Media Beat
Media Beat

Media Beat: January 22, 2020

What Was Said

Since the Gold Rush of the mid-nineteenth century, Northern California has been unequivocally associated with economic prosperity. The dot com and silicon booms of the ’90s and 2000s built on top of the history of the gold and metal fortunes of the 1850s and the railway companies of the early twentieth century. They continue the narrative of risk-taking, entrepreneurialism and affluence which is hardwired into the identity of the Valley. Tom Goodwin describes the wealth that is enjoyed in tech not as something wholly negative in and of itself, but as a key ingredient that drives its confused sense of identity:

If you live in Silicon Valley, your impression of the world is that most people get Ubers everywhere, that Tesla is a really popular car, that a salary is a way to keep yourself alive while your stock options potentially boom into something that allows you to get a million dollars. They think that all this extreme behaviour is actually quite normal.

To honestly explore the identity of Silicon Valley is to acknowledge that the extreme wealth of the region is offset by extreme economic inequality and financial hardship for many living on the periphery of the tech industry’s success. Rising levels of homelessness, a bifurcating, two-class job market, and the exodus of the middle class from the Bay Area are just some of the problems underlying the growth of big tech, which has raised housing and living costs to unprecedented levels while failing to provide a living wage for those who are not part of the tech boom. – , The Psychology of Silicon Valley by Katy Cook, as in part published on Azeem  Azhar's blog, Exponential View

Bell Media’s Crave becomes bilingual Jan. 28

Bell Media announced today that Crave is evolving into a bilingual TV and streaming service next week, offering more than 6,000 hours of exclusive new French-language content. As part of the change, Bell Media’s Super Écran becomes available over-the-top for the first time as an add-on to Crave. The updated bilingual Crave officially debuts Tuesday through participating television providers and streaming platforms.

With the new Crave + Super Écran add-on, French-language programming grows to more than 6K hours with more than 20 new releases per month that will include French-language versions of current HBO programming and hit Hollywood movies.

Bell Media has also confirmed that as part of its exclusive long-term deal with Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, thus securing French-language rights to select original HBO Max programming that will be featured on Crave later this year.

 “Our strategy is to make Crave the essential entertainment option in Canada, and today’s announcement strengthens that goal,” said Randy Lennox, President, Bell Media. “As a bilingual service, Crave’s offering becomes even more exciting.”

Protester at Meng Wanzhou hearing says he was told he'd be paid $100 to be in a music video

An actor who was part of a group of young people protesting outside of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's extradition hearing on Monday says she thought she was performing as an extra in a film shoot, not attending a real protest. – Jen St. Denis, CTV

Canada’s latest tourism ad copyrights phrase ‘for glowing hearts’

Spotify making moves to acquire lucrative podcasting firm, The Ringer

The successful podcast and pop culture company founded by former ESPN personality Bill Simmons is being courted by Spotify, according to a story that broke in the WSJ this week. Front Office Weekly pegs the asking price at around US200M.

According to Forbes, The Ringer has built out a robust network of shows that live both on The Ringer Podcast network and exclusive distribution deals with paywall-ed networks like Luminary. The Ringer’s Podcast network apparently generates a whopping 100 million downloads per month, generating about $15M in revenue per year for the company.

MBW reports Spotify podcasting content acquisitions in the past year include Gimlet Media and distribution service Anchor for $343M in total.

Meantime, Chernin Group is exploring the sale of Barstool Sports–a sports and pop culture medium publishing daily blogs, videos and podcasts- to a gambling operator, two sources have told The Big Lead.

iHeartMedia US downsizing parallels investments in AI tech

Read between the lines as per this Jan. 14 corporate press release:

“As it enters the new decade, iHeartMedia today announced a new organizational structure for its Markets Group as it modernizes the company to take advantage of the significant investments it has made in technology and artificial intelligence (AI) and its unique scale and leadership position in the audio marketplace. 

“The new structure will enable the company to maximize the performance of each of its markets – and the company overall -- with its unique scale and multiple platforms; leadership in audio; and its expertise in consumers, monetization and data, and enhance iHeartMedia’s position as the number one audio company in America, continue its successful transformation as a technology- and data-powered 21st-century media company, and accelerate the development of new platforms and services.”

Rolling Stone’s Elias Leight digs deeper into the recent cuts and offers a portent of what’s coming with iHeart and other radio conglomerates in the US with recent deregulation in converged media industries.

Why The New York Times is getting into the doc films business

As digital subscriptions have soared under the Trump administration, it’s been true for some time that the Times isn’t only a newspaper. “The Daily,” a podcast hosted by Michael Barbaro, reaches more than 2M listeners a day with its analysis of the latest White House scandals. “The Weekly,” an FX docuseries, invites viewers to tag along with Times reporters on investigations or the editorial board during its presidential endorsement process. And romantic comedy fans can’t get enough of “Modern Love,” a scripted Amazon anthology series based on the popular column about fleeting romances and missed connections. – Ramin Setoodeh, Variety

WERD, America’s first African-American owned and operated radio station

A small brick building, located just a few blocks from the King Center in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn district, holds a surprisingly rich history. The Hilliard Street storefront was home to one of the last licensed Madam C.J. Walker beauty salons in Atlanta, and before that to WERD, the first radio station in the United States owned and operated by African-Americans. – Atlas Obscura

CES: A post-mortem         

What truly sets the limits of innovation isn't device-based -- it's our collective willingness to exchange data, permit machines to decide for us, invest in the time to set these technologies up and upgrade to better power (electric and computing) to enable this lifestyle. – Sarah Ivey, MediaPost

Trump has spent $115M on golf trips – or 287 years of presidential salary

Of that amount, many hundreds of thousands ― perhaps millions ― of dollars have gone into his own cash registers, as Secret Service agents, White House staff and other administration officials stay and eat at his hotels and golf courses. – S.V. Date, HuffPost

What She Said: A new doc about Pauline Kael

Filmmaker Rob Garver captures Kael’s incendiary and multi-faceted life as an opinionated American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. She was one of the most influential American film critics of her era.

Below, Kael is the guest on this episode of the Writer's Workshop, filmed at the U of South Carolina on Feb. 11, 1982, and broadcast on PBS. Kael discusses writing with Benjamin Dunlop, William Price Fox, and Fox's and James Dickey's writing class (Dickey is not present). — Please note that we were unable to reel the video back to its starting point so we ask our readers to do this for us.

After music and TV, what is the future of streaming?

Streaming is a truly revolutionary breakthrough, both in business and in society generally. In that light, it is worth taking a look at where it has taken us and where it will take us next - from music to movies and television, then video games, and - further on the horizon - towards virtual and augmented reality. – Farid Ben Amor, World Economic Forum

Iranian MP puts $3M bounty on President Donald Trump's head

Media is muzzling this story about an Iranian lawmaker who is offering cash to 'anyone who kills' the US president after the drone-strike assassination of Iran's top general. – Al Jazeera

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