The news that captured my attention this week took a big media slant…

The Real Fight Over Fake News

Viacom continues to demonstrate that big media is not clueless when it comes to leveraging the internet.

Responding to obvious consumer demand, the company announced last week that “full episodes of three Comedy Central shows — ‘The Daily Show,’ ‘The Colbert Report’ and ‘South Park’ — will start being Webcast, both on MTV-owned sites and on the Fancast site from Comcast.

The New York Times technology blog notes that this move is complicated by the relationships Viacom and other cable networks have with the cable companies, who often pay significant amounts of money for the exclusive rights to shows.

Some cable companies aren’t happy. Time Warner Cable spokesman Alexander Dudley stated:

“They can’t have it both ways. If they put content they ask cable companies to pay for online for free, they are making it less valuable and we should be expected to pay less for it.”

The timing of Viacom’s move is interesting, even if coincidental.

Viacom’s $1b lawsuit over copyrighted content on YouTube is proceeding and Viacom has not ratcheted down its harsh stance. Google recently filed a response to the lawsuit.

Yet Viacom’s move to provide full episodes of the popular shows that were often uploaded illegally to YouTube demonstrates that it’s increasingly difficult to criticize media companies for shunning full digital distribution of their content.

Interestingly, the New York Times notes that:

[MTV’s] core audience is increasingly moving from watching clips on YouTube to watching full episodes on Hulu and the broadcast network Web sites.

Assuming that cable networks and cable companies can resolve their differences, the company being left in the dust going forward may just be Google/YouTube, regardless of what happens in the courtroom.

David Already Cooking on iTunes

Despite the notion put forth by digital piracy apologists that record labels are irrelevant to aspiring recording artists today, the case of David Cook demonstrates why the exposure afforded by record labels and big media is still so desirable.

Little more than a week after winning the competition, the previously unknown American Idol winner has already taken four of the five top spots on iTunes’ Top Songs list.

All told, the rocker has been the beneficiary of 942,000 downloads in just a week according to Nielsen SoundScan.

In my opinion, this serves as yet another example why most aspiring recording artists are eager and willing to deal with record labels and media companies – their promotional power can make a career almost overnight.

Digital piracy apologists argue that these artists can thrive by going direct to consumers, often giving their music away for free as a marketing tool and making money from merchandising and touring.

It sounds great and it’s a viable option for upcoming artists to attempt, but the reality is that there are lots of David Cooks out there – aspiring and upcoming artists who will not thrive without being given a high-visibility mainstream stage.

As Cook can attest to, record labels and big media still provide the biggest stage.

How to be unGoogleable

I value my privacy, as one might expect given that I’ve maintained my Drama 2.0 pseudonym since 2006.

I’m very interested in the implications of a world in which there is a decreasing amount of privacy and a reduced ability for individuals to maintain their privacy even if they want to.

As such, I was intrigued by The Times Online’s article about “How to be unGoogleable.

It discusses just how difficult it is to remove information once it’s posted online, observing that once your name gets into the search engine, removing all traces of yourself from the internet is next to impossible.

While much of the article discusses the lengths brands go to protect their reputations online, it’s the advice it gives to individuals that I think is most worth pointing out.

Noting that individuals have little control over the fact that activities they engage in can be publicized by others who are involved with them, the article concludes that the best thing is to “avoid doing anything stupid in the first place.

It’s wise advice but since it’s not always possible, I would simply add, “Mind the company you keep.

Murdoch, Zuckerberg, Yang – a summary of D6 in Carlsbad

AllThingsDigital’s D6 conference brought out the heavy hitters in the technology and media worlds.

Interesting tidbits:

  • Rupert Murdoch is “mystified” that Yahoo and Microsoft haven’t consummated a deal. The acquirer of MySpace back in 2005 for $580m, he also noted that News Corp. had explored buying Bebo a year ago for around $100m dollars. As The Guardian’s Jemima Kiss noted, this was “a comment clearly designed to rile AOL who paid $850m for it two months ago.” I love Rupert.
  • Mark Zuckerberg had another less-than-stellar interview but he appears to have a kindred soul in Jerry Yang, who apparently didn’t fare much better.
  • Apparently Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes “said they had to buy Bebo because they didn’t have the time to build their own social networking site.” Didn’t have time? What were they doing instead? Given the insanity of paying $850m, Time Warner shareholders might look back and recognize that Bewkes should have made the time.