Mario Diaz Becar: Broadcasters have seen firsthand the agility, stability and reliability of the cloud since the pandemic accelerated its adoption. Functions like cloud ingest, edit while ingest and secure reliable transport are also promisingly on the horizon.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly saw his nomination withdrawn by President Trump for having the temerity to question whether the FCC has the authority to adopt rules to limit the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Act. All clear legal signs point to the fact that it doesn’t.
President Trump’s withdrawal of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s nomination isn’t just a breathtaking punishment for a perceived lack of loyalty. It presages a potential Trump second-term FCC that would advance any of his desires and punish any FCC-regulated company he targets.
There’s little chance that either Ellen DeGeneres or Warner Bros. will walk away from a staple of daytime TV that has flourished for almost two decades. Look for a carefully-orchestrated mea culpa and a triumphant return — she’s too good an actress for any other outcome.
That is an inherently uncomfortable proposition. But, as we are seeing amid civil unrest and protests across this country and abroad, having frank and honest conversations on the subject, including the ability to air grievances without negative repercussions, is really the only way we can move forward. These conversations must be followed by meaningful actions. Learn about five such actions to help companies keep the lines of communication open while making the changes that need to be made.
Once upon a time in a far more stable America, our national agenda was largely shaped by network news, The New York Times, weekly news magazines like Time and The Associated Press. Media productions like the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite not only determined what we would talk about, but also how we would talk about it. Today, the Times and AP are still playing an important role in what we talk about in Congress, at the White House podium, in the media and at dinner tables around the country. But cable TV is the medium most responsible for shaping the national agenda. Yes, that cable TV with all its opinionated talk, conflict, vitriol and coverage often based in ideology more than journalism on a channel like Fox News.
Margaret Sullivan: Here we are, roughly three months out from Tuesday, Nov. 3. Whatever the lost opportunities of the last cycle, there’s one last chance to get it right — or at least closer to right. Here are some ideas about how the media can use this crucial time to best serve the public good so that election night 2020 doesn’t amount to another epic journalistic failure.
It’s been called a “civil war” in some of the nation’s leading newsrooms, a battle between generations of reporters and writers over the directions and goals of journalism, especially in how it covers challenging topics like race, gender and a certain figure in the White House.
Harry Jessell: Affiliates with whom I spoke were clearly ticked off by last week’s show, with many preempting it. “Bone-headed,” said one. Compounding the insult of being asked to air an infomercial for a host of competitors was their feeling that that they had paid through their reverse comp for actual entertainment programming on Thursday night.
Everyone who is anyone is now in the streaming business, including the traditional over-the-air networks. Late entrant NBC was so eager for a piece of the pie it was willing to anger its affiliate body by moving some first plays to Peacock. This has damaged an already fragile relationship. Brand is what strong local television stations do best. Whatever the future may bring, their unique relationship with local audiences is an advantage no other form or media can claim.
As you know from endless (and endlessly grating) commercials, Peacock is the new subscription streaming service from Xfinity, which is part of Comcast, which is part of NBC, and which debuts Wednesday, July 15. The pluses here include Peacock’s archives (Parks and Recreation, Saturday Night Live, 30 Rock, Cheers, Frasier, The Carol Burnett Show and, in 2021, the complete run of The Office); to that, add hundreds of titles from Universal’s movie library (Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, Reservoir Dogs). As for original shows, Peacock doesn’t come out on a particularly strong note.
Convergence among technology companies and broadcasters can help broadcasters attain a system of automation that will ease the process of buying and selling linear TV comparable to a digital buy.
To gain viewers or boost readership, cover violent crime big-time, whether on the front page or the top of the newscast. But those very methods contribute to the madness many now feel about the nation’s unhealthy dependency on police and prison to solve every problem. Journalism needs to accept its share of responsibility and change how it does business.
Any new software process transformation should begin by asking three questions: What are the costs? What are the business requirements and pain points to be resolved? How will the software solution be implemented?
David Zurawik: “While Mr. Trump and enablers in the Republican Party and the media are clearly at the core of the problem, we are at a point where others in our information ecosystem also need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they have done and are doing enough to give their fellow citizens the information needed to help us stem and survive this pandemic.”
Margaret Sullivan: “For those who haven’t completely lost their ability to be appalled, Tucker Carlson’s smears this week of Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth can fairly be described as shocking. Carlson, who has never served in the military, called this veteran, who lost both of her legs fighting in the Iraq War, a fraud, a vandal and — maybe most remarkably — a coward.”
In the past several months, with the terror of a global pandemic sending anxiety sky high and rendering TV one of the few safe entertainment outlets, the desire for comfort has become particularly noticeable. The shows dominating the cultural conversation this spring and early summer have not been ones that fit within the narrow band of prestige television.
A new audit warns that Facebook may be “driving people toward self-reinforcing echo chambers of extremism.”
Soledad O’Brien: We’re finally feeling empowered to speak openly about racism in the newsroom.
Frank Radice: “Why not use news promo time to actually report the news, like a headline menu service, and direct viewer attention to the next show coming up? Instead of one story or one image, it becomes something more useful.”
As broadcasters consider a long-term shift to remote workflows, here are five key questions to tackle to guide decisionmaking.
With his creation The Dick Van Dyke Show, the comedy legend created a self-referential masterpiece and wrote himself a memorable supporting role.
Becket Adams: “The only thing worse than a viral pandemic is the person who would weaponize it for political gain. The Washington Post published a report this week claiming conservative media may be responsible for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Are we really still doing this — even after members of the not-conservative press, healthcare officials, and elected representatives cheered and even participated in the massive rallies to protest the wrongful death of George Floyd?
Local broadcasters could use some regulatory help from the FCC by declaring that vMVPDs or “skinny bundles” must be treated like regular MVPDs and thus subject to retransmission consent obligations. Doing so would put the affiliates in a much stronger position to hang on to vMVPD fees than they are now.
Margaret Sullivan: “Three serious research efforts have put numerical weight — yes, data-driven evidence — behind what many suspected all along: Americans who relied on Fox News, or similar right-wing sources, were duped as the coronavirus began its deadly spread. Dangerously duped.”
I know of no crisis communications manual or management course that instructs one on how to lead during a worldwide pandemic. The reality is that managers must continue to find ways to engage, motivate and lead an anxious workforce while dealing with those same anxieties themselves.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly: “The success of local television news in some markets comes even as the broadcast industry in general faces monumental challenges that existed apart from COVID-19, largely due to competition from unregulated high-tech companies openly competing for the same local advertising dollars. And, these successes come despite the obstruction of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which overturned well-reasoned efforts by the FCC to modernize outdated media ownership rules last fall.”
Gordon Smith: Despite the best efforts of NAB and the many broadcast companies, the number of minority-owned broadcast stations remains disappointingly low. The reason can be summed up in three words: access to capital. Fortunately, there is a tried and true solution in Congress to help aspiring minority broadcasters break into the media landscape.
Norman Siegel: “The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States provides, in part, that government shall not abridge freedom of the press. Clearly, free expression by journalists, or by anyone with access to the equivalent of a printing press, is a cornerstone principle of our republic. The challenge to uphold this basic value is, unfortunately, an ongoing struggle.”
Minority ownership of broadcast companies is languishing at around 8.5%. A revival of the minority tax certificate, which was killed by the Republican-controlled Congress in 1995, would be a small, but important, step toward redressing an enormous imbalance in mass communication.
The pandemic is hastening the departure of SDI-based infrastructures, leaving IP as the only viable way to ensure global, multi-user connectivity.
In March, when state shutdowns began, companies had only days to transition to work-from-home. No one could predict how long such arrangements might last. Now, it seems that some employees will be returning to offices soon, while others will work from home through the end of the year or indefinitely. If they haven’t done so already, now is the time for companies to evaluate the potential issues with these arrangements.