Business Week podcast with me

If you’re interested, my work with WKRN-TV is the subject of this week’s Business Week “Cutting Edge” podcast with Heather Green. Since I like to hear myself talk, I’ll probably give a listen too.

BW Podcast with Terry Heaton from Donata

Telcos buying legislation to screw you and me

I’m on the road to Chicago again, so I’ll likely not be blogging much until Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, there’s a House hearing tomorrow on a new bill that gives the Telcos what they want and will alter the way the internet is used by allowing them to divide bandwidth into a haves and have-nots system. By refusing to spell out net neutrality, this bill gives that authority to, of all people, the FCC and sticks a screw you finger in the eyes of small businesses and entrepreneurs in the U.S.

Declan McCullagh writes for CNet News:

A November draft of Barton’s (Republican Joe Barton of Texas) bill (click here for PDF) explicitly said broadband providers “may not block, or unreasonably impair or interfere with” Internet access. The final version (PDF), on the other hand, simply gives the Federal Communications Commission the authority to set rules and publish violations.

Barton released the text of the bill (the Communications Opportunity, Promotion and Enhancement Act) Monday and scheduled a hearing for tomorrow. A vote could come as early as next week. Why the hurry? Because that’s the way flimflammery works.

Despite all the nice rhetoric about the Telcos needing to recoup their costs, the reality is that this legislation has been bought and paid for by Telco profits, and the only thing it guarantees is the furtherance of that. Call or email your Representatives and tell them you want net neutrality spelled out in the bill.

In defense of bullshit

Jeff Jarvis has a deep, thoughtful and biting analysis of the FCC’s decision on the word “bullshit” that ought to be required reading for every American. It’s so good, that I would do it a disservice by excerpting. Go over and read it. This is Jeff at his very best.

The mistake of extending brands

Memo to broadcast networks: Your brands are tied to the broadcasting industry. You have history and baggage, especially as it relates to younger people. You cannot expect people to think of you otherwise, no matter how hard you try to redefine yourselves. You’re broadcasters. That means yours are broadcasting brands. As such, they’ve served you well, but moving those brands to the web doesn’t somehow make you something different.

The MediaPost publications are carrying an article this morning quoting ABC’s Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media for the television group, and his speech at the OMMA conference in Los Angeles. In it, Cheng says all the right things and all the wrong things. Here’s a sample:

“We must build assets and a marketing platform to reach audiences wherever they are. We have to build franchises–we can’t limit ourselves as broadcast or cable. We have to define ourselves as an entertainment network regardless of technology, and based on individual consumer preferences.”

…Cheng told attendees that ABC needs to have a branded programming presence everywhere–online, on cable, on cell phones, on TV, on a Nintendo GameBoy Advanced. “We plan to be everywhere our consumers are. But we must understand that the Internet gives us a direct two-way connection to consumers to deliver a personal, customized experience.”

…Cheng argued that ABC wants to cultivate direct relationships between its brands and consumers. “People use brands to navigate their options; we must sharpen our brands.”

It is a significant strategic error for any broadcast network to think that their brand means the same online as it does offline. We’re talking about two entirely different worlds, and the more broadcasters try to force their offline brand online, the more they limit the amazing opportunities that exist for them on the WWW.

Brand extension online is a necessary part of the redefinition that Cheng and all the networks seek, but to stop there is dangerously foolish. For example, everything ABC does as a broadcast network in an attempt to move its brand online can and will be duplicated by the other networks. Think reality shows. One network finds success, and everybody follows suit. This is part and parcel of being a television network. It comes with the territory, and we’re so used to it that we think nothing if the same thing happens online. If ABC tries something new, and it’s successful, bang! We’ll soon find the same thing with NBC, CBS, Fox, the CW and God knows who else.

Time is the new currency, folks. It’s one of the underlying forces driving disruptive technologies today. We cannot expect an industry accustomed to sucking time out of people’s lives to embrace technologies that do the opposite. We ARE talking television here!

Moreover, putting all of a network’s eggs in the brand basket misses what’s actually taking place online, where anybody can be anything they desire, and ingenuity and creativity are rewarded. We will reject a network television Website and flock to a youTube.com. TV networks would do well to honestly ask themselves why. Why? Because a network site is, well, television. It’s one-way, it promotes only its own programs, and it’s a big institution playing in “our” space. Remember that there are many networks — each with their own interests — and we don’t have time for bouncing from one to the other.

In trying to protect and expand its brands, network television is shooting itself in the foot with an all or nothing strategy involving those brands. They are playing right into the hands of the Googles and Yahoos of the world by painting themselves into the content-provider-only corner, a place that has limited value downstream.

It’s probably spam, part two

You haven’t won.
The IRS hasn’t “found” an old refund that you’re due.
She won’t be overwhelmed (she’ll more likely be underwhelmed).
Your PayPal account is fine.
Your bank account is fine.
His family doesn’t really need your help.
You won’t have greater control.
Your stamina won’t be increased.
There is no secret to attracting beautiful women.
No account of yours anywhere has been suspended.
Your password hasn’t been updated.
You haven’t been randomly selected.
That hot stock is actually a dog.

Investing in a Local Future

Here is the latest in the ongoing series of essays, TV News in a Postmodern World. Those familiar with my work know that my deep concern in the midst of the enormous changes around us is for LOCAL broadcasters and LOCAL communities. My friends and contemporaries exist in this world, and most face an uncertain future. This essay looks at how well-funded internet start-up companies in the Media 2.0 space all deal from a global perspective, seeking to create communities outside geographic boundaries.

While this is good for the start-ups and their investors, it may not be so healthy for our local communities, because it moves advertising money from inside geographic markets to distant places. And that’s not good for local media companies.

I don’t have any easy answers for this, except to say that broadcast companies need to invest in 2.0 projects, only they need to take advantage of the local angles that the Google’s of the world can’t offer. I’d like to see the day when local venture capitalists and angel investors build such applications at the local level before scaling them through expansion — perhaps in franchise form — to other locations.

Investing in a Local Future