This “future” you keep hearing about? You know, the one where the “internet” is important? Well, good news, local television professionals: false alarm! You can just forget about all that madness about competing across multiple platforms and just get back to work. The “internet” isn’t worth your time and you can stop worrying about how to make money there. Just do what you’ve been doing and you’ll be right as rain. So argues Kevin Mirek in a post on tvnewsday entitled, “Web Needs TV, But TV Doesn’t Need Web.”
If the idea of a transformational moment in journalism and the television business keeps you up at night and you really, truly, want it simply to go away, then stop reading now and let Mr. Mirek’s comforting words wrap you up in a cuddly embrace as you drift off. But trust me, you will be dreaming, because no matter what Kevin Mirek may believe, the “internet industry,” as he calls it, will not get tired and go away.
Yes, he said “internet industry.” Best I can figure, Mirek believes there’s a bunch of these internet companies and they’re competing with the good old television companies, and since we all work for the TV companies, it’s nuts to be doing anything to help the internet companies that intend to run us good guys out of business: “Every day we read or hear of Internet chieftains declaring that TV must restructure itself to become more Internet intensive or warning that TV is going to lose out if it doesn’t put more resources into Internet and mobile. What else would we expect to hear from the Internet industry that creates no viable video content, that pirates 90 percent of its offerings from sleeping TV owners and that intends to replace TV in the end?”
Maybe it’s different at the television station where you work, but I don’t recall any of the “Internet” bullies showing up at the station threatening to destroy us if we didn’t hand over our local content. In fact, thinking back, I’d have to say the “TV owners” I worked for–people with names like Rupert Murdoch, for instance–could also be described as “Internet chieftans,” which really messes up the Mirek math.
Mirek’s convinced that since television viewership remains high–and American Idol reminds us all of the shared-community viewing events that were common before time-shifting and DVRs–that TV’s as strong now as it ever was, and that those dimwit TV bosses need to wake up and smell the profits: ”Whenever an Internet guru refers to Internet video platforms, the image that comes to mind is that of a bamboo raft drifting aimlessly in the same waters as TV’s aircraft carrier. The impoverished skipper of the raft is saying to the aircraft carrier commander, ‘You better share your weapons with us for free, or some day we will destroy you.’ The aircraft commander is saying, ‘Uh, okay, I don’t want to be left behind.’”
It’s clearly comforting to think back to the five-channel universe and God-like local news anchor days of TV and pretend that’s the world we still live in, with television stations as ironclad and powerful as aircraft carriers (yes, Mirek sees stations as the real powerbrokers, since they “mostly rely on the affiliates to deliver the 153 hours per month of the average American’s video viewing”). But Kevin, even mighty carriers can sink, and those bamboo rafts may be better described as “life rafts.”
Today, Liberty Media CEO John Malone was asked if the word “television” would even exist in a few years’ time. His answer? Well, yes, but folks who say it may smell of mothballs: ”Probably in five years old guys like me will still be calling it television,” Malone said.
And, of course, guys like Kevin Mirek.
You know, the angry guy at the end of the block with the big TV antenna on his house who’s always shouting at kids and complaining about this evil “Internet” contraption?