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Media Reform Ideas

by Zwackus Sat Feb 11th, 2012 at 11:02:21 PM EST

Every so often I get big, utopian ideas that are probably totally unworkable and undesirable, but nonetheless interesting to think about.  ET is a great place for reasoned and rational discussion of policy ideas, and there hasn't been much talk along these lines outside of finance and energy of late.  So, here are some big ideas to think about.  Tear me to pieces, and in the process let's have an interesting discussion.

Up for discussion today is an old idea, the abolition of advertising, and a new one, the radical dissolution of media conglomerates.

When possible, I'd like to ask people to think about, "is this a good idea?" and "would this work as intended?", rather than "The powers that be would never allow this."  I'm fully aware of the utterly impossible nature of ridiculous Utopian ideas - but I do find it fun to think about them.


1 - Advertising

The way I see it, advertising is a Bad Thing in at least two main ways.  While its continuing contributions to Design and Art are indisputable, it is also by design a medium for the mass transmission of manipulation and lies.  Further, this lie transmission medium is the primary way in which several important forms of modern popular culture are funded, and as such potent and valuable artistic mediums are designed and executed at least in part as message-delivery mechanisms for interested parties.  Neither of these seem like a particularly good thing.

So, what to do about it?  A long time ago, I proposed the idea of a government ratings board for television, which allocated taxpayer funds to various entertainments according to how many people watched them.  The producers of popular entertainments would thus be rewarded directly for their success in attracting viewers, rather than through an intermediary layer of advertisers who value particular demographic segments and pay for the right to lie to them.  Further, this system could work equally well in the current network-oriented system and in a theoretical future in which all programs are always available for viewers, who can pick and choose what to watch at any time.

Given technological advances in digital television and network technology, a reporting technology could be easily built in, which would report directly to the central database.  On the one hand, this would be obviously Orwellian - the state knows what you are watching, always.  On the other, for the most part this information is already collected, kept, and analyzed by a variety of private entities as is.  I tend to think of privacy as being something already dead in the modern world, and thus would view a government-run system as a distinct improvement, as the government is theoretically subject to democratic control, and is theoretically operated with the public interest in mind.

Further, the same exact mechanism could be used to levy the "Culture Tax" to pay for such a system.  Fees could be levied on a per/viewing basis, monthly basis, or whatever, and then allocated directly or proportionally to the various entertainments actually watched.  Then again, since the money is coming from the government directly, and many here have pointed out that there is no actual need for spending to be funded by tax money, then the entire system might then be made entirely free to the end user, and funded entirely through money creation.  Thus, the only limit to funding would be viewer interest, and a massive creative industry could bloom.

2 - Ownership

The previous proposal is a bit forward looking, but this one is much more rooted in the here and now.  What public benefit is there in media conglomerates?  This is a serious question.  Should they be allowed to exist at all?

What would a radically decentralized system look like, and what would its strengths and benefits be?  For example, imagine a legal framework in which every media entity was an independent, owner-operated enterprise.   It's easy to imagine this system for print media, as it was the case in the distant past.  Each newspaper, and each magazine, is its own entity, with no connection in management or ownership to any other.  Broadcast television poses its own technical problems, due to the localized nature of broadcast, and scale problems, due to the mismatch between production costs and viewer base.  Perhaps allow networks, so long as the network is the ultimate entity, with no further links of ownership or management?

Display:
Up until 20 years ago all media were channels. (And they are still described as such by the industry). Channels are toll roads. Access to them has a price. We are witnessing the beginning of the end of channels, and the professional infrastructure of content gathering that feeds into them.

The two problems you present do not require new legislation to regulate them. They are on their way out.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 03:26:56 AM EST
We are witnessing the beginning of the end of channels, and the professional infrastructure of content gathering that feeds into them.

That what we heard back when the cable companies first started.  All sorts of wonderful things were predicted, new program formats would emerge, 1,000 flowers were supposed to bloom, & blah-dee-blah-blah.  I know in LA several whacks at 'alternative programming' delivered over cable were attempted, all failed when the backers ran out of time, money, and/or interest, all failed to capture a measurable 'share' during their time slot.

The failure came to one significant fact and one business fact.  The significant fact: it's hard to consistently produce a quality product.  The business fact: mass media requires mass manufacturing to produce mass goods requiring mass consumption so the manufacturing buys advertising time sold by the mass media so the mass manufacturer can sell their geegaws, baubles, and other worthless shit, massively.

Looking at the charts kept by YouTube I submit, at this time, independent, uploaded, video production is a 'trailing edge' of the mass culture promoted by the vertically integrated mass media "infotainment" and entertainment corporations.  

Another important factor is the existing media companies have enough economic and political clout to move the Fitness Landscape - media consumption environment in total - and structure the Fitness Landscape so as to privilege themselves.  Meaning, change, of whatever kind, threatening them will be "outlawed," in whatever sense.  

Also the fixed costs of media production are a significant barrier.  The average TV show costs ~$3 million US requiring somewhere around $9 million in gross revenue per show.  Someone smarter than I needs to come along to run the figures but this is a pretty good idea of what it takes to make a show "successful" under current conditions and, I note, a show has to be successful under current conditions ... got to start where you're starting from.  (If ya get my drift!)

One systematic effect on the "suit-side" of the entertainment business as the number of channels increase is the overall decline of TV viewership of a successful show:

as the number competitors in each time slot increases.  So as the cost of a show has risen over the past 50 years the number of viewers, directly related to the ad income of a show, has fallen so the amount of ad revenue per viewer has to rise, meaning more ad time per show to 'cost-average' across the network's offerings.  

Now add the well recognized fact the planet is already media-saturated and a substantial answer to the question, "Who Cares?" has to be found.  Allied to that is how to get those who would care to notice your existence.  Then got to figure out how to keep the audience coming back.  And, finally, how to get money outta the viewers to pay for It All.  Plus profit.  Also.  Too.

The most likely outcome of proliferation of Yet More media consumption channels is audience fragmentation leading to an ever-greater reliance on the established media companies as the only ones capable of accumulating the money needed to spread-out - like The Blob - across as many channels as possible.


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 03:44:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes,

but that doesn't take into account all the increased millions who get their entertainfo elswhere,

and though content is still king,the ability to judge is either decreasing or increasing, depending on how old you are.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 04:27:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not holding my breath for the good times to roll.  The Internet is still channels, and those channels are either effectively or actually government-owned.  Further, here in the US, the FCC continues to block low-power community FM radio.
by rifek on Sun Feb 26th, 2012 at 06:51:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if we're just DREAMING, I have a dream that, based on studies that could easily be done with regard to the manipulative nature of advertising, the dishonesty of most of its claims, the harm done to children and impressionable adults by it, it will eventually be subjected to the same sorts of lawsuits and approbations "suffered" by tobacco and thence be more highly regulated.  It should be banned altogether from children's programming.  Claims should have to be established by purely scientific methods and there would be no Photoshopping, enhancement of images, phony testimonials by paid actors, etc., allowed.

I've been able to train myself to completely ignore advertising in print media. I can go through a newspaper and not be able to name three of the advertisers.  I simply will not watch ads on television; thanks to the DVR this is easily accomplished.  If for some reason we have to to watch live tv, the commercial breaks are muted.  

I wish every child had to be taught about the evils of advertising in school as a required course, at least about the same time as the kids are becoming familiar with "Tom Sawyer" and "Huckleberry Finn."

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher

by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 12:49:27 PM EST
The cynical view would say that children are subjected to 'advertising' from the moment they are born. Their parents impose all sorts of limited choices upon children - of products and produce, behaviour and values. A child's life is daily parental product placement.

"The problem with kids today" is that the commercial advertising to which they are subjected from an early age interferes with parental and educational marketing.

I think children should not only be taught the evils of advertising, but all hidden persuasion.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 01:14:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If children are encouraged to develop critical thinking, then they are largely vaccinated against advertising. Obviously, they are still subject to peer pressure, which often comes to the same thing (because vaccination is only useful if it covers the majority of the population).

Moral of story : Critical thinking, and media analysis, need to be part of the core school curriculum, starting at age 5 or 6. Because, unfortunately, not all parents are aware of the importance of the subject.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 05:02:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a commonly made argument.

"People who believe in Bad Idea lack education in history/critical thinking/economics/whatever.  If they were better educated, people would not believe in Bad Idea.  After all, I am educated, and I do not believe in Bad Idea, so others would be just like me."

I strongly disagree with this notion. I think it overestimates what education can accomplish, and further it begs the question of what exactly is meant by education.  I find these discussions tend to end up somewhere around, "well, if everyone was educated into a Philosopher King, then we wouldn't have these problems."

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 05:02:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a rather strange point of view. For me, one of the major drivers of history is the spread of humanist ideas through education. It's not some sort of thought experiment we're talking about; there are results which can be evaluated.

But in any case, I am not talking about teaching values, but about giving children tools. There is nothing ideological in teaching media analysis, any more than there is in teaching mathematics. Most people will barely use their maths learning once they leave school; they will generally have much more use for media analysis skills.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:33:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As a historian, and as an educator, I completely disagree with you.  But this is another topic for another day.  Let's have that discussion in a different diary.
by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:58:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Revealing the ideology in existing media is itself ideological. Not bad, but ideological.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 12:30:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If children are encouraged to develop critical thinking, then they are largely vaccinated against advertising.

This is a commonly held view. It's also not true.

Advertisements do not typically contain factual claims upon which critical thinking may be exercised. Advertising builds recognition of brands and association of brands with other stimuli. Given adequate exposure, no amount of critical thinking skills will protect you from developing cognitive biases as a result.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 05:19:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's worse than untrue. It reflects a world view that is at odds with how humans work: the myth of the rational man. Humans are not rational. They're emotional. The affective system is primary.

Rational thought is a thin layer developed to serve the affective system that comes to believe it is running the show. Critical thinking and so on are tool sets built on top of that. Thin and fragile toolsets that even the best of us struggle to apply properly. They help a bit, but only if you remember to use them. Propaganda works even if you know it's propaganda.

What does inoculate you against advertising is not seeing it. We don't have a normal TV feed any more so all our TV watching is either off the Internet or (ripped to harddrive) DVDs. As a result watching TV ads is a curious experience. It's as if they're speaking a slightly foreign language or a language I once spoke but have forgotten.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 05:59:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Propaganda works even if you know it's propaganda.

Truer words never spoken. Now to work on everyone's giant egos and conceptions of self...

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Feb 15th, 2012 at 03:04:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And advertising works even if it is muted!

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 12:31:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
Advertisements do not typically contain factual claims upon which critical thinking may be exercised.

Indeed, but they use codes and techniques which are recognisable and analysable.
eurogreen:

Critical thinking, and media analysis, need to be part of the core school curriculum

Pavlovian reflexes can be overcome through higher thought. This is one thing which distinguishes humans from dogs (of course, it doesn't prevent humans from behaving like dogs on occasion). Children need to have access to the tools which enable them to choose to defend themselves against mind control, if they wish to. This goes way beyond advertising, of course.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:23:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Advertisers seem to have just figured out your last point:
The first ever British advert created specially for dogs - featuring high-pitched sounds that cannot be heard by humans - is due to be broadcast on ITV1 tonight.

[...]

Bakers, the dog food manufacturer which commisioned the advert, hope the sounds will provoke a reaction from dogs in living rooms across the country, fooling their owners into thinking they are interested in the products on the screen.

by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:32:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In 'Schland, advertising either must contain a notice that it is advertising, or on public TV at least, is shown demarked by a notice that what follows i advertising, and also notices the end of the advertising period.

i think, i don't watch much TV.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 02:53:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wow, I didn't know that either, since I've either avoided or muted it... and, of course, my Deutsche isn't so gut, either.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 03:03:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Cheeses, three "either's" in one sentence. I'm blaming the wine.

'tis strange I should be old and neither wise nor valiant. From "The Maid's Tragedy" by Beaumont & Fletcher
by Wife of Bath (kareninaustin at g mail dot com) on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 03:04:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have two minds - might as well use them ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 03:09:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Must be why I am so often of two minds.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 12:33:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Throw in a couple of ORs and you've programmed a computer!

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 03:46:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's the old animated ZDF Mainzelmännchen. Ask your SO about the change to the new ones in 2003/4? They were used to demark advertising during at least prime time. There are more modern animations now.

i always thought it was way cool that this society made sure to let people know that what followed on the TV was advertising.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Ana´s Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Feb 12th, 2012 at 04:20:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or, how about we just get rid of advertising?  While basic critical thinking skills are well and good, why should it be necessary to use them every day, everywhere we look, day after day, to slog through an avalanche of self-interested lies?

Seriously - what positive role in society does it play?  What public good does it perform, that makes up for all of its negatives?  Insofar as it funds the cultural industries, I think there are better ways to do that.  Why allow it at all?

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 05:06:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Advertising is the Capitalist Religion equivalent of the prayer pulpit. It's a means of social control which exhorts worshippers to acts of holy consumption, and also defines the moral basis of society - conspicuous and competitive egotistical materialism.

You can't take advertising out of the picture without pulling down everything around it. Removing it won't make everything better on its own, because there are so many other elements - work culture, resource exploitation, human exploitation, corporate sociopathy - acting in concert with it.

The best you can hope for is an attempt to claim some media space of your own for alternative values and goals. 'Buy media' would certainly help, but it would help more to have a clear social goal which isn't just about Jobs™ or any of the other standard cliches.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:31:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I find I generally agree with the position you've been outlining on this thread, and I don't want to argue because I find our agreements are stronger than our disagreements.

That said, I think advertising is among the most obviously toxic and least redeemable of the various aspects you've described.  Not all of capitalism is 100% bad. I think it beats feudal rent extraction quite handily.  At some level, work does need to get done, and stuff does need to get made.  At no level I can imagine do people need to be surrounded by a blanket of lies.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:38:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
should not be banned, but should be local.

It serves a useful function (apparently... or at least potentially) in signalling the existence of goods and services within a local economy.

The problem is that advertising (and the economy) is dominated by big powerful organizations which owe no loyalty to any local community or economy, and therefore seek advantage through lies and manipulation of the consumer.

Proposed solution : limit the size of organizations which can access advertising media. This would solve all sorts of problems.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 05:07:56 AM EST
eurogreen:
seek advantage through lies

i propose no more lies, products only endorsed by real users, no more actors spouting transparent drivel.

(added to your proposal.)

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 09:35:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You make the same mistake as many ad agencies: there are no compartmentalized target groups. Actors are consumers/real users too.

In Finland there is a consumer ombusdman organization that frequently intervenes on unsupportable advertising claims.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 11:00:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Real consumers don't get paid to consume.

Most celebs get the stuff they promote for free.

And there certainly are compartmentalised target groups. They may have fuzzy edges, but no one is going to have much success selling Hello Kitty toys to corporate vice presidents, or expensive mustard to pre-teen girls.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:35:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure many corporate VPs with young daughters have purchased Hello Kitty toys - persuaded indirectly. And if the pretty one in a boy band publicly professed to liking expensive mustard sales would soar.

Of course celebs get it free, but these days they also have to sign contracts that exclude controllable competitor visibility whenever in public.

Real consumers are rewarded, though not paid a fee.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 10:29:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For every product or brand there's a group of primary consumers, and multiple groups of secondary consumers with ever-decreasing personal interest and/or leverage on primary consumers.

It's nonsensical to suggest these groups can be equal or equivalent.

And it's not unusual for misguided celebs to damage their own brands through unfortunate endorsement deals, and for brands to have their influence damaged after picking the wrong celeb to endorse.

Advertising is powerful, but it's not infinitely plastic. Beyond a certain narrative stress point the power to persuade breaks down.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 05:06:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An interesting proposal, but one which might bar future cooperative/franchise operations, where consumers get together en masse.

The model could derive from the major Finnish grocery stores which centralize logistics, marketing, branding and marketing for supply to the local area franchisees. These existing chains profess to be cooperatives - or member-owned, with member benefits and discounts, but they actually have expensive top-down bureaucracies. I imagine a model where such a management level would be hired to provide a management service to the members - but the members would decide on strategies, including profit-sharing.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 10:54:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The main difficulty would be drafting rules which would work well for the co-op / non-profit sector, but could not be subverted by corporate wolves in sheep's clothing.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 10:59:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the coops that will diminish the power of the corporate wolves. As Chris Cook  has pointed out, a coop or other peer-to-peer networked organization can be nimbler, more flexible and a lot cheaper to run, and thus will heavily compete on price and service.

The wolves (banks eg) can still be employed to provide fixed-cost national and international services, but even that role would diminish with the adoption of better data governance and master data management. I think MDM offers the possibility of making redundant a lot of management hocus-pocus, and without that...

As corporations increasingly move their focus to the so-called UX or user experience, they are also ceding more and more power to the consumers of their products or services. For the corporations this will not end well. But I am, as usual, being too optimistic.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 11:20:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Local entities may be more likely to face blowback, but that has not prevented them from engaging in their own fair share of deceptive advertising.  Low-rent hucksterism is alive and thriving at the local level.

Instead of trying to draw lines between who should be allowed to use it, and who shouldn't (a nightmare situation given the ease of creating shell corporations, shady front groups, PAC's, etc), how about hard rules on a media by media basis?

No push advertising of any sort, ever - that is, advertising which is pushed toward the consumer without their consent or desire.

Shopper wants to pick up an advertising flyer or local circular?  Fine.  Junk mail?  Gray area.  TV, Radio, and Magazine ads?  Never.

The Internet is already in the process of finding ways to gather and deliver locally relevant content to interested users.  A layer on top of Google Maps combined with something like GroupOn may well be enough.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 05:13:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same deal as advertising, really. Must be heavily regulated. This should not be confused with the regulation of free speech; on the contrary, unbridled media ownership is, de facto, restriction of free speech.

  • Disbar any company bigger than (threshold) from owning a newspaper / TV channel / content provider
  • Disbar any company from owning more than (1/2/?) media outlets
  • Disbar from media ownership, any company which derives a significant part of its earnings from non-media activities

The second one covers the UK situation (Multimerdochmedia). The third one covers the French situation (capture of the press by arms manufacturing, capture of TV by construction industry)

Both the French and UK situations demonstrate how vulnerable political processes are to capture by powerful media interest.


It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 06:08:20 AM EST
As far as media ownership goes, that seems pretty reasonable to me.
by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 05:13:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The media don't report stories with a bias, but they also define values. And this happens in the journalism, not just on the ad pages.

In the UK you can't buy a Sunday paper without it being full of special features about glossy stuff you really want to buy, and stories about people who are famous and rich.

Occasionally there may be some cutesy throw-away feature about people with different values, or other people with unfamiliar lifestyles (not always through choice.)

But the main emphasis on 'lifestyle' is constant and reliable.

Changing media ownership rules might not modify that.

It's certainly true that the Murdochs of the world shouldn't be allowed to have the power they have now. But as long as you have centralised media there will be pressure towards on-message conformity.

The best you can expect is a reliable diversity of messages in the mainstream, instead of a monoculture.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:41:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
Changing media ownership rules might not modify that.

Taking the advertising out of the media might.

You need a new economic model for your media in that case. But we knew that.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 09:35:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The best you can expect is a reliable diversity of messages in the mainstream, instead of a monoculture.

That sounds good to me.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:41:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune - Media Reform Ideas
Perhaps allow networks, so long as the network is the ultimate entity, with no further links of ownership or management?

How about networks as a non-profit co-operative of their member entities?

On the other hand, I'm not sure that the broadcast network concept has much resonance outside the USA : I suspect that in most places, the nation-state defines the frontiers of the media market, i.e. national TV is the norm.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 13th, 2012 at 10:21:44 AM EST
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 10:31:20 AM EST
"Nudging" is a way of influencing behavior without using force or incentives.

Idea is being tested as method to encourage better consideration of environment.

Techniques include subliminal visual cues and exploiting herd mentality

Some argue "nudging" is infringement on freedom, others say it does not go far enough

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 10:32:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This introduces the debate on morality in the media.

When we were young, television had an agenda. It was about popular education, culture for the masses, and so on. There are vestiges of this in various state-run broadcasting systems, but the whole approach has, sadly, rather gone out of fashion :

Zwackus proposes a government-run yet amoral funding system :

European Tribune - Media Reform Ideas

 Fees could be levied on a per/viewing basis, monthly basis, or whatever, and then allocated directly or proportionally to the various entertainments actually watched.

i.e. fund what the people want to watch. Avant-garde theatre, all-in wrestling, reality tv, educational docos, it's all good, let the public decide.

I don't think this is a legitimate government role. Private enterprise does this well enough currently through advertising revenue. The Zwackus model would get us roughly the same content, minus the advertising. This seems to me to miss the opportunity represented by taking out the ads : you can improve the quality of the content as you are no longer subject to the tyranny of ratings.

This relies, of course, on a preachy moralistic world view which Zwackus will undoubtedly jump on heavily...

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 10:58:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The entire commercial tradmed business model is not based on creating content, but on securing a profiled 'loyalty' from readers than can be sold to advertisers. Content creation is used for profiling.

I don't see any way in which the ad symbiosis can be broken by legislation. But I do think that new online and local business models will emerge that make them redundant - possibly many-to-many aggregations that are supported by users paying micro-amounts. It will happen first in news because of the massive costly duplication of news gathering and reporting. My crystal ball is fuzzy, but the signs of transformation are there for all to see.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 12:12:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
About culture though - do we really need to endure 2 hours of people jumping around in tights, when there are more effective solutions?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 12:29:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is very similar to the online content model, where your 'service' - whether it's web searches, happy friend time or videos of cats chasing a laser pointer - is really just another tool for aggregating media consumers and selling the aggregation to advertisers.

The only difference is that trad media pretend to be serious guardians of morality and culture, while modern media are obviously in it for the money or the lulz.

It's interesting how similar the models are.

If you remove ad revenue, the entire system breaks down. Most people don't want to pay for media content, so you're left with hobby enterprises and personal brand building where online celebs advertise their own content instead of someone else's.

It's hard to see how this would work, unless perhaps you had a new system where everyone was given a basic wage for free together with some redeemable reward points, and consumers could gift the projects and individuals whose work they liked with some of those points.

The points would be redeemable for basic necessities like studio time, media equipment leases, and so on, as well as optional extras like nice food and clothes.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 05:15:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not actually true that people don't want to pay for media content. Quite a number of people make a decent, though not extravagant, living off donations to freely provided online media.

What is true is that (a) people don't want to pay enough for media content to pay everyone who wants to make media content. And (b) people don't want to pay for bland, CNN-style content.

(a) is arguably a problem. (b) is, I would argue, not.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 06:04:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you remove ad revenue, the entire system breaks down. Most people don't want to pay for media content.

While many people are willing to pay something for content, I think that the overall point holds - quality content is more expensive than people are accustomed to paying.  Given a more general prosperity, that might change, but without advertising the current system would die a rather quick death and I'm not sure how much beyond YouTube videos would survive.

Government is all about the pooling of resources to support socially worthy activities.  I think TV, Magazines, and Newspapers are socially worthy activities, even in their current forms.  Their evolution and expansion without the straightjackets imposed upon them by advertisers may well make them more so.  

We don't expect a high-speed rail-network to get built on voluntary donations up-front.  Why should we expect a quality entertainment and news ecology to be built for free?

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:51:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think this is a legitimate government role. Private enterprise does this well enough currently through advertising revenue. The Zwackus model would get us roughly the same content, minus the advertising. This seems to me to miss the opportunity represented by taking out the ads : you can improve the quality of the content as you are no longer subject to the tyranny of ratings.

This relies, of course, on a preachy moralistic world view which Zwackus will undoubtedly jump on heavily...

Since you've already anticipated one of my objects, I need not make it.

However, I do think that "same content, minus the ads" is a much bigger accomplishment than you grant.  The ads are a pernicious evil in and of themselves.  They are actively and positively manipulative and destructive.  

Furthermore, the ad-driven system means that content is consistently targeted to the social and demographic groups that the advertisers find valuable.  So, we have lots and lots of stuff about young people in an increasingly aged society.  Poor people are poor, so it doesn't really matter what they watch.  Etc.

The centralized, tax-supported system would make each viewer equal, in a positive way.  New entertainment niches would open up, and new people and their experiences would be reflected in art and in culture as a whole.  

Much of the material may be crap, but 90% of everything is crap.  This is as much due to the dearth of creativity and the difficulty of the creative endeavor as it is to anything else.

by Zwackus on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 07:57:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
top comment...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 14th, 2012 at 10:49:27 PM EST
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