What Are You Missing? May 13-26

May 27, 2012
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Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. As mobile devices spread ever more widely across the globe, the White House wants federal agencies to make information more readily accessible online and especially through mobile apps. (Anyone up for a game of Angry Senators?) Right now, President Obama dominates challenger Mitt Romney on Twitter, though Romney does well in swing state followers.

2. Bad news continues to emerge about Google+, but Google seems to be ignoring all that, or missing the point, and perhaps missed the boat in not buying Twitter. Google did buy Motorola, which puts it in the hardware business, and the company is experimenting with everything from mobile photography glasses to cars that drive themselves.

3. It was also a challenging fortnight for Facebook, what with the worst IPO of the decade, a $15 billion class action lawsuit over user tracking, and GM blowing off its advertising value. Facebook is now stuck in a tough place between users and revenue needs, and its whole base could be built on a fallacy.

4. The Cannes Palme d’Or is awarded tonight. Such accolades don’t necessarily translate into box office success, but based on buzz, you can at least expect to hear more in the coming months about The Paperboy, Killing Them Softly, Cosmopolis, Amour, and The Hunt. There’s also buzz for films that premiered promos at Cannes, including PT Anderson’s The Master and Tarantino’s Django Unchained. Overall, though, word is that the festival was a subdued affair in the end.

5. It’s yet to be seen what Chinese ownership of the AMC theater chain might bring, but the man leading the purchase is making a big bet that there’s still value in American theaters, even as he really has the global market in mind. And this could be a sign of more buyouts to come.

6. The latest symbols of the newspaper business in crisis are the vulnerability of the New York Times, the New Orleans Times-Picayune making major cutbacks in print and talking vaguely about the digital future, three Alabama papers from the same owner cutting back to only three days a week, and the Denver Post showing that maybe copy-editors really are needed. Rich folks are still investing in papers, though, and some think fundamental ideological change is needed to save the form.

7. Not all magazine publishers are excited about the web, and one wonders where the concept of the controversial magazine cover goes after the death of print. Erotic books are enjoying a renaissance due to the privacy afforded by e-readers, which also have some DRM issues to work out.

8. A long-running illegal music downloading case will carry on for a bit longer after the Supreme Court declined to hear the defendant’s case. Meanwhile, in California, two men were sentenced to a year in jail for selling counterfeit CDs, while a case about pirated adult movies was dismissed due to uncertainty over IP address accuracy. And right-minded folk everywhere breathed a sigh of relief after Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” was restored to its proper place after a brief copyright takedown.

9. Spotify has added Aussies and New Zealanders to its roster of 20 million active users, and estimates of its value have reached $4 billion. Some think it’s Pandora that will truly change the music industry, though, and the increase in youth turning to internet radio bodes well for that.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: 10pm Drama Problem, Eurovision Host Issues, Girls Without TV, Auto Hop Lawsuits, Complete Season Ratings, Idol’s Drop, Simon’s Commencement Address, Season Winners, Women Writers & Pilots, Milch-Weiner-Gilligan Interview, Aereo Wins One, Dan Harmon Out, Upfronts Catchup.


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