Tag Archives: financial model

Murdoch’s “Secret Plan” to… Charge for Content! Gasp! Shivers!

Tinas Beast:  Does She Read This Stuff?

Tina's Beast: Does She Read This Stuff?


Wow.  Talk about your no-brainers.  The Daily Beast’s Stryker McGuire (wasn’t that a failed show on ABC in the late 70s about a former cop who pairs up with an ex-con or something?) reports today that he “has learned” through “sources” that News Corp. “has tasked a global team–reporting directly to the 78-year-old media mogul–with creating a model to charge for online content.”

Cut to:  me staring, waiting for the news in any of this.  Right.  And?

Mr. McGuire’s reporting, complete with breathless late 40’s style writing gives us this:  “Now, The Daily Beast has learned, Murdoch’s News Corp. has set up a global team (you said that part already, Stryker), based in New York, London, and Sydney (okay, that’s in line with “global”), to create a system for charging for online content in an environment where consumers have come to expect to get it for free.”

I am so not making this up.

He continues:  “According to a knowledgeable source, the team is said to be ‘looking at hardware’ to deliver the content in a ‘user friendly way’–a prospect that will surely catch the attention of the developers of Amazon’s Kindle and the Sony Reader.”

Oh man.  If The Daily Beast thinks this is newsworthy–and moreso, deserving of being peppered with trite “has learned” and “according to sources” filler, well, they’re a lot further back on the media curve than I thought.

News Corp.:  Still Interested in Making Money?  Never!

News Corp.: Still Interested in Making Money? Never!


A global news organization “tasking a team” to “find a way” to “charge for content?”  Heavens! Who would’ve thought?  I figured Murdoch was tasking teams to refine the printing press and dispatching task forces into the wilds of Asia to find the next Sudoku.  

For the record, any major (or minor) media company that isn’t thinking about a new financial model is a ship that will soon be known as an “underwater reef” suitable for divers and coral.  But then what do I know?  I also poo-poohed this story I read on The Daily Beast last week about TDK tasking a team to look into a new model for recording audio beyond the cassette tape (which will surely catch the attention of the makers of Sony’s blockbuster Walkman music player!).

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Filed under Local News 2.0

Do We Save Local TV News… Or Save Ourselves?

But... We Ruled the World... How Can It Ever End?

But... We Ruled the World... How Can It Ever End?

Clay Shirky’s recent column, “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable,” has earned deserved attention among those of us pondering the question of what happens next, and whether the financial models of newspapering and making local TV news can survive the current economy.  Increasingly, it seems the answer to both questions is “no.”

It no longer seems like madness to suggest that what we’re living through isn’t the toughest times for local TV news as we know it, but rather, a revolution that will wash away the medium we grew up with, and usher in something different.  That’s scary stuff.

Shirky describes the insistence that newspapers must be saved this way:  “When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.

There are fewer and fewer people who can convincingly tell such a lie. ”

Digital Guru Clay Shirky

Digital Guru Clay Shirky

That is meaty, heavy stuff, and it is as applicable, I believe to local TV news as it is to newspapers.  Anybody who refuses to believe that what we’ve spent our careers doing must continue to exist is at high risk of being rendered irrelevant.  And in TV, as in any business, irrelevant is noplace to be.

The save-the-papers debate, as Shirky points out, boils down to a journalistic truism:  newspapers put asses in seats at city council meetings, and get deeper into stories than local tv newsers have the luxury of doing.  They have more bodies to sift through overnight police reports and court filings.  They are essential to the survival of a healthy society.  If newspapers die, who will do that work?  Certainly not the “you’re live in the noon on the house fire” TV guy.  He’s lucky if he can grab a five-dollar footlong before he starts crashing for his 5 o’clock package.

“The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole. This is true, but irrelevant to the problem at hand; “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model,” Shirky writes.  “So who covers all that news if some significant fraction of the currently employed newspaper people lose their jobs?  I don’t know. Nobody knows. We’re collectively living through 1500, when it’s easier to see what’s broken than what will replace it.”

Same again for TV.  It’s gut-check time.  Are you thinking about surviving the downturn?  Or figuring out what’s the new thing–and how to thrive doing it?

The Rocky Said Goodbye After 150 Years

The Rocky Said Goodbye After 150 Years

Shirky writes:  “Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead. ”

Society doesn’t need the six o’clock local news either.  But it does need to know what’s happening.  We still have a job to do, it’s just a question of where, and who’s going to pay us.  That’s what I’m anxious to figure out, rather than answer the question of when the dry pipe in the sales department will start gushing cash again and all will be better.  That sounds more than ever like denial.

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Filed under Local News 2.0

WSJ: Local Stations’ Cutbacks May Be Tip of Iceberg: “Major Cuts” Ahead to Stay Alive

Disturbing Interactive WSJ Interactive Graphic

Disturbing Interactive WSJ Interactive Graphic


The financial model that made local television a money-printing machine and made local GMs the toast of affiliate gatherings with network execs eager to impress appears to be dead or dying, with a “fuzzy future” on the horizon, according to a bleak report in this morning’s Wall Street Journal:  “Now, with their viewership in decline and ad revenue on a downward spiral, many local TV stations face the prospect of being cut out of the picture. Executives at some major networks are beginning to talk about an option that once would have been unthinkable: eventually taking shows straight to cable, where networks can take in a steady stream of subscriber fees even in an advertising slump.”
 
According to WSJ, local station ad revenue is projected to fall 20%-30% in 2009, and last week Walt Disney Co. “reported a 60% slide in operating income in its broadcast segment, including ABC and 10 ABC-owned stations, for the quarter ended December 31st, in part because of a 15% drop in revenue at its TV stations.”  FOX owner News Corp reported staggering losses last week, and indicated its 17 stations would undergo “major cost-cutting in the coming 12 months” after a 30% decline in ad revenue.
WSJ Chart

WSJ Chart


The once booze and party fueled relationship between local station and network seems to be chilly at best, and local news isn’t exactly flooding stations with dollars to make up the difference.  The WSJ predicts fewer stations will be doing news at all in the next few years, driven out of the marketplace because there’s just too much product out there:  “Stations have pulled the plug entirely on some news shows in Lexington, Ky., and Yakima, Wash. In November, some stations owned by News Corp. and NBC Universal said they would begin pooling their newsgathering resources.

 

Station owners say even with these cuts, there are more local newscasts than the market can bear. “Over time, there will be fewer players,” says Dunia Shive, chief executive of Belo Corp., which owns 20 local stations covering 14% of the U.S. market.”

The article is not easy reading, but mandatory nonetheless.  The entire piece can be found here.

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