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Archive for August, 2012

Jailhouse Rock: Pussy Riot Found Guilty

Posted by prof e on August 18, 2012

In case you haven’t heard, members of the punk rock band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years in prison for, “hooliganism driven by religious hatred.” The trial and sentencing of the three Russian women has attracted attention and outrage from around the world. Amnesty International and other supporters of free speech and human rights have declared them “prisoners of conscience.” According to USA Today,

The three were arrested in March after a guerrilla performance in Moscow’s main cathedral, high-kicking and dancing while singing a “punk prayer” pleading the Virgin Mary to save Russia from Vladimir Putin.

Several celebrities have spoken out in support of Pussy Riot. Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, as well as Paul McCartney and Madonna have expressed support for the rights of the performers. Russia does not have the same level of protection for speech that we appreciate.  Thanks to the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution, US citizens have much more freedom to speak our minds than do most other citizens of the world.

But we also want to be careful that free speech rights do not infringe on the rights of others. Hate speech is one of those sensitive areas where, even in America, free speech sometimes has to take a back seat. But who gets to decide that a specific act of speech crosses the line into hate speech and, in so doing, forfeits the rights of the speaker to protection under the law? That’s a question that many are asking in light of this sentence.

Update Aug 20: In an unusual twist, Madonna is being sued for over $10M by concert goers who “were offended by her support for gay rights during a recent concert in St. Petersburg.” See more here.


Posted in 1st amendment, music, politics, regulation | 7 Comments »

An Olympic-sized Effort by NBC

Posted by prof e on August 17, 2012

The Summer Olympic games have come to a close and the 10,000+ athletes and their fans have returned to their 200+ home countries. NBC Sports production personnel will be dismantling their enormous production facilities and shipping tons of equipment back to the US. I was fortunate to be part of the NBC Sports production team in 1988 at the Seoul Summer Olympics. It was a massive undertaking then, but every four years the US Olympics broadcasting team outdoes the previous effort.

NBCUniversal paid dearly for the rights to broadcast the XXX Games to a US audience…somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.18B. They spent hundreds of millions more bringing hours and hours of programming to your TV screen, laptop, tablet and cell phone.

Over a period of 17 days, NBC Universal provided 5,535 hours of coverage spread across NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, Bravo, Telemundo,, two specialty channels, and the first-ever 3D platform. While athletes were setting records in the pool and on the track, NBCUniversal set records of its own. Working with Panasonic, the games in London marked the first time that Olympic sports were broadcast in 3D in the US. To appreciate the size and scope of the Summer Olympic games, this is what their media guide said about the size of the audience:

To deliver the same number of gross household impressions NBC delivered during the 17 days of its primetime Beijing Olympics coverage, one network would have to own the rights and broadcast the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, the Grammy Awards, the Golden Globes, the AFC Division playoffs, the NFC Championship Game and six games of the World Series all within a 17-day span.

Also from their media guide…

Posted in interactive media, media industry, tv | 8 Comments »