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The Tickle File
short takes on daily media news

From Last Weeks ftm Tickle File

Just how big is the digital world?
focus on world

The French national data protection authority (CNIL) this week indicated, once again, that internet search provider Google is failing to comply with the “right to be forgotten” as recognized last year by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Google, they say, has callously dismissed the directives intent by delisting references to webpages individuals consider “outdated or offensive” only from the search engines national domains and not the universal Non-compliance could result in tribute paid to the French government.

Google, unsurprisingly, is having nothing to do with this. "No country should have the power to control the content that someone in another country can access,” said the public response, which asked the CNIL to withdraw its demand. “If the right to be forgotten is now the norm in Europe, this is not the case worldwide. There are countless cases where what is illegal in one country is not in another. This approach represents a race to the bottom: in the end, the internet would be just as free as the least free place in the world.“ Google lawyers are in the process of appealing the CJEC decision but are pursuing compliance limited to removing links to “offending” webpages on national Google domains. (See more about Google here)

"We have taken note of Google's arguments, which are mostly of a political nature,” retorted the CNIL, quoted by the BBC (July 31), while its view is “strictly legal.” The genesis of the European “right to be forgotten” directive stems, in part, from a visceral fear of documents being used for inhuman ends. Interests, political and otherwise, have co-opted this anxiety for more human gain.

Neither Google executives, board members nor shareholders will tolerate a legal decision anywhere that could form the basis for an existential threat. A solution - truce, more likely - will come from a political decision. Sometimes that’s popular and sometimes not.

Reach exceeding grasp, deal fails
No matter what you hear in Silicon Valley, patience is a virtue

And so the big merger plans of German media houses Axel Springer and ProSiebenSat1.Media, widely reported, slipped away quietly this week. For all the obvious reasons, very few observers expected this one to more forward. The two companies have, however, agreed to jointly pursue digital investments, details forthcoming.

To a great extent the failure of this deal falls hard on the very impatient Axel Springer CEO Matthias Döpfner. The company’s growth under his leadership has been built on tactical acquisitions of the digital order, none with the ear-ringing buzz of a major TV broadcaster. Nor with a big name English-language publication; the Financial Times bid was short a mere €100 million.

In the end ProSiebenSat CEO Thomas Ebeling didn’t need the deal. With Axel Springer’s controlling shareholder Friede Springer intractable about absolute control Herr Ebeling, not beholden to a monolithic force, clearly saw no strategic advantage. ProSiebenSat may or may not ever be a takeover target. Axel Springer, some day in the future, will be valued by the sum of its parts.

Licensing plan for broadcasters moves along, political plan not so easy
just bring cash

In the midst of tackling weighty issues economic and political the Greek government is pressing reforms on the media sector. A draft law under consideration would, if moved forward, force privately owned television broadcasters to apply for licenses. A 30 day public consultation period began last week and reaction has been less than positive.

Greek private TV broadcasters have operated under “temporary permits” since 1990. A law passed in 2007 established rules for broadcast licensing but implementation has been delayed by a variety of amendments. “A new TV landscape in the country,” said deputy infrastructure minister Christos Spirtzis, will come this autumn with “different ethics than we are used to,” quoted by (July 24).

The draft law authorises the National Council for Radio and Television (ESR) to hold auctions, exact number yet to be determined. There will be national and regional licenses for either general interest or “non-informative” channels. Any legal entity can apply so long as there’s €8 million in the bank. A national general interest channel will cost €5 million, entertainment channels only €2 million. The license fee must be paid all at once. Fees for regional channels are yet to be determined. (See more about media in Greece here)

Successful applicants will be required to fulfil minimum employment quotas ranging from 400 people for national general interest channels to 50 people for regional channels, reported (July 28).

class="bgtext">Aside from the financial constraints imposed on current broadcasters, several suffering in the severe economic conditions, there’s a bit of an administrative issue with the ESR. The draft law requires “full” approval from the ESR board. Alas, there are but four current members of the seven person board and naming replacement members requires a four-fifths approval from the Chamber of Deputies, in the current environment not considered a simple task.

Previous weeks complete Tickle File

Week of August 3 2015

In Sports & Media

Peanuts For Traditional TV, Salad Days For Pay-TV
salad days Traditional television broadcasters have been backed into a painful corner. Video on demand services of the subscription kind are steadily raiding viewers who will pay for top flight drama and comedy series. Big name live sports is increasingly the domaine of pay-TV operators. Free-to-air broadcasters find the left-overs less than tasty.

Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in The Numbers

Audience Demanding More, Gets Less, Turns Off
so confused Audience acquisition means everything to a broadcaster. There’s content to be created, talent to be managed, marketing to be devised, promotions to be organized, distribution to be acquired. Hitting all the posts is difficult, costly and absolutely essential. Then there’s the market leader effect. When top brands falter, the entire category feels pain.


Encore Une Fois - This Week Last Year in The Public Service

Reform Bogged Down, Experts Called
limp Forming a new public broadcasting system from old State institutions is never as simple as passing a law and changing the letterhead. All European public broadcasters have, in their own way, made that transition. But time entrenches all institutions and change is never easy.


new ftm Knowledge

Europe's Radio - Southern Europe – new

Radio broadcasting in southern Europe ranges from highly developed to developing highly. Italian, Spanish and Portuguese radio is unique, creative and very popular. Radio in Croatia, Serbia and Greece has had ups and downs. The ftm Knowledge file includes Resources. 126 pages PDF (June 2015)

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Google Is... Still

Google's leaders say their goal is to change the world. And they have. Far more than a search engine, Google has impact over every media sector and beyond, from consumer behavior to broadcasting and advertising to newspapers. That impact is detailed in this ftm Knowledge file. 116 pages PDF (April 2015)

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The Curtain Falls - Media Rises

This updated set of essays focuses on the dramatic changes in Europe's media that began with the fall of the Berlin Wall and Iron Curtain thereafter; Germany in 1989, new media rules,transition of State broadcasting to public broadcasting, refocus for international broadcasting, the rise of commercial broadcasting and the importance of youth culture. PDF (December 2014)

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Media in the Baltics - New World Order

By the time Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined the European Union they were known as the Baltic Tigers. The media sector grew spectacularly with big multi-nationals investing. Times have changed. This ftm Knowledge file reports the changes, new opportunities and lingering ghosts. 63 pages PDF (October 2014)

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Friday July 31, 2015
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