Monday, June 18, 2012

Days of Commercial Free DVR Viewing May Be Numbered

ImMEDIAte Needs:  Days of commercial free DVR viewing may be numbered….

So you DVR your favorite shows to avoid commercials.  Your days of freedom from commercials may be numbered.

And that might be good news for your favorite shows.

Comcast has just applied for a patent for an invention that would allow advertisers to post ads on your DVR programming when you try to avoid advertising by fast forwarding.  The technology would even allow advertisers to target you specifically based on your viewing habits.  (So, if you watch more public television are you sending a message that you will do anything to avoid commercials?)

Monetizing the DVR may actually save your favorite shows.  During the recent National Association of Broadcasting convention I spoke to a person from Fox Television.  I mentioned to her that I hope she can save “Fringe.” 

She said that while ratings for “Fringe” were dismal, the number of DVR views was impressive. Well, “Fringe” will come back for thirteen episodes this Fall.  And many of its viewers will apparently watch the show via DVR.  Perhaps if those DVR viewers had to watch some advertising, the viewers might be rewarded by getting more than a half-season commitment. 

Yes, watching commercials is the punishment we endure for enjoying our favorite shows. Yes, we avoid that punishment by using our DVR option.  If we endure a little punishment with our DVR viewing, we might be able to save our favorite shows.

And maybe not running “Fringe” on Friday night might increase live viewership?

Update:  DISH network has announced a system that allows viewers to automatically skip commercials while watching programs on DVR.  Fox, NBC and CBS all filed suit to stop the roll out two weeks ago of Auto Hop, the new service from the satellite provider. 

This Memorial Day weekend, a commentator on the NPR program “On The Media” predicted the end of broadcast television by 2020.  Are we seeing the beginning of that end?

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Babbling bloggers not always journalists....

He/She who babbles is not always a journalist. 

A conservative blogger interrupted President Obama during the president’s announcement of a new policy dealing with illegal immigrants. Though the blogger failed to show the maturity of an actual journalist, the fact that he received press credentials to the White House suggest that some bloggers may be perceived as journalists.

Well, a Montana judge has determined that a blogger is not necessarily a journalist.  No, my feelings are not hurt.  This non-binding ruling concluded that a blogger, specifically Crystal Cox, was not a journalist.   Some definition of what a journalist is (and is not) might help those of us who mine the internet for information to determine what is real info and what is made up for convenience sake.

Federal Judge Marco Hernandez said Cox was not a journalist because she offered no professional qualifications as a journalist or legitimate news outlet.   The judge offered a detailed definition of a journalist by stating what Cox lacked:
--She had no journalism education,
--no credentials or affiliation with a recognized news outlet,
--no proof of adhering to journalistic standards such as editing or checking her facts,
--no evidence she produced an independent product or evidence she ever tried to get both sides of the story.

Ms. Cox said she was a journalist since she had produced over 400 blogs and had developed a system to get her blogs on the top of on-line lists using a unique method of search engine optimization.

Producing a large quantity of content does not make you a journalist.  Trending on Yahoo does not make you a journalist.  And perhaps that is the problem with journalism today.  Some believe that if you publish something, you are a journalist.  And readers and viewers sometimes believe that if we read it somewhere, a journalist produced it.

This is scary.  When random information takes on the stature of a journalistic endeavor, then the public becomes a less informed electorate.  Quantity of publication does not mean the publisher is a journalist.  An individual who reads a large quantity of info on the internet does not mean the individual is informed. 

There are also immediate practical implications of the judge’s ruling.  In denying the blogger status as a journalist, Ms. Cox is denied the benefits of shield laws.  Shield laws allow journalists to refuse to provide sources for their info to the authorities.  The idea of shield laws is that if a journalist is forced to divulge sources to a judge or grand jury, the journalist will have much less access to information from confidential sources and the public will be less informed.  (There are exceptions to the shield laws. Such laws differ by state.) 

Given the definition offered for what a journalist is, how many of those we watch evenings on  Fox or MSNBC would qualify as journalists?  I know that in this context of a blog, I am not acting like a journalist.  I am offering opinions.  (However, I have fact checked.)  No, the Montana judge did not hurt my feelings.  On the contrary, he offers hope that one day we will know the difference between a journalist and a babbler.

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