Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Where is that remote?

Originally written summer of 2010, for my dad:

I was reminded recently that the current state of affairs for licensing of video content on the "airwaves" or the "tubes" is all a mess. I didn't come to this conclusion lightly, I have actually been trying to study it and finding information is quite hard to come by. You see, there is a portion of people that are involved with this who don't want the public to know what's going on because what's in place is "working", and then there is a portion who don't care, they simply want to throw out the old and put in the new "everything should be free" model. Is one better than the other? This is really hard to say, partly because today's model is fundamentally broken. But let's step back…

In the beginning of what we might call "Content Providers 101" there were the networks, those companies which came after the invention of a form of technology, radio at first and eventually TV's and Movies. In America, these companies were licensed by the federal government and given a charter or a "public trust" to use the "airwaves" wisely. They created some studios or at least got into bed with production companies that owned studios and then the radio show was born. The TV shows soon followed, when that technology finally became viable. In both of these forms, the radio show or the TV show, all of this was paid for by an advertiser who subsidized the creation of the show itself with money to the studio or production company and in turn the show itself was broken into pieces with commercials in-between those pieces of the show.