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The Chompsky Weekly #78
I'm pausing the newsletter ❤️
For the last year, I’ve been publishing a shorter version of this newsletter - one headline, and the Media News list - for the Media Reform Coalition. Because I’m finding it difficult to keep up this extended PPC version alongside my new job, I’m going to continue the MRC version only.
I will occasionally post funny/silly/interesting bits and bobs here, so please stay subscribed if you’re interested. If you’d like to continue receiving media news fortnightly, sign up for the newsletter for free on the mediareform.org.uk homepage.
Thanks for all your support over the last couple of years! I’d love to hear from you, drop me a line @elizmizon ❤️
The beginning of the end for broadcast TV?
This week has been a key juncture in the industry-wide move from broadcast to online television.
BBC Director General Tim Davie announced that the BBC could be online-only within a decade. Sky News’ John Ryley, CEO since 2006, is stepping down amid a move toward the channel’s “post-TV future”, which has seen it pause new TV studio projects in favour of digital expansion.
Davie’s speech to the Royal Television Society embraced a feeling of inevitability; he stated a “switch-off of broadcast will and should happen over time, and we should be active in planning for it.”
The plan to bring all BBC services “together in a single offer […] could ultimately see the end of distinct brands such as BBC One or BBC Radio 4, although the programmes they currently air could continue online”, according to Guardian media editor Jim Waterson.
A day later, ITV launched its new streamer ITVX, to replace the ITV Hub, for which it claims to have a “more-than-TV” strategy (which appears to just mean ‘also films’.)
One of its flagship programmes is the teen drama Tell Me Everything, which explores young peoples’ worsening mental health in an age of digital addiction and confusion. As we travel ever further into our increasingly online existence, better strategies for mitigating the worst excesses of the (small and/or big M) metaverse are crucial.
It’s Sunday 11th December 2022
The Tory party appears to have dropped its plans to privatise Channel 4, after culture secretary Michelle Donelan announced they are discussing new funding models “that could enable it to avoid privatisation […] Plans to sell the state-owned broadcaster are widely expected to be abandoned, although officially ministers say they are still considering all options.” (The Guardian)
The BBC has appointed Sir Damon Buffini, a well known private equity chief, as its deputy chair. The corporation is under pressure to better its ‘commercial focus’ as the government pursues funding options other than the license fee. (The Guardian)
More than 1,100 unionised journalists at the New York Times staffers went on strike for a 24 hour period this week, leaving editors “scrambling to put out a credible digital report for the day and print editions for the days following”. Members of the Freelance Solidarity Project who write for NYT joined them. (NPR/The Nation)
Al Jazeera have filed a case at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israeli forces over the killing of Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Aqla, who was shot in the head by an Israeli soldier in May. Israel, which does not recognise the ICC, says her death was unintentional. (BBC)
BuzzFeed is cutting 180 of its non-editorial staff, 12% of its total workforce. The media company cites “challenging economic conditions, its acquisition of Complex Networks and an ongoing audience shift to short-form, vertical video” as the precursor to the decision. (CNBC)
As a result of its dispute with Apple over app fees, Twitter has announced to staff it may charge customers $11 a month for Twitter Blue subscriptions through Twitter’s iPhone app, but only $8 for subscriptions through the web. (The Information)
Reach plc, the UK’s biggest news publisher, has confirmed it’s launching US operations for the Mirror, Express and Irish Star in the new year. (Press Gazette)
Amazon is offering customers $2 a month to let the company monitor the traffic on their phones to improve “personalized-ad experiences”. (Insider)
Harry and Meghan have released a statement, rebutting criticisms of hypocrisy regarding their new Netflix documentary and accusing the UK media of again peddling a distorted narrative. The UK media have spiraled into a frenzy of outrage regarding the couple’s decision to share their story, and personal photographs, if they left the country to seek privacy; they’ve said that they cited a desire to continue their duties in their original statement, and these distortions themselves, not privacy, was their reason for leaving. (The Guardian)
Campaigns + Content
Harkening back to Facebook’s 2021 Australian news blackout before the country imposed the Big Tech tax (i.e. the News Bargaining Code), Meta again threatened to remove news content from its platforms this week after the US followed in Oz’s legislative footsteps with the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act (JCPA).
However, some experts think that, not unlike the Australian system, the law will not really do what it needs to. For example, “the bill exclude[s] publishers with more than 1,500 employees, which consists of the three major newspapers in the U.S.: the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal. But it also excludes organizations with less than $100,000 in revenue, which would shut out some small-town outlets as well as some nonprofit and niche local news organizations doing some of the most innovative work in creating a sustainable local news model.”
Read more from media sociologist Jeremy Littau:
“Democracy’s Library, a new project of the Internet Archive that launched last month, has begun collecting the world’s government publications into a single, permanent, searchable online repository, so that everyone—journalists, authors, academics, and interested citizens—will always be able to find, read, and use them”:
The Daily Wire, Ben Shapiro’s conservative clickbait outlet, has branched out into streaming and TikTok over the last few years. This NYT feature about “Culture War as Entertainment” sees Shapiro’s co-founder Mr. Boreing (I’m not joking) compare himself to Rupert Murdoch as he pursues a ‘conservative alternative to Hollywood’:
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Thanks for reading. x