Whoosh! Issue 52 - January 2001
Editor's Page

From the Graphics Editor:
The Night Of The Promoting Publicity

From the Graphics Editor:

There was an article recently in SCIFIWIRE regarding FOX television declining to develop an animated series that was first created on a website. The gist of the article was that the network was abrogating its interest due to "premature publicity" on the website.

The article was short and left a lot of questions unanswered. You might still be able to see the archived article at: http://www.scifi.com/scifiwire/art-tv.html?2000-12/07/10.45.tv. Perhaps the website was unfairly inflating a minor interest by FOX in its property to stave off bad press and lower stock prices in the midst of layoffs, and perhaps the network over-reacted to the situation, those issues are not made clear by the article.

But the article itself got me to thinking about websites and television shows and the issues of promotion, discussion, criticism, and praise.

In the last year and then some, we've seen sites run off the Internet by some companies under the auspices of "intellectual property". Personally, I have no qualms about shutting down a site that tries to make money illegally off of someone else's "intellectual property". If a company takes a risk to develop a project and other companies share that risk by purchasing licenses to sell merchandise from that property, then they have a right to reap the rewards from such a venture. They also have a right to go bankrupt if they fail to capture the hearts, minds, and wallets of the viewing public. That is what capitalism is all about.

When it comes to websites that are clearly fan-based and exist to share an intellectual or visceral interest in a show, whether to praise the property, criticise it, or attempt a balanced discussion of it, networks and studios alike need to understand that such publicity is extremely valuable. These companies need to work with, not against, those who wish to be a part of their venture. Websites, regardless of their "agenda" (if any), stimulate discussion and interest, which in turn persuade people to watch a show. Even when discussions are "negative", that is, focus is placed more on what one does not like rather than what one does like, there will be people curious enough to want to tune in to make their own judgements.

In an age when competition for viewers is more intense than ever, and more and more shows compete for a widely dispersed audience, such information sharing is more vital than ever before.

The Internet is more than just a giant refrigerator door on which the world posts its sketches, notes, and bubblegum philosophy. It is now a tool of commerce, a ready source of information, and rapidly becoming mandatory for anyone who wants to benefit first from finance to good seats at the theatre.

Xena/Herc/Cleo/Jack fans are lucky that companies such as Renaissance Pictures and Studios USA recognise the importance fan contribution and the Internet to the success of their products. It's about time others did the same.

Bret Rudnick
Graphics Editor
Executive Committee
Hermosa Beach, California
12 December 2000

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