- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Video competition

“Apple TV is getting some competition from Blockbuster.

“The home video giant is developing a set-top device for streaming films directly to TV sets and is expected to announce the offering sometime this month. …

“The device would join a growing roster of devices that aim to bring broadband video to the living room, including Apple TV, which hasn’t quite seen sales match the hype surrounding the product. Blockbuster rival Netflix also has indicated that it will compete in this market with a similar device being created with LG Electronics. …

“Delivering movies to TV might be the most audacious attempt yet that Blockbuster is making to reinvent its brand as digital delivery weakens the viability of its retail footprint. But by offering a home-based alternative to its stores, Blockbuster risks cannibalizing its core brick-and-mortar business in the hope that its brand will be a force online. …

“Blockbuster knows all too well the importance of online film rentals. When Apple said in January that iTunes would adopt a rental model, it sent Blockbuster’s stock plummeting 17 percent to an all-time closing low.”

Andrew Wallenstein, writing on “Blockbuster eyes streaming to TVs,” Thursday in the Hollywood Reporter

Immoral debt

“Supposedly there are moral issues (such as abortion and other family related concerns) and then everything else (taxes, trade, environment and so on). But this is to misunderstand the responsibilities of government. While there are diverse moral languages appropriate to families, schools, sports and business, for example, the moral language fitting for government and politics speaks of justice and injustice.

“In that respect, almost everything associated with the current economic crisis is a matter of justice and injustice and is therefore a moral issue.

“The economic crisis that government is now trying to solve or alleviate … is not an innocent accident. It is the fruit of a great deal of injustice — the injustice of government piling up public debt and encouraging individuals, businesses and financial institutions to do the same.

“We should be outraged, but our anger should be directed to the entire system that includes each of us who bought into the belief that economic growth is the chief end of government and that there must be a way for everyone to benefit from the ever-increasing leveraging of debt. It won’t work.”

James W. Skillen, writing in “Is the Economic Crisis a Moral Issue?” Friday in Capital Commentary.

Couric to go

“While speculation is swirling that Katie Couric will bolt from CBS, it’s important not to judge her tenure at the ‘CBS Evening News’ as a failure.

“Yes, her evening-news ratings have steadily trailed the competition, but installing her in what had usually been a man’s job was a gamble worth taking by the television establishment. I hope that TV news executives will continue to experiment in daring ways. …

“The Wall Street Journal said Wednesday night that Couric was expected to leave the post before her contract expires in 2011, the latest gloomy prediction since she took the coveted job in 2006.

“Couric, who is being paid an estimated $15 million a year, would likely stay in television news in the role of an interviewer, which is what critics say she does best. …

“The Journal noted that in the week of March 31, the ‘CBS Evening News’ attracted an average audience of 5.9 million viewers. NBC’s ‘Nightly News With Brian Williams’ accumulated 8.3 million viewers and ABC’s ‘World News With Charles Gibson’ had 8 million.

“Couric has also been fighting an uphill public-relations battle throughout. Pundits criticized her appearance, speaking style and broadcasting manner. The media asserted at various times that her show was too newsy or not hard-hitting enough.”— Jon Friedman, writing on “Couric shouldn’t be judged a TV-news failure,” Thursday in MarketWatch.

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