Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Google is adding new features to Your News Update, its news aggregation service, to personalize 90-minute news feeds from each user’s preferred sources. The goal is to create a seamless listening experience akin to a customized song playlist. Each news playlist, similar to those on public radio, will begin with short clips about the major headlines moving into longer stories. The end product, available only in the U.S., will compile radio, podcast clips and text-to-speech translations tailored to the individual user. Continue reading Google Brings Personalization Features to Your News Update

Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is drafting a bill that would require Facebook and Google to negotiate with media publishers and pay for content that appears on their sites. Facebook has responded by threatening to block users and news organizations from sharing local and international news stories on its site. Google, which said its free service would be “at risk,” stated that the law would give media companies “special treatment” that would allow them to make demands that would be difficult to meet. Continue reading Australia’s Draft Law Bids Facebook, Google to Pay for News

Plex Launches 80 Live TV Channels on Its Ad-Supported App

The free, ad-supported media app Plex just added 80 live TV channels, none of them cable channels like CNN, Lifetime or TBS. Rather, it offers a lineup that includes Reuters, Toon Goggles and the Bob Ross Channel, among others. In the current economic climate, consumers are gravitating to this kind of free linear programming, which harkens back to the early days of television. Plex got its start as a cord-cutting solution with free on-demand video and DVR functionality for on-air TV networks. Continue reading Plex Launches 80 Live TV Channels on Its Ad-Supported App

New Facebook Feature Provides Option to Avoid Political Ads

Facebook debuted a feature, first to a small group, to allow U.S. users to opt out of seeing political, electoral and social issue ads in Facebook and Instagram feeds. After months of refusing to take action on these ads, even those with lies, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg admitted that, “everyone wants to see politicians held accountable for what they say — and I know many people want us to moderate and remove more of their content.” Facebook also announced its intent to register 4 million new voters in the next few months.

Continue reading New Facebook Feature Provides Option to Avoid Political Ads

Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

European Commission executive vice president in charge of competition Margrethe Vestager is ramping up her scrutiny of U.S. tech giants, including Apple and Amazon. She’s currently targeting Apple’s “gatekeeper” position with third-party apps and Apple Pay. She is also looking more closely at Amazon’s position in online retail. Bloomberg Intelligence antitrust analyst Aitor Ortiz, however, noted that the $9 billion fine she levied against Google didn’t stop the tech giant from continuing to dominate search. The fines “don’t really have a deterrent effect,” he concluded. Continue reading Apple is Next Target of European Commission Investigations

OpenAI Tests Commercial Version of Its AI Language System

Artificial intelligence research institute OpenAI, after collecting trillions of words, debuted its first commercial product, the API. Its goal is to create the “most flexible general-purpose AI language system” in existence. Currently, the API’s skills include translating between languages, writing news stories, and answering everyday questions. The API is engaged in limited testing and, said chief executive Sam Altman, will be released broadly for use in a range of tasks, such as customer support, education and games. Continue reading OpenAI Tests Commercial Version of Its AI Language System

Aussie Court Rules Publishers Liable for Facebook Comments

An Australian court ruled that newspapers and TV stations that post articles on Facebook will be considered publishers of the comments that Facebook users post, and therefore liable for them. Defendants in the original lawsuit — among them News Corp. and the Sydney Morning Herald — are considering an appeal. These two outlets noted that, “today’s decision means the media cannot share any story via Facebook without fear of being sued for comments which they did not publish and have no control over.” Continue reading Aussie Court Rules Publishers Liable for Facebook Comments

Australia and France Seek Changes to Big Tech News Model

Last summer, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission put together a 623-page report that pointed to Facebook and Google as the reason for the precipitous decline in local news and public policy reporting. Commission chair Rod Sims, who wrote the report, stated that, “global tech companies are not beyond national laws, especially when there is so much at stake.” He and French regulator Isabelle de Silva are challenging those two tech behemoths for carrying news organizations’ content without paying them. Continue reading Australia and France Seek Changes to Big Tech News Model

YouTube Sees Leap in Viewership, Yet Decline in Advertising

Millions of people are watching YouTube for news on the coronavirus. Chief product officer Neal Mohan reported viewership rose 75 percent compared to a year earlier. YouTube reaches more than two billion global viewers every month. But, even as viewership ticks upward, digital advertising has dramatically slowed and advertising rates are plummeting, leaving anyone who makes their living on YouTube in a financially vulnerable position. “Everyone is pausing their campaigns on YouTube,” said YouTube advisor Carlos Pacheco. Continue reading YouTube Sees Leap in Viewership, Yet Decline in Advertising

Founders of eSports and Gaming Network Speed Up Launch

Ariel Horn and Ben Kusin, co-founders of VENN (Video Game Entertainment & News Network), plan to launch their eSports, gaming and pop culture network in July, three months ahead of schedule. To do so, they are raising $40 million, building a Los Angeles studio, hiring, and setting up creators to program from home. The 24/7 linear network is aimed at the streaming generation, including hardcore eSports fans and casual gamers. VENN already raised $17 million from Kroenke Sports & Entertainment, Riot Games co-chair Marc Merrill and Blizzard Entertainment co-founder Mike Morhaime. Continue reading Founders of eSports and Gaming Network Speed Up Launch

Facebook Gives $100 Million in Local News Grants, Marketing

Although news media have seen a rise in digital subscriptions during the coronavirus, advertising has plummeted. Facebook has stepped in with the announcement it will provide $25 million in grants to local news outlets, as well as spend $75 million in marketing. Examples of outlets hard hit include BuzzFeed and American Media, which are cutting employees’ salaries, and alt-weeklies that have laid off as much as 75 percent of their employees. Facebook fact-checkers, meanwhile, are fighting coronavirus misinformation. Continue reading Facebook Gives $100 Million in Local News Grants, Marketing

Coronavirus Transforms Facebook into Major News Hub Again

With millions of Americans stuck at home, Facebook’s usage — especially messaging and video calls — has skyrocketed, and driven traffic to purveyors of coronavirus news. So much so that, as of a week ago, more than 50 percent of the articles being read on Facebook in the U.S. were coronavirus-related, and U.S. traffic from Facebook to other sites also soared 50+ percent due “almost entirely” to the coronavirus. But the social media companies aren’t spared the economic impact of the virus: a decrease in marketing dollars. Continue reading Coronavirus Transforms Facebook into Major News Hub Again

FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

Florida- and New York-based FaceBank Group, Inc. — developer of hyper-realistic digital humans for use in artificial intelligence, entertainment, productivity and social media — is merging with OTT live TV streaming service fuboTV, which currently touts “more top Nielsen-ranked sports, news and entertainment channels for cord cutters than any other live platform.” The combined digital entertainment company, to be led by fuboTV CEO and co-founder David Gandler, will be named fuboTV, Inc. with plans to offer a premium viewing experience across a global distribution network. Continue reading FaceBank Group and fuboTV Announce a Merger Agreement

Fox Corporation Acquires Streaming Platform Tubi for $440M

Fox Corporation is purchasing San Francisco-based, ad-supported streaming platform Tubi for $440 million in cash and the potential of $50 million in future deferred consideration and unvested options. Tubi, which currently has 25 million users in North America and Australia, streams thousands of movies and TV shows from more than 250 content partners including Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Tubi is accessible via numerous streaming devices, including the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Roku, and smart TVs from brands such as Samsung and Sony. Continue reading Fox Corporation Acquires Streaming Platform Tubi for $440M

Coronavirus: NAB 2020, Tech & Engineering Emmys Canceled

On March 11, NAB president/chief executive Gordon Smith announced that the NAB Show 2020 would be canceled. The NAB Show, which would have taken place April 18-22 in Las Vegas, gathers over 100,000 media, entertainment and technology professionals from all over the world. In a letter to the community, Smith wrote that the organization has been “carefully monitoring coronavirus developments both domestically and globally over the past few weeks.” Additionally, the NATAS Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards dinner was been moved to October. Continue reading Coronavirus: NAB 2020, Tech & Engineering Emmys Canceled

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