2006 Crystal Ball: The Media Business

By Brian 

Along with predictions involving networks and talents, some e-mailers also forecast changes in the media business for 2006. Here’s my favorite: “The news media will ask if the news media are focused more on getting ratings, more readers and more visitors by resorting to hype and sensationalism over quality and substance.” Other commenters weigh in on plane emergencies; VOD and new distribution models; war coverage; a “conservative lifestyle” cable channel; and scandals. They’re all after the jump…

“A missing blond woman will always be the lead news on all the cable news outlets bumping less important stories such as unjust wars, poverty and other meaningless stories (of course celebrity trials will always trump a missing blond woman story).”

“The video-on-demand trend on the Internet, such as being able to download TV shows from iTunes and Google and Yahoo streaming TV shows such as ‘Everybody Hates Chris’ and ‘Two and a Half Men’ will explode in ’06 much faster than anyone could have ever imagined. The cow is out of the barn and there will be a stampede to get in front. Networks and other content providers will be falling over themselves to distribute their content and advertisers, who are already nervous as TIVO and commercial-free programs are made available on the Internet, will find themselves having to reinvent themselves. With all of the creative and brilliant minds out there, a new model to reach viewers will emerge that is not on anyone’s radar yet. The Internet will not replace TV but will become a very close ‘kissing cousin.’ For those afraid to jump in, they will find that ‘resistance will be futile.'”

“Plane emergencies = the new car chase. While warning lights show up on aircraft daily, eventually one of these will turn out to be a catastrophe, in the same vein as the car chases that end up with shots fired and a suspect dead. I believe that playing the percentages, and more coverage of this type of story, one of these aircraft will crash on live TV in 2006. Possibly a 2 seat Cessna, or a major carrier’s jet; either way this will set off debates on whether this type of story should be covered on live TV, on a delay, or even whether viewers should see their family members die in fiery ball of flames.”

“I predict that in late October/early November 2006, just before the mid-term elections, there will be a ‘major positive development’ in the war on terror that all the news outlets will excitedly and breathlessly report like a six year old telling his friends on the afternoon of December 25th about the new bike he just got from Santa. And Keith Olbermann will be the only one to call the sources into question and call the story a load of bull.”

“A new ‘conservative lifestyle’ cable network will be announced. The channel will combine several bread and butter aspects of the right. There will be country music videos and live performances, reality programming with a political flair, religion, a bit of hunting and fishing, plenty of patriotism bordering on xenophobia, highlight simulcasts of popular conservative talk shows (a la Franken on Sundance) and/or perhaps a ‘Dayside’ style format, and of course nightly newscasts and slanted analysis. It won’t necessarily compete with Fox News, but will compliment an all-news network.”

“Blogs will grow and will be THE main news sources on the Internet. They also will shift the political world in 2006.”

“ABC News and CBS News start merger talks.”

“The news media will ask if the news media are focused more on getting ratings, more readers and more visitors by resorting to hype and sensationalism over quality and substance.”

“Another surprise for 2006: BBC World. Our American networks better watch this British invasion as this international news network continues to collect more viewers for its newscasts and aims to launch on cable in in the new year.”

“George Soros, and a group of foreign investors, will buy a news division from one of the major networks.”

“A sex scandal will hit one of the networks, causing at least one executive to resign and a journalist’s spouse to file for divorce.”

“A well-known, veteran Washington journalist will suddenly retire. He will publish a book naming names in a damaging expose about collusion between politicians and reporters. Careers will be ruined, and Congress will conduct hearings on classified leaks. The Justice Department will pursue indictments. When several clandestine operatives are killed because of the revelations, efforts will be mounted on both sides of the aisle for an ‘official secrets act.'”

“In the second quarter of 2006, a scandal will rock the news business. The integrity of at least two news organizations will be called into question. One print, one electronic. It will relate to both the content of the coverage and also involve financial improprieties. When lawsuits are filed and prosecutors begin making indictments later in the year, further revelations will emerge from informants making plea agreements. Some of the details will be silenced by settlement agreements. But the damage will be staggering. There will be a crisis of confidence in the news profession.”

“One of the ‘Big 3’ (Tom, Dan, or Ted) will announce they are running for President on an Independent ticket. Several other “big name” politicians and entertainment celebrities will join him in trying to form a new political party.”