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Saturday, February 11, 2006

Two links: Peter Chernin says traditional media is not dead yet; Alex Beam samples high-end cinemas

Two links for today:


- Fox president and COO Peter Chernin wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal's op-ed page on Thursday. The message was that Fox understands that consumers are increasingly in control of their media, and Fox 'gets' the new technologies that underly that. In other words, nothing earth-shattering... more the equivalent of Fox character Bart Simpson writing `I understand new media' 100 times on a chalkboard. Chernin writes:


    Traditional media is not dead. In fact, our companies are leading the charge into the networked digital future. The media industry stands at the dawn of a new golden age—fueled on the demand side by ever-more discerning consumers, and on the supply side by fresh thinking, new products and oceans of new content.


    The reality is that new technology, far from being a threat, offers media companies the chance to solve an age-old problem. Our businesses were built on our ability to enlighten, entertain and educate—whether through the pages of a novel, the images on a screen, or the facts in a news broadcast. We exist to connect masses of people with compelling content. Yet throughout history, our power to achieve that mass connection has been limited by distribution constraints—prohibitive costs, hard-to-reach locations, sluggish technology, etc. Even as media companies grew and thrived, complete access to a truly global audience was long out of reach.


    Not anymore. Thanks to advances in both hardware and software, we can now reach almost anyone, anywhere, at any time, through a wide variety of devices. This new reality of ubiquitous low-cost distribution gives us more ways than ever to tell our stories and get them to an audience.


He then rattles off a list of technologies (broadband, hard-disk storage, high-def video, wireless, community, etc) that are sparking changes, and in his view leading to a new golden age for traditional media. (Of course, small media start-ups can take advantage of these technologies just as easily - if not more easily - than Fox.)


Worth a read.


- Boston Globe gadfly columnist Alex Beam travels to LA and goes to the movies at The Bridge DeLux and the Arclight. He seems pleased with the upscale strategy that some exhibitors are pursuing. Beam writes:


    Visiting the Arclight is a lot like going to what Hollywood calls the legitimate theater. You can choose your seat over the Internet; every place is reserved. Where many theaters have yappy kiddie arcades and Kong-size movie ads in the lobby, Arclight has a small, museum-like bookstore selling magazines, notions, and glossy art books.


    They don't show ads before the movie, either. Does that mean no cute Coca-Cola polar bears? ''That's right, no polar bears," says Arclight CEO Christopher Forman. ''The problem with showing ads is that people talk during the ads and that carries over to the movie." Arclight has even done away with popcorn bags. ''We've gone back to popcorn tubs so you don't hear the crinkling noises during the movie," Forman explains.


    I spent a perfectly enjoyable evening at the Arclight, quaffing the Coppola wine and ogling an exhibit of the costumes from ''Brokeback Mountain," one of my favorite movies. Blue-shirted ushers were ubiquitous, and before my movie started, an upbeat young man told us that he intended to linger in the theater for a few minutes to monitor picture and sound quality. ''We love you and we want to take care of you," were his very words. Well, this is LA, after all.

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