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Showing posts from March, 2006

Time Inc. Takes Another Run at Digital Media

WSJ reports that in the fall of 1994, before most people had even heard of the Internet, Time Inc. took a bold step: It put much of its premium print content online for free, launching Pathfinder, a Web-based trove of its magazines, including Time, People and Money. The move appeared to position the company to seize an early lead in the fledgling medium. Time Inc. had vast news-gathering resources and huge archives of text and photos, and Gerald Levin, the cerebral CEO of its corporate parent, Time Warner Inc., was a zealous advocate of the opportunities of the digital age. But instead of staking out new territory, Pathfinder fell off the map, plagued by strategic missteps and internal wrangling. Now, Time Inc. is in the midst of another major effort to turn itself into a leading Web player. And this time, there is evidence that the publisher's management is willing to fundamentally alter the way the magazines are run to make the Web push work. In recent months, Time management

Latest Battle Over Digital Media Copyrights

Hollywood Reporter tells the story of the battle between the record companies and broadcasters over digital radio rights may have taken a turn as senior representatives of the two industries actually are talking with each other. While last Thursday's parlay ended only in an agreement to keep talking, at least RIAA chief Mitch Bainwol and National Association of Broadcasters leader David Rehr are talking face-to-face. It wasn't as if they were willing participants. Although both sides said they wanted to talk, it took the nudging of Senator Dan Inouye, D-Hawaii, to get the talks started. Several weeks ago Inouye told the two sides to get together and send him a status report every three weeks. "Both the broadcast and music industries are committed to finding a balance that achieves both protection for copyrighted works and a robust expansion of digital audio broadcasts."

GSM Continues to Dominate Mobile Sector

TelecomTV reports that new figures from 3G Americas show that GSM mobile technology now utterly dominates the planet. As of last month 81 per cent of all mobile digital wireless users on earth use systems and services based on GSM. What�s more, between Q4 2004 and Q4 2005, GSM networks added a further 400 million subscribers to their rolls and there are now 1.9 billion GSM users in 213 countries using various evolutions and iterations of GSM technology such as GSM itself, GPRS, EDGE, UMTS and HSDPA. That compares to the worldwide CDMA user base of 291 million customers. UMTS has been deployed by 103 operators in 47 countries while a further 93 operators in 23 other countries readying the introduction of the technology. Four UMTS networks are at the pre-commercial stage, 61 others are either planned or in construction, 20 networks are being trialled and eight UMTS new licences have been awarded. More than 250 different UMTS handsets and mobile devices are now on the market. Meanwhile

DSL Home Gateways: Triple Play and Beyond

Residential DSL gateway devices present a potentially huge opportunity for telecom service providers to gain firm control of residential broadband voice, data, and video service usage - but carrier success in establishing a strong presence in the digital home is far from assured, according to a new report from Heavy Reading. The 66-page report analyzes how, when, and why residential DSL gateways may emerge as the linchpin device that will tie together the disparate elements that now appear in broadband-enabled homes, including PCs, video set-top boxes, next-gen gaming consoles, 802.11 wireless devices, packet-based voice terminals, home security systems, and remote management products. It evaluates the current role DSL gateways can play in networked homes and analyzes how that role is likely to change as products and technologies develop and mature. "Over the past 12 to 18 months, residential DSL gateways have begun to take center stage in the digital home, and especially in the

SuperPages.com to Sell Google AdWords

ClickZ News reports that Verizon's SuperPages.com has inked a deal to sell Google's AdWords to its Internet yellow pages advertisers (mostly local small businesses). "We may have a local advertiser today that has said, 'I want to spend $200 a month with you with your pay-per-click program,'" explained Eric Chandler, president of the Internet division of Verizon Information Services. "When we look at our inventory, we can only spend $100 a month. This deal will allow us to take that excess budget that we have and plug that advertiser into the Google environment." The deal helps SuperPages cope with its inability to keep up with advertiser demand for pay-per-click traffic, due to a lack of inventory on its own site. Yet, it enables SuperPages to maintain its relationship with advertisers in the event that it's able to ramp up inventory in the future. The agreement gives Google another channel to reach local advertisers, many of whom may not feel

U.S. Broadband and the Home of Tomorrow

Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) President and CEO Gary Shapiro announced that 43 million U.S. households now have broadband Internet access compared to just two million in 1999, according to the results of a new CEA research study on broadband access in America. Shapiro introduced the findings during his opening keynote at the Electronic House Expo (EHX), which runs through April 1, 2006 in Orlando, Florida. "Broadband households are quickly becoming the norm. It is very possible that dial-up Internet connections will be a thing of the past by the end of the decade," Shapiro said. "High-speed Internet services have ushered in many new applications, devices and services that consumers are demanding. CEA research shows a bright future for custom retailers and installation professionals, because not all consumers are technically savvy enough, or want to spend the time to set up all the devices and applications they wish to use." According to the CEA study, Bro

Consumer Reaction to Mobile Phone Promo

A new Harris Interactive survey shows that two-thirds (66 percent) of U.S. adult mobile phone users comparison shop for wireless service providers, with more than two in five (43 percent) beginning to do so two months before their current service contract expires. While providers are having some success with promotional offers (29 percent of mobile phone users who receive promotional offers have responded to at least one offer over the past two years), these offers do not stop most consumers from comparison shopping and also have little impact on customer satisfaction. If providers hope their promotional offers will cut down on the number of subscribers who comparison shop and increase customer satisfaction, they are in for a let down. Most (98 percent) mobile phone users who receive promotional offers and comparison shop say these offers do not stop them from comparison shopping. Furthermore, 85 percent of those who receive promotional offers say these correspondences do not leave t

Broadband Transforms Video Distribution

In a commentary entitled "How Broadband is Changing Video Distribution," Broadband Directions reports that it wasn't so long ago that the video distribution value chain was pretty straightforward. Producers created programming. Occasionally a new TV season would bring truly fresh ideas from these creative minds, but more often than not, it simply meant thinly-veiled imitations of last season's successful concepts. Nevertheless, the cost to produce these programs grew and grew as brand-name actors and other talent demanded and received sweeter and sweeter deals. Cable and broadcast networks obtained the rights to these programs and then developed their schedules. Retail distributors like cable and satellite operators were largely free to decide which of these networks to carry, and then negotiated contracts for appropriate carriage rights. The fees paid by these distributors to the networks often rose each year, regardless of how popular the programming turned out to

New MoCA Digital Home Standard Ratified

CNET reports that The Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) plans to announced that it has ratified the MoCA MAC/PHY v1.0 standard, which includes a full specification in addition to the certification test plan and procedures for companies wanting to use the specification. Several companies, including Actiontec, Entropic, Linksys, Mototech, Motorola, Panasonic, 2Wire and Westell, have been awarded MoCA certification. MoCA's certification board in February tested these companies' products at Verizon Labs in Waltham, Mass. The next certification wave is scheduled for sometime in April. The MoCA stamp of approval means companies can use the MoCA logo and claim standards compliance on their products. Several industry groups have formed to push their flavor of technology for distributing broadband and video throughout the home. MoCA is just one group that promotes the use of coaxial cable installed for cable TV. HomePNA, formerly the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance, also promote

Supreme Court to Study Technology Patents

TelecomTV reports that the recent patent showdown between NTP and Research In Motion is widely recognized as a symptom of a larger malaise. Now the US Supreme Court is set to weigh in on the intersection between patents and injunctions, balancing the rights of intellectual property holders against the ability of major businesses to continue operations. The escalation has brought unexpected parties out of the woodwork. "Money that could go to productive investments is instead diverted to legal fees and settlement payments. The costs of these practices are less innovation or a slower rate of innovation and higher costs for consumers," wrote one consortium. The case comes as U.S. lawmakers pressure the software industry to reconsider its patent drive. The US Patent and Trademark Office is notoriously behind the curve on technology, often subsequently overturning patents it should never have granted in the first place - as in the case of NTP vs. RIM. A series of new bills is i

Value of Networked CE and Home Networking

According to a new study from ABI Research, the market for home networking and connected entertainment devices will grow at an astonishing rate over the next few years, as the total value of home networking hardware, gateways, networked storage devices and networked entertainment devices rises from $14 billion in end-user revenue in 2005 to more than $85 billion by 2011. The major driver in overall revenue growth for this market is the transformation of most conventional consumer electronics devices such as game consoles, DVD players, TVs and portable media players from stand-alone devices to network-connected ones, using both wireless and wired IP communications technologies. "This market has reached a major turning point," says Principal Analyst Michael Wolf. "Home networking has moved beyond a basic broadband sharing model to one of networked entertainment and convergence across the PC, consumer electronics and communications devices. The emergence of enabling techn

Growth of Mobile Broadband to the Laptop

The spread of high speed mobile data services is driving the increasing adoption of wireless modems in laptop computers, according to a new study from ABI Research. In the early days of mobile computing, only the most hardcore road-warriors in niche markets equipped their laptops with wireless connections, because transmission speeds were so painfully slow using the cellular network technologies of the time. As speeds increase with the rollout of 3G services and air-interfaces evolve from EV-DO and W-CDMA to EV-DO Rev A and HSPDA, wireless connectivity becomes progressively more useful to a growing pool of laptop users. The original wireless modems for laptops were add-ons in the shape of PC cards, and indeed according to Philip Solis, senior analyst at ABI Research, "there are still several good years left in the PC card market." Now, progressively more wireless modems are being built right into the computer, and it is there that the real long-term opportunity lies. That

Study Finds Global Internet Adoption Slowing

Global Internet adoption is showing signs of slowing, with many of the world�s leading Internet economies displaying modest year-over-year growth, according to Ipsos Insight. During 2005, the global online population grew a modest 5 percent year-over-year, well short of the 20 percent growth rate observed in 2004. In addition, the number of individuals expecting to access the Internet in the next 12 months was about the same in 2005 as 2004, indicating prospects for growth in 2006 may be just as temperate. The latest findings -- based on interviews in 12 key global markets with more than 6,500 adults, including 3,462 active Internet users -- reflect adoption possibilities of the Internet that few other technologies have shown in the past. Ipsos Insight, has been tracking global Internet developments since 1999. Driving overall global Internet user growth in 2005 was Japan, which now accounts for roughly 75 million users. Japan also remains the world�s No.1 Internet-based economy, as

Forecast Predicts U.S. Mobile Sales Decline

Although the U.S. wireless service provider industry rocketed ahead in 2005, adding approximately 21.8 million new subscribers, IDC finds the U.S. consumer wireless industry rapidly approaching key turning points in 2006. With subscriber growth slowing and continued voice average revenue per user (ARPU) erosion factors, total voice revenue is expected to decline in the 2008-2009 timeframe. The U.S. wireless service provider industry had another stellar year in 2005, crossing the 200 million subscriber and 70 percent market penetration thresholds, receiving positive market response to the first handset-based 3G applications, and with providers reporting they had crossed the 10 percent data ARPU level. Another key dynamic in 2005 was that mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) moved into the market entry phase; two key roles that MVNOs will play over the forecast period are to force the broader wireless service provider market to adopt a retail market model approach and to increase the

Europe Catching-Up with S. Korea Broadband

Point Topic reports that South Korea is close to losing its position as the world leader in broadband take-up. After several years when Korea was far ahead of other countries in number of broadband lines per 100 population, Denmark and the Netherlands are now very close to catching up. South Korea showed negligible broadband growth in 2005 but still has over 25 percent penetration of broadband by population. But Denmark and The Netherlands are only a fraction of a percent behind. Hong Kong and Finland are also close, both having reached a 23 percent penetration level. Moreover, EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Region is increasingly leading the roll-out of broadband around the world. The Middle East and Africa, together with Eastern Europe, are the fastest growing of the seven regions considered, although their overall penetration levels are still low. Western Europe on the other hand has almost caught up with North America as the most high-penetration region, but is still gro

APAC Multimedia, Data-Rich Mobile Phones

Cutting-edge mobile phones � phones integrated with various multimedia and rich-data functionalities � are rapidly increasing their share of phones shipped in the Asia Pacific market, reports In-Stat. For example, with 252.3 million mobile phones shipped in the region in 2005, 53.4 percent had camera functions, the high-tech market research firm says. The plunging price of such models in emerging markets has greatly promoted their adoption. "Digital cameras, including both digital still camera and video camera, will remain the most popular function of cutting-edge phones," says Victor Liu, In-Stat analyst. "By 2009, 67 percent of mobiles sold in Asia Pacific will have camera functionality." In-Stat found the following: - Phones with music-playing capabilities accounted for 23 percent of phones sold; that figure is above the global average of 13.6 percent. - By 2009, the functionality and quality of music playing on mobile phones will be greatly enhanced, with mu

Performer Self-Promotion, the MySpace Way

MSNBC reports on the application of Web 2.0 sites, and then tells the story of how entertainers and performers have by-passed the agents, promoters and various other middle-men that previously held the keys to broad market exposure. Before the Living Web, celebrities trying to get access to media had to cope with editors, television bookers and program directors. Now musicians, celebrities and fame wanna-bes start their own MySpace pages to get close to audiences (in early: R.E.M., Tommy Lee, Nine Inch Nails). For comedians the road to stardom used to begin on Johnny Carson's couch. But when a fairly obscure comic named Dane Cook fanatically began grooming the MySpace page he began in December 2003�approving every "be my friend" request until his network approached a million friends, and relentlessly plugging his CDs and appearances on his page�his career took off. He's hosted "Saturday Night Live," cut an HBO deal and has a hit album. "That [success]

Net Surfing Consumer's Site Viewing Habits

USA Today reports that seeing is believing when it comes to understanding how consumers surf the Internet. And they see very little online � including pricey banner ads. That's one of the key findings of a study by the Nielsen Norman Group, an authority on making websites and products easy to use. Applying sophisticated eye-tracking equipment, the Fremont, California, firm was able to track what consumers really look at on the Web vs. what they say they look at. The Nielsen firm asked more than 230 participants to research specific tasks and companies online. Tasks included learning to tie a type of knot called a "bowline," figuring out how to invest $10,000, planning a Colorado ski trip, shopping for a mortgage and deciding whether to adopt a cairn terrier or pharaoh hound from an animal shelter. Findings from the firm's study: -Individuals read Web pages in an "F" pattern. They're more inclined to read longer sentences at the top of a page and less

VOD and DVR Create a Retention Combo

A new consumer study from Leichtman Research Group (LRG) finds that digital cable subscribers are recognizing the benefits of having both Video-on-Demand (VOD) and a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). Nearly three-quarters of VOD users who have a DVR from their cable company strongly agree that their cable service is better because they have both services. In addition, just 15 percent feel that, because they have on-demand service, they don�t really need a DVR, and 19 percent feel that, because they have a DVR, they don�t need on-demand service. Nearly two-thirds of these key high-end subscribers are very satisfied with their cable operator, and few report that they are likely to switch providers. While over 14 percent of cable subscribers in the markets studied say that they are likely to switch from their current cable provider in the next six months, fewer than 6 percent of digital cable subscribers who have used VOD and have a DVR say that they are likely to switch. These findings ar

Bluetooth SIG Picks WiMedia UWB Standard

The Bluetooth SIG announced that it intends to use the WiMedia UWB solution as its high data rate link. This groundbreaking announcement has significant impact, not only upon the Bluetooth playing field, but also the UWB landscape. In terms of the impact on markets, this announcement appears likely to enable the transition of the Bluetooth brand into a wider variety of end applications, especially those relating to multi-media transfer that have traditionally been out of reach due to the lower bandwidths of Bluetooth 2.0+EDR. From a UWB perspective, this potentially opens up a vast market for products; ABI Research forecasts over one billion Bluetooth radio shipments per annum by the end of the decade, and in the worst case -- should the UWB PHY be included in only a small percentage -- the market will still represent massive volumes of shipments that are unlikely to be encountered in other UWB implementations in the same time period. ABI Research Principal Analyst, Wireless Connect

TV Networks Missing the Internet Opportunity

Dow Jones reports on a puzzling story that leaves me wondering, why have the TV networks waited so long to place their own shows (or excerpts) on the web? It's as though the TV network executives are having the same kind of denial problem as their net-challenged music and film industry peers. "Saturday Night Live" was the unlikely star of a recent spat over online piracy. The show's rap parody, "Lazy Sunday," which expounded on the joys of watching "The Chronicles of Narnia" while eating cupcakes, became one of the most popular video snippets on the Internet, downloaded by millions of viewers. Soon after, another Saturday Night Live clip, this one featuring actress Natalie Portman in a profanity-laden rap, also gained a big online following. The problem? The circulating clips were bootlegged. NBC Universal decided to put a stop to it by sending notices to Youtube.com, a video-sharing site that was hosting much of the traffic. But though Youtube.

Growth of Mobile Music Varies by Market

The market for full track music downloads to mobile devices was twenty times larger at the end of 2005 than it was twelve months earlier, according to a new study from ABI Research. It found that global revenues from over-the-air (OTA) downloaded full track songs last year were $251 million, up from $12.4 million in 2004. ABI Research forecasts that by 2011 this figure will be $9.3 billion. What drives a successful music download service? According to Ken Hyers, Principal Analyst, Wireless Connectivity Research, there are five prerequisites: A 3G network capable of delivering the product; A distribution mechanism: effectively a mobile music store that can deliver the content to the customer, verify that the handset can accept the content, and ensure that users are paying for it; An agreement between an operator, one or more record labels, and possibly a content aggregator; (in North America, operators - there are currently only two in this field, Verizon and Sprint - tend to partn

Gaming Moves to a Network-Based Business

Red Herring reports that fending off an aggressive challenge from Microsoft�s Xbox 360, Sony is building a game network to support the launch of its PlayStation 3 in November, a company executive said. The plan is in response to a fundamental industry shift from a disc-based to a network-based business, said Phil Harrison, president of worldwide studios for the Tokyo-based consumer electronics giant. �The industry has demanded this from us,� he said. The move could help Sony maintain its lead over Microsoft in the battle of next-generation game consoles. Microsoft has been moving aggressively to challenge Sony, which last week announced a six-month delay for the PS3. Sony already offers a limited online service, but the company has been discussing a �PlayStation Network Platform,� that is similar to Microsoft�s Xbox Live. Microsoft is using Xbox Live�s paid subscription service as a core feature of its business. It already boasts 2 million members and 50 percent of Xbox 360 owners as

Challenges Forecasting the Mobile TV Niche

Mediaweek reports that the number of mobile phone owners who watch video on their phones -- currently a very small group of early adopters -- promises to ramp up quickly over the next several years, according to a new report from researcher eMarketer. Still, premium mobile video services will remain a niche market. While video on mobile phones is enjoying healthy usage worldwide, only three million U.S. users will watch any sort of video on their phones in 2006, says the report. Paid services that deliver premium video clips or live TV have only been adopted by between 300,000 and 400,000 users. But by 2009, 36 million users will be watching video on their phones, according to eMarketer. Yet while video gains in popularity, the number of users willing to subscribe to paid premiums services will remain less than 10 million. Those uncertain growth projections present a challenge to marketers, who are trying to figure out just how big of a deal mobile video will be. Moreover, what are

Rise of Direct Marketing to Mobile Phones

Business Week reports that Discovery Channel's "I Shouldn't Be Alive" profiles people who have survived some pretty unusual (and life-threatening) ordeals, from shipwrecks to snowstorms. It's also relying on an unconventional way to hype the show: cell-phone direct marketing. On the eve of the second season's debut, Discovery Channel began offering prizes, free ringtones, and weekly trivia questions via short text messages(SMS) to subscribers of some of the country's biggest mobile-phone companies -- Cingular Wireless, Sprint Nextel, and T-Mobile. So far, more than 15,000 people have signed up to receive SMS trivia and reminders to watch the show, and they are among its most loyal fans, says Julie Willis, senior vice-president for marketing at Discovery. "We are getting a lot bolder about mobile marketing," she says. "This is something everybody should be doing." U.S. spending on marketing and advertising over wireless networks may s

21st Century Communications World Forum

Speaking at the 21st Century Communications World Forum conference in London, Paul Reynolds, Chief Executive of BT Wholesale, shared his perspective regarding what is changing the telecom sector � and specifically BT�s plans as they learn to adapt to this change. Reynolds said that established service providers can learn a lot from business models like Google and Skype. In fact, BT is in the process of preparing the launch of Web 21C, which is a strategy of �services designed in software.� More details about this new vision will be shared within the coming months. Regarding BT�s previously announced 21st Century Network (21CN) vision, Reynolds recapped the company�s goals. First, shrink the product launch cycle from the prior 18 month window, down to 6 months or less. Second, radically enhance the customer experience. Third, reduce the company�s cost base, both radically and continually. Regarding BT�s lessons learned from implementing the above mentioned goals, he had the following

China Media Revenues Reach 88.8B Yuan

Pacific Epoch -- State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT) vice president Zhang Haitao said at China's 2006 Radio and Television Expo that China's radio, film and television industry recorded 88.8 billion Yuan in revenues in 2005, up 7.77 percent from 2004, reports Sina. Advertising accounted for 45.8 billion Yuan, or 51 percent, off all revenues. Cable TV fees accounted for 15.12 billion Yuan, and movie ticket sales were responsible for another 2 billion Yuan. Of the advertising revenues, 39.7 billion Yuan came from TV ads and 5 billion Yuan from radio ads. Guangdong province was first in advertising revenues at 8.38 billion Yuan in 2005. Second to seventh were Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Beijing, Shandong and Hunan.

The Falling Cost of TV Channel Distribution

Informitv reports that Ashley Highfield, the BBC director of new media and technology, shared a stage with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates at the Mix06 Conference in Las Vegas. He showed a vision of the future of television, in the form of a BBC application running on the forthcoming Windows Vista platform. Mr. Highfield, who runs one of the world�s biggest pure content web sites, said that the last year has seen a dramatic shift with an exponential increase in the amount of rich media served. �You can partly explain that I guess by the take up of broadband in the UK,� he said, �but there�s something more than that. I think that what we�re seeing is the audience expectations that they�ve got from the music industry of being able to consume the music on their terms,� he said. �They�re now starting to expect that from television. They want television on their terms, they want to watch it whenever, however, wherever. And we as a media company, need to respond to that.� The distribution c

Google Seeks Patent for Wi-Fi Hotspot Ads

ClickZ News reports that Google engineers have applied for a patent on a way to target ads based on the location of the wireless access point to which a user connects, among other factors. The patent application, filed by Google employees Wesley Chan, Shioupyn Shen and Georges Harik in September 2004, was published last week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. It describes a method by which an end user accessing the Internet via a wireless access point (WAP) would be served advertisements based on factors such as the geographic location of the WAP, a behavioral profile of users of the WAP, the vertical market served by the WAP's owner, or other predetermined criteria. Location-based search, especially for mobile users, has broad implications for content providers and advertisers. Geographically targeting users at such a precise level could benefit local advertisers especially, or those that have products that might be available locally. Marketers could also use profiles of t

Reporting TV Audiences Via Web Analytics

MediaDailyNews reports that Nielsen's number one priority for the next couple of years isn't commercial ratings, TV time- or place-shifting, or even advancing its traditional in-home measurement of conventional TV -- it's understanding the link between television and the Internet. The company plans to introduce a new method for measuring television programming viewed over the Internet by the end of this year, Susan Whiting, CEO of the TV ratings giant, told a roomful of the nation's biggest advertisers during a presentation in New York. Whiting, speaking during the Association of National Advertisers' Television Advertising Forum, did not elaborate on how Nielsen plans to provide the new data, but alluded to the new "portfolio" measurement strategy she outlined several weeks ago. Details of the portfolio plan, which is Nielsen's solution for "following the video" across all the platforms TV programming is and ultimately will be viewed on --

Warner Bros. Plans Digital Media Expansion

Warner Bros. Entertainment is safeguarding the blueprint of its classic film properties while securing the incarnation of future cinematic creations through a major remodel of its Motion Picture Imaging facility. The studio's specialist group, responsible for the preservation and restoration of the vast WB library while serving as a postproduction center for in-house films and those from the outside, is undergoing a renovation to accommodate the growing demand for its state-of-the-art capabilities. This technological hub, nestled among the lot's myriad soundstages and exteriors, is where film is digitally transferred, encrypted to prevent piracy, converted to every format from high-definition to mobile, and otherwise manipulated to meet a wide range of requirements.

Mobile Service Provider's Worst Nightmare

A captive and profitable Mobile TV revenue model was supposed to be the "next big thing" for mobile phone service providers who are already investing significantly in their 3G broadband wireless networks. Well, try to imagine their worst "walled garden by-pass" nightmare, and you essentially have the gist of this developing scenario. Apparently, as a result of having its offering repeatedly dismissed by mobile service providers, Sling Media has decided to go it alone by launching 'SlingPlayer Mobile' direct to consumers. Sling Media announced the release of SlingPlayer Mobile as part of a public beta program for Slingbox owners. SlingPlayer Mobile is a new software package that gives Slingbox owners the ability to watch and control their home TV from any network-enabled mobile phone or handheld computer (PDA) powered by Windows Mobile. The SlingPlayer Mobile software is compatible with devices that run Windows Mobile Pocket PC 5.0 and 2003 Second Edition.

Bank Consortium Wants Thomson CE Unit

Reuters reports that investment banks are putting together a consortium to bid more than $6 billion for the French consumer electronics giant Thomson, The Business newspaper reported on Sunday. The banks have been driving the approach after Thomson Chief Executive Frank Dangeard said earlier this month that he was open to any offer that reinforced the company's position as a world leader in video and set-top box technology, it added. According to the paper, sources say Silver Lodge, the U.S. venture capital firm which has already invested $500 million in Thomson through a private series of convertible bonds, would be involved. Investment firms have been approached in the last two weeks to join the consortium ahead of any bid, but it is not known if contact has already been made with the company, it added. A Thomson spokeswoman told the paper, "We don't comment on market speculation."

Getting it Done: Home Multimedia Made Easy

Electronic House magazine features serving up multimedia in the home -- Imagine having hi-fi music and DVD-quality video piped into every room of your home, including patios and decks, with nothing visible but elegant wall-mounted keypads and speakers. Not only is such a design neat and tidy, but it may also be easier to operate than a regular audio/video setup. Make no mistake: It�s still best to have a high-quality whole-house audio and video system installed by a trained professional. The good news is that with today�s gear, you won�t feel as if you�ve adopted a new member of the family because an installer has to spend days at your home setting up the system. A whole-house audio/video system is usually controlled by handheld remotes or wall-mounted control panels, with all of the source equipment and amplifiers hidden in one closet. The best systems accommodate extra sources such as satellite tuners, DVD players, CD changers, media servers, iPods and digital video recorders (DVR

Big Brands are Losing Confidence in TV Ads

AdAge reports that major brand advertisers are losing confidence in the effectiveness of TV advertising. More than three out of four advertisers -- 78 percent to be exact -- said they have less confidence today in the effectiveness of TV advertising than they did two years ago, according to a survey released at the Association of National Advertisers TV Ad Forum. The study asked 133 national advertisers representing more than $20 billion in ad dollars about their attitudes toward TV advertising and how new technologies such as digital video recorders and video on demand will have on their TV ad budgets. Almost 70 percent of advertisers believe DVRs and VOD will reduce or destroy the effectiveness of traditional 30-second commercials. Instead, they are looking at alternatives such as branded entertainment within TV programs (61 percent), TV program sponsorships (55 percent), interactive advertising during TV programs (48 percent), online video ads (45 percent) and product placement (4

TV Place-Shifting Solution for Mobiles in UK

A UK mobile technology company called ROK Entertainment says that it is set to launch a "TV place-shifting" set-top box, code-named "BLCX," that will transmit TV channels live to mobile phones via a broadband Internet connection. It promises that the product will be commercially available in time for soccer's 2006 World Cup. "It seemed to us that delivery of the World Cup matches live to mobile phones would be a fantastic opportunity for the development of mobile TV services" ROK chairman and CEO, Jonathan Kendrick, said in a prepared statement, "but it now appears that only edited highlights of the matches are to be made available, mainly for people on 3G and even then on a pay-per-view basis. That seemed terribly limited to us, so we set out to develop BLCX to enable people to watch all their home TV channels live whenever and wherever they wish on their mobile phone. Providing you have broadband at home, you simply plug your BLCX into your TV

UK Business-Oriented Broadband TV Service

An on-demand broadband TV service, called STREAM, that is designed to enable local companies to promote themselves and maintain links with other businesses, has launched in the northeastern English city of Hull. "STREAM is a local television channel that uses broadband technology to deliver video programming on-demand alongside digital terrestrial television," the new service's managing director, Mark Jones, explained in a prepared statement "Currently, STREAM is the only service like this anywhere in the world. This is a whole new way of communicating, and at the moment only Hull has the technology in place to take advantage of it." A linear feed of the new service is available on its Web site, and its shows are archived, searchable and available on-demand. The linear version of the service can also be accessed on digital TV platforms in Hull and Northern Lincolnshire. The service is the brainchild of Hull City Council, which, together with the European Union

Why the Consumer is King, Sharing Playlists

P2P takes on a new twist. Once you amass a huge collection of music files on your PC, and all your friends have essentially done the same thing -- now what? You share your "playlists" and download other people's playlists. Now, everyone's a DJ with a unique mix of eclectic selections. The Best Source for Music Playlists But, can you help me discover more music that I'll like? Well, what if I gave you a web tool that enabled you to create your own customized streaming radio station? This web tool learns from what you tell it you like or dislike, and then suggests similar music selections along that theme? Now you share your station with others. Created by The Music Genome Project Now image using a similar recommendation-bot technology to suggest streaming video selections. Utilizing the same basic concepts, you view video clips and tell the web tool your selection preferences, and in return you end up with your custom online TV channel. So, share your channel

Three Indie Film Companies for stimTVcinema

Los Angeles-based NPOWR Digital Media -- which recently launched stimTVmusic, the first channel of its long-awaited broadband interactive TV service, stimTV -- says that it has finalized deals with three major independent film companies, Echo Bridge Home Entertainment, First Look Home Entertainment, and THINKFilm, which will add over a thousand new theatrical and home video titles and trailers to the content line-up of its planned stimTV cinema channel. stimTVcinema, which is scheduled to launch next quarter, will have a similar format to stimTVmusic. It will present viewers with a random stream of seven-second video clips of movie trailers, celebrity interviews, director commentary, behind-the-scenes footage and other film-related content (NPOWR expects to have secured 10,000 individual pieces of content for the channel when it launches): when viewers see a clip that interests them, they will be able to click on it to view the full piece of content from which the clip is taken. The

TV Networks Love-Hate Viral Video Sites

Hollywood Reporter -- the entertainment world is putting the squeeze on YouTube.com, but will it be more like a hug than a headlock? In a few short months, the Web site has emerged from the obscure ranks of dozens of online viral-video outposts to dominate even giant portals in the category, including Yahoo! and Google. But its astonishing growth -- streaming 30 million videos a day -- also has put old-guard media empires on the defensive. NBC Universal and CBS Corp. are just a few of the power players who have clamped down on YouTube recently for hosting copyright-infringing clips snatched from broadcast airwaves. "As the broadband digital space develops, it's important for rules of the road to be clearly established," says Richard Cotton, executive vp and general counsel at NBC Uni. However, the relationship between this Internet upstart and Hollywood isn't as adversarial as you might assume. For every corporate lawyer firing off angry letters to YouTube, there a

Content Abdicated, as Consumers take Throne

CNET reports that during a two-hour keynote session, CEOs from Verizon Communications, Disney, Time Warner Cable and NTT told a packed audience at the TelecomNext trade show in Las Vegas that the future of telecom lies in the hands of consumers who nowadays have more choices when it comes to the content and services they subscribe to and how they use them. "We're seeing a great shift in how consumers spend money, and our business models need to be flexible," said Robert Iger, CEO of Disney. "It used to be said that content was king, but the consumer is king." Aside from piracy and overregulation, other challenges await content providers, said Dick Wolf, the creator of the popular "Law and Order" television shows. He said that the current business model in television likely won't work in 10 years, when people likely will be downloading more shows directly from the Web.

Battle Begins for Next Generation Marketing

Broadcasting & Cable magazine tells the story of the developing business strategy war between the different factions of broadband service providers in the U.S. -- the tactical battles for marketing directed beach-heads has begun. There was a lot of talk about phones at a recent convention hosted by an MSO cable group. That was at the Cable Television Public Affairs Association forum in Washington, where some cable operators argued they would pick up more phone customers than the telcos would add video service. For example, John Bickham, President, of Cable and Communications for Cablevision, said that on Long Island, 27 percent of homes passed take phone service from Cablevision, with the company picking up a point of landline market share a month. He said he was not surprised that the phone companies "are starting to pull their hair out." Time Warner CEO Landel Hobbs said cable companies were well positioned in telephony, offering the triple play of video, voice and d

BT Takes its NGN Strategy for a Walkabout

TelecomTV reports that BT Asia Pacific President Allen Ma revealed at the CommsDay Summit that he will use a meeting with Australia's communications minister Helen Coonan to evangelize the British approach to next-generation network development. He said that BT was pitching its efforts in the UK as world's-best practice and a potential blueprint for NGN development across the globe. With the final supply contracts now signed, BT is charging ahead with its 21st Century Network migration in the UK, a massive $19 billion project hoped to see 100 per cent of UK homes and business connected over an all-IP infrastructure by 2010. While precluded due to a Telstra sales agreement from commenting directly on the company, Ma says there is little doubt that persistent regulatory uncertainty is delaying the implementation of a NGN infrastructure in Australia, something that has a real potential to impact the country's social and economic wealth. "I think your regulator should re

All the Young Dudes Want Their Mobile TV

Mobile TV and video usage is growing slowly, but is attracting a higher proportion of the young adult and male demographic, reports Telephia. According to Telephia, 1.5 percent or roughly three million wireless subscribers in the U.S. streamed TV or played video content on their mobile devices in Q4 2005. Historical data from early 2005 show penetration of 1.4 percent. Younger mobile subscribers, age 18-24 have the highest penetration for mobile TV and video usage, securing a 3.3 percent rate, doubling since the beginning of 2005. Overall, men are more likely to stream TV and play video content on their wireless devices than women, showing a penetration rate of 1.8 percent or more than 3.5 million wireless subscribers during Q4 2005. Female mobile subscribers who accessed mobile TV and video content over their handsets had a rate of 1.2 percent in Q4 2005, equaling 2.5 million consumers, according to Telephia. �During this early adopter stage, audience demographics play a significan

Deutsche Telekom will Launch IPTV in 2006

In-Stat reports that Deutsche Telekom has agreed to use Microsoft�s IPTV Edition middleware platform for their deployment of IPTV in the second half of 2006. The Deutsche Telekom deal is Microsoft�s second largest with the largest presumably being the deal with AT&T for $400 million. Deutsche Telekom is upgrading its DSL infrastructure to VDSL2 in order to increase the bandwidth per home to up to 50 Mbps, enough for multiple HDTV streams. The agreement with Deutsche Telekom brings the number of commercial agreements Microsoft has to 10. Three others, Bell Canada, Reliance, and BellSouth are for trials, not for commercial launches. Of course, if BellSouth is combined with AT&T, they are expected to use Microsoft in the former BellSouth territory. The agreement is not surprising as T-Online subsidiary Club Internet began a pilot project with Microsoft in mid-2005. DT owns 90 percent of T-Online. T-Online also offers broadband in Spain as Ya.com, Portugal as Terravista, Austria,

DVR Usage Surges Toward 130 Million Users

The U.S. and Europe are leading the global transition toward user-controlled TV. According to the latest report from the Strategy Analytics Connected Home Devices service, digital video recorders (DVR) are set to change television viewing for 130 million homes worldwide over the next five years. Cable, satellite and other digital TV providers had installed 17.4 million DVRs globally by the end of 2005, and DVR manufacturers will enjoy annual sales of more than 40 million units by 2010 as increasing numbers of viewers demand more flexibility in how they watch television. DVRs can already be found in 12 percent of U.S. homes, and this Strategy Analytics report predicts that more than half of U.S. consumers will have access to a DVR by 2010. The market has been slower to take off in Europe, but even in Europe 25 percent of homes will have DVRs by 2010, up from only 2 percent in 2005. According to Peter King, Director of the Connected Home Devices service, "To remain competitive,

Lower PC Prices Fail to Entice the Laggards

Laptops have yet to attract the late-adopting market segments in the U.S., according to an upcoming report from Parks Associates that found only 2 percent of the 10.5 million households planning on buying a notebook are technology latecomers. These technology "laggards," defined in the report "Multimedia Trends: Segmenting the U.S. Consumer Population" as households that have an Internet connection but seldom engage in online activities, show little to no interest in purchasing a laptop, despite falling prices. By comparison, a majority of the households planning on buying a laptop computer in the next 12 months already own one, with early-adopter households accounting for 29 percent of these households. "The laptop market is a mile wide and an inch deep," said John Barrett, director of research at Parks Associates. "New notebook computers can be found for less than $500, but it's not the latecomers who are taking advantage of falling prices. Th

Total Cost of 'Low Price' Telco Basic TV

Telcos diversifying into multichannel TV make a priority of undercutting pricing of incumbent cable TV operators for basic TV, but Kagan Research notes that differences evaporate as consumers pile on extra services. Consumers taking the full range of triple play services with comparable products will spend $100-130 per month, with cable sometimes offering the lower-priced bundle. "A lack of uniform pricing across the markets and frequent promotional schemes geared at attracting new customers make it difficult to comparison shop," says Mariam Rondeli, associate analyst at Kagan Research. "In addition, telco customers tend to pay higher regulatory fees and taxes. Despite price differentials on individual product lines offered by the competitors, the costs of the triple-play bundle for cable and regional Bell operating companies (RBOC) remain comparable." Looking at an IPTV bundle, telco Verizon's triple-play offers VoiceWing Unlimited plus FiOS Internet and TV p

Why Compelling Content will Drive Mobile TV

Informa Telecoms & Media reports that persistently declining voice revenues, exacerbated by the need to pay off expensive 3G licences, mean that operators will seize any opportunity to generate data revenues. Mobile TV and video provides many revenue streams and, with the right content strategies and business models in place, promises to have mass market appeal. Despite the well-documented convergence that is now taking place in order to facilitate the provision of mobile TV and video services, there is a fundamental difference between the telecoms and television industries; whereas the telecoms industry has been technology-led, the television industry has been content-led. It is becoming apparent that the provision of quality content and the strength of brands will be what drives uptake of mobile TV, rather than technology per se. Although technology is an important enabler, content is what is really important. Mobile operators must adjust their focus to this end. When creating

Wi-Fi Needs User-Friendly Security Set-up

What the world needs now are simpler, more user-friendly security features in consumer Wi-Fi equipment, according to a new Wi-Fi market update from ABI Research. Despite the frequency with which users report finding many unprotected Wi-Fi networks nearby when they log on, or of finding that other people are piggybacking on their own networks, most Wi-Fi security schemes are so difficult to set up that many users give up and accept their network's public exposure as an unfortunate fact of life. "Awareness of security issues is becoming widespread among the average consumer," says Sam Lucero, ABI Research senior analyst of wireless connectivity research. "The complexity of existing security mechanisms is frustrating to many, but they regard it as a problem they just can't solve." There are exceptions, however. According to the study, early in 2004 equipment vendor Buffalo Technology introduced its patented AirStation One-touch Secure Set-up (AOSS). AOSS a

Tech Marketing is Complex and Under-Funded

IDC's CMO Advisory Practice projects that the global marketing budgets of IT vendors will increase by an average of 7 percent in 2006, the greatest year-on-year increase in spending in five years. The average marketing budget increase for a tech vendor now outpaces the average revenue increase, indicating that every dollar of vendor revenue is becoming more expensive to garner. �Marketing leaders and their C-level counterparts need to accept the new realities and complexities of the tech marketing function," said Rich Vancil, vice president of the CMO Advisory Practice at IDC. �And they need to recognize that marketing is going to get more complex, and therefore more costly, over the next several years." "Tech marketing is, in general, an under-funded area," Vancil noted. "The irony is that IDC's research shows that the companies achieving the best gains in revenues and profits are those investing in marketing at a higher than average pace.�

DIRECTV Targeting Consumer Big Spenders

Kagan Research reports that Rupert Murdoch's overhaul of DIRECTV is now being put to the test. And the verdict is -- so far, so good. The $12.2 billion-revenue DTH platform with 15.1 million U.S. subscribers expects a package of enhanced services will more than double to a lofty 47+ percent penetration rate of its subs by end 2007. The enhanced services include high definition (DIRECTV aims to offer local HDTV channels to 76 percent of the U.S. by end 2006) and digital video recorders. DIRECTV told an investors' conference last month its goal is to corral more of the 33 percent of top-tier customers who represent 63 percent of profit potential. "DIRECTV is foregoing some growth to get more high quality subscribers," says Kagan Research associate analyst Christy Rickard. That strategy is designed to raise average revenue per unit (ARPU), reduce subscriber churn and hold the line on subscriber acquisition costs (SAC). Murdoch's News Corp. acquired a controlling

Mobile Operators Building Next-Gen Networks

Mobile operators will create their next generation networks using a range of wireless broadband and cellular technologies, including W-CDMA, WiFi, and WiMAX, says a new report by Infonetics Research. And they're moving fast. According to the study the 18 North American, European, and Asia Pacific carriers interviewed spent an average of $2.9 billion in 2005 on next gen mobile and wireless broadband equipment, and will spend $4.1 billion in 2007, a 41 percent increase. Mobile users want to replicate their wireline broadband experience on the go, driving 3G uptake. This will push carriers to spend a healthy proportion of their next gen mobile and wireless broadband capex on upgrading from 2.5G to 3G base station systems. "The range of available applications accessible via a mobile handset is going to rapidly expand over the coming years," said Richard Webb, directing analyst at Infonetics Research. "For example, most of our respondents offer mobile/wireless VPN ser

Consumer Demand for Mobile Entertainment

Parks Associates� shares insights from Mobile Entertainment multiclient study: ~80 percent of Internet households own one or more mobile phones, and the penetration rate of digital cameras is 65 percent for Internet Households. 20+ percent of Internet Households own at least one portable digital music player or portable DVD player. Among consumers planning to purchase a new mobile phone inthe next 12 months, 43 percent are highly interested in purchasing a camera phone. A price point between $200 and $300 is still the sweet spot for pricing a mass-market mobile/portable device. 10 percent of Internet users are interested in the ability of viewing pre-recorded video, video clips, or live TV on their mobile phones. 11 percent of Internet users are interested in the ability to download and play music files or listening to radio stations directly through their mobile phones. 50+ percent of the mobile phone users replace their cell phones once every two years or even more frequently.

M2M Requires Fusion of RF Technologies

The potentially boundless benefits of machine-to-machine communications (M2M) are still at odds with both expensive network transport and the exorbitant process of integrating M2M modules into the machines they will monitor, according to Strategy Analytics. Their report affirms that while cellular is an inherent M2M enabler and has become more reliable, widespread and secure than ever, even the lowest achievable per-sensor price points over cellular alone will prove to be prohibitively costly for many applications. Unless short-range RF and mesh topologies are brought to bear, M2M will continue to be contained to select vertical markets. Serving as the glue between disparate wireless networks and fragmented vertical software solutions, this report also concludes that M2M specialists, such as Airdesk and Aeris in the US and Wyless and Netsize in Europe, will play a key catalyzing role in orchestrating M2M solutions and spurring the next phase of adoption. One potential major M2M pitf

BT Unveils New Vision TV Service in the UK

TelecomTV reports that UK telco BT announced that its national IPTV service will be called BT Vision. The service, which BT claims as a world first and which is due to launch in Q3, will combine digital terrestrial TV with on-demand film, TV and music programming, as well as interactive services. The service will be delivered on a software platform powered by Microsoft and through a set-top box made by Philips. Unlike other pay-TV services, there will be no requirement for a paid subscription. "Our choice of the name BT Vision encapsulates the qualities needed to make this offering successful and underpins how important our next generation TV will be in the converged world," explained Dan Marks, chief executive of TV Services. "BT Vision will be offered nationwide and will not be restricted to metropolitan areas and as with Freeview there will be no mandatory subscription." BT Vision will be enabled by the BT Hub, the device that is at the heart of BT's strat

SXSW 2006: Trend Spotting Applied Science

A report from South by Southwest explores the process of predicting profitable consumer demand at the international festival in Austin, Texas -- Read my commentary here at AlwaysOn. What does it take to get into a frame of mind where being consumer-centric is more than a mere cliche? I've considered that question as I've observed the current shift in demand. Appealing to the connected consumer demographic has become a tour de force for many marketers. Clearly, the benefits of mastering market perception are without compare. So, let's consider one new method to help us gain a better appreciation. This year's South by Southwest conference attendees were exposed to all of the usual insights about emerging opportunities -- do-it-yourself content and mash-up tools, social networking platforms where everyone participates, and the whole notion that personalization of the consumer experience is essential. Of course, there was a faddish "digital convergence" track,

ABC Plans Test of TV Network Streaming

Broadcasting and Cable reports that ABC plans in April to test streaming its TV network programming over the Internet, with commercials included. The shows will be available eight hours after their initial airing, according to Preston Padden, EVP, government relations, for Disney, which owns ABC. Disney last fall began making Desperate Housewives, Lost, and Night Stalker, available for purchase from the Apple iTunes store for $1.99 an episode available on Apple's iPod. Since then, the floodagates have opened for network content to be repurposed in a variety of forms on the Web and wireless applications, including more ABC and ESPN content. In this case, though, ABC would cut out the middleperson by streaming the shows itself on the abc.com website.

HDTV Global Uptake and Assessment

Screen Digest has analyzed the business of high definition television worldwide. The top 19 television markets are reviewed in Western Europe, North America, and the Asia Pacific region. Their report encompasses all business models, all delivery platforms (DTH, DTT, cable, IPTV), and reveals the key opportunities and challenges for broadcasters and other industry players right throughout the value chain. Key findings of the report: High definition television has reached a tipping point in 2005/06. In North America and Asia-Pacific, after four to seven years of implementation but slow penetration, HDTV is now set for mass market take off. In Europe, after pioneering services and trials over the last two years, many launches and massive marketing of HDTV services will take place over the next 12 months. At the end of 2005 there were 34 million households in Western Europe, USA and Asia-Pacific with an HD resolution TV set out of 719 million TV households (ie, four percent). There were

UK Leads Adoption of Digital Television

Informitv reports that the UK is a world leader in digital television, now available in over 70 percent of households or 17.5 million homes. One in four UK adults lives in a home which no longer views analogue television, but there is still some way to go before all viewing is digital. Digital take-up has not passed the 50 percent mark in any other European country, although 55 percent of homes in the US now have digital television. Some 30 million households worldwide adopted digital television in the course of 2005, meaning that 13 percent of all television homes now receive some form of digital television. The latest figures published by the regulator Ofcom indicate that for the first time there are now more digital satellite subscribers in the UK than there are homes watching analogue terrestrial television or any other form of television delivery. A third of all UK homes now has satellite television.

Sony to Lead Game Consoles Through 2010

Sony will continue its domination of the video console market through 2010, though its lead will likely shrink due to stronger competition from Microsoft and Nintendo, reports In-Stat. Through 2010, the Sony PS3 will account for just over 50 percent of the installed base of next-generation consoles, while the Microsoft Xbox 360 will have 28.6 percent, and the Nintendo Revolution will have 21.2 percent. "Microsoft will outship Nintendo in the next generation of consoles due to its head start in launching, its strength in the North American market, and its appeal to older gamers, a demographic that seems to widen with each new generation of consoles," says Brian O'Rourke, In-Stat analyst. In-Stat found the following: - The PS3 will also include Blu-Ray DVD playback, a high-definition format that is central to Sony's corporate strategy. - Central to Nintendo's console is a new type of controller that allows the user's arm movement to affect the movement of gam

Indie Movies Find the Mobile Small Screen

CNET reports that independent filmmakers are shooting videos on mobile devices and distributing them over wireless networks in an attempt to reach a mass audience. Temah Nelson's animated short "Friends on Crack" stars Spruce and his fellow petroglyphs (think cave drawings) in a series of brief episodes that could serve as a model for mobile films, or videos created with smart phones and handheld devices in mind. Panelists at the Cinequest Film Festival advised a group of aspiring filmmakers that mobile devices could allow short films that were never previously shown outside a festival setting to attract a wider audience. Portable video players and high-end multimedia smart phones have been available for several years, but none have really made their mark in the video realm the way Apple Computer's iPod has changed the music business. Wireless carriers and studios haven't really figured out the best business model for getting the content onto Palm's Treo 650

More TV Channels Increases Niche Viewing

MediaDaily News reports that Americans are receiving TV channels than ever before, but they're watching a smaller percentage of them -- especially those from broadcasters. Those are the top line conclusions from an important annual benchmark study on the way people watch TV released by Nielsen Media Research. The report, which comes as Nielsen holds its annual client meetings in Orlando, shows that the average U.S. household received 96.4 channels during 2005, an increase of nearly four channels from 92.6 in 2004. However, the average number of channels tuned barely changed, rising to 15.4 from 15.0 in 2004. The data appears to support a fundamental principle of rising media choice: that given an unlimited number of media options, the average person will still opt to use a relatively small number. What makes the principle especially interesting for TV, is that Americans are spending more time watching TV than ever before. During 2005, the average household was tuned to their TV 5

Internet Era Means the End for Media Barons

The Guardian reports that Rupert Murdoch sounded the death knell for the era of the media baron, comparing today's internet pioneers with explorers such as Christopher Columbus and John Cabot and hailing the arrival of a "second great age of discovery". The News Corp media magnate nurtures a long-held distaste for "the establishment" but last night confided to one of the few clubs to which he does belong - The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers - that he may be among the last of a dying breed. "Power is moving away from the old elite in our industry - the editors, the chief executives and, let's face it, the proprietors," said Mr Murdoch, having flown into London from New York after celebrating his 75th birthday on Saturday. Far from mourning its passing, he evangelised about a digital future that would put that power in the hands of those already launching a blog every second, sharing photos and music online and downloading te

Arbitron to Begin PPM Radio Ratings Rollout

Media Week reports -- making good on its word to forge ahead with a portable people meter-based radio ratings service, Arbitron announced it would begin rolling out PPM ratings to the top 50 markets beginning this July with Houston. The rollout plan calls for the top 10 markets by fall 2008 and the rest of the top 50 by 2010-2011. Philadelphia, the site of the first PPM test, will be the second PPM market in the rollout. A portable, pager-sized device, the PPM would replace the current diary-based service, which has been used as the currency to buy and sell radio since 1965. The new passive, multimedia, electronic methodology, promises to deliver ratings faster, more frequently, and more accurately than the current system. The news of the rollout follows less than two weeks after Nielsen Media Research, owned by Mediaweek parent VNU, said no to a joint venture with Arbitron to commercialize a portable people meter-based ratings service for TV, paving the way for Arbitron to pursue it

DSL Forum Expands Scope and Adds TRs

The DSL Forum is expanding its scope to other broadband access technologies, including FTTP and FTTN fiber optic standards. Technical work is underway to address common CPE and architecture requirements for various types of access methods to deliver video, voice and data services. Interoperability and qualification work has also been expanded to address higher layer functions as well as the physical layer testing of ADSL2plus and the newly standardized VDSL2. Michael Brusca, chairman and president of the DSL Forum, said: "We have built on our end to end architecture, broadening Layer 3 specifications that are applicable to FTTP and FTTN in addition to DSLAM based platforms. Our DSLHome work has been expanded to cover management of common CPE and devices for all types of wide area networks and consumer electronics networking requirements." In a progress report following its annual meeting help recently in Vienna, The DSL Forum also announced that nine new Technical Reports (