Monthly Archives: March 2009

Throwing out the baby with the bath water- why ala cart is destructive

Throwing out the baby with the bath water- why ala cart is destructive

As a consumer, I totally relate to the frustration that Doc Searls articulates in his post last Friday. Pay tv, whether it arrives on a wire, via a cableco or a telco, or through the air via a sat service, is a lot of money for a limited set of what you want.

As a producer, though, without stable pricing and cash flow, the media market becomes even dicier.

The current system may put a lot of garbage at your beck and call, but as the old saying goes, one’s garbage is another’s treasure. I haven’t ever spent a minute watching a shopping channel, but clearly there is an audience for it. I have watched spanish language television, but mostly to watch sports I couldn’t get any other way. (The Olympics were especially rich thanks to those channels). I have no use for many other of the selections available to me.

Yet if we had ala cart, the selection would be reduced even further. The costs to market every single show, especially to those who are not online ( the least prosperous among us) would prevent most shows form finding an audience.
Right now, with theis system, the majority of programing created never gets to positive revenue. Even a low budget cable show needs to reach a second season to be actaully paying people’s mortagages and living expenses. Steady work in production is precious to generating a skill pool that has a career much less supports familyes and communities

So yeah- the big pipe is full of sludge. The bell curve says it always will be. Humans do not just fall in the top half, even in Lake Wobegon.

I would suggest that the alternative is emerging by buying directly from the author, much like in music. If you really want to get off the duopoly, write/call your favorite producers and offer to buy direct. Ask for an encrypted uniquely watermarked file that could be traced to you if you share it outside your household. Tell them which window of release (time frame) you want to watch in- ie. Would you want a ‘first release’ premier (watch the Super Bowl live) ?Or would you be happy to get it later ( maybe six months later)? Would you want it when it was also in the public library or on youtube, but in HD?

Let’s find out how much your favorite shows cost then. Or better yet how much one of those shows you don’t know about yet, but you see in rotation on Comedy Central by accident when you are skipping the commercials during the Daily Show, costs you for the first sample. IF producers are successful enough, you’ll get free samples, hoping to hook you like a drug dealer. If not, you’ll get much less selection, much less alternative, and even more LCD (lowest common denominator) on your LCD. Continue reading

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