

3) Turning to CBS predecessor Viacom, showing that cooperation can be done as they have struck a new tentative deal with Sony for an Internet-TV service. The deal would allow content on an in-development Sony service that streams live television, which could launch as soon as the end of the year. The deal would be a boon for Sony, who is launching their new gaming system, the PlayStation 4, this holiday season in direct competition with Microsoft’s XBox One, with its own slew of television-related content. Analysts are seeing this as a possible start to a new era in competition for cable and satellite providers, as consumers are given another option for content, but this time with access to it live.

4) In international news China will resume payments to U.S. film studios from Chinese box office revenues after a dispute over a WTO-violating tax hike. MPAA chairman/CEO Christopher Dodd made the announcement, signaling the end to the dispute as well as the beginning of payments owed by the Chinese government for over a year. So while China is paying U.S. movie studios, there is no word on when the U.S. will start paying China back for that $1 trillion or so from our debt…

5) Speaking of U.S. politics, GOP chair Reince Priebus threatened to deny 2016 debates to both NBC and CNN after it was announced both networks were planning to air programs (a miniseries and documentary, respectively) about Hillary Clinton, he stated in letters sent to both Robert Greenblatt and Jeff Zucker (and reposted to the GOP website). After neither channel budged, the GOP officially voted to ban 2016 primary debates from NBC and CNN, later releasing the text of the resolution. In a related story, it is currently the year 2013.

A shameless reference to my South Carolina Gamecocks

A shameless reference to my South Carolina Gamecocks

6) After the NCAA dropped its licensing deal with EA Sports over inclusion in its yearly college football video game, three of the biggest conferences in college sports (SEC, Big Ten, and Pac-12) have announced plans to do the same. Each school, conference, and of course the NCAA itself make personal deals for licensing of team logos, names, and other trademarked material, so although each can make their own decision, many are following the NCAA’s and conferences’ lead. The moves not to license come as the NCAA and individual schools face mounting litigation from former and current student-athletes over the use of likenesses without compensation, a cost that seems to outweigh the income from licensing.

7) Another quick story from the world of video games, as American Express and popular online game League of Legends  have announced a partnership that will see the release of prepaid credit cards that not only feature imagery and characters from the game, but allow a user to gain in-game currency (called Riot Points) by activating and loading money onto their card, essentially encouraging use of the cards to better one’s abilities within the game.

8) A new research report has found an increase in the rate of cord-cutting, noting the “numbers aren’t huge, but they are statistically significant.” Cable operators Comcast and Time Warner have been hit hardest by deserters as pay-TV subscribers have been shrinking overall. Recent financial results from Canada show the trend happening ‘up North,’ as well.

9) Following in the footsteps of After Earth and White House Down, Jerry Bruckheimer’s The Lone Ranger will join the list of bombs of 2013’s summer as Disney is expected to lose up to $190 million on the blockbuster, despite coming out ahead of predictions in overall earnings for the quarter. What makes this news particularly interesting is that stars Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer, as well as Bruckheimer have blamed critics for the film’s failure, implicitly making the bold claim that people actually listen to critics, despite Grown Ups 2′s financial success/critical panning.

10) StePhest Colbchella, the annual music celebration on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report hit a snag when scheduled performers Daft Punk cancelled only a day before their scheduled appearance due to a contractual exclusivity agreement with fellow-Viacom channel MTV to (secretly!) appear on the Video Music Awards next week. While some questioned whether this was planned all along, Colbert addressed the controversy with notable aplomb.

11) Finally, a silly story with a headline so perfectly descriptive, I will let it speak for itself: U.S. Battling Dictator’s Son for Michael Jackson’s Glove.


What Are You Missing? Apr 28 – May 11 Sun, 12 May 2013 13:05:45 +0000 WAYM-Iron Man 3Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1) This installment starts with news that that I’m sure no one missed. Iron Man 3 made its worldwide debut, but all eyes were on China, which put up a respectable $21.5 million on opening day. In North America, our $68.3 million opening day brought IR3 within striking distance of a half-billion dollar box office after less than two weeks of release. Keeping all of that in mind, can you really blame RDJ?  But life’s not all about the Benjamins, friends. Apparently, Tony Stark is doing good business (“business”?) among pirates, who elevated IR3 to #3 on TorrentFreak’s list of the most illegally downloaded films. Haven’t seen the movie yet? Here are some other ways to enjoy the atmosphere: becoming Iron Man, keeping up with Robert Downey, Jr., on Sina Weibo, or basking in RDJ’s charisma.

2) Speculation about NeXtBox – can we make this a thing? – is picking up ahead of a launch event set for May 21. Exact details about the release date, price, and specs are yet to be revealed, but as I get on in years, I find what matters most is that I be allowed — encouraged even — to play alone. What do we know about NeXtBox? Well, apparently it supports a projector system capable of making you wish that you didn’t have so much furniture. Don’t invest in a blank wall yet, however; Illumiroom may not be ready for Microsoft’s next-gen rollout. If you’re not on Team Microsoft, there’s always the PS4 to look forward to.

3) The future is arriving at the speed of time, and next-gen gaming systems are just the start. San Francisco played host last week to the first NeuroGaming Conference and Expo, where “ineluctable modality” was just a string of cool-sounding syllables. Commercial potential for games that track player heart rate, brain waves, pupil dilation, and a host of other physiological data is still slight, but Google Glass may help start-ups find a direction. We all saw Strange Days, right? Less pie-in-the-sky are developments in controller design. Thalmic Labs’ Myo promises “effortless interaction,” bringing us all one step closer to living out our childhood fantasies or five steps closer to saying, “Remember when…?” Also, this exists.

4) Let’s pretend this is a surprise. Google Glass is coming, presumably for people more interesting than myself, and some of the source code has been released, so developers have been put on notice. What are the possibilities? Where to start: wink-based photography, making Vine videos, making and uploading YouTube videos, ARG gaming (a covert valorization of early adoption?), Facebooking, and updating your software. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows; get a head start on worrying about surveillance, privacy, basic social interactions, keeping expectations realistic, and not looking like a jerk. And you don’t have to be excited about the tech itself to enjoy the ad campaign. White Men Wearing Google Glass has made a game of tracking down the instrument’s target demographic. So far, though, I’m most concerned about a different set of would-be users. Finally, I’m going on record. Google Glass is still only playing second-fiddle. The Large Hadron Collider (or any particle accelerator) exists; for the rest of us, there’s Google Glass.

5) First, some context: The Syrian Electronic Army has been around the digital block a few times, becoming something of a nuisance for high-profile critics of the Assad regime. The group’s latest target was The Onion Twitter account, where it posted a number of pro-Assad and anti-Semitic tweets just because they couldn’t take a joke. The Onion responded as you’d expect: one news story poking humor at the hack and another announcing tighter security. (When connectivity is a weapon, I feel compelled to point out that feelings of levity should be brief. See the end of the WaPo story for evidence.)

6) How are things at DreamWorks? Awesomeness abounds.  It’s overflowing even, so they’ve sent some to China. But is ‘awesome’ for DreamWorks ‘awesome’ for everyone? It may be for a selection of YouTube content providers. Subscription channels are coming. Big Bird may be involved, but WWE isn’t biting (for now?).  As much as things change, other things remain the same…unless this happens. That would be a fairly significant development.

7) Netflix’s streaming service lost almost 1,000 titles on May 1. Users and the media took to calling the event Streamageddon, but I was partial to Apocaflix. Netflix (see, it’s right there in the name!) has begun testing new layouts, which makes me wonder if Facebook has conditioned us to complain. Then again, Netflix has its competitors to think about, and they do seem to be cropping up. If the market gets tight, there’s always money in the banana stand.

8) A smattering of stories about trademarks and copyrights… Instagram has the dubious honor of having its name informally tacked to recent British copyright legislation. Do you think Warner Bros. performed a “diligent search” before being sued for its unauthorized use of Keyboard Cat and Nyan Cat? Barry Diller is calling broadcasters’ bluffs over Aereo, and Fox is doing its best Shredder impression, claiming the court battles are just beginning. For what it’s worth, Aereo is taking steps to keep that from being the case. Also, who has the heart to argue with Harper Lee? If Gregory Peck were still around, I bet he’d get involved.

9) What’s killing cinema? Steven Soderbergh has the answer. “[F]ive and a half hours of mayhem,” you say? It sounds so Shakespearean, but I expect it signifies more than nothing. Don’t worry about Soderbergh, though, he’s got a Plan B, available for your enjoyment here.

10) What else is there to talk about? Rest in peace, George Jones, Deanna Durbin, and Ray Harryhausen. In case you’re unfamiliar with any of them, here’s the greatest country song of all time (by some accounts), an appreciation and analysis of fan appreciation for Durbin, and a primer on Harryhausen’s work. (The pay wall won’t block the videos, so click on through!) Ender’s Game is on the way. To my father’s great shame, I’ve never read it. As for Mr. Card, he depresses me too much to make a joke. Star Wars day happened. Nielsen says welcome to the family. And get ready for some AIP remakes!

11) What?! That’s right. ELEVEN! One extra for the art and science that caught my eye. Here’s a stop-motion movie using atoms as pixels, meaning there’s at least one digital format with resolution superior to 35mm film. Roger probably would have stood his ground on this one. I know people who actively change the typeface of their handwriting every few years. Earth driving is easy. The mysteries of the cosmos are out there to be discovered, but don’t forget that people can be pretty gosh darn cool, too.


What Are You Missing? January 6-19 Sun, 20 Jan 2013 15:27:41 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently.

1. China had a big box office year in 2012, though a good chunk of the revenue came from American studio imports, like Life of Pi. The Hangover-esque Chinese comedy Lost in Thailand has become the country’s biggest domestic hit ever, though, and some expect the rise of China to global number one movie market status to come courtesy of shallow blockbusters.

2. Hollywood studios are turning to outside funding to support its films that aren’t shallow blockbusters, while Disney is looking at budget cuts for everything. DreamWorks is still a great place to work, though. Video game makers want greater control over the films Hollywood makes from their properties, while Disney is meshing together gaming and its movies with the upcoming Disney Infinity game.

3. We’re getting more info about Redbox Instant, which is expected to launch in March, because a group of users have gotten to beta test it. We know that it will be focused on movies, not TV shows, and Redbox’s CEO also says the company won’t abandon DVDs. But Austin Carr isn’t impressed with the service.

4. Home video revenue finally rose a bit last year, halting a seven-year skid, with streaming getting most of the credit for the uptick. UltraViolet also continues to grow, and Walmart’s “disc to digital” cloud service has been improved. Don’t expect Amazon to extend its “Amazon-purchased CD to digital” plan to movies, though.

5. Amazon has also launched a new mp3 store targeted toward iPhone/iPod users, offering a shot across iTunes’ bow. iTunes now has a partnership with Rolling Stone, whose iPad magazine will have links to Apple’s music store. The blog Asymco has graphed the iTunes economy.

6. 2012 music sales indicate the CD’s impending demise and the digital single’s growth. Other trends revealed from the figures are that big hits take up an increasing share of download sales; rock and pop music dominated, though country music sales rose compared to 2011; and indie labels grabbed one-third of album sales.

7. The number of children reading books on digital devices is rising, though over half of kids still have never read an e-book. Libraries are also said to be losing their influence among children, but maybe video games at libraries can help. There’s also a plan in the works in Texas for a bookless, all-digital library.

8. The Wii U is bringing in more revenue than the original Wii did in early sales, but that’s only because it costs more. Nintendo’s president says sales of the Wii U are “not bad,” given the competitive landscape, and Nintendo is merging its console and handheld divisions to better deal with that landscape. Xbox 360 has finished its second year as the best-selling console, and Microsoft says that the next Xbox system will fill your living room with images to immerse you in games. And we can now say goodbye to the dominant console of the past, the Playstation 2, which will no longer be made.

9. Pingdom offers a slew of stats on how we used the internet around the world in 2012, from search to mobile to email, while Mashable has an infographic specifically on social media use in 2012. The FCC is looking to expand Wi-Fi spectrum space so we can do even more online in 2013, like look at video ads.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Anger Management Returns, CNN-SI Change, OWN Hopes, Double Your FX, TCA & Twitter, The Killing Will Return, Dish & CBS Battle Ropes in CNET, Corrie Coming to Hulu, Five-0 Ending, Time-Shifted Viewing, Soap Revivals, Video Sharing Passed, Netflix & Ratings, Al Jazeera America, PBS at TCA, The CW at TCA, CBS & Showtime at TCA, Arrested Development at TCA, ABC at TCA, FX at TCA, Fox at TCA, NBC at TCA.


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What Are You Missing? Sept 2-15 Sun, 16 Sep 2012 13:44:59 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Twitter has Facebook beat on mobile ad dollars, but Mark Zuckerberg plans to change that. Facebook is also developing new strategies for web ads, including sponsored search results. And in an effort to maintain the integrity of perceived value, Facebook is cracking down on fake “likes.”

2. USA Today has completed a web-inspired redesign, but newspapers are still mired in a world where they’re getting only $1 in digital ad revenue for every $25 they lose in print ad revenue. The Village Voice seems in dire shape, and entertainment industry trades are fighting to stay relevant. Maybe they all need to look at Reddit.

3. The most interesting conversations in the wake of Amazon unveiling its new Kindles involve debates about Amazon’s stated strategy to go for slim profit margins on hardware and reap bigger rewards on the digital goods people purchase to use on that hardware, which is counter to the Apple model. Though early reviews of the new Kindles don’t indicate that it’s an iPad killer, some think Google should at least be worried.

4. The new Wii U console will be available in the US on November 18 (though don’t bother checking Amazon for a pre-order), in Europe a few weeks later, and in Japan in early December. Its price has proved to be controversial, though a price cut will likely come later, and we may even be treated to a console price war over the holidays.

5. Even with the profitability of music streaming still in question, Nokia has launched a free streaming music service for smartphones, and Apple has a streaming radio service in the works that would use your iTunes history to select songs. This would pose a challenge Pandora, which saw its stock plunge on the news. Meanwhile, Spotify is making some changes, with a browser-based version coming soon.

6. After 20 months of investigating and over a million warning letters sent, a French anti-piracy agency now has a conviction to point to under its “three strikes and you’re fined” law: $200 is the price to be paid for two pirated Rihanna songs. In the US, a music-sharer has seen her fine reimposed: $220,000 for 24 songs. And Pirate Bay’s co-founder has been arrested; the penalty he faces is a little bigger.

7. Film (as a format) is dying, with Fuji as the latest abandoner, and studios are trying to adapt, with Warner Bros. especially devoting considerable attention to developing digital media options. Warners hopes that its Flixster and UltraViolet combo will encourage people to buy movies rather than rent, and Fox has similar motivation behind its plans to release digital versions of films before disc versions. A new digital storefront could help UltraViolet, while Amazon Prime Instant Video has gotten a boost from a film deal with Epix.

8. The Telluride Film Festival  marked the start of Oscar bait season, and Ben Affleck’s Argo and the documentary The Gatekeepers left with the most buzz. Meanwhile, the frenzied Toronto International Film Festival saw very active sales, with Lionsgate being an especially aggressive buyer, while Sony Pictures Classics, The Gatekeepers’ distributor, was busy showing off its wares, and documentaries grabbed a lot of attention.

9. The acquisition of AMC theaters by Chinese mogul Dalian Wanda is officially complete, and Wanda is now eyeing other US entertainment purchases. Back in China, the film industry is booming, but tensions with Hollywood are increasing due to import restrictions. China at least wants some Hollywood imports, though, especially those films they’ve got product placements in.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: CBS Threatens Dish, Hurry-Up Problems, NBC is NBCU’s Priority, CBS Adjusts Schedule, Over-the-Top Increases, Netflix Good & Bad, Breaking Bad Story Sync, Colbert & Religion, No New Apple TV Products, Gilligan Interviews, Fall Schedule.


What Are You Missing? Aug 19-Sept 1 Sun, 02 Sep 2012 14:00:16 +0000 Back from summer vacation with ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Sundance is spreading its influence further, opening a new indie film theater in Los Angeles and enabling online distribution of a set of Sundance Institute films. Over in China, a film festival has been suppressed, as the Beijing Independent Film Festival was canceled due to political pressure. And Nigeria’s burgeoning film industry, Nollywood by nickname, is fighting to overcome challenges to compete with Hollywood films.

2. The summer movie box office was down from last year, with 100 million fewer tickets sold (though Fandango sold more tickets than ever in its history), and the US is dragging down Canada with it. The Avengers and Magic Mike were among the handful of winners.

3. Amazon has a big announcement coming on Thursday, and while most speculate it will be about a new Kindle Fire, Ryan Lawler wonders if it will involve support for Hollywood’s UltraViolet service. David Pogue thinks better legal online services will help limit piracy of Hollywood movies, and the Weinstein Co. is trying a creative approach with the Kirsten Dunst film Bachelorette. Incidentally, we’ve reached the 100th anniversary of film’s copyright designation.

4. While Amazon is touting all of its Kindle achievements, sales of Barnes and Noble’s Nook are falling, and the device is suffering from multiple problems. B&N will still launch the Nook in the UK soon, though it will first be available not in a bookstore but at the home goods retail store John Lewis. Overall, B&N revenue is up.

5. Streaming music revenue is expected to far outpace downloads in the coming months. Spotify has seen a slight dip in usage recently, while Pandora is having revenue problems, leading it to try and lower musicians’ royalty payments, and Spotify may be thinking the same. But rest assured, at least RIAA executives are raking in money.

6. After 24 years of publication, the magazine Nintendo Power is shutting down, and after 18 years of game development, Europe’s Studio Liverpool is closing up shop. 5-year-old social games company Zynga isn’t going to dry up anytime soon, but it is struggling right now. And even the venerable Angry Birds franchise is getting a challenge from free-to-play games.

7. Facebook’s stock plunge continues, with 50% of its initial value gone and even more likely going, but some are still recommending it as a buy, and the service itself certainly isn’t struggling, as it trails only YouTube as a popular video destination and processes 2.5 billion pieces of content each day. Plus, the company’s getting a sweet new campus designed by Frank Gehry.

8. Twitter isn’t winning many fans with its new API rules, which limit how services like Tumblr can interact with its users. Twitter will also no longer display the client source of tweets. Many analysts see these changes as indicative of Twitter at a crossroads, and new relationships with entities like NBC seem to hint that it is leaning toward becoming more of a media company, rather than just a social media utility. And apparently, it could get hired in a movie studio casting department if it wants.

9. Meet the people who scrub the internet of its worst content. Find out why people write comments on internet porn. Learn everything you need to know about the internet’s obsession with cat videos. Get annoyed by the prevalence of fake internet book reviews.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Copyright Insanity, Watching Women, HBO Go Nordic, ESPN Profits, 90 More Anger Managements, Social Premieres, Tonight Show Struggles, TV Rules College Sports, Blackouts Troubling Advertisers, TV Reruns Down.