Posts tagged broadcast

We continue to find that Democrats trust most TV news sources other than Fox, while Republicans don’t trust anything except Fox. News preferences are very polarizing along party lines.

Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling, in a press release on a new poll released on American trust in its broadcast news stations. Fox News’ Credibility Declines (PDF).

The News: Americans don’t trust broadcast news sources. Matter of fact, more people distrust NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and Comedy Central than trust them.

However, Fox News is the news org that Americans are most skeptical about. According to the PPP poll, 46% of voters distrust it while 41% trust it.

The only news org that a majority does trust? PBS, with 52% of voters saying they trust it and 29% saying they don’t.

Getting Run Over on the Spectrum Superhighway

Media groups may soon become casualties in the ‘platform wars’ or run over on the spectrum superhighways unless they are careful.  That’s the gist of a series of reports from research firms, industry analysts AND the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom.   

The ‘platform wars’ phrase comes from a report by the Forrester research group which says – get this – Microsoft is “winning the battle” for TV supremacy.  The ‘spectrum superhighways’ phrase comes from the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology.  A similar report from Britain’s House of Lords (seriously, the House of Lords) Select Committee on Communications goes even farther.  It calls for television to be delivered completely on the Internet.  “This may be a more sensible arrangement as spectrum is perfectly suited to mobile applications,” the report says.  Interestingly, or oddly, depending on your point of view, this is even though the report acknowledges that one out of every six adults in the UK have never been online.  The numbers are similar in the US.

Humorously, or oddly, again depending on your point of view, the US report says that while, yes, it’s true that the federal government uses lots of spectrum, “clearing just one 95MHz band… would take 10 years, cost some $18 Billion and cause significant disruption.”  Surprise.  Surprise. 

So, to reach the goal set by the President of freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum for commercial use in ten years, the report says the best option is to “share” the spectrum paths.  This is where the ‘superhighways’ analogy comes in.  The report likens the situation to that facing the country in 1939 when FDR was president and another commission recommended the building of Interstate highways.  This report argues that, just like the Interstates, spectrum can be set up with “the wireless equivalents of signals, sensors and stop lights to avoid collision.”

Regardless what either government does, or thinks it will do, the fact is that the system of delivering content — the ‘platforms’ — is going to change the media landscape significantly in the next ten years.  The amount of global mobile data has doubled every year for the last four years.  The number of mobile devices today is put at 5 Billion today but is expected to reach as much as 50 Billion by 2020.  Remember – there are ‘only’ 7 Billion people in the whole world, and I suspect that many of those in third world countries are not on the Internet.

An eMarketer report said the “Big Four” on-line are Amazon, Google, Facebook and YouTube.  Of course, the “Big Four” on-air are ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox.  Which one of them will make it to the “Final Four.” 

Well, add another twist to that.  A report by Forrester Research says the ‘spoiler’ in all this is Microsoft.  Its Xbox 360 is the most-watched net-connected TV device in the U S, and “soon the world.”  Holy Mackerel!  It says there are 32 Million consumer households watching online video on a TV in the US, with 18.4 Million using a game console.  Of those, most are using the Xbox 360 which the report calls a “disruptive onslaught.”  Here’s the critical line in the report that I suggest you all think about:  “Each combatant has a consumer device strategy, to be sure, but it’s their platform strategies that will determine the TV winner in the long term.”

Which brings me back to the so-called “Smart TVs.”  Technically, they are called IPTVs – Internet Protocol Television.  There are twice as many of them this year than last.  According to Nielsen, of the TVs in use, one out of 20 (4.7%) last year were IPTVs. As of February of this year, that percentage had more than doubled to 10.4%.  BUT only 5% of that10.4% actually used the Internet capability.  Now, my high school algebra teacher always gave me a hard time about my math skills, so I may be wrong — but the way I calculate this, that means only five out of every thousand television viewers are watching online video on their TVs.  The figures are pretty much the same in the U.K. study as well.

But don’t write them off yet.  A survey by consulting firm McKinsey of IPTV use in the UK and France says there are serious questions about their use and appeal.  It echoes the US numbers with about a tenth buying Smart TV’s and only three percent actually using the function.  They call the response in those countries as “lukewarm” at best.  BUT (you will notice it’s in capital letters again), it projects IPTV sales to grow by 70% a year, and that they have the ‘potential’ to be ‘breakthrough.’

Now, if you’re a traditional broadcaster, you “know” you don’t need to worry.  After all, as a story on the RapidTVNews site so aptly put it, being a couch potato is almost a full-time job.  Why?  Because another Nielsen study says Americans spend 35 hours a week just watching television.  No Internet TV.  Just TV.  Local News-Two and a Half Men-Network News-American Idol-TV.  After all, a study by a group called the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM) and comScore says 90% of consumers watch TV on a traditional set.

Oh, well, yes, it’s true that the report also shows that nearly two-thirds (60%) of “media companies’ viewers” were doing something online at the same time they watched TV.   Another group, Futuresource Consulting, found similar figures but they also found that four out of five (85%) of 16 to 18 year olds used an “interactive device” while watching TV.  And, well, yes, there are reports from firms like IMS Research that show a third (30%) of consumers want to buy a TV with Internet connection. And, well, yes, it’s true that a Harris Interactive poll found that streaming video apps are the most popular apps for the owners of web-connected TVs and non-web-connected places.  And, well yes, it’s true that sites Huffington Post are starting their own online video news services.  But you professional broadcasters don’t have to worry… do you?

jayrosen:

The art of the on air fact check.

“The clip shows these elements in her style: If you interview people on television for a living, you and your team over-prepare. You anticipate points where a Peter King may feel entitled to his own facts. You know your material (and his) cold, so you aren’t worried about the interview spinning out of control. You smile more as the struggle heightens. You interrupt when a dubious claim is first introduced, and each time is it re-asserted. The tone you maintain is a plea for evidence. You have your mark-up of the documents with you. You have your pen. You wave them, which is theatrical. But you also read from them, and send through the lens an evidentiary calm.”

Read the rest at my blog, PressThink: The clash of absolutes and the on-air fact check.

FJP: And that, present and future broadcasters, is your pro tip of the day.

How Low Can CNN Go

I don’t like posting about cable news. The target is too large. The critiques are better done elsewhere.

Besides, the mock outrage over irrelevant political foibles, the faux debates about important issues masked as “balanced” because political operatives trade the day’s partisan talking points, and the hyping of every item in the daily news cycle as BREAKING, tires my head.

But one thing that goes largely unsaid is just how boring and irrelevant it can be.

In a recent piece in the Columbia Journalism Review, Michael Massing writes:

More than anyone else, Wolf Blitzer is the face of CNN today. On June 7, he made a splash with a long interview with Bill Clinton in which the former president tried to explain away his earlier comments about Romney’s sterling business record and the need to extend the Bush tax cuts. In addition to the standard political questions, Blitzer asked him about his diet, told him he looked great, seconded Clinton’s comment that he hopes to be around for a lot longer, and asked him about his daughter Chelsea. Noting that he had recently seen her at a Kennedy Center event, Blitzer said that, watching her eyes, “I saw the best of Bill Clinton and the best of Hillary Clinton. You’ve probably seen that as well. I wonder if you’d want to talk a little bit about that.” Remarkably, Clinton said he was very proud of his daughter. For the rest of the day and into the next, CNN shamelessly milked the interview, playing snippets over and over accompanied by more commentary.

Seeking a respite, I tuned in to Piers Morgan at 9 p.m., only to find that his first guest was Wolf Blitzer, talking about his interview with Clinton! After a while, Morgan finally moved on, to an “exclusive” interview with author and transgender advocate Chaz Bono in which he asked how much “the fact that you decided to become a man” contributed to his break-up with his girlfriend.

Massing rightly points out that CNN International is pretty good. And the reason it’s pretty good is because its competition isn’t FOX and MSNBC but the BBC. It has to be smarter. It has to go more in depth. It has to move beyond news as entertainment and the vapidity that is our daily, domestic cable news fare.

And it does so. Too bad we can’t get more of that here. — Michael

Michael Massing, Columbia Journalism Review. Dumb and dumber: How far can CNN sink?

Video: John Stewart on CNN’s recent wall-to-wall coverage of England’s Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth.

How to Be a Pundit, Stephen Colbert Edition

Important tips for your future career.

Mike Wallace dies at 93; ‘60 Minutes’ pioneer
To get a sense of the scope of Wallace’s work, check the results of this Twitter search. Not only does it contain thoughts and condolences, but also a number of links to interviews he conducted over the years.
For example, some early work with Malcolm X, Salvador Dali and Ayn Rand.
CBS has a collection of notable Mike Wallace interviews and reports. They include work from Vietnam, interviews with Ayatollah Khomeini, Ronald Reagan and more.
Image: Screenshots of Twitter reactions to Mike Wallace’s death.
Select to embiggen.

Mike Wallace dies at 93; ‘60 Minutes’ pioneer

To get a sense of the scope of Wallace’s work, check the results of this Twitter search. Not only does it contain thoughts and condolences, but also a number of links to interviews he conducted over the years.

For example, some early work with Malcolm X, Salvador Dali and Ayn Rand.

CBS has a collection of notable Mike Wallace interviews and reports. They include work from Vietnam, interviews with Ayatollah Khomeini, Ronald Reagan and more.

Image: Screenshots of Twitter reactions to Mike Wallace’s death.

Select to embiggen.

Top 10 Broadcast Media Websites (by US Market Share of Visits). March 2012.
Via.

Top 10 Broadcast Media Websites (by US Market Share of Visits). March 2012.

Via.

Most of the broadcast industry is opposing the new transparency regulations. This is understandable as a reflexive impulse, but it’s still disappointing. Broadcast news organizations depend on, and consistently call for, robust open-record regimes for the institutions they cover; it seems hypocritical for broadcasters to oppose applying the same principle to themselves. The stations’ public “political file” contains vital information about the American political system, since so much of the money in politics goes toward the purchase of broadcast advertising, and the sponsorship information can help make viewers aware that some of what they are seeing and hearing on the air, especially in the realm of health news, is being paid for by highly interested parties.

It won’t impose a crushing burden on the stations if they have to put information they already have online, and it will greatly enhance the public’s knowledge if it becomes possible to see online the kind of information the regulations affect. We strongly urge the FCC to implement the proposed regulations.

Excerpt of a letter from the deans of 12 American Journalism schools to the FCC in support of the commission’s purposed requirement that television stations put information online about political ad buys for local, state and federal elections.

Background, Part 01: Local and national broadcasters are required to keep files about who is buying political advertising from them. These paper files are available to anyone who cares to go down to their local station and ask for a copy. With this thing called the Internet out there, the FCC thinks it a good idea that stations put these records online. Broadcasters disagree.

Background, Part 02: American airwaves — like its parks — are part of the public commons. The US government gives private companies free licenses to broadcast on these airwaves with the understanding that broadcasters would fulfill certain public service requirements.

Background, Part 03: Disclosure advocates argue that transparently providing information about who’s purchasing political advertising, and providing it in an easily accessible manner — ie, online — is part of that public service requirement.

Background, Part 04: It is estimated that local and national broadcasters will make $3 billion selling political ads this year.

Background, Part 05: Broadcasters such as ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC, along with companies that own local stations, are fighting the regulation, claiming that it places an undue economic burden on their operations. Robert McDowell, a Republican FCC commissioner estimates that it could cost the industry $15 million to scan past documents, and each station somewhere north of $120,000 per year to update and maintain the online files. The National Association of Broadcasters says local stations would have “to hire approximately eight more sales personnel on at least a seasonal basis to handle the increased workload.”

Background, Part 06: Writing at the Columbia Journalism Review, Steve Waldman believes these estimates don’t pass the smell test. Not only is there this neat thing called the Internet through which the data can be published, but there are nifty contraptions called document scanners that can process up to 60 pages a minute. “So even if a station has several thousand pages to scan,” he writes, “it would require one person a few hours, not eight people full time for several months.”

Background, Part 07: When in doubt, claim you’re fighting communism. As many have pointed out, Jerald Fritz, senior vice president of Allbritton Communications, which owns six local ABC affiliates as well as Politico, claims that putting the files online “would ultimately lead to a Soviet-style standardization of the way advertising should be sold as determined by the government.”

Foreground: In the meantime, with files locked away in cabinets but available to anyone willing to pound the pavement, ProPublica has begun working with students at Northwestern’s Medill Journalism School to gather information from five local stations in Chicago. They intend to expand the program as the campaign season continues, and crowdsource the effort among the greater public.

Nostalgia for Old-Timey News

It’s good to have media critic Jack Schafer back. He’s been writing at Reuters after being let go from Slate earlier this year. Yesterday, he had this to say about veteran newscaster Ted Koppel who’ll be joining NBC’s Brian Williams for a new news magazine show called Rock Center.

Ted Koppel, my favorite media punching bag, has stepped back into the ring for another beating.

And so it begins. Shafer criticizes Koppel for his persistent nostalgia for the way news was once done, and for pining for the good old days when news organizations had missions and didn’t tell the public what it wanted to know, but what it needed to know.

Koppel’s consistent nostalgia for the old days must not go unchallenged. No thinking person would trade the current mediascape—which gives us instant access to newspapers around the country and around the world, from the BBC and Al Jazeera, to the Reuters, AP, and AFP wires, and to narrowcasting websites of all sorts— for the ancient one in which the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the newsweeklies, CBS News, NBC News, and to a lesser degree Koppel’s also-ran, ABC News, ruled the news universe.

Koppel can only think that journalism has lost its “mission” if he spends more time on TMZ.com than he does on the Guardian. The rest of us who care about news are feasting our way through an endless, high-quality banquet.

The source of Koppel’s news angst isn’t hard to locate. He pines for the 1980s because that was the high-water mark of the now-displaced “media regime” in which he held power. I lift the phrase and the analysis from After Broadcast News: Media Regimes, Democracy, and the New Information Environment (Cambridge University Press), a new book by Bruce A. Williams and Michael X. Delli Carpini.

Williams and Delli Carpini explain how technology and the end of the Cold War “have destabilized the media regime of the mid-twentieth century, challenging the premises of which the Age of Broadcast News were based and accounting for current debates over the eroding boundary between news and entertainment.” It isn’t the first time that a media regime has toppled. Williams and Delli Carpini provide history lessons tracing earlier media displacements—the rise of the penny press in the 1830s, for example, and the development of the halftone print in the 1880s, which made newspapers more visual, and later triumph of broadcast journalism over newspapers. Somewhere in history’s dustbin a 110-year-old newspaper guy is making the same complaints about Walter Cronkite that Koppel is making about the current scene.

Glad to have Shafer back, and looking forward to reading Williams’ and Carpini’s new book.

FCC Chair vows to strike Fairness Doctrine

pantslessprogressive:

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said he will strike the Fairness Doctrine, a rule that requires broadcasters to present opposing views of controversial issues.

In a letter to the chairman of the House Commerce Committee, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wrote that the 1949 rule “holds the potential to chill free speech adn the free flow of ideas.”

Genachowski’s letter was disclosed Wednesday by Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), who said in a news release that he has asked the FCC chairman for details on when the rule would be scrapped.

Republican lawmakers have pushed the FCC to remove the rule, saying it is outdated and among policies that tie the hands of television broadcasters.

The rule had been challenged in courts in 1989 and hasn’t been enforced by the FCC since then. [read more]

Learn more about the Fairness Doctrine:

Wiki

A Brief History | TIME

How We Lost it, and Why We Need it Back | Common Dreams

Beyond the Fairness Doctrine | Reason

The following week, Nielsen figures showed that the previous week’s ‘CBS Evening News’ had had the worst ratings in the show’s history, which is really saying something, as that history covers sixty years; outdoing itself, the broadcast broke its own record the very next week.

Nancy Franklin, The New Yorker, Anchor Away: Katie Couric’s ill-fated voyage with CBS.

Remember that guy who asked the rest of us to leave Britney Spears alone? Katie Couric needs a guy like that.

nightline:

Not a format we’ve tried yet:
Libyan newsreader brandishes rifle on television
Last week’s video. BBC:
A presenter on a pro-Gaddafi television station in Libya has pledged to fight until his “last drop of blood, last baby and child” during an on-air tirade.
The newsreader brandished an automatic weapon on Al Libya and branded the opposition traitors.

Two things: You really should do it, just once, and until I read your caption I thought I was looking at a still from SNL’s Weekend Edition. — Michael

nightline:

Not a format we’ve tried yet:

Libyan newsreader brandishes rifle on television

Last week’s video. BBC:

A presenter on a pro-Gaddafi television station in Libya has pledged to fight until his “last drop of blood, last baby and child” during an on-air tirade.

The newsreader brandished an automatic weapon on Al Libya and branded the opposition traitors.

Two things: You really should do it, just once, and until I read your caption I thought I was looking at a still from SNL’s Weekend Edition. — Michael

negevrockcity:

Al Jazeera in Talks With Comcast, Time Warner | Fast Company
Al Jazeera English may be coming to American television screens. The Qatar-based network is currently in talks with cable giants Comcast and Time Warner, creating a groundswell of enthusiasm among American news junkies and a collective groan from right-leaning conservative activists. At the moment, Al Jazeera English is only available on a handful of local cable outlets in Washington, D.C., Burlington, Vt., and a few other locales.

negevrockcity:

Al Jazeera in Talks With Comcast, Time Warner | Fast Company

Al Jazeera English may be coming to American television screens. The Qatar-based network is currently in talks with cable giants Comcast and Time Warner, creating a groundswell of enthusiasm among American news junkies and a collective groan from right-leaning conservative activists. At the moment, Al Jazeera English is only available on a handful of local cable outlets in Washington, D.C., Burlington, Vt., and a few other locales.
Rodney Benson and doctoral student Matthew Powers surveyed public media systems in 14 countries for a Free Press report that documents this. In every Western European democracy they examined, public broadcasting channels attract at least a third of the national TV audience. Public spending per capita on media in all 14 countries ranges from $30 to $134 a year. In the U.S., that figure is less than $4. It goes up to about $9 when individual and corporate donations are included.

In all 14 countries, public media offered higher quality coverage of public affairs, more critical coverage of government and a wider diversity of viewpoints than their commercial counterparts (a pattern that holds for NPR). And these foreign public media stations have the freedom to schedule news programming during prime time, a luxury not afforded to the American viewer who doesn’t get home from work in time to watch the nightly news — at 5:30.

As a result, studies show that the level of knowledge about public affairs in many of these countries is both higher than it is in the U.S. and more equitably spread across education, class, race, ethnicity and gender.
Emily Badger, Miller-McCune, Might Public Broadcasting Follow BBC Model?