Monday, September 30, 2013

TV News Crews target in SF

In what everyone in the industry hopes isn't a trend, several local TV news crews in San Francisco have been targeted by thieves.  In several separate incidents in recent years, strong-arm robbers have targeted local TV news crews, demanding cameras, computers, and other equipment.  In one incident, thieves grabbed the camera off the tripod during a live report, before punching the reporter in the face and then speeding off in a Mercedes.  In several cases, robbers brandished guns.  Many stations have taken to hiring private guards.  In the most recent attack, the guard shot one of the two attempted robbers, leading to arrests when the shooting victim later showed up at a local hospital.

TV crews haven't been the only victims - still photographers have had cameras and lenses stolen, and print reporters have had laptops and briefcases stolen while the reporters were using them in their cars.

Violence against journalists seems to be on the rise internationally, but in most cases its due more to opposition to their coverage than opportunities for theft.

Source -  San Francisco Bay Area TV news crews hit by spate of brazen robberies, the Guardian

Netflix News: Better signals for all, longform viewing up, Problems for CRTC

Netflix has been experimenting with improved streaming signals for a while, making the 3D and "SuperHD" video streams available to subscribers connecting through ISPs using OpenConnect (which promised higher speeds and no data limits).  Highspeed and no-limit connections are important to improved streaming,  Normal HD signals need 2-3 Mbps bandwidth for live streaming, while SuperHD (1080p instead of 1080i, and less compression) needs 5-7 Mbps, and 3D can require up to 12 Mbps bandwidth.

A couple of cable MSOs, who had previously announced that they'd put delays and/or data limits on Netflix programming (while not doing so for affiliated VOD services), claimed that Netflix was violating the principals of network neutrality (which in fact was what they were doing).  Still, the PR for Netflix providing improvements only to some subscribers wasn't good, so they've now announced that the higher quality streaming options will be available to all US subscribers.  They've also hinted at the possibility of adding 4K (Ultra HD) streams when content is available, likely sometime next year.

While not Netflix-specific, the latest Ooyala Global Video Index is showing continued rapid growth in the use of online video.  Some highlights:
  • Mobile and Tablet viewing account for more than 10% of all online video viewing.
  • More than 20% of mobile viewing time was for content more than an hour long (i.e movies, live sports)
  • Tablet audiences spent more than half of their online viewing time watching premium long-form content (i.e. movies)
In the meantime, Netflix is creating issues for Canadian regulators. A new report from Canadian regulators CRTC reported that in 2012, a third of Canadians watched online TV regularly, and 17% of Canadians had Netflix accounts.  A more recent trade report indicated that 25% of English-speaking Canadians were Netflix subscribers, and 84% of them watched at least one TV show or movie a week on Netflix.  The report also indicated that 20% of Canadian streamed audio content, many from non-local sources.  While great news for Netflix, Pandora, and the like, Canadian broadcasters and networks, who are required to meet minimum requirements for Canadian content, fear that they're at a competitive disadvantage.  And they're protesting to the CRTC, hoping to get the local content rules reduced or waived.
  At a speech to a media industry group recently, CRTC vice-chairman Peter Menzies said that the commission could no longer act as a gatekeeper in a digital world that may no longer have gates.
"(We need to find a way to act) as an enabler of Canadian expression, rather than a protector.  We can't tell Canadians what to watch, nor should we."

Sources -  Netflix expands Super HD and 3D streaming to all of its members,  GigaOm
Ooyala Global Video Index: 2Q 2013, research report
One-third of Canadians watch TV Online, CRTC says,  CBC News
Communications Monitoring Report 2013,  CRTC report.

Half of ad gains from mobile

The latest quarterly forecast of the U.S. advertising economy from ZenithOptimedia Group predicts that spending on advertising in the U.S. will show a 3.4% growth for 2013.  That's a slight downturn in the previous prediction of 3.5% growth.  The future looks a bit better - predictions of 4.5-4.5% growth in 2014-2015.  However, this remains significantly lower (20%) than what is predicted for global ad growth over the same period.  And on a global perspective, growth in advertising expenditures will continue to trail growth in GDP.

The problem for traditional media is that almost all of the growth is driven by digital advertising formats.  ZenithOptimedia forecasts that digital advertising will account for 21.8% of all US ad expenditures this year, and continue to grow to 28% of ad revenues in 2015.  And the fastest growing segment in digital is mobile.  (The figure shows global ad spending)
“Mobile advertising is still relatively small,” the Publicis media shop notes in its report, adding: “we expect it to total $6.2 billion this year, or 3.7% of total ad expenditure – but it is growing extremely rapidly.”
Another way of putting things is that the 2013 growth in mobile advertising accounts for about half of the total gains in US ad spending, and more than a third of global ad gains.  Total digital ad growth will account for two-thirds of total global growth in

In contrast, the study predicts that TV global ad share will peak in 2013 at about 40%, while newspaper's share will continue to fall, reaching 15% by 2015.  The shares for magazines, radio, and outdoor will also continue to decline.

Sources -  Upward Mobility: Hand-Held Web Accounts For Half of U.S. Ad Expansion, MediaPost Agency Daily
Executive summary: Advertising Expenditure Forecasts, September 2013,  ZenithOptima press release

Friday, September 27, 2013

FCC Votes to End UHF Discount (finally... sort of)

The FCC has had a policy for decades giving owners of UHF broadcast television stations a 50% discount in terms of applying market size to the national ownership caps.  That is, owners of a "UHF" station only counted have of their reach in terms of a broadcast group's total audience reach.  An all-UHF group owner could theoretically have an actual audience reach of 78%, yet still fall within the FCC's national ownership limits of 39%.  This has let a dozen or so of the largest TV station
groups and media conglomerates have an effective reach of 40-65% of US TVHH while technically remaining under the national ownership cap of 39%.  While ending the discount, the FCC will grandfather in those groups, and allow others with station deals in progress to retain the discount (allowing them to continue to bypass the national caps).  So the big guys get to continue violating the official cap limits. That's the "sort of" part of the headline.

The "finally" part is that the policy is a legacy of old technological limits that have long since been bypassed.  The root of the discount is the fact that in the 1950s and 1960s, UHF stations in the U.S. were at a serious technical disadvantage to VHF outlets.  UHF signals didn't go as far, and required much more electrical power for transmissions.  In the 50s and early 60s, most TV sets sold in the U.S. didn't even have UHF tuners - and it wasn't until the mid 70s that UHF tuners in TV sold in the U.S. had to meet the same quality standards as VHF tuners.  All of this put UHF stations competing with VHF stations in their market as a serious competitive disadvantage.  In fact, in research I did for my dissertation, I was able to estimate that UHF stations had a "discount" of 50% in terms of the money they were able to get for advertising spots, even with roughly equal audience sizes.
  However, by the late 70s and early 80s, things had turned around for UHF stations - improved standards in TV sets narrowed the viewing difference, and the growth of cable systems removed a lot of the coverage differences.  By the early 80s, my dissertation went on to show, that UHF financial disadvantage in terms of advertising rates (discount) had virtually disappeared.
  Still, the FCC wanted to encourage greater use of UHF frequencies (many remained unclaimed until the FCC started taking back large sections of the UHF TV bandwidth).  When the FCC shifted ownership focus from the number of stations to national reach, it seemed to make some sense to apply a "discount" to UHF to provide an incentive for large owners to start purchasing UHF stations or getting new licenses and putting new UHF stations on the air.  The 50% figure, like many FCC policy numbers, seemed to come out of thin air - although its possible someone in the agency read my dissertation and pulled the number from there (as out of context as that would be).
  However, then came the shift from digital to analog - a shift that required stations to start broadcasting on different channels, and mostly in the UHF band.  But the UHF discount - a discount remember that was supposed to be based on technological disadvantages - was still given, but was based now on the original frequency allocation, not on the actual broadcast channel used.  Initially, an argument can be made that the FCC just didn't want to deal with the additional dislocation of having to refigure ownership reach (or deal with stations pushing for changing their new allocations)  so they continued to apply the discount to the original channel assignment.
   Thus the FCC kept the old policy in place, despite being applied to channel allocations no longer in effect and justified by "technological disadvantages" that had disappeared long ago.
  So it should be no surprise that they finally ditched it - after the industry's been expecting it since 1998, and certainly since 2009 (when the digital transition was completed).  Although, as noted above, with the grandfather clause, they really haven't.  And with the TV national ownership caps under regular review and court challenge, it's not likely to really change anything in terms of concentration in the broadcast TV industry in the long run.

  To recap, the FCC created a policy in 1985 to allegedly compensate for technical disadvantages that had virtually disappeared a decade earlier, kept it in place for two decades despite knowing there was almost no remaining disadvantages, and for about a decade after the shift to digital began.  With the shift to digital, the new digital UHF allocations actually had a slight technical advantage in reach over VHF allocations, and yet the discount continued to be applied.  Moreover, it was not applied based on to the new allocated frequencies, but to the original analog channel allocations instead that were being phased out.  Now, five years after analog phase-out, the FCC is considering dropping the discount.  However, the FCC has decided it will not let owners apply the "UHF discount" in future purchases of stations, but won't require those who have used the discount to bypass ownership limits to actually come into compliance with those caps by selling off stations.

Sounds about right for government policy - create a solution to fix a problem that disappeared long ago, and continue to apply it to channel allocations that are no longer being used.  And even in "dropping" the policy, continue to allow those who took advantage of the policy to continue to evade the intent and letter of ownership caps.

Source -  FCC Proposes to Eliminate UHF Discount,  Broadcasting & Cable

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lloyd's List to end print run after 280 years

Lloyd's List, arguably the world's oldest continuously printed newspaper, has announced plans to become totally digital by the end of the year.  The paper started providing shipping news in 1734, and remains a preeminant source of shipping news, data, and analysis.

Between the rising costs of printing and mailing, a reader survey that showed that less than 2% of readers relied on the print version, and the increased opportunities for innovation offered by digital, it was an easy business decision. Even so, ending such a long tradition is difficult

In commenting on the move, Lloyd's List editor, Richard Meade, harkened back to the first days of the paper, when it was a notice pinned to the wall of a London coffee shop and noting that today its readers can still sit in coffee shops and access the paper through smartphones and tablets - in a sense maintaining tradition while expanding access, opportunity, and increasing their ability "to provide news and market intelligence for the shipping industry... in the format our customers want and need."

Source -  Lloyd's List to go all-digital,  Informa

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Infographic: Changing News Habits

From a multinational survey of news consumers - and presented by a company marketing its own news app platform.  Still, there's some significant findings and trends on display.
  • 75% of smartphone owners and 70% of tablet owners check news through mobile devices several times a day - compared to the numbers using at least weekly for TV (74%), radio (55%), newspapers (38%), print magazines (18%) [TV includes broadcast, cable, and DBS sources]
  • Use of tablets to get news has doubled in the last year
  • The only media where half the respondents report consuming news for more than 30 minutes a day are TV and smartphones (both at 52%); 40% of tablet owners do, which is a higher share than any other medium
  • Thankfully, "accuracy" remains the most important criteria, although "fresh" (i.e. current) and "free" are cited as important by 57%.
  • 95% of news consumers get their news from aggregators (which includes traditional news outlets as well as online providers), although social media continues to make inroads. 43% report getting news from Facebook, and 28% from Twitter
  • EU news consumers report higher usage of traditional news media (newspapers, radio, TV) than USA news consumers.
“Due to mass adoption of consumer mobile devices, the access and appetite for trusted news continues to increase. People want to remain informed in a timely manner, more so now then ever before in our world’s recorded history,” said Gilles Raymond, said mobile industry veteran and CEO of Mobiles Republic. “We’ve found that reading news on tablets has more than doubled year over year. This is because the tablet allows for new trends in news consumption─ news snacking, for example, and because news syndication apps that provide all of a users favorite news sources within one app is a ready cure for information overload while increasing the user’s level of being informed on personal topics.  We believe our research can reassure the world’s primary news outlets, while also confirms they must have multiple streams of mobile news distribution in order to reach the mobile audiences and continue to thrive.”
Source - 2013 Infographic - the change in news reading habits,  Mobiles Research press release

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Oops - Apple TV update pulled after crashes

Apple released its major update to the Apple TV OS Friday, following up on the fanfare promised in the latest round of product releases.  But it seems the fanfare turned nasty, as many Apple TV users reported that their Apple TV units became inoperable after having the 6.0 update installed.  In response, Apple pulled the update, advised those with problems on how to do a factory reset, and said it would try again once they'd fixed the problems. 
The update was designed to fix a number of security bugs, bring the new iRadio service to Apple TV, and shift several old networked services to iCloud.

Source - Apple TV Update Withrawn After Complaints, InformationWeek Mobility

New ratings low in sports

Even in a world of 500 channels it really takes something to pull a 0.0 rating - where not a single ratings sample household watched the program.  Particularly if you're a hometown sports team.  But last Sunday, the Houston Astros pulled the feat, in an away game against the Cleveland Indians.  Specifically,
not a single, solitary Nielsen household tuned in for as long as a few minutes in any given quarter-hour to watch the Astros lose to the Indians for their 105th defeat of the year.
Sure, there were excuses - the NFL's Houston Texans were on TV at the same time, the game was carried only on a regional cable sports network, it was against Cleveland, who isn't doing all that well this year, and the Astros are really, really bad this year (Sunday's game was the 9th loss in a row, and the 105th of the season).  The ratings were also from the Houston overnights, which are based on a fairly small sample of homes (Nielsen reports having 851 metered households in the Houston market).  But even against the Texas A&M/Alabama college football game, they pulled a few viewers, earning a 0.04 rating.

Apparently, turnout in Cleveland wasn't that great either.  (The Cleveland Indians has the lowest percentage of tickets sold in Major League Baseball - the pic is from that Sunday game).

Not the kind of record any sports team wants to set.

Source -  New low for Astros: 0.0 TV Rating,  Houston Chronicle

Monday, September 23, 2013

Screen Jumping Study

A study of cross-media behaviors by Jumptap is providing some initial glimpses of how people multitask and move from one type of device/screen to another.  The study combines large sample analytics on online behaviors (from comScore) with intensive interviews and media use tracking of a sample of 10 "three-screen" users (PC, smartphone, tablet).

The comScore data provides a number of insights on overall multiscreen usage.
  • Time spent online has almost doubled since 2010
  • Roughly two-thirds of online adults are multi-platform 
  • Women 25-49 are the demographic group most likely to be on mobile platforms
  • People are beginning to tailor their online uses to individual devices (i.e., using specific devices at particular times, or for particular uses).
In particular, smartphones are used consistently throughout the day, PCs dominate during working hours, and tablets dominate evening and nighttime use.  Type of use also varies significantly. Smartphones account for more than have the time listening to music or radio streaming (77%), info on technology (64%), social media (58%), and weather info (55%). PCs get have the online time for a variety of information gathering (automotive, business/finance, general news, health, food).  No tablet usage topped half of the total time online, but that's due in part to its much lower current level of penetration.  The highest share of tablet usage are with games (34%), watching online video (20%) and lifestyle and shopping info.

Source - Screen Jumping Study,  Jumptap press release

FTC clears Nielsen-Arbitron deal

The FTC has approved Nielsen's acquisition of former audience metrics rival Arbitron, after securing an agreement that Nielsen will continue the "Portable People Meter" (PPM) project, and license its use to others (notably competitor comScore).  The PPM project was originally a joint project of Nielsen, Arbitron, and comScore, and there was some concern that Nielsen would try to freeze out comScore.  ComScore and Nielsen are also involved in the competition to develop industry standards for online video metrics.
“In the event that an FTC-approved third-party elects to agree to licensing terms and other requirements, Nielsen would make available for license Arbitron PPM and related data as well as software and technology currently being used in the ESPN project for the sole purpose of cross-platform measurement for up to eight years,” Nielsen said in its statement.
While that wording sounds awfully restrictive, other language from the FTC indicated that comScore would clearly get that initial license.

With the FTC's approval, Nielsen's acquisition of Arbitron is expected to close Sept. 30.

Source -  FTC Clears Nielsen-Arbitron Deal, comScore Retains PPM License,  MediaDailyNews

Admitting Bias (at last)

The fall ratings season is nigh, and with it the new network schedules.  Fox is tinkering with its prime time talkers line-up, and it looks like MSNBC will be getting the "relaunch" promised by Executive Editor Richard Wolffe.  A visit to their website at gives you an initial choice between, and - "It's what progressives have been waiting for."

I do have to congratulate the whole Comcast-NBCUniversal conglomerate for its (almost) honesty.  The (almost) part comes from the implication in the announcement that this is a new focus, with the implication that they were just another honest and impartial news agency before that.  That fiction was pretty well demolished by the network's performance in the last U.S. Presidential election campaign. 

According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of MSNBC's "news hole" was opinion or commentary, a stark contrast with the roughly 50/50 split of CNN and Fox.  (That it's so high for the others is another problem altogether). And in the last week before the election, MSNBC had not a single positive storyline about Mitt Romney (R), and not a single negative storyline about President Barack Obama (D).  As one conservative critic quipped at the time "MSNBC is everything Progressives imagine Fox to be."

One of the problems you face when addressing "bias" in news and journalism is that most people define bias in coverage as perspectives that don't match their own, rather than objectivity or fairness in coverage, so it will be interesting to see how the industry treats MSNBC's going public with it's focus/slant/bias.  It will also be interesting to see if there will be a call for a now admittedly non-news channel to be denied the standard "news" exemption, so that it will be considered to be providing in-kind contributions to the Democrat Party.  Democrats have tried that argument with several conservative talk radio programs recently (thankfully unsuccessfully so far - the First Amendment should protect all political speech, not just the speech you agree with).  Conservatives might be tempted to try it - after all, they do tend to believe in equal treatment under the law - but shouldn't (that news exemption is really broad). 

On the other hand, I'd welcome such a move, not to silence MSNBC, but as a starting point for some serious reconsideration of just how broadly we've come in expanding what is considered as "news" in terms of the exemption, and how narrowly some propose to define it in other aspects (such as in the proposed journalist shield law). 
That would be a discussion worth having.

Source -  The new It's 'what Progressives have been waiting for',  Washington Times

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How rampant is online Piracy?

The author of a new study commissioned by NBCU has released a video presenting claims of huge increases in the amount of online piracy over the last two years.  I'm always a bit skeptical of industry-backed research in this area, particularly when the study doesn't provide details on their methodology or definitions, and reports claims of significant numbers in a somewhat dishonest manner.

This report seems to fit that pattern.  Hidden in the passing discussion is the result that their study of online piracy in 2010 reported that 23.8% of all online traffic was pirated content.  Still, while expanding the scope of their study to include new forms of pirated content, and claims that the amount of pirated content distributed via the internet had skyrocketed in absolute terms (160% increase in the amount of "pirate" data traffic), along with an increase in the number of people regularly trading in pirated content (up more than 10% to 317 million unique users), the report still suggests that in 2012, a whopping 24% of all online traffic was pirated content.  Yes, that's right - in relative terms, a nonsignificant increase of 0.2% of total global online data traffic - and that's with a broader definition of "pirated content."

The claim of huge increases in absolute amounts of content, even if accurate, is confounded by the rapid increase in both the number of Internet users in the three areas examined (North America, Europe, and Asia) and the even more significant increase in online traffic driven by growth in video content (and its much larger data files) and the expansion of broadband connectivity.  Put in that context, and looking at share of data traffic, the increase is minimal.  Similarly, a 10% growth in the number of internet users accessing pirated content regularly sounds high, until you compare against the growth in the total number of internet users globally - which is up 17% over just the last year.  The 317 million number also seems a bit suspect when you consider that it amounts to 17% of the internet users in those areas.  Do 1 in 6 internet users really traffic in pirated content at least monthly?

I'm not going to claim that online piracy isn't a problem, or profess any real knowledge of how significant the problem is, or how negative its impact.  (Although I'll point the interested to a study for the WIPO that found that while piracy of broadcasting signals was rampant, the economic impact was slight as the vast bulk of that piracy was in areas where signals weren't being marketed anyway, and/or where populations were unlikely to be able to afford first-world prices).

But I will point out that the trumpeted claims of online piracy becoming a significantly bigger problem in the last few years is contradicted by the report's own numbers, once they are placed in the context of the continued rapid growth of internet use and increased data traffic.

Source - Online piracy of entertainment content keeps soaring, LA Times
Study on the Socioeconomic Dimension of the Unauthorized Use of Signals, Part III - WIPO SCCR/21/2

Nielsen- VOD/DVR use expands, changing TV habits`

Nielsen's latest "Cross-Platform Report" notes that 60% of US TVHH have VOD (Video On Demand) capabilities through set-top boxes and access through video streaming services.  Nielsen suggests that ease of use and increased programming options have made VOD and increasingly viable option for TV viewing.
The report shows that while traditional TV viewing (live on TV sets) remains the source of most viewing, audiences are increasing their use of both DVRs and VOD for time shifting programs and supplementing their viewing options.  The report also suggests that DVR and VOD uses are developing unique niches, with DVR time-shifting primarily used for general dramatic series, and VOD used primarily for watching movies.

The full report finds that younger demographic groups are more likely to make use of VOD, as are families with kids, and households with incomes above $100,000.  There's no real difference in use between households with DVRs and those without, but those with high speed Internet connections are much more likely to use VOD.

If you look at how different age groups use different devices for watching video content, those 50+ report the highest amount of traditional TV viewing (over 40 hrs/week), while the 25-49 age groups do the most time-shifted viewing (3+ hrs/wk) and spend the most time on the internet on computers (6+ hrs/wk).  The 18-34 age group averages the most time watching video on the Internet (about 1.3 hrs/wk).

Looking at different race/ethnic groups, Blacks watch the most "traditional" TV, averaging more than 200 hrs/month.  They also spend the most time watching videos using DVD/BluRay players (6 hrs/month), game consoles (7+ hrs/month), and rank second to Asians in time watching video content through the internet (9 hrs/month).  Asians spend the least time watching video content on traditional TVs (86 hrs/month), yet spend the most time accessing the internet via computers (35 hrs/month) and watching videos through the internet (12 hrs/month).  Whites watch the most time-shifted video content, averaging 12 1/2 hrs/month.

Sources - Q2 2013 Cross-Platform Report: Viewing on Demand, Nielsen Newswire
Viewing on Demand: The Cross-Platform Report September 2013, Nielsen research report

Sun's traffic plummets after paywall

When instituting a price for a formerly free good, just like when raising a good's price, there is an expectation that you'll lose some consumers.  So when UK's The Guardian newspaper put their Sunday tabloid The Sun's online edition behind a paywall, I'm sure they expected some decline in online readership.
With more than a month behind a paywall, independent metrics firm SimilarWeb found that monthly site visits fell from 37.3 million the month before, to 14.4 million in August - a decline of 62.4%.  More critically, average time on the site also fell by two-thirds (from 3.6 minutes to just over 1 minute); and more than two-thirds of visitors to the site left without accessing any content.  That later stat, called the bounce rate, suggests that those who had an interest in a topic that led them to the site were unwilling to pay the price set by The Sun for access.

Sources - Sun online's disastrous paywall start as traffic plunges by 62%,  Greenslade Blog on The
SimilarWeb's website traffic overview for The Sun.

Infographic: Tablets and TV Viewing

Some key points from a research study by and IPG Media Lab.

Tablet users watch videos on their tablets beyond the home.  While 100% of tablet video viewers reported doing so at home, 66% also reported doing so while on vacation, 36% did so at a friend's home, 22% watched videos while commuting, 22% watched at work, and 13% watched while at a restaurant or bar.
Two thirds (65%) reported watching more than an hour a day.  They reported watching for a longer time on weekends than weekdays.
Those surveyed reported a very slightly lower likelihood of multitasking while watching videos on tablets than through other devices (to be precise, 85% reported multitasking while watching videos on tablets, compared to 86% using cell phones, 87% using PCs to watch videos, and 97% who watched on TVs.)
The number one multitasking distraction across all devices was eating, while the number two was tied to primary device characteristics.

Watching video on TVs is typically a group activity (only 5% report that they usually/always watch videos alone on TV sets), while tablet viewing is more solitary (33% report usually/always watching videos on tablets while alone).

Sources -  Is the Tablet the ULTIMATE Video Viewing Device? Infographic from

New from Pew - 63% of cell phone owners use them to access net

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has just released results from a survey of cell phone owners.  They show that 60% of cell phone owners access the internet through their phones, and 52% use their phones for email.  Taken together, almost two thirds (63%) do one or another, and are classified by Pew as "cell internet users."  Within the 56% of U.S. adults with smart phones, usage rates hit 93%.

In terms of demographics, age and usage are negatively related, with younger age groups being more likely to be "cell internet users."  Having at least some college education is also related to use of cell phones for internet access, and income is also positively related to cell internet usage.  Cell phone users living in rural areas were less likely to use their phones for internet access - while the survey didn't specify, at least some of this may be related to the lower cell data speeds in many rural areas.
  There was, in addition, a small gender effect with men reporting higher usage (65%) than women (60%).

This survey also found meaningful differences between race/ethnic groups - with Blacks reporting the highest rate of adoption (74%), followed by Hispanics (68%), with Whites trailing at 59%.  This pattern has been found fairly consistently in mobile device usage studies in the U.S., and is often attributed to the argument that the mobile devices often serve as the only (or the least expensive) Internet connection point available.  (That is, more limited use of laptops and desktops connecting to wired Internet services in the home.)

While a third of cell internet users reported going online mostly through their phones, more than half (53%) have indicated that the phone was a secondary contact point, with another device serving as their primary online connection.  And remember that more than a third of cell phone owners (37%) reported that they do not access the internet through their cell phones.
  Taking a closer look at those who use their cell phones as their primary internet access point, we find some interesting demographic differences.  First, there was no gender difference, and location differences (urban vs. suburban vs rural) were minimal.  There were age differences, along the same lines of general usage (i.e. higher use among younger age groups).

It gets more interesting when you look at race/ethnicity, income, and education.  Along the lines of the argument that mobile devices may be the most viable internet access point for poor and minority users, White cell internet users had the lowest likelihood of reported their phones as their primary internet access point (27%).  Interestingly, though, the level of cells as primary device was among Hispanics (at 60%), rather than Blacks (at 43%). 
  The relationship between usage of cell phones as primary internet connections with both education and income were negative, with lower income groups and those with no college being the most likely to report their cell phones as their primary internet connection.  This would seem consistent with the idea that mobile devices can be a cheaper and more convenient way of accessing the net for the less advantaged.

Sources -  Cell Internet Use 2013, Pew Research Center
Cell Internet Use 2013, full research report from Pew Research Center

Friday, September 13, 2013

US to get Shield Law?

Yesterday, the US Senate Judiciary Committee passed out a proposed bill that would provide journalists some protections from having to testify or reveal sources - at least more than they currently have at the Federal level.  From what I can see in press reports, there are three serious gaps in the so-called shield law.
  1. The proposed bill is clear that the protection is limited - Federal authorities retain the power to "compel disclosure" that might prevent or stop "serious crimes" or harm national security.  That's a potentially huge exemption
  2. The bill expressly does not protect those disclosing "primary-source documents... without authorization."  While aimed at Wikileaks, remember that in the Pentagon Papers case, the NY Times coverage was based on disclosing "primary-source documents... without authorization."
  3. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) insisted on amending the bill limiting protection to "real reporters."
          "I can't support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege …"
    The amendment language defines a covered journalist as someone working for "an entity or service that disseminates news and information."  That is, you're considered a journalist not in terms of what you do, but who you work for.
 The Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press was lukewarm in its response, indicating that the proposed law
"goes a long way toward ensuring that reporters will be protected from subpoenas for their confidential information and sources.... While is it not as inclusive as we would like, it is not nearly as limited in that area as previous attempts at a federal shield law have been."
In this case, I'm not sure that such a limited shield is worth supporting.

Source -  Bill to protect journalists clears Senate panel, Los Angeles Times

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Radio - Music try revenue-sharing

As older traditional business models are having trouble with a significantly larger and more competitive media environment, firms are seeking new options for revenues.

In a notable turn-around from intense competition with one another for shrinking revenues, mega-label Warner Music Group and radio mega-group owner Clear Channel for revenue-sharing and cross-promotion.  (It doesn't hurt that Clear Channel is also heavily involved in online radio and concert promotion).  In a nutshell, WMG gets a cut from all of Clear Channel's platforms, dedicated digital channels, and guaranteed promotion of its artists.  Clear Channel, in return, gets greater access to WMG artists and content, and (probably, but unstated) relief from emerging performance rights concerns
"WMG is showing the way for what a true 21st century music company can be – a music company built for the digital age,” Clear Channel CEO Bob Pittman said in a statement. “The team at WMG understands that old formulas don’t work as well as they must in the digital age, and that we have to think differently to build a robust future for the music industry. Today, music companies and media and entertainment companies need to be more supportive of each other’s needs. This agreement begins that new era, and will help both companies thrive in the digital world.”
The move reflects the collapse of the old market barriers, and would seem to enable better coordination and collaboration in music promotion, distribution, and sales.  There may even be some scale and scope efficiencies to discover.

Source -  Clear Channel inks royalty deal with Warner Music Group,  Inside Radio

Infographic: Social Media TV Buzz

From the folks at metrics firm Crimson Hexagon and Lost Remote

Found at

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tribune TV sees revenue decline despite adding stations

To be fair, the acquisitions are too recent to really show up on the quarterly financial reports - but filings for the second quarter of 2013 showed TV station revenues were down 20% from the second quarter of 2012.  While political advertising in 2012 may have boosted quarterly revenues in 2012, the report attributes much of this year's decline to poor ratings and weak ad sales at WPIX-TV in New York (ad revenues for that station dropped by $17 million).  Overall, operating profit from the broadcasting division dropped by more than half, falling to $51 million in 2Q 2013, from $124 million in 2Q 2012.  In contrast, publishing revenues fell by just 4%, while operating profit soared from $15 million in 2Q 2012 to $60 million in 2Q 2013.  (Within the publishing unit, revenues and profits have significantly declined for the big, "elite", papers, but are countered by better performance among smaller dailies and other publishing units).

In the meantime, Tribune has indicated plans to spin off the publishing division (and selling off the loss-leading big dailies like the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times) and building up its broadcasting division.  In July, they announced the planned acquisition of Local TV LLC and its 19 stations.  The deal would make Tribune the country's biggest commercial TV station owner (at least along one metric).  As with many such big deals, there is some overlap of stations and markets, and Tribune proposed selling 2-3 stations in order to come into compliance with FCC duopoly rules.

Source -  Tribune TV Revs Sink 20%, Ad Revs Down 7%,  MediaDailyNews
Tribune looks to sell TV stations in Pennsylvania, Virginia,  Crain's Chicago Business

Milepost - The Economist notes 170th anniversary.

British news magazine (newspaper) The Economist is marking the 170th anniversary of the first edition, published Sept. 2, 1843.  One way it's doing so is by explaining itself through a series of blog posts under the rubric of "The Economist explains."

Among the posts -
  • How does The Economist choose what to cover? (a fairly standard gatekeeping/editorial process)
  • Why does The Economist call itself a newspaper?  (they see themselves as trying to be more comprehensive in coverage than most magazines, so they call themselves a "comprehensive weekly newspaper for the world")
  • Is The Economist left- or right- wing?  (It claims to be neither, but is pro-free enterprise and pro-individual freedom.  A sort of libertarian perspective, although they prefer the label "classically liberal")

Not as big a splash as Vanity Fair, but then again it's not a centenary. But 170 years is not a milepost to ignore.

Source -  How does The Economist choose what to cover?,  The Economist explains

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

First NSA, now DEA - the scope of snooping expands

According to a report in the NY Times, DEA and local drug enforcement officials have had access to decades of information on phone calls compiled in an AT&T database.
  The Hemisphere Project is a partnership of federal and local drug enforcement with telecom giant AT&T.  Under the Project, AT&T is paid to embed their employees with drug-enforcement units across the country.  When presented with an administrative subpoena (granted by the DEA, not a judge or grand jury), the AT&T embed can access AT&T's internal database and provide the specified information.
  The AT&T internal database contains records of every call that went through an AT&T switch, user info, and location information.  It was originally constructed to facilitate billing, and contains records of all calls going through AT&T switches since 1987.  Training slides for Hemisphere personnel (sent to the Times by an activist) stress the secrecy of the project -
“All requestors are instructed to never refer to Hemisphere in any official document,” one slide says. A search of the Nexis database found no reference to the program in news reports or Congressional hearings. 
The Obama administration has acknowledged the existence of the Hemisphere Project and its extraordinary scale and scope, but suggested that it's not a privacy issue because the database is maintained by AT&T, and not the government.
Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said the 27-slide PowerPoint presentation, evidently updated this year to train AT&T employees for the program, “certainly raises profound privacy concerns.”
“I’d speculate that one reason for the secrecy of the program is that it would be very hard to justify it to the public or the courts,” he said.
AT&T declined comment.

Source -   Drug Agents Use Vast Phone Trove, Eclipsing N.S.A.'sNew York Times

Milestone - Vanity Fair turning 100

Vanity Fair's first issue (as Dress & Vanity Fair) came on October 1, 1913.  The magazine's 100th anniversary issue will feature iconic images from the magazine's past and commissioned essays on each decade of the magazine's life.
In his Editor’s Letter, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter remarks on the magazine’s milestone: “In an age when nothing seems to last—not convictions, not even cities—a centennial, like the one Vanity Fair celebrates this year, makes me marvel at the simple fact of longevity.”
“Magazines have ‘bones’—the unchanging elements that give structure to creativity—as surely as gardens and houses do,” writes Carter. “Today’s magazine is different in countless ways from yesterday’s—as even the briefest excursion through this issue will show. But I like to think that if [Vanity Fair’s first editor] Frank Crowninshield…could see the modern Vanity Fair, stripped of its logo and other identifying marks, he’d know in an instant what he held in his hands.”

The October 2013 issue will be on newsstands in LA and NY on Sept. 5, and released for e-Readers on the 10th.  The magazine will further commemorate the anniversary, will launch an anniversary hub with more than 200 pieces of archival and new original content (including videos, articles, slide shows, interactive features and Spotify playlists).

Making it through two World Wars, multiple Depressions, and the rise of digital online media is quite an accomplishment.  Here's to the next hundred.

Source -  Introducing Vanity Fair's 100th Anniversary Issue, Featuring Cover Model Kate Upton,  VF Daily

Microsoft/Nokia deal reveals shifting dynamics of mobile

Microsoft will spend more than $7 billion to buy Nokia's cellphone manufacturing business, smartphone operations, and to license its patents - which press releases touted as "substantially all" of the Nokia business. 
  It wasn't clear in early reports just what would be left of Nokia after the deal (which includes 22.000 employees, including Nokia's CEO and other top executives, moving to Microsoft).  Nokia, which started as a paper and rubber manufacturer, moved into the production of telecommunications cables in the early 1920s, and from there started moving into electronic manufacturing in the 1960s.  Nokia moved into the cellphone business in the 1980s, growing to become the world's largest vendor of cellphones from 1998 to 2012.  Along the way, Nokia also moved into the mobile services business, and divested itself of most non-mobile related businesses in the late 1990s to focus on mobile businesses.  However, Nokia never did well in the smartphone business, and fell from the world's top vendor of mobile devices in 2011 and early 2012, to the tenth largest in 2013.  It's not clear what role Nokia's commitment to Microsoft's mobile OS for its smartphones in 2011 contributed to the decline.  But that may have been a major factor in the deal, and in the speculation that Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is among the contenders for Microsoft CEO (Microsoft's current CEO Steve Ballmer has announced plans to retire once a new CEO is named).
  The deal will provide Microsoft with immediate entry into the mobile handset business, and Nokia's mobile business and patents may help Microsoft improve it's own mobile OS - currently accounting for just 3% of the US smartphone market.  On the other hand, neither company has been very successful in recent years in keeping pace with the rapid pace of innovation in the mobile sector.  Nokia's revenues have fallen by more than half in the last few years, and the sale can be seen as Nokia's attempt to get what it can for a deteriorating business that's unsure whether it can keep up with Apple and Samsung in the smartphone and tablet business that's come to dominate mobile.
Al Hilwa, an analyst at IDC, noted the price was almost too good to pass up for Microsoft, which ended up paying less for Nokia's smartphone business than the $8.5 billion it did for the communications service Skype in 2011.
It's also, perhaps, the last best chance that Microsoft has to become a major player in the mobile market.  As part of the deal, Nokia will abandon its own Symbian OS for its cellphones in favor of Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 OS.  With Nokia's established user base, that will vault Windows into becoming a major competitor with Apple and Android - if it can keep that user base from switching.
"It's an all-or-nothing bet," (said Gartner analyst Van) Baker. "They have to be successful in the marketplace because there won't be anyone else to fall back on."
Given the two once-giant's performance lately - particularly in the mobile market - I'm not sure that the possible efficiencies of integrated mobile hardware and software development in the smartphone business will be enough.  In mobile, you also need to be quick and nimble - something Microsoft and Nokia haven't demonstrated in the last few years.

Source -  Microsoft to Buy Nokia Mobile Business in $7 Billion Deal, The Wall Street Journal
Enterprise Mobility: Microsoft, Nokia Partnership is a Major Blunder: 10 Reasons Why,  eWeek