Big Tech Companies Are Thriving Despite the Current Climate

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wares and services of Big Tech companies such as Amazon, Apple and Facebook have become more indispensable than ever. As such, they are thriving. Amazon, for example, reported $88.9 billion in sales, with profits doubling to a record $5.2 billion in the quarter ending June, even though it spent $4 billion on its supply chain and worker safety in that time frame. Apple marked an 11 percent increase in quarterly sales, and Facebook sales rose 11 percent to $18.7 billion. Continue reading Big Tech Companies Are Thriving Despite the Current Climate

CTA Announces All-Digital Experience for January’s CES 2021

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) announced that its next annual CES confab, scheduled for January 6-9, will be “an all-digital experience” due to the coronavirus pandemic. While prioritizing the health and safety of exhibitors and attendees, the virtual experience promises the usual keynotes and conferences, product showcases, media events, and opportunities for meetings and networking. According to CTA chief exec Gary Shapiro, “Technology helps us all work, learn and connect during the pandemic — and that innovation will also help us reimagine CES 2021 and bring together the tech community in a meaningful way.” Continue reading CTA Announces All-Digital Experience for January’s CES 2021

AMC Prepares to Open Most of its Theaters Worldwide by July

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit AMC Entertainment, the world’s largest movie-theater chain, particularly hard. After registering a $2.2 billion net loss for Q1, it made “virtually no revenue” in the first two weeks of the quarter ending March 30. Now, AMC chief executive Adam Aron says he hopes to get AMC Theatres in the U.S. and U.K. open in July, although he did not specify a date. AMC has 1,000 theaters with 11,000 screens in several countries. In California, 51 counties have been approved to reopen movie theaters as soon as June 12. Continue reading AMC Prepares to Open Most of its Theaters Worldwide by July

Zoom Clarifies its Relationship with Law Enforcement and FBI

Zoom founder and chief executive Eric Yuan said his company will assist the FBI and law enforcement by providing end-to-end encryption only to paying customers, but not for the majority of those who use its free version, “in case some people use Zoom for a bad purpose.” During widespread U.S. protests over the death of George Floyd, Yuan’s comments did not go over well, with some users threatening to switch to rival services. But his words were misinterpreted and taken out of context. “We plan to provide end-to-end encryption to users for whom we can verify identity, thereby limiting harm to vulnerable groups,” explained Yuan. Continue reading Zoom Clarifies its Relationship with Law Enforcement and FBI

Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

For the latest installment in ETC’s Executive Spotlight series, we had a fascinating conversation with Lance Podell, senior vice president and general manager of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services (IMES), a leader in media archiving for the entertainment industry. IMES steers its film, music, broadcast and sports clients in media preservation, restoration and distribution. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Podell’s group has focused on safety and remote productivity while developing innovative methods for protecting assets and serving as an extension of its clients’ businesses. Iron Mountain has also created a “digital studio in a box” so that projects can stay on track during this challenging time. Continue reading Executive Spotlight: A Talk with Lance Podell of Iron Mountain Entertainment Services

Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

The Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee Task Force (“The Task Force”) submitted its suggested safety guidelines for the reopening of film, television and streaming industries to New York governor Andrew Cuomo and California governor Gavin Newsom. The Task Force, comprised of studios, guilds and producers, published a 22-page “Proposed Health and Safety Guidelines” white paper that includes the need for cast and crew physical distancing “whenever possible.” Industry leaders based the proposals on discussions with health experts and guidelines issued by the CDC and OSHA.  Continue reading Industry Task Force Publishes Guide for Resuming Production

ACLU Files Privacy Lawsuit Against Facial Recognition Startup

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a suit in Illinois against facial recognition startup Clearview AI over privacy and safety violations. It accused the company of breaking “the 2008 Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act, that bans companies from using a resident’s fingerprints or face scans without consent” and allows a resident to sue such companies for $5,000 per violation. The New Jersey and Vermont state attorneys general ordered Clearview to cease collecting their residents’ photos, and people in New York and Vermont also filed suits. Continue reading ACLU Files Privacy Lawsuit Against Facial Recognition Startup

Study Reveals Growing COVID-19 Anxiety Over Public Spaces

People have been locked down due to the coronavirus for two months, but a mid-May survey from Performance Research, in partnership with Full Circle Research Co., revealed that many are still anxious about health and safety in larger public spaces. In fact, the survey indicates that, despite a strong desire to gather with others and resume normal activities, the level of anxiety for many has been building since an earlier survey taken in March. Such a trend could impact movie theaters, theme parks, sports venues, concert halls, stage performances and more.

Continue reading Study Reveals Growing COVID-19 Anxiety Over Public Spaces

Filmmakers Return to Production During COVID-19 Pandemic

After months of shutdown, film and television production is reviving in two countries that have successfully flattened the curve. Producer Lucas Foster isolated his cast and crew in a small Australia town to shoot Stephen King’s “Children of the Corn.” Icelandic director Baltasar Kormakur used color-coded armbands to shoot Netflix sci-fi series “Katla” in Reykjavik. Going back to production in the time of coronavirus isn’t easy, and requires security guards to monitor social distancing, medical staff and other strict protocols. Continue reading Filmmakers Return to Production During COVID-19 Pandemic

Amazon Shipping Recovers, States Question Worker Health

According to Amazon, the crush in deliveries sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down and it is again allowing suppliers to send an unlimited amount of inventory to its warehouses. Consumers can once again expect to see Amazon’s typical one- and two-day deliveries return in the next few weeks. Once it fell behind, Amazon had to hire 175,000 people to meet demand. As to the number of its own workers struck down by COVID-19, Amazon declines to reveal figures, saying they are “no worse” than the rest of the country. Continue reading Amazon Shipping Recovers, States Question Worker Health

Twitter Sees More Daily Active Users But Advertising Declines

In Q1 2020, Twitter reported 24 percent year-on-year (YoY) increase in daily active users to 166 million, which it said is at least in part to the coronavirus pandemic. Although Q1 earnings beat estimates, the company’s advertising business slowed, which Twitter also attributes to the pandemic. Stock was up 12 percent during premarket trading on news of the report, but then fell 7.8 percent during the earnings call because executives didn’t reassure investors that the advertising slump would recover or stabilize. Continue reading Twitter Sees More Daily Active Users But Advertising Declines

FCC Grants T-Mobile, Verizon Extra Spectrum During Pandemic

As data usage soars during the coronavirus pandemic, the big carriers are seeing their 4G LTE networks stressed to the max. On Sunday, the Federal Communications Commission gave permission to T-Mobile to use 600MHz spectrum on loan from Dish, Comcast, NewLevel and other companies for 60 days. In fact, Dish is allowing AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon to utilize some of its unused spectrum to enhance and speed up their 4G LTE networks. AT&T customers, for example, could see an “up to 20Mbps uptick in data performance.” Continue reading FCC Grants T-Mobile, Verizon Extra Spectrum During Pandemic

Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

With movie theaters shuttered across the U.S. due to the coronavirus, the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) asked Congress and the Trump administration for loan guarantees and tax benefits to help pay workers and keep theater chains afloat. The top 10 theater chains in the nation have already or will shut down their theaters, representing 89 percent of U.S. screens. NATO represents 33,000+ screens in all 50 states. The Trump administration is considering similar benefits for the airline industry. Continue reading Coronavirus: Theater Owners Request Government Assistance

Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

In response to precautions being taken to avoid spread of the coronavirus, AMC Theatres announced that, as of yesterday, it is closing its U.S. locations for at least 6-12 weeks while remaining flexible to comply with CDC and government guidelines. “AMC Stubs A-List members will automatically have their accounts paused” for the period of closure (without billing or payments), while film fans “are encouraged to continue the AMC movie-watching experience through AMC Theatres On Demand.” AMC joins Regal Cinemas, which announced earlier that it would be closing all its theater locations “until further notice.” Continue reading Coronavirus: AMC Is Latest Theater Chain to Close Locations

Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

The coronavirus is hitting the National Association of Theatre Owners particularly hard, as local governments close movie theaters and consumers turn to streaming services. Regal Cinemas announced it is closing all its theaters, effective today, until further notice. Meanwhile, studios are reconsidering the exclusive 90-day window for theatrical exhibition. Universal Pictures is the the first major studio to announce a change to the traditional model. “We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible,” said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. Continue reading Theaters Hit Hard by Coronavirus as Streamers Reap Rewards

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