Sunday, 4 November 2007

Bye, Blogspot

It is sad that I will not be able to update my blog any more, since I am going back to China tomorrow where any blog on the Blogspot is blocked.

I have benefited a lot from publishing the blog, and it is certain that my great interest in media regulation will be always there.

Bye, Blogspot!

Friday, 19 October 2007

Ads on BBC website and fair trading

BBC Trust has given go-ahead to the launch of, which means that international users of BBC website will see adverts on selected pages in the near future. The rationale behind this move is that adverts is the obvious way to ask international users, who don't pay license fee, to contribute to the cost of running the website.

Yeah, it could be unfair that international users enjoy BBC content without contrbuting one penny. But I think the rationale behind putting adverts on the BBC website is not really solid, and to some extent, could incur the issue of fair trading.

Basically, BBC is not a commercial organisation. Domestically, it "educates, entertains and informs" the British, but internationally, it promotes the values of UK around the world. One of its public service remits is to "bring the UK to the world". So the BBC international website is not just serving free lunch to international users. It is in the interest of UK, and therefore in the interest of the license fee payers at large. This is more important to those debates on whether it is fair for international users to access the BBC content without paying license fee.

On the other hand, putting adverts on the BBC website would damage the clean image of the BBC, which has been acclaimed as the flagship of public service broadcasting. When studying journalism at school, my British lecturer Morgan appeared very proud when talking about BBC, saying that it has no adverts at all, while expressing his contempt when talking about the comemrcial network CNN. Now, the adverts could increase the revenue for BBC, but the reputation has been hurt. Doing cost-benefit analysis, is BBC really money-wise?

My third point is that the adverts on BBC could lead to another issue: fair trading. Especiall in Europe, other commercial websites, also hungry for online advertisments, will complain that the BBC website will use public money to compete with them. This is in conflict with fair trading, a principle widely adopted in Europe. I remembered Royal Mail had been accused of recieved public funding to compete with other market players. This issue could be brought to the fore in the future.

Should Dow Jones pull CNBC ads? I doubt it

Today I read a report on Dow Jones pulling CNBC ads for Fox Business Network debut. CNBC somehow got Dow Jones to sign a contract allowing the cable business news network to buy all the advertising on on Monday, October 15th -- the day that News Corp., the soon to be parent company of Marketwatch, was set to launch its new business network. But Dow Jones pulled the CNBC ads in an apparent attempt to suck-up to Mr. Murdoch.

However, I think Dow Jones really doesnot need worry too much about the CNBC. The Fox Business Network is actually targetting those non-business customers, who just want to understand the basic things of financial market instead of the sophisciated ones. so the two networkws are not really in the same market. Another similar example is Bloomberg and Reuters. People tend to say that Bloomberg poses threat to Reuters, but now the two leading players have gradually developed into different segments of the financial market. I think Murdoch has enough business acumen to understand that it makes no sense to launch another financial channel to compete with CNBC or Bloomberg, which could only result in loss-loss situation. What he is looking at is a niche segment in the financial market.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Convergence and new revenue stream

FT reported on Tuesday that mobile handset-maker Nokia has moved into content service following a string of purchases. The latest one is the $8.1 billion (£4 billion) takeover of Navteq, an American digital map supplier. Analysts said that it is quite expensive, but why was Nokia willing to dig deep into pocket for the new catch?

Nokia has been the leading handset maker in the world for long, but newcomers like google and Apple(newscomers in sense of mobile handset making), boosted by recent fast-paced technology development, start to challenge its dominance. The Gphone or Iphone is starting to eat away the market shares of Nokia.

To survive in the cut-throat competition, Nokia can't just keep to its core business, and there is need for strategic adjustment. That is what Nokia is doing now. It is converging from handsetmaker to service provider, like providing mobile music through its purchase of Loudeye, the US online music company that Nokia bought for $60m last year, or embed video link with content providers like Fox network, CNN and Sony Pictures. Its Mosh section, a social networking website which supports uploading and downloading of content to mobile handset, is also taking off. So the Nokia has already embarked on its convergence campaign.

Nokia may not be the only handset maker to shift into services. Sony Ericsson, which sold 60m music phones last year, has also dabbled in music services, with the launch last year of M-Buzz, which features artists from the Sony BMG label. Miles Flint, chief executive of Sony Ericsson, has hinted there could be more to come.

Put such things into perspective, we see that there is mutual convergence in the telecom industry. Hardware manufacturers are converging into content services, while content service providers are converging into hardware productions. The convergence will bring more added value to each market player. For example in the case of Nokia, it can do more mobile advertisement and targeted marketing, which will be a great source of revenue.

It no longer makes sense to categorise the market players. Nokia is no longer handset maker, but also service provider. BT is no longer operator, but also broadcaster. We have entered an age of convergence. It is a result of economic competition, but also technical development. We will see more convergence coming up....

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Without pay wall, will NYT rely more on ads

It is great news that New York Times has freed its online content. There is no doubt that the move would definitely drive far more traffic to NYT website, and would greatly boost the ad revenue of the newspaper, which could make up for the loss of subscription revenue.

The NYT move has earned lots of positive comments from various quarters, given that this is in line with a cliche: information likes to be free. Some went further by arguing that some other papers like Wall Stree Journal and FT could follow suit.

However, I have to put in some critical words here. The Times said that it decided to free the online content because the online ad growth will outpace the growth of the subscription revenue. But one of the dangers for this move is that the NYT will become much more reliant on advertisements. In consequence, one of the possibilities is that NYT could be more influenced by business, and become more obedient to the will of market.

My argument is that a hybrid business model would always emulate a single business model. So far, NYT could get revenue from both subscription and adverstisment, among others. That could enhance NYT's ability for independence and put itself in a stronger position to respond to change of circumstances like the economic recession.

So it is like two sides of a coin. There is both pro and con here for NYT abandoning the pay wall. I don't oppose to its latest move, since I would be one of the beneficiaries as well, but thinking from their stand of point, I argue that NYT could have gone too far at one go. I would prefer that it frees the content in a selective way, otherwise it will have to face another challenge: overreliance on advertisment.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Media law conference kicks off in London

The 2007 Media Law Conference run by MLRC opened on Monday at Stationers' Hall in London. Winningmedia was lucky to be selected to be "official" photographer for the gathering of media lawers from across the world.

It is also lucky to rub shoulders with those media lawyers who have been involved in many high-profile and far-reaching cases of defamtion and privacy. It is a great chance for the just-graduating winningmedia to learn from them.

In the next few days, winningmedia will publish a series of articles on media law.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Google is a paradox

Recent readings have resulted in the title: google is a paradox!

It is paradox in many ways. firstly, they lead the campaign for defending privacy, and call on the United Nations to set a universal privacy standard. However, Google's privacy policies have been under scrutiny recently, after Privacy International accused Google of being "hostile to privacy".

Secondly, Google has a widely known corporate slogan "don't be evil", but some accuse the search engine of being submissive to the Chinese government and being "doing evil".

Thirdly, Google has got a brand enforcement team, which is responsible for any other party use the brand or logo of Google without "express written permission". A London-based blogger, Frank Fuchs, said Google had ordered him to stop using its trademarked logo on his Web site. But Google itself has been the target of many copyright and trademark lawsuits, such as the Google library project, and the lawsuit filed by Viacom, AFP, and AmericanAirlines.

Google is really self-contradictory. Perhaps that is what Google is about.