Sunday, March 22, 2009


Piracy is a vastly growing problem in the media industry. In the past few years the rate of piracy has increased tremendously due to the fact that media industries are helping make piracy easier to commit through faster and better internet access, software programs that can be installed to computers to pirate movies and technological loopholes in movie discs. The three main types of piracy are optical piracy, camcord piracy, and internet piracy. While internet piracy is the most prevelant because of easy access, all piracy is against the law and is punishable.

During the class discussion a few questions were raised as to 'how is piracy being faught?' One act that was passed in 2005 by President George W. Bush was TAP. Tactics for Auction Piracy was imporant to media industries because it proved to piraters that actions will be taken against them if they continue to break the law. In 2005 the Motion Pictures Association of America; which contains all of the major studios such as Paramount Pictures, Warner Brothers, and a few more, lost over $3.8 billion dollars in the United States alone.

Other questions asked were if piracy would be controlled or would continue to be a growing worldwide problem. Most of the student responses were that it would remain about the same rate it is now. Advances in technology allow hackers, and piraters to quickly find loopholes that the engineers were not ready for. By the time that that loopholes are closed a new one is opened. Students said it is a constant cat and mouse game that would take serious advances in technology to completely stop piraters.

Piracy will continue to be a problem in the near future and it is unknow for how long. The main actions that people can do right now it to not pirate music, movies and other forms of entertainment. The more music and movies that are stolen, the less money those industries have to create new media for our entertainment.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Academy Awards

On Thursday, 12 March 2009 I presented my case study on the Academy Awards. The Academy Awards are considered to be an icon of American popular culture because they glamorize Hollywood and during this event, actors gather together to recognize and awards their fellow actors. During the presentation I gave an overview of the Academy's history, its structure, as well as the outreach programs it provides, and finalized by discussing how the Academy Awards influence media audiences.

The outreach programs (Media Literacy Program, Visiting Arts Program, and Teacher's Guide Series)utilize the excitement generated by the Academy Awards to reach out to young children and students to teach them about film making, critical thinking, creative skills, and allow them to interact with professional filmmakers. I also discussed the "play along" interactive activity created by the Academy Awards as an effort to reach more people and give them a sense of involvement and connection. Through discussion, we concluded that it was an outreach effort to publicize the Academy Awards and a way for them to adjust to 'new media' by not only utilizing television and computers but cell phones as well.

I also discussed how the Academy Awards bring light to controversial movies. For example Schindler's List is a movie about the Holocaust and the hardships that Jews endured during WWII. The subject of the Holocaust still to tends to be unpopular in some circles but the Oscars it received brought attention to it and people were convinced to see it. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946) was more of an informative movie that brought to light the social issues that veterans faced once returning from war. It depicted their struggles and adjustments to family life, integrating themselves into society, finding employments, and dealing with peacetime and PTSD. It gave the audience a better understanding of veterans and brought courage and inspiration for them.

Not only do the Academy Awards bring light to movies but also solidify the stars' system established in the early movie era. The stars' system is not only used to promote motion pictures but is also used to promote humanitarian causes. Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie have promoted the cause of helping third world countries. The media follows them through their travels and efforts, convincing the audience to join in their campaign for a better living enviroment for these people. The attention and glamour they gained through the Academy Awards allows them to successfully promote their cause.

The Academy Awards is a much publized glamour function. However, through its educational outreach programs, innovative ways to bring in viewers, and influence it gives its members, it has and will continue to yield a great amount of influence over the public.

Monday, March 9, 2009

1st Amendment & Radio

In the early days of the radio, the FCC didn't have to regulate much because of the large presence of self censorship. The FCC did not really have a problem with radio until it came to the 1960's when rock bands started pushing the envelope if you will. Sexual content and profanity started to show up in these songs and the FCC had to step in and set limits to what could be broadcast. Then again in the 70's, the FCC was pushed further with George Carlin's "7 Dirty Words" broadcast that brought quite an up rise. One of the more prominent events of this time involved Tipper Gore, Al Gore's wife. She lead a group pushing for the requirement of a warning label on explicit material. With all good evolution, things have come anther step further with the rise of the "shock jocks."

One of the most widely known of the shock jocks is one, Howard Stern. A shock jocks material consist of material that most steer away from, for multiple reasons, controversial, possible/likely fining by the FCC, in fact when Howard Stern was with a company known as Infinity, he accumulated fines upwards of 1.2 million dollars, for failure to restrain Mr. Stern. Now if you like the material or not, the numbers don't lie, when Howard Stern worked for CBS he had three main advertisers, Anheuser -- Busch, Cingular, and Toyota, when Mr. Stern was fired from CBS after his broadcast entitled "Beastiality Dial-A-Date," he took all three advertisers with him to Infinity, even after the companies were pleaded with to stop their loyalty to this shock jock. Then when you start factoring in the fact that, even though the FCC has some hefty fines, they are outweighed by the profit coming in from the station. After Mr. Stern left CBS, the 1st quarter revenue slipped by six percent and operating income fell fourteen percent. Ratings dropped from first within adult males 18-34 to fourteenth, and first with adult males 25-54 to seventeenth, now even if you don't agree with the topics that this man, and others like him, discuss, they are bringing in lots of listeners and money.

Now days Howard Stern has found a new venue, satellite radio, currently there are not restrictions on shock jocks here, this means more revenue for the radio station and less hassle with the FCC. Howard Stern was also offered the largest contract for a radio broadcaster through Sirus, the satellite company that originally brought in Mr. Stern, but has since merged with XM Radio, the only other competitor. Even with this merger, this alliance is just shy of filing for bankruptcy, which may make you wounder what will happen to Howard Stern if that happens, we can only wait and see. One thing is for sure though, if the FCC wishes to get a tighter grip on what is being broadcast over the airwaves, they need to have punishments that are more savvier than what is in place now.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

XM Radio, Sirius Radio and "The Merger"

Back in 1992, the FCC gave way to a spectrum in the “S” band for nationwide broadcasting of satellite based Digital Audio Radio Service (DARS). At the time, only four companies applied for the license to access the particular band, two of which were granted in 1997. Then, in September of 2001, XM Satellite Radio (formerly American Mobile Radio) was the first satellite radio company to “test the field.” With the success that XM showed, a second satellite radio company, Sirius Radio, made the charge and tried to become a big contender in the market.
XM Radio offered roughly 140 channels ranging from various music channels, sport, news, and entertainment channels, to play-by-play sport channels. A big marketing strategy that they used was to make sure to give their subscribers a vast array of options of XM receivers to choose from. Their big three were: the plug-n-play receiver, the boom box style receiver, and the standard in-dash receiver. XM was also the first to market their product in airplanes and car rental companies. I think this was a very good idea because of the amount of people that travel, just on a given day in the United States.
Sirius Radio entered the satellite radio business with a little different marketing mindset. They were more concerned with getting new customers and “switching customers” through the signing of big names. Some of these names included Martha Stewart, ESPN radio, and E! Entertainment. Although their marketing strategy proved to be effective, they still trailed XM in just about every profitable category. Then Sirius introduced what is known as “backseat TV.” This gave all Sirius Radio subscribers access to the three major “child networks” which included Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, and the Disney Channel.
With the advent of the mp3 player, then the iPod, then the iPhone came the decrease of subscribers to satellite radio. The two major companies saw a tremendous decline in profit in this time and they had to act quickly to prevent any more future losses. What they decided to do was to merge in hopes of minimizing their losses and maximizing their strengths. Although there were many negative factors associated with this merger, the FCC finally approved, stating that it was in the public’s “best interest.” Overall, the merger was beneficial to both companies, XM Sirius Radio is still losing money every day and will have to act fast to get the company back on its feet.
So how exactly has older media served as a template for a Wireless Culture? I believe that every sort of form of entertainment has based its strategy from how radio first started. This includes everything from broadcasting, to marketing, to sponsorships to name a few. Radio started out as a huge piece of equipment that was hard to transport to a device so small but so developed, that it can be programmed, specialized, plugged in to cigarette lighters to boom boxes, and now heard via the internet.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Limits On Free Speech And The First Amendment

The First Amendment establishes restrictions on Congress concerning freedom of speech, press, and religion, and the right to a peaceful assembly. For the purposes of this class the First Amendment inquires that congress cannot restrict freedom of speech and freedom of the press. So what does freedom of speech actually mean? According to our textbook Media Now, “freedom of speech is the idea that speech and media content should be free from government restriction” (432). However there are two limits on freedom of speech to which the First Amendment does not protect against; libelous statements and plagiarism.

A libelous statement is a written form of defamation that consists of false information that is damaging to a person’s reputation. Peter Zenger, one of the first writers to be accused of libel, actually won his case against the British Governor of New York because the court ruled that if the statement written is true, then the statement cannot libelous.

Now, plagiarism consists of using another’s created work without giving the author recognition or passing someone else’s work as your own. Jayson Blair wrote for the New York Times and was forced to resign after he was convicted of plagiarism, using fake or made up witnesses to back up arguments in his articles. He also passed off other author’s works as his own. “36 of the 73 reports [he] filed” were somehow falsified (Hamilton). The fine for plagiarism can be anywhere from making an ‘F’ in the course to being expelled from your school or university. However, in some cases, plagiarism can be considered a felony and can be punishable up to a $250,000 fine and up to ten years in prison.

It is crucial that we as students know our boundaries in the media world so one day we are not accused of any of this unlawful activity.

Hamilton, James. (2004) New York Times stays strong after turbulent year. Campaign UK, 28, 15-15.

Hoskins, Michael W. Libel Case Could Set New Standard. (2009, January 7-20). The Indiana Lawyer, Vol. 19-22.

LaRose, Robert, & Straubahaar, Joseph. (2008). Media Now: Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology. (5th ed.). CA: Thomson Learning.Inc.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Associated Press

I have always followed the news rather closely, and despite frequently noticing the small print declaring various articles "AP articles" or that the reporter was an "AP Reporter," I had never really stopped to consider the vast influence the organization had. The AP is global, with branches in almost every major country and sources which rival those of any national intelligence agency. While researching the AP for this presentation, two main points really became clear to me. 

First, it became extremely clear that organizations such as the AP and its competitors (Reuters, etc) are a double edged sword. While the act of pooling resources and information allows the individual consumer to have access to much more news on a global perspective, it also tends to flavor much of the news we receive with the perceptions of those agencies. If an educated consumer takes the time to gather their information from multiple sources these problems are largely mitigated, but for every educated consumer there are two who blindly follow whatever they see in print (opinion, not statistic). 

The second thing I really began to understand was the role technology played in the news media. All news agencies are out to make a profit, and they all strive to do so by providing the most accurate and up-to-date information to their consumers in the fastest and most convenient manner possible. This drive lead to the implementation of the newest and most cutting-edge technologies, as well as the creation of media conglomerates like the AP. This drive can be seen today in the growing emphasis organizations such as the AP are putting on "new media," despite the discontent it is causing amongst the major newspapers who provide 49% of the AP's annual income. If the AP is willing to risk their single largest source of income for new media, it clearly must be what they perceive as the wave of the future.