Broadcasters Round On TV Streaming Site FilmOn


UK broadcasters have joined U.S. counterparts in declaring new TV streaming site FilmOn illegal.

The mysterious site - which was developed in London, Odessa and Geneva in September and founded by billionaire former shipping magnate Alki David - re-streams UK public-service channels and others including CNN International, Sky News and adult channels.

It has also attracted a lawsuit in the U.S. - where it carries ABC (NYSE: DIS), NBC (NYSE: GE), CBS (NYSE: CBS) and Fox - from CBS, NBC, Universal, KNBC-TV, Twentieth Century Fox, Fox, ABC and Disney.

In a joint statement, the UK’s commercial public service channels ITV (LSE: ITV), Channel 4 and Five told paidContent:UK: “FilmOn is not an authorised service and we reserve the right to pursue any site or service we believe to be infringing our copyright or using our content in an unlicensed, illegal capacity.”

FilmOn has not responded to our questions, including whether it has direct broadcaster agreements. David has previously told journalists: “Without a doubt, the (UK) Copyright Act upholds what we are doing. There is no difference between the internet and satellite ... People need to stop being afraid of opening up doors to digital technology.”

This is apparently the same reasoning given by two comparable European services, Zattoo and TVCatchUp, which have previously or still do re-stream TV channels. They have claimed legality under Sections 73 and 73A of the UK’s Copyright Act, which allow cable platforms to re-transmit public service channels in the public interest.

Broadcasters disagree. Whilst they successfully persuaded Switzerland-based Zattoo to stop retransmissions, effectively shutting it down in the UK, TVCatchUp continues re-streaming. ITV, C4 and Five filed jointly against TVCatchUp in London’s High Court in March and now tell paidContent:UK: “Litigation is continuing with a trial date fixed for next year.”

The supposed loophole in the act, which was written in 1998, could be shaky. The act states…

“The re-transmission by cable shall be treated as licensed by the owner of the copyright in the work, subject only to the payment to him by the person making the broadcast of such reasonable royalty or other payment in respect of the re-transmission by cable of the broadcast as may be agreed or determined in default of agreement by the Copyright Tribunal.”

In other words, cable operators can retransmit TV stations, but only if they pay an agreed license fee to channels, or only if the broadcasters take such operators to the Copyright Tribunal to win fees. Interestingly, they have eschewed the Copyright Tribunal route and taken the complaint straight to court. TVCatchUp has upped the ante in the last few weeks by inserting its own pre-roll video ads before viewers can watch the broadcast channels.

FilmOn is curious indeed - just one of myriad businesses run by its exuberant founder, a webcam performer and some-time TV actor (check his Wikipedia profile). Its exact nature is unclear, but it appears a proof site for a HD video management and distribution service run by holding company 111Pix.

FilmOn says it floated in Frankfurt in 2008 at a massive £587 million valuation, but delisted in 2009 after taking £43 million in funding from Global Emerging Markets investment group. It all sounds a bit too good to be true.

Chris Matthews Asks “Where In The World Is Barack Obama?”

And the leg thrill is dissipating. Today on Hardball, Chris Matthews opened his show with some harsh words towards President Obama over his trip in the east. Clearly unhappy with the president’s choice to leave the country, Matthews asked if this was any way “to treat an American electorate? An angry electorate?” While just a few days ago, Matthews was criticizing those complaining about the cost of Obama’s trip, it would appear that he has now joined the chorus of voices complaining about the wisdom of taking the trip in the first place.

Check out the clip from MSNBC below:

Breaking: Kids On Carnival Cruise Report Toilet “Smelled Terrible,” Food Was “Gross”

The Carnival Splendor cruise ship that had been stranded off the coast of San Diego has finally pulled into port, and all the cablers were there to report from the scene.

On CNN, two young passengers relayed some of the key circumstances from their time onboard: toilets, food, free time.

CNN’s Senior Producer Paul Vercammen interviewed several passengers throughout the day as they exited the ship, but two guests in particular stuck out: Ryan and Caitlyn.

Ryan was not a fan of the dining choices, recalling “waiting in line for gross food.” His version of gross food: “A sandwich with just cheese.”

Also, there were times that the toilet didn’t work. “Before that we had to just go to the bathroom and it’d be in the toilet,” recalled Ryan.

“Can you describe for me if it smelled?” asked Vercammen. Ryan could not, but Caitlyn jumped in. “I smelled it, it smelled terrible,” she said.

Meanwhile Ryan passed the time by playing board games and “messing with the girls.”

On a totally unrelated note, the 2012 election kicks into high gear in just a few months. Here’s the CNN report:

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This Exists: Kentucky Man Forced To Eat His Own Beard In Fight Over Lawnmower

Some headlines just insist on being clicked. Kentucky NBC affiliate KSDK’s “Man says former friends cut off his beard and forced him to eat it” is just one of those headlines. It tells the harrowing story about a fight between four men over a lawnmower that almost ended in death but, fortunately, only ended in the loss and ingestion of a beard. We have the video report below. There’s really nothing more we can say about it. We report. You decide.

(h/t Ryan Williams)

Viacom Selling Rock Band Maker Harmonix; Profits Fall On Writedowns

Beatles Rock Band screengrab

Viacom (NYSE: VIA) has had enough of falling sales for gaming brand Rock Band and so the company has decided to sell its maker, Harmonix. The announcement was made in conjunction with Viacom’s Q3 earnings report, which apart from a $299 million writedown related to Harmonix, a classified “discontinued operation,” the media company otherwise had pretty good performance.

Last February, Viacom asked for a refund on its 2007 earnout payment to the game developer’s founders. In October 2006, Viacom subsidiary MTV Networks paid Harmonix $175 million plus earnouts based on its performance in 2007 and 2008. It’s not clear how much Viacom is seeking to offload Harmonix. While the gaming slump has hurt the once-valuable Rock Band franchise, MTVN has not given up on the space. In fact, this past summer, MTVN acquired developer Social Express to continue to build up Nickelodeon Digital’s offerings.

Despite the trouble with Rock Band, revenues at the Media Networks business, which houses cable nets, was up 8 percent in domestic advertising revenues and 10 percent growth in worldwide affiliate fees. Overall revenues were partially offset by lower profits in the Filmed Entertainment segment due to the timing and mix of theatrical releases.


Megyn Kelly Enjoys An Uncontrollable Giggle Fit Live And On Air

Fox News reporter Trace Gallagher had just filed a report about a North Carolina woman who had been brought back to life after her heart had stopped for 15 minutes when he tossed back to America Live host Megyn Kelly. The astonished Fox News host tried hard to wrap her head around his explanation, and somehow arrived at the hope one can divine from this story – that having your spouse stuff you in the freezer could one day save your life. Sound funny? Maybe – but not nearly as funny as Kelly found it.

In the parlance of comedic performers, this is known as “breaking.” Harvey Kormon’s inability to keep a straight face during the old Carol Burnett Show was nearly unmatched until the more recent Jimmy Fallon entered the scene. Kelly’s inability to control her own fit of laughter enters a new category of “breaking” — news hosts who can’t keep from cracking themselves up.

Watch the funny clip from Fox News below.

So It Begins: Reagan Library To Host First GOP Presidential Debate In Spring 2011

Reagan Presidential LibraryThe midterm elections are over, so you know what that means: It’s time to talk 2012! Well, not really; there are still almost two years between that election and now, right?

Even so, 2012 fever is already starting to ratchet up. Case in point: NBC News sent out a press release today about the first GOP debate of the 2012 election season. It’s happening pretty soon too.

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan today announced plans to invite all of the leading contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination to two debates at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. The Reagan Presidential Foundation plans to play host to both the first GOP presidential debate of the 2012 election cycle in spring 2011 and a second GOP debate on the eve of the Super Tuesday primaries.

The Reagan Foundation has confirmed NBC News as the television partner and POLITICO as the online partner of the first debate. The media partners for the second, pre-Super Tuesday debate will be announced in 2011.

“Ronnie would be thrilled that the road to the White House will begin at his Presidential Library,” Mrs. Reagan said. The Library hosted two debates in the 2008 election cycle, including the first of the election cycle. “I look forward to welcoming and watching the top candidates debate the issues next spring.”

As NBC News president Steve Capus added, “The fact that we are already talking about the 2012 presidential race only foreshadows how invested and deeply-rooted America will be in the political discussion come next spring.” Sure—that, or the fact that the media doesn’t seem to know what to talk about if there isn’t an election on the horizon, no matter how far away it may be.