Archive for the ‘Media convergence’ Category

Here’a s package I made for SBS News this week on changes to Google’s privacy rules, including the response from the Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim. A slight rushjob – had a Skype interview set for 16:30, two hours before deadline – but was more or less ditched for the ABC. That threw me a little; but I made deadline, yo.

This is a blog I originally wrote for SBS News

Modern sport means big business.

Long gone are the days when a few cents got you in the stadium to cheer on your team of part-time amateurs, who did it for love, in their spare time. Well, I’m not sure when it only cost a few cents. But just take a look at England’s bloated Premier League to see where money gets you.

Here in Australia, our sports are not as affected by the big bucks. For starters, noone else is really that interested in our multiple codes of football; even we can’t seem to agree on one.

But selling the rights to NRL and AFL football matches is certainly big money in local terms. And for the last few decades, it’s been all about TV rights.

With the latest landmark case, however, mobile streaming technologies are the new battleground.

Telstra’s deal with the AFL is worth $153 million. Well, strictly speaking it cost them $153m; what it’s worth is another matter entirely.

Nonetheless, the fact that Optus customers are able to watch the big matches just a few minutes behind their screening on terrestrial TV is obviously a  concern for Telstra, and thus came the court case.

And it was Optus that won this landmark proceeding against the AFL, NRL and Telstra in relation to its TV Now service. The app enables Optus user to  watch TV shows just a few minutes after they’ve gone to air (whether it should be called ‘TV just after’ is up for debate), and obviously,  there’s value in this for sports fans.

But value is what drives sports broadcasting rights. Why pay big money for mobile rights to a game if it’s not exclusive?

The judge in the case said it was not Optus making the ‘recording’, it was the individual who was ‘shifting’ their viewing, so 2006 amendments  to the 1968 copyright act held.

“Even though Optus provided all the significant technology for making, keeping and playing the recording, I considered that in substance this was no different to a person using equipment or technology in his or her own home or elsewhere to copy or record a broadcast”, he said.

So, even though the recording was done in the cloud, it’s the same as using your VCR to tape your favourite show; no copyright breaching here.

Naturally, there are big implications for sports. How can sports bodies establish a value for internet rights with rulings like this?

The football codes say they are likely to appeal, but, of course, victory is not guaranteed.

“If it ultimately is held, what will the major sporting codes do in response given sales of mobile rights is becoming an important revenue stream?” asked Ian Robertson, a Managing Partner at Holding Redlich lawyers.

“Running these sports is an expensive operation.”

And he’s right. You only have to look at the AFL’s recruitment of former NRL star Israel Folau. $4.3m was coughed up for a three-year deal. The average AFL player is set to earn over $300,000 a year by 2016,according to The Herald Sun.

Sport is becoming more, and more of a business. They’ll always be looking for new revenue streams.

It’s a vicious circle. A more entertaining match requires more money to fund it. But ultimately, that money comes from sports fans, with higher ground fees and ever bigger broadcasting deals, via whatever medium. Tack on to that more charges to watch and more Burger King advertising in your life (‘the Whopper has also celebrated being the Official Burger of the AFL ‘). Fantastic. Give me the leagues of 50 years ago.

In the strange universe of English football, television revenue has gone hand in hand with the fortunes of Russian oligarchs and Gulf Sheikhs to transform the league beyond recognition, catapulting average teams to the top of the league. Manchester City? Are you joking? A generation of  millionaires created while working fans cough up small fortunes to watch games in the stadium or at home.

Money has brought the world’s stars together to create beautiful football – but how much more beautiful, and bloated – can it get?

While we’re not there yet in Australia, for Ian Robertson, should the AFL and NRL not be victorious against Telstra in protecting their new cashflow portal – your mobile handset – there’s likely to be a knock at the government’s door.

“Sponsorship and sales is a very important part of their revenue stream…the question is what are they going to do about it? I’d say they’re likely to lobby the government”, he told SBS.

In the unlikely event that this new revenue stream is not protected for the money machine that is professional sport, revenue will be hit.

But you know what? I’m pretty sure those players aren’t going to go hungry any time soon.

They’re up to their necks in official burgers, for starters.

My interest in the Arab world has grown massively this year. I guess I’m not the only journalist saying that- who could fail to be inspired (or at the very least intrigued) by events across the region. We took a trip to Syria (pre-chaos), I’m learning Arabic, and I also have further trips in mind. Below are a couple of pieces of work I’ve put together for SBS in the last month.

First, a map of the year’s developments, using the finicky (but free) Tableau software. It’s hard to get interactive multimedia going in online news without spending any money, but Tableau, if you can get your head around it, is ok; yet not ok enough, it seems, to want to get interactive via the embed code on this blog.  For full interactivity, check it out here. Next, a wrap of the year’s events, with outcomes and approximate death tolls which I’m quite proud of, as it goes into some real depth; every Arab country, from Algeria to Yemen, and not just those which successfully ditched a despot. Here’s a link to that one.

Finally, a slideshow I put together using some of the best agency pics of the year put to a friend’s music. In lieu of visiting the region, a nice multimedia wrap to end the year.

And I almost forgot – a cheeky exclusive on the first woman to cast a vote in an election following the Arab Spring – anywhere – when a Tunisian woman from Sydney cast her vote down here in Australia. Who says nothing happens in Canberra?

Enhanced by Zemanta

I have a new blog feed-  or collection of thought processes – over at SBS News, my employer. I’m posting mostly on technology and media issues, including the changing landscape we all find ourselves in as we migrate from paper to digits. More inkybinary stuff, perhaps. Most recent posts include the UK getting ‘in a Twitter’ over free speech, microblogging and Ryan Giggs, as well as the rise of Google’s Android.

Here’s a link.

Here’s a news inspired Google map of the political unrest in the Arab world.

A few weeks back, Australia was inundated by severe flooding in many different areas. This was a busy time for us at SBS news. To best tell the story, I was updating a Google map each day – first ‘Queensland Floods’, and then spreading to incorporate northern NSW and Victoria. It turns out, people LOVE this kind of visual storytelling. I was aware of them as a useful tool, but the article it was embedded in has done amazingly well for us as a news site, and exceeded all expectations. Amazingly well.

As such, I came up with another on due to the ongoing civil unrest in the Arab world. First in Tunisia (as we were quick to publish at SBS, leading in to a special coverage minisite with updates from Brian Thomson in Cairo backing up agency copy), then of course notably in Egypt, but also elsewhere in the region. Publishing online news articles on a protest in Egypt or a self-immolation in Mauritania can only go so far in telling the story, so visuals do the job well. Some would say viewers are lazy. There’s probably an argument here, but if they inform people, so be it. This one has particular resonance for me as my partner and I are heading to Syria and probably Lebanon in just a few weeks. Naturally, and for entirely selfish reasons, we are hoping that the Syrians might put up with decades of oppression and censorship until our holiday is through. This, I feel,  would be considerate. And so I have a careful eye on developments in the region. So, it turns out, do readers of SBS World News Australia online.

This ‘news map’ has also done pretty darn well. News, though, online or elsewhere, is always newsier for people, let’s say, if it is in their backyard, and the Queensland flood map smashed it in terms of clicks. Either way, I’m sure we will be doing a few more of these.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Screenshot of error message when attempting to...
Image via Wikipedia

This week, Dedicated Denial of Service, or DOS attacks hit the mainstream media big time, with the news that supporters of the WikiLeaks website were, as they saw it, fighting back against companies which had dared shun the site.

I’m no ‘hacker’, as large parts of the press like to term these armchair activists, but I have been familiar with the concept of what a denial of service attack is for a number of years. I had the pleasure of attending the Chaos Computer Club’s Easter Hack in Cologne back in 2008, and have watched these shadowy free-speech absolutists with admiration for years.

To perform a DOS attack such as operation payback, or #payback, you get as many people, or simply computers, to head for the same website at once, and hey presto, said website can’t cope with the requests.

So today, I thought I’d look at how to join operation payback, indeed how to join in a DOS attack, from a technical point of view. There’s no immediate masking of IP addresses with the software in question, so you can get caught pretty easy if your ISP wanted to assist your local authorities in this legal grey-area, but as a journo, it’s my right to find out ;)

It’s hilariously simple – although not as simple as the the most simple method, basically visiting the site in your browser. First, it seems most of the ‘anonymous’ peeps and others are using LOIC – or Low Orbit Ion Cannon – a very easy to operatre desktop client that fires off requests to a certain website. It’s a tongue-in-cheek name for a very 21st century form of conflict – although I’d hesitate to call it war as ‘the media’, which I’m a part of, has done. Activism, it certainly is.

There are plenty of places hosting LOIC for download. There may be other pieces of software for DOS attacks for the not-too-tech-savvy punter out there, but this could not be easier. You load it up, put your URL in (in this case, Visa, Mastercard, Amazon et al), and press the big button which says something along the lines of ‘Imma fire mah lazer’, and hey presto, you’re sending oodles of requests to the servers, along with your comrades, who’ve presumably used Twitter or chat rooms to all do it at the same time.

It’ll be fascinating to watch this sort of activism develop in the coming years.

Enhanced by Zemanta

An interesting piece there was in OpenDemocracy this week on Investigative Comment.

Oodles has been written about who the hell is going to fund investigative journalism in the coming years. From my own experience working for mainstream media organisations, it is not going to be easy. That’s why new set ups such as the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, replete with philanthropic assistance, are going to be so important.  But there is plenty they can’t do.

Interestingly, the winner of this year’s Bevins Prize for Investigative Journalism went not to a classic ‘journalist’, but to Clare Sambrook, part of a team from End Child Detention Now. They worked on exposing the issue of child detention in the UK, and bringing it to a wider audience.

Increasingly, it is going to be up to die-hard campaigners to bring such information to the fore in a world where media organisations aren’t putting up the same amount of cash to expose information as vested interest groups are forking out to keep it hidden.

As an aside, Sambrook goes on to explain in the above-linked piece as to why the myth of ‘fair and balanced’ journalism needs to be debunked, or rather coupled with comment and opinion writing. No one wants comment from someone who hasn’t put in the hard yards and phone calls, she says, and wholly impartial journalism can only truly be expected in the true sense of reporting facts.

Enhanced by Zemanta