30 April, 2015

News Views

Welcome to News Views, CASBAA’s news round-up culled from sources across the industry for the week ending Apr 30th. Curated by CASBAA, News Views keeps you in the loop. We always value your feedback, so tell us what you think!

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NBC Universal
Christopher Slaughter

Christopher Slaughter

CEO

As you probably know, the first four episodes of the new season of Game of Thrones were leaked online just prior to the season premiere on HBO, with more than 1.7 million downloads in less than 24 hours. Questions of the simple morality of downloading notwithstanding, the act of leaking the shows was certainly criminal. And if anyone needs a reminder of just how much damage piracy has done to the music industry,  the New Yorker has an excellent article about one of the biggest “leakers” of music online,  appropriately headlined “The Man Who Broke the Music Business.”

Speaking of music piracy, a couple years ago two Italian art director/designers with ad agency TBWA put together an installation called Piracy, using some 6500 CDs to create images of famous musicians, with the not-so-subtle message that all of them were suffering because of piracy. There’s a video, too.

John Medeiros

John Medeiros

Chief Policy Officer

Oo. Oo. Law begins to catch up with technology! Upwards of 100 pirate websites are now inaccessible on UK ISPs, because they’re the targets of “site blocking” orders by the courts. A court order filed this weekrepresents a potentially significant increase in the vigilance there: the “Popcorn Time” piracy network was ordered blocked –and this time the judge ordered blocks to the site where the pirate app is downloaded – as well as to the “index sites” that update content availability for existing app users. The judge found that even though the pirated content itself doesn’t reside on those servers, “the Popcorn Time application is the key means which procures and induces the user to access the host website and therefore causes the infringing communications to occur. The suppliers of Popcorn Time plainly know and intend that to be the case.” This is a very interesting precedent, as the industry in Asia is being decimated by app developers and “black box” manufacturers who also “plainly know and intend” their products to be used for piracy. (For legal wonks, click here to read the full judgement.)
Mark Lay

Mark Lay

Vice President, Singapore

Is the basic bundle going away? Maybe not just yet, but times are a-changin’. We have seen a number of slimmed down bundles from the likes of Sling TV from Dish (Sling TV still set to slay cable, despite sloppy software), Playstation Vue from Sony (Can Playstation Vue Take a Bite Out of Cable) and the rumored new Apple TV Web TV Service possibly coming later this year. Existing pay-TV platforms are seemingly wanting to start offering these slimmed down bundles, but it may not be so easy as ESPN sues Verizon over custom TV bundles. Affiliate sales teams could have their work cut out for them. Remember back to our basic science courses, taking anything through a state change involves a LOT more energy.

Kevin Jennings

Programme Director

Fresh on the heels of the Comcast  / Time Warner del heading south last week, the Wall Street Journal has reported that Charter Communications could soon make a bid for Time Warner Cable. Joining Charter and TWC would create an entity with 15.6 million video subscribers and 16.4 million broadband customers, compared to 21.7 million and 20.7 million for Comcast. TWC rejected a bid from Charter before accepting a Comcast offer last year.
Desmond Chung

Anjan Mitra

Executive Director, India

As the serious debate on Net Neutrality gets overshadowed by sloganeering in India, regulator TRAI seemingly emerged as the flag-bearer for telcos who threatened to raise prices for data services as an arm-twisting tactic. And, dumping concerns about privacy, TRAI made public email IDs of over 1 million Indians who had sent in their views on Net Neutrality; in retaliation hackers blocked TRAI website for a day. While Telecoms Ministry and the government battles with public anger and perception at this so-called Christmas gift to spammers from TRAI, apparently the regulator tried to amend its ways that turned out to be a hoax of sorts. The dance of democracy continues.
Desmond Chung

Jane Buckthought

Advertising Consultant

Hulu has been making a lot of noise in the US recently, buying the SVOD rights to all 180 episodes of the comedy series “Seinfeld” for a whopping US$160 million.  CEO Mike Hopkins has declared that “2015 is the year Hulu will break out,” as the company also announced an ambitious slate of buzz-worthy original content, and a deal with Turner to offer shows from Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TBS and TNT.
John Medeiros

John Medeiros

Chief Policy Officer

Censorship remains a thorny issue in much of this region, of course. In Thailand, the regulator canceled the license for a satellite TV channel –of course, one run by the red shirt crowd. And it’s not only governments that are to blame for censorship… Here’s an Indian column bemoaning the industry’s own approach to the issue. The writer says that things are getting worse: “Television that was allowed to air 10, 15 years ago is now being chopped, blurred, muted and mangled. Shows like Friends and Seinfeld, which both aired in India with no real concern or outrage about their content, are now losing entire scenes that you might still remember if you watched the series on TV years ago.”

Kevin Jennings

Programme Director

Australia’s Ten Network has confirmed it is in talks with Australian pay-TV operator Foxtel who are looking to take a strategic stake in the free-to-air TV broadcaster. The network is playing down speculation the two companies are close to a deal. Last month Ten issued a statement saying it was in talks with “various parties” about “a number of proposals”. Several other interested parties, including Discovery Channel, are understood either to have walked away from a deal or failed to put forward a proposal of interest to Ten’s independent directors. Under current cross-media ownership restrictions, any Foxtel investment in Ten could not go above 14.9 per cent. There has been speculation the pay-TV company, which is a 50:50 joint venture between Telstra and News Corp Australia, is considering investing $85 million into Ten at 18c a share.
Desmond Chung

Anjan Mitra

Executive Director, India

The wait is finally over after seven years! Thus screamed a trade website earlier this week on Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) finally rolling out its audience measurement services, adding that Indian broadcast sector will have a completely new TV rating system under BARC, a joint industry body promoted by broadcasters (60 per cent), advertisers (20 per cent), and advertising agencies (20 per cent). Having invested approximately Rs. 280 crore (Rs. 2,80,0 mn) in the roll out of the new measurement mechanism for television, the industry anticipates new findings from BARC. Watch this space for more interesting data, but first set of numbers released has less of surprises, though.
John Medeiros

John Medeiros

Chief Policy Officer

In Vietnam, there was a battle over censorship of the “Vietnam Idol” TV show. The 2015 season of the show, produced by HCMC studio BHD for the national broadcaster VTV, and one of the country’s most popular talent showcases, was initially denied a license, along with a bunch of other VTV shows, by the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC). BHD announced that auditions would go on, and now – after VTV wrote a letter to the Prime Minister, MIC has an