YouTube removed nearly 30,000 video clips from Japanese TV programs, music videos and movies after The Japan Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers requested they be taken down, the Associated Press reported last Friday. Video-sharing sites that have built their audiences on both user-generated content and copyrighted material are now facing the prospect of a parade of potential lawsuits for copyright violations. The Japanese-themed videos have been among the most popular on YouTube. In fact, in July YouTube claimed 8.5 million total unique visitors in Japan, according to comScore. Google is poised to acquire YouTube later this year for $1.65 billion.
Consumer Coalition: Ownership Too Concentrated
A coalition of consumer groups whose members include Common Cause, Consumers Union and the Consumers Federation of America suggested last Thursday that the Federal Communications Commission should review the impact of potential media mergers using a statistical index that suggests much of the media industry is already too consolidated. Unveiling a series of market-by-market concentration studies with a promise of more to be filed Oct. 23 with the FCC, the Media and Democracy Coalition said media in cities from Los Angeles to Bangor, Maine, either already exceed the Justice Department standards for excessive concentration or would if further mergers are allowed. In a statement, the National Association of Broadcasters said “…. measured relaxation of regulations will preserve localism and ensure that free, high-quality programming enjoyed daily by millions of Americans does not migrate to pay platforms.” The reports are available at Media-democracy.com.
$58.9 Million Viacom Severance for Freston
Former Viacom CEO Tom Freston will receive termination payments of about $58.9 million, the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing last Wednesday. Mr. Freston, who was removed by Chairman Sumner Redstone and the Viacom board in September, signed a separation agreement with Viacom on Oct. 16. In addition to the termination payments-which equal his salary, deferred compensation and target bonus through 2009-restricted stock awards will become vested and converted into Viacom Class B stock. Viacom valued that stock at about $10 million. The former CEO also gets $7.4 million in deferred compensation already earned plus the $5.7 million balance in Viacom’s excess 401K plan. Mr. Freston will also be paid $1 million a year for three years as an adviser to the company. The separation agreement also includes clauses regarding confidential information, solicitation of employees, litigation cooperation and non-disparagement.
Nielsen Delays Spot Ratings Until Dec. 11
Nielsen Media Research will wait until Dec. 11 to release average commercial-minute ratings, a measure intended to provide accurate data on how many viewers are watching spots, delaying a planned Nov. 18 launch. The information will be made available free to Nielsen subscribers for the current television season, the ratings company said last week. Nielsen said all average commercial ratings data for the 2006-07 season will be labeled as “evaluation data,” signaling that the information is not ready to be used as currency for ad buying.
Fox News, Cablevision Make Carriage Deal
Fox News Channel has come to a carriage agreement that will keep the channel on Cablevision systems for several more years. Fox News will receive an average of more than 75 cents per subscriber over the course of the deal covering more than four years, industry sources said. No terms were announced last week. Under the old deal, signed when a fledgling Fox News was struggling to add subscribers, the news channel paid about 25 cents per subscriber to its cable carriers. A spokesperson for Cablevision declined to comment on the deal but issued a statement saying, “We are happy with our new agreement with Fox News Channel.” A Fox News spokesperson declined to comment on the specifics of the deal.