Mosaic TV Advances

Cable TV is beginning to offer viewers the chance to watch many shows simultaneously. DirectTV's "Superfan" permits a viewer to watch six games at once. And they can do it on one TV instead of using the fancy array David Bowie's multi-channel alien business man used Nick Roeg's "Man Who Fell to Earth" (1976). Dish Network has its own "mosaic" features and Comcast is planning to offer their own soon.


Chameleon Ads Absorb Local Reality

Broadcast TV is getting the option to dice and slice commercials on the fly, customizing them for local demographic reasons. "Tailoring commercials has emerged as a new goal in the ad industry, thanks to a plethora of media outlets and the increasing fragmentation of audiences," says Wall Street Journal reporter, Brian Steinberg. The ads would be made of a core template to which a variety of modules could be added. Ads could refer to local sports events or weather phenomena.

The ads can be focussed according to sppecific market segments, times of days, shows they appear in. Comcast already offers similar services on Cable. This phenomenon includes not only the elements of fragmentation and layering, but also the quotidien. The formerly sealed reality of the commercial now becomes a porous communication, absorbing daily information from it's local environment.


Smudge Reporting

Blurring the the distinction between journalism and advertising, the Video News Relase, or VNR is a new favorite tool of marketers and politicians. Medialink Chairman/CEO Laurence Moskowitz "says he is creating a new genre of television that blends news, PR and conventional Madison Avenue media-buying practices. In effect, he is competing with both Madison Avenue and the TV news industry, while blurring the lines between them."says Joe Mandese, Broadcasting & Cable, 3/28/200.5

The Bush administration has become the focus of newspaper reports of this practice. It appears to be widespread in government. " 'No TV news organization has the resources in labor, time or funds to cover every worthy story,' one video news release company, TVA Productions, said in a sales pitch to potential clients, adding that '90 percent of TV newsrooms now rely on video news releases.'" as David Barstow and Robin Stein report in the New York Times of March 13, 2005. An interesting fact is that there is no accounting of the phenomena; unlike print journalism, TV keeps no record of what they broadcast. To quote Jean-Luc Godard, "TV is made to forget."

Further blurring the reality is the practice of local TV news producers of cutting in a byline of their own reporters, making the stories appear to be locally produced.


Media Multi-tasking Kids

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, children today are consuming more media but they are not using more time to do it. "Instead, because of the amount of time they spend using more than one medium at a time (for example, going online while watching TV), they’re managing to pack increasing amounts of media content into the same amount of time each day," says the study's web page.

"As U.S. children are exposed to 8+ hours of TV, video games, computers and other media a day — often at once — are they losing the ability to concentrate? Are their developing brains becoming hard-wired to “multi-task lite” rather than learn the focused critical thinking needed for a democracy?" asks USA Today reporter Marilyn Elias in reponse to the study. She says no one has the answer.


Screen Slice: Ads Step Aside for Race Cars

The Wall Street Journal reports that ESPN will be using a split screen format that allowing simultaneous display of race action and commercials at the Toyota Indy 300 race on Sunday, Feb 6. The ad gets the bigger rectangle. Ads are 13% of the broadcast product; local ads will get the whole screen.