Monday, January 30, 2012

Knowing Your Audience: Balancing Three-Party Market through the Upfronts

As our commercially-driven media system is supported by private sector interests, Lotz's research, which discusses the presentation of upcoming network programming, gives us a close up look at the impact audience demographics has on TV broadcast media placement. The "practice, ritual, and celebration" of this process is keenly influenced by the presentation of content that matches consumer demographics. It offers the question: What comes first? The needs of the consumer, advertiser and/or network? As Lotz outlines, it is a balance of all. The "buzz" that drives this tradition in the media industry is ingrained in the demographic of the brands that networks are attempting to attract, and similarly, the demographic of audiences that brands are trying to attract. This practice within the Three-Party Market (Anderson) is related to the selling of/to audiences as it requires knowledge of who wants to sell on/watch these networks.  In an economic sense, it is a competitive advantage to those who have greater knowledge of demographics as they will have the greatest amount of success fulfilling the wants and needs of consumers and brands. It is important to recognize this process and analyze the advertisement strategies implored by all parties and its influences on the media system structure.

Lotz Question 1

            According to Lotz's journal article, applying different types of theories and methods can help one to understand the process of "selling audiences" to particular types of media text.  Lotz's explains, that when studying media industries understanding the "cultural industries or cultural economy" provides a type of groundwork for production to frame its media text around. It other words, looking at the audience at a "micro-level"  helps media companies understand the audiences culture, therefore establishing a type of base for the the media text.  Media text can help shape a culture/ society by establishing a system that is not based on a top-down model but works to understand the culture to be able to produce a type of production. 
          With production established around types of culture norms, values and industry priorities, Upfront Presentations uses this to help shape their productions around this audience cultural framework.  With different cultural ideals framing the production, audiences end up applying these different media texts to there own culture / society, which in turns can reshape or recreate their culture.

Lotz - The Upfront Promo

Lotz describes the Upfront process as a way for broadcasters to sell themselves to advertisers.  The prime reason for doing this is to make an impression on the advertisers before they decide what their budget for that next year will be.  This is done through a grand event, filled with performances, famous star features, and lavish receptions that wrap up the show.  As Lotz points out, these Upfront events are often difficult to study because they are often high-end advertisers looking to make the best deal with the best broadcaster.  The main reason for these Upfront events is competition, which is driven by profit.  The broadcaster wants the advertiser to advertise with them, and once they do, they can go straight to the bank.

The Upfront events have become increasingly popular with broadcasters, which shows the change in media culture in the United States.  While few broadcasters used to hold Upfront events, now even the small cable networks are beginning to hold them.  This shows the changing norms in television and the media industry in the United States.  There is a struggle for power between the broadcasters, and a sense of failure when their Upfront event doesn't spark the most advertising dollars.

The Upfront events are different than creating, distributing, and exhibiting broadcast programming under a non-commercial mandate because the broadcasters at the Upfront aren't selling their show.  Instead, they are selling the idea that, for example, "almost 70 percent of adults ages twenty-five to fifty-four are away from home eight to twelve hours a day".  This in turn creates an awareness among the advertisers of when they should advertise and why, and with which company they should sign with.  Another difference between the Upfront events and non-commercial mandates is the venue, decorations, entertainment, and famous "talent".  The Upfront in a show - it must be the most memorable.  For example, in 2004 when CBS held their Upfront presentation, it was the entertainment that everyone was talking about.  This is what matters - providing the audience, aka the advertisers, with a show that no one else can compare to.  This is competition, and that is what the Upfront is all about.

Media texts.

Selling Audience is an important part of these upfront presentations. If the networks can successfully sell their audience to the advertisers, they have had a relatively successful presentation. While brand name, environment, etc. are important in these presentations: the aspect of selling the audience is especially crucial to generate the advertisement revenues. The demographics of the viewers are crucial in the sense that it can determine the media texts. Who is watching television becomes an important factor to take into consideration. Once the television viewers have been identified, the media texts: advertisements ad programming, will be designed in such a way that the audience can connect and relate to the media texts they are receiving. The Youtube Video: Puncturing the TV Ad Sales Myth shows how the “audience” aspect is a determining factor attracting advertisements. Some networks will appeal to the baby boomers, while others, like the WB will attempt to persuade media buyers of why their demographics is good for their brand. The Type –H men in the History Channel youtube video also illustrates the importance of “selling audience.”

With a target audience in mind, the media texts are then designed to shape the emerging culture and society. Media texts are constantly around us, and slowly, the society in which the media is centered begins to look like the media texts them selves. For example, the way those women are shown in the media: white, thin, tall, long hair, etc. become the beauty ideals of women in general. The viewers desire celebrity lifestyle shown in the media. The materialistic lifestyle becomes attractive and viewers of the television become active consumers of what they see in the media. The media attempts to both shape and reflect the society in which it is situated, and the media texts of the society serves as representations of that society, when that media is exported in the international market. The youtube video: the media influence – illustrates how media texts shape out culture/society

Creating a Buzz... A Guarantee for Success?

The process of Upfront presentations to the advertisers is meant to announce and display a network’s upcoming fall season and present the content to advertisers in hopes that they will purchase spots around the programming. The network in a sense has to sell itself all over again and characterize the image and feeling that the programs of the fall will create for the network’s audience. In many ways what they seek to do is come off in the most positive light possible and create buzz about their upcoming season. For advertisers, this is enticing but they are not naïve to the high rate of failure in new shows so they are cautious in what they choose to invest in.

This culture of “selling yourself” to get advertisers creates a competitive nature among the networks and turns getting advertisers into almost a game to be more profitable. Networks rely on these Upfront presentations to account for a very large part of their advertising revenue and the success of their shows. In a non commercial mandate system this selling yourself to the advertisers would be more directed at the audience. The need for filling spaces with commercials in order to fund the show and network success is something that doesn’t exist. The competitive money making culture that comes with a commercial mandated system just isn’t as important. Funding comes in from other areas and therefore advertisers play a much smaller role in the media system in general.

In reading Lotz’s article it is clear that the commercial role of Upfront presentations is something that networks rely heavily on in our media system. Without advertisers their upcoming fall season is less likely to draw viewership and more likely to fail. However, ultimately, it is the content of the shows that will draw viewers and the best chance a network has at being successful in any given season is to be the most talked about. This will draw both advertisers and viewers creating the perfect situation for success in a commercially mandated system.

Lotz, "The Promotional Role of the Network Upfront Presentations in the Production of Culture"

First of all, the main difference in the process of creating broadcast programming between non-commercial and commercial mandate is one is profit driven and another is not. Since the commercially mendated programs need to make profits by gaining advertisers support, their focus becomes seeking for what advertisers want their audiences to be: consumers of the products.  This primal difference makes the difference in the production of cultures between non-commercial and commercial programs. Lotz argues that the upfront presentations are the significant sites to see the process commercially mendated programs produce US culture based on what majority of audiences are attracted.
According to Lotz, "The Upfront presentations are rich sites for illustating what networks believe advertisers desire of the audiences of the shows in which they purchas programming, and they indicate networks' efforts to set the emphasizing what they seek for advertisers to pripritize" (p. 18). Lotz argues that the function or success of the Upfront presentation is getting attention from advertisers so that network will be talked about among advertisers and then the network will be supported.  Because of this  purpose, the programs will target the audiences based on advertisers' desire and it becomes necessity of sucess for the Upfront presentation to define their audiences. Advertisers would support the network which they can make more profits through getting majority of customers' attention so that they can make more profit.

Lotz's argument was interesting to me because I had never paid attention to what happens at the upfront presentation. However it makes sense that commercialy mendated programs seek for what advertisers want rather than what all citizens want. Under this system, the audiences are constantly seen as consumers and the network needs to keep asking that who is willing to pay more money for culture or value  the program reflects, and public interest as citizens become less important. As a result, only one certain of group (maojrity group) become more important as the targeted audience than other group. This is why we need both non-commercial and commercial programs because having only one side can never cover every citizen's interest.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Brought To You By Miracle Whip?

In this clip from The Colbert Report, Stephen discusses how his defamation of Miracle Whip spurred their marketing team’s decision to buy ad space during every commercial break. Stephan, however, ends the segment by alerting the world he will use those revenues to purchase more delicious mayonnaise concluding with the statement, “You win?”. Stephen’s final remark is interesting because it reveals some insight into how the three party system functions in the media industry.
            In such a system the advertiser pays for ad space during programming which is meant to entice viewers to purchase their products. The programming thus comes to viewers free because the network uses the ad revenues to fund the production rather than charging a subscription fee (this is not necessarily the case though for comedy central which comes with a cable subscription but the model still works in essence).  The reason “free” is still in question though is because consumers are supposed to in turn purchase the product thus supporting not only the producer but the three party system altogether.
            Let us then consider Stephen’s final statement with more scrutiny. Stephen, in his repudiation of Miracle Whip, was performing his own sort of advertising in which we are convinced not to buy the mayonnaise substitute. Miracle Whip, in an act of what seemed like desperation, bought even more advertising space under the logic that more advertising will lead to more revenues; however, the issue with this is that Stephen will continue to defame Miracle Whip by buying more mayonnaise while the ad revenues continue to support his show and consequently his anti-Miracle Whip message.
            In conclusion, we are able to see how the three party system functions to keep what is free nebulous. What it does not cover though is whether the programming actually supports the product. There could be a possible loophole in the entire system if Stephen, for example, actually has the power to sway his viewers away from Miracle Whip. Therefore, the only outcome of which we can be certain is that Miracle Whip never wins.

Three-Party Market

Reading Discussion: Three-Party Market
One of the most common ways media which appears to be free is paid for is through a system called the three-party market. In a three-party market, a third party pays to become part of a seemingly free exchange between the other two parties. A good example would be television: advertisers pay in order to insert their ads into the content which is being given for free from the producer to the user. This might make it sound like the advertiser is some sort of parasite, attaching itself to an otherwise free cultural exchange, but of course television products can only be given away freely to the consumer because advertisers pay. A good way to think about this is that TV networks are selling viewers to advertisers. In a weird way, when you watch TV, you become a product, because your attention is valuable (although I’m sure viewer attention is becoming less reliable, and less valuable, in an age of DVR when many commercials can be skipped through). Theoretically, after seeing advertisements, the consumer will go out and spend money on the products/services advertised, thus closing the circle and allowing advertisers to make their money back. The cost of advertising is ultimately included in the price of products, and so you’re paying for all your free TV channels whenever you buy something advertised on them. 

Like most people, I basically understood that this was how TV (and radio, certain print media, etc.) worked: through advertiser support. But this reading made clearer how brilliant the three-party market system is. The appearance of “free” is a powerful motivator to consume something, and I doubt TV would have become as important as it did in American culture if you had to pay by the minute (or something) to watch it. Overall, I think the audience benefits more from three-way marketing than do advertisers, because the stage of the transaction in which the audience goes out and buys advertised products may or may not take place, and involves a great deal of individual choice, even considering the persuasive nature of advertising. I think it’s a pretty good deal that you get to choose which advertisers, if any, to support with your money, and still get free TV regardless.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Smartest Guys in the Room

In terms of audiences’ advertisers and networks it seems that the networks are the ones that get the best deal out of this entire system known as the Business of Media. The largest issue with the advertiser is that the cost they incur to advertise their product or service through a network is 100% risk. There is a possibility that their product or service attracts no support or attention from the public and they essentially end up with a sunk cost of this advertisement.
I think that although the audiences get most of their information and entertainment for free on the networks, they are still tricked by the big business of the networks. First of all, the networks are already making money off of advertisers during time slots on their networks. In the case of cable, satellite or premium services, the audience also has to pay a fee for subscription. This is a win-win for the networks because in cases like this they are able to generate income from two different sources making them a lot more stable. The other factor where us as an audience is tricked is that by seeing these advertisements, we are essentially tricked into buying or consuming the products that are a part of the networks agenda.                                
         This is all important because media is such a huge part of all of our daily lives here in America. It is important to understand how these conglomerates and networks operate so that we are not manipulated by the system. As the article says, “there is no such thing as a free lunch”, and all of us need to understand how important media is to our economy. For the reasons listed above it seems that those in charge at the networks know how to be successful and are the current, “smartest guys in the room.
Here is an article that relates to this and it is about Facebook and its money hungry decisions to make it the most profitable network it can be by taking advantage of their audience and raking in the cash from advertisers. 

Break Down of the Three-Party Market

The Three-Party Market serves as the foundation for a vast majority of all of the media that individuals consume on a daily basis.  Within this market system, a third party pays to play in a market that was created around the idea of free exchange between two other parties. 

This triangle love affair revolves around the producer/media, the advertiser, and the consumer.  Together, these three entities make up an intertwined system that relies on each other to keep the system going.  Advertisers put their ad’s and money into the system, the producer cranks out “free” content  for the consumers, and the consumers watch the media and in turn support the advertisers by purchasing their products or services. 

The consumers are led to believe that they are receiving “free” media.  But is it really free?  The answer is undoubtedly, no.  Every entity that is involved in the Three-Party Market System ends up paying, either directly or indirectly.  The advertisers must pay the producers for air time of their ads.  The producers must pay to create the content and programs.  The consumer’s consume what they believe is “free” content when in actuality they are constantly being infiltrated with advertisements and product placement.  The advertisers are hoping that the consumers’ exposure to their ads will draw them towards purchasing their products. 

This cycle of advertisers paying producers, producers providing “free” content to consumers and then consumers purchasing the advertiser’s goods or services is what keeps this system going.  With this said, the idea of “free” content is very deceiving and it is very rare that a consumer will ever truly be given something entirely free of any charge.  

"Free" Lunch

When reading Anderson's article, I couldn't help but reflect upon the saying, "there's no such thing as a free lunch."  For me, this idea rings especially true.  When I was seven, I described the food at my school cafeteria as "not bad, for free food, anyway."  I could not understand why this statement seemed so incredibly humorous to my parents, but they soon explained to me that the food was not free, even though I never had to hand out cash in my cafeteria.  In fact, schools were not free, the library was not free, and neither was the water from the drinking fountain.  Turns out, we all pay for these things.  I think that all citizens come to this understanding at some point in their lives--that we pay for everything, even if we are not shelling out actual cash at the use of our "free" resources.

However, it seems that, as consumers of broadcast media, we rarely come to the same understanding.  When you ask any person on the street who pays for CBS or NBC, they may have no idea.  Some may say that it is free.  The truth is, nothing is free.   In fact, it is us as consumers who indirectly pay for our broadcast television.  Advertisers who pay for commercial space gain this money to market through their profits, and we are the ones who give them those inflated profits to cover the cost of their advertising.  This is known as cross-subsidizing, and we take part in a type known as the "Three Party Market" every time we consume broadcast media.

Though it seems like a complicated process, in essence, it simply means that advertisers pay for the networks to broadcast "free" media which is paid for by consumers through the purchase of the products of advertisers.  For the networks, this system works brilliantly.  Advertisers pay for content, and consumers pay for the advertisers.  There is a never-ending cyclical money flow for the networks.  Of course, they take must risk in producing content if it does not work, however, the pay out is exponential in comparison to the risks.

As audience members, I am sure we would all like to think that we gain the most out of this Three Party Market, but this simply isn't the case.  We are not impervious to advertising.  If we were, this system would not work.  However, we can be smarter consumers by acknowledging the motives behind all the broadcast content, and understanding that "there is no such thing as a free lunch."

Three-Party Market

When television producers give consumers the “free” content we desire, they do so knowing full well that this “free” content will actually be paid for.  In this three-market system, producers are able to create “free” programs through the money generated from advertisements, and in reality, consumers.  If a producer is in control of a show that is very popular, the amount of companies that wish to advertise are plentiful.  These companies may wish to purchase ad space during the show’s commercials, or place their product in the media text itself.  Companies pay the networks for time on the airwaves to promote their product.  Similar to the producers, companies are willing to engage in heavy spending toward advertisements as they know this money will be reimbursed through consumers purchasing the products they advertise.  This cycle allows the consumers to get what they believe is “free” programming, when in actuality they fuel the cycle through their consumption of the advertiser’s products.  Through this cycle, we get to watch the major stations like CBS or FOX for “free”.  
It’s hard not to think to yourself that audiences get the better deal, and consider yourself a “rational” buyer; one not influenced by the images and messages we see on TV.  Surely, I want to believe that TV programs and commercials do not influence what I purchase and the brands I choose.  However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that I subliminally make choices when I purchase certain products, based on the ads that I find smart or entertaining.  If I see a particular product on an ad that I find annoying or unintelligent, I'll be less likely to purchase said product, even if I wish this wasn't the case.  Unfortunately, it's hard to deny the impact media has on our everyday purchases.
I believe the advertisers really have it the best.  Networks take the chance of producing shows that are unsuccessful, with limited viewership.  Advertisers can then look at the ratings of the shows, and determine that these media texts are not worth their time or investment.  Therefore, networks have immense pressure to put out quality texts each and every time, or shows that will develop a large fan following.  Advertisers have the benefit of knowing which media texts reach which audiences, and invest their money based on this information.  Through that knowledge, they are able to reach their target audience and get their product in front of the mass public.  Hopefully, that product will generate interest and lead to an increase in consumption from public purchases. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Local and National

The emergence of commercial radio in the US was accompanied by corporate interests who, like in many other mediums, dictated control over much of the operations. Radio was intended to remain available for the general public to use but from the beginning the corporations like NBC and GE saw the profit-driven commercial value of professionally produced broadcasts that mere individual citizens could not offer. While at first citizens, religious groups, small companies, etc were able to easily broadcast on their local radio frequencies as time progressed the quality programs of the corporations were favored. In 1922 these corporations gained prominence when they were granted Class B licenses, which gifted them the most popular radio frequencies in exchange for quality, clean programming. The individuals and less powerful interests were granted Class A licenses, this moved their programs to the low-traffic radio frequencies imposing strict restrictions of the broadcast of recorded music (seeing as the royalties hadn't been figured out yet).
Even with all of this apparent corruption one can still find 5-10 local radio stations without any big network affiliations. I know what you're thinking, "But Taylor what happened to this awful corruption conspiracy you spent your whole post establishing?" Well television came out years later in the 1930s and if you look at their broadcasting system it is almost completely controlled by large corporations. It's almost as if GE and NBC were learning how to ride a bike with radio and by the time television rolled around they were ready to ride like the big boys. If you ever seen 30 Rock you would get a good insight (albeit comical) into how the media industry is run by corporations like GE.
Now for a comic! Clavin & Hobbes (my favorite)

Local vs. National Broadcasting

The American model of broadcasting originated with the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) in the opposite way Britain approached the spread of radio. While in Britain the state created national networks and programming they viewed best served the nation, the American system attempted a bottom-up approach. Local stations with original content were created because they were viewed as being best able to serve the community. Radio stations appealing to a smaller demographic would, in theory, be best able to work within the best interests of its listeners and would create programming that resonated well with their audience.

There are, of course, pluses and minuses to both systems. A national system allows for larger budgets towards the creation of programming, with the assumption being that larger financial resources automatically equal high quality works. Local stations are able to represent the population they exist within well which national companies may not be able to do this because of the vast size of the country. On the other hand, certain communities without national programs may not ever have a story different than their own represented, limiting their worldview.

These two systems quickly combined, with locally owned stations receiving network created content to play at prime hours and the remaining time dedicated to local programming. However, some stations solely aired content created at the national level.

Local stations continue to struggle today to remain an authority figure in content played within smaller communities. National radio networks a large share of radio stations and our television system has weak local programming. Regulation of the ownership of broadcast stations is continuously debated, with the FCC most recently ‘relaxing’ the rules on company’s presence in local communities through multiple forms of media.

While there certainly are some benefits to national programming (individuals rural vs urban, conservative v liberal, etc. communities will receive the same quality of programming) we should at least question if these deregulations serve our communities and individuals or only the corporations controlling our media.

Sustaining and Sponsored Programs

Balancing the relationship between the commercial mandate and public service obligations is a difficult one especially considering the amount of emphasis and control large networks have over what was broadcasted in the early and later years of radio and television.  If it were not for government policy creating specific needs for public service obligations then there would be little to no incentive for profit seeking media corporations to provide such content if there was not overwhelming public demand.  As a result of the profit seeking motive of large corporations sponsored and sustaining programs took on a similar business model.  Sponsored programs were produced to gain the most amount of revenue from sponsors, and subsequently draw in more audiences in order to gain those sponsors. 
Hilmes, I believe, argues the same business model for those sustaining public service programs.  When large corporations became the “gate keepers” of airwaves and television time, they were able to dictate which sustaining programs would be able to be broadcasted to local and national audiences. While media corporations were not making a monetary profit from these government mandated sustaining programs, they were making a profit in terms of how the company benefited in terms of connections with powerful organizations, and the government.  By only playing the sustaining programs with such powerful relationships and government connections these corporations were following the same business model for the companies greatest profitability.  By creating these powerful relationships through sustaining programs corporations were ensuring that the commercial mandate of sponsored programs would be even more successful because of their good standing and sway with the government.

Local and National Broadcasting in the United States

In the early years of Broadcasting in America, there was a great attempt to balance the interests of the public with the accumulation of profit.  The interests of the public varied, but with the diversity of America one common desire was for individual groups to have programming targeted at them.  In 1920, 35 percent of the population had been born abroad or had at least one parent born abroad.  Thus the only logical way to accomplish targeting this myriad of groups would be to do so with local broadcasting.  These local stations could air segments in foreign languages or focus on issues that were only pertinent to particular groups locally.  This would help many Americans keep their individuality and identity.
 But broadcasting was handled as a business in America, searching to reap a large profit.  These were found in national broadcasting.  The previously mentioned local broadcasting was not even close to as profitable as national broadcasting.  National broadcasting produced high quality network programs that networks would play and local affiliates would pay to use.  These same programs would be aired all across the country.  The affiliates would pay a flat fee for commercial programs and pay in full for sustaining programs.  Eventually, sponsors would begin to supply the networks to programs.  But the important concept to take from this is that sponsors made network programs and national broadcasting incredibly profitable at the cost of losing individuality.
The United States of America made a valiant attempt to balance their desire for large profits with their will to provide a service for public interest, which directly correlates to their attempt to balance local broadcasting and national broadcasting.  First, local stations were able to exist thanks to the creation of the Class B license that allows broadcasters to change locations.  In large cities, there would exist from 5 to 10 locally operated radio stations that could air products aimed toward target under represented audiences.  Even if some of these local stations did purchase some network programs, they were free to keep parts of their day open to provide locally focused programming, thus making some profit and providing some public interest.  This is the main way that America found a balance.  Another way was to deliver public interest through network programs, being that providing great programming is a public service.

Information from the book "NBC: America's Network," edited by Michele Hilmes. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Public Service and not-so-Public Profit

In the 1930's and 40's both NBC and CBS had to learn to balance their programming between sponsored programs such as the RKO Theater and the Camel Pleasure hour with the regulations placed upon them by the Communications Act of 1934.  The profit systems of advertising among NBC and CBS involved sponsorships as opposed to outright advertising.  In the late 20's NBC created shows with the goal of having them be sustainable; in order to do that they needed sponsors.  Sponsors would pay to have their named announced and therefore their product advertised; in the 30's sponsors realized a better way to make a profit.

Sponsors realized they could make more money by creating programs which successfully produced their product and avoided the requirements placed upon them by the T.V. stations (aka the government) to balance profit and public service.  almost all daytime and evening programs were produced by sponsors.  Networks sold hour long blocks to many companies in order to make a profit and keep the show sustained through the money from the sponsors.  After the the industry responded to pressures from reform the focus began to change from profit to a hybrid between profit and public service.

These programs were designed to meet the needs of the public shows such as America's Town Meeting of the Air and The University of Chicago Round Table included programming from public affairs discussions to musical performances.  Programs such as these and the daily news would more often than not be unsponsored and sustained by the network.  NBC and CBS created slots (in the public service side for free) and gave them to organizations or [sold them to] sponsors which they were comfortable working with (big business, government agencies, etc.).

A network was required to balance public and profit programming because of the reform during the 1930's.  Both NBC and CBS balanced their sponsored programs and public service programs.  Even though they were regulated they were able to favor organizations which they were comfortable with and with who they could earn a high profit (in a sponsor case) or meet the needs of the most viewers (in a public service case).  This strategy allowed both NBC and CBS to meet the government mandates for public service and their own commercial mandates for profit while creating programs which were sustainable for their networks.   

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sponsored or Sustaining ... It's all the same for NBC

The strategy used by NBC when dealing with sponsored and sustained programming was like many networks of the time. It was felt that the important role of radio in society and its continual popularity made it necessary to have programming that was sponsored and had commercial gain as well as program that service the public good. It didn’t take long for commercial programming to become the ultimate goals of networks.

Networks created sustaining programs to serve the as public services and yet many hoped that the shows would be successful and eventually lead to commercial sponsors. Topics or groups that were not considered “mainstream” were often rejected from getting any airtime. The same strategy was used with both sustaining and sponsored programming. Sponsorship became the primary goal of networks

            For NBC, sponsored programs were strategically created to cater to the need of the sponsors with programs that “closely allied with your selling thought”. Sponsors themselves created the commercial material that would be aired. Despite efforts by networks to continue to sell valuable time slots, for many sponsors there was no real stake in staying with any given network. This is not to say that NBC would not have many commercial successes in their sponsored programming.

Despite many efforts to continue to cater to the public service obligations it held as a network, it was evident that commercial programming continued to gain the importance of executives as the decades progressed. Initially, NBC did great in attempting to create programming for the greater good but commercial profit soon become the ultimate goal.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The "Naked" Truth

In light of the recent SOPA and PIPA bills this is an interesting take on how the media is cracking down on what can be seen on television and what can't be seen. Times that are deemed "family time" for television are sometimes showing questionable inappropriate content. This comes in the form of nudity and bad language that that could be shown during, for instance, award shows where the word is bleeped out but it is still clear what was said. However, this "questionable content" can also be argued itself as being completely subjective. The main question remains either way how much do we really want our media to be censored and how much power should the FCC have over the content?

Banned Apps for Sale

According to TechCrunch, an independent developer is working on a store for apps which have been banned from the official Android Market, the app store for Google's Android smart phone. These include modified versions of the Android OS itself, which users who have "rooted" their Androids often install to give themselves more ability to customize their phones' software. This, of course, raises the question of why users who purportedly own their Android must go through these back channels and void their warranties simply in order to have full administrative control of the device.

iPad won't transform education just yet

iPad is trying to enter the field of education but there have been serious challenges in bringing this about. iPad is trying to bring a textbook experience and iBooks so that it can also be used in classrooms. Because of development in technology, laptops are more commonly used in the classrooms. Now, it is trying to move to the next level where the iPads will be used in the classrooms as well.

There are various challenges for this move as it needs to be within the budgets of the users. Simply purchasing iPads for the classrooms is not going to be sufficient because people should be able to buy the apps associated with the classroom program, and that also requires better internet connections. Questions about whether the device can be used outside the classroom also needs to be addressed while thinking about this change. Textbook availability within the iPad is also another issue currently being dealt with. The idea of bringing iPad to the mainstream is still far although it has advantages over the laptop is evident (longer battery life, less expensive to maintain, etc. )

The Largest Internet Attack in History

Megaupload is an online file-sharing service that enables users to upload files to a service, and then for other users to download those files.  It was started by young people with the idea of copying YouTube, and has transgressed into allowing people to anonymously transfer large files, such as movies, TV shows, and music.

Megaupload has been accused of making more than $75 million in advertisements and subscriptions, and causing $500 million in damages to copyright owners.  On January 12, 2012, the FBI shut down the site based on the investigation of copyright infringement.  Citing Internet piracy, the FBI charged 7 people whom they believed were connected to the creation and start of Megaupload. 

The full indictment is available online.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What is Reddit and why is it important?

On January 18th a handful of websites voluntarily shut down for the day to pretest the passage of SOPA in the US. As discussed in an earlier post SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) would give the government power to shut down a website that infringes on copy write, either through the webmaster's posted content or content of a user. Without going into too much detail the bill allows overreaching power that would essentially turn Uncle Sam into Big Brother, monitoring all the content we consume through the web and punishing us for sharing a picture or article.

Among these protesting websites is Reddit a media/content aggregator where users share numerous forms of text/links organized by genre into categories. But why is a website that doesn't even crack the top 50 most frequented sites getting mentioned on CNN and The Colbert Report? Because it's a powerful online tool for change. Reddit produces countless examples of how the 'hive mind' can be used responsibly and positively.

Besides exploiting its power-in-numbers Reddit users can also give insight to aspects of everyday life not discussed in the mainstream media. Users can check out the subreddit IAMA ("I am a...") where "the mundane becomes fascinating and the outrageous suddenly seems normal." Here people share stories and answer questions about their everyday lives.

Reddit even has its fair share of celebrity users

Some even get creative!

But there is more to Reddit than just feel-good stories and celebrity name drops. The website allows people to create communities of people who share the same singular interest through its site organization. Almost every topic or interest can be found on the site, from Pokemon to Space Porn (sfw, pictures of space). Before I found Reddit I could barely navigate the world wide web but now there isn't a pic or youtube video shared on Facebook that I haven't seen already. If the internet flattened the world leading to globalization then Reddit flattened the internet (Inceptionization?) However, most importantly there has never before been a website where someone is able to surprise a hungry stranger with a pizza while simultaneously seeking tips for hair loss prevention.

But in the end this is all an attempt to get you hooked on the site and to visit the Denison subreddit.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Apple Possibly Entering Textbook Market

There is speculation that Apple will make public new tools that will revolutionize how students purchase textbooks.  This seems logical, with the textbook industry being worth around $8 billion dollars in 2010, many students already owning iPads or other Apple products that could be used to display the textbook, and with Apples history of innovation.  Walter Isaacson strengthened this theory in his biography of Steve Jobs by mentioning jobs’ interest in the market.

It is confirmed that Apple will be holding an event at the Guggenheim Museum that will focus on education this Thursday.  It is possible that this is the event where Apple will reveal their new gadgets.  According to Ars Technica, the gadgets will be something upon the lines of “GarageBand for e-books.”  If this is the case, this will be the first attempt to make serious changes in the textbook market over the past decade.

This is incredibly interesting to me as a student.  Textbooks have cost me hundreds of dollars every semester, are relatively worthless at the end of the semester, and are a hassle to lug around all the time.  If Apple does enter the textbook markets, it could save students like myself thousands of dollars over their academic careers and would make the purchase and transportation of these textbooks much more convenient.

#textbook #education #Apple

Social Television and Advertising

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            This past Sunday, NBC’s live broadcast of The Golden Globe Awards generated more online activity on social sites than the Royal Wedding last year. The show inspired about 700,000 tweets with messages critiquing Gervais’ hosting duties (and apparent absence from much of the show), showing support for the miniseries winner Downtown Abbey, and spreading a GIF of Tina Fey ‘photobombing’ Amy Poehler to name a few trends. Due to the instantaneous nature of social networking sites, many have speculated that use of Twitter, and to a degree Facebook, could potentially increase the number of viewers who watch television live.

While there is not overwhelming support for the idea that ‘social television’ will cause an individual to watch a program, it does make the experience more interactive. At least for major television events  (like awards shows, sporting events, or finales), this can create more of a draw to watch the live broadcast. This draw, however, may not be as powerful as it sounds, but a largely unexplored benefit is the ability for advertisers to interact directly with viewers.

By examining what trends on Twitter spike during various events, advertisers make assumption on whether their product will benefit from the conversation. For example, 48% of the conversation on Twitter during the globes revolved around the Red Carpet – clothing brands advertising could fit in with the conversation. Also, advertisers can look to the internet to see the immediate reactions to ad campaigns launched during events like the Super Bowl. This could be in an attempt to spread online buzz or to gauge if the ad is sending the intended message before it plays for the remainder of the year. While the financial affect Twitter can have on traditional advertisements is unclear, the added interaction with consumers is promising.

Regulation on Child Pornographies in Japan

Child pornographies in Japan are becoming problmetic recently and the regulation on child pornographic images has been discussed over and over by Japanese government. It is against the Japanese law to sell or share pornographic pictures of those children who are under 18 years old; however, it is not against the Japanese law just to obtain those chid pornograhies as personal entertainment.

According to Yahoo News Japan on January 7th, the file sharing site (such as CABOS) is one of the most common resources to get child pornographies and the number of people who were caught for using the file sharing site to share child pornographic pictures was twice as much as last year.
However, there are still many people who have not been caught for uploading the child pornographic pictures through websites and the cases have been increasing. Japanese government has been trying to regulate child pornographies more strictly recently; however it always conflicts with people's human freedom, including freedom of speech or fleedom of sharing information.
For example, in 2009, the government of Tokyo tried to regulate child pornographic manga, and tried to protect children under 18 years old by giving human rights to those fictional characters in manga who are under 18 years old. This would allow to prohibit using those fictional children characters in pornographic manga although they are not real persons. The purpose of this regulation was protecting those real children because it was assumed that those people who enjoy child pornographic manga also are very likely to purchase or share real children pornographies. However, this idea of regulation was withdrawn because it was considered to be the violation towards freedom of speech for those manga artists. The definition of obscenity in the regulation was very vague, and it would have harmed those manga artists who are actually not violating children's human rights.

I personally think this is interesting topic to follow since there are many different aspects to look at. For now, it is not against the Japanese law just to obtain children's pornographies; however, as long as there is demand, I do not think the supply of these children's sexual images will ever stop although it can be harmful for those children. However, at the same time, the freedom of speech as artists or freedom of enjoying entertainment are as much as important in our daily lives, and the Japanese government would need to face this complexity while regulating child pornographies.

Test Post:  During this past fall the Wall Street Journal released a new app of Facebook.  The app gave all the news content that the website offered but has yet to charge anything for this service.  There are plans to start charging a very modest fee of around a couple of dollars in the near future.  This is a significance move by WSJ because it was the first publisher to charge a fee for its online product, and charges a significant fee for it.  Here is the article explaining the app itself:

Wikipedia goes dark today!

   Test Post: With just a click you can find everything you want. Jim Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, has decided that on Wednesday the 18th Wikipedia will go black for 24 hours, to show their opinion about the two bills trying to be based on the openness of online media.  The two new bills trying to be passed are urging for a more closed Internet.The first bill proposed puts search engines like google against the media business of film and music, which proclaims the need for the media industry of film and music have their intellectual property jobs protected. The last bill looks to block any type of foreign links people would click on to watch or listen to online media. Wales argues, that this bill will not effect the US sites and is not worth time to be drafted as a form of legislation because online users will keep looking for other sites. Later this semester I look forward to discussing privacy bills and intellectual property protection acts. Columbus Dispatch: section A7

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

CBS Sports Opens Site to App Makers

In an attempt to make a serious dent in the company's share of the fantasy sports market, CBS Sports is opening it's doors to outside influence.  The company now plans to allow outside developers the opportunity to create fan-friendly apps directed toward fantasy team owners. registered 17.6 million unique visitors in 2011, making it sixth among online sports websites.  To improve upon this number, CBS Sports is looking to develop a variety of apps that will feed the fan's hunger for improved knowledge and statistics on their favorite players and teams.
Incredibly, almost one billion dollars are spent annually on fantasy games and related products.  CBS realizes that the company is not likely to challenge larger, more established sports websites in developing a league itself.  They already have fantasy leagues where fantasy players must pay-to-play.  Instead, they are looking to develop multiple apps that go into depth on player's health, statistics, etc.  Basically, they are interested in developing apps that will help these fantasy owners gain the most knowledge, and subsequently win their fantasy leagues. plans to keep a 30% share of sales for paid apps.
I found this article particularly interesting in that it shows the continued evolution in the relationship between media, sports, and fans.  Fantasy sports, and football in particular, have grown tremendously in recent years.  In fact, there are now a variety of shows on television that are specifically geared toward fantasy owners, and the content helps the owners to win fantasy matches.  This article was a perfect example of how companies are continuing to figure out ways to manage this growing market.  With my interest in sports and media, this article was great in learning more about yet another market in the sports world.

Augmented Reality through the Mobile Application Layar

Photo from
The concept of augmented reality has traditionally been reserved for science fiction novels and blockbuster franchises such as the Matrix Trilogy. However, the advent of mobile apps like Layar (and its subsequent competitor, Google Goggles) has made this fantasy a reality by utilizing smart phones' photo capture and GPS capabilities to display images, links, listings, comments, etc. through the mobile lens. The app functions by recognizing a given location or object and inserts different facets of an augmented reality depending on the Layar's purpose. For example, Yelp, a restaurant review website, has created a Layar where restaurant information can be acquired instantaneously and in relation to your given location. What is most significant is that these types of apps are not limited by the constraints of close proximity. They are capable of directing the Layar user to a given location and/or desired object. With nearly 10 million apps installed on mobile devices, the reach for companies who use Layar's services is considerable. However, the creative and fiscal potential of this technology has yet to be fully realized, and as its use expands across brands and consumers, the likelihood of augmented realities  becoming common place in daily life may no longer be confined to the pages of a book or frame of a TV screen. ("Layar Augmented Reality 2010")