Observations From the Passing Parade - Simon Applebaum - MediaBizBloggers

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Euna Lee and Laura Ling returned home to the U.S. earlier this month, after authorities in North Korea held the Current TV correspondents in their country for nearly five months, on illegal entry and other charges. Kudos to all responsible for obtaining Lee and Ling's amnesty, from former President Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other Obama administration officials.

Amid all the reporting on the outcome, there's still one disturbing question in this journalist's mind: Where was Current TV in all this from the start?

More pointedly, why did the channel employing Lee and Ling, co-founded by former Vice President Al Gore (who asked Bill Clinton to travel to North Korea and bring Lee and Ling home) do virtually nothing in public for the most part, and from the start, to get the public protesting for their employees' release? When Lee and Ling's detainment became known, Current did not report on the situation on-air or online, or encourage viewer comments on its Web site. Not once did Current issue a press release on the situation, nor did its executives make public statements calling for action.

Yes, Current co-founder/chairman Joel Hyatt did attend a candlelight vigil on Lee/Ling's behalf in San Francisco, one of several organized independently of the network. Again, no coverage on-air or online of that vigil or others.

Contrast that to Roxana Taberi, the freelance correspondent working for Fox News Channel, National Public Radio and other organizations from Iran. When she was taken captive by authorities there earlier this year, Fox News, NPR and others reported the situation and kept it public. The outrage raised by those reports eventually helped win Taberi's freedom. Time and again, when news organizations learn their reporters are under captivity somewhere in the world, they raise their voices and invite others to join in, properly believing a mass voice of outrage can impact the situation. For the most part, that impact results in a release.

North Korea is an unstable country with U.S. relations hanging by a thread at best. But it doesn't excuse Current – as good a home for eye-opening journalism as anywhere – from not raising its voice in support of Lee, Ling or any other reporter under its wing when they are caught in the crossfire. From this corner, had channel executives opened their mouths from the start, this pair of reporters might have spent a shorter stay against their will.


More than 3 million Twitter transactions have been presented on FiOS TV customer screens in the first two weeks of that interactive TV application's availability. That's according to FiOS product manager Maitreyi Krishnaswamy. That's some of why, in the two weeks since our "Interactive At Last" column, FiOS will accelerate the new service introductions in its "Widget Bazaar," touted as the overbuilder's answer to the iPhone applications store. Development kits will go out to third-party players early this fall, and FiOS anticipates having the first third-party services at its 2.5 million customers' disposal by the end of the year, then dozens, if not hundreds more, in the first half of 2010. It's one reason not to let your eyes turn away from this emerging interactive/Internet TV movement.

And here are others: reaction at CableLabs' Innovation Showcase/summer conference August 10 to PrimeSense, a company from Israel with unique 3D/touch-screen virtual chip technology; NDS's Infinite TV and addressable advertising projects; DirecTV's just-announced app store project; and outside party efforts to adapt Google's Android operating system to set-top boxes.


So You Think You Can Dancewinner Jeanine Mason was all over the tube this past Monday, from MTV's It's On With Alexa Chungto Late Night With Jimmy Fallonon NBC. This 18-year-old recent high school grad is a wonderful, inventive performer, and her live midday solo performance on Chung, set to Argentine Tango music made famous in Scent of a Woman, showed clearly why she won. Unfortunately, someone in MTV's control room thought it would be nice a few seconds into her live performance to clutter up the bottom of the screen with Twitter reaction from Chung viewers. Not great when someone is dancing and you want to see her movement. Cooler brains prevailed, making sure that after two on-screen Tweets, the rest of Mason's routine received the full, uncluttered picture it deserved.


Fellow MediaBizBlogger Shelly Palmer might appreciate this final observation, given his music composer background. From the opening episode of The Price Is Right38 years ago, TV theme/musicmeister Edd Kalehoff had a closing credit mention for his tunes (theme included) on America's longest-running game show. So why for the last year plus has CBS, Priceproducer Fremantle Media, or someone down the line, kept Kalehoff out of the closing credits at episode's end? He wrote the theme--don't write him off. Take a note.


Simon Applebaum is producer/host of Tomorrow Will Be Televised, the weekly Internet radio program covering the TV scene. Tomorrow runs Mondays at 3 p.m. Eastern time/noon, Pacific time over www.blogtalkradio.com , and on podcast.

Read all Simon’s MediaBizBloggers commentaries at Tomorrow Will Be Televised - MediaBizBloggers.

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