Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Jeff Bewkes' Misdirection with "TV Everywhere"

Last Wednesday's Wall Street Journal featured an editorial from TimeWarner CEO, Jeff Bewkes, concerning the firm's latest public relations concept, called "TV Everywhere."

Bewkes' people carefully orchestrated a one-day media blitz. He appeared on Neil Cavuto's Fox News program on the same day that the Journal editorial was published. I believe he was also on CNBC that day, but I'm not completely certain.

Reading the Journal piece, it's not really clear just what is new or valuable in Bewkes' new initiative. Other than to get a regulatory leg up on a select group of his competitors. Who could those competitors be?

Here's a passage from his editorial,

"But let's be clear about what these new entrants are not: distributors. Of course, many of them want to turn themselves into content retailers or aggregators of programming, or they want to create another layer between content creators and their audiences.

However, to be anything more than incremental, I believe these nascent services must meet two requirements. First, obviously, they must provide consumers with a superior TV experience. And second, they must also support or improve the industry economics that have led directly to the cultural and commercial renaissance that television is now experiencing."

Elsewhere, Bewkes mentions those competitors by name,

"...the glitz factor of new devices and services recently announced by Amazon, Apple, Google, Sony and others."

What Bewkes is trying to do with ,TV Everywhere, is enshrine the notion that it's wrong to get content free from Silicon Valley, internet-based providers or distributors, while it's okay to pay Bewkes' company, TimeWarner, and its ilk, high prices to access their content on any consumer device, i.e., iPad, laptop, iPod, etc.

It's a measure of how scared Bewkes is that he and his network-oriented allies are trying to conjure up 'cultural' bases of value for 'TV Everywhere,' while also attempting to define all video as 'TV.'

It's an interesting and bold sleight of hand trick, isn't it? First, before you notice, subtly redefine "TV" as content, rather than distribution. Then, accuse anyone who distributes "TV" elsewhere for free as inferior and not legitimate.

But I doubt it will work, without totally political interference by Washington regulators in the plans of the so-called "new entrants."

It's an old story in business. The last refuge of failed or failing business models is to seek unfair and anti-competitive regulatory relief, as well as to cast aspersions on the motives and societal benefits resulting from the effects of new competitors.

This reveals just how desperate Bewkes' approach truly is.

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