Regulation of Distribution

by Baindu N. Saidu

Distribution refers to the means by which television programming is delivered to consumers. It is done through traditional means like Broadcast, Cable or Satellite television, or through newer means like Video on Demand (VOD), Digital Video Recording (DVR), and online Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) services like HULU Plus and Netflix.

When it comes to overseeing and regulating of these different means of mass television distribution, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is the principle government agency in charge. Its jurisdiction covers the means of mass emerging television technologies at the intersection of telephone, internet, computing, and digital signals. [1].


via the FCC website (

Several events have been ongoing during this semester related to the regulatory and legal aspects of distribution include a satellite provider, Dish’s disputes with both cable and broadcast networks, and the FCC’s ongoing plans for an incentive auction to reclaim spectrum space for wireless operators.

Dish Network vs. AMC Networks

The Networks’ dispute started years earlier with Cablevision’s lawsuit against Dish over their Voom HD channel which Dish stopped carrying in 2008. AMC was spun off from Cablevision in 2011. In April 2012, Dish notified AMC that it would drop their channels and by July, when their contract expired, Dish removed AMC Network channels AMC, WEtv, IFC, and Sundance from its lineup [2].

The companies indicated different reasons for the dispute. AMC stated that DISH dropped its programming because it wanted to gain leverage in an unrelated lawsuit involving Cablevision and their Voom HD channel [3]. DISH, conversely stated that the dispute was over “bundling,” in which big networks like AMC try to sell several of their channels, both high- and low-rated, to providers in a bundle to get a better price [4].


Image via Deadline website (

By September, Dish’s 14 million subscribers had been without any AMC channels for more than two months and feared not be able to view the season premiere of the AMC hit show, The Walking Dead, set to premiere October 14. Speaking on the dispute, Dish’s senior vice president of programming, Adam Shull stated that “The problem is they’re asking me to pay for four channels for really what is the price of three shows,” thus Dish wouldn’t be paying for any AMC shows [5].

On their part, AMC turned to social media in a quest to get their channels back on Dish, launching a YouTube video contest for angry Dish subscribers called “Hey DISH, Where’s my AMC?” [6].

The conflict would not be resolved until October 21 when Cablevision and AMC Networks settled their lawsuit with Dish Network for $700 million. The deal brought to end a dispute over whether Dish breached an affiliate agreement by terminating AMC’s Voom HD Network in 2008. At a trial that began in late September, AMC sought some $2.4 billion in damages from what it believed was Dish’s improper termination. Dish had defended itself by saying that it had the authority to cancel the Voom deal based on a contractual clause requiring Cablevision/AMC to invest $100 million per year on the channel. As part of the deal Dish also reached a new carriage agreement with AMC, bringing the network back to their lineup along with IFC, Sundance, and WEtv [7].

Dish Network’s AutoHop vs. Broadcasters

Image via Dish Network Website (

Another battle Dish Network has been involved in pertains to the AutoHop feature for its DVR systems, Hopper and Joey. Introduced in March, Autohop, an International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) Innovations 2013 Design and Engineering Award Honoree, allows users who are watching Primetime Anytime recordings to completely skip commercials. When the user starts watching a recording, they are allowed to choose whether or not to skip commercials. Users who choose to skip the commercials move from segment to segment of TV shows without having to watch the ads [8]. This feature has undoubtedly caused uproar with broadcasters, who depend on ad sales for a majority of their revenue.

In May, three of the major broadcasters (CBS, NBC, and Fox) filed suit against Dish Network in Los Angles, contending that the technology violated copyright law. Dish simultaneously filed a suit against ABC, CBS, and NBC in New York seeking a declaratory judgment affirming the legality of their technology [9].  In documents filed August 22, Fox’s lawyer argued that AutoHop was in “violation of the express terms and conditions of its contracts with Fox and federal copyright law. Both parties argued their respective points of view in front of U.S. District Court judge, Dolly Gee, on September 21 in Los Angeles. On November 6, Gee denied Fox’s request for a preliminary injunction that would shut AutoHop down. Gee, in denying Fox said, “Although Dish defines some of the parameters of copying for time-shifting purposes, it is ultimately the user who causes the copy to be made.” She also pointed out that Fox hadn’t proved there would be “irreparable damage” if no injunction was issued. Any harm to Fox, she said, could be relieved by monetary damages. The judge did agree with Fox though that Dish had likely committed copyright infringement and broken the contract between the two companies in making copies of Fox programming for alleged quality assurance [10].

On November 9, Fox filed an appeal against the denial of its request for an injunction, moving the matter from the U.S. District Court to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth District[11]. More legal action from broadcasters followed on November 24 when ABC sought a preliminary injunction from U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan federal court to also block AutoHop [12].

The broadcasters’ reason for going after AutoHop is that it “will ultimately destroy the advertiser-supported ecosystem” they depend on for revenue [13]. The networks make more than $19 billion a year in advertising, money that pays for the high cost of programming. Without advertising, network executives say, media companies would have to charge distributors three times the current rate for their signals, added costs which would be passed on to consumers. Dish, on its part, said that it believes that the AutoHop feature does not violate the networks’ copyrights. Instead, the company said AutoHop is simply an enhancement of existing ad-zapping technologies, and ultimately a matter of consumer choice [14].

FCC Incentive Spectrum Auction

Image via Cio website (

The FCC is a quasi-autonomous commission that has elements of each of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government. It is part of the group of independent regulatory agencies (see also the FAA, FTC, and SEC) [15]. In its control of television, the FCC performs several distinct functions such as rulemaking, licensing, registration, adjudication, enforcement, and informal influence [16].

Last February, President Obama signed a law empowering the FCC to buy spectrum from broadcasters wishing to give it up and then turn around and auction it to wireless broadband carriers. The FCC is working on the implementing rules for the incentive auction — so-called because broadcasters have a cash incentive to give up their spectrum [17]. They have hopes that the auction could begin as early as 2014, but have until September 2022 to conduct the sale and license the airwaves to wireless companies [18].

For the most part, full-service broadcasters with major network affiliations and newsrooms have said they have no interest in the incentive auction, preferring to hang on to their entire spectrum so they can offer new services. However, other broadcasters that are struggling see the incentive auction as a way to recoup some or all of their investments. Speculators have also entered the market, buying up marginal stations with the intention of selling their spectrum at a profit in the FCC auction [19].

Fall FCC Spectrum Auction News

  •  September 07, 2012: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski set to release the FCC’s framework for the spectrum auction with target of  having a report and order voted by mid-2013 and the auctions completed by the end of 2014 [20]. Full article.
  • October 04, 2012: Chairman Genachowski said that the FCC will exceed its 300 MHz target for freeing up spectrum, a target the commission set in  the National Broadban Plan [21]. Full article.
  • November 13, 2012: An anonymous group of broadcasters interested in selling their TV spectrum in the incentive auction created the Expanding Opportunities for Broadcasters Coalition and tapped former Fox and Disney lobbyist Preston Padden to lead their efforts before the FCC as the commission writes rules for the auction [22]. Full article.
  • December 03, 2012: FCC officials spelled out some financial options in a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP webcast, urging listeners to file comments as the commission works to write rules for the auction. The deadline for comments on its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was extended to Jan. 25, with reply comments due March 26 [23]. Full article.

With the auction yet to occur, there is more news to come. To stay updated, check out the FCC’s official website.



[1] Howard J. Blumenthal and Oliver R. Goodenough. “This Business of Television: The Stadard Guide to the Television Industry,” 3rd Ed., pg.28.












[13] [14]

[15] Howard J. Blumenthal and Oliver R. Goodenough. “This Business of Television: The Stadard Guide to the Television Industry,” 3rd Ed., pg.29.

[16] Howard J. Blumenthal and Oliver R. Goodenough. “This Business of Television: The Stadard Guide to the Television Industry,” 3rd Ed., pg.30




[20] FCC_Wants_Broadcast_Spectrum_Auctioned_by_2014.php





Program Development and Programming


A general rule in the entertainment business is that each broadcast network’s schedule is dominated by situation comedies and dramatic series. However, as time goes on, more and more other types of programming are becoming popular such as reality television. Television genres include a broad range of programming types that entertain, inform, and educate viewers. The main types of programming are dramas, comedies, reality shows, news, variety, and children shows.

Program Genres


Most networks focus on a limited number of program types, playing with elements and not creating a new form. However, smaller networks, like HBO, take chances and try to create new form.

NBC's "Smash" Trailer

On February 6th, 2012, the heavily promoted Smash premiered on NBC. Smash is an original musical drama. It premiered the night after Super Bowl XLVI. NBC sampled Smash to the public through various sources. According to , it was offered to digital download platforms including Apple iTunes, Amazon Video on Demand, Xbox/Zune, Playstation, Samsung MediaHub and Vudu beginning January 16 through February 6. From January 16 through February 6, Video on Demand partners, including parent company Comcast, offered the pilot via Set-Top-Box On Demand. In addition, January 23 through February 6, online streaming via and Hulu.

On the Set of "Scandal"

On April 5th, 2012, ABC premiered Scandal, a series created by Shonda Rhimes. Each network produces several, diverse pilots episodes every season in hopes of them succeeding and filling a time slot.



Network comedies often attract broad audiences, who are usually younger and less educated. In general, comedies are developed because they replace series that are declining in popularity. In fact, broadcast networks commit to more comedy pilots than drama pilots. Most comedies are produced in a soundstage or a studio in front of a live audience like Friends, which was the most expensive prime-time series of all time (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 214). [1]

ABC released a new comedy sitcom called Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 on April 11th as a mid-season replacement. The first two episodes were made available on and on Xfinity in the United States before the premiere on April 11, 2012. [2]



"Rob" Cast Members on CBS


Rob, a comedy produced by The Tannenbaum Company and CBS Television Studios, also was a midseason replacement. It premiered on CBS on January 12th, 2012. Although receiving some negative feedback from critics, Rob proved to have great viewership and ratings. Rob is currently on the bubble for renewal.

Reality Television

There are four main rules that the majority of reality series follow:

  1. Don’t generally involve actors
  2. May be planned, but not written in same sense as a comedy or drama
  3. Produced on location
  4. Special gimmick: something that makes the whole idea of show worth watching [1]

When comparing shows like The Real Housewives on Bravo and The Jersey Shore on MTV, reality television seems very different from drama or comedies. However, they are in fact well planned. For instance, sometimes host reads words written by producers. Also, reality series selects a cast with the same care associated with drama or comedies (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 215-216). [1]

It’s a Brad, Brad World debuted on January 2nd, 2012 on Bravo and featured Brad Goreski fromthe other Bravo hit, The Rachel Zoe Project. Reality series are so popular these days that sometimes cast members get their very own spinoff series. These shows try to target a similar audience and hope they can survive on their own.
Even Betty White hosts her own reality show on NBC called Off Their Rockers. She proves that reality television doesn’t have to only appeal to a young audience and uses senior stereotypes to basically “Punk” strangers. [3]


Years ago, it was unheard of to have news running for 24-hours. Now there are cable and broadcast networks completely devoted to the news. CNN still remains the world’s largest news organization, with over 4,000 employees worldwide. ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX all operate news divisions (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 220). [1]

"Good Morning America"

Broadcast Network news continues to fight weekly for the best ratings. Good Morning America on ABC tends to compete with Today on NBC. People are usually quite loyal to what they watch, so having a strong “front four” is necessary for more eyeballs; this includes two co-anchors, a weather reporter, and a sportscaster.

According to Nielsen ratings, Good Morning America beat Today the week of April 9, 2012, for the first time in more than 16 years (since December 4, 1995) . Good Morning America drew 5.147 million total viewers to rank number one for the week, surpassing Today, which only had 5.134 million viewers. It just so happened that Matt Lauer was off all week, which could be a reason why Today lost viewership. [4]

Sports Programming

Sports Programming Graph


The main buyers of sports programming in the United States are  FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, and Turner Broadcasting. Back in the late 80s, ABC paid an average of $147 million per year for Monday Night Football games. [1] ESPN, a sister company of ABC, presently holds coverage of Monday Night Football.

The NFL and ESPN made a deal to keep Monday night games on ESPN through the 2021 season. The new contract will pay the NFL $1.8 billion a year, a 63 percent increase from the current deal. With 17 Monday night games a year, that works out to more than $105 million a game. Starting in 2014 ESPN will pay $1.9 billion a year just for Monday Night Football games. That’s around $110 million per Monday Night Football game on cable. [6] [7]

NBC/Turner had a deal for NASCAR that was worth $1.2 billion over six years and ended in 2006. FOX Sports now holds the rights to NASCAR and proudly presents the 54th running of the Daytona 500 in 2012. [8]

"Happy Grad" Chevrolet Super Bowl Commercial

The NFL is television’s most valuable sports programming because it gets the highest ratings and most viewers (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 234-236). Football has been an American favorite pastime for decades. A super bowl ad in 2005 cost was over $2.4 million per spot. Now, Super bowl ads cost as much more. NBC charged an average of $3.5 million for each 30-second spot for this year’s Super bowl that took place on Sunday, February 5, 2012. [9]

Like many of the Super Bowl ads, most of the advertising in sports is geared to gain the attention of the male eye. Anheuser-Busch and Pepsico lead the pack of most money spent on advertising followed by General Motors, Time Warner and Walt Disney. [10]

Talk Shows/Variety

There are many diverse genres within talk shows, but most feature celebrity guests who talk about their personal lives and/or promote a project. One type of talk show combines comedy, variety, and celebrity talk like The Ellen DeGeneres Show  (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 241).

Bethenny Frankel

According to the Hollywood Reporter, it was announced on April 25, 2012 that reality star Bethenny Frankel will get a test run on her very own talk show starting June 11 on six Fox-owned TV stations. The show is called Bethenny and is executively produced by Ellen DeGeneres. Fox is a great place to launch a talk show like this because they have run a number of similar talk shows in the past with stars like Wendy Williams and Fran Drescher. [11]


Video of Kate McKinnon "SNL" Skit


Saturday Night Live, America’s longest-running weekly variety show, still in 2012 is breaking new grounds. In March, 2012, SNL announced they hired their first openly gay female cast member. Comedienne Kate McKinnon made her debut on the variety show, hosted by Modern Family co-star Sofia Vergara, on April 7, 2012. [12]

Children’s Programming/Animation

The two dominant cable networks in children’s programming are Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. The later is a force to be reckoned with in 2012 with its release of original programming.

The Legends of Korra

Nickelodeon is among the most active networks in original program development. On Saturday, April 14, 2012, the highly anticipated animated series The Legends of Korra scored a strong 4.5 million total viewers according to This made it rank as the basic cable’s number-one kids’ show and top animated program for the week with total viewers. [13]


Cartoon Network launched DC Nation in March, 2012. It is a programming that showcases the heroes of the DC Comics library. A humorous tone runs through the shorts, including S.B.F.F. (short for Super Best Friends Forever), which stars Supergirl, Wonder Girl and Batgirl who focus on “how much fun it is to be a superhero,” says producer Lauren Faust. [14]



Blumenthal, Howard J., and Oliver R. Goodenough. This Business of Television.       New York: BillBoard, 2006. Print.














Audience Measurement & Advertising

by Darren Bleckner

Audience measurement and television advertising are closely tied together. Most television networks have a duel revenue stream. They make their money from selling their network to a cable provider in exchange for a small piece of each subscriber’s monthly bill, but a bulk of their money comes from selling advertising space. In order to determine what a fair price for a commercial during a certain program should be, a trustworthy system needs to be in place that can measure who is tuning in.

Brief History of Audience Measurement and Ratings

Nielsen Logo

The Nielsen ratings, which were developed by the Nielsen Company, are television’s main audience rating system. The way in which the data is acquired has changed over time and with technology. In the 1920’s, Hooperatings simply called random households and asked what radio station they had recently heard. As television came about, houses were given diaries and were instructed to write what channels and shows they watched, but this was deemed unreliable. In the 1990’s, the People Meter was introduced. It was an electronic device that was attached to the television set and transmitted what was watched into a central database. [1]

Four times a year, during what is known as the “sweeps” period, Nielsen’s national sample  of over 2 million diaries across the country are processed in an attempt to capture the TV viewing information that provides a basis for program scheduling and advertising decisions for local television stations, cable systems, and advertisers. Nielsen’s sweeps are currently under way from April 26-May 23.[2] Despite the imperfections that come with Nielsen, it is the only data available and makes over $60 billion annually from its clients.

Advertisers look to spend their money on shows that will reach the most possible viewers that their product is targeting. Nielsen’s data determines a program’s share and rating over night. A share refers to the percentage of total viewing households whose sets were tuned to that program, it is not based on the total number of U.S. households, but upon the number of households actually watching television while the program is on the air.

Share = households turned into a particular program

               Total number of viewing households (HUT)
A rating is the percentage of television sets tuned into a particular program out of the total number of televisions in the United States. Nielsen estimates over 114.7 million television sets in the US for 2012, a surprising decline from 2011’s 115. million [3]

Rating = Households watching a particular show

                Total US television sets

Who Uses Audience Measurement and Ratings and Why It’s so Important

According to, television reaches more people a day than any other medium. [4] It’s important to invest advertising money the right way, billions of dollars are spent each year on television to promote products. Total advertising across all mediums topped $144 billion dollars. Television was once again topped all mediums with a 2.4% increase from 2010. [5]

2011 Ad Spending

A media buyer compares a program’s ratings and share as well as its rating points for a specific demographic before determining buys in television. They look to buy multiple rating points associated with their target audience. Advertisers need to know who is watching what, and use demographics of the designated market areas, as well as psychographics from sources like SRDSSimmons OneView, and MRI+ to determine which programs and networks will hit their target group. The key to successful media buying is reach and frequency. They want the most possible eyes on their commercial as possible. Currently some of the largest media buying companies are MediaComMEC, and Mindshare, which are all holding companies of GroupM.

The Future of Advertising

With ever evolving technology, the future of advertising is changing. Video streaming sites like Hulu, Netflix, and Youtube have changed how people view content. The creation of the DVR and time-shifting has allowed people to now simply skip commercials. According to Nielsen’s Spring 2012 research, 15.1% of the general population time-shifts prime time viewing. While the general population watches an hour and 15 minutes more of live television as it did this season than in 2011, it also DVR’s 7 minutes more. [7] Those loss of eyes on commercials costs advertisers and companies millions of dollars.

Television Genre Breakdown

As a result, advertisers have begun investing their money in a relatively unfamiliar territory. While television still tops all mediums with advertising spending, digital sales increased almost 6% from 2010 to 2011.

How Social Media Changed the Ad Game

Since the internet has given consumers a voice, advertisers must find a new approach to reaching the masses. While a lot of advertising agencies take the same 50 year old approach to sell a product, more and more are adapting to use the Internet and social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to spread their word. [6] Digital ads are becoming more like content instead of just print ads. They are engaging their viewers and asking them to participate. Internet/digital sales rivaled that of spot TV in the 3rd quarter of 2011.

Social Network use has gone up almost 20% since 2008 within an advertisers key demographic (18-33). Estimates say that by 2014, nearly two thirds of all Internet users will be on a social media site at least once a month. Nearly $8 billion dollars will be spent on ads on social media, and that number is excepted to double in 2013. [8]

Nielsen Media Research’s Future

Nielsen is be closer to giving advertisers what they wanted for years and it’s just in time. They have partnered with GroupM to develop a new measurement service which will merge media planning and measurement across television and internet. The “Nielsen Cross-Platform Campaign Ratings,” which is already being used to help GroupM clients, will combine Nielsen’s existing television ratings, with Nielsen’s new online campaign ratings. The measurements will show the overlap between both internet and television and will finally solve a problem posed to media buyers by calculating the reach and frequency of cross-platform campaign. [9] With the busy 2012 upfront season already underway, this technology will certainly be a key tool for both media planners and buyers as they negotiate long term deals with the networks.











TV Outside the U.S.

By Shauna Soljour


Television-The Global Sensation

The television business is both a fast-paced and expansive field to monitor. Furthermore, television outside of the United States represents a voracious industry that cannot be explicitly explored within one article. This wiki is designed to give a general overview of recent developments within the international television business during the months of January-April 2012.



In Europe, the television business has been revolutionized by the popularization of digital terrestrial television (DTT). The explosion of companies such as Freeview offering 32 channels television channels has garnered almost five million subscribers in Britain alone. This advance of television viewing challenges the current stance of analog television which represents three-fifths of the European population. Furthermore, the success of Freeview has led other European countries such as Sweden, Germany, Italy and France to join the shift to digital broadcasting.[1] This shift entitled the “digital switchover,” is proposed to be completed by the conclusion of this year. [2]

The Freeview HD Corgi Advertisement (Apr. 2011)



'Strictly Keep Dancing' screenshot

BBC Worldwide and ABC Entertainment have collaborated to launch a free online game based upon the hit television show, “Dancing with the Stars.” Entitled “Strictly Keep Dancing” this game will allow U.K. participants to live out their dreams of dancing with the stars from their home computer screen. The BBC adaption of ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars,” was re-named “Strictly Come Dancing,” in 2004 and took the U.K. audience by storm. “Dancing with the Stars/Strictly Keep Dancing” is regarded as the world’s most successful television format and remains one of the most viewed television shows in the United Kingdom. The 3-D simulation game of this popular television show attests to the multimedia integration of technology, gaming, and television.[3]

YouGov statistics show demographic changes in television viewing among the UK audience. Statistics reveal that 53% of people aged 18-24 that own a Smart TV such as BBC’s iPlayer no longer tune into scheduled programming at all. [4]



On April 19th the lower house of the Italian Parliament passed a tax bill to auction off digital television frequency by a margin of 459 in favor and 71 against. The six auctioned digital frequencies have the ability to sustain six channels each. The government estimates that the revenue from these frequencies can total between 1.5-4 billion euros. [5]

MTV Italia signed with SeaChange Broadcast Media Library for the company’s digital server, media archival and storage services. After five years of existence, MTV Italia remains one of MTV’s International networks most successful stations focusing on local programming development and maintains a weekly audience base of over 12,000,000 viewers. Furthermore, SeaChange Broadcast Media Cluster’s increased Italian market share is evident in its service to the following television companies: Mediaset, RAI, RTV38, SAT2000, TELE+, TeleRadioPace, Teleserenissima and Video Italia. [6]



French Presidential candidates Nicolas Sarkozy & François Hollande

The presidential election campaign has reinforced the role of television in France. Continuing with a tradition begun in 1974, French presidential candidates, Nicolas Sarkozy and François Hollande will engage in a debate on privatized French television station TF1 on May 2, 2012. The competition between French private and public owned stations is stiff in terms of viewer market share. As a response to the future presidential debate on TF1 the French state-owned television rival France 2 aired a program on April 26, 2012 entitled “Des Paroles et des Acte” (Words and Deeds). This program served as a segue to the future debate and as a way for France 2 to remain competitively neck-to-neck with TF1 in regards to presidential airtime programming.[7]


North America


Canadian media corporations CBC/Radio-Canada, Rogers Media Inc., and Shaw Communications Inc. partnered to establish Canadian Premium Audience Exchange (CPAX) a privatized digital inventory assessment for advertisers. The collaboration between these media companies will affect the television business in regards to advertisers’ gaining the ability to match advertising spots with specific programming in order to reach its target market. The system will pool an information database of 15,000,000 Canadians, this audience exchange system accounts for both English and French domains. This standardization and consolidation of television company privatized information allows for increased advertising efficiency.[8]




Taiwanese media mogul Tsai Eng Meng is facing government regulatory barriers in his attempt to purchase another cable network station for an estimated $2.4 billion. Meng already owns the China Times media portfolio: China Times daily newspaper, China Television Co (CTV), and the CTiTV cable news station bought for $650 million in 2008. His newest endeavor to purchase Taiwan’s China Network Systems (CNS) warrants the concern of media monopolization of the market. China Network Systems services cable to 1.18 million houses accounting for a quarter of the nation’s total viewers.[9] Meng’s 18 month wait for acquisition approval raises key questions about international media ownership-more specifically between Taiwan and China, media market monopolies, censorship, economies of scale and scope within the television business but also the larger media industry.



Standing at 2,080 feet tall, the Tokyo Sky Tree has become the “world’s tallest freestanding broadcasting structure,” only 640 feet shorter than the world’s tallest building. The Sky Tree will permit its first visitors in the month of May. Furthermore, the structure will enhance the television and radio transmission for the surrounding area. [10]

Japan's Tokyo Sky Tree

NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) functions as the only Japanese public broadcaster operating both the largest national and international television network.  Within Japan, NHK operates four high definition television channels. Of the four television channels, two are terrestrial channels and the other two are satellite channels. The international sectors of NHK’s television channels include an English channel, NHK WORLD TV and a Japanese channel, NHK WORLD PREMIUM. Both channels are being introduced to the New York television market. NHK WORLD TV is projected to be watched by an average of six million homes in the New York City area.[11]



Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev signed into existence the creation of the first ever Russian public television station on April 17, 2012. Medvedev proposed the television station bill as disjoint from state regulation. Projected to begin national broadcasting in January 2013, the station is supposed to advance beyond the constraints of Russian Defense Ministry television station, Zvezda.[12]



Aamir Khan’s Television Debut – “Satyamev Jayate” – Promo 2 ‘Entertainment Ka Matlab’

Indian Bollywood cinema star, Aamir Khan is poised to make national television history with the launch of his program Satyameva Jayate (Truth Alone Prevails). The television show will groundbreaking for several reasons: Khan is the first performer, anchor, and producer to use his stardom to launch a television program. Secondly, Khan’s program will be aired simultaneously on private television station, Star Plus and the national public television station, Doordarshan. Lastly, Satyameva Jayate is recognized as the most expensive television launch campaign in the history of Indian television in preparation for the pilot show airing on May 6, 2012.[13]


Central America

Crackle's Android Mobile App

Streaming video service, Crackle created by Sony Pictures Television is being launched in 17 different countries in Latin America. A free-service for viewers funded by commercial advertisers will air television shows as well as movies weekly.[14]


Namibia Broadcasting Corporation and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation signed into existence an agreement of digital migration. This agreement will allow for the sharing of documentary, music and cultural programming televised programming.[15] The cooperative agreement between the two countries (Namibia and Zimbabwe) warrants technological advances and transnational communication decentralization.

Middle East

Extreme Makeover: Home EditionThe Bachelorette

Reality television has revolutionized television programming in Iraq. By adapting Iraqi versions of American television programming such as: “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” and “The Bachelorette,” reality television is challenging social norms in Iraq. The Iraqi format of “The Bachelorette,” entitled “Ala al-Hawa Sawa,” (Us on Air) challenges social cultural norms by allowing women to choose a mate. Furthermore, conservative viewers were astounded by the decision of one of the contestants to refuse to commit to the institution of marriage. The growth of reality-based marks a turning point in Iraqi televised shows and the introduction of an audience basis that supports its continuation.[16]



Legal & Business Affairs

by Neph Rivera

Legal and Business Affairs

The legality behind producing any sort of television can be just as important, or even more important that the production itself. Everything must be laid out, from the length of the assignment, to location of shooting, to the wages of all the people who are going to be involved. Just like anything else involving a business relationship, there has to be legal agreements to make sure everything runs smoothly. This can include a contract that spells our requirements, the the union that makes sure its members are compensated and are done so fairly. That is the state of legal affairs today and it is absolutely the case when it comes to television.


A contract spells out everything that must be done when an agreement is made between two or more parties. This is true in no matter what aspect of business and is no different in the world of television. There can be many variations of a contract, including how it is formatted, and the way it is delivered. According to Blumenthal and Goodenough, in their book The Business of Television, normally, there are certain types of situations in which the agreement must be formed in writing. This includes, sales agreements for goods costing more than $500, contracts requiring performances over a significant period of time (a year is most common), sale or transfer of real estate contracts for marriage, and contracts of guaranty and surety. On the television side of things, verbal agreements are usual acceptable as long as there is no transfer of intellectual property. However, if rights are being transferred, then it should be put in writing.

Television is unique in that there are cases when an agreement will be made, tasks will be performed, and a broadcast could even air, but there will never be any signatures. This is known as a “Deal Memo.” In this situation, the courts will be aware that some kind of agreement did exist and they will determine what that deal was. A broad interpretation of this is referred to as reliance. As Blumenthal and Goodenough describe it, “If one party makes a verbal or written promise to another party, and knows that this other party relies on the promise, then the promise can often be enforced even in the absence of any signed contract.”

A great example of a Deal Memo is available here, on the website of the Directors Guild of America (DGA). While writers, actors, even the staff and crew could potentially have their own agreements, directors can also have a Deal Memo for their services. This form that the DGA has on its site spells out all the information one could need for their services. Their payment is spelled out, whether it is per show, per day, or per week, the length of the program they are directing, and even the budget for it. There are even different forms available for the Unit Production Manager, Assistant Director, or even those working in freelance. In the end, all issues will be spelled out, over any potential legal issues.


Speaking of protecting individuals and spelling out information when it comes to working, there is the idea of unions. All across the world, there are unions that cover transport workers, to even the umbrella organization that covers all of the unions of the United States. The television business is no different. There are several unions who have the purpose of protecting their members, making sure they are treated and compensated fairly.

The Writers Guild of America (WGA) is one of the more notable ones. Divided up into both east and west sections, it intends to protect its workers financially and creatively. According to the introduction on the WGA West website, “our primary duty is to represent our members in negotiations with film and television producers to ensure the right of screen, television, and new media writers. Once a contract is in place, we enforce it.” WGA East goes into what it does further, by spelling out the rights every member has as a member. It will represent any member that gets into a disagreement with an employer. It will also negotiate Collective Bargaining Agreements and it will also negotiate individual contracts between employees and companies. The WGA is there to look our for its members and make sure they are being treated farily.

One of the newest and most significant developments when it comes to unions has been the recent merging of two major ones. The Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists have merged, as of March 30, 2012, to create the SAG-AFTRA. The now merged union, now represents more than 160,000 professions in the world of media, including actors, announcers, broadcasters, even DJs and dancers just to name a few. The main reason to combine into one union had to do with ability to organize and bargain. According to its general information page, “One union puts us in the best position to fight the spread of non-union work. By focusing our resources and implementing a unified strategy, we can work more effectively to turn non-union work into union jobs for members.” As for its bargaining strength, it is “the key reason because that is the foundation of ALL union protection – from wages and residuals to safety and workplace protections and, of course, pention and health benefits. Merging AFTRA and SAG will increase our bargaining strength and give us more power to safeguard these vital protections.” Union representation and protection is becoming the norm, and will continue to grow in the television industry.

Looking at the contracts involved in the business of television and the union protection that is afforded to its professionals is just scratching the surface of Legal issues. One could look into the type of corporations that can exist in television, some of the legal options that exist of an agreement is breached, or even tax issues companies and individuals one can face when involved in production. The Legal aspects are far and broad reaching, with contracts and unions being two of the more significant parts.


by Danielle Abraham


During the first 30 years that Television existed, TV stations and studios were the only sources that had the proper equipment to produce programs and had the funding needed to produce.  When the 1970s arrived, portable video equipment changed the scheme of TV production by creating an alternative to studio production.  Since the emergence of portable video equipment, the capabilities and advancement of production equipment has continued to increase while the weight, cost, and maintenance demands have decreased, making production much more accessible to the general public.

The Ever Changing Production Environment

Due to this change in production equipment, the rise of cable channels occurred, which created a demand for more producers working on these shows.  Instead of there only being one producer like there used to be, there is now a staff of producers each working on different aspects of the show.  Although there are many more producers on shows today than there used to be, the size of the crews have shrunk tremendously.  According to the textbook This Business of Television, “In today’s world, three jobs become one; the director and videographer are often the same person, and the sound work is usually monitored in the camera” [1].

A major change that is being noticed more than ever today is the way that programs are distributed.  The Internet has become a vital way for producers to stay in business and to send out their work to people across the world.  In addition, Internet distribution has allowed people to operate video-on-demand services from their homes and offices, which has led to the creation of hundreds of channels that have been made specifically for the Internet.  New Century Television is an example of a production company that offers hundreds of hours of TV programming on the Internet.


Development, Production Planning, and Production

Today more than ever, there has been a great increase in the similarity of shows and concepts.  The concept of shows originates from the development phase of creating a show.  Often ideas come from observations of other shows that are doing well in the market, or they can come from completely original concepts, but in today’s production environment, many program concepts come from copycat producers who use the same concept as other shows for their own.  For example, this winter/spring, CBS has a full and successful line up of a variety of shows.  However, part of their line up included a string of shows that are all essentially the same show but with different characters, a different     location, and a little bit of humor added here and there.  The CSI series, Criminal Minds, and NCIS are all criminal investigative cop shows in which a murder or assault case is being solved.  This format works for CBS; they have continuously high ratings for these series even though they are all very similar shows.

Internationally, there has been a major boom in recent months of shows that have been copycatted.  Shows like American Idol and The Voice have become shows whose formats have been copied around the world.  Over the past few years, American Idol has been transformed into a show that every country now has their own version of.  This goes for The Voice too; The Voice originated in Holland in 2010 and since then it has been copied into American TV as well as Portugal, Germany, and even Korea as of this winter [2].

As production technology and equipment continue to become more advanced, TV studios have been engaging more and more in the use of new and exciting production methods.  Also, because of this advancement in technology, producers and directors from the film world have started to venture into the television world because of its evolving attractiveness.  With new technology and popular film directors working in television, there comes a great increase to the cost and budget of television production.  The pilot of Terra Nova, for example, a sci-fi show that was on FOX, cost close to $20 million because of the special effects it called for, such as the use of dinosaurs as a main aspect to the show.  In addition, the show was produced by Steen Spielberg, which made the show even more costly [3].

On-location shooting is a factor that also has made scripted TV productions soar in costs.  Many producers and writers believe that their audiences are attracted to shows that take you away to a foreign, unfamiliar land or to a mysterious jungle.  There have been many shows recently that have really taken advantage of the ability to shoot in other countries and on unfamiliar land.  These decisions make shows more costly to produce and can sometimes create major problems for networks if the show flops.  Terra Nova, The River, and Alcatraz are all recent shows that did not do well at all in the seasons they premiered in, despite the unique setting that they were shot in such as Australia, Hawaii, and the island of Alcatraz.  A lot of money was put into these shows in order to film at these spots, but the shows did not do well and some even got cancelled, but this is a risk producers must take in order to stay on top of the production game [4].

Although there have been experiments with costly shows like Terra Nova and The River recently, reality TV has become and continues to become a truly successful form of TV production during this day in age [5].  This is simply because it is much cheaper to film non-celebrities whether it be in their own homes or on a stage.  Brian Stelter of The New York Times supports this by saying, “The shows [reality shows] can cost as little as $200,000 for a half-hour episode, compared with the $1 million or more typical for hour-long scripted shows” [6].  Shows like The Bachelor and The Biggest Loser do not cost very much to produce and yet they yield large audience ratings and audience viewers who are loyal to the shows.


The Future of Television Production

As previously mentioned, the Internet has become a very large force in our society and is dragging television into it’s pull.  TV programming is showing up on the Internet at new levels every day.  Websites such as HBO GO, Netflix, and Hulu are all formats that are constantly creating new ways to become more easily accessible to their customers.  These sites are also beginning to produce their own shows in order to create loyal customers and attract new ones too.  They are also doing this so that they can gain revenue on their own shows and not just shows bought from networks.  In February, Netflix launched its own original series called Lilyhammer which was available to watch on Netflix’s website.  Also, CBS has recently been in talks with Netflix about producing a show for them to have only on their website.  By creating this partnership, CBS would be making extra dollars and would be expanding their reach across the Internet by having their name on a Netflix show, and Netflix would have the advantage of having a successful studio produce their show [7].

Just this January, Hulu announced that it would be producing its own original series called Battleground in order to expand its name and content across the Internet [8].  The creation of TV shows by online video service sites is a completely new occurrence in the world of production today.  It was only a few years ago that these sites were just showing up on the Internet.  The idea of these services creating their own programming is exciting for them, however, this could cause major problems for network TV as their audiences might start only watch online videos created by these sites.  Will Netflix and Hulu original programming become so popular they could damage the success of the “television” industry?  Or will these sites fail at these experiments, giving way to networks and cable TV to take the lead away from the Internet?  Only time will tell…




1. Howard J. Blumenthal and Oliver R. Goodenough, The Business of Television, 2006.









Broader Definition of Television

by Kaleigh Platt

Public Television
The world of Public Television has experienced some terrific recognition in the past couple of months from the rest of the television world.  Beginning back in mid January, PBS’ hit show ‘Downtown Abbey’ received a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television.  This series, in its second season, premiered with an average of 4.2 million viewers, doubling the average PBS primetime rating, according to Nielsen Company information.  In late January, the Producers Guild honored three PBS shows.  ‘Masterpiece,’ ‘American Masters,’ and ‘Sesame Street’ each won the award in their respective categories.  Masterpiece’s ‘Downtown Abbey’ David L. Wolper won Producer of the Year in Long-Form Television; Susan Lacy and Julie Sacks were named Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television for their efforts on ‘American Masters’ and ‘Sesame Street’ won the Children’s Programs award, one of four new categories added this year.  PBS’ children’s programs continued to be recognized this Spring when PBS Kids and its programming won five Kidscreen Award in early February.  Included in these awards, PBS Kids was named the Channel of the Year and was also recognized as Best Integrated Promotion for its launch of ‘The Cat in the Hat Knows All About That!’ a teaching initiative. Additionally, in late January PBS’ Independent Lens, which creates Independent Documentary Films,  had four films receive documentary awards at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.  “The House I Live In” received the Grand Jury Prize.  The winning films are confirmed for future broadcasts on public television.

February saw even more awards rolling in for PBS and its programs.  ‘Page Eight’ won the American Society of Cinematography Award for Television Move/Miniseries.  Martin Ruhe is the celebrated cinematographer.  Just a short time later in mid February, five PBS programs were awarded Writers Guilds Awards.  PBS’ iconic ‘Frontline’ series won a total of four awards itself and ‘Better This World’ took home the award for Documentary Screenplay.  In all, PBS programming was nominated for 18 awards.  At the end of the month, these two programs also were winners of the 2012 Film Independent Spirit Awards.   Each had a documentary receive an award.  Continuing with award season, PBS also received 13 International Wildlife Film Festival Awards.  The films will be honored in early May in Montana.  ‘Nature’ had two episodes recognized, “Broken Tail: A Tiger’s Last Journey” and “My Life As a Turkey” each received four awards, including “Best of Festival,” awarded to “Broken Tail.”  Additionally, ‘Bones of Turkana’ received three awards.  On April 4, the Annual Peabody Awards announced that PBS was honored with seven wins, more than any other organization.  However, other public media groups also won an additional six awards.  As a whole, public media received more than a third of the total awards.  On April 12, PBS Kids won eight Parents’ Choice Television Awards.  ‘Electric Company,’ “Sid the Science Kid,’ ‘Design Squad,’ ‘Sesame Street,’ and Sesame’s ‘Growing Hope Against Hunger’ special were awarded Gold Awards.

In effort to continue being relevant in the digital age, PBS has taken initiative to be present on iPhones and iPads with custom apps.  In early February, PBS announced they would be celebrating the 108th birthday of Dr. Seuss, on-air, online and on mobile.  Through the PBS Kids Video app for iPad, iPhone and iTouch, kids could watch featured episodes of ‘The Cat in the Hat-a-Thon.’  This was an extremely anticipated multi-media event.  Later, in mid February, an exclusive premier of the first hour of ‘American Experience, Clinton’ aired on the free PBS apps for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, a week before its broadcast on Presidents’ Day.
A huge nationwide event occurred in early March for PBS.  In congruent efforts, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting launched educational apps the low-income areas.  Their mission is to help bridge the ‘app gap’ that exists between classes that can afford new technologies such as computers, smartphones and tablets.  The learning apps will be downloaded onto devices underserved families will have access to in local Head Start centers.  This will increase access to educational mobile content for children in these low-income families.
On March 29, the first app of the PBS Kids Go! Series was announced by PBS and WGBH.  The app, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and produced by WGBH, encourages nutritious snaking for young kids.  Lesli Rotenberg, Senior Vice President for Children’s Media of PBS, commented “PBS is committed to helping kids learn and grow through healthy food choices.”  PBS was recognized for its efforts on the Internet in early April.  The Webby Awards honor excellence on the internet and are presented by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences.  PBS and its producers were nominated for nine awards and another ten were selected as nominees.  The winners were announced May 1, 2012.  ‘Sesame Street’ received two awards for and ‘Religion & Ethics Newsweekly’ received an award for  In further attempt to bring together education and technology, PBS’ Teacherline, has updated two of its online courses for educators.  It offers professional development for K-12 educators and implementing the role of technology in the class room.  The courses offer digital learning strategies and and tools that can be immediately applied in the class room, to increase student achievement.

PBS also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Titanic with three new programs scheduled for early April.  Each program is intended to provide a unique insight and point of view into the disaster.  They range from historic details, to dramas, to personal reflections and the science of it all.  PBS believes this to be an event to be able to dive deeper into the untold stories and challenges that arose.  Americans and the rest of the world together can have another chance to explore the sunken memories and shed new light on the tale.

Public Television has had significant recognition since the beginning of the year.  Their many awards have ranged from documentaries to miniseries to children’s programming, from a variety of well-respected sources from Golden Globes to the Sundance Film Festival.  It has gained further respect from the broadcast television industry.  Furthermore,  it is a leader in innovative education and bringing together communities, families and teachers for the betterment of education.  All of these events and actions supports its mission to provide the public with quality television and content that educates, informs and inspires.


Big Media – Right Here, Right Now

by Jake Hebert


Rampant technological growth, government interaction, social change, and the growth of local and national businesses have all led to a media industry dominated by enormous media companies.  The days of the mom and pop media enterprise are gone.  Today’s media companies reach across all areas of communication.  Geographic and continental barriers are no longer obstacles for big media companies looking to evolve in to worldwide global players.  As the industry becomes more competitive, more big media companies feel the need to own a share of every piece of the media puzzle: broadcast, cable, digital, production, film, local media, newspaper, etc.  These big media companies own and operate many smaller subsidiaries, and some are subsidiaries of even larger parent corporations (see Major Players below).  These large media companies generally fall under the same monopoly jurisdiction of other U.S. corporations, but as these organizations move in to a global setting, regulation becomes more complicated (see Global Glimpse).


The primary revenue source for big media companies is advertising.  According to Ad Age, spending amongst the nation’s leading national advertisers surged 8.8% in 2010.  Previously, due to an economic downturn and uncertain global climate, 2009 spending

Ad Spending surged 8.8% in 2010

Source: Ad Age

dropped 10.2% in the sharpest drop since Ad Age began the ranking in 1956.2  Big media companies provide access to target consumers for many of the world’s largest consumer product companies.  In some cases (like in that of General Electric and NBC), the consumer product companies own, or are in the same network of companies as the media company.

The close relationship between advertisers and big media companies has forced the government to keep close tabs on big media news organizations.  For the most part however, these companies remain objective on big issues, and leave investigative journalism to the local level markets.  Overall, big media news outlets stick to reporting on general human-interest stories, pop culture, politics, and worldwide weather.


A company’s brand is essential to marketing a network and its programming to viewers and advertisers.  A company’s brand must be consistent, it must be universal, and in order to become popular, it must be fun (see MTV below).1  A company’s logo and identity are one in the same under that companies brand.  In the U.S. media’s early stages, brand identification and marketing were simple.  The major players, CBS, ABC, and NBC each had their own logo and own brand identity within the company.  News programming, sitcoms, logos, and sounds (like NBC’s chimes) contributed to setting each of the three major networks apart.

Video: Recreation of NBC’s Famous Chimes

Before the 1980s, television branding was generally limited to some local station identities, names of shows, the names of stars appearing on those shows, and larger network identities.  In 1981, MTV changed all that by introducing a logo that was fun.  MTV was all about attitude and identity and it showed in its logo.

The Original MTV Logo4

Source: Manhattan Design

The MTV logo jumped out of the cable realm.  It appeared on jackets, tee-shirts, and other merchandise that penetrated the lives of viewers off of the screen.  MTV truly turned their brand in to a source of equity.  Years later, Nickelodeon expanded on MTV’s “fun brand” model.  Nickelodeon’s logo was not a logo at all, but a series of white text placed over its signature “orange.”  This orange was transformed in to different shapes, sizes, and dimensions.  This fun and outside-the-box logo reinforced similar traits in Nickelodeon as a brand.  Nickelodeon and MTV understood how to stand out in a world with hundreds ,and now thousands, of channels and logos available.  Only a few more have done the same with such success.

Although merchandise is a brand’s most prominent form of equity, the brand alone holds value beyond products.  Bloomberg Business Week ranked MTV the 52nd most valuable brand in the world in its 2008 list of the Top 100 Brands.3  They value MTV’s brand at over $7 billion (up from a cool $6 billion in 2004).  In order to stay relevant and profitable, brands are constantly reinventing and reinvigorating themselves.  In an ever-faster growing marketplace, it is not uncommon for companies to rebrand themselves every several years.




American entertainment and media company with ventures in entertainment, news, theme parks, and information products and services.  The merger of GE’s NBC and Vivendi’s Vivendi Universal Entertainment in May 2004 formed NBCUniversal as it exists today.  NBCUniversal’s merger with Comcast was completed in January 2011.  The sale was approved pending release of control over online video site, Hulu.  NBCU’s logo redesign in 2011 shed NBC’s peacock and Universal’s globe for a purple text-only logo.

The text-only NBCUniversal Logo

Source: NBCUniversal

  • Founded: 2004 (as a result of NBC and Universal merger).
  • Headquarters: GE Building & 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY.
  • Parent:  Comcast (51%), General Electric (49%).
  • Divisions: NBC, Universal Pictures, Focus Features, NBCUniversal Television Group, NBC News, NBC Sports Group, USA Network, Syfy, Chiller, G4, CNBC, MSNBC,,, iVillage, PictureBox Movies, Bravo, qubo, Telemundo Television Studios, The Weather Channel, ShopNBC, Hulu, A+E Networks, TV18 (India).

Source: 5

The Walt Disney Company:

The largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue.  An American-based mass media company commonly referred to as simply, Disney.  They are best known for their films under the Walt Disney Motion Pictures division.  Disney owns and operates the ABC broadcast television network as well as ventures in theme parks, radio, music, publishing, and online media.  Disney merged with ABC in 1996 bringing all ABC assets such as ESPN and A&E under the Disney name.  Disney acquired its former partner, Pixar, in 2006, and then Marvel Entertainment in 2009.  Disney’s Shanghai resort is slated to open in 2015.

The Walt Disney Company Logo

Source: Disney

  • Founded: 1923 (as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio).
  • Headquarters: Burbank, CA.
  • Divisions: Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group, Disney Music Group, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Disney Interactive Media Group, Disney Consumer Products, Walt Disney Pictures, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Theatrical, Walt Disney India Ltd., Pixar Animation Studios, Marvel Entertainment LLC, ABC Inc., ESPN Inc., A+E Networks, Radio Disney, Hulu, UTV Software Communications.

Source: 6


Viacom, a combination of the phrase “visual & audio communications,” is an American mass media company concentrated in cinema and cable.  Viacom operates approximately 170 media networks reaching more than 600 million global subscribers and more than 500 branded digital media properties.  In 1985 Viacom bought Warner-Amex Satellite Entertainment, who at the time owned MTV and Nickelodeon, and in 2001 completed the purchase of BET along with many other acquisitions in the 1980s through the 2000s.  In 2005, Viacom and CBS split in to two different publically traded entities.  From 2007-2010, Viacom spearheaded a battle against YouTube regarding copyright infringement (YouTube parent Google was deemed protected under the Digital millennium Copyright Act).

Viacom Logo

Source: Viacom

  • Founded: 1971 (as Viacomm under CBS).
  • Headquarters: One Astor Plaza, New York, NY.
  • Parent: Owned in majority by National Amusements, Inc.
  • Divisions: MTV Networks (Nickelodeon, MTV, CMT, Palladia, Comedy Central, Logo, Spike, VIVA), BET Networks, Paramount Pictures Corporation, Viacom 18 (India), Neopets, Atom Entertainment (more).

Source: 7

Time Warner:

The second-largest media conglomerate as of 2010 (behind Disney).  The company AOL Time Warner was created in 2000 when AOL purchased the then-small company.  After some internal conflict, the AOL name was dropped and hands changed in 2005.  In 2006, TimeWarner announced its role in the creation of a new network, the CW.  The network is the result of a merger of The WB Television Network (a Time Warner holding) and UPN (a CBS Corporation holding). CBS Corporation and Time Warner each own 50% of the network.  Time Warner Cable detached itself from Time Warner in 2009.  Time Warner reserves itself for film and television production, publishing, and cable, whereas Time Warner Cable is dedicated strictly to cable systems operations.

TimeWarner Logo

Source: TimeWarner

  • Founded: 1989 (as Warner Cable Communications).
  • Headquarters: 10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY.
  • Divisions: HBO, Turner Broadcasting (Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, TBS, TNT, TCM, HLN, CNN, and affiliated websites and production companies), Warner Bros., Time Inc. [more]).

Source: 8

News Corporation:

As of 2011, News Corporation is the second largest media corporation in the United States in terms of revenue.  As of 2009, it is the third largest in regards to entertainment.  The company’s chief executive is the notable Robert Murdoch.  News Corporation is a publicly traded company listed on the NASDAQ, with secondary listings on the Australian Securities Exchange.  Originally created as a holding company for Murdoch’s News Limited, the News Corporation now holds ventures in television, film, production, publishing, print, internet, and broadcast.  News Corporation faced scandal in both 2011 and 2012 after allegations of hacking for the benefit of tabloid news had surfaced.

News Corporation Logo

Source: News Corporation

  • Founded: 1979 (Australia, 2004 in the US).
  • Headquarters: New York, NY.
  • Divisions: 20th Century Fox, Fox Searchlight Pictures, FOX and its partners, FX, several European networks, and many internet and Magazine endeavors [more])

Source: 9



Below the major players in the big media market are many smaller (but by no means small) “big media” companies.  These companies often merge, split, are acquired, and change hands.  This is an extensive, but not exhaustive list. 1

  • Discovery Communications.

    ION Media Logo

    Although smaller than major players, companies like ION Media are still considered "Big Media." Source: ION Media

  • E.W. Scripps.
  • The Hearst Corporation.
  • Belo.
  • Bertelsmann.
  • Cablevision.
  • Cox Enterprises.
  • Clear Channel Communications.
  • Gannett.
  • Landmark.
  • The Tribune Company.
  • The Washington Post Company.
  • ION Media Networks.



Due to their sheer size and the seamless movement of programming in to the digital sphere, big media companies are becoming global entities.  Most of the larger companies listed above have outgrown the traditional model for national companies and play a direct role in the delivery of television around the world.  This global scope becomes a challenge for lawyers and executives, as they must juggle varying regulations in finance and law across international borders.  Even more challenging than regulation of programming is censorship of programming in nations of controlled liberalization such as China.  Although it makes for good news, foreign conflict over censorship is every big media company’s worst nightmare.  The more global these companies become, the more regulation they must take in to consideration. 1


  1. Blumenthal, Howard J., and Oliver R. Goodenough. This Business of Television: Revised and Updated Third Edition. New York: Billboard Books, 2006. Print.


by Caroline Ensler


Most programs in the early days of television were borrowed network radio, which was the precursor to television.  In the early 1950’s television started to develop a programming genres of its own including the “spectacular” and magazine-style formats such as Today and 60 Minutes. At this point in time, one single advertiser usually sponsored a full program.  Quiz shows also gained popularity in the 1950’s and still remains a popular today.  Many of these quiz and game shows are precursors to the reality programs that are so prevalent today.  In 1961 FCC chairman Newton Minow called television “a vast wasteland” which caused producers to experiment with more adventurous and unique programming. The early 1970’s saw the rise of realistic situation comedies such as All In The Family.  The 1980’s brought about the rise of cable networks with more niche programming models.  The specialization of cable was specifically appealing to advertisers who could now reach a more targeted demographic

Ad Sales and Upfronts

Ad sales are a major source of revenue for a television program.  The average 30 second spot for the 2012 Super Bowl cost $3.5 million.

With the television network upfronts currently going on and some still approaching, Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente predicts another strong year.  He estimated that the broadcast upfront revenue would increase 4.3% and the cable upfront revenue would rise 6.3%.  Both of these numbers reflect a weaker growth than last year.  Those numbers would bring the upfront primetime ad sales for the broadcast networks to $9.49 billion which is a new record high.  The cable channel total is expected to be $9.88 billion, outperforming the broadcast networks which is extremely important to note.

Some highly anticipated pilots this season include:

  • Carrie Diaries (The CW): From Josh Schwartz, executive producer of The O.C. and Gossip Girl, comes a show that chronicles Carrie Bradshaw’s coming of age in the 1980’s when she asks her first questions about love, sex, friendship and family while exploring the worlds of high school and Manhattan.
  • Gilded Lilys (ABC): From Shonda Rhimes, the producer of Grey’s Anatomy, comes a show is set in 1895 New York City and follows the opening of the first luxury hotel in the city and all the intermingling of love, treachery and disdain between the classes.
  • Untitled Serial Killer Project (FOX): From Kevin William, the executive producer of Vampire Diaries, Dawson’s Creek and the Scream franchise, comes an edge-of-the-seat thriller about a diabolical serial killer who uses technology to create a cult of serial killers, and the FBI agent who finds himself in the middle of it. Kevin Beacon is attached to star.

Alternative Channels

According to Variety, Virgin Produced, the film and television division of Richard Branson’s company announced in April that they would be launching a TV channel on their airline Virgin America. 

Virgin Produced is programming and producing its own slate of original content.  The content will all be short-form, similar to what is seen on web series channels such as YouTube.  The original programming has already started to air on the Virgin America, and will soon be joined by content from partners such as Ben Stiller’s Red Hour Digital, Will Ferrell, Chris Henchy, Judd Apatow and Adam McKay’s Funny or Die, Seth Green and Matthew Senreich’s Stoopid Monkey, Steven Schneider and  Virgin will have the exclusive airline rights to the properties.  The Virgin programming will be broken up until three bocks: life, laugh and loud.  The content will be refreshed every month.  It will also feature some longer-form programming such as documentaries.

Costs of Production

Production companies must handle a fair amount of cash in order to operate.  The largest budget line item on a show is staff.  The cost of producing a pilot also adds risk.  Producers want to spend money making a pilot look good, but this investment can only be recouped if the show is not only picked up, but is also successful.  If the pilot does not get picked up the cost is absorbed by the network and/or the studio’s development budget.

Smash which debuted on NBC on February 6th is produced by Steven Spielberg and stars Katherine McPhee of American Idol fame.  The budget for this show is pegged at $3.5 million per episode, with the pilot costing a reported $7.5 million. This is extremely high for a freshman series, but the show’s producers have a proven track record of success.

Program Sales

The major broadcast networks are: ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX and The CW.  A majority of primetime programming on these networks come from production companies that are affiliated with the television division of a motion picture studio.  The typical format for primetime is a combination of one-hour dramas and half-hour comedies.

Programs produced for local market syndication are usually talk shows.  Regis Philbin’s last appearance on Live! With Regis and Kelly was on November 18th, 2011.  The show was renamed Live! With Kelly and continued with different guest hosts until a permanent co-host is selected.  The show expects to find a permanent host by May 2012 sweeps.



Regulation of Distribution

by Carli Blau

This new broadband era that we have now entered is creating a bit of a struggle for the government as it is trying to keep up. While the Internet is currently a neutral space and lacking in regulation, companies are beginning to realize that there may need to be some regulation. The government is also looking to regulate the net. This is called Net Neutrality. It is going to be a very interesting topic in the months to come because large cable companies are pushing for the net to be split, while the FCC and other small internet service providers want to keep the net neutral.  With the Internet being such a big part of distribution of TV, it will eventually have to be regulated somehow, the question to think about is how we are going to do it?

The Senate’s Commerce Committee recently held a hearing to discuss the future of TV and where it thinks it is going. According to the Senate’s Commerce Committee, TV is going to be found in deregulation. “The proposed act deals primarily with deregulating the broadcast industry to eliminate some required coverage mandates and to allow broadcasters to negotiate retransmission rates with pay TV providers just like cable programmers such as ESPN or AMC do.”

The biggest issue of this hearing was the relationship between TV and broadband and how intertwined the relationship is at this point in time. With consumers able to get whatever they want through selection of broadband products, distribution companies, etc., they are not going to settle for paying more than they have to. Therefore, the fight is now going to be all about who has the most power in regards to customers, the broadcast industry or online companies that are planning to distribute television programming all over the internet. [Gigaom]

The scary thing that is going on right here, right now is that TV used to be the biggest storyteller, and while it still may be, it is the Internet that has become the biggest platform for all services. Rather than television being the go-to place for information, the internet is now the place for everything, including TV which has now become just another part of it all. This is going to give the upper hand to online TV distributors, but will definitely challenge and test the relationship between TV distributors and their customers, along with the relationship between customers and the actual TV screen.

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Executives from News Corporation, NBCUniversal, the Walt Disney Company and the National Association of Broadcasters met with some officials from the FCC because they are not too fond of the proposed public interest rules that would make the amount of money that political candidates are paying for TV advertising. Currently there are rules in questions that would mandate that these big TV networks share their details about politial programming, including how much the candidates are paying to run advertising. The networks are collectively saying that, “[C]ompetitors in the market and commercial advertisers may anonymously glean highly sensitive pricing data, which, by law, will represent the lowest rates charged by the station to its most favored commercial advertisers,” adding that they were “[O]pen to discussing other options for keeping sensitive rate information out of the online public file.” [TVNewser]

Another interesting point here is that other distributors aside from television are not mandated to disclose their political information, yet these networks may have to. Despite what the networks had to say however, the FCC mandated the posting of political files online. If everything is moving online, it is only fair that political files be put online for the pubic to see and have access too. This is where the relationship between broadcast and television is becoming so intertwined that it is causing more problems than good for regulators, since they are not quite sure how to handle the relationship just yet.[TVNewsCheck]

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The FCC is dealing with a lot concerning the new relationship between television and the internet, it seems as though this relationship has caused quite an uproar as many people are not quite sure of how to handle it. The F.C.C. bars the use of airwaves that were originally reserved for satellite-telephone transmissions because it says it will interfere with GPS technology. The airspace is currently being inhabited by the GPS devices, and thus far, there is no way to efficiently deal with potential interference. [NYTimes]

The problem we’re going to see more of in the near future is the regulation of space, airwaves and internet servie especially with everything becoming so intertwined with one another. Everyone is concerned with how to please the customers and give them what they want, but if we continue to see regulations, companies are going to be faced with problems.

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According to, the NAB asked the FCC to “liberalize local media ownership limits and not to impose new restrictions on contractual arrangements under which stations in a market share resources or operate in tandem.”   The NAB argues that the FCC should allow common ownership of two TV stations in more markets, particularly because of the mergers that have occurred, and different distribution platforms. “The NAB contended that such arrangements should not be restricted. They “do not threaten licensee control over operations and programming decisions, which are the core principles underlying the FCC’s attribution policies,” it said. “In fact, sharing arrangements advance the FCC’s localism and diversity goals by facilitating the provision of local news and other programming.”

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Verizon recently announced that it is going to sell portions of its spectrum in a number of major markets for its purchase of spectrum but there is a debate concerning whether or not the sale is a plot for approval of cable deals. People are assuming that they decided to sell portions of the spectrum because of issues with the Federal Communications Commission. This also brings light to the current question of whether or not there is actually a spectrum crisis. Verizon’s deals for spectrum “included joint marketing agreements with SpectrumCo (an entity owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks), Cox and Leap Wireless.  Those deals are currently under review by the FCC and the Department of Justice and was the subject of a recent hearing before the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee. ” [AdWeek]

The FCC took a big step recently by shifting a large piece of the spectrum from TV broadcast to wireless broadband. “It unanimously approved rules allowing TV stations to share channels while retaining must-carry and other rights that come with owning a full channel.” The FCC made this decision with the hopes that weaker stations will be encouraged to double up on their channels, turn over their spectrum space to the FCC and participate in other “incentive” auctions. One of these auctions is the commission said it would recover up to 120 MHz or 40% of all TV spectrum. Interestingly enough, many broadcasters are not interested in giving up spectrum. [TVNewsCheck]

Things to keep an eye on in months to come is the spectrum scarcity crisis, does it exist and what are the FCC and other broadcast distributors and networks going to do about it, we’ll just have to wait and see.