SOPA tweets of the day (updated)

So Obama has thrown in his lot withSilicon Valley paymasters who threaten all software creators with piracy, plain thievery.-
Rupert Murdoch
Piracy leader is Google who streams movies free, sells advts around them. No wonder pouring millions into lobbying.
Rupert Murdoch

In terms of lobbying money contributed to the SOPA/PIPA battle, the copyright owners have spent far more on lobbying than the tech industry.  News Corporation believes in strong copyright protection at all costs, but doesn’t feel that personal voice-mails are private.

In addition, the copyright owners are actively suppressing any discussion of these bills on their own media properties. For example, NBC News has had virtually no coverage of the bills but actively supports their enactment.

Update: Google’s official response to Murdoch’s claims:

This is just nonsense. Last year we took down 5 million infringing Web pages from our search results and invested more than $60 million in the fight against bad ads…We fight pirates and counterfeiters every day.

“Journalism” quote of the day

I do wish however that pundits would quit comparing the Murdoch phone-hacking clusterphuck to “a Shakespearean tragedy.” Despite the wealth, power, and magnitude of his media empire, Murdoch has no Lear depths and mind-tattered poetry; he’s a colorless king, mean and un-self-reflecting, his own chasms hidden from him. The ill he has done on several continents, the death toll from the wars his journalistic outlets have reflexively, ritualistically championed, the degradation of politics into hand-puppet psychodrama (Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, et al), cannot be undone by apologies proffered under duress. Without the exclusive about the phone hacking of Milly Dowler, he and News Corp probably would have gotten away with everything and gone smugly into the night. No, if the fall of the house of Murdoch is a tragedy, it’s the feel-good tragedy of the century. [One of the best tickers for keeping up with breaking developments in the phone-hacking clusterphuck is Eric Boehlert’s Twitter feed, where the feuding with Andrew Breitbart is lagniappe.]

James Wolcott

FBI opens probe of News Corporation

More trouble for the Murdochs:

In the U.S., the FBI opened a probe into whether employees of News Corp. might have hacked or attempted to hack into the private calls, voice-mail messages or call records of 9/11 victims or their families, according to people familiar with the investigation. The probe was opened Thursday morning, following a request a day earlier by Rep. Peter King (R., N.Y.), who heads the House Homeland Security Committee and whose Long Island district was home to many victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

It will also look into whether any News Corp. employees bribed or sought to bribe police officials to gain access to such records.

Rupert Murdoch headed for a fall

John Cassidy, writing for The New Yorker, summarizes the current state of affairs for the Murdoch family:

The question marks hang over the Murdochs, not News Corp. In the coming months, both Rupert and James will be called before a British judge to explain what they knew about phone hacking and when. The judicial inquiry that David Cameron, the British Prime Minister, announced today will be modelled on the 2003 Hutton Inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of David Kelly, the British weapons scientist who had expressed skepticism about government claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The evidence that Lord Hutton unearthed, about which I wrote a long article for the magazine, effectively destroyed Tony Blair’s reputation.


Then there is the U.S. angle, such as it is. Yesterday, Senator Jay Rockefeller, who heads the Senate Commerce Committee, called on the American authorities to determine whether phone hackers tied to News International had targeted U.S. individuals. “I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe,” Rockefeller said in a statement.

In short, the Murdochs and News Corp. are going to be besieged for months and years to come.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer family.

And while I am on the subject, one of the best places to follow developments in this story is at The Guardian‘s live political blog covering the entire mess.

Related articles

Get “The Daily” free

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 02: News Corp. CEO Rup...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife

On Wednesday, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation launched his iPad-based daily newspaper called “The Daily” [iTunes link].  The Daily is free for two weeks, and then costs $.99/week or $40/year.

But you can read The Daily (at least for now) totally free on the Web via The Daily: Indexed. Note that only text and static images are available on the web pages; video, audio and animation is available only in the iPad version.

More via the New York Times.

The dangers of media ownership concentration

You have probably read about the on-going battle between Cablevision and Fox over the fees to be paid by Cablevision to carry Fox programming in the Cablevision service area.  The resulting stand-off between the two companies resulted in Fox programming being blocked from Cablevision customers.

But for Fox that apparently was not enough. Yesterday, Fox (News Corp.) blocked all access for Cablevision Internet subscribers to and all Fox programming on Hulu.

Here’s a screenshot from columnist Seth Weintraub, taken this afternoon when he tried to watch a Fox show on the site, which is co-owned by News Corp., Disney’s ABC and GE’s NBC Universal:

News Corp.’s comment, via Fox Networks PR guy Scott Grogin: “ and Fox content on hulu is unavailable to Cablevision subscribers.”

Reportedly, the blockage has been or is being dropped by News Corp. We’ll see.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is Exhibit A showing the dangers of concentrated media ownership. When Internet access can be curtailed at the whim of a private company in order to protect its television monopoly we have crossed a line. Think about what could happen with Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal.  Supposed that the combined company offered free access to NBC programming t0 Internet subscribers of other cable companies, but blocked internet-based access to Comcast’s own customers in order to induce them to not drop cable TV subscriptions. It could happen, as described here on GigaOm:

The Comcast/NBCU merger is aimed right at competition — avoiding any series of steps that might result in having dumb (but big) pipes serving the areas where Comcast now has dominion, and avoiding having Comcast’s pipe itself made dumb. If the merger goes through as Comcast proposes, the new NBCU will have the power in Comcast’s market areas (where it routinely has a 60 percent-plus share of local pay-TV customers) to raise other pay-TV providers’ (satellite, small cable, telephone, nascent online distributors) costs of doing business substantially.

This will mean, among other things, that competing aggregators of online video who don’t have reasonable access to crucial NBCU content (particularly sports) won’t have the power to constrain Comcast’s prices. Comcast ties access to online video content it controls to a cable subscription, and Time Warner does the same thing with its content. Many of the other pay TV providers will cooperate in this plan, which goes by the nickname “TV Everywhere”. This means that independent online aggregators don’t stand a chance — because consumers will be used to getting highly-branded online video for “free” as part of their bundle from their ISP, they won’t be willing to pay for an independent service.


Imagine a big pipe coming into everyone’s house in a given market area controlled by one actor. Now imagine that you want to aim an online business – particularly an online video business – at that area. You’ll be subject to the whims of the carrier, and there will be no countervailing force to protect your ability to reach your customers. Maybe a small portion of that pipe will be reserved for traditional Internet access, but maybe not, and what’s reserved won’t be very fast or very standardized.