Newsplex presents series on Charlottesville race relations

Gray Television has been providing a news presence in the Charlottesville market for over a year now. A very young crew has learned the ropes of how the town works. With two news programs to fill, there is plenty of time to produce long-form reports. Thanks to a google news alert on Charlottesville, I came across a piece on race relations in Charlottesville that I thought was well-produced and not your typical local news piece. I get the feeling these reporters want to be a part of this community. This two-part series is worth watching.



NBC-Universal signs deal with peer-to-peer network

Peer to peer might go legit yet as a distribution tool for entertainment content. NBC-Universal has signed a deal with Peer Impact to offer limited downloads of its library of content. But, this one comes with a small snag. You'll only be to able to access the content for 24 hours after hitting play, after paying $3 or $4 for the privilege. Ad-Age's Jay Sherman reports...

Users willing to store files on their computers will earn perks. However, Peer Impact will retain control of the files and users will not be able to access them for additional viewings after they've watched the movie the first time. Further, users won't be able to burn those files onto other devices or onto compact discs or DVDs.

I think this part will turn a lot of people off, as will the 24-hour window. Eventually, I'm convinced one of these strategies will take off, but I'm betting people won't spend moneyon something they won't actually own. If they marry the peer-to-peer concept to the all-you-can-eat buffet concept (a la Netflix and Rhapsody) they'll have more success.

Sneak Peak of the New Doctor Who

I'm not hiding my love of geeky things anymore, and I'm not ashamed of what I like. So, I can report to you with extreme joy that David Tennant has had his debut as the tenth Doctor Who during the BBC's annual Children in Need special. Only about four minutes long, the clip takes place seconds after the Doctor's latest regeneration. I think you can watch it here.

I'm still disappointed that Christopher Eccleston's season-long tenure as the Doctor was not shown in the United States. The Sci-Fi channel deemed it as too British, and indeed it did not hide its country of origin. Why should it? In any case, if you missed out, I'm hoping that it will eventually be shown here, as it was in the rest of the English speaking world. It's not the clunky Doctor Who of old.

It's worth mentioning that the show's rebirth was shepherded by Russell T. Davies, who also created the original version of Queer as Folk. Davies knows the mythology of the series quite well, but also crafted his incarnation for a non sci-fi audience. The result was one of the BBC's biggest hits last year.


DC to shake up its universe, again

I've got stacks and stacks of comic books from the mid-80's. Yes, I'm still a 12-year-old boy. What's wrong with that? In any case, now that I'm in my thirties, I find there's a whole culture of nostalgia waiting to envelope me so that I may be parted with my money. The move to video on demand is certainly going to be fueled by a generation's need to rekindle youth.

But, what about comic books? Could DC or Marvel do anything to get people like me to return to those media? Obviously, they'll have to change the narrative style slightly, which is exactly what this Minnesota Tribune article alleges.

DC Comics is in the midst of a major effort to revitalize the company's fabled superheroes for the 21st century and better connect with today's readers. The undertaking, which began in 2002, has involved a critical look at DC's characters -- from Aquaman and Batman to Zatanna -- and developing story lines that sometimes have heroes engage in decidedly unheroic deeds.

But, how do I find these comics, and where do we begin? I did pick up a couple of copies of Identity Crisis, which I thought was definitely more adult in tone than the Justice League yuk-ups of the 1980's, while retaining the humor. But, really, do I need to go there?


The Sound of Young America

The Sound of Young America is one of the best radio programs out there. I thought I was alone in my praise of the show, but Salon just wrote a nice review of the show. The show is primarily a show about comedy, and features serious interviews with comics, writers, producers and all sorts of crazy hijinks. Recently the show featured several of Van Morrison's contractual obligation tracks. Songs like "Ring Worm" and "Here Comes Dumb George" have to be heard.


AOL to offer re-runs of television programs

From the Washington Post:

America Online Inc. and Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. are planning to put thousands of episodes of once-popular television shows like "Welcome Back Kotter" and "Chico and the Man" on the AOL.com Web site

Television is evolving in front of our eyes. If these are given to us for free, they'll figure out a way to get advertising into them. Ads will be quick and frequent, perhaps, but it's a great cheap way for AOL to experiment with a new delivery mechanism. And, right now they're getting a lot of free press.

For more info, there's this New York Times article summarizing the recent news. Those experiments are closed to the likes of me. I'm more open to try AOL's service. I'd even subscribe to AOL, for instance, if it also gave me access to certain shows that I watch on a regular basis. Three of the programs I like are on at the same time on Thursday nights. That's just absurd, unless the first viewing is treated like opening weekend, measuring popularity. In a digital world where all content is available for sale to anyone who desires to consume it, the long tail ensures that everything makes a decent profit.


Television industry changing fast

So, ABC announces a deal with iTunes, so CBS and NBC decide to get in on the act. This is incredibly promising for the network, but bad news for the affiliates around the country.

Comcast said beginning in January, its digital subscribers in certain markets -- but not those served by CBS affiliates -- will have download access to episodes of four CBS shows: "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," "NCIS," "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race." In some cases, the shows will be available within hours of their original airing.

Meanwhile, DirecTV subscribers who use the satellite service's digital video recorder features will have access to a menu of shows from NBC and Bravo, including "Law & Order: SVU," "The Office," and "Battlestar Galactica."

I don't use the local television stations that much, but I bet you I would if I could their material on demand. I get more news from 16/19/27 than 29 because their stories are accessible through the net, and my google searches
pick up their headlines.

Right now, if I miss an episode of the Amazing Race, I have to try my luck at getting a copy from illegal sources. One day I see a market for television shows that is independent of networks, aggregators of eyeballs, gatekeepers of ideas. And, that day is coming closer and closer.


Video on television

So, I just found out that CBS is going to be streaming episodes of its new show Threshold in an attempt to boost overall audience. A great idea, and one I applaud, except when I went to the site to check it out, I was told I didn't have permission to load the page. Will I remember to watch again in the future?

Probably not. Mostly because the episodes are only available for three days or so. Not nearly long enough for me to watch them.

Sci-Fi has the smarts to leave whole episodes of Battlestar Galactica up, though I wish they would change this to the Season 2 mid-point finale.

From Our Own Correspondent

As you may know, I'm a huge proponent and fan of the BBC. I won't go into that now, because all I want to do is post a link to this week's installment of From Our Own Correspondent. I listened to it this afternoon as I tried to wake up following a pair of long nights slinging drinks.

The first two items on the November 5 edition caught me by surprise. I've raised my news filters these days because I've been so focused on Central Virginia and my role here. I've not been paying attention to world events. I vaguely know about the summit they just had in Argentina, but really, I've just not been paying attention. The entire world revolves around out there.

"Today the swallows can nest in peace, with the BBC forced out of Tashkent for its reporting on Uzbekistan."

In other words, the BBC was forced out for reporting on the May massacre in Andijan. I somewhat remember the story, but hadn't heard anything as chilling as a description of sound the BBC used. Those not familiar with "From Our Own Correspondent" should know that the show consists of essays

The Uzbek government admits 173 people were killed, but people who were there put the numbers much higher. Shades of Tienamen, but the U.S. government has been unable to say anything critical, because we need our bases in Uzbekistan to help fight the war on terrorism.

Meanwhile, Parisian suburbs are on fire because of the uprising by what the BBC describes as "Asian and African neighborhoods" - their style guides are more stringent about how they describe people. And, many in this country would be uncomfortable listening to the second item on this week's Correspondent - a piece about a reporter's trip to speak with some of those rioting. Massive unemployment in France has led to a whole generation of disgruntled people, and so many of them are joining ranks with those who seek to offer another way of life. Worth listening to.


News While I Work

The best and worst thing about our generation is that we seem to have to be doing two or three things at once. As I type this, I'm babysitting the daughter while she sleeps. I'm listening to mixdowns of a story I'm filing for WCVE and WVTF, while also cruising through the web looking for news, trying to keep my e-mail box down.

The first item is this: NPR has announced four million podcast downloads since debuting the service just a couple of months ago. Clearly, podcasting will succeed by repurposing quality content, and by doing in such a way that enhances the experience, boosts total audience.

The second item is this: WCVE Public Radio is expanding its signal into the Northern Neck and into Southside Virginia. This expands the potential reach of public radio content that I create for WCVE and WVTF Public Radio. This is WCVE's first expansion, and I applaud them for their efforts.

The third item is that I gave a talk on the impact on podcasting at James Madison University last week. For anyone willing to take a listen, the mp3 is stored here.