Was it just a year ago that broadcast execs had their boxers in a bunch over TiVo and time-shifting? Today I read that Fox plans to begin streaming the full season-opening episode of “The O.C.” on the web a week before its network premiere. Fox is following the lead of NBC, which premiered two of its new shows on the Web ahead of their boob-tube debut in September. From YouTube trailers to iPod downloads to this latest announcement, the shift in the networks’ approach to their TV programming as it relates to the Web has been stunning in both its speed and its scope. Talk about a tipping point.
But lest we get too excited about the transformation of Old Media, read this story in the Hollywood Reporter about how the Tribune Co., NBC Universal, CBS and others are asking the FCC (again) to relax its restrictions on monopolies, er, ownership of local media properties. The FCC is reviewing its (much-needed) regulations that limit single ownership of multiple broadcast outlets, TV stations and newspapers in a single market. And the media companies are whining (again), with CBS citing increased competition from everything ranging from Google to YouTube to the iPod to cell phones as justification for looser restrictions.
The Hollywood Reporter provides a voice of reason in an opposing viewpoint from the Consumer Federation of America’s Mark Cooper:
“There is simply no evidence that supports permitting further media consolidation — no justification in law, economics or social policy,” said Mark Cooper, director of research at the Consumer Federation of America. “The cornerstone of the FCC’s argument to relax ownership limits is that consolidation is in the public interest. The evidence to the contrary is very clear. Stations that consolidate don’t produce more news, they produce less. And diversity of news and opinion from the most influential media declines. The record is clear: More consolidation hurts our democracy without any discernible benefits.”