Rick Sanchez Blasts Danny Glover’s Earthquake/Global Warming Tie-in

Rick Sanchez debuted his new show on CNN today called “Rick’s List,” loosely based around the ways one can “easily curating online comments around a topic, event or interest,” or so says the Rick Sanchez blog. One of the features on the new show is called “The List U Don’t Want To Be On.” The first entry? Actor Danny Glover, because he theorized somehow that global warming was to blame for the earthquake. Yup. He said that.

Glover sent in a note to producers of “Rick’s List” to clarify his comments. Best viewed to understand best what the actor meant by his original comment.


Walkmen

Speaking of Grant Hutchinson and gorgeous gadgets, I’ve been meaning to link to his small collection of Sony Walkmen. I look at these and I can hear the tape hiss.

Reaction To The New York Times’ Supposed Paywall

The end is nigh. Again. But will it be the end of free content across the board (I’ve long thought that once the New York Times makes the switch everyone else will take it as a a cue to follow), or will it be the end of the NYT dominance on the web? We shall see. Over the weekend New York’s Gabe Sherman created a bit of a stir when he reported that the Times was planning on making a final decision re paid content within a matter of days, and that some sort of metered system would likely be implemented come spring.

Leaving aside the fact we have been hearing variations on this rumor for close to a year now (the pay wall always imminent, the implementation always a few month away) it’s interesting to see how the news was greeted this time around. Not that long ago a NYT paywall elicited plenty of no way I won’t pay responses, as we progress faster and further into the 2.0 world there appears to be less of that and more resignation on how to best apply to practice so as not to impede on the NYT.com relevance and traffic.

Reuters Felix Salmon:

The NYT system should instead simply measure how much you used the site last month, and then bill you; my guess is that Apple, when it releases its new tablet later this month, will also unveil a system which makes it very easy to link your nytimes.com account to your iTunes account so that your NYT bill will simply get added on to your iTunes bill along with your apps and TV shows and music and ringtones. The NYT itself won’t even need to collect your credit-card information. Once you reach a certain maximum billing level for the year, the NYT and Apple will just stop billing you.

And what of people who can’t or won’t pay? The NYT is an invaluable source of information for many people around the world who don’t have credit cards or iTunes accounts. I think that in the first instance most countries outside the US (and maybe also Canada) should be exempt from having to pay anything.

I take it back. Jeff Jarvis is less than thrilled at the prospect of paying online for what he already pays for in print:

I think the risks are great and grave. The Times could have fought to become the preeminent news brand on earth, fighting it out with the BBC for that title. Instead, I fear, it will duck into its shell as the Washington Post has. I already pay for The Times at home. I hope they would not charge me again. If they do, I will cancel the paper. If they charge me for using the paper more, I will use it less.** I will find other very good substitutes for much of what I get from it — indeed, this will push me to discover and curate new sources.

Meanwhile Gizmodo picks up on Sherman’s note that the timing of this latest rumor interestingly coincides with Apple’s upcoming release of the Tablet.

The New York Times experimented with paid content before, without much success, but that’s not stopping them from giving it a go again. This time, however, the paid-to-free content changeover might coincide with a certain unconfirmed mystery tablet. The NYT announcement is expected to arrive in the “coming weeks,” which puts it smack dab in the middle of Apple’s mystery product press conference, slated for January 27. Convenient!

According to New York magazine, the paid content model could also arrive hand-in-hand with an Apple partnership or distribution deal.

So yeah, maybe what makes it different this time around is that there will soon be available technology which makes it possible to pay without pissing too many reader off. Or not. We’ve been talkin NYT paid content for close to a year now…let’s just say I’ll believe it when they start asking for my credit card number.

Pic via.


Stossel Returns To ABC, Talks With The View Hosts About Bonuses

FBN anchor John Stossel returned to his former network, ABC, for an interview with the women of The View.

The discussion, about banks, bonuses and the government’s role (you can guess where libertarian Stossel stands), was spirited, but ultimately came to some common ground.

Barbara Walters introduced Stossel, who she described as “my old colleague.”

After espousing his libertarian views, he picked up on a term used by Joy Behar: dookie hole. “I think we’re in the dookie hole because of Barney Frank and Congress saying ‘lend to everybody,’” he said. “The bankers are just greedy people taking advantage of that.”

So what does Stossel think we should do about all the bonuses? “Do nothing, and they shouldn’t have given them money to bail them out in the first place,” he said.

Behar countered the argument later in the segment. “It’s easy for people like us who are doing well to say people have to fail, people suffer in this system, but you need a safety net in this country,” she said.

And although Whoopi Goldberg seemed to make clear through her facial expressions that she disagreed with Stossel’s line of reasoning, she did offer some support for his views. “Everyone has to always remember, there are some cases when the government has to step back,” she said.

FBN, like sister network FNC, and ABC seem to have a good working relationship, with each other’s talent appearing on various programs, from Good Morning America to The O’Reilly Factor.

Here’s the Stossel interview today:

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Why Critics Of NBC Have It All Wrong

The New York Times, in its cover story, has a hell of a good time painting Jeff Zucker into a corner. To be fair, he doesn’t help himself by blaming the media spotlight for his current predicament. When he tells the Times that people today like a “soap opera” he must somehow miss the irony of the fact that NBC (and MSNBC, CNBC and BRAVO) all traffic in “soap operas” of one sort or another. But never mind that – even if Zucker is wearing the black hat in all this – the blame for NBC’s predicament goes back to the GE management, and a fundamental lack of understanding of the evolution of the media business.

Blaming NBC/Universal for the bottom line of the Broadcast Television Network would be akin to blaming Verizon for the revenues coming from the their income from corner pay-phones. It may be that the cell phone had something to do with the decline in the phone booth. For NBC, a little thing called cable may have played a part.

NBC’s network business is built on an old business model. A model that required over the air signals, rabbit ears on tube TV’s and local affiliates. And that model has been clearly on its way out for the past 25 years (CNN’s first broadcast was June 1, 1980). The unfortunate thing about the NBC story is that overall, they got it right. They saw cable coming, launched a number of channels – grew the cable side of the business effectively, and created a ton of value in MSNBC, CNBC, SyFy, Oxygen, USA Network, Bravo, and The Weather Channel.

What they didn’t do right was evolve the core brand into a twentieth century model that could survive the inevitable shift from over the air broadcast to cable. And along the way – their ownership of the 14 O&O’s (owned and operated stations, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Dallas, San Francisco, Raleigh-Durham, Miami, Washington D.C., Birmingham, Columbus, Hartford, Providence and San Diego).

The writing was on the wall. Local had been driven by a feed of national programming from the network. Now the audience was being carved up in to smaller and smaller slivers as cable, DVDs, satellite and VOD all offered folks new and different ways to get programming. The launch of NY1 in 1992 could well have been the loudest warning shot – with cable painting a target on locals last point of differentiation – local news.

But NBC continued to soldier on – trying to compete both with quality programs and low-cost newsmagazines, and fighting for a piece of a diminishing pie of both viewers and ad dollars, even as cable continued to make in-roads. For example, in 1992 NBC had not one but two prime-time newsmagazines on the air, Dateline NBC (Tuesday at 10pm) and Here and Now (Saturday at 8pm). By 1994, NBC had 2 hours of Dateline on the air, Tuesday at 10 and Friday at 8pm. The 1995 season had three hours of Dateline – Tuesday at 10, Wednesday at 9 and Friday at 9.

With a 30-year head start, and a clear danger to the network business, NBC continued to manage the business season to season, putting out fires and trying to stunt with old hit shows (as Fred Silverman rightly points out in the Times article). But NBC ducked the hard choice. That would have been investing in local – turning the freestanding O&O’s into vibrant local news operations no longer shackled to the programming feed that came from the mothership. NBC could have been the ‘big tent’ event engine that drove content to the cable nets, shifting from a programming service to, in essence, what USA network was – and event driven cable network. But to do this NBC would have had to significantly shift its relationship with both its affiliates and its O&O’s. Instead, NBC is being forced to make prime time programming decisions based on a potential mutiny by its O&O’s, unthinkable in the days when the Network treated its affiliates like serfs and created a virtual money machine for the stations that were able to re-broadcast the network feed. Those days are now long gone.

Which brings us to Leno.

Jay Leno and NBC together made a fatal decision. In a world of time shifting, on-demand content and audience empowerment, they misread the ratings and believed that Jay’s audience was loyal to him and his show.

They thought that Jay’s audience would simply change habits. They were wrong. On all counts.

The TiVo, it turns out, doesn’t so much make audiences proactive as it makes them flexible. Sure, I’ll watch the 6pm news at 6:30 (timeshift) but certain things that appear ‘live’ like Leno just don’t make sense in the Drama Slot. Ouch, that’s a tough lesson to learn with so much at stake. Clearly the guys at Comcast know the score – they know that NBC was never the core value of the transaction – but they can’t be happy about seeing this much negative press around what was supposed to be a ‘crowned jewel’ acquisition. The math may not change, but perceptions do matter.

So here we are. Below the public perception – NBC is a strong collection of assets, and Comcast is right to see it as a good fit. The Leno situation is the legacy result of NBC Network not making hard choices about its role as broadcast TV network, and while not material, certainly isn’t the story that NBC wants to have out right now.

That’s the thing about soap operas – you can make good money on them with show’s like The Biggest Loser, it’s just no fun when the media decides to make your internal issues into the soap opera of the day. Those of us in glass houses better not have a TV camera pointed at them.

Steve Rosenbaum is the CEO of the video platform Magnify a former magician, and an innovator in the new media space.