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Groveling of politicians notwithstanding, net neutrality – the idea of all data on the web treated equally – is being chipped away. Sweden’s leading telecom TeliaSonera is leading the charge to charge popular video providers Netflix, HBO, Viaplay and similar content providers for network access. For competitive reasons it’s difficult for telecoms to raise the rates for home consumers.
“During the peak hours between 8pm and 10pm video streaming uses more than 50% of our broadband network,” said Telia strategy director Freenasp Mobedjina to Dagens Industri (March 10). “That’s twice as much as a couple of years ago.” Those two evening hours eat 20% of Telia’s daily broadband capacity.
To solve the problem, the company is offering high capacity providers what it calls the Content Distribution Network. Netflix, for one, has resisted higher fees for ISP access but is adjusting the attitude in Sweden.
ViaSat, provider of Viaplay and owned by MTG, is not pleased. “We think about net neutrality,” said Viaplay CEO Niclas Ekdahl to SvD Business (March 10). “It feels wrong to the end consumer who does not have access to their content with a good speed and quality.” Legal wrangling is set to begin.
TeliaSonora isn’t blinking. “Once consumers had to pay for voice by the minute,” said spokesperson Björn Berg to Dagens Media (March 10), “and now fills the time with data. We believe the charge is necessary in order to expand and invest in the future.”
St. Petersburg, Russia ISP InterZet blocked access to YouTube for a few hours Monday. InterZet customers attempting to access YouTube were presented with a screen quoting Russian law on extremist content. An InterZet customer service representative told lenta.ru (Monday 10) that access was restored once the prohibited content was removed. The official Russian agency policing internet content – Roskomnadzor - did not publish a notice of violation on its website.
This follows Moscow ISP Acad blocking access to the video portal last week. Tech watchers in Russia suspect a banned pro-Ukrainian video uploaded to YouTube.
Closing the current organization and, mostly, ending the household radio and TV license fee will save public broadcasting in Israel, said Communications Minister Gilad Erdan. Both the Israel Broadcasting Authority (IBA) and Israeli Educational Television will disappear and a new organization, yet to be named or detailed, will rise with fewer employees and more independence from government. The plan follows recommendations of a commission report led by independent film producer Ram Landes.
“What we want is something better, cheaper and divorced from political influence,” said Finance Minister Yair Lapid at a press conference announcing the decision, quoted by jpost.com (March 7). IBA senior directors are government appointees and, if final approval from the Israeli Knesset (parliament) is forthcoming, will be replaced. The IBA staff of about 1,600 will be downsized to about 600. Three TV channels – Hebrew, Arabic and a children’s channel - will emerge. The eight radio channels will remain but without advertising.
Earlier last week the Knesset Finance Committee reported that the IBA spent NIS 30 million (about €6 million) in 2013 for lawyers to chase down errant license fee payers. The new public broadcasting organization will be financed through the State budget and, except for radio, advertising after the household license fee disappears in 2015. /p>
From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File
Paywalls have proven popular with online publishers, most certainly those once based on print publications. Highly touted has been the Piano Media paywall and distribution system that developed in Slovakia and spread to several national markets. Nearly four years after launch – and amble venture financing – Piano Media seems to have hit a bump in the road.
Last December Ecopress pulled the online version of Slovak business daily Hospodárske noviny from the Piano Media system and established its own paywall system. This past week publisher ETrend pulled Slovak media portal Medialne.sk because of “a very negative impact on traffic growth,” reported radiotv.cz (March 3), which also noted that Slovak publishers aligned with Piano Media “avoid any negative publicity or critical analysis…of Piano.” (See more about paywalls here)
Piano Media has often been criticized for holding subscriber figures close. Last year co-founder Tomas Bella left the company, returning to publisher SME as deputy editor. (JMH)
Widely reported in many countries is the story of RT America news anchor Liz Wahl signing off, literally and figuratively, this week with a flourish about” a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of (Russian president Vladimir) Putin.” RT, originally Russia Today, is the English-language television channel launched in 2008 with a flourish about correcting Western misinformation about the Russian invasion of Georgia. The day before Ms Wahl resigned on-air an RT talk-show host openly criticized – without resigning – the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Margarita Simonyan, RT’s editor-in-chief, called Ms Wahl’s on-air resignation "nothing more than a self-promotional stunt.”
Many countries over the last decades have skillfully employed media outlets to fight information wars. Russia Today’s veracity-challenged news and talk programs unapologetically follow the editorial line written by Russian government spin-masters. Available on YouTube and other video portals, it provides conspiracy theory click-bait. Because of its blatancy it is a throw-back to old-school propaganda outlets from the Cold War and beyond. Both Ms Wahl and talk-show host Abby Martin have been based in Washington DC. (See more on media in Russia here)
Inside Russia the glimpse of dissent at Russia Today attracted scant attention, mainstream television and newspapers towing the official line. Exceptions were TV Rain, which recently lost almost all cable and satellite distribution, radio station Ekho Moskvy, recently absorbed by Gazprom Media, and business newspaper Vedmosti, a joint venture of Dow Jones, the Financial Times and Finnish publisher Sanoma. In the Crimea, Ukrainian TV channels have been pulled from the airwaves, replaced by mainstream Russian TV channels.
Journalists have natural skills for business
Glass half full
The media sector has suffered measurably since the onset of the Great Recession. The effect on sector employment has been devastating. For some there has been a sliver lining, however small.
In Spain, one of hardest hit by recession and austerity, journalists have formed 358 new media outlets since 2008. Some have failed, most remain small, said a report of the Press Association of Madrid (APM - Asociación de la Prensa de Madrid), quoted by El Mundo (March 3). In 2013, 61 new media outlets were created.
The report identifies two primary reasons for this spurt in media entrepreneurship. Cost of entry is quite low aided, if you will, by the large number of out-of-work journalists. And, too, there is the “adventurous and enterprising spirit of journalists. Skills such as creativity, audacity, cunning or communication are greatly appreciated in business and are usually present in a journalist.”
An analysis of labor force statistics prepared by Europa Press for World Radio Day (February 13) showed 47% of employment in Spain’s radio broadcasting sector have been lost since 2008. Much of the job loss was attributed to significant declines in radio advertising through the period with 136 companies closing. (JMH)
week of March 10, 2014
In The Public Service
Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in The Numbers
Strategies in the digital age are complex. Audiences always want more, not less. And they always want something new, different and, for Generation Selfie, just for them. Austerity economics often provides the itch for change but taking the long view is powerful.
It is normal to scour survey data for patterns, trends and other means of simplification. We are, of course, looking for a picture drawn by numbers. When the passing snapshot jumps off the page we call it insight. Maybe there’s more.
Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in The Public Service
Public broadcasting chiefs are generally appointed because of radio and TV skills or political talent. Sometimes insiders are preferred and sometimes outsiders, depending on the last scandal. A journalistic background can also be helpful, or not. The most common characteristic is an ability to keep everybody happy.
new ftm Knowledge
Media in Romania and Moldova – new
The profile of Romania's media scene is complicated. Changes take place often as multi-national media houses exit and "colorful" local owners take over. Neighboring Moldova faces its own set of challenges. This ftm Knowledge file details the rough road to sustainable media. Includes updated Resources. 60 pages PDF (February 2014)
Media in Bulgaria
Media in Bulgaria faces many challenges. After big media houses rushed in with EU accession recession, corruption and confusion have taken a toll. Yet the Bulgarian media landscape is unique and interesting. This ftm Knowledge file highlights the difficulties and opportunities. Includes updated Resources. 46 pages PDF (December 2013)
Television News - Bright Lights, Big Coverage
The global reach of television news has never been greater. The digital age has expanded that reach to satellite channels and the Web but it has also forced television news to mature. This ftm Knowledge file shows the gains and the pains. 99 pages PDF (October 2013)
Europe's Radio - Western Europe
Opportunity meets tradition in Western Europe's radio broadcasting. Change has come fast and yet oh, so slowly. This ftm Knowledge file contains material and resources on public and private radio broadcasting in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Netherlands and Switzerland. 244 pages. Resources. PDF (September 2013)
See complete Knowledge files directory and release schedule here.
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new ftm Resources
- Germany - Radio Audience (March 2014)
leading stations, audience trend, daily reach
- Italy - Major Media - Radio Broadcasting (March 2014)
public and private broadcasting companies, channels, audience reach/share, management
- Belarus - Market Data (February 2014)
population, per capita GDP/GNI trend, ad spending, ICT and mobile usage, press freedom, corruption
- Romania - Media Organizations (February 2014)
regulators/government, trade associations, audience measurement, journalist/media monitor associations
- Moldova - Media Organizations (February 2014)
regulation, trade associations, journalists/media freedom, measurement
- UK - National Radio Audience (February 2014)
market share, trend, sectors
- UK - London Radio Audience (February 2014)
market share, trend
- UK - National Radio Audience (February 2014)
- Moldova - Major Media (February 2014)
publishing, broadcasting, news agencies/portals, owners, managers, platforms, websites
- France - Greater Paris Radio Audience (January 2014)
national and local channels, market share, trend
- Switzerland - Radio listening by region (January 2014)
public and private sectors, penetration, time spent listening
- Switzerland - French region Radio Audience (January 2014)
- Switzerland - Swiss-German region Radio Audience (January 2014)
- Switzerland - Italian region Radio Audience (January 2014)
- Romania - Major Media - Broadcasting (January 2014)
public and private radio and television broadcasters, owners, management, station formats
- Romania - Major Media - Publishers (January 2014)
print and online publishers, owners, management
- France - National Radio Audience (14/01/2014)
national channels, sectors, market share, reach/TSL
- Bulgaria - Media Organizations (16/12/2013)
regulation, trade associations, journalists/media freedom, measurement
- Bulgaria - Major Media - Radio Broadcasting (12/12/2013)
public and private radio channels, management, platforms, market share
- Bulgaria - Major Media - Television (03/12/2013)
public and private broadcasters, owners, management
- Bulgaria - Major Media - Publishing (03/12/2013)
major newspapers, owners, management, online
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