I’m watching the new Al Jazeera English channel but it’s not easy. Go here and keep refreshing the 15-minute free sample.
It’s foolish that they try to charge a monthly fee for watching the stream and even more foolish that they based the business on getting cable carriage. If they’d just put the channel up online, they’d be getting a huge audience today.
The channel is quite slick and certainly comes from a different perspective. And, oh, they’re trying so hard to go against stereotype — in the first few minutes I watched, I saw some travel piece going through a Jewish neighborhood in Israel/Palestine, I think, and a promotion flashing images of Katz’s Deli in New York. I’ll have to watch a lot more to parse the political and cultural references and news coverage. But they’re not making that easy.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf is appearing on Jon Stewart’s show Tuesday night. Even Stewart seems amazed. Is it because Stewart is a worldwide media kingmaker? Is it because Musharraf plans to announce where bin Laden has been hiding. Is it because even sympathetic dictators have a sense of humor? No, it’s because he’s plugging a book.
On the day of the worst air crash in years, the Emmys begin tonight with Conan O’Brien crashing on an airplane and ending up on Lost. “What could possibly go wrong?” he asks. That. Otherwise a cute gag: dropping in on Office, House, South Park — where Tom Cruise is in the closet — and Dateline catching predators (proving that Dateline is nothing but entertainment). Bad timing, nonetheless.
: LATER: LostRemote says the GM of the NBC station in Lexington was horrified. They should have at least warned him.
: Also on Lost Remote, Steve Safran wonders whether the FCC will go after the Emmys for being “ass over tit.”
Ain’t this just a loverly turn:
This year’s Emmy Awards, to be held on August 27 in Los Angeles, prove that British television executives have become astonishingly good at selling Americans the shamelessly downmarket fare that we once imported from the US.
In the reality competitions category, three of the five nominations are of British origin: American Idol, the creation of Simon Fuller, with Simon Cowell on the panel of judges; Dancing With The Stars, an overhauled version of the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing; and Survivor, the brainchild of British expat Mark Burnett.
In contrast, the highbrow categories are full of American shows popular in Britain, such as The Sopranos, 24 and The West Wing. . . .
We’ve outclassed the cousins.
One’s reign lasts such a short time online. The Guardian notes that Alexa [insert standing and necessary caveat about small and odd sample here] reports YouTube has exceeded MySpace.
I don’t agree with those who say that YouTube is unpurchasable because of bandwidth costs and rights issues. Viacom got over the latter with iFilm and a million or two a month is nuttin to big companies. But more important: This is just too big to ignore. This is more than a new network. It’s a new TV, two-way TV, the TV run by the people on the other end of the rabbit ears. And some players in the old tv — yes, networks, but more likely cable companies that are quietly watching their hegemony over distribution disappear — or some would-be players in the new tv — see AOL’s announcement today — have to be talking about gulping and buying. Because Time Warner is in both worlds, it would make sense for them … but then, their own divisions, let alone worlds, can’t talk to each other, who who knows. Comcast is smart and strategic enough and big enough to do this; I think my money’s there… for now. I’ll be interested to see MySpace watcher Scott Karp’s take on this.
When people ask me for the most forward-thinking news organization in the U.S. that has actually accomplished things in this new world, I point to WKRN TV in Nashville, run by Mike Sechrist, and Terry Heaton’s work with them. They’ve listened to their community via bloggers (in meetups) and shared knowledge with them (teaching them how to shoot video) and promoted them (in the station’s blog) and supported them (with an ad network).
This week, they announced an important next step: valuing the work of these amateurs. Terry reports:
…WKRN-TV announced tonight that it would begin paying local bloggers for approved video stories they submit and running those stories on its Website and in its newscasts. WKRN president and general manager Mike Sechrist told a “meet-up” of local bloggers that he could envision the day when a daily program would be made up entirely of material submitted by the community. . . .
Sechrist told the group of bloggers that they had already had a significant influence on the news programs the station produces, simply by doing what they do. The station has pursued stories first raised in the blogging community and has used local bloggers as a sounding board at various times. . . .
I’m sure that we’ll hear plenty of bitching about this from the trenches of the TV news business, but the truth is this was inevitable. Stations have always employed “stringers” or “freelancers,” but most of their work was raw video that station reporters used to tell stories. This takes the concept a step further and taps into the knowledge, passion, brainpower and, yes, skill of people in the community. This a fruit of the personal media revolution, and it will be interesting to watch. . . .
Great reading in The Guardian as the former head of the BBC’s Today show (the one that led to a huge crisis in the network), who is now heading the corporation’s internal journalism school (which I visited last week), lashes out against the hosts of Today… and they lash back. What’s even more fun is that it played out in the BBC’s own house organ.
Right now on Channel 4 in London, I’m watching the British version of Wife Swap. This afternoon, I saw no end of British versions of American home show. Of course, there’s Pop Idol and the nanny shows and even Deal or No Deal (why would the world create two of those?) as well as other examples. I think we’re losing our leadership in creating tacky reality shows. And I’m not sure what I should think of that.