SpeakSpeak News

4/19/2005

Clean or Dirty? Courts Will Decide

Filed under by Amanda Toering — 04/19/2005 @ 8:47 am

The Washington Post tells the story of Ray Lines, a film editor whose job is to “sanitize” DVD releases of major motion pictures for squeamish viewers. Hollywood is up in arms, citing copyright violations and censorship. Both sides have asked for a court ruling to clarify the issue.

No one is quite sure how many sanitized films are sold and rented each year, but it appears to be a growing segment of the DVD market. Lines claims to have pioneered the business in 1999, after a neighbor asked him to edit “Titanic” on his home editing equipment. Since then, the field has expanded, with companies such as Family Flix, CleanFilms, Flicks Club and ClearPlay, all of which are based in Utah. The businesses started by catering to the state’s socially conservative Mormon population, but have expanded beyond that.

The dispute is, in some ways, less about money than a clash over social values and control of a creative product. “A lot of people are just really tired of what’s out there,” says Sandra Teraci, who runs Family Flix with her husband, Richard. “They’re tired of turning on the TV or renting a movie and constantly being hit by violence, profanity and nudity. A lot of people want to go back to the 1950s, before this sort of thing was routine.”

Rather than harming Hollywood’s bottom line, sanitizers say, they’re helping to expand it. Since the sanitizers buy a new original copy for every DVD they alter, the studios don’t lose a sale or royalties when a film is edited. Typically, the sanitizers buy an original copy of the movie, edit it on a computer, then send an altered copy, plus the disabled original, to the customer. The movie studios actually profit, says CleanFlicks’ Lines, because many customers wouldn’t rent or buy an unsanitized DVD.


Now on DVD: The Sanitizer’s Cut
, WaPo.

Newsday: Cable Ought to Adapt, Go ‘a la Carte’

Filed under by Amanda Toering — 04/19/2005 @ 8:37 am

In Newsday, Marie Cocco explores the economics behind cable networks’ reluctance to dismantle their tier packaging scheme.

If we could shop for cable programming the way we shop for groceries - putting in our carts only those items we want - we would reach an immediate cease-fire in this hot new skirmish of the culture war. There’d be no need for government censors to regulate cable content if consumers could censor what they buy.

But a-la-carte cable shopping would alter the economics of cable, in which advertising rates are set not by how many viewers actually watch a cable network, but by how many homes the network reaches. That’s why small cable networks vie to be bundled into a tier with popular programming, such as ESPN. Prices might rise as cable operators are forced to make scramblers more widely available and to add representatives to guide consumers through their choices. But if program-by- program choices are too costly, why not create smaller packages of programs geared to specific audiences? Surely there are viewers who want every sport from curling to sumo wrestling. It’s unlikely they’re keen on gardening, too.

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association opposes a new shopping scheme, saying it would be costly and disruptive. But isn’t the auto industry disrupted, from time to time, by changes in what people want to drive? Wasn’t Hollywood forced to adapt to the era of home videos? No business is immune to market changes - except, maybe, the cable business.

Cable TV’s dirtiest word is still choice, Newsday.

Medved Wants Across-the-Board Ratings

Filed under by Amanda Toering — 04/19/2005 @ 8:33 am

Conservative film critic Michael Medved opines in USA Today that an across-the-board ratings system should be implemented for movies, TV, video games and music. He also takes a page from Bozell, arguing that the “PG-13″ rating should really be renamed “R-13.”

The new head of the Motion Picture Association, Dan Glickman, should make his mark by changing PG-13 to “R-13″ — recognizing that today’s PG-13 pictures come much closer to “R” in edgy, adult-themed substance. It’s also appropriate for theater-owners to make honest attempts to restrict admission to the new R-13 rating — asking ticket holders unaccompanied by adults to show they’re at least 13 before they’re admitted.

Next up on the agenda: National ID cards for 13-year-old moviegoers.

AFA OKs P&G

Filed under by Amanda Toering — 04/19/2005 @ 8:24 am

The American Family Association has called off its dogs. Specifically, it’s called off its anti-gay, boycott Procter & Gamble dogs, since it now believes that P&G has become suitably anti-gay itself.

In an action alert sent to subscribers, the Mississippi-based group said:

In so far as we can tell by our monitoring, P&G has stopped their sponsorship of TV programs promoting the homosexual lifestyle, such as Alice and Grace. [According to Broadcasting & Cable, the AFA meant “Will and Grace,” although “Alice and Grace” does indeed sound much gayer.] And, as far as we can tell, they have stopped their sponsorship of homosexual Internet sites. Also, the P&G executive who was given a leave of absence to lead the effort of special rights for homosexuals in a Cincinnati election–and who was a force for pushing the homosexual agenda inside the company–is no longer with the company.

However, the AFA’s collective head seems to be firmly in the sand (which is, in this writer’s opinion, as good of a place as any for it). P&G is sponsoring the upcoming Congress on Women’s Health, to be held in June in Hilton Head, SC. The conference will feature a speech by cable sex sis Dr. Laura Berman, of Discovery Health’s “Berman & Berman” show. Dr. Berman will be holding a lecture called “The Best Sex You and Your Patients Never Had – But Still Can.”

A recent report in the Toronto Globe and Mail cites that P&G is appreciative of its gay consumers’ desire for bright, white teeth; it has found great success marketing Crest White Strips to them. The Globe and Mail also discusses an open corporate culture at P&G’s Canada offices, which includes sponsoring a social group for gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgendered employees.

P&G is also moving into the business of hawking men’s “personal care” products – things such as cleansers, moisturizers, anti-aging lotions and body sprays. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Companion piece from BC Beat: “AFA Lacks Will.

Omigod, It’s Like About Gays!

Filed under by Chris Zammarelli — 04/19/2005 @ 5:56 am

The Article 8 Alliance, a “pro-family” (or, more specifically, anti-gay) group, has succeeded in convincing grocery store chains Stop & Shop and Shaw’s in Massachusetts from stocking the free gay newspaper Bay Windows. However, a Stop & Shop spokesperson told the Boston Herald that they are negotiating with the paper’s editors to bring Bay Windows back without the personal ads.

Article 8 Alliance director Brian Camenker predicted “a bigger backlash” if the store brings the paper back, adding that Bay Windows is “really sort of disgusting, anti-family, anti-religion. The paper is full of, like, really gross stuff.”

Dan Kennedy covers this story at Media Log, his weblog for the Boston Phoenix, a paper that is also barred from Stop & Shop because of its personal ads.

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