Tuesday, February 28, 2006

After 9 months: SBTV

On March 1, 2006 Bibop TV will start with SBTV for young people. The youth sites Sugabes and Superdudes will have three hours of live television a day with the internet community shows Totally SB, Do Your Thing and Love Etc. Members of the sites can participate in the shows via their webcam, telephone, SMS and personal computer and exchange ideas and talk about things that keep them busy. The interaction is moderated. The shows are not moderated by a well known television or movie star or a soapie, but by a young production team.

It is 9 months ago that Fred Kappetijn told about an interactive TV service on internet. Now Bibop is starting up. Bibop is a joint venture between Mobillion and Digital Magics Group in Milano. They start up the interactive television show in the Netherlands and will start rolling it out in other European countries. Daily the sites Sugababes and Superdudes are daily visited by 100.000 youths visiting. For the start Bibop TV will serve 12.000 participants concurrently. Upon proven success 24.000 visitors will be served, which compares to target group of a traditional youth television station. Only members will be able to participate in the broadcasts. The show is for free and can viewed by everyone.

This piece of participatory TV is not new. In Italy Rosso Alicia has been a great success; television and telecom companies have been fighting to partner with the Milanese company. Also in France the program CULT has been a success; moderation was done by a famous television host. My French friend Damien was Senior Producer in the team which thought up the format and did the production; he sent a demonstration DVD (see illustration).

Just heard that "CULT", the TV show, has been nominated for the International Interactive Emmy Awards to be held in Cannes, at MIPTV, in April. Congratulations Damien!

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Monday, February 27, 2006

HDTV: new screens for new visions

The World Championship Soccer in Germany will be the occasion to introduce High Definition Television (HDTV) in the Netherlands. Beginning of June Sport1, a pay channel, will start with the broadcasts. Besides a sports channel, there will also be a movie channel, Film1, showing the latest Hollywood movies in HDTV format.

Sport1 and Movie1 are channels of chellomedia, part of UPC. Chellomedia has made agreements with the cable operators UPC, Essent, Multikabel and CAIW. Preceeding the launch of HDTV, there will already be a change to the anamorph broad picture format of 16:9 from the present 4:3 screen format of the analogue television. To watch HDTV format broadcast an HDTV ready television set is needed and an HDTV digital decoder.

It is interesting to see that after so many years of talk about HDTV at last something is happening. The HDTV discussion has been going on since the nineties. In the Netherlands there was an HDTV platform of broadcasters and Philips. There was also a European group lobbying the European Commission. Everytime HDTV looked like one of those technical unfulfilled promises. But now all pieces seem to fall into place after so many years: from the cameras at the soccer field to the transmission.

Not only the cable operators will start promoting HDTV, but also the internet operators. The cable operators will have a starting advantage in the Netherlands, given their cable network. They can handle the capacity needed for HDTV transmissions. Internet operators have a problem as the fibre glass connections are not very common yet. Still at the World Championship Soccer in Germany HDTV through internet will be tested by the public broadcast system together with the SURF, the network for universities and schools.

I guess that the penetration of HDTV will be slow. Given the infrastructure, the cable infrastructure, HDTV is most likely to succeed in that environment for the time being. Promotion by the cable companies will prompt people contemplating an HDTV (ready) television set and the necessary decoder. I guess that internet operators will not enthusiastically pour money into HDTV. KPN and perhaps Tiscali and Versatel might do so to promote their IPTV, but smaller providers will shy away from it as broadband capacity has to be paid.

The big question remains whether people will switch to HDTV for its quality. The pioneers users are going to pay a hefty sum for the acquisition of a HDTV television set. But there will be many laggards as the conversion from analogue to digital demonstrates. Look at radio. Digital radio is there but the change-over is hardly impressive. Also in television the conversion is slow. UPC is handing–out decoder, but have the subscriptions to the electronic bouquet of programs improved? Not spectacular is my impression. Viewers will have to be forced from analogue to digital; just tell them that analogue television will be stopped by a certain date. You might loose a few customers, but gain from the mass.

BTW Picture and title compliments of Dr Cesare Massarenti


Sunday, February 26, 2006

Digital newspaper fever

The newspaper tablet iLead of iRex Technologies is hitting the Dutch newspaper companies. It looks like every Dutch newspaper company wants to toy with the iLead. Wegener subsidiaries, Brabants Dagblad and Tubantia, are using the tablet in their user research project with Philips. Now PCM Publishers will start an experiment, while also De Telegraaf will participate. The newspaper companies are presently negotiating the conditions for the 390gr tablet.

(The excitement compares to Philips compact disc product CD-nteractivei in the beginning of the nineties. Producers were attracted by Philips to start producing titles. The book publishers, united in their association KNUB, even got a grant from the ministry of Economic Affairs, to produce some prototypes. A Handbook was produced but not completed and the prototypes never got a commercial successor. It looks like something of this national pride is spreading again. But with CD-i it was a hype based on technology ignorance; this time the interesting digital paper is more realistic and based on commercial perspectives. And why should a newspaper company not warm itself, when it sits geographically close to the fire.)

In Belgium the 200 guinea pigs of De Tijd will receive the tablet for a quarter to test. They will be able to pick up the latest news from hot spots in the city and in the train. They can adapt the information to their personal interest and save articles of personal interest (not exactly a convincing argument as they already can do so on internet). The newspaper management of De Tijd expects to have De Tijd in electronic form by September.

It will be interesting to see what the results are going to be of all the research into e-papers. Annemieke Besseling, the succeeding editor-in-chief of the Brabants Dagblad, already made a statement that she does not see the electronic paper as a successor of the printed edition, arguing that a reader will not stare at a small screen to read long articles. This is a typical biased reaction for a newspaper editor: print will always remain and reading habits will never change. This is of course nonsense. Given the present decline in newspapers subscriptions, by 2015 some printed editions of newspapers will have disappeared as they did not longer have an economic basis; so, the publishers better start preparing for an all electronic edition with a printed edition while it lasts. Besides the reading habits are changing drastically. In the printed world broadsheets like Metro have made an impact, not only because they are free, but also because they contain short articles. And children, who are supposed to be the future subscribers, are reading less printed newspapers, but pick up news in parallel from radio, television and internet.

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Saturday, February 25, 2006


This week I receive an e-mail from Noterik BV. This company was one of the winners in the category e-Government of the World Summit Award last year with their application of their Streamedit software. The e-mail announced their new product ClickVideo: an interactive online video technology. ClickVideo offers easy creation and publishing of clickable video objects and paves the way for compelling video based advertising, e-commerce and e-learning applications.

Since 1996 the company has produced a variety of web based video applications. For many years Noterik conducted research in the field of interactive video applications, also known as Hypervideo. This research has now resulted in a new web based technology which enables producers to easily create clickable video hotspots in common online media such as Windows Media, QuickTime and Real Media. The ClickVideo authoring module is soon to be released as an add-on to StreamEdit, a media management framework developed by Noterik to optimize digital media workflow. No additional plug-ins are required from the user side to play ClickVideo applications.

At the Noterik site the application can be seen with two demonstrations: one of a lecture (looks dull, but it works) and one on a fashion show (always works). The telco KPN and the newspaper conglomerate have shown interest in ClickVideo. However there should be a caution to the viweing. I tried the application first with Firefox and it did not work; after that I tried Internet Explorer and it did work properly. I can see many applications to make internet TV channel applications, besides home shopping of course.

BTW While on the subject of the subject of video, I noticed a nice viral movie of a Dutch politician, which has been downloaded now more than 100.000 times in 1 week. Have a look at it; you will probably not understand anything of it, but you will recognise the body language. There will be elections for the municipal councils on March 7th, 2006.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Another media extension

The Dutch newspapers are becoming actively involved in broadcast. First De Telegraaf buys Sky Radio, followed by PCM buying Arrow Radio. And PCM is also assessing TV opportunities at a tune of 150 million euro for over a period of three years.

Now the regional AD newspaper and the new broadcast station Talpa are looking into opportunities for co-operation in the TV programme Entertainment Live!, which will be launched from March 27 onwards. The programme will have two competitors in RTL Boulevard and SBS6 Shownieuws, two programmes fishing in the same pond.

And if this is not enough yet, the spokesperson for AD announces, that the newspaper managers are in talks with regional and national TV and radio stations. This will be interesting. AD is a joint-venture between PCM regional newspapers and Wegener regional newspaper. AD has built up a fine position for their internet site. By moving into regional and national radio and television, they might upset commercial and public broadcast companies.

In fact I wonder whether this action of AD is covered by PCM Holding. It would not be the first time that AD starts branching out while PCM Holding is still brooding. In 1995 AD started an internet site, while PCM was still thinking over a company wide internet policy; in the end they had to bow to PCM Interactive Media (PIM), which was dismantled in 2001.

But let’s wait with judging till AD and Talpa make an official announcement and their first show. Perhaps even more announcement could follow. Question will be: will it deliver more subscriptions for the newspaper and more viewers for the radio and TV stations.

In the back of my mind there is still a flickering light of a nagging question: why don’t the newspapers start their own internet channels with portals, including radio and television for business people and consumers. They should have newspaperlike articles with animations, animated infographics, video and audio as well as half hour shows. Given the small segments in the Dutch broadcast market of 500.000 viewers or less for particular programs, it must be possible to built up a faithful audience.

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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Wegener and Philips research digital newspapers

Brabants Dagblad, a group of Dutch newspapers published around Eindhoven, in the home territory of Philips and part of the Wegener newspaper group, has started a research project into the consumers’attitude towards digital newspapers.

It is not the first time that this type of research is being initiated within Wegener. Long before the Brabants Dagblad joined Wegener, the newspaper conglomerate had a research department WISE. In 1995 an intern Beate Crombags produced a study into the opportunities for newspapers in a digital world. (I guess that there is no copy of her thesis anymore in the desks of the board members as most of them have moved. In case, I still have a copy in my archive.)

But this time the research was not directed at the opportunities for the publisher, but is end-user centered. The research is being executed by the company Altuition, Philips Research and the High Tech Campus in the framework of the research project Co Creation Lab. Selected people are invited to the Philips HomeLab, a futuristic home created by Philips to show and test potential new equipment and ambient applications. Amongst others the people were offered the iLead of iRex Technologies and could play with it. They were also offered other equipment ranging from PCs to TVs, mobiles and PDAs and of course the printed paper. Wegener hopes in this way to get an insight into new technologies and preferred information carriers.

The Belgian financial newspaper De Tijd will start testing the iLead live with 200 subscribers from April onwards

It will take another ten years before printed newspapers will be replaced by electronic editions, says Henk van der Zee, managing director of Brabants Dagblad. (In 1995 I wrote an article saying that the printed edition would be replaced by an electronic edition by 2005). He has been monitoring the behaviour of the guinea pigs in a homely environment, while consuming the news.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Cross Media event in Amsterdam

In September, 2006 a cross media week will be organised in Amsterdam. Hosted by the city of Amsterdam and sponsored by the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs, the Cross Media Week will explore how art, science, business and technology are changing the way we interact with, produce and consume media. From online games to TV show formats, from virtual reality to conversational new media, from multi-platform brands to consumer-generated content, the Cross Media Week will provide you with insight into the many changes media and the media industry are undergoing and the new opportunities and new creative services the industry is offering.

Cross Media Week 2006 will include a major conference, workshops, an exhibition featuring multimedia content, gaming and art, and an awards ceremony. The Cross Media Week is to become a recurring, annual event that attracts creative talent from around the world. The event should become the annual festival of the digital creative industry. Amsterdam invests 445.000 euro, while the ministry sinks 600.000 euro in the event. Amsterdam likes to project itself as the capital of the digital creative industry in the northern wing, the area ranging from Haarlem, Amsterdam, Almere, Hilversum and Utrecht.

There will be a conference, workshops, exhibition, demonstrations and company visits. A gala event featuring special guests, the Cross Media Awards ceremony will recognise international companies which have displayed excellence in creative content production and innovative, content-related technology applications. The awards will be handed out by a jury comprised of international business and technology leaders.

BTW Talking about cross media, I had a glimpse of the future last night: multi-touch interaction and start the movie.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

PCM: after radio looking into television

Yesterday I mentioned in my blog that the newspaper company PCM was also considering television. By April 1, 2006 we should know the decision. As I indicated PCM, owned by Apax Investment, was looking into setting up a television broadcast station with the assistance of the entertainment company IDTV, more properly Wintermedia, the consulting arm of IDTV’s owner Harry de Winter. IDTV produces programs for commercial and public broadcast stations in the Netherlands. In the past VNU has invested in the company, when it still was a consumer magazine publisher.

So far the course of getting into television was not easy for PCM. They have been active in a local Amsterdam TV station. Recently they proposed to public broadcast companies to start a public private partnership; but such a construction has not been tried yet in Dutch television country. Besides why should there be a public-private partnership? Why can not they go commercial?

So now PCM and IDTV are working on a commercial station, dubbed TV Oase. With a budget of 150 million euro for three years the station should be a commercial quality station. Mr Harry de Winter, the boss of IDTV, keeps telling that the station would really shake up the Dutch broadcast world. With Felix Rottenberg, politician and program producer, and Derk Sauer, a publisher, he is working on a policy, businessplans, formats and programs. From a survey they learned that 90 percent of the intended target group would welcome a quality station. This group consists of students between 20 and 30 years and people of 40 plus; the group in between is busy with their career, household and relationship. But only 5 percent of this group is willing to pay 15 euro a month as subscription.

Some 40 percent of the programs will be produced anew. Some 60 percent of the other programs will be bought abroad. Commercials should be different from the regular commercials such as washing powder and other very consumer products. PCM will take part in the venture with editorial capacity. If they want to they can start the Volkskrant breakfast show (which would be a disaster as breakfast shows are not watched) or a NRC Newsnight program. The station should be a live station.

On April 1, 2006 it will be go or no-go for TV Oase.

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Monday, February 20, 2006

Dutch newspapers jockeying for positions

Radio is a hot item in the Netherlands. Recently the newspaper company De Telegraaf bought Sky Radio from News Corp. Also the regional newspaper NDC has announced to start regional radio. In October I wrote that PCM would need a hostile offer from the audio or video companies. And see: now the newspaper company PCM with the national newspapers NRC Handelsblad, De Volkskrant and Trouw has announced that it intends to buy Arrow Radio with the two stations Arrow Classic Rock and Arrow Jazz FM. The two radio stations have monthly about two million people.

The acquisitions of commercial radio stations by newspapers are heralding a more liberal media policy. So far newspapers have restricted themselves to a 33 percent market share. But the government is looking into less restrictive media concentration policy.

So far newspapers did not have many opportunities to grow. De Telegraaf went into magazines and internet besides national and regional newspapers. NDC bought the book conglomerate VBK and cautiously trips into the field of internet. The national and regional newspaper company PCM has a large book division. All newspapers are looking into the opportunities of television through internet video. De Volkskrant has a video co-operation with the entertainment company IDTV.

PCM see it as a fine mix of quality newspapers and quality music. The newspaper company intends to bring in the expertise of the newspaper company in the field of art, culture, sports and science. De Volkskrant will produce news bulletins for the radio stations. And the newspaper and the radio stations will look into common internet services.

It is interesting to observe that newspaper companies are still investing more money in analogue media companies than in digital media companies. Of course the business is close to the core of the newspaper business with news and advertisement. Digital media companies are too insecure for newspapers with new formats, interactive advertising and a diverse audience. So the newspaper companies rather buy an internet format with proven audiences: De Telegraaf has bought Habbo Hotel from a Finnish company and the Fit Club from a Swedish company (also NDC promotes the Fit Club).

Come to think of it: none of the newspaper companies have invested in e-books or digital paper. I should say yet, as the E-INK/Philips technology company iRex is heavily promoting its digital paper as carrier of electronic newspapers and books.

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Sunday, February 19, 2006

A wonderful world of screens? (4)

After the presentations of the Crossmedia Café a discussion ensued about the sector. It is a starting segment in the interactive marketing industry, which is tsill struggling with cross-media and cross channeling. Narrowcasting still lacks a clear definition and hard facts about the throughput and effects of the screens. A definition of narrowcast as something opposite to broadcast is too vague. Companies working in the area have started up a joint industry committee in order to design an industry wide, standardised survey into the penetration and the effects of narrowcasting. There first meeting was last Thursday. The Dutch innovation agency Syntens coordinates the initial contacts.

That it is business is becoming clear. Three publicly quoted Dutch companies telco KPN, newspaper company De Telegraaf (Media Librium) and beer brewer Heineken (ON) are already involved narrowcasting, having set up subsidiaries or joint ventures. KPN is moving fast by buying up every company with the term narrowcasting in its mission statement. On February 9, 2006 KPN signed the companies: eYe-Display, NN Solutions and QBix. By February 16, 2006 the telco agreed to co-operation with Media Librium; on the same day it appointed a former manager of business market as the manager Narrowcasting. It is clear that KPN wants to go deep in narrowcasting for networking.

Interesting in this developing segment will be the role for content. Especially content creation is a challenging factor of narrow-casting. It is all about experiences, immersive media and ambient technology. It is not the 30s or 40s spot advertisements, but expanded stories, which can be told as short movies. Interactivity is challenging; cameras mounted on screens can offer virtual situations. Narrowcasting is a mix of broadcasting, advertising, (local) news, entertainment and events. The narrowcasting operations will require event organisers with audio-visual experience.

It will be interesting to see how the creative content side of narrowcasting will develop over the next year. Will we have a wonderful world of screens or have audio, video and interactive litter in public spaces and shops: too much noise, inevitable video and intelligent cameras tracking our behaviour, whether we are on a fun shopping spree or just happen to be in a place? In public spaces city councils will like to keep a say in the content and build in controls on interactivity. In shops, the owner will either buy a formula or have a custom made program; but how soliciting will the information be?

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Saturday, February 18, 2006

A wonderful world of screens (3)

The fifth presentation came from Media Librium, the out-of-home TV. This is the company that works together with MacDonalds. The hamburger chain is rapidly adapting to in-store screens and using them not just to narrowcast information about their own products, but also about products and services of third parties. As their target audience will be in MacDonalds, third parties might as well confront them with their advertisement. But the local management of a MacDonald restaurant can also use the screen to steer stream of visitors. When there are no salads any more, the manger will remove the advertisement for salads. When it is hot, the manger might recommend ice creams. And as there is wi-fi all over the place, you might as well offer it as a service to the visitor with the alienating spot of a well clad business man with tie and a computer! It is clear that screens are used here to steer the traffic.

The last presentation was given by Jerry Rustveld, a veteran in the interactive marketing field. His company, Medialandscape has done some in-store screen projects for the book chain Bruna and the bank ABN AMRO. Most prestigious, but also most complicated is their groceries store project for AH. He got the opportunity to start up a new concept in a new shop. It offers 13 channels on 8 different screens with 8 unique content streams, ranging from a screen on the freezer to the DVD in the children’s corner. All the screens offer the opportunity to use TV commercials and link them to the offer of the week. But it is also complicated. When the long necks are sold out, the store manger will have to go into the product database and produce another pack shot of for example beer in cans. But the advantage is that in real time prices can be lowered. No measurements had been done yet; so the influence of the screens was not measured yet. But they got complaints that the screens had been fixed too high; when shopping people like to look down and not communicate with heaven.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

A wonderful world of screens (2)

Besides the two presentations on big screens, four presentations were given on in-store use of screens. These presentations got closer to the term of narrow-casting, I guess. I will deal with two of the presentations today and the other two tomorrow and close off with some observations in the fourth instalment.

Sony and Heineken have set up the company ON. Presently they have 20 venues kitted out with beamers, screens, internet connections. By the end of the year the company wants to have 500 high-end clubs and discos fitted out with their gear. The ambition of ON is high (of course with aiming at high-end clubs, whatever they are). The in-club screens must present an experience. Up to now the experience is with arty video material and short movies such as BMW’s Event World. ON is also working on interactivity by SMS. In a spot they show how a young man types in his name on a mobile and sees his name projected on the bums of a charming lady (talking about high end). The interesting part of the concept is that you do not see 30 to 60 second spots of advertisement, but arty video material and movies which can create an ambience. The concept offers an excellent chance for digital storytelling for the time the broadcast way (without interruption of the customer, please), but in the near future interactively with mobile and PDA.

POSTV is active in another segment of the market. I guess that they are the market pioneers. They first had a television program Wannahaves in which they promoted products and services. But they found out that every time they were looking for an audience and could not guarantee the advertiser a specific audience. That’s why they changed from television to narrow-casting, giving the advertiser the media dividend of the visitor (reach, contact and quality of content). Two cases were presented: one of computer/white goods store Media Markt and of the specs company Pearle. The comparison basically showed that the screens are used to improve sales, explain products and shorten the waiting time. And of course staff can be trained during off hours about new products and attitudes. All this screen content is pumped in by broadband connection. The example of the Canon EOS camera campaign last year was dubious. In the months of April, May and June last year there was an advertisement campaign in the newspapers and on TV. In April there were some 1000 sales, in May this rose to some 5000, but came June with advertisements in the newspapers, on TV and on the ins-store screens the sales had gone up to 12.000 units. In the graph shown, more than 50 percent was due to the in-store screen. These statistics were not convincing as they sounded like sales talk with a linear projection into heaven.

Sitting back and reviewing these examples of narrow-casting one still can wonder about the definition. It is targeted advertising on in-store screens intended to hit small groups of customers. The shop is the narrow conduit in which the buyer and non buyer are selected out.

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Thursday, February 16, 2006

A wonderful world of screens (1)

Yesterday it was Cross-Media Café, organised by iMMovator, in one of the television studios at Media Park in Hilversum. For a third time in a row a vast audience of more than 300 people showed up for this (free) session on Narrowcasting. It was an interesting program about screens, but was it about narrowcasting? The first two presentations were about big public screens, the other three presentations were about the use of in-store screens.

Mike Gibbons of BBC Big Screens presented an interesting case about the use of big screens by the BBC in five UK cities. In those cities the BBC co-operates with the city council, a hardware provider (in this case Philips) and local cultural institutions (arts and movies). The big screens are on 24 hours 7 days and have a mix of local news, broadcasts of local movie makers and BBC news. But of course the screen is at its best at events and disasters, such as rugby games, the Queen’s jubilee and the London bombings. BBC has now experience for one year. They have learned that money is not enough, but screens should be in the proper place where people can sit on stairs and where there is no traffic). The BBC screens do not make money and have no advertisements. Now the BBC unit is moving on to use generated content (showing SMS, playing mobile games, voting, taking virtual goals with intelligent camers mounted in the borders of the screen). Mike made two interesting remarks: screen can contribute to the economic revival of the particular area (e.g. in Liverpool); it is remarkable that in a time where everyone has his mobile and his iPod, people love to get involved in large events such as soccer or rugby games around screens.

The next speaker, of Ledvertisement, made a mess of his speech. The only thing he attempted to get across was that people did not want to be confronted with advertisements on a big screen in a public space. A colleague who took over, gave more sensible information. The company is hoping to have 10 big screens installed this year in the Netherlands. Presently they operate big screens in the center of the cities of Eindhoven, Groningen and one near the Arena, the Ajax soccer stadium. Getting a screen in a particular place takes a long time as you have to have the format ready before the license is issued. Ledvertisement indicated that local information was important. In Eindhoven for example they get a feed from PSV TV, the television station of the local soccer team. Ledvertisement has a fixed schedule, so that people know when the advertisements start to pass by. There is no sound with the broadcast, contrary to the BBC’s big screens, where they use an environment sensitive audio system. It is unbeleivable that you slip back into the times of the silent movies, while you have all the ambient opportunities around.

Are these two examples of big screens instances of narrow casting? To me big screens in public places are just a variation on broadcasting in particular places.

Coming back from the Crossmedia Café I landed in the midst of virtual sports shots at Utrecht station. At the occasion of the Olympic Winter Games, the Dutch railway company NS has remodelled part of this station into Piazza Torino. Travellers can have a short movie shot where they skate virtually in the Dutch speed skating temple Thialf in Heereveen. The virtual skater receives his/her movie through internet. Travellers can also have a photograph taken with their favourite virtual champion speed skaters. The idea and realisation are executed by @Hand Communications.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Games for seniors needed

This week a report on the Dutch gaming market was published by the NVPI, the Dutch trade organisation for the entertainment industry (audio, video and games). The market figures date back to 2004, before the introductions of the portable Playstation, the Xbox and the new Nintendo. But the stats tell how the market in the Netherlands works.
The sales of games, regardless of pc or console games, rose in 2004 with 12 percent in revenue and 27 percent in volume. So more products have been sold but against a lower price. A game for a PC went down 17 percent and one paid 18,18 euro on average. The console game was down 11 percent and a player would be 40,34 euro poorer after the transaction.

(x million)
Year Revenue \Volume
2000 83,23 \ 3,55
2001 106,71 (22%) \ 4,13 (14%)
2002 148,21 (28%) \ 4,59 (10%)
2003 166,5 (12%) \ 5,26 (15%)
2004 187 (12pct) \ 6,7 (27%)

The distribution is done through four channels:
Department stores: 4%
Other channels: 9%
Entertainment shops: 18%
Software shops: 32%
Toys stores: 37%

The most popular console game in 2004 was the new edition of the Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, with Need for Speed Underground following and the soccer game Fifa 2005 in third place. Killzone, produced by the Dutch company Guerilla was in eight place. The best PC games were The Sims 2, Half Life 2 and Battlefield Vietnam.

The majority of the Dutch players is between 30 and 49 years old (56%). The younger players between 12 and 29 years of age are good for 37%. In the range of grandpa and grandma there are still only a few fanatics with 8%; of course for the senior people there are no real games to keep their adrenalin flowing or to exercise their mind. As senior people are going to be a fast growing group in the Netherlands with a lot of time and money on their hands, there is a new development and investment area. (BTW I am 61 years, so part of the target group).

All figures used are taken from the NVPI report, GFK Benelux Marketingservices and the Mega Top 100.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The first city on gaz…

More than half of the 7.1 million Dutch households has a broadband connection. The score was 55 percent beginning of 2005. By now it should be over 60 percent. In all comparative statistics about penetration, the Netherlands scores highest in Europe.

Some 60 percent of the broadband connections are ADSL connections. The speed of these connections are rising at a rapid speed. For example in 2003 the KPN ADSL download speed was 384 Kb/s. Beginning of 2005 this was 1120Kbs and beginning 2006 this was 3000 Kb/s. Also the speed of cable internet connections is on the rise.

In the meantime we see a lot of streaming video and audio coming on. Also other effects can be seen. There is speculation that revenues from ad commercials moves from newspapers to the web; also television revenues are dropping.

But there is a worrying aspect to this broadband rise. It is the famous effect of: The first city on gaz is the last on electricity. It is the effect we saw in France. The videotex Minitel was an absolute success, but it took years before France caught up with internet. The same effect might apply to the Netherlands now. The vast penetration of cable and ADSL connections might slow down the spread of real broadband by fibre connections.

When that is going to happen there is a problem. The ADSL and cable operators will not have the money to invest in a new fibre infrastructure, because it will require a huge investment, while there will be competition of services on the fibre from the beginning. UPC has been faced with this problem already in Nuenen, where it offered a triple play subscription in competition with a local operator.

On the other hand it can be argued that once one has tasted the download speed and just had a glimpse of the new services such as music, movies and television, one would demand a fibre connection.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Philips to show screen for mobile internet

At the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona, which starts today, Philips Polymer Vision will show the rollable screen, which eventually will be linked to a mobile. Instead of receiving internet on a 4,5 cm screen, a screen of 12 cm will be available. The screen, is hidden in the back of the mobile and can be drawn from there by a support frame.

The screen is based on the E-Ink/Philips technology of digital paper and has the same advantages and limitations. The screen is rollable and very readable, while the system only uses power, when a page is turned (7.500 to 10.000 times on 2 penlight batteries). But it is also only black and white text with black and white still images. It will take some years before a colour screen will be produced and video can be shown.

Commercial production of the screens will start in 2006. By 2007 the rollable screens need to be integrated with new types of mobiles. Philips Polymer Vision looks at newspapers as first clients. Instead of just sending videotex like headlines to the mobile, now news can be published more extensively.


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Hard to distinguish

Recently the Free Record Shop was told by a record company that it was selling piracy copies of Katie Melua’s CD Piece by Piece. The chain has immediately removed all the unauthorised copies from their stores.Buyers have been offered a refund. And the Free Recors Shop Holding has also contacted Brein, the Dutch piracy watchdog, and pointed it to the CD provider.

The holding of the Free Record Shop is shocked that is has unwillingly collaborated with the illegal sale of the record. It is busy to rexconstruct how this could happen. Clear is that you need a fine eye in order to distinguish the pirate copy from the orginal. The CD copies cannot be distinguished from the original ones, but the printed sleeve gave away the piracy.
This incident shows how close the piracy world is to penetrate the legal trading world. If a chain like the Free Record Shop makes such a mistake in good faith, the piracy CD provider must have reliable company covers, at least at first sight.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

Olympic webcasts

The Dutch public broadcast system has created 6 webchannels to broadcast the Olympic Winter Games. I have checked the channel and heard the commentary, but hardly saw any pictures; and when I saw them they frooze. It seems that the contractor on behalf of the Dutch public broadcast system, the European Broadcast Union, has limited the broadcasts as to region and bandwith. It is clear that more bandwith is needed. For the skating events I will go back to regular cable television, for I want to see the Dutch pick up another medal.

BTW I saw a nice piece of innovation in stamps. The Dutch postal services TNT/TPC (I lost track of their brand strategy) issues a new stamp on the occassion of the Olympic Winter Games commemorating skate icons like Ard Schenk. The stamp contains a hologram film which shows the skater moving forwards. The Belgian site mouseover shows the effect of the stamp.

The Winter Olympics, Blogverbot and trademarks

The big February television broadcast has started with a swirling show as only Italian can produce. The nicest part for me was the part where people formed a dove of peace. But is it all peace?

It is disturbing to hear that the sports delegates are not allowed to blog. The big organisation is telling the skiers and skaters not to blog. Some of them have already nice blogs, telling about their trainings, their trips and mental state of mind. Since yesterday the skaters are even willing to tell about the innovations of their skates and the new suits. I am wondering whether the sports people will keep to this Blogverbot. I checked some of the sites of the Dutch skaters and these sites all stopped some day ago with putting up news. You can wonder of course whether these sports people have become assets to the Olympic Committee or the national chapters. The Dutch Olympic Committee NOC*NSF said that the sports people should concentrate on skating, skiing, bobbing and snowboarding; blogging is seen as fun.Of course the sports people still can have their column in a newspaper by speaking to a journalist, who writes the blog. A Blogverbot is ridiculous. For the Dutch the Blogverbot will be compensated by the many blog of the visitors to the Olympics.

Another problematic area is the area of logo’s and trademarks. Recently I talked to the event organiser of the WebOlympics. He had been summoned by a solicitor to change the name as Olympics is a registered trademark. Not only the Olympic rings have been registered and protected, but also the names Olympics, Olympic Winter Games and Olympic Summer Games, inclusing all language variations. In the meantime he has complied with the summons, as he did not want to risk a court case and legal bills for legal counsel. But does a WebOlympics harm the Olympic Committee? In my opinion the case could be argued that Olympics is a generic word, indicating a sportive, competitive event.

Of course, it is understandable that the Olympic Committee protects their assets and trade them with sponsors. But are there no limits?

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Friday, February 10, 2006

Just casual gaming….

Last week RealNetworks bought the Dutch company Zylom for 72,2 million euro. Zylom is a casual games producer and online operator. It is active in Germany, Great Britain and France. The company, started 4,5 years ago, offers 70 games all localised. Players can play the games freely, but have to put up with advertisements. They can also buy an game one-off.

The Dutch company will be the new European HQ for the games for RealNetworks. The acquisition will also change Zylom’s business model from one-off payments to subscriptions. Besides Internet, Zylom offers mobile games.

Zylom works collaborates with other Dutch parties such as the Spill Group, King.com, GameDuell, Skill7, Boonty and Skilliam. The Spill Group operates game portals in 15 countries and reaches 1 million games daily.

Gaming seems to be big business in the Netherlands. A recent survey Intel Digital Lifestyle report noted that 40 percent of the Dutch above 18 years play online games. But more surprising is the fact that casual games are mainly played by married women above 30 years. This can be concluded from the user stats. Sunday night at 19.30h there is a peak. Dad is watching socces, mom is playing a casual game. Daily 90.000 Dutch women visit Zylom’s game site just to solve a puzzle, Sudoku or a riddle in a quarter of an hour. Why women above 30 years? Up to 30 years women are usually single, too busy with their career and social life, Zylom says.

Digital lifestyle of Dutch people above 18 years

Downloading music: 53%
Gaming : 40%
Photo albums : 24%
Own website : 17%
Blogging : 11%
Rest : 4%

Source: Intel, Digital Lifestyle (Netherlands report)


Thursday, February 09, 2006

VociNet Instructors Network Conference coming up

Yesterday I received the announcement of the VOCINET Instructors Network Conference, which will be held in tandem with the 8th EUROPRIX Multimedia Top Talent Award Festival in Vienna between March 3-5, 2006. The conference is intended for instructors, trainers, tutors and professors in multimedia from 20 European countries to come to Vienna to share their experience in producing content with their students for different platforms such as the web, DVDs and CD-Roms, mobile phones, installations etc.

The theme will be Teaching for contents on different platforms. The workshop is organized as a part of VocINet - Vocational Training and Network for European Instructors in Interactive Audio-Visual Media. It is the third Workshop after events in Salzburg and Tampere.The conference is specially designed for instructors in the field of new media, the two and half day intensive workshop will feature theoretical lectures as well as group work and practical case analysis sessions, all held by international experts and authors of selected papers that were sent in after a call for papers. Best-practice examples of successful multimedia instruction, training programs and interesting tools will be presented, analysed and discussed. An essential part is however to develop curricula for teaching.

At the same time as the conference the Europrix Top Talent Festival takes place. It is an event sponsored by the Austrian ministry of Economic Affairs and supported by companies such as ATI. It is the summit of a competition for students and young professionals. The nominees are invited to come to Vienna to present their projects to each other and listen to some gurus like Paul Hoffert. On the Saturday night there is the Europrix TTA Gala, where the prices are awarded. For some of the winners it means easier access to venture capital.

Workshop Program, Europrix Top Talenet Award and Europrix TTA Gala
For more information: office@europrix.org

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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Endemol signed a similar TV deal with BT on Febr. 13th, 2006. BT will start offering the package by fall by ether and by IPTV. BT will use software from Microsoft and hardware from Philips. Besides Endemol BT offers BBC Worldwide, Paramount, Warner Music Group, National Geographic Channel as well as with producers of children TV programs HIT Entertainment and Nelvana.

Endemol and KPN in content joint venture, at last

Entertainment producer Endemol and the incumbent telecom KPN have announced their intention to work towards a joint venture which will exploit the Endemol library of content on all KPN platforms in the Dutch markets such as Internet, television and mobile Special digital theme channels will be set up for KPN TV, while video on demand services will be set up for internet and mobile. The joint venture will also distribute non-exclusive material to third parties.

KPN will get access to the vast library of Dutch and foreign productions. Television series from the past . The joint venture will also produce new multi-platform programs and develop new ways of advertising.

KPN is going big into television this way. It has already strategical positions.The company is the largest Internet provider with labels as Planet Internet, XS4ALL and Het Net. It also has the most mobile clients under the labels KPN, Hi and Telfort as well as several operators of virtual mobile networks. The company is presently introducing triple play in the Netherlands. KPN has the transmission and billing technology as well as vast audiences, but KPN does not have any content. Endemol has content and has a limited client base of television companies. The joint venture is a very strategic move as KPN is competing with Tele2, which bought Versatel, the company with the rights to Dutch soccer as a basis for its triple play strategy, but also against the cable companies.

It is interesting to see Endemol and KPN going into a joint venture. Endemol and KPN were also talking about new company just before the turn of a century during the crazy days of World Online (now part of Tiscali). There were several proposals on the table at that time to form a new entertainment company. Originally it were Dutch companies talking to each other: the entertainment company Endemol, the telco KPN, the television facilities company NOB Interactive and the ISP World Online. Together this Dutch pride would form one of the largest European entertainment companies, ready to face the new times. There were meeting days and nights, in which various outlines were discussed. The revolving door of Endemol in Hilversum never stopped turning, until Telefonica announced the acquisition of Endemol for 5,5 million euro. Six years later the love affair between Telefonica and Endemol is over and finally have KPN and Endemol found each other in a joint venture.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Sony and e-Books: a toilsome relationship

Sony was the first company that commercially hijacked the term e-Book in 1990. Ever since it has been producing prototypes of e-Books; so far the e-Books never became a consumer product in terms of numbers. At the beginning of the year it presented the Sony Reader. This reader is based on the E-Ink/Philips technology, which is famous for its clear, crisp screen and readability in the meantime. But will the Sony Reader be a success? No, for Sony is making the same mistake again, even with 15 years experience in the field of E-Books.

The mistake is the use of a proprietary format. Instead of joining the OpenReader format, Sony is holding on to its proprietary standard BBeB. Granted, besides BBeB the reader carries PDF/JPEG/MP3 formats, but for publishing there is only BBeB. It is one the lessons not learned by Sony after more than 15 years experience with e-Books. The company has learned nothing of the format fight of CD-ROM in 1985 and CD-I in 1991.

Their first e-Book in 1991 consisted of a reader (450g) with black/white screen with rules of 40 digits, a mini-disc (200Mb) and was accompanied by a proprietary format. Producers could not get the reader without the proprietary EB format, had to sign a non-disclosure document and had eventually to pay for it. The product never became a success in Europe and the USA. But Sony kept on pushing it in Japan, improving on the hardware, making it lighter and putting colours in the screen. Up to the last Librie model, the e-Book sported a proprietary format.

The proprietary format should generate money from the number of copies produced and running under the format. With a bestseller, also Sony will profit from hardware sales and the proprietary format. It is a shortsighted view as books cannot be exchanged and in case of a success have to be retooled especially for the Sony Reader. It is a pity, such a nice piece of consumer equipment with a proprietary format. It remains a toilsome relationship between Sony and e-Books after all these years. But just wait and hold your breath for E-Ink/Philips/iRex readers which carry the Open Reader. For the Netherlands a bundle of the tablet with free books in Openreader is under developement.


Monday, February 06, 2006

New media initiatives Olympic Winter Games

Big sports events such as the Olympic Winter Games and the World Championship Soccer are moments for people to buy new television sets - flat screens these days - and for companies to roll out innovations. The Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games will provide sports fans with the greatest choice of viewing and the most technologically advanced coverage of any previous Olympic Games.

The Winter Olympic Games in Turin (Italy) starting this week will show some new media initiatives:
There will be more broadcasters supplying broadband internet coverage than ever before, increasing from eight countries for Athens 2004 to over 20 across four continents. In most cases, this will include live coverage across a number of channels in countries such as France, Germany, Canada, Australia and Japan. France Telecom will provide seven broadband channels of live coverage of the Games, airing over 50 hours a day.

For the first time, there will be live or delayed video coverage of the Olympic Games on mobile phones. This will occur across five continents in almost 20 countries, including France, the UK, Germany, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and South Korea.

In Europe alone, access to the Games via mobile telephony will be available in 14 countries, through seven mobile operators. In South Korea, Digital Multimedia Broadcast (DMB) technology will allow mobile phone users to gain direct access to coverage of the Games from Korean Olympic broadcasters.

Most interesting will be the transmissions of high definition television (HDTV). Although they still will be rather experimental, with not too many HDTV set around, it will be interesting to see the difference. The host broadcast, produced by the Torino Olympic Broadcasting Organisation (TOBO) will be the first to be filmed entirely in High Definition Television (HDTV). TOBO will use 400 HD cameras to cover the Games, delivering more than 900 hours of HD coverage to all rights holders.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

Remembering CD-i

A week or so ago, I saw a photograph of an old acquaintance in the Dutch financial daily FD. In an article about Antwerp René van den Bichelaer was featured as a guide for the city, to which he moved in 1997.

When I met René in 1993, he was a successful entrepreneur who had just sold his company in street furniture, such as lights, seats and benches but also full concepts for railway and bus stations, which was revolutionary at that time. At the same time he bought a multimedia development company CODIM. It was a rather new company, which was producing Compact Disc Interactive (CD-i).
It was early days for that medium. Philips had launched it in November 1991 in New York and a year later in Europe. It had set up a publishing company and an association for producers. The publishing company gave also assignments to producers.

The direction of CD-I was unclear. On the one hand it was clear that it was living room equipment as the player was linked up to the television. On the other hand it was educational tool, as it was seen as a miniature laser disk. The title production for the living room covered the whole range of categories from games to movies, from encyclopedias to documentaries. In fact, CD-I was the precursor of DVD.

For the producers it was not easy to start up a production with their own investment. Investment companies were shy, as it was a Philips/Sony product and a competitor to the CD-ROM, which was supported by Microsoft, Digital and Apple. The figures about the number of players in the market were not to be trusted, as they always were blown up; besides, the authoring software was not exactly cheap. The only real scale of economy feature was the CD multiplication, as it was the same process of audio CD replication. So René took the initiative to have a Dutch producers’ association, VOCP.

CODIM made quite some CD-I productions; by 1996 it was all over. But the company had understood the signs of the time and started to produce CD-ROMs and internet sites. In 2004 the company was sold to iSM eCompany, a full service internet bureau.

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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Heineken goes to the Olympic Games

The Olympic Games are about to start in the Italian city of Turin. In the Netherlands these games are alive as we are a speed skate nation. Of course we do have some snow boarders and bobsled teams. But it is for speed skating that you will sit in front of the television. This time we do not need to stay up through the night, like last time, when the Games were held in Salt Lake City (after bribes were paid; in such a religious city).

In these Winter Games we will see two real Dutch features come back: The Holland House and Heineken. The Holland House is the meeting point for Dutch sports people, officials and visitors. It is the place where the winners are celebrated and radio and television people hold their interviews. One of the sponsors of the Holland House is, of course, Heineken.

But for this type of occasions Heineken always has unique and funny advertisements. These days they also add interactive games. So now Heineken has put up a game (sorry only in Dutch) for people to play in two to four days. The objective of the game is to reach the Holland House in Turin virtually. Of course, when you reach it, you are a candidate for a free trip to Turino and of course to the Holland House.

Players of the interactive game get assignments by and e-mail or an SMS and can earn kilometres If the assignments is not properly executed the players will have to run more kilometres and of course will arrive late. Potential players have to declare that they above 18 years of age. Once on, a sequence of pictures is shown. There have been more than 5000 pictures shot. One of them is the virtual starting point. The site harbours also the famous beer glass filling game and the Heineken shop for all kind of beer glasses and other beer apparel.

It is a funny game. In fact it keeps you out of your sleep as you want to start the next assignment. Heineken has a lot of experience with this type of games. In 2002 one of the games of Heineken was in fact a Europrix category winner. The core of this site was an interactive game featuring a simulated party which is perfectly appropriate to promote both the product beer and a fun image of the brand Heineken. The game worked with multiple, parallel, storylines and goal-driven character behaviour. This allowed a whole range of unimagined possibilities. In addition to the game, a series of extra features on how to organise a successful party were offered. This included a "party calculator" to decide on purchases and the possibility to create a Personal Party Page to post information for friends and of course later on the photographs. The site was both fun and functional. These games were both designed by Qi.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Online is a medium without history

But this might change within two weeks, when the European version of Internet Archive will start as Europarchive.org. This is clear from an interview of Tonie van Ringelestijn with Julien Masanes published on the Emerce site. The objective is to start a digital archive of the most valuable public domain internet content in Europe.

The site will store many hundreds of performances of classical music older than 50 years, which are published under the creative commons licenses. Later on this month hundreds of British promotion movies and BBC material will be downloadable, but also the sites of the European Union and governments websites. Also the Dutch Image and Sound Institute of the Public Broadcast Organisation, a kind of broadcast museum, will put up some early stuff under creative commons license.

The European Internet Archive is an initiative of the American Srchive.org and XS4ALL.nl, a subsidiary of the Dutch telco KPN. The Foundation European Digital Archive is based in Amsterdam. XS4ALL offers 200 terabyte for space.

This is really good news. Of course it will be only a start and a small selection. And the 200 terabyte will be consumed in a short time. The American counterpart has now 500 terabyte with 500 billion webpages from 50 million websites. The Wayback Archive offers the 66.000 visitors to the site 15.000 movies, 35.000 concerts, thousands of lectures, 24.000 texts and 34.000 programs.

I think that this is a great initiative. As I am presently working on a history of online publication, I would sometimes like to go back to original sites. So far I have been able to go back with the Wayback Machine in time till 1996. I saw the rather primitive pages without pictures of some Dutch sites, but I could not find back my 1995 column for the Intermediair site Cyberia. But I guess nothing is left of the period between 1992 and 1996, when internet was introduced in the Netherlands. Perhaps some single pages, but certainly no site that works, let alone the links. Of the stone age of online between 1968 and 1996 not much if anything is left; perhaps some ASCII and videotext pages, photographs of machines, but no interactive programs. Online is so far a medium without history.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

MECOM, the investment vehicle of the former Mirror Group chief executive David Montgomery, tabled a bid up to 140 million euro for the Dutch regional newspaper Limburgs Dagblad, which is part of the regional newspapers of the Telegraaf Media Groep. Also the Dutch regional newspaper company NDC has shown interest in acquiring the Limburg s Dagblad. I had also expected a German newspaper company to show interest.

De Telegraaf: taking up positions

Yesterday there was some sensation going around in the Netherlands. News Corp of Rupert Murdoch sold Sky radio to the newspaper company De Telegraaf. It now means that De Telegraaf has four radio stations, three in the Netherlands (Sky radio 101 FM, Radio Veronica and Classic FM) and one in Germany (Sky Radio Hessen). The German station will most likely be sold on as De Telegraaf does not have any interest there.

The acquisition is interesting in more than one point. It indicates that De Telegraaf is setting out a strategy in a serious manner. It is now one of the most complete newspaper companies in the Netherlands. It has a daily newspaper, a Sunday paper, a free broadsheet (Sp!ts), regional newspapers (or wjhat is left of them), a magazine group, multimedia assets (Habbo Hotel, Classified), shares in SBS Television and now three radio stations.

The acquisition is remarkable in as far the shares it takes in the radio stations. Officially, it only took 33 percent of shares. The rest was taken by the bank ING. But this was a technicality. In the Netherlands publishers are not allowed to take a majority interest in other media such as television and radio. So a consortium was set up, giving De Telegraaf formally 33 percent of shares in the radio station holding. But there are clauses in the contract, offering the rest of the shares to De Telegraaf as soon as the media law is relaxed and newspapers can participate in RTV companies. So picking up the Sky radio companies is strategical: taking up positions for the future. In fact the companies are broadcsting like analogue media in a crossmedia mix.

Why did Murdoch sell the stations? Murdoch has operated these stations for years without paying any license fees: income were the ads, expenses were the disc jockeys and the equipment. And the income side was higher than the expense side. But after the last spectrum assignment exercise Sky radio companies had also to pay up for the use of frequencies. And as Murdoch does not have any newspaper assets in the Netherlands to combine radio and newspaper activities, it was more advantageous to move out all together.


Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Google's snowball starts rolling....

European publishers have asked the EU Commisioner for Media, Vivianne Reding, to step into the google debate. Also a task force of global and European publishers organizations, led by the World Association of Newspapers, has agreed to work together to examine the options open to publishers to assert their rights to recognition and recompense, and to ultimately improve the relationships between content creators/producers and news aggregators and search engines.

See press release

Indexing the excuse, power the objective

The Dutch newswire ANP and the Dutch and Flanders newspapers are upset as Google has started Google news in Dutch. (People in the Netherlands and Flanders in Belgian speak basically the same language)

The Belgian newspapers are already protesting against this move of Google and have promised to take the company to court, if it is not going to pay. The Belgian Standard newspaper has already blocked the link of Google. The Dutch publishers are less sure and have not yet decided what action to take. The newspapers of course are all looking at the legal action the French newswire AFP took. AFP demanded compensation. As a counter measure Google now filters out the news items of AFP.

The reaction of Google Benelux marketing manager Sidney Mock in the Dutch daily NRC-Handelsblad was blunt. He did not ask permission from the publishers, he said, but he informed all the publishers in the Netherlands and Flanders about the service. Besides, he said, Google did not need permission, as Google presents news as a result of the indexing. He is surprised that the newspapers are as vehemently opposed as Google news generates more traffic for them and as Google does not pick up revenues from ads.

It is hard to get an injunction against indexing news sources. This was shown when Dutch publishers tried to prohibit www.kranten.com to do so. But despite this jurisprudence, I guess that Google might find itself in court soon, as Dutch and Belgian law on news is different from the Anglo-Saxon and American jurisprudence. There is a lot of jurisprudence on citation right and copyright on photographs in newspapers.

Funny thing is that the Dutch and Flanders newspaper publishers just had everything under control with the (electronic) clipping and aggregation service. It took them almost 10 years to get a handle on this and the CLIP service still could use some good marketing. And again, now they are basically back to the classic publishers’ waiting problem. They always wait instead of acting pro-actively. If the publishers had started themselves a good indexing service or had associated themselves with an indexing service as part of a common marketing action, Google would have had competition. In court the publishers could have pointed to their own service instead of getting an injunction.

Another funny thing is that the Dutch newspaper publishers are now contemplating action against Google, while the Dutch book publishers are almost in bed with Google. The Dutch Publishers association has a round-table planned with a Google official and a publisher telling about the Google Print program. No opponent, e.g. from the German publishing association, has been invited. The German publishing association has decided to start an indexing system for themselves as well as a search system. So the publishers will offer their own system and can offer this to Google at their own terms.

Whatever started out as a search service for internet, has now become a power play roughing up many intellectual property rights issues. Indexing is the excuse, power the objective.

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