Kangaroo court

Following the ruling, a few analysts (Arash @ Screen Digest, Nick Thomas @ Forrester/Jupiter) have come out and criticized the competition commission for a lack of foresight – Pirates must be delighted (Nick Thomas, Forrester).

And while the collaboration may be denied,  the constituent players are still able to throttle competition: “Between ITV.com, Channel 4.com and Kangaroo’s core site, there will be little space left in the nascent online TV advertising market for the likes of Five, BSkyB (NYSE: BSY) and MTV. We believe the provisional findings suggest a lack of familiarity with online content markets.”

Arash at Screen Digest lamented the demise of the service that Didn’t know what it was

Was it a subscription archive service? Was it an ad-supported archive service? Was it a catch-up service? Was it both but in different windows? Was it free or paid? Would it feature US hit shows or not? 

At some point during the 20 months of its short life, Project Kangaroo was one or all of these things. In many respects, it was the brainchild of a confused pre-“iPlayer 2.0” era…

…Kangaroo was a waste of time and effort on the part of both ITV and Channel 4. As the dust settles, the focus will rightly shift towards ITV Player and 4oD which, if the BBC iPlayer and Demand Five are anything to be measured by, will have to make up for lost time if they don’t want to get lost in the noise. “

It’s certainly set the major broadcasters over here back a few steps, but opened a window of opportunity for others and all agree the market will continue to become more competitive.

We thought there was also an interesting – if slightly xenophobic – assertion in the ruling that UK viewers particularly valued programmes produced and originally shown in the UK!

Research is always an interesting beast –  ask the man on the street what his favourite programme is and you can be confident it’ll be most recent show he’s seen and enjoyed; with the most popular content still found on the (dominant) terrestrial channels, of course UK viewers will seem to value UK produced shows.

The real reason this hooker our interest is because the ruling came out the day after The Culture Show ran a brilliant piece by Greg Dyke on the success of HBO. The raft of high-quality, challenging shows coming out of HBO (the Wire, Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Desperate House Wives) is increasingly recognized and lauded over here, at stark comparison to the home-grown dirge of reality eye-wash and mediocre ‘safe’ material – It’s all chewing gum for the eyes! (unable to access iPlayer? check accompanying Guardian piece here).

Ultimately, the consumer demand for high-quality, coupled with the increasing awareness of online video, means that regardless of Kangeroo cancellations market growth is a certainty here.

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Whats the score for Channel 4?

I feel sorry for little ol Channel 4.  When I used to be a youngster it was without question the Channel to which I was glued.  As a student I spent most mornings watching T4 and the weekend gormlessley absorbed by the Hollyoaks omnibus.  Those were the days when I didn’t feel it was a waste of life to watch Big Brother, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Playing it Straight or An Average Joe.  But when Simon and Miquita quit Pop World, it was all over for me.

I’m still holding onto my youth and am definitely not past it yet but feel like I can get my TV sustenance from elsewhere.  I don’t actually have one but choose instead to watch on demand services from iPlayer, 4OD (I still have a penchant for the occasional property show), ITV and Five.  This may be where the problem has arisen.  TV ad revenues have been in decline since the 90s, cable and Internet give advertisers way more choice and this, combined with the ‘yoof ‘ of today watching TV less and less poor ol Channel 4 is now in a bit of a pickle.  (Not, as Sandi Toksvig joked, because the bottom has dropped out of the property programme market)

So Ofcom have stepped in.  Channel 4, without the monies from TV advertising to fund its public service broadcasting obligations,  needs to become part of a bigger entity in order to act as young challenger/alternative voice to the Beeb and hopefully improve the standard of news, arts and current affairs programming.  ITV and Five would be free of its public service obligations in order that they can focus on becoming strong commercial networks.  

Catch this clip on Youtube which features Ofcom’s CEO Ed Richards which explains the findings http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=6B9uD-clUQ0

News reports seem to show that Andy Duncan, CEO of Channel 4 is pretty adverse to merging with Five.  More recently a joint venture between Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide (the commercial arm of the BBC) which could see BBC Worldwide selling Channel 4s programmes abroad or working in partnership to for UKTV

We’re left with the public service broadcasting equivalent of a cliff hanger.  Come back next time to continue the story.

Obama victory + social engagement = ?

Almost a week has passed since Obama became President Elect of the United States. For those of us not lucky enough to be in Chicago to suck-up the potent positivity (my Edelman colleague Jonny Bentwood was fortunate enough to experience Grant Park from the ground), it has been fascinating to read all the accounts, opinions, and theories surrounding an historic campaign.

Before November 4th the use of digital technology, YouTube, mobile phones and specifically the my.baracobama social network, was widely recognised for playing a pivotal role in mobilizing support for Obama’s campaign. Looking back who would have thought two years ago that an American election would become a text-book case-study on how to use ‘new’ technologies to fully engage with an audience? Jemima Kiss’s article in today’s Media Guardian, has a great overview of the campaign and highlights the significance in the intimate dialogue that these new communication channels encouraged between candidate and voter.

Now that the lines of communication have been drawn (in twitter feeds, profile posts, and YouTube videos), Obama will need to keep them open and, crucially, transparent. As David Carr points out, in today’s International Herald and Tribune, Obama is now in control of a powerful database. By using this effectively, we will witness a monumental shift as a previously apathetic public now participate in politics, in real-time.

Adam Ostrow’s article on Mashable (published on the 5th) makes some interesting predictions on how Obama can maintain momentum, and continue to involve the electorate from within the Oval Office. It was a relief to see that Obama’s camp is committed to the intimate engagement they championed on the way to the White House, with the launch of Change.gov this weekend. It will be interesting to see how this commitment plays out. I particularly like Ostrow’s “Call to Service” idea; a social network acts as a facilitator to plough enthusiasm and energy back into community projects. (I imagine this would be invaluable come re—election time, as voters will have felt the benefit of an Obama administration close to home).

With such a high-profile ambassador for the power of engaging with an audience, Obama’s victory will hopefully have a knock-on effect for PR and the way businesses communicate with their customers (and not just inspire game designers). David Carr quotes Ranjit Mathodar in his article. Mathodar wrote a fascinating essay in March, on Obama’s approach to digital technologies, and in the IHT article he makes a valid point “”When you think about it, a campaign is a start-up business”. So why shouldn’t start-ups and mature businesses adopt a similar approach? As proven by the election result, opening up a dialogue, maintaining conversations, and giving an audience the tools to make their voices heard can yield very positive results.

UPDATE:

The BBC has posted a story on the Obama Super Mario World game today (which I’ve been playing a lot recently. It’s hard to resist a game that is both reminiscent of my formative SNES years, and also lets you jump on lipstick wearing pigs).

Anyway, the reason I’ve posted again is at the bottom of the story the Beeb reports how the Republicans are responding to Obama’s victory. They have a new found appreciation of the web and all it offers for gathering grass-roots support. It’s going to be an interesting four years…

Alan Johnson is free.

After 114 days he’s been released. Brilliant news.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/6267928.stm

DERTY Link #3: OneStopPopShop

“I’m a self-facilitating media node, yeah… it’s well mexico!!!

popurls.jpg  

Popurls is the dashboard for the latest web-buzz, a single page that encapsulates up-to-the-minute headlines from the most popular sites on the internet. Launched in March, it gives “a quick glance on what’s happening on the web while keeping the common newsreader clean from short-term headlines…a gate to an editorial selection of the most popular sites on the internet, presented in a usable way

PopURLS gives you a snapshot of all the most popular links from the most widely used aggregators. That’s A LOT of headlines, people. 

In all honesty there’s just too much to take in at once, but to get a good indication of web-mentality, the key discussions and news agenda online, popurls can’t really be beaten. It takes a moment to get your head round it but when it comes in to focus, it’s pretty amazing.

The list as it stands at the moment:

Digg, del.icio.us, reddit, flickr, newsvine, metafilter, tailrank, youtube, news.google, news.yahoo, netscape, ifilm, wire, slashdot, boingboing, odeo, fark, nowpublic, shoutwire, metacafe, clipmarks, dzone, videoshift and video.aol.

I could link to all of these sites individually, but I honestly cannot be bothered. Similarly, I could not be ar$ed copying out the ludicrously comprehensive list of contributing blogs – just go and look for yourself, it’s what it’s there for. 

As Barley would say, “Keep it foolish!”

Citizen jouranlists?

freedom-of-expression.jpg 

Suw Charman (ORG and Strange Attractor) has published a brilliant examination of citizen journlism at the Freedom of Expression project.

Read the whole article, or download the pdf. after the jump

The Changing Role of Journalists in a World Where Everyone Can Publish

info: Submitted by Lisa Horner on Sun, 2007-05-06 15:08.

by Suw Charman
Social media expert, writer and journalist

(Download a pdf version at the end of the paper)

Citizen journalism – when the general public investigate, fact-check and publish news stories – is changing the face of news. The historic role of gatekeeper, played until now by professional journalists, is obsolete. But new technology and increased civic participation are creating new opportunities for the mainstream media, and three key roles are emerging:

  1. Investigation – traditional in-depth investigative journalism made more transparent by publishing research and references.
  2. Curation – collecting trustworthy links and synthesising an informed and succinct overview of a story.
  3. Facilitation – working with the community to help people publish stories important to them.

What is ‘Citizen Journalism’?

Ask a dozen people to define ‘citizen journalism’, and you will undoubtedly get twelve different answers. This is not because agreement can’t be reached, but because many different activities have been lumped together under the same umbrella term. One definition might be:

“Citizen journalism: The execution of journalistic behaviours, such as investigation, fact-checking, and news publication, by the general public, usually on the internet.”

It doesn’t matter where these behaviours are exhibited, whether on a blog, a wiki, an independent website purpose-built to collect citizen journalism stories, or in a newspaper. Nor does it matter who is doing it – some journalists are also citizen journalists. What is important is that the general public now have the ability to investigate, report and fact-check news of every type and on every level, from international to hyperlocal.

However, some dislike the term ‘citizen journalism’, because:

  1. It sets up a false dichotomy between the professional journalist and the citizen journalist.
  2. The term ascribes the citizen journalist with a motivation – to become a professional journalist – that in the majority of cases does not exist.
  3. The term encourages people to make a value judgement, as if there is ‘real’ journalism and ‘citizen’ journalism, and that the former has more value than the latter.

There are many alternative phrases in use to describe mainstream media, including ‘participatory media’ and ‘distributed journalism’. But despite its flaws, the term ‘citizen journalism’ has gained currency and thus is the one this paper shall use.

Conclusion

The empowerment of the public has undoubtedly resulted in increased civic engagement30. Political apathy occurs when citizens feel disengaged from the political process, so it is essential to democracy that people are able to take part in public discourse: the ability to speak out, to be heard, and to make a difference is of vital importance in modern society. Citizen journalism plays a key part in this process, but with massive proliferation of information sources, we risk overwhelming ourselves, thus stifling instead of nurturing the conversation. The historical information bottleneck no longer exists, and the media are no longer in a position to act as gatekeepers who control the flow of information. Instead, they must now fulfil one of three core roles:

  1. Investigation – there will always be a real need for journalists who have the skill, time and resources to engage in investigation. The importance of this role in a functioning democracy should not be overlooked, particularly in the current climate of damaging cuts in the mainstream media’s newsgathering operations. However, journalists should publish their research and references wherever possible to provide more depth to their work.
  2. Curation – the more information is available, the more help we need to make sense of it, and the journalist who becomes expert at assessing other people’s content, creating a collection of trustworthy links and synthesising an informed and succinct overview of the story is performing a valuable service to a time- and attention-poor audience.
  3. Facilitation – there is a significant opportunity for journalists to work with the community as facilitators, helping people publish stories important to them, whether international or hyperlocal. These roles lie at the core of a healthy democracy, and we must consider their increasing importance in this connected, information-rich age.

A London Dinner, A Paris Launch, Research and Media Coverage: All in a week’s work

The last week of April 2007 was a busy one for Edelman’s European Digital Entertainment, Rights and Technology team. The London and Paris offices hosted Gail Becker, global head of the practice, who was visiting for a series of meetings, media interviews and events.

The impetus for the visit: the first anniversary of the formalization of the practice in London and the launch of the practice, “Divertissement Numérique”, in Paris.

The substance behind the visit: new research was commissioned by the DERT practice to dig into issues surrounding low levels of trust in the entertainment industry first identified in Edelman’s seventh annual Trust Barometer.

 

The RESEARCH

Commissioned specifically in France and in the United Kingdom among 18-34 year olds, the field work was conducted by Edelman’s own Strategy One just last month (completed in April). In short, the research revealed that distrust in the entertainment industry makes younger consumers less inclined to buy and one in four more likely to download illegally. The story uncovered was not a simple one; a complexity of opinion held amongst consumers was uncovered about the evolving world of digital entertainment.

There was clear indication that the industry has succeeded in moving the debate away from the availability of content online. 69% of Brits and 59% of French surveyed trust entertainment companies to make content widely and legally available online! Certainly two years ago this was not the message we were hearing from consumers. In fact, while researching the What’s the Download campaign that Edelman developed for the Recording Academy (The GRAMMY’s) one of consumers’ main reasons for turning to pirate sources was a lack of legal materials.

Significant proportions of consumers remain concerned about their rights over the content they have bought online. 35% of young Brits and 46% of the French surveyed did not trust the industry to respect the rights of people who pay for entertainment through legal channels.

Finally it was revealed that there is a significant gap between the availability of legal entertainment and the value being provided. 41% of Brits and 54% of French do not trust the industry to provide online propositions that represent good value-for-money.

Finally we looked at the implications of such trust and distrust because while it is valuable to know these issues exist; it is more valuable to begin to understand the implications: Distrust of entertainment companies has other consequences. It makes younger consumers more likely to:

  • criticize an entertainment company to friends (49% in UK, 46% in France)
  • refuse to buy their products (43% in UK, 54% in France)
  • share their negative opinions online (37% in UK; 51% in France)

Interestingly whether individuals trusted or distrusted the entertainment industry did not appear to affect the likelihood of people engaging in illegal activities – it was other factors, perhaps such as value for money, that created consistent numbers of people engaging in illegal online activities:

  • 20% of Brits and 18% of French sampled self-declared that they are inclined to share files illegally online, or have already done so. (We believe these numbers to be even higher in reality because people often will not admit to illegal activities while taking a survey)
  • 27% of Brits and 26% of French would download content illegally, or have already done so
  • 24% of Brits and 26% of French would rip copies without paying, or have already done so

Here is the UK Release and here is the France release. If you have interest in seeing the full research, please contact matthew.grossman@edelman.com

The MEDIA

To take advantage of Gail Becker’s deep understanding of the issues uncovered in the research, we did a bit of PR for ourselves. And we were not alone in finding the information compelling. Gail conducted interviews in France and in the UK resulting in substantive coverage of our research in both markets. Keep checking back because we expect more coverage to come in and I will keep the blog updated…

The International Herald Tribune

Le Monde

echosdunet.net

le journal du net (jdnet)

Mass-Media.fr

PointBlog

http://www.netimperative.com/2007/04/23/trust_downloads/view?searchterm=trus

http://bosacks.blogspot.com/2007/04/end-user-in-media-we-distrust.html

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070427-distrust-and-piracy-go-together-like-pbj.html

 

The DINNERS

On Wednesday the 25th, thirty executives from around the Digital Entertainment space (including BBC, Cool Room, The Digital Content Forum, 20th Century Fox, Habbo Hotel, The IFPI, Jalipo, Motorola, MTV, MySpace, NBC Universal, Sony BMG) convened at London’s One Aldwych for a no holds barred debate and conversation about the future of this landscape.

The dinner was governed by Chatam House Rules effectively meaning that the entire dinner was off the record. So I can not share who said what, and will not share exactly what was discussed, but what I can say is that we were joined by speakers from Forrester Research and the BPI each of whom provided interesting overviews on industry trends and some forward looking perspectives on digital entertainment. The research prompted an in depth conversation about where trust emanates from and why some companies/industries are trusted and others are not. We spoke at length about the impact of digital distribution and piracy on the traditional entertainment industry and its impact on revenues and staffing, new channels of distribution and whether they serve as replacements for, or compliments to, traditional channels. It was a fitting conversation for a 1-year anniversary since our last dinner.

In Paris, on Thursday the 26th, another broad sample of entertainment and technology industry executives arrived ready to engage and discuss the issues at hand. The dinner was held at the Sofitel Le Parc on a beautiful spring Paris evening. The speakers, intervenants, joined us from the Motion Picture Association, Glowria and Microsoft.

The research again prompted a great deal of interest but the conversation was free ranging and broad. Attendees came from the corporate and government sector including the CSA (Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel), the DDM (Direction de développement des médias) Discovery Channel France, Disneyland Resort Paris, EMI Music, Forrester Research, Orange, MIDEM, Motorola, 13ème Rue / NBC Universal, Netgem, Redshift, Sony BMG, Thomson, Trace TV, Virgin Mega and VPOD TV. Additionally we were joined by a number of associations such as SACD, SACEM, SNEP, SCPP and Prodiss to name a few.

 



Edelman’s Digital Entertainment Rights and Technology team will continue to discuss, communicate and focus on the issues raised at these dinners and we expect to have several more throughout the year. If you are interested in being a part of one of these Edelman events, or learning more about our research – don’t hesitate to contact me at matthew.grossman@edelman.com