Monday, August 27, 2007

ABC Network's new iCaught: a lot like Jackass (without the Knoxville charm)

Normally, I don't watch the ABC Network. Around these parts, they come thru on a Sinclair-owned affiliate and are pretty much famous for their right-wing rhetoric. But it was hard to click away when i saw the bold logo of iCaught, ABC's latest entry in the news-magazine genre (as it's very loosely defined...)

The Hollywood Reporter describes iCaught this way: It's mostly innocuous and fluffy. And it would be perfectly harmless as well except that it adds to the popular notion that news is just another way of delivering entertainment.

If you call the old guy-getting-cannonball-in-the-groin entertainment. Yeah, it's amusing, but without the guy wearing leopard-print speedos, the entertainment value is dubious....;-)

Hosted by the cutely helmet-headded, sometime Good Morning America anchor (another term used loosely) Bill Weir (hmmm...could we convince him to take the cannonball in the groin??) , iCaught was described by ABC exec David Sloan (in Varitey)as taking on "a wide breadth of potential stories, including breaking news; celebrity journalism; investigations; and stories of politics, crime, Internet hoaxes or just the moments of everyday life."

Um, do we really need a major network to reprocess and give us the stuff we can find on YouTube? And doesn't that make a show that's basically cannibalizing YouTube clips and then giving 15 minutes of fame to the clip via backstory kinda like "news" the way that yesterday's papers can be used as fishwrap and bircage liners?

Given that one of my biggest pet peeves is big networks (or even small networks) that take all rights to user-generated content, I checked the Walt Disney Internet Group's Terms of Use for iCaught and found the following:
If there exists any doubt or ambiguity about whether any User-Generated Content constitutes a Submission, such User-Generated Content shall be conclusively deemed to be a Submission. No Submission shall be subject to any obligation of confidentiality on our part and we shall not be liable for any use or disclosure of any Submission. Without limiting the foregoing, you hereby grant us (and our licensees, distributors, agents, representatives and other authorized users), without the requirement of any permission from or payment to you or to any other person or entity, a perpetual, non-exclusive, irrevocable, fully-paid, royalty-free, sub-licensable and transferable worldwide license to use, re-use, reproduce, transmit, print, publish, display, exhibit, distribute, re-distribute, copy, host, store, cache, archive, index, categorize, comment on, broadcast, stream, edit, alter, modify (including, without limitation, removing lyrics and music from any Submission or substituting the lyrics and music in any Submission with music and lyrics selected by us), adapt, translate, create derivative works based upon and publicly perform such Submissions, in whole or in part, in all media formats and channels now known or hereafter devised (including, without limitation, on WDIG Sites, on third party web sites, on our broadcast and cable networks and stations, and on our broadband and wireless platforms, products and services) for any and all purposes including, without limitation, news, advertising, promotional, marketing, publicity, trade or commercial purposes, all without further notice to you and with or without attribution (the "Submissions License").
so, essentially, you give big media the rights to make money from your stuff....

They are also quite particular as rights pertain to music:

To the extent that any Submissions submitted by you contain original songs or recordings, you hereby represent that you are a member of ASCAP, BMI, SESAC or any other applicable performing rights society and that all musical compositions (including lyrics) contained in such Submissions are available for licensing to us (and our licensees, distributors, agents, representatives and other authorized users) directly from such societies. Notwithstanding the foregoing, regardless of whether you are a member of any performing rights society, you hereby grant us (and our licensees, distributors, agents, representatives and other authorized users) a perpetual, non-exclusive and irrevocable license to publicly perform each and every musical composition (including lyrics) contained in such Submissions

So you can lose your music too....

iCaught (also please note the "i"-ness of it. wonder if they've got a deal with Apple) is only supposed to last 6 weeks, and we're in about the third or fourth week of it, and it *did* replace The Batchelor....does anybody even watch The Batchelor any more? I'd hedge a bet though that there's more to iCaught--that it's a bit like exploratory surgery...that networks are looking at this as a viable method for more cheap programming. If people like iCaught, what's to stop other networks from developing more cannonball-in-the-groin user-generated content shows? And what's to stop them from insisting that we like them--the same way they keep insisting we like reality tv shows (even after The Sopranos kicked realty tv butt.)

But, then again, what can we do with video fishwrap other than try to, like Frankenstein's monster, re-animate it in some way?

makes my head hurt just thinking about it...

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