Category Archives: MSM

The Israeli TV industry: Some numbers

Israel is debating another reform in its broadcast TV industry, which allows an interesting peek on the numbers constructing the Israeli media market.

Currently there two private broadcast TV channels in Israel, which are supported through advertising (there is a government supported public channel as well).  Channel 2 started operating commercially in 1993 and Channel 10 joined the competition in 2002.  Both channels are operated through permits, which means that they have to be renewed every few years, which in turn is supposed to give the public body that monitors these channels, the Second Authority, the leverage to make demands for quality content.

One can debate whether or not the Authority is successful in imposing content quality standards, but the reform is aimed at moving from the permit regime to a license regime.  According to those pushing for the reform, this will allow to introduce another player to the Israeli broadcasting media market.  Since such a shift requires amending the law, the story starts with discussions in the Economic Committee of Knesset, the Israeli Parliament.

So, what can we learn from these debates?

  • According to Menashe Samir, the CEO of the Second Authority, the annual income of the commercial broadcasting TV stands on NIS 1.2 billion (around US $320 million), while operating a channel costs about NIS 400 million (around US $70 million).  Eran Pollack, from the Ministry of Finance, provided some more specific data, saying that in 2008 the commercial broadcasting channels had incomes of NIS 700 million for Channel 2 (US $187 million) and NIS 400 million for Channel 10 (US $107 million).
  • Eran Polack also said that in 2008 the overall TV industry in Israel had an income of approximately NIS 5.5. billion (US $1.47 billion).   The break down is really interesting.  The commercial broadcasting TV channels account only for a small portion of that pie; the Israeli cable and satellite TV providers account for almost two thirds of it.   HOT, the cable company had an income of NIS 2.085 billion (US $559 million) in 2008, and YES, the satellite company had an income of NIS 1.415 billion (US %378 million).  Also, the public channel accounted for about NIS 350 million of income (US $94 million).
  • As to the viewers, according to Yehuda Saban from the budget department, an average Israeli views 225 minutes of TV a day – over 3 and a half hours.  Children watch TV even more than that.  All this in spite of the fact that the costs of cable/satellite TV in Israel are relatively high; at the bottom 20% of the income group, people spend as much as 1.2% of their monthly income on TV.

It is f course also interesting to see how both supporters and opponents of the reform justify their positions through claims for greater societal benefit, but I won’t torture you with this now :)

Mumbai terror and MICT – an observation

I was really horrified to hear about the ongoing attack in Mumbai this evening.  Currently, there is still not much information about what is actually going on.  I truly hope that the situation will become clearer soon and the loss of human lives will stop.

In an attempt to fill the information vacuum about what is going on, I found myself switching between various website.  Veronica first noticed the report on Ynet (HE), then I checked NY Times, CNN, Washington Post, back to Ynet (HE), Haaretz (HE), BBC.  All the media seem to be rehearsing the same update about the estimated casualties, ongoing battles, hostages, and the fire.  Nevertheless, and this may sound crazy, I couldn’t help myself but noticing a number of media related phenomena.

The comment section on Ynet, included not just the expected emotional reactions, but also practical attempts to establish connection with people in India.  You may know that India is a popular destination for young Israelis who spend there extensive periods of time, usually before they embark on an academic journey.  So, among the comments to various reports about the attack, you could see people asking their friends and relatives to call back home and let them know that everything OK.  This is really interesting not only because the comment section is being reinvented for purposes initially not intended, but also because those who posted those comments, assumed that their friends/relatives in India will refer to the Hebrew online newspaper for information in such a critical time.

NY Times reported that a lot of information about the casualties and what is actually going on in Mumbai, is coming from blogs, Twitter, and other social media.  They mentioned (but not linked to) Noah Shachtman of Wired, who reported on the issue in their emergency blog (not sure how long this link will remain active).  Just a hint of where the journalists look for the information they later report in the mainstream outlets.  It also looks like the same pictures from the scene are circulating all over the cyberspace.

Finally, I briefly checked Facebook, and just a few hours after the the events began, there are 5 or 6 groups dedicated to the topic and a couple of them already have a few dozens participants.  Also, just a few hours after the attack search for “Mumbai terror” on Youtube returned almost 500 results and at least the entire first page seemed relevant.

I am not jumping on any conclusion, but I felt it is important to document those developments.  It got me thinking about (1) the grassroots use of MICT and (2) about the changing relationships between the grassroots content creators and the mainstream media in emergency situation like this.  The last thought was also fueled by a recent conversation with Grisha about his followup of the reports about a plane crush in Russia a few months ago.

If you have any thoughts on the topic, please share.  In the meantime, I hope the situation will get resolved with minimal further casualties.

CNN 1.0

I watched some morning news on CNN today.  One of the main items was the reaction of Obama’s supporters to his vote for an amendment to FISA (official site).

For those who do not follow, a few days ago the senate voted for granting immunity to the telecommunication companies for participating in wiretapping program of the current administration.  In the past Obama opposed this legislation, but in the current vote he changed his mind and voted for the amendment.  As a result, many of Obama supporters came out criticizing him.  A lot of the criticism appeared on the social network component of Obama’s own campaign site (if you haven’t done it yet, take a look, there is a small Facebook on his website).  I think this is the story in a nutshell, but you can search for FISA and Obama for further details (here is an item on CNN’s website for example).

Now to my morning observation….

The main point, made a number of time during the morning news, was amusement, or even shock, about criticism taking place on Obama’s website.  How can it be that a campaign website hosts criticism of the candidate?!?!  After all, Obama is considered to be the one who harnessed the internet and reinvented election in the 21st century!  How come he allows criticism on his own campaign website?!  Is this what the new politics all about?

Leaving sarcasm aside, it really looked as if the anchors found it difficult to comprehend that there is a discussion going on a social networking platform on a candidate’s website.  And their shock/amusement went on and for the half an hour that i had the TV on.  However, what got lost in that shocking reveliation of new politics is the issue itself.  FISA did not get discussed and the change in Barak Obama’s stand deserved only limited attention (as a background to the virtual uprisal).  Most attention was focused on the fact that Barak Obama’s supporters are backlushing on him and they do it on his own campaign website.

The bottom line is that I think CNN missed the point.  In fact it was really surprising that a channel that markets itseld as technologically advanced (just remember all the touch screens obsession) has such an unsophisitcated amusement by technology as its main political item of the morning.  Not impressive at all.

The AP drama

I just learned about a currently developing online drama.  Associated Press (AP) decided that they are going to charge bloggers and anyone who cites their content.  The tariff is $2.5 a word or $12.5 for five words.  Now, as I understand it, if I post here a title of AP’s article with a link to it, I will have to pay, and if i cite anything from their article and provide a link to it, i will still have to pay.

AP are explaning this move in copyright terms and are apparently threatening to sue some bloggers. Frankly, I am finding it really difficult to follow their logic.  If they don’t want people to cite and link to their content, why are they making it available online?  Either I am missing some huge point here, or peole at AP don’t understand the “rules of the game” they are into.

Dieing newspapers?

It seems to be a commonly shared believe these days that the traditional newspaper is dieing. However, it seems that it is not true everywhere. According to this Financial Express article, newspaper sales in India have increased by 11.2% in 2007 and by 35.51% in the last five years. More, counter-commonly-shared-wisdom cited in the article regards the advertising market for printed news. Although, the article suggests that in the last year the newspaper advertising revenues in India witnessed a decline of 1.42%, in the last five years they grew by 64.8%.

I know very little (or should i say “nothing”) about the Indian newspaper market, but i wonder if our understanding of Western media markets is completely adaptable to the developing world and/or to significantly different cultural settings?

Of course, one could suspect that the body that produced that statistics is biased. It is the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), which obviously has its own interests. For example they cite a rise of 2.57% in paid-for newspaper circulation world-wide in 2007 (9.39% worldwide), which sounds really contrary to what we usually hear in media. Nevertheless, i think it is an interesting and thought provoking information.

What do you think?

Compartively speaking

Thanks to Digital Inspiration I came across this interesting project that visualizes the geographical focus of selected mainstream media outlets. One of the interesting comparison you can do is that to the blogosphere. When you go to the website, feel free to click on the menu, because it is clickable even though at first it may look like a picture.

Washington Post on mobiles

Just recycling the news.  Washington Post technology section is featuring the mobile phone today.  As usual, there is a deterministic flavor to the article (“mobile revolution”, “transform the world faster than did electricity, automobiles, refrigeration, credit cards or television”, etc.).  However, it has many interesting facts about the mobile industry and, even more interesting, the gaps between predictions about mobile communication markets and the actual outcomes (which made me think about my previous post on market analysis again).  If you have a few minutes to spare, it makes an interesting read.

More on online product placement

In the past i blogged about online product placement. Here is another interesting video linked from the Washington Post and telling the story of growing phenomenon of product placement in online, supposedly grassroots, content. (Sorry, but i still didn’t figure out how to embed video other than YouTube and Google in WordPress).

So much for 2.0-ish innovation?

To cheer you up, here is another one on the subject, but less serious:

i-Journalism?

Yesterday i replied to a Carson’s Post item that wondered if the news agencies are simply becoming high-end blogs. I was trying to make an argument that although the mainstream media are frequently relying on the grassroots information, journalism as an institution still has a role (at least i hope so). One of the foundations for this line of thought is an article published last year in “Journalism Studies” 7(4) by Zvi Reich (here is a link, but you will get the actual article if you are affiliated with a library that access to this journal). He suggests that in the current setting the journalists do not initiate information gathering, but follow leads actively pushed by their sources. However, once the lead is followed, it is more of a journalistic investigation in the traditional sense that is leveraging the institutional strength of mass media.

The interesting question in my mind is: what in fact the nature of relationships between citizens-generate content and the mainstream media is? Do people’s opinions and observation suddenly really matter?

In the same reply on Carson’s post i quoted a summary of Tremayne (2007) who tried to describe the relationships between bloggers and MSM in a systematic way. I won’t copy it here, but mention that the main point is that the bloggers do have influence on the input of MSM journalists are getting. However, one of the other people commenting on my remark suggested that the content of blogs themselves is being manufactured by the market forces thus canceling out the “grassroots” element of their input. In a way my own study together with Dor Reich (don’t think they are related with Zvi, but you can never be sure :) shows that even the individual bloggers tend to rely heavily on the MSM content, which supports the “limited autonomy” approach.

And yet today i read a Howard Kurtz’s article in “Washington Post” highlighting the role of grassroots materials in the news production these days. According to that article this phenomenon has a few components:

  1. The willingness of media to receive the content. Kurtz notes in his articles that many major media outlets are offering this days channels for individuals to submit their content. He notes Fox’s uReport, MSNBC’s FirstPerson, CNN’s I-Report, and ABC’s i-Caught. We can also add the Ynet’s “red mail”, but the idea is clear – riding the Web 2.0 hype the media are opening up for user-generated content.
  2. The responsiveness of people to actually submit content. Again, Kurtz sight some numbers such as 40K video and pictures in the first 6 month of uReport, 28K submissions to FirstPerson since April, and 60K of videos and picture to I-Report in 14 months. So people do want to share their content.
  3. The interest people find in the grassroots material. The number of views some pieces are receiving is counted in hundreds of K’s and the there are thousands subscribing to the channels offering that kind of content online.

However what this outline missing is a selection criteria, or a selection process by which the MSM decide whether to give a certain piece of grassroots material further publicity. At the end of the day the number of people consuming TV news is still much higher compared to those who acquire most of their news online. Thus the question of selection becomes an important one. Besides, linking back to the original post at Carson’s, how do MSM decide what civic story to follow up on and how? I also wonder how much of the ideas presented in Kurtz’s article are a Web 2.0 hype effect or to what degree they are signifying an emerging trend? What I think I can definitely sense is an emerging study…

Any thoughts?