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Great American Conference capsules

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SW OKLAHOMA STATE AT ARKANSAS-MONTICELLO

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Willis “Convoy” Leslie Cotton Boll Stadium, Monticello

RADIO KBHM-FM, 93.7, Monticello

INTERNET uamsports.com

RECORDS SW Oklahoma State 0-1, 0-1; UAM 1-0, 1-0

COACHES Ruzell McCoy (0-1 in first season at SWOSU and overall); Hud Jackson (43-79 in 12th season at UAM and overall)

SERIES SW Oklahoma State leads 6-5

LAST MEETING SWOSU rang up 522 yards of total offense to beat UAM 37-27 on Oct. 1, 2022, at Weatherford, Okla.

NOTEWORTHY Three of the previous five meetings have resulted in losses for UAM. The Boll Weevils, though, have won the past two home matchups in the series, including an 18-16 win in 2021. … The 492-mile trip from Weatherford, Okla., to Monticello is the longest of the season for SWOSU. … The lone win the Bulldogs have had on the Boll Weevils’ field came in 2017 when they won 20-19. … UAM quarterback Demilon Brown accounted for five touchdowns (4 passing, 1 rushing) in the team’s 49-24 victory over Northwestern Oklahoma State last week. The last time the Boll Weevils played the Bulldogs, the senior threw for 302 yards, but he also threw 3 interceptions and was sacked 6 times. … SWOSU last won a game in Arkansas on Oct. 20, 2018, when it beat Arkansas Tech 35-14 in Russellville. … A win would give the Boll Weevils a 2-0 mark for just the third time since 2011. … Running back Ethane Hyche led the Bulldogs with 67 yards on 15 carries and 1 touchdown in their 38-14 loss to Ouachita Baptist in their opening game.

HENDERSON STATE AT SE OKLAHOMA STATE

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Paul Laird Field, Durant, Okla.

RADIO KYXK-FM, 106.7 Gurdon; KVRC-AM, 1240, Arkadelphia; KDEL-FM, 100.9, Arkadelphia; KWPS-FM, 99.7, Hot Springs; KZYP-FM, 104.1, Malvern; KZYP-AM, 1310, Malvern

INTERNET hsusports.com and GoSoutheastern/SESportsNet (streaming)

RECORDS Henderson State 1-0, 1-0; SEOSU 0-1, 0-1

COACHES Scott Maxfield (126-62 in 18th season at Henderson State and overall); Bo Atterberry (33-24 in sixth season at SEOSU and 74-52 in 12th season overall)

SERIES Henderson State leads 26-6

LAST MEETING Korien Burrell and eight times for 119 yards as Henderson State picked up an 31-23 victory on Oct. 1, 2022, at Arkadelphia.

NOTEWORTHY Henderson State has dominated SEOSU since the teams began playing as members of the Great American Conference in 2011. The Reddies have won every matchup during that span. … The Savage Storm haven’t beaten Henderson State since 2009 when they took a 54-38 victory. … Quarterback Andrew Edwards is the reigning GAC Co-Offensive Player of the Week after he accounted for 307 yards of offense and four passing touchdowns in Henderson State’s 41-13 win over East Central (Okla.) last week. The Bentonville native is 8-2 as a starter. … Receiver Marquis Gray, who set team single-season records in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns caught in 2022, had 4 catches for 121 yards and 1 touchdown in SEOSU’s loss at Southern Arkansas on Aug. 31. The Savage Storm turned the ball over three times and allowed five sacks. … The fumble return for a touchdown by Paul Manning last week was the Reddies’ first score of that nature since 2016. … The next two games for SEOSU will be against teams from Oklahoma before it plays at Ouachita Baptist on Sept. 30.

NW OKLAHOMA STATE AT OUACHITA BAPTIST

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Cliff Harris Stadium, Arkadelphia

RADIO KARN-FM, 102.9 (Little Rock); KZNG AM, 1340, KZNG-FM 97.9/105.5 (Hot Springs); KTPB-FM, 98.1, Pine Bluff; KCXY-FM, 95.3, Camden; KNAS-FM, 105.5, Nashville; KHGG-FM, 103.5, Fort Smith, KESA-FM, 100.9, Eureka Springs; KILX-FM, 102.1, De Queen; KQOR-FM, 105.3, Mena

INTERNET obutigers.com

RECORDS NWOSU 0-1, 0-1; OBU 1-0, 1-0

COACHES Ronnie Jones (0-1 in his first season at NWOSU and 11-32 in fourth season overall); Todd Knight (144-99 in 24th season at OBU and 172-131-2 in 30th season overall)

SERIES OBU leads 11-3

LAST MEETING A 21-point second quarter help OBU open a big halftime lead en route to earning a 48-7 win on Oct. 1, 2022, at Alva, Okla.

NOTEWORTHY OBU ran its winning streak in season openers to 16 games last week when it blasted Southwestern Oklahoma State 38-14 at Weatherford, Okla. That win was also the Tigers’ seventh straight over the Bulldogs. … NWOSU is 3-20 over its past 23 games. The Rangers have been outscored 112-24 in two games against OBU during that frame. … Receiver Keemontrae McKnight had 4 catches for 54 yards and 2 touchdowns in his first game with the Tigers since 2021. He missed last season because of injury and used a medical redshirt. … The last time NWOSU beat OBU was in 1996 when it cruised to a 34-3 win. That was the Rangers’ third victory in a row over the Tigers, but they haven’t beaten OBU since. … Quarterback Riley Harms set career highs in passing yards (283) and touchdown passes (4) last week. In 2022, he had 177 yards through the air and tossed two touchdowns against the Rangers. … A victory by OBU, which is ranked No. 8 in this week’s American Football Coaches Association Division II poll, could set up a key battle with unbeaten Southern Arkansas next week.

SOUTHERN NAZARENE AT ARKANSAS TECH

WHEN 6 p.m.

WHERE Thone Stadium, Russellville

RADIO KCJC-FM, 102.3, Russellville

INTERNET arkansastechsports.com

RECORDS Southern Nazarene 0-1, 0-1; Arkansas Tech 0-1, 0-1

COACHES Dustin Hada (6-20 in fourth season at Southern Nazarene and overall); Kyle Shipp (12-22 in fourth season at Arkansas Tech and overall)

SERIES Arkansas Tech leads 8-1

LAST MEETING Arkansas Tech scored 17 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 48-35 victory on Oct. 1, 2022, at Russellville.

NOTEWORTHY The only time Southern Nazarene has beaten Arkansas Tech was in 2019. The Crimson Storm scored 28 of the game’s first 35 points and rolled 41-24 at Bethany, Okla. They’ve given up an average of 44.5 points in back-to-back losses to the Wonder Boys in two games since. … Arkansas Tech used two quarterbacks in a 23-21 loss to Oklahoma Baptist last week. Hunter Loyd was 4 of 12 for 35 yards with 1 interception, while Taye Gatewood went 14 of 20 for 201 yards and 1 score. … Southern Nazarene turned the ball over six times and fell into a huge 35-point hole in the first half during a 53-20 loss to Harding in its season opener. Quarterback Gage Porter completed 6 of 16 passes for 116 yards and 3 interceptions, but he did rush for 117 yards and 2 scores as well. … The Wonder Boys will have another game at home next week against Henderson State. They’ll head to Magnolia to take on Southern Arkansas the following week. … Dustin Hada was the Crimson Storm’s offensive coordinator for four years before becoming head coach in 2020.

OKLAHOMA BAPTIST AT HARDING

WHEN 7 p.m.

WHERE First Security Stadium, Searcy

RADIO KVHU-FM, 95.3, Searcy

INTERNET hardingsports.com

RECORDS Oklahoma Baptist 1-0, 1-0; Harding 1-0, 1-0

COACHES Chris Jensen (40-61 in 11th season at Oklahoma Baptist and overall); Paul Simmons (51-13 in sixth season at Harding and overall)

SERIES Harding leads 7-0

LAST MEETING Harding ran for nearly 300 yards in battling for a 38-23 victory on Oct. 1, 2022, in Searcy.

NOTEWORTHY Harding has never lost in seven meetings with Oklahoma Baptist. Six of those games have been decided by 15 points or more, with the closest game coming in 2015, which Harding won 20-19. … Oklahoma Baptist defensive lineman Brett Karhu was named the Great American Conference Defensive Player of the Week after recording seven tackles, including three sacks, during 23-21 win over Arkansas Tech. … Kicker Luke Watkins was picked as the league’s special teams player of the week following a 3-for-3 outing on field goals. He also had three punts land inside the 20-yard line. … There were only two teams (Harding, Colorado State-Pueblo) in the NCAA Division II that forced six turnovers or more in their season-openers. … Quarterback Aidan Thompson had 197 yards passing with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions for Oklahoma Baptist last year against Harding. He also had a rushing score. … The Bisons (Harding) have run for six touchdowns or more 34 times since 2010. … The Bison (Oklahoma Baptist) have six rushing scores in their past five games combined.

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UMG & Deezer’s Streaming Model Devalues Passive Listens. Is…

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As the music streaming business matures, the way people listen to music could determine how artists get paid. Sitting back and letting a streaming service choose a song will result in a lower royalty than choosing the song yourself, if this week’s news of a new streaming model is any indication.

It’s not a phobia toward algorithms that’s driving the change. Rather, the approach rewards those artists who create the most active engagement. Songs that play in the background are deemed to be less valuable.

On Tuesday, French music streamer Deezer and Universal Music Group announced a partnership to reinvent how Deezer calculates UMG’s streaming royalties. The partnership will “[reduce] the economic influence of algorithmic programming” and reward “engaging content” with greater royalties, according to the companies’ press releases.

When they say, “algorithmic programming,” they mean the streaming service’s personalized recommendations about what song will play next. That’s a more passive, lean-back approach to listening than hunting and pecking on the app’s user interface to choose a song.

At some point between the launch of internet radio platforms and the present battle for better royalties, passive listening got a bad rap. What has the world come to, some people fret, when dreaded algorithms are deciding what music gets heard? What gives an algorithm such an important role in determining how royalties will be paid?

But algorithms are a common way to stream music. When given an on-demand streaming service, people often let an algorithm do the hard work of picking the next song. A 2021 MusicWatch survey found Spotify Premium users spent 25% of their time in “lean-back” listening rather than “lean-in” listening. That figure rose to 31% for Apple Music users and 32% for Amazon Prime Music users. In all, 48% of time spent listening to music was “lean back” listening on streaming services, broadcast radio and satellite radio.

Algorithms also drive helpful products such as Spotify’s Discover Mode, a promotional tool that allows artists and labels to find new listeners in return for a lower royalty rate. It works by increasing the likelihood a song will be recommended to a listener. It’s popular, too. From the first quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022, Discovery Mode had a 98% customer retention rate, Charlie Hellman, Spotify’s vp/global head of music product said during the company’s 2022 investor day presentation.

When a streaming service does personalization well, it adds great value to a listening experience. Pandora was revolutionary when it launched in 2005 because it had a spooky sense of what people wanted to hear. Its Music Genome Project, a proprietary technology that classifies recordings’ various musical traits, gave it the ability to pick the right songs based on a history of giving other songs a “thumb up” or “thumb down” vote. Pandora took away the effort in digging for songs and provided a much broader catalog than broadcast or satellite radio.

Today’s music streaming services are superior to their predecessors — and their own previous iterations — specifically because they have mastered passive listening. Consider how far Spotify has come since it was launched. Spotify used to recommend songs based on a user’s social network — kind of an “if your friend likes it, you’ll like it” approach to song-picking. But it wasn’t a good listening experience. Spotify’s decision to acquire music intelligence startup The Echo Nest in 2014 was the cornerstone for a new approach to providing a personalized listening experience.

The proliferation of smart speakers only adds to the need for algorithmic listening. About two-thirds of U.S. smart speaker owners wanted to own the devices to discover new songs, according to a 2022 Edison Research survey, and their share of time spent listening to audio through a smart speaker increased 400% over the previous five years. The joy of owning a smart speaker is allowing the device and streaming service to do all the work — it’s passive listening at its best.

Most Americans use their favorite streaming service when doing things around the home such as cleaning, relaxing, cooking, eating and entertaining guests, according to the same MusicWatch study. Most people stream music when exercising. More than half of people also use their favorite streaming service when driving, although satellite and broadcast radio were preferred in the car over streaming. Streaming service Songza, acquired by Google in 2014, was built on the premise that people chose music for moods and activities. That approach to curation has since been adopted by most — if not all — streaming services.

The UMG-Deezer partnership is evidence that background listening is on its way to getting a demotion. Deezer will remove tracks of white noise, which account for 2% of its streams, from the royalty pool. That leaves more royalties for professional artists who depend on streaming to earn a living. Throughout the year, UMG has been calling out “functional music” — a term that has come to mean low-cost or generic music built for moods or activities — and drawing a distinction between artists who draw people to streaming services and sounds that people play in the background.

Taylor Swift and Drake may rule the charts, but functional music is mainstream, too. Of U.S. music streamers who listen to playlists, many of them listen to playlists for white noise (36%), rain sounds (45%) and relaxation (61%), according to a 2023 MIDiA Research survey. In recent years, streaming services have broadened their playlists and radio stations to address the fact that consumers want a variety of sounds.

Artists with small followings will get less, too. Deezer will “boost” the royalties of “professional” artists with at least 1,000 streams per month by a minimum of 500 unique listeners. That will relegate hobbyists and artists early in their career development to a different tier. Exactly how many artists will be affected isn’t clear, but Deezer says just 2% of artists on the platform have more than 1,000 monthly unique listeners.

UMG and Deezer aren’t exactly taking an innovative stance, however. The music industry — at least in the United States — has already determined that active, on-demand listening is more valuable than passive, non-interactive listening. The Deezer-UMG partnership merely codifies for an on-demand service what is standard at internet radio. In the United States, non-interactive internet radio streams from the likes of Pandora pay 0.24 cents per ad-supported stream (and 0.3 cents per subscription streams). That’s less than any on-demand stream from a premium streaming service such as Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube Music.

In effect, a streaming service pays less for non-interactive streams because it gives the listener less value than on-demand services. To qualify for the lower royalty rate, a non-interactive streaming service cannot have the same robust features as an interactive one. At Deezer, a listener can stream any song from any artist any number of times. They can listen to playlists and build playlists, too. They can listen to songs shared by friends through SMS or social media. That’s all lean-in listening, and it’s more valuable because people will pay $11 a month to do it.

Until now, on-demand services’ standard pro-rata model hasn’t separated passive from active listening. When labels negotiated licensing deals with streaming services, they have always treated one stream the same as any other stream. A stream from a user-curated playlist is treated the same as a stream from an algorithmically created radio station. Whether the listener actively hits the play button to listen to a particular track isn’t taken into account. Right or wrong, that’s how the pie has been divvied up.

A couple of decades into the life of the pro-rata system, Deezer shows there is a greater willingness to treat active listening differently than passive listening. MIDiA Research’s Mark Mulligan called this demotion “a very welcome and long overdue move” that will “disincentivis[e] the commodification of consumption by rewarding active listening.” There’s certainly a logical argument to be made here: The artists people actively seek out arguably provide the most value — give the streaming service the most foot traffic, so to speak — while less popular artists play the important but less financially valuable role of giving breadth and depth to music catalogs.

Time will tell if and how other streaming services follow Deezer’s lead. An alternative already exists: In 2022, Warner Music Group adopted the user-centric model that SoundCloud rolled out to independent artists the prior year. That system pays royalties based on an individual subscriber’s listening rather than pooling all subscribers’ fees into a larger pool. So, a subscriber who listens to out-of-the-mainstream or independent artists is assured their money is not going to popular artists.

Over the next few years, labels and services are likely to experiment with different approaches to calculating streaming royalties. But regardless of how the dust settles, streaming services and rights holders should respect what passive listening brings to their listeners.

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ESPN vs Charter could be end of the table bundle … and tele…

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By OutKick’s Clay Travis

In the summer of 2014, the cable and satellite bundle peaked. One hundred million households were subscribed to ESPN, the most successful channel in the history of cable, and the apex of the greatest business in the history of media had been reached.

But no one knew it.

Cable, satellite, and media executives were all blissfully unaware of what was coming. Fox Sports FS1 had launched the prior year — yours truly appeared on the very first show in the history of the network, a 2013 college football preview show. In the summer of 2014 the SEC Network would make its debut. The SEC Network was, in fact, the single most successful cable and satellite channel debut in the history of the cable industry. With the launch of the SEC Network, ESPN, the channel’s owner, stood at the pinnacle of its power, the company seemed indestructible, a gold plated money minting machine.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE SPORTS COVERAGE ON FOXNEWS.COM

Billions of dollars in profits flowed off ESPN each year, enabling all of Disney to flourish. It was the crown jewel of the company, a profit spigot, the Titanic of the cable fleet.

But an iceberg loomed ahead.

And almost no one saw it coming.

The era of cable and satellite cord cutting began in the fall of 2014.

Quietly, at first.

So quietly, in fact, that most at ESPN and in the cable industry refused to acknowledge what was occurring. A few million here, a few million there, slowly a trickle turning into a stream and then the stream turning into a river and before long there was a flood of cord cutters.

If they made a movie about the cord cutting disaster — and at some point they might — a quant would be the hero. Someone deep in the recesses of ESPN’s business department who looked at the cable revenue spigot and started to realize what was going on — the greatest business in the history of media was sputtering, just as ESPN spent greater and greater sums of money on sports rights. That person probably jumped and waved their arms, begged ESPN executives not to keep spending money on sports rights like drunken sailors.

And that person was summarily ignored.

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By the summer of 2023, just nine years after peak cable was hit in 2014, only 70 million households were paying for cable or satellite subscriptions. ESPN had lost 30% of its business, just as the cost for sports rights loomed larger and larger.

And then last week, inexplicably, things got worse. Charter Communications, home to 15 million cable and satellite subscribers, refused to bend the knee to ESPN’s price increase demands and cut the channel — along with ABC and all other Disney properties — off air just as Florida prepared to kick off against Utah on the opening Thursday night of college football.

And the games remained off air all throughout Week Zero and into the first full weekend of college football.

Now, the NFL season looms for ESPN, the Jets against the Bills, Aaron Rodgers vs. Josh Allen on Monday Night Football and still there’s no resolution in sight.

How did ESPN’s business die?

Gradually and then all at once.

Nine years ago ESPN was in 100 million households, without Charter they are in around 55 million households. In the space of nine years, ESPN has lost almost half its audience, half its business, half its subscription revenue.

This is a massive media story, one of the biggest of our lives. And it’s not just ESPN. ESPN just stands to lose the most because it had the most lucrative business model in cable. It’s all of the cable and satellite bundle, the entire cable neighborhood is on fire.

As much as you’ve read about this ESPN-Charter battle so far? It should be ten times that much. Because this is how the free ride that most of us sports fans have grown used to comes to a screeching halt. This is bad, very bad, if you’re a sports fan, a sports media employee, a sports executive or an employee of a sports team, this is asteroid hitting the planet bad, a dinosaur level extinction event.

Whether you’re a star athlete, an owner, or just a fan, if you care who wins games or simply enjoy watching those games, we’re all about to have to pay a ton more for that privilege.

Put simply, everyone is f—ed.

Including, potentially, everyone in all of media, not just those of us in sports media.

Because the golden cable cash spigot has suddenly run out of coins and if sports collapses, the entire cable bundle may collapse with it.

How do we begin to figure out what comes next?

Well, we first have to start at the beginning, when ESPN was founded in 1979 in Bristol, Connecticut. Few knew it then, but ESPN was destined to become the greatest cash producing business in the history of media. 

Some people think of me as anti-ESPN, but that’s not accurate. I used to be one of the biggest ESPN fans on the planet. Because I did and still do love sports to an unhealthy degree. Before Keith Olbermann decided men should become women’s sports champions, he, alongside Dan Patrick, were the best tag team of sports anchors in my life. Every morning as I got ready for school I would sit on the couch in my Nashville, Tennessee home and watch SportsCenter as I shoveled cereal in my mouth. If you’d told me in 1993 that at some point Keith Olbermann or Dan Patrick would have ever known my name, I would have walked on air for a week, a month even.

Because when I was fourteen years old, I was convinced that Dan Patrick and Keith Olbermann were two of the coolest dudes on the planet.

And it wasn’t just that duo. Chris Berman, Tom Jackson, Linda Cohn, Stuart Scott, these ESPN anchors were all legends in my mind.

Because I was old enough to remember an era when our family didn’t have cable. When you got a couple of minutes of crappy local sports highlights, when you had to get the newspapers and, oh no!, your team was on the west coast and you’d have to go the entire day waiting to see if they won or not. Hell, I listened to games on the radio. And not because I happened to be in the car on a long ride while a game was going on, because that was the only way I knew to hear a game live. There was no option to watch it on TV, not even on pay-per-view.

If you haven’t ever found yourself squinting at the bottom of the TV screen to see the score ticker go by on CNN Headline News or ESPN, you really have no idea what I’m talking about.

But for sports fans, ESPN in those days was the oasis in a media desert, our salvation, nirvana for the sports fan soul.

I didn’t understand ESPN’s business back in those days, but I understood the raw concept of supply and demand. ESPN was selling what I wanted. And chances are it was selling what you wanted too. And what did we want? The games. (And the highlights, at least back then).

Over the decades, ESPN ran a game plan that allowed it to become the most lucrative media company in American history. They used our cable and satellite subscription fees — our cable bill — to buy up sports rights and as their cable and satellite subscription revenue grew they bought better and better sports rights. And when the cable and satellite companies balked at paying ESPN more, what did they do? They got fans to threaten to leave the cable and satellite companies so that the cable and satellite companies always buckled and ended up paying more.

We were the addicts and ESPN had the games that sated our need.

It was a hell of a business, like I said, the best business in the history of American media.

By the fall of 2014, ESPN was making around $6 a month per subscriber, at $6 a month x 100 million subscribers that means ESPN was making around $7 billion a year. Toss in another couple of billion in advertising and we’re talking about a $9 billion, roughly, revenue enterprise.

A quick refresher for those of you who don’t understand the cable and satellite business — every channel has a cost per month. So while you might pay $100 a month for a cable or satellite subscription, each channel costs a different amount. Some channels cost a quarter a month, others a dollar, ESPN was far and away the most expensive channel, costing several dollars a month for every single cable and satellite subscriber, all 100 million of us at the peak in 2014. And ESPN used all the money they made off cable and satellite subscriptions to buy up sports rights. The better the sports rights, the more they could charge, it was a phenomenal business, a fly wheel of cash.

Presently, ESPN spends roughly nine billion a year on sports rights. The company has committed, and this is before they have to pony up for new rights for the NBA and new rights for the college football playoff, $45 billion in sports rights fees through 2027. $45 billion! With tens of billions more still to come for the NBA and college football, ESPN wants to keep both.

The biggest and most expensive rights packages presently? That’s the college football playoff and the NFL’s Monday Night Football package, each of which airs exclusively on ESPN’s cable channel. ESPN pays $2.7 billion per year for Monday Night Football, a gargantuan sum of money for less than twenty games a year. That’s well over $100 million per NFL game.

But the flaw in the business, and all businesses have flaws, was this — most people paying for ESPN, that is, most of the 100 million subscribers in 2014, weren’t actually sports fans. Yet they still paid $100 a year for ESPN. Your Aunt Gladys, who hadn’t watched a sporting event in decades, paid the same every month for ESPN as you did. Only she didn’t know. Because your cable bill was never itemized. You knew what HBO cost a month, because it was extra, a premium channel — and your mom and dad, like my mom and dad, may well have refused to pay extra for it, leaving you gorging on the free previews back in the day — but you never knew what ESPN or TBS or TNT or AMC or CNN or Fox News cost because the cable cost wasn’t itemized by channel, it was buried in your cable and satellite bundle, in your monthly bill.

Now let’s pause for a moment and go back in time to 2014, when the cable and satellite bundle peaked.

Do you know what else happened in 2014 in the world of media?

“House of Cards” season two debuted on Netflix.

Do you remember “House of Cards?” Kevin Spacey played a diabolical South Carolina politician hellbent on the pursuit of power. It was a great show, but it was also an incredible gamble, because it was the first ever Netflix original show. Up to that point, Netflix had made all of its money by buying up everyone else’s reruns and bundling them in its streaming service. I still remember how stunned I was, as I sat bleary eyed up in front of my family’s first flat screen TV, and watched each “House of Cards,” episode keep playing, one after the other unless I stopped each new episode, the weekly scheduled show was no more, Netflix released entire seasons all at once.

Let’s consider the stature of two media companies back in 2014 when “House of Cards” season two debuted — Disney, ESPN’s parent company, and Netflix, which just released season two of its first ever original series, were widely divergent in their power.

Disney stock traded at $84 a share when season two of Netflix debuted in 2014. Netflix, meanwhile, traded at $57 a share. Their market caps were wildly different, but let’s fast forward to today, Netflix is presently $445 a share. That means in the past nine years, your initial Netflix stock purchase has increased by roughly 8x. Meanwhile, Disney is currently $81 a share, a LOWER price than it was nine years ago.

Netflix, which was a $25 billion market cap stock in 2014 is now worth just shy of $200 billion and Disney is a $148 billion market cap stock, roughly the same as it was in 2014.

How did this happen?

Streaming.

It turns out “House of Cards,” star Frank Underwood’s biggest kill wasn’t on screen at all, it was in the media business. 

Netflix, which soon had many competitors in the streaming space, destroyed the cable and satellite bundle.

In 2014, I paid for one streaming service, Netflix. Now, and I shudder to even lay all these out, the Travis household is subscribed to what feels like every streaming service on the planet. And we still have cable too, you’re welcome, Comcast. The Travis household is subscribed to Amazon Prime — I think we actually have two of these accounts because I lost our password and it was either get divorced or just have my wife sign up a new account because I couldn’t track down the old password — Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+, Peacock, Apple+, Paramount, I still think we pay for the WWE Network somehow, basically if you have created a streaming service we pay for it.

Disney made tens of billions on the cable and satellite bundle. Do you know what Disney has made off streaming so far? They’ve lost $11 billion.

Let me repeat that, they’ve lost $11 billion. I’m not a math genius, but when you have to make $11 billion to get back to zero, that doesn’t seem like a great business to be in.

And the same is true for every American company that has entered streaming except for Netflix.

All of them have lost money, every single one. Netflix is the only American content company to make money off streaming so far.

Why is that?

Because Netflix’s only business is streaming.

Every other one of these big media companies, except for Apple and Amazon, which are using streaming as ancillary offerings for their primary businesses, has cut their own cable and satellite throat by creating a streaming service because they were afraid Netflix would have the streaming industry to themselves.

The cable and satellite industry was the best business in world media history. And all of these big media companies destroyed that business by going all-in on streaming, which so far is the worst business in world media history.

Okay, you might be thinking, how does this impact sports and the ESPN/Charter battle?

Well, you know the broadband wires in your house that you probably forgot are there — it turns out that’s actually a way better business for the cable and satellite companies than the cable and satellite business is.

We’re all addicted to the Internet.

And we can’t get on the Internet without those broadband cables (at least most of us can’t). And that business is a way better business now than cable and satellite.

Charter has been in the cable and satellite business for a long time. But they have smart business guys too and those smart business guys are seeing all of you drop cable and satellite bundles and they see that the long range cable business is not going to be particularly profitable. What’s more, even if they don’t have smart quant guys they can see what Disney is telling everyone about ESPN because Disney CEO Bob Iger keeps telling everyone his plans for ESPN

And that plan is this, succinctly, “We’re going to take ESPN directly to consumers as a streaming service eventually, but not yet. First we’re going to bleed the cable and satellite companies for as much money as we can.”

In the meantime ESPN+ is just an attempt to monetize all the content that isn’t good enough to be on regular ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, the SEC Network, you get my drift. ESPN+ is just a test case for the future when all of ESPN will be streamed direct to the consumer.

But ESPN got cocky — they went and told everyone that eventually ESPN would put all its games on a direct to consumer streaming company. And then they wouldn’t need the cable and satellite companies at all to bring their channel to the masses.

COMCAST, DISNEY MOVE UP DATE FOR HULU DEAL

But, in the meantime, ESPN expected the cable and satellite companies to keep paying them full freight. But that wasn’t all, ESPN expected they could keep raising prices too. Effectively ESPN told the cable and satellite companies that it was going to cut their arms and legs off, but it wasn’t sure when it would decide to do so. Still, ESPN expected for the cable companies to sharpen the sword for them.

And most cable and satellite companies didn’t fight back that hard because they also have exposure to the cable and satellite bundle. Comcast, for instance, doesn’t want to lose ESPN because if they do then all the NBC cable properties will lose a ton of money due to the cord cutting. So they may not like their ESPN deals, but they can at least convince themselves that they are making a ton of money by milking the cable and satellite bundle dry too.

But the Charter guys, who don’t own cable channels like Comcast, look at the math and think, “We don’t really care about the cable and satellite bundle because we make most of our money off broadband.” So unlike virtually every other carriage dispute we’ve seen, when ESPN’s games being pulled made fans furious and the resulting threats terrified the cable companies, the Charter people are actually encouraging you to go sign up for YouTube TV or whatever other streaming service you want to use. Why? Because they make more money off broadband, they don’t really care about their cable business any more.

And they know that ESPN wants to cut their arms and legs off, but they’re calling ESPN’s bluff here because for the first time ever, ESPN’s got less leverage than the cable company does. ESPN needs cable more than cable needs ESPN.

So ESPN is f—ed

And so, maybe, is the entire cable and satellite bundle.

Because Charter knows that if ESPN goes direct to consumer, guess what, THEY STILL MAKE MONEY!

Because you have to stream ESPN on their broadband service and they take a share of the sign up money to bring ESPN to the home too.

DISNEY ENCOURAGES SPECTRUM CUSTOMERS TO MOVE TO HULU + LIVE TV AMID CHARTER DISPUTE

And ESPN knows that their cable and satellite business is collapsing but, and this is key, they’ve also done the math and realize that streaming is going to destroy their existing cable business. Because, and this is what no one seems willing to say, ESPN doesn’t just have one bad business now — the cable and satellite bundle — they have the streaming business too, which is an even worse business. And, and this is very key, each business is accelerating the demise of the other. Streaming isn’t making ESPN stronger, it’s making ESPN weaker because it’s hastening the destruction of a profitable business — cable and satellite — for a money-losing business — streaming.

And that’s what many are still missing — as the cable and satellite bundle boat takes on water and sinks, the streaming bundle is also taking on water and sinking too. ESPN has tried to sell people on the idea that at the exact moment that the cable and satellite bundle collapses they are going to step to a brand new business, the streaming business, and it’s going to be a sturdy and successful lifeboat that carries them to richer waters.

But the reality is, streaming is a way worse business than the cable and satellite bundle. Because the only people who pay for ESPN will be sports fans. The free ride is over, your Aunt Gladys is never signing up and subsidizing your sports viewing again.

For the record, I’m not great at math. The only math class I ever took in college was – and I’m not making this up – something called, “Mathematical Concepts,” It was me and every sorority girl at George Washington University.
 

So it was the greatest class of my life.

Anyway, let me help you here with my rudimentary math ability. Let’s say ESPN makes $8 billion a year now in subscription fees. ($10 a month x 70 million subscribers they has before Charter cut this by 15 million). Toss in another two billion in advertising and let’s say ESPN presently nets around $10 billion a year. Okay, how many people will sign up for ESPN as a direct to consumer streaming service? If they could get 70 million subscribers we’d all have to pay $120 a year for ESPN streaming by itself. (This assumes advertising will still be the same, which it won’t, but let’s just be generous and pretend it will.) But, as I noted above, many of these people paying for ESPN now as part of their cable and satellite package never watch ESPN.

So how many people will actually subscribe to a direct to consumer ESPN streaming service? Turns out there are some early test cases.

The NFL Sunday Ticket is the most desirable direct to consumer product on the planet. Do you know how many households subscribe for NFL Sunday Ticket? Around three million.

Uh oh.

Wait a minute, you’re telling me that the NFL can only get around three million households to sign up for actual NFL games, all of the out of market games, in the entire country?

We’ve got a major math problem here for ESPN.

Let’s be generous again and say that ESPN can get 7x as many subscribers as the NFL can for Monday Night Football and college football. That’s 20 million, roughly, subscribers. What would those 20 million people have to pay for ESPN over streaming to replicate what ESPN makes now? $500 a year. That’s roughly $40 a month.

And that’s if everyone pays that amount all year around.

NETFLIX SIGN-UPS STILL STRONG DESPITE PASSWORD SHARING CRACKDOWN

Which they won’t.

Not even close.

Because here’s the other problem — most people will pay seasonally for the sports they actually care about the most.

Many ESPN streaming subscribers will pick the months they care about the most — football season — and cancel for non-football season. Especially when the service costs this much a month. (Most ESPN+ subscribers aren’t paying for the service now or its bundled for free alongside other products so ESPN+ isn’t a good test case.) Churn is a major issue on streaming, which is why there has to be constantly new offerings. And even with this constant flow of new content lots of people cut their subscriptions, return and binge, and then cut their subscriptions again. And this doesn’t even consider the amount of shared passwords ESPN will have for games, that will be a huge mess.

As if this math weren’t bad enough, remember that ESPN has $45 billion already in sunk sports costs. They bought like the cable bundle was going to last forever. And they still have to buy forever in the future. The NBA and college football playoffs which both expire soon are going to cost tens of billions more. It’s likely ESPN is going to end up with $100 billion in total sports rights costs before long.

And what happens if they don’t buy these rights? No one signs up. So ESPN is locked into a bad streaming business that keeps getting worse.

That’s why Charter has essentially called ESPN’s bluff. They’re telling ESPN to go ahead and launch their direct to consumer streaming service because Charter thinks they’ll make more money on this than they do on cable. But ESPN knows the streaming math doesn’t add up. And I’m honestly not sure what the long range plan here is for ESPN. Because the math, I don’t think, ever adds up. And this is why I think ESPN is trying desperately to find a buyer for the network. Because the ultimate flaw of ESPN’s business is now revealing itself.

And it’s this — ESPN doesn’t actually produce anything of value, it just rents the games from the leagues.

ESPN is the sports version of Blockbuster Video. You remember Blockbuster, right? They didn’t produce anything, they just carried the movies you came to rent. And Netflix destroyed them too.

ESPN, truth be told, has never fit what works for Disney. Because Disney, whatever you think about the company, is in the production of content it owns forever business. The Marvel movies, Star Wars, Pixar, the animated films, the amusement parks, Disney is in the business of creating content that will last for generations. Notwithstanding the looming disaster that is the new woke, live action version of “Snow White,” your kids and grandkids will probably watch these old animated movies and enjoy them just like you did. Same with Star Wars and the Marvel movies. Your grandkids will know who Darth Vader is.

But a Thursday night college football game or an NBA game on Christmas that’s played this year?

It’s all disposable content immediately replaced by the next rented games on the network.

None of it has any lasting value.

That’s bad for Disney, but ESPN is worse than Blockbuster Video because when Blockbuster Video collapsed the entire shopping mall didn’t go bankrupt with it. The grocery store was still open, the Subway still made sandwiches, the gas station stayed open, a new store probably opened where Blockbuster used to be.

But ESPN’s demise threatens to destroy every shop in the neighborhood.

TNT, Turner, AMC, Nickelodeon, you name the channel, all of them are basically being held together by the cable bundle. And ESPN is the most important channel in the cable and satellite bundle, it’s the linchpin, the anchor store. ESPN is your neighborhood shopping mall’s anchor tenant — the Macy’s, the Nordstrom, the Dillard’s the JC Penny. When a mall’s anchor tenant leaves the mall is often dead for, the rest of the shopping mall collapses around it. That’s why the best analogy for ESPN isn’t Blockbuster, it’s Sears, a big mall anchor tenant that collapsed and went bankrupt.

(Side note: I actually think CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News will be okay long range because the demand for live news isn’t going away, they’ll have to just find new ways to distribute their content. Plus, unlike ESPN which has to pay tens of billions for sports rights, the news isn’t licensed, it’s easier to cut costs. But all the non-live cable channels? They’re going to vanish into the streaming universe. Shark Week will come to Netflix or the like. They’re all finished.)

Okay, if you’ve read to this point, you might be thinking, “This feels like it’s going to be really bad, Clay.”

Uh, yeah, it is, that’s why I called it a media extinction level event.

The asteroid is going to hit everyone in media.

In a major way.

This is also why I don’t see why anyone buys ESPN. Unless you desperately need the sports rights ESPN has right now, why wouldn’t the streaming companies, if they really want to get in the sports business, just outbid ESPN for the NBA and the college football playoff and the other rights as they come to market? ESPN’s only real assets are the rights they presently own. So why would you pay ESPN for the rights fees when you could just wait and outbid them for those games as they come to market? The only value ESPN has is if someone has to have these existing sports rights immediately. But if you wait over the next five to ten years those ESPN rights end and the leagues will sell to the highest bidders on the open market.

And the streaming companies deciding to bid is the best case for the sports leagues.

Because unless the streaming companies step up to the plate, athlete salaries and sports team valuations may have peaked. Because, remember, athlete salaries and sports teams valuations have been subsidized by the cable and satellite bundle too. Do you really think NBA players you’ve never heard of deserve $50 million a year salaries? Of course not. They’re getting paid that because of the cable and satellite bundle. The regional sports networks, which fund much of this salary largesse, are already going bankrupt and no one seems to be able to explain what happens next in terms of local sports rights.

But this isn’t just sports.

Every cable and satellite channel is in danger of bankruptcy too. As I laid out above, ESPN is the anchor tenant in the cable and satellite bundle mall. The only thing holding our mall together is sports and live news. And sports may have just left the building.

Now, to be fair, in the time I wrote this maybe Charter and ESPN have come to an agreement and the immediate collapse of the cable and satellite bundle will be forestalled. Maybe this will all happen in three or four years instead of right now.

But it is happening.

It is inevitable. We’ve basically reached the scene in Avengers where Thanos, the evil villain in the Marvel films, snaps his fingers and half of the population vanishes.

It’s like that, except with media companies.

And unlike in the Avengers, no one can travel back in time and reverse the snap. In fact, crazily, with the rush to streaming the cable and satellite companies have been competing to see who can snap first. They’re all Thanos-ing themselves.

Intentionally.

So, yeah, this is bad. Probably way worse than you ever thought it was.

And if you’re a sports fans like me and you just want to sit down on your couch and pick up one remote and watch every game with ease, that’s never happening again. Watching sports is going to cost you a ton, way more than you ever paid for cable. And some of the games you want to watch are going to be on services that aren’t available in your market or aren’t at a price point you’re willing to pay.

And what’s old may become new again.

You might find yourself scanning for games on your radio. You might be hitting refresh on your phone to watch scoreboards, the new digital version of the cable and satellite streaming scores on the bottom of the screen that we grew up with.

And no matter what teams you root for, you’re about to pay infinitely more to watch them.

If you can find their games at all.

And as much as you may think ESPN’s woke politics suck, things are about to get much worse for every sports fan.

But, again, it’s not just sports, it’s all of cable.

I liked the cable and satellite bundle. You probably did too. And I liked the mall too. I enjoyed going there, getting a pretzel in the food court, buying a new pair of jeans.

I went to my local mall recently, the one I grew up going to, the one I used to have a job in at the local “American Eagle,” but the anchor tenants are all gone.

The parking lot was empty.

Most of the stores were vacant.

The bustle and hubbub was all gone, almost no one was there.

It was a ghost town.

It felt just like one of those zombie shows.

That I used to watch on cable.

Mattress Peddlers

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Dependence on tech caused ‘staggering’ education inequality…

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A UNESCO report says schools’ heavy focus on remote online learning during the pandemic worsened educational disparities among students worldwide.

By Natasha Singer

In early 2020, as the coronavirus spread, schools around the world abruptly halted in-person education. To many governments and parents, moving classes online seemed the obvious stopgap solution.

In the United States, school districts scrambled to secure digital devices for students. Almost overnight, videoconferencing software like Zoom became the main platform teachers used to deliver real-time instruction to students at home.

Now a report from UNESCO, the United Nations’ educational and cultural organization, says that overreliance on remote learning technology during the pandemic led to “staggering” education inequality around the world. It was, according to a 655-page report that UNESCO released Wednesday, a worldwide “ed-tech tragedy.”

The report, from UNESCO’s Future of Education division, is likely to add fuel to the debate over how governments and local school districts handled pandemic restrictions and whether it would have been better for some countries to reopen schools for in-person instruction sooner.

The UNESCO researchers argued in the report that “unprecedented” dependence on technology — intended to ensure that children could continue their schooling — worsened disparities and learning loss for hundreds of millions of students around the world, including in Kenya, Brazil, Britain and the United States.

The promotion of remote online learning as the primary solution for pandemic schooling also hindered public discussion of more equitable, lower-tech alternatives, such as regularly providing schoolwork packets for every student, delivering school lessons by radio or television, and reopening schools sooner for in-person classes, the researchers said.

“Available evidence strongly indicates that the bright spots of the ed-tech experiences during the pandemic, while important and deserving of attention, were vastly eclipsed by failure,” the UNESCO report said.

The UNESCO researchers recommended that education officials prioritize in-person instruction with teachers, not online platforms, as the primary driver of student learning. And they encouraged schools to ensure that emerging technologies like artificial intelligence chatbots concretely benefited students before introducing them for educational use.

Education and industry experts welcomed the report, saying more research on the effects of pandemic learning was needed.

“The report’s conclusion — that societies must be vigilant about the ways digital tools are reshaping education — is incredibly important,” said Paul Lekas, the head of global public policy for the Software & Information Industry Association, a group whose members include Amazon, Apple and Google. “There are lots of lessons that can be learned from how digital education occurred during the pandemic and ways in which to lessen the digital divide.”

Jean-Claude Brizard, the CEO of Digital Promise, a nonprofit education group that has received funding from Google, HP and Verizon, acknowledged that “technology is not a cure-all.” But he also said that while school systems were largely unprepared for the pandemic, online education tools helped foster “more individualized, enhanced learning experiences as schools shifted to virtual classrooms.”

​Education International, an umbrella organization for about 380 teachers unions and 32 million teachers worldwide, said the UNESCO report underlined the importance of in-person, face-to-face teaching.

“The report tells us definitively what we already know to be true: A place called school matters,” said Haldis Holst, the group’s deputy general secretary. “Education is not transactional, nor is it simply content delivery. It is relational. It is social. It is human at its core.”

Here are some of the main findings in the report:

The promise of education technology was overstated.

For more than a decade, Silicon Valley tech giants as well as industry-financed nonprofit groups and think tanks have promoted computers, apps and internet access in public schools as innovations that would quickly democratize and modernize student learning.

Many promised that such digital tools would allow schoolchildren to more easily pursue their interests, learn at their own pace and receive instant automated feedback on their work from learning analytics algorithms.

The report’s findings challenge the view that digital technologies are synonymous with educational equality and progress.

The report said that when coronavirus cases began spiking in early 2020, the overselling of ed-tech tools helped make remote online learning seem like the most appealing and effective solution for pandemic schooling even as more equitable, lower-tech options were available.

Remote online learning worsened education disparities.

UNESCO researchers found the shift to remote online learning tended to provide substantial advantages to children in wealthier households while disadvantaging those in lower-income families.

By May 2020, the report said, 60% of national remote learning programs “relied exclusively” on internet-connected platforms. But nearly 500 million young people — about half the primary and secondary students worldwide — targeted by those remote learning programs lacked internet connections at home, the report said, excluding them from participating.

According to data and surveys cited in the report, one-third of kindergarten through 12th grade students in the United States “were cut off from education” in 2020 because of inadequate internet connections or hardware. In 2021 in Pakistan, 30% of households said they were aware of remote learning programs, while fewer than half of this group had the technology needed to participate.

Learning was hindered and altered.

Student learning outcomes stalled or “declined dramatically” when schools deployed ed tech as a replacement for in-person instruction, the UNESCO researchers said, even when children had access to digital devices and internet connections.

The report also said students learning online spent considerably less time on formal educational tasks — and more time on monotonous digital tasks. It described a daily learning routine “less of discovery and exploration than traversing file-sharing systems, moving through automated learning content, checking for updates on corporate platforms and enduring long video calls.”

Remote online learning also limited or curtailed student opportunities for socialization and nonacademic activities, the report said, causing many students to become disengaged or drop out of school.

The report warned that the shift to remote learning also gave a handful of tech platforms — like Google and Zoom — extraordinary influence in schools. These digital systems often imposed private business values and agendas, the report added, that were at odds with the “humanistic” values of public schooling.

Regulation and guardrails are needed.

To prevent a repeat scenario, the researchers recommended that schools prioritize the best interests of schoolchildren as the central criteria for deploying ed tech.

In practical terms, the researchers called for more regulation and guardrails around online learning tools. They also suggested that districts give teachers more say over which digital tools schools adopt and how they are used.

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Mozilla Explains How Car Companies Use & Abuse Customer Dat…

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“What did I learn in researching the privacy and security of 25 of the top car brands in the world? Modern cars are a privacy nightmare and it seems that the Fords, Audis, and Toyotas of the world have shifted their focus from selling cars to selling data.” Think about that statement from Misha Rykov, a researcher for the Mozilla Privacy Not Included initiative. How bad is it? Read on.

Jeff Bezos was one of the first to realize that enormous profits could be made from selling customer data. Some people think Amazon started as an online bookseller. Wrong. When the company was just a gleam in Bezos’ eye, the main focus was to vacuum up all the data available from what people searched for and ordered on Amazon’s website and sell it to marketing firms.

Google, Facebook, and a host of other companies do much the same thing. Cellphone data is routinely collected and sold. There’s money to be made from mining all that data. That’s why when your spouse searches for a new pair of tennis shoes, that fact is noted by data centers all over the world. Since the digital world knows you and your spouse are affiliated, suddenly ads for Adidas, Nike, New Balance, and others start popping up in the margins of whatever you are reading online.

A Computer On Wheels

Tesla started the trend when it stuck a large touchscreen into the interior of the Model S in 2011. Suddenly, the phrase “computer on wheels” became popular as drivers became bedazzled with the idea of a car that was also a computer. Or was it the other way around?

Mozilla recently did a deep dive into the data collection and privacy protections offered by 25 car companies to their customers. All of them failed, some more spectacularly than others. Here’s what the Mozilla researchers found.

  • All of them collect too much personal data — Mozilla reviewed 25 car brands during the course of its research and handed out 25 “dings” for how those companies collect and use data and personal information. Every car brand it looked at collected more personal data than necessary and used that information for a reason other than to operate a vehicle and manage its relationship with the driver.
  • Car companies have so many more data collecting opportunities than other products and apps we use — more than even smart devices in our homes or the cellphones we take wherever we go. They can collect personal information from how you interact with your car, the connected services you use in your car, the car’s app (which provides a gateway to information on your phone) and gather even more information about you from third party sources like Sirius XM or Google Maps.
  • They can collect intimate information about you — from your medical information, your genetic information, to your “sex life” (seriously), to how fast you drive, where you drive, and what songs you play in your car — in huge quantities. They then use it to invent more data about you through “inferences” about things like your intelligence, abilities, and interests.
  • Most (84%) share or sell your data — It’s bad enough for the behemoth corporations that own the car brands to have all that personal information in their possession, to use for their own research, marketing, or the ultra-vague “business purposes.” But then, most (84%) of the car brands Mozilla researched said they can share your personal data — with service providers, data brokers, and other businesses you know little or nothing about. Worse, nineteen (76%) say they can sell your personal data.
  • A surprising number (56%) also said they can share your information with the government or law enforcement in response to a “request.” Not a court order but something as easy as an “informal request.” Car companies’ willingness to share your data has the potential to cause real harm and inspire cars and privacy nightmares.
  • Keep in mind that we only know what companies do with personal data because of the privacy laws that make it illegal not to disclose that information like the California Consumer Privacy Act. So-called anonymized and aggregated data can be shared with vehicle data hubs and others. So while you are driving from A to B, you’re also funding a car maker’s thriving side hustle in the data collection business.
  • Most (92%) give drivers little to no control over their personal data — All but two of the 25 car brands Mozilla reviewed earned a “ding” for data control. Only two car brands, Renault and Dacia, said that all drivers have the right to have their personal data deleted. But those brands operate primarily in Europe which has a robust General Data Protection Regulation privacy law. In other words, car brands often do whatever they can legally get away with to your personal data.
  • Mozilla couldn’t confirm whether any of car companies met its Minimum Security Standards — Dating apps and sex toy manufacturers publish more detailed security information than automakers do. Even though the car brands Mozilla researched had several long winded privacy policies (Toyota wins with 12), it could not confirm that any of the brands meet its Minimum Security Standards.

Mozilla Privacy Findings

Mozilla says its main concern is that it can’t tell whether any of the car companies it contacted encrypt all of the personal information stored in the onboard computers installed in the cars they manufacture. The company reached out by email to ask for clarity, but most of the car companies completely ignored its requests. Those who did respond — Mercedes-Benz, Honda, and Ford — still didn’t completely answer the most basic security questions.

Mozilla says when it first started looking into cars and privacy, only one thing was clear — it’s complicated even to the car markers themselves. In response to a standard set of privacy and security questions, Mercedes Benz told Mozilla it wasn’t possible to give “universal answers.” With all the data being collected by vehicles, apps, connected services, and more, not even the companies themselves fully understand the monster they have created.

Mozilla On Informed Consent

Most manufacturers have lengthy data collection consent procedures and assume drivers consent to them simply by electing to drive the car. The Nissan policy is nearly 10,000 words long and makes drivers “promise to educate and inform all users and occupants of your Vehicle about the Services and System features and limitations, the terms of the Agreement, including terms concerning data collection and use and privacy, and the Nissan Privacy Policy.”

The Tesla opt-out policy is simply bizarre. “If you no longer wish for us to collect vehicle data or any other data from your Tesla vehicle, please contact us to deactivate connectivity. Please note, certain advanced features such as over the air updates, remote services, and interactivity with mobile applications and in-car features such as location search, Internet radio, voice commands, and web browser functionality rely on such connectivity. If you choose to opt out of vehicle data collection (with the exception of in-car Data Sharing preferences), we will not be able to know or notify you of issues applicable to your vehicle in real time. This may result in your vehicle suffering from reduced functionality, serious damage, or inoperability.”

The Takeaway

I am watching a series on TV at the moment in which a thief only steals cars with cassette players so he can listen to his favorite music while he drives. Frankly, if you want to drive an automobile that won’t collect your personal data, you may need to limit your search to cars that are at least 30 years old.

We voluntarily submit to so many intrusions into our privacy because it is convenient to do so. I have friends with Google Assistant or Alexa installed in their homes who look at me like I just hoovered down from Mars when I suggest those devices are listening to, recording, and dissecting every word that gets said in their house all day every day. They think I’m kidding.

Some states now are making it a felony to drive out of state to seek certain medical services. All they have to do is contact the manufacturer of your vehicle and make a “request” to find out exactly where you went and when. If you are a woman of child-bearing age, you might want to drive a 1986 Town Car instead of anything manufactured this century.

We complain endlessly about government intrusion, and yet we voluntarily make it exceptionally easy for governments to intrude for any good reason or even no reason at all into our private lives. And we are supremely comfortable with that. Why that would be is a great mystery.

Car companies see data collection as a multi-million dollar post-sale business opportunity. Is there anything you can do to protect your privacy? Sure, disable apps, don’t use Google Maps, and only buy new cars from companies which can explain their data collection policies in clear, easy to understand language. Good luck with that!


 




I don’t like paywalls. You don’t like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don’t like paywalls, and so we’ve decided to ditch ours.

Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It’s a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So …



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Former Furze Platt pupil to co-host ‘dream’ BBC Radio 1 bre…

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A former Furze Platt student has landed his dream gig of a BBC Radio 1 breakfast show.

Sam MacGregor, 24, who grew up in Gringer Hill and also attended Claires Court, will co-host with his best friend of more than six years, Danni Diston.

The pair have been standing in for various presenters over the past three years, working freelance roles while juggling day jobs until they were offered their own weekly spot.

Sam said: “You can believe in yourself all you want, but there’s so many factors that have to come into play to make this happen.

“I had this written down as one of my goals for years and years and it really is a dream come true to see it happen. I am super proud.”

A longtime listener of BBC Radio 1, Sam said Scott Mills became his ‘radio idol’ and he ‘religiously’ listened to his content for 13 of the 24 years that he was on air at the station.

He said: “When you listened to his show, you always felt like part of a community and part of something really big and fun. I thought, if I could be a tiny part of that, it would be like I never had a job. I’d just be laughing with mates and playing my favourite songs.”

In secondary school and sixth form, Sam would create internet radio shows on a laptop in his friend’s kitchen.

When he moved on to study geography at Cardiff University, Sam got involved with student radio from day one.

He won best male presenter at the National Student Radio Awards in 2019, an award also won by Greg James.

Whilst studying abroad in Sydney, he hosted a late night radio show, and by the end of his final year in Cardiff, he was running the student radio station and cover presenting in stations across Wales.

He said: “Any time I wasn’t in the library, I was in the pub or at the radio station. I spent my whole life doing it, and absolutely loved it. It was so fun to chat with your mates through a microphone and not know who’s listening.”

Sam met Danni at university in late 2017 and the pair first hosted on BBC Radio 1 in 2020 for the Christmas Takeover, before covering Boardmasters Festival in 2022 and the Big Weekend 2023 in Dundee.

“It’s an amazing thing – we’ve both independently had this dream of having a Radio 1 show but being able to do it together is really special,” he said.

Talking about live broadcasting, Sam said “I quite like the pressure. I’m lucky that I get to do it with Danni.

“ I know I’ve got someone to bounce off and someone to have fun with and that’s important. It’s meant to be a laugh, and things do go wrong – and that’s magic because that’s live radio. Radio isn’t perfect but it is natural and authentic.”

The show, airing for the first time on Saturday, will be the first weekly BBC Radio 1 show to be broadcast from Wales.

Sam said: “It’s really important to represent listeners and every aspect of the UK. We have so much different stuff to chat about from Cardiff and South Wales. Our lifestyles will be different and we can reflect that as well.”

He said it ‘means so much’ to them that the show will be broadcast from the city where he and Danni became best friends, began presenting and now call home.

Aled Haydn Jones, head of Radio 1, said: “I’m so excited to hear Sam and Danni’s new Weekend Breakfast show from Cardiff.

“They’re already key members of the Radio 1 family, this just makes it official.”

Sam added: “It was surreal to have my family and friends recognise that this has always been my dream and for them to see it come true. I don’t take for granted that I’m very, very fortunate.”

Sam and Danni’s new Weekend Breakfast show will air every Saturday and Sunday from 7am to 10am on BBC Radio 1.



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Waimea Fire Prevention and Resilience Fair set for Saturday

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The Space Station is Getting Gigabit Internet

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Aboard the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts and cosmonauts from many nations are performing vital research that will allow humans to live and work in space. For more than 20 years, the ISS has been a unique platform for conducting microgravity, biology, agriculture, and communications experiments. This includes the ISS broadband internet service, which transmits information at a rate of 600 megabits per second (Mbps) – ten times the global average for internet speeds!

In 2021, NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) began integrating a technology demonstrator aboard the ISS that will test optical (laser) communications and data transfer. This system currently consists of Laser Communications Relay Demonstration (LCRD) and will soon be upgraded with the addition of the Integrated LCRD Low Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal (ILLUMA-T). Once complete, this system will be the first two-way, end-to-end laser relay system, giving the ISS a gigabit internet connection!

The system relies on infrared light, which allows for information to be sent and received at higher data rates and will showcase the benefits a laser relay array could have for missions in low Earth orbit. This system will also allow missions beyond LEO to send more images and videos back to Earth in a single transmission. In addition to higher data rates, laser systems are lighter and use less power than conventional radio communications. The ILLUMA-T system measures only a few cubic meters and will be launched as part of SpaceX’s 29th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission.

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““Laser communications offer missions more flexibility and an expedited way to get data back from space,” said Badri Younes, the former deputy associate administrator for NASA’s SCaN program, NASA press release, “We are integrating this technology on demonstrations near Earth, at the Moon, and in deep space.” Once it reaches the ISS, the ILLUMA-T will be secured to an external module to conduct its demonstration with the LCRD. Recently, NASA concluded a year-long campaign, conducting experiments with the LCRD to refine NASA’s laser capabilities further.

These experiments have also demonstrated the benefits of laser relay communications in geosynchronous orbit (GSO) by beaming data between two ground stations: Optical Ground Station -1 (OGS-1) in California and OGS-2 in Haleakal?, Hawaii. Said Matt Magsamen, deputy project manager for ILLUMA-T:

“Once ILLUMA-T is on the space station, the terminal will send high-resolution data, including pictures and videos to LCRD at a rate of 1.2 gigabits-per-second. Then, the data will be sent from LCRD to ground stations in Hawaii and California. This demonstration will show how laser communications can benefit missions in low Earth orbit.”

ILLUMA-T will be installed on an external mount on the Japanese Experiment Module-Exposed Facility (JEM-EF), also known as “Kibo” (“hope” in Japanese). The ILLUMA-T team will then perform preliminary testing and in-orbit checkouts, followed by a first light test, where the mission will transmit its first beam of laser light through its optical telescope to the LCRD. These tests build on previous experiments, including the 2022 TeraByte InfraRed Delivery system (TBIRD), which is currently testing laser communications on small CubSat in LEO.

NASA’s Laser Communications Roadmap: Demonstrating laser communications capabilities on multiple missions in various space regimes. Credit: NASA/Dave Ryan

There were also experiments NASA conducted in 2014 as part of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer mission (LADEE), where the Lunar Laser Communications Demonstration (LLCD) transferred data between lunar orbit and Earth. The Optical Payload for Lasercomm Science in 2017 also demonstrated how laser communications can offer improved data transfer between Earth and space compared to radio signals. Once first light is achieved, experiments will commence and continue for the duration of the mission.

These tests will test the viability of laser communications in various scenarios and inform future missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. It is anticipated that robotic and crewed missions will rely on laser communications to supplement radio systems. These will allow for high-broadband communications between astronauts and their families back home, which is essential for long-duration missions. It will also allow robotic probes to send larger volumes of data back to Earth, greatly increasing the scientific returns of individual missions.

Further Reading: NASA

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WMNF | September 2023 GM Message for News & Notes

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Cleaning House and Brightening up for our Close-Up

We’ve been cleaning up our spaces – physical and otherwise. All over the building, we can see surfaces and nooks that were previously hidden. Volunteers have more ways to participate in the workings of what we do, both inside and outside the building.

Programmers now have concrete ways to improve how they deliver the WMNF sound, and listeners have more innovative ways to get the WMNF vibe they love – whether it comes from their car speaker, smart speaker, HD radio, or through attending the wider variety of WMNF events.

At the ripe old age of 44, WMNF is also reviewing our mission statement. Healthy organizations evaluate and review their missions regularly. Our national culture has certainly changed over the past 44 years. Let us know what you think. Is the language still relevant today?

Our current statement reads:

WMNF is a listener-supported community radio station that celebrates cultural diversity, promotes community engagement and is committed to equality, peace and economic justice. WMNF provides broadcasts and other forums with grass-roots local emphasis that promote creative, musical, and political vitality.

I am a mission-driven person. And like many staff members and volunteers, I was drawn to WMNF by its mission statement. So, why consider changing it? Why now?

First, let’s consider the shift in audio programming. It has moved from traditional broadcast radio to on-demand listening via the internet and satellite. In this context, can we still call ourselves a ‘radio’ station? Furthermore, are we in the same organization we were 44 years ago? This question becomes especially relevant as our WMNF community now finds and listens to us globally via the internet.

In true WMNF fashion, the three major constituencies (Board, staff, and volunteers) are meeting both separately and together to discuss these issues. If you want to participate in these conversations, please contact your representative.

A few representatives from each of these groups also meet as the Special Committee for the Mission Statement Review. They are tasked with bringing the views of their constituency to the table. To date, the Special Committee has been working virtually and formally met on two or three occasions.

The President of the Board of Directors, Isha DelValle, has said there is no deadline for a new mission statement, nor any guarantee that a new one will be adopted at all. We’re just doing our part to make sure that the mission statement of our mission-driven organization remains relevant in 2023; and that we are positioned to make long range plans up to our 50th year and beyond.

In addition to the staff’s proposed budget, we will also make space for conversation about our mission at the All-Station meeting on September 14th. If you are interested in and wish to contribute to the mission of WMNF, or just want to watch how we work out these issues, please attend this public forum. After all, we are a community that makes community radio!



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Managing climate disasters from space

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Summer 2023 is going into the history books as one of the hottest summers ever.

According to Copernicus — the EU climate and weather service — July 2023 was the hottest month ever on record. Extreme climate phenomena hit various regions of Europe, challenging civil protection systems and the efforts of fire brigades.

In Sicily, extremely high temperatures were recorded — reaching 43.3°C in the island’s inland regions, which dramatically increased the danger of fires. The mountains surrounding the city of Palermo, the island’s capital, were destroyed by mass fires, threatening the population, blocking the airport and torching the Bellolampo dump on the outskirts of the city, triggering dioxin alerts.

Greece is facing another wave of wildfires. Recently, around 77,000 hectares of land have burned, putting hundreds of firefighters under strenuous conditions. In addition, 21 people died due to the blaze. Now that extreme events are becoming more frequent and long-term solutions seem unlikely to be reached, innovative and resilient measures must be implemented in order to improve emergency response by civic forces.

Help from space

One avenue could be providing more assistance from space. But what is the key to successful implementation of useful tools that could help us from space? The EU Space Programme is trying a number of innovative approaches to help first responders, citizens and governments.

Copernicus monitoring of wildfires in Greece this August.

The EU Space Programme is a complex body consisting of a number of components: Galileo, EGNOS, the before-mentioned Copernicus, GOVSATCOM, IRIS² and Space Traffic Management (which we covered in a previous article on so-called space junk). When it comes to disaster management, each component is crucial, as it provides a unique contribution in the mitigation chain.

For example, while aerial firefighting assets and first responders rely on the precise positioning provided by the European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) and Galileo — the EU´s Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) — to guide them safely through smoke, fog and flames, Copernicus Emergency Management Service (CEMS) Rapid Mapping module provides decision-makers with critical geospatial data with accurate information about the affected areas allowing the continuous assessment of the damage.

Broadcasting warnings without cell service

A new Galileo service will soon enhance the responsiveness of emergencies.

The Directorate General for Defence Industry and Space (DEFIS) has included a regulation for the EU Space Programme, which introduces the Emergency Warning Satellite Service (EWS) in the Galileo service portfolio. The design and implementation is led by EUSPA.

The EWS will support and complement the Public Warning System by taking advantage of the Galileo’s global coverage and its possibility to reach population at a large scale, in a timely manner. The signal is resilient to ground destruction and independent of terrestrial mobile networks.

EWS is a major differentiator for Galileo, compared to other global positioning systems, with a high strategic value. Up to 450 million EU citizens are expected to directly benefit of the service without the need for specific equipment.

This upcoming EWS alert service is designed to be received directly on any device capable of processing Galileo signals: smartphones, car navigation, fixed receivers on the roofs of buildings for display on public billboards, and more devices that are connected to the European global position system.

The EWSS will benefit from the Galileo Signal in Space (E1 and E5b) to disseminate an authenticated (via OSNMA) alert message, including guidance to react and relevant geo-location information encoded alerting only the affected population.

The service is not based on a mobile network, and can reach any smartphone with a global positioning chip in a specific target area with satellite coverage. This feature enables the service to reach people in rural regions with poor mobile signal and can even be available during a disaster that affects the ground infrastructure.

While Member States and their Civil Protection Administration and services remain competent in deciding to trigger an alert, Galileo EWSS will enable a satellite broadcasting channel to reach a target area and its population in a timely and reliable manner.

EWSS will be free of charge, with global coverage, versatile, resilient, fast, secure, complementary and independent to other existing public warning systems such as mobile networks, TV, radio, sirens, internet or social networks.

As of March 2022, it became mandatory for all mobile phones sold in the European Single Market to be Galileo-enabled. This means that if someone places an emergency call, the emergency responders will receive their location information with an accuracy down to just a few metres.

The improved accuracy has a major impact in terms of response times, ultimately allowing for quicker intervention in emergency situations where every second counts — resulting in more lives being saved. The ability for 112 to communicate a caller’s location automatically to emergency services is possible thanks to the Advanced Mobile Location (AML) system which is already available in most EU Countries.

EWSS is not Galileo’s only emergency service. The Galileo Search And Rescue Service (SAR) launched in December 2016 contributes to live-saving efforts by providing accurate, timely, and reliable 406Mhz beacon distress signals to SAR authorities .

Recently, a sailor in a solo round-the-world yacht race was saved thanks to the positioning given to rescuers by his emergency beacon after waves destroyed his vessel. Likewise, in case medical assistance is needed, helicopter operators and pilots can rely on Galileo’s European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service (EGNOS) to land safely, especially when visibility is reduced due to fire smoke or fog.

Additionally, services like the Galileo High Accuracy and Open Service Navigation Message Authentication (OSNMA) services ensure that drones deliver accurate mapping as well as assistance to inaccessible areas due to natural disasters such as earthquakes.

Space and the Green Deal

The development of the EU Space Programme is in line with European policies such as the EU Green Deal. The technology implemented looks to the present and the future in the direction of sustainable and efficient emergency management that can trigger decision-making and problem-solving in both emergencies and in the long term.

EUSPA Executive Director, Rodrigo da Costa says that “Galileo, EGNOS, Copernicus, are powerful tools individually, but an exponential achievement is reached when used in synergy. Soon, the addition of the European Union Governmental Satellite Communications (GOVSATCOM) and IRIS² Satellite Constellation, will add an extra layer of efficiency in the management of disasters by providing secured and uninterrupted satellite communications to EU Member States.”

“The Emergency Management and Disaster Response sector is one of the key sectors where this synergy is saving lives”, da Costa concludes.

Satellite synergies

Copernicus, mentioned earlier, is another fundamental tool for observing emergency phenomena, and provides benefits for prevention and emergency purposes.

More precisely, the Copernicus Emergency Management Service (Copernicus EMS) uses data from a range of satellites and ground-based sensors to provide information about the location, extent, and behaviour of fires and floods. This information helps emergency responders make informed decisions regarding where to direct resources and in the case of fires, how to contain the blaze. Copernicus is provided free of charge to all users.

Copernicus doesn’t only monitor blazes, but also keeps an eye on the air quality. The Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS) can monitor emissions which can, in turn, be used in smoke forecasts.

These forecasts are used in air quality apps to help people limit their exposure to pollution, and by policymakers and local authorities to manage the impact of fires. Space tech could thus drastically change how we manage environmental emergencies. But in order for these technologies to show their real potential, they must fit within a techno-ecological system, working in synergy with each other.

“Synergy between GNSS and Earth Observation are particularly beneficial to drone operations, which emergency response teams use for everything from inspecting flooded areas to post-earthquake search and rescue operations and monitoring remote wildfires,” EUSPA’s SAR/Galileo Service Provision Manager, Pol Novell tells EUobserver.

Firefighting teams are replacing traditional ground-based systems supported by manned aircraft with more cost-effective drones. Novell affirms that “Equipped with a wide-range of sensors for capturing Earth Observation data and navigated using GNSS positioning, advanced drones can now provide firefighters with another layer of information — and protection.”

The future of emergency management is therefore already here. With the support of local and rural communities, the vast experience of member countries’ civil protection and fire brigades, and the use of increasingly advanced technologies, it is possible to develop a holistic, sustainable and efficient emergency management system.

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