Chernin Touts New Golden Age

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New Corp. President Peter Chernin argues in an op ed planned for the Wall Street Journal Thursday that TV is on the cusp of a new technological golden age.

Chernin says a Google (how long before that trade name is lost to common usage) of the phrase "old media is dead "turns up 41.2 million links, which he suggests is 41.2 million too many.

Chernin says new technology is not a threat, but an opportunity. In fact, Chernin seems fairly giddy about the prospects for pushing boundaries, saying: "All of our stories no longer need to be geared to a mass audience. We are free to experiment, free to be adventurous, and free to explore our boldest impulses."

Spoken like an executive tired of having shows hammered by the indecency patrols. In fact, he puts in a plug for a D.C.-free marketplace, saying: "The regulatory climate must not burden this emerging new world with archaic, outmoded rules."

Below is the piece iun full, which is planned for tomorrow morning's paper.


Golden Oldies

By Peter Chernin

From a lot of what you hear lately, you’d get the impression that my industry has more than one foot in the grave. Googling the phrase “old media is dead” turns up 41.2 million links. My favorite (and by no means unrepresentative) is from the very-new-media site gawker.com: “Old Media is Really, Really, Really Dead.”

Well, don’t believe it. Traditional media is not dead. In fact, our companies are leading the charge into the networked digital future. The media industry stands at the dawn of a new golden age—fueled on the demand side by ever-more discerning consumers, and on the supply side by fresh thinking, new products and oceans of new content.

The reality is that new technology, far from being a threat, offers media companies the chance to solve an age-old problem. Our businesses were built on our ability to enlighten, entertain and educate—whether through the pages of a novel, the images on a screen, or the facts in a news broadcast. We exist to connect masses of people with compelling content. Yet throughout history, our power to achieve that mass connection has been limited by distribution constraints—prohibitive costs, hard-to-reach locations, sluggish technology, etc. Even as media companies grew and thrived, complete access to a truly global audience was long out of reach.

Not anymore. Thanks to advances in both hardware and software, we can now reach almost anyone, anywhere, at any time, through a wide variety of devices. This new reality of ubiquitous low-cost distribution gives us more ways than ever to tell our stories and get them to an audience. Think about the most exciting elements of the technology revolution and how they are changing the media business today:

High-definition video--provides viewers with a stunning visual experience like none they’ve ever seen. It’s as close as you can get to being in a movie theater without having to pay the babysitter. And the screens will only get cheaper, bigger and better.

On-demand technology--allows consumers to order popular television programs, hit movies, news shows and sports events for immediate viewing with the click of a button, freeing the viewer from the hassle of schedules.

Broadband video--lets consumers personalize high-quality entertainment and news programming, to suit their own needs and taste—true one-to-one distribution.

Hard-disc storage--has already transformed the music business, is transforming television, and will soon transform the movie industry. We are not far from the day when consumers will have access to entire seasons of their favorite TV programs and thousands of feature films on devices no bigger than a deck of cards.

Portability--has freed our audiences from the couch to enjoy their favorite music, movies, games and television anytime, anywhere. The days of the captive consumer are over.

Wireless technology--allows any of the world’s two billion mobile phone users (twice the number of TV households) to get news updates, sports scores and entertainment delivered directly to their handsets. This has the potential to be the greatest communications platform in history.

Community--is being strengthened, not threatened, by new technology. From creating online photo albums to sharing video to generating personal profiles to blogging, new technology is drawing people closer together and removing boundaries.

Interactivity--allows viewers to choose their endings, pick their camera angles, play games and watch multiple shows at once. It’s the ultimate in multitasking.

These innovations are helping transform the content business in revolutionary—and profitable—ways. They allow what was once a one-size-fits-all, mass-only industry to reach out to niche audiences and create new markets. They give us license to take risks and be more flexible. All of our stories no longer need to be geared to a mass audience. We are free to experiment, free to be adventurous, and free to explore our boldest impulses. As choices explode even further, consumers will be the ultimate winners.

To be sure, these new opportunities carry with them new challenges. Consumers are already growing impatient with interoperability problems among their many devices. The regulatory climate must not burden this emerging new world with archaic, outmoded rules. More platforms mean more opportunities for content theft. But these problems are solvable if media and technology companies work together as partners in a common industry.

The mass digital conversion of the past 10 years puts consumers at the very heart of media. They program. They timeshift. They manipulate. And perhaps most significantly, they interact and engage—they have been liberated from the constraints of the old analog world. That liberated consumer is bringing about what can and should be the golden age for the so-called old media.

Mr. Chernin is president and chief operating officer of News Corporation.

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