Reading the Smartest Man on the Future…

kinnon —  February 4, 2006 — Leave a comment

…of broadcasting.

Terry Heaton is one of the people I refer to often – and read daily. Terry spent almost thirty years in the broadcast industry working primarily as a news director and producer. He is an author and consultant and the go-to person if you want to know what the future of broadcasting portends in the light of Web 2.0. Terry has written another brilliant essay on the future of the broadcasting industry, The Ammunition Business.

Gordon Borrell, the local online sales research guru, has a neat slide in his dog-and-pony show that speaks to the personal media revolution in a way that’s both humorous and revealing. “The deer now have guns,” the slide displays. We (the media) are in the business of hunting prey (the audience), and we need to be aware that our prey is now fully armed to do the same thing. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re after us, but by remixing, rebundling or making their own media, they’re able to attract some of the same eyeballs that we used to call our own. We’ve lost our exclusivity for content creation and distribution in the marketplace, and that’s trouble for an institution that’s used to having it all to itself. But all is not lost.

“So what do you do when the deer have guns,” Gordon asks? “You get into the ammunition business.”

If your life is impacted by what Terry writes about then you should probably make a point of reading Diane Mermigas – a writer who may have been separated at birth from her “brother” Terry.

Broadcasters’ best hope is using digital broadband technology to capitalize on their unique ties with local consumers, advertisers and communities that can be the targets of digital broadband personalization that make for grass-roots media. But even the biggest markets can absorb only so much leveraging of local news, sports, weather and other content across all media platforms.

While the easy, immediate response to programming the independent stations created from the CW change might be resorting to available off-network and first-run syndication and movies, the long-term solution might be something altogether different. The creation of a Fox 2 network or a Fox-branded programming service tapping News Corp.’s rich content archives is possible. Fox also could offer a blend of news, original serialized soap operas and experimental entertainment.

However, an unconventional approach might prove more feasible, like using the independents as a platform to develop and produce branded MySpace video content as a companion to the social networking Internet site of the same name that Fox acquired last year, to compete for the demographics monopolized by Viacom’s MTV Networks.

And the good Doctor – Doc Searles has a great response to Terry’s post – regarding both the where and the how of the citizen content that he sees driving the pixels on those huge screens that Best Buy et al are shoveling out their doors.

I already know of people whose main uses for big flat screens in their homes are personal photos and home movies. That’s probably what we’ll do too, when we move to our next house.
Watch Apple. Count on them going all-out with video production enablement for amateurs, and — count on it — distribution through uploads and downloads from the great .Mac in the sky.

And, of course, others will follow.

Broadcasters are spending millions of dollars to upgrade their plants to HD. Investing for a future that may not exist for them. While thousands of citizen content producers are purchasing $4500 HDV cameras, the single chip under $2,000 HDV cameras or the soon to be released under $1K RAM disk cameras like the Sanyo HD1, editing their content on inexpensive* Mac or PC systems (Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere Pro, Sony Vegas, Avid Liquid, Avid Xpress, or even Apple’s ridiculously cheap iLife suite of sotware.) and delivering that content via QuickTime and Windows Media in high quality compressed HD images that illuminate the pixels on those already mentioned HD display devices. We live in interesting times.

*Note: these systems are inexpensive in light of the $250,000CDN Avid Media Composer 1000 we purchased at Scene by Scene® in the late 90’s that doesn’t match the power of a $10,000 tricked out FCP or Adobe Premiere Pro system importing and exporting HD content with BlackMagic Design HD cards. In fact, that MC1000 system doesn’t match the power of the FCP 4.5 system I have running on my 15″ Powerbook Aluminum – that is almost three years old. And you can edit HDV content on a $1,200 iMac using iMovie – delivering HD content to just about anywhere.

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A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

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