GETTING THE STORY OUT OF IRAN
Even though they have been tightly restricted -- forced to remain in their Tehran bureau offices or hotel rooms -- network correspondents Thursday continued to report from Iran, using mostly footage taken with cell phones by Iranian employees or downloaded from the Internet. CBS's Elizabeth Palmer mentioned in her report that her press credentials had been canceled. Documentary filmmaker James Longley, who was arrested while shooting footage of the demonstrators, wrote in an email, "It made me really question what I am doing in this country. It has become impossible to work as a journalist without the risk of physical violence from the government." He said his translator had been beaten by security personnel. Meanwhile, several dozen French TV and newspaper journalists, as well as members of the international Reporters Without Borders, demonstrated outside the Iranian embassy in Paris Thursday to protest against the Iranian government's crackdown on press coverage of the demonstrations. They particularly objected to the Iranian decision not to renew the temporary visas issued to correspondents who had come to Iran to cover the elections -- visas that are due to expire by Sunday. Speaking to the French news service Agence France Presse, Jean-François Julliard commented, "If three days from now no journalists are able to testify on what is happening in Iran, it will pave the way for all sorts of abuses."
WILL THE WEB DO TO TV WHAT IT'S DONE TO NEWSPAPERS?
Investors are becoming increasingly concerned that video websites created by the television networks like Hulu (NBC, Fox, ABC) and TV.com (CBS) will draw audiences away from the networks themselves and never produce enough revenue to offset the subsequent losses. Home Media Retail magazine's website today (Friday) quoted a note to clients by Laura Martin, an analyst with Soleil Media Metrics, who warned, "If consumers are being retrained to pay less for professionally produced TV content, then returns on capital (ROIC) should fall," resulting in the networks trimming budgets and firing personnel. In the end the networks may be forced to turn towards user-generated content, which, Martin said, is no "true substitute for long-form premium TV content."
AD BUYERS MAY BE READY TO MAKE NETWORK DEALS
Following reports on Thursday that the broadcast networks have found few if any buyers during the upfront sales period when typically 80-90 percent of ad sales are made for the coming season, Broadcasting & Cable reported on its website today (Friday) that the "iceberg" between the networks and advertisers "is starting to melt." Or as one broadcast network executive similarly put it to the trade magazine, "The stalemate that's been written about is starting to thaw because we all have to get moving." Another ad exec told B&C that ad buyers have unanimously rejected the networks' proposed rate increases and are seeking rate reductions instead. Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal reported today that NBC plans to use new technology from Microsoft that will allow advertisers to customize their purchases by targeting viewers with a particular demographic profile.
TRUMP-MCMAHON DEAL A HOAX, WWE ADMITS
Demonstrating that there's not much that can be believed in the wide world of wrestling, USA Network and Vince McMahon's WWE acknowledged Thursday that an announcement that they had mutually released to the press last Tuesday saying that McMahon had sold Donald Trump his RAW franchise had no basis in fact. "We intended the release to be promotional for that ongoing story arc on the series. There is no such actual 'sale,'" the statement said. Neither the press, nor WWE investors, got the joke. A report of the sale was carried by numerous news outlets and spurred some WWE investors to sell their stock. Although Thursday's statement ended with an apology "for any confusion," a WWE spokesman sounded unapologetic when he told Daily Variety, "We do scripted entertainment."