Tuned In

We Can Work It Out

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Three items from the mediabiztertainment news: (1) Apple Corps and Apple Inc. have resolved their long-running name dispute; (2) Jeff Zucker is poised to be named head of NBC Universal today; and (3) Viacom and YouTube are still at a standoff over YouTube’s rights (and Viacom’s compensation) concerning copyrighted video.

Each in its way about old media reconciling itself to new media. Apple, the company founded by the Beatles, appears to recognize that there’s no point to giving new media the cold shoulder (a recognition that may soon mean Beatles tunes on iTunes). Zucker, for all my reservations about him as a programmer, showed a sense, earlier than many of his rivals, that TV could not pretend that online video didn’t exist; after some early resistance in the “Lazy Sunday” episode, Zucker’s NBC struck business deals with iTunes and YouTube.

Viacom, meanwhile, is acting as if it can freeze out online video–for understandable reasons of wanting to negotiate a better deal–but it will have to make peace with YouTube eventually. (The much-theorized idea that Viacom and other big media companies can form their own YouTube would be, I think, an expensive disaster.) Copyright holders can and should try to get paid as best they can, but they can’t expect consumers to stop wanting bite-sized entertainment streaming and immediately. Verily, there is something in every man’s soul that wishes not to rent or buy the DVD of Better Off Dead but instead desires only to watch the two-minute clip of the hamburger singing Everybody Wants Some–and that desire must be satisfied! It is a moral imperative, or at least a market reality.

Listen to Apple and Apple, Viacom and YouTube. Life is very short, and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friends. I need my Crank Yankers clips.

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