Weekly Web Watch: Content is key, but broadcasters do not have a monopoly on it

As a PR broadside, it was pretty impressive: the big guns of broadcasting wheeled out for the TV and radio industry’s national convention in Las Vegas last week. There they were: Eddie Fritts, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, and Sumner Redstone, chairman and CEO of Viacom.

As a PR broadside, it was pretty impressive: the big guns of broadcasting wheeled out for the TV and radio industry’s national convention in Las Vegas last week. There they were: Eddie Fritts, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, and Sumner Redstone, chairman and CEO of Viacom.

As a PR broadside, it was pretty impressive: the big guns of

broadcasting wheeled out for the TV and radio industry’s national

convention in Las Vegas last week. There they were: Eddie Fritts,

president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, and

Sumner Redstone, chairman and CEO of Viacom.



Their message? Whatever challenges digital media throws up, no matter

how attractive the interactivity and range of choice offered by the

Internet, no matter how many upstart new dot-com media owners there are,

the established broadcasters will still have the whip hand. The reason:

as bandwidth increases and as ordinary Internet users are able to

receive radio and TV-like streaming audio and video, they are going to

want the content to fill it. And the established radio and TV

broadcasters are the ones that have that content - the music, the

pictures, the stories and the stars that people really want - no matter

what the medium.



’Technology paves the way, but make no mistake, content is the fuel that

drives this industry forward. Broadcasting makes money!’ Redstone

thundered.



Fritts, for his part, conveyed exactly the same message - that rumors of

the death of traditional TV and radio are greatly exaggerated.



So that’s all right then, if Fritts’ and Redstone’s widely reported

speeches are to be taken at face value. Nothing to worry about. Just

wait for the tech innovators and dot-com upstarts to come to their

senses and then come cash-in-hand begging for content.



They’re right about some things. Broadband, interactive media are going

to be gasping for content. But things are not as simple as they make

out.



The established producers of radio and TV content are not going to be

the only players in town. The Net is breeding broadband content of its

own.



There’s Atom Films (www.atomfilms.com), which streams short films over

the Internet and is building up an impressive array of distribution

alliances with the likes of Blockbuster and Apple’s QuickTime TV. And

take a look at Spumco (www.spumco.com), a Web site showing the work of

John Kricfalusi, the creator of Ren & Stimpy - work which, by the way,

TV didn’t want anyway.



And hey, Blockbuster has content too. It is readying itself to deliver

movies on demand to people’s living rooms, via TiVo set-top boxes.

Meanwhile, Sony has announced it is setting up a broadband division to

make entertainment content available over the Net.



What all this says is that perhaps it’s not the technology companies and

the dot-com wannabe media moguls that the established broadcasters have

to watch out for - it’s other established entertainment companies who

fancy moving in on their space.



There are other factors that will force big changes on TV and radio

broadcasters.



As a generation brought up on the Web increasingly gets used to taking

control of its media diet, and used to picking and choosing the bits

that it wants in bite-sized chunks, established concepts of programming

will be challenged, and along with them the business model they

fostered.



The idea that people will sit patiently while chunks of their viewing

time are interrupted by ads they don’t want to see is a very

old-fashioned one. It would have been interesting to hear Eddie Fitts

and Sumner Redstone address that particular issue.





Stovin Hayter is editor-in-chief of Revolution. He can be contacted at

stovin.hayter@revolutionmagazine.com.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in