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The world of indie filmmaking is forever colliding with the larger worlds of technology and giant media conglomerates, regulatory and legal developments, non-profit groups and a fickle consumer who loves indie film and other indie media.

“Media Current” is a monthly heads-up tracking these developments. It’s a big — and forever getting bigger – world out there, so readers are encouraged to e-mail me stories I’ve missed or something they believe is important for others in the indie community. I can be reached at drosennyc AT verizon.net.

Shrinking Universe

One of the important, if least appreciated, developments of the independent media democracy movement of the 1960s and ‘70s was the establishment of the Public Broadcasting System and public access television (or public, education and government, PEG). Both are under serious attack today. Since 2005, PEG access centers in 100 communities have closed and more are likely.

The Benton Foundation has taken up this fight.

Holding Back Consolidation

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit threw out FCC cross-ownership media ownership rules regarding one company owning a newspaper and broadcast stations in the same market.

Free Press, a public-policy advocacy group, has embraced this challenge.

The Big Squeeze

21st century film distribution is an Internet phenomenon. As consumer appetite for more web video content increases, the proverbial middleman wants a bigger cut. Pushing hardest are two of the biggest players, AT&T and Verizon.

A surprise to many, the New York Times took up this fight.

Squeezing the Video Stream

Netflix Canada announced that it is squeezing the video stream by two thirds in order to push more video down the broadband pipe while using less bandwidth. It claims that 30 hours of video that previously consumed 70 GBytes would not take up about 30 GBytes, with no loss of quality.

Check out the Netflix blog.

IPTV Aggregators

An IPTV content aggregator is a company that obtains a license either from a right’s holder or content provider to resell and distribute through an Internet video streaming service. An aggregator typically receives and reformats media content; stores or forwards it a to the distribution it network that sells and/or provides it to customers; and pays the licensing fee to the content provider.

You can find a list of some current IPTV aggregators here.


Flicklaunch is among the growing number of VOD services offering web distribution services to indie makers.

The Hustle

Like many indie filmmakers, director Justin Eugene Evans couldn’t get a distributor for his low-budget film, A Lonely Place for Dying (pictured above), a tale of Vietnam-era espionage. “We were approached by independent distributors and just about every top sales agent and rep in Los Angeles,” says Evans, but the deals, he insists, were so lopsided in favor of the distributor, he and his investors wouldn’t make a dime. He partnered with VoDo, a free, P2P video-sharing site like BitTorrent, which is now offering a fundraising service like Kickstarter and Indie-Go-Go.

Read more.

As Worlds Collide

For more, check out the following sites:

Documentary Television
Indie Talk
Indie Group at Vimeo
Indie Club

David Rosen is a writer and business-development consultant. He is author
of the indie classic,
Off-Hollywood: The Making & Marketing of Independent Films (Grove), originally commissioned by the Sundance Institute and the Independent Feature Project. His most recent contribution to Filmmaker is “TV Wars” (Spring 2011).

He regularly contributes to AlterNet, CounterPunch, Brooklyn Rail, Z-magazine, ANDmagazine and has written for MediaChannel, FilmInFocus, Harvard-Neiman Watchdog, Hollywood Reporter, San Francisco Focus and Red Herring online. He was on the management teams taking two start-ups public and served on the boards of advisors/directors of PBS’s Independent Television Service (ITVS), Film Arts Foundation and MoMA’s Video Collection.

[see www.DavidRosenWrites.com and www.DavidRosenConsultants.com.]

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