Tube Town

The doings of Big TV have little bearing on mini media dreamers like me but there’s so much ferment in television that I can’t resist a few comments, starting with CBS’s plan to create the Public Eye, a sort of ombudsman blog, as part of its re-launch

Verne Ververs, who will play that internal watchdog role, will have his work cut out in defining his independence and restoring trust. After MediaBistro’s TVNewser mentioned the who and what of Public Eye, picked up that report and said: “Blog patrons can smell a phony a mile away … If “Public Eye” turns out to be a sham, people can always get the skinny about CBS from (us).”

USA Today reporter David Lieberman put CBS’s moves into context in an excellent analysis that looked at similar big media forays into the web world. Three thoughts jumped out at me: Comcast chief operating officer Stephen Burke said web users “want short, five-minute clips that are educational or entertaining,” not traditional longer fare; Web video makes sense for short shelf-life news and sports and “esoteric” (niche?) content; and transmission costs for streaming video are down to 9 cents per viewer, per hour.

In other TV news, Paid Content editor Rafat Ali laments the lack of attention being given to newly-issued set of draft directives from the European Information Commission which apparently thinks audiovisual media — whether broadcast, broadband or mobile — need rules governing “decency, accuracy, impartiality and more.” Ali writes: “These rules pitches EU against UK’s media regulator Ofcom, which favors more liberal rules for online players and believes that traditionally strict broadcast regulations should not be extended to the Internet.” Ali pointed to stories on this in the London Times and International Herald Tibune but wants more fuss before the public comment period ends in September. The title of the EU directive begins, “Television Without Frontiers.” Apparently, however, this does not mean television without limits.

Finally here in the good old U.S.A., I clipped a bit that said the National Association of Broadcasters is ready to go along with Congress, which TV stations to shift to digital broadcasting by 2009 and quit that analog stuff. The news bit mentioned the “windfall (the government) is expected to reap when it auctions off unused frequencies.” Are all those old channels going back out on the auction block? Is that a business opportunity for TV entrepreneurs? Or is analog on its way to extinction?

Tom Abate
‘Cause if you ain’t Mass Media, you’re Mini Media