Tech News November 2010

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1. PBS vows L.A. will get full slate of programs once KCET goes independent

The flagship of PBS in the local Los Angeles market for 40 years, KCET announced that it is pulling out of the network, effective Jan. 1, and becoming an independent outlet after wrangling with network officials for months over dues and other issues. The move was instantly assailed by viewers, many of whom worried about being denied access to favorite shows.  KOCE-TV, the Orange County "secondary" affiliate that airs only 25% of PBS programming, will likely step up and become a primary station   The four public TV stations in the area -- KCET and KOCE as well as KVCR in San Bernardino and KLCS, licensed to the Los Angeles Unified School District -- had recently started working together to save money, avoid duplicating schedules and raise funds. That consortium will continue without KCET.   (Source: Los Angeles Times)

2. How $50 million in donations led KCET to split from PBS

A follow up story explains how generous grants received by KCET for preschool programming that would eventually total $50 million led to its decision to leave PBS. The grants, including $25 million from BP, caused the station's dues to PBS to skyrocket. Because the donors stipulated they couldn't be used for administrative costs, KCET says it couldn't pay up.  (Source: Los Angeles Times)

3. “Clifft Notes”: Portable Music Theory for the iPhone Age

There’s an app for pretty much everything. In this case, the app is Music Theory Pro, which combines aspects of music theory with ear training in an easy-to-use format.   The idea for the application began when Dr. Joel Clifft, who teaches music both at Azusa Pacific University and at University of Southern California, was looking for something that would help him brush up on ear training.  Once you download the app, you can choose from one of five sections: Note Names, Key Signatures, Intervals, Chords, and Ear Training. The app then becomes a game. Opt for one of the first four sections, answer the questions, and rack up a score. If you’re feeling competitive, post the scores online, either on Facebook or at the program’s Web site. (Source: San Francisco Classical Voice)

4. Album price 'should drop to £1'

Rob Dickins, who ran Warner Music in the UK for 15 years, said "radically" lowering full CD download prices to £1 (~$1.60) would help beat piracy and lead to a rapid sales rise.  Some major album downloads currently sell for as little as £3.99 through retailers such as Amazon.  If record labels made the decision to charge much less, fans would not think twice about buying an album on impulse and the resulting sales boost would make up for the price drop, he predicted.  (Source: BBC)
 
5. Second Circuit Rules Digital Music Downloads Are Not Public Performances Under the Copyright Act

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the download of a digital file containing a musical work is not a “public performance” of the underlying work, and therefore that online music vendors need not obtain or pay for public performance licenses for their distribution of – and their customers’ use of – digital music files. United States v. Am. Soc’y of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (Applications of RealNetworks, Inc., Yahoo! Inc.), No. 09-0539-cv (L) (2d Cir. Sept. 28, 2010). The court also held that fees for public performance licenses for streaming music services may not be determined solely by using a ratio of time users spend streaming music versus using other online services.  (Source: Proskauer)

6. Tech industry to RIAA, radio biz: Keep your 'legacy technology' demands away from our cellphones

The battle between recording and radio industries over performance rights royalties has moved to a new platform: your cellphone. The Consumer Electronics Assn., the trade group behind the annual CES event, has lashed out at the radio industry's push for FM radio tuners to be a government-mandated addition to mobile devices.  This isn't the first time the CEA has voiced opposition to the idea of FM tuners becoming a requirement for cellular devices. The concept was introduced by the National Assn. of Broadcasters earlier this year as part of its ongoing negotiations with the RIAA -- the Recording Industry Assn. of America -- over the introduction of performance rights royalties to the U.S. market. Currently, U.S. broadcasters pay only songwriters/music publishers for songs played on the air, whereas most countries also compensate the musicians and record labels.

Congress has requested the RIAA and NAB to work out a compromise after the House and Senate judiciary committees backed the Performance Rights Act, which would require broadcasters to pay royalties to musicians and labels. In agreeing for stations to pay about 1% of net revenue -- a figure that is estimated to generate an additional $100 million for the music industry -- the NAB has requested that FM tuners become mandatory in cellular devices.  In increasing the number of mobile phones with FM tuners, radio believes it could better compete with fast-rising streaming services such as Pandora, as well as boost its listenership and increase advertising. Such a compromise is contingent upon the U.S. government approving legislation to mandate the installation of FM tuners. The NAB, in its response last week, highlights the public safety benefits of the installation of tuners, which would ideally work if cellular networks were down during a disaster.  (Source: Los Angeles Times)

7. Networks try to curb free TV shows online

Broadcasters took a big step toward eliminating free TV shows on the Web after they blocked access to their programming online this month to enforce their demands to be paid. Recent actions by Fox, ABC, NBC and CBS in two separate fee disputes suggest that after a few years of experimenting with free, ad-supported viewing, broadcasters believe they can make more money from cable TV providers if they hold back some programming online.  That could mean new limits on online viewing are coming: Broadcasters might make fewer of their shows available to begin with, or delay when they become available — say, a month after an episode is broadcast, rather than the few hours it typically takes now.  It would make it tougher for viewers to drop their cable TV subscriptions and watch shows online instead. If cable and satellite TV providers can hang on to more subscribers, broadcasters can then demand more money from them to carry their stations on the lineups.  (Source: Boston Herald)

8. Social Media Marketing 101: In-House Team, Agency or Consultant?

Sadly there’s no magic rubric for deciding whether an in-house social media workforce, a social media consultant, or an agency will best be able to meet your particular business needs. Like almost every business decision, it depends on your business’s goals, budget and particular situation.  There are, however, definite pros and cons to each approach. An online article in mashable.com highlights some of the most important factors to consider for each style of social media team.  (Source: mashable.com)

9. Cracking the Facebook Code

How does the social media giant Facebook decide who and what to put in your “news feed?” Tom Weber conducts a one-month experiment to break the algorithm, discovering 10 of Facebook's biggest secrets. (Source: thedailybeast.com )

10. Facebook releases new admin panel for Facebook Pages

If you’re confused by Facebook Pages, this will be a change you’ll welcome.  Previously, accessing all the important task areas for a Page was a bit difficult – mainly because there were different locations for each task. For example, if you want to edit an application, you’d go the center column of the admin Page. But if you wanted to send an update to fans, you’d have to go to right column, click on “Send An Update To Fans” and then go to another Page to actually write and send the update.  Social media strategy consultant explains the changes.  (Source: johnhaydon.com )

11. Cable, technology, media firms form digital registry

Major studios, cable and technology companies have announced the launch of an Entertainment Identifier Registry (EIDR) to track movies, TV shows and other assets much the way books are coded.  Likening it to the International Standard Book Numbers (ISBNs) system used to identify books, executives involved in the initiative said the registry was developed to make it easier for businesses to search, track and report revenue of an asset, cutting costs and streamlining operations.  The registry is expected to be available to members in early 2011. The initiative is backed by a broad group of industry players like Comcast, Walt Disney Viacom Inc's Paramount Pictures, Sony Corp, and others, while talks with other parties are ongoing. Most companies today are using disparate systems to catalog their own entertainment assets, making the process of tracking content across multiple systems difficult, executives said.  Executives said for content producers, the ability to register their assets will simplify their post-production process and potentially lead to greater distribution of their products.  (Source: Reuters/Yahoo)

12. Lime Wire, Web Music Distributor, Ordered to Block File-Sharing Service

Lime Wire LLC, operator of a website found liable for inducing the infringement of music copyrights, was ordered by a U.S. District Judge to disable its program that allows users to download, upload and trade music recordings.   In a case brought by the four largest record companies, in May the Judge found Lime Wire liable for inducing copyright infringement by allowing users to download recordings without authorization. A trial in January will determine the damages to be paid by Lime Wire and its founder, Mark Gorton. The amount of damages will depend on the number of infringed works. “Naturally, we’re disappointed with this turn of events,” Lime Wire Chief Executive Officer George Searle said in a statement. “However, at this time, we have no option but to cease further distribution and support of our software.”  Lime Wire “remains open for business,” Searle said in the statement, and the company is “creating a completely new music service.”   (Source: Bloomberg News)

13. Peter Malkin on Managing Musical Artists in the new Digital World

An amusing, but informative video by Peter Malkin explains the daunting challenges faced by artist managers in the current digital music market.