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Television Media

Broadcasters vs Producers on Content Integrity 173

Posted by Roblimo
from the annoying-commercials-breaking-into-movies dept.
mpawlo writes "I just did a quick write-up for Greplaw on an interesting pending law suit in Sweden. Two Swedish directors, Vilgot Sjoman and Anders Eriksson, are about to file a suit against Swedish broadcaster Tv 4. According to the author's rights or droit moral doctrine, the work may not be displayed or changed in a way degrading to the author or the author's work. Tv 4 has just changed its policy for commercial breaks. Breaks are now introduced during movies. The commercial breaks used to be placed between the end and start of a program. The directors argue the breaks are degrading from an artistical point of view. They want to try the commercial breaks in court from a copyright perspective."
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Broadcasters vs Producers on Content Integrity

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  • hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Graspee_Leemoor (302316) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:05PM (#4489891) Homepage Journal
    Films tend to be worse affected by breaks in the middle than TV progs, which are designed with it in mind.

    graspee

    • Re:hmm (Score:4, Informative)

      by Zeinfeld (263942) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:10PM (#4489906) Homepage
      My wife remembers watching the 'Blues Brothers' on network TV. The network had cut out all but three bars of each of the musical numbers to make room for ads.

      Continental copyright law is not like US law. There is the doctrine of the moral rights of the author. The widow of Peter Sellers used this right to sue the producers of 'on the trial of the Pink P{anther' which used footage from the previous panther movies which Sellers had rejected.

      There are also a bunch of cases where the directors of movies have prevented studios from agreeing to cuts to comply with censorship boards.

    • Re:hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

      by infornogr (603568)
      The sad thing is that the length of these breaks has increased over time, so a lot of classic TV shows have parts cut out by the television station to allow more commercials to be shown. It's even more annoying since half of these commercials are just self-promotional things made by the station.
      • yes! They also have "optional segments" which are sub plots that don't alter the story significantly and thus can be edited out. Star Trek TNG had them, some episode guides even go over them.

        I'm an Andy Griffith show fan, and Vie seen each of them 10x at least on the local fox affiliate in my area... Later an affiliate picked up the episodes and low and behold, they left the optional segments in! (Usually a joke at the end of the show that wrapped everything up -- its important to note I don't know if they were actually optional segments or fox was just being bastardly). I was *uber* pissed to learn that in 10 years of watching the show I had missed 60 seconds of each of them.

    • Has it ever accured to you that when the TV progs are on a channel that doesn't have breaks in the middle, the TV progs aren't designed with this in mind?

      But to be more on topic, these breaks in the middle of a film really piss me off, with the exeption of when I have to go to the bathroom.
    • have you seen dinner and movie on TBS ?
      Although i am not a big fan of it and agree that their talk about the movie can sometimes be downright boring, their objective could very much be what you just mentioned:
      to break down movies into chunks, conflate it with a TV program and present it with the commercials for which it seems more suitable. Good thinking by someone at TBS.
    • by mpe (36238)
      Films tend to be worse affected by breaks in the middle than TV progs, which are designed with it in mind.

      Sort of. An imported TV programme probably won't be made with the ad break schedule used in mind, the same applies to an older TV programme. Also it's hardly unknown for broadcasters to trim programme content to be able to fit more ads in.
      Personally I'd have though more fuss would be made about voicing over credits or even squashing them down to fit a promo in. Since these acknowlage the hardworking people who actually produced the programme or film.
  • Interesting.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:08PM (#4489899) Journal
    Its nice to see people standing up for their content, and fighting advertisements.
    This story made me think, could our producers sue Digital Cable for degrading the quality? (ask any time warner digital cable subscriber what 'digital picture' means, anyone with a clue will tell you it means 'lossy compression used to squeeeze in a bunch of extra channels)
    • Re:Interesting.. (Score:2, Insightful)

      by infornogr (603568)
      Sue for degrading the quality? Right, and I suppose it's the cable company's responsibility to provide me with a private movie theater and DVD-quality film. Believe it or not, some stations actually used to broadcast television over the airwaves and the quality would fluctuate with weather conditions and the positioning of metal objects on top of the TV set. I don't think sueing for a bad picture would hold up well in court. Nobody's forcing you to buy digital cable, anyways. If the cable company is actually promoting that the picture quality is superior, that's something different, but they're just claiming it has more channels and a "digital picture". Buyer beware.
      • Re:Interesting.. (Score:2, Informative)

        by Guspaz (556486)
        The local cable monopoly, Videotron, does exactly that; they sell Digital cable on having a higher picture quality, and more choice over what channels you get. They also compete directly with sattelite TV, and further make the claim that while sattelite signals degrade or fail in poor weather, digital cable is always strong.

        Anybody living here, however, knows that with the huge strikes going on at Videotron, their service is less reliable than sattelite.
        • Nevermind the strike, their problem is pricing.. they're so 1989 with their TV and Internet prices it's absurd.

          "6 gigs should be enough for everyone"
          ri-ight.

          "20$/mo gets you eighteen standard channels, for another 29.99$ you can get 15 more"
          su-ure.

          "Digital cable starting at 59.99$/mo"
          and then ?

          I hate monopolies.
          • by Guspaz (556486)
            Not to mention 8$ per GB being outrageous. My ISP will give you 50GB for 50$. Videotron would try to charge you 400$ for that! Insane!

            Also, this reminds me of a segment from Air Farce the other night... The guy talks about how he has Videotron's cable internet, but pays them 10$ a month more because he doesn't have cable. He says he'd love to cancel highspeed internet, but he doesn't think he could afford it!
  • Anyone producing a TV show that is intended to have commercial breaks is either a) not an artist, or b) a corporate whore, degrading themselves for money.

    Hmm. I think they may be onto something here.
    • by infornogr (603568)
      c) A person who realizes that if there are no commercials, there is no program, and that the program should be designed to minimize the negative effect of the commercials on the program. Designing the program so that the commercials don't come in at annoying times is fighting the damage that commercials do, not helping it.
    • by rmohr02 (208447)
      Well, that includes just about all TV producers in the US. But generally, sitcoms (if not dramas as well) switch between scenes frequently, and nearly all of those switches are good spots for commercial breaks.
    • by Flamesplash (469287) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:18PM (#4489946) Homepage Journal
      Note it's talking about a movie, which are usually not intended to have commercials in it, and not a regular tv show.

      If the US did commercials like England I think our shows would be much different. At least half of all commercials in US TV merely act to delay a moment of suspense. The show leaves off and picks up at the exact same moment in this case. The commercials are not merely in between scenes, but there to entrap you to watch at least part of the commercials so that you don't miss the pick up.

      How much different would our TV be without this? better? worse? the same?
      • How much different would our TV be without this? better? worse? the same?

        You know, without the possibility of breaking to commercials for suspense, they might actually have to make some suspense *in* the show. Outside the US (few have as many commerical breaks as they do) you see the (extra) fade-out/fade-ins designed for commercials, only without the commercials, and you realize just how artifical that suspense really is.

        And personally, my feeling is that it *breaks* the suspense more than holds or builds it, particularly those dark and gloomy series/movies, only to get 5 mins of shampoo commericals.

        Not to mention the "umm-we-have-no-real-suspense-here-but-time-is-up- and-we-need-to-break-for-another-commercial-now-so -we'll-make-something-up" breaks.

        Kjella
      • If the US did commercials like England I think our shows would be much different.
        For those of us that don't live in England, do you care to explain how they handle commercials? You didn't explain in your post.
        • The main difference is that they're less frequent. A half-hour show will just have one commercial break within the program, and another between it and the next program. An hour-long show might only have two breaks, and a movie may have them even less frequently.


          This only applies to commercial UHF TV. The BBC doesn't have advertising at all (except for itself, between shows), and satellite/cable can be just as bad (or good) as American stations.

        • Pairs of internal commerical breaks must on average be no less than 20 minutes apart from each other, and may only occur between scenes. For this purpose breaks between programs don't count.

          Therefore a 30 or 60 minute program will have ads every 15 minutes including before the next program.

          There is a maximum of 12 minutes of ads (excluding self-promotion) per hour, and 7 or 9 minutes maximum average per day. Unsurprisingly therefore, overnight shows have no or hardly any commericals, and just serve the purpose of allowing more ads to be shown during the day.

          The ITC (Independant Television Commission) advertising regulations can be found here. [itc.org.uk]

      • Could you imagine the Dukes of Hazzard without commercial breaks??

        I remember almost peeing my pants, holding it during the commercial break, hoping Bo and Luke would get away from Rosco and Boss.

        I think if I wouldn't have waited, the General Lee probably would crashed by the time I got back.

        That was _quality, artistic_ television.
      • One of the ways of doing a direct controlled comparision is to pick up the DVD of a television show and compare the experience to watching it on television without commercials.

        So far, I've purchased all the Stargate SG-1 available in the US, and my wife has purchased the two seasons of Friends. Bearing in mind that neither of us is particularly fond of the other show, we both agree that both are significantly more enjoyable on DVD, with no commercials to interfere.

        Even after 60+ (?) years of adapting to commercials, they still do nothing but get in the way of the program. I even kinda like Friends on DVD, even though I don't care much for it on TV. Even with the TiVo, it's not the same; the interruption is serious.

        A simple, controlled experiment you can do on your own. I won't conclude that television would be better without commercials, but I do think we'd all enjoy it more, and that the best theature in that world would exceed the best in the advertising world we live in now.
        • Great point. I actually have been doing this with Star Trek TNG via NetFlix [netflix.com] (While I hate their pop ups it's a good service). The episodes are so much better without commercials. it's easier to get into an stay in the fantasy world without someone trying to sell you dishwasher detergant.
      • If the US did commercials like England I think our shows would be much different. At least half of all commercials in US TV merely act to delay a moment of suspense. The show leaves off and picks up at the exact same moment in this case. The commercials are not merely in between scenes, but there to entrap you to watch at least part of the commercials so that you don't miss the pick up.

        Which is against the rules in the UK anyway. Any ad breaks must be an some sort of "natural break" in drama, be it made for TV or a movie.
        The other difference is that because US broadcasters tend not to show commercials between programmes. Anything produced initially for the US market tends to have some sort of prologue/teaser prior to the title credits. TV produced elsewhere in the world has the title credits at the very beginning.
    • It's very annoying watching made-for-advert shows on a non-advertising TV channel.

      Something dramatic would happen, then before it's concluded the screen fades to black... Then the exact same scene happens over again!

      Perhaps I'm easily annoyed ...

      I'd love to be able to sue Sky TV in the UK for using such a low-bitrate on there digital channels. It ruins the program almost as much as adverts and those stupid brain-dead logos they put in the corner.

      "It's helps identify the channel"

      What do I look stupid? You think I don't know what channel I'm watching?!

      *clams down*

      Carry on!
    • "Showbusiness - Show - Business - SHOW --- BUSINESS.

      With out the business, there is no show, and there is no show for you" -- Man on the Moon
    • Allmost all TV shows, movies and songs are commerical products whos primary intent is to make money for the "artists" who produce it and have as much "artistic" content as other commerical products like automobles, or toaster ovens. The list of "whores" also includes the avant garde "artists" who crank out pseduo-art aimed at the critics who control the grant money instead of the general public. Frankly I'm tired of the number of hacks who want to cash in on the title of artist without having a shread of talent to back the claim up. Art has become a dying phenomia, largely because the talentless whiners recieve the support that true artists used to recieve.
  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:12PM (#4489920) Homepage
    Here in Norway, they sometimes put news&weather in the middle of movies, because they aren't allowed to put commercial breaks in movies. Also this would stop the network's self-promotion in the middle of movies (basicly a commercial for the later shows of the evening), equally annoying but usually shorter though.

    But I suppose if this goes through as a general precendent in copyright law, the movie producers will simply get a lower prices for movies that they can't break up. Nothing like sacrificing "artistic integrity" for a bit more money...

    Kjella
    • This is exactly what TV4 used to do. They also used to show "dagensnamn", a pointless piece of rubbish explaining what the day's "Name Day" was.
      • Or they forced you to watch some moronic "inför morgondagens xxx" crap. I.e. (for you non-Swedish speaking ppl) a 5-10 min short commercial for the big show the next evening. And lo and behold, then they could show commercials before and after that crap.

        I don't know about you guys, but I am quite sure I can't be the only one who has loved getting TV series first on VCD (no commercials! Watching when I want to!) and then on DVD (I rather watch when I want to, and I don't want the TV series in the crappy broadcasted quality. Digital my ass. Only if you can real video DVD quality...). Many of you probably don't get them on DVD later though. But still. There is a market for commerical free, "watch when _I_ want to", TV series. And if it is easy enough to use, we might just not care about trying to get it from FTP sites anymore.
  • by Subcarrier (262294) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:14PM (#4489933)
    The directors argue the breaks are degrading from an artistical point of view. They want to try the commercial breaks in court from a copyright perspective.

    Over here they insert bits of movies between the commercials.
  • This I don't get (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:14PM (#4489936) Homepage

    The article states:

    • They sue 'Tv4', which is in Sweden.
    • Other channels that target Sweden broadcast from London, thus they aren't affected by Swedish law.
    • Author's rights are protected strongly in European Law.

    If the protection the authors claim is grounded in European law, why are the London-based stations safe from it? Why aren't they bringing the case before the EU courts at once?

    Apparently they think the EU courts wouldn't outlaw commercial breaks during movies, which are pretty normal. One Dutch station (SBS6) actually goes so far as to have an entire 30-minute program in between the first and second halves of a film... I *hate* that.

    So it seems that Swedish courts are being stricter on interpretation of EU law than the rest of the EU. I doubt that's a good thing.

    • Re:This I don't get (Score:2, Informative)

      by JanneM (7445)
      I am _not_ any kind of lawyer, but: I believe you can not bring a case directly to the europeans court. Instead, you either make your national court ask for an interpretation of european law from the court; or you have a judgement from the national court that you ask to be overturned by the european court. First stop is always your local court in any case.

      • I believe you can not bring a case directly to the europeans court.

        I thought of that later, I think you're right.

        But still, they could have sued the other channels (broadcasting from London) ever since they've been doing this, just sue them in the UK. I see no special reason to sue this station now that it choses to do it as well, if this is based on EU law.

        So I still think they think the Swedish court is more likely to grant them the protection than, say, UK courts.

    • Re:This I don't get (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It makes no difference where the broadcast is uplinked from, whether it is London or Sweden - broadcasts to Europe have to abide by the laws of all countries in Europe, unless they are encrypted, and subscriptions are not available in all countries.

      The ITC, (Independent Television Commission in the U.K.), recently fined a Swedish broadcaster for screening an unsuitable trailer - details here [dtg.org.uk].
      • Wrong. Kanal 5 is broadcast from the UK.

        Broadcasters have to abide by the laws just in the country they broadcast from, which have to be compliant with the usually less restrictive European Directives, if the channel is receivable in more than one country.

    • It might just hinge on the fact that the rules have changed. Presumably, the rest of the world has already bought the rights, and since they were advertising sponsored networks, the producers had the right to refuse at the time of purchase.
    • IANAL. However, I am currently taking an intellectual property law class, and this has come up more than once.

      The article is a bit misleading. Unlike the rest of Europe, England has never supported moral rights theory. This is why it is not part of the American legal tradition (except for works of visual arts produced only in limited numbers).

      Anglo-America copyright law is based on the notion of a public bargain. In exchange for temporary protection, the creator lets the public have all rights to the work after the copyright expires. The rest of Europe (especially France) views a work as "the sacred child of its creator." This view grants creators far more control over their creations.

      However, I have no idea how all this is affected by EU law.
      • The article is a bit misleading. Unlike the rest of Europe, England has never supported moral rights theory. This is why it is not part of the American legal tradition (except for works of visual arts produced only in limited numbers).

        The term "moral right" is in the latest UK copyright law. Most current copyright laws are something of a mish-mash of different legal traditions. Which have been stuck together in the name of "harmonis/zation"

        Anglo-America copyright law is based on the notion of a public bargain. In exchange for temporary protection, the creator lets the public have all rights to the work after the copyright expires. The rest of Europe (especially France) views a work as "the sacred child of its creator." This view grants creators far more control over their creations.

        The difference is somewhat academic now that copyright always lasts longer that the creator. Especially since current copyright laws give what would previously have been these moral rights to the current copyright holder. The only real difference is that moral rights are non transferable.
        There is currently a case pending in the US against a organisation known as "cleanflicks" which censors films and rents the results. Which is a rather more drastic modification, than sticking commercials or news bulletins in the middle of a broadcast.
  • by Poilobo (535231) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:14PM (#4489937) Homepage
    That's funny, oh those crazy Swedes. I can't even fathom a two hour movie that hasn't been 'compressed for time, content, commercials.' I mean, after all the reductions, my god man, how would you fill the other 80 mins.
  • ... with a wicked habit from the time commercials was banned during shows TV4 has continued to place other programs like the news in the middle of the breaks (claiming the news had to be aired that specific time).

    I can usually watch TV despite commercials, but when they show 5 minutes commercials + 10 minutes news + 5 more minutes commercials you have either forgot the plot in most movies or decided that it's good enough to see some other time.

    OK, maybe I'm exaggerating - but it's definitely out of control and the debate has until now stopped at "commercials or not" which is not the issue. If they cared about the viewers they would probably get closer to the state on danish TV where feature films are broadcast non-stop...
  • by WolfWithoutAClause (162946) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:19PM (#4489951) Homepage
    Basically, this would mean that the TV execs would have to pay the director to wave his right for his movie to not be interupted by commercials. Otherwise, the movies would not be shown at all, and neither side wants that- particularly the director.
    • Shouldn't it be paying the studio? The studio is (usually) the one that actually owns the rights to the movie, after all. If the director can automatically have so much control, you may as well have actors and special effects artists also demanding artistic authority over the display of anything and everything that they had a part in producing.

      Irrespective of the super-star status often given to directors, they're still contracted to a studio. If the director wants artistic control then it should be one of the conditions specified in his or her contract, and it should be up to the studio to enforce that requirement down the chain.

    • pay the director to wave his right for his movie

      Er, `wave his rights' is what he would do when his rights drive away in the back of a van, on a trip to the beach for a day.

      'waive his rights', on the other hand, is what the people of the world do when governments start ranting about terrorists.
  • TV Shows on DVD? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toupsie (88295) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:22PM (#4489960) Homepage
    Would this mean that a commercial broadcast television show would have the artist's rights violated if the commercials are removed for distribution on DVD? It would seem that a broadcast commercial television program would have a producer creating an artistic product with commercial breaks in mind. Removing the commercials could interfere with that artistic vision. I watched many shows that have used the commercial break for dramatic pause.
  • by BierGuzzl (92635) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:30PM (#4489995)
    Artists don't control the money, producers and the networks hold more sway. If you can't put a commercial break into a movie, you've got to make a shorter movie!
  • The US Balance (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The directors argue the breaks are degrading from an artistical point of view.

    This concept is so foreign in the United States I'm not sure if anyone will get it.
    • Re:The US Balance (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bobdotorg (598873) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @01:10PM (#4490157)
      "The directors argue the breaks are degrading from an artistical point of view."

      This concept is so foreign in the United States I'm not sure if anyone will get it.


      Other than when we pay (in theater, premium channels on cable, renting movies) we Americans are rarely exposed to commercial free anything. And not just on television. There's advertising everywhere.

      A few years ago I taught in Finland and was impresssed by the fact that the "Government office of whatever..." mandated that movies broadcast over (the peoples!!!) airwaves could only have one (two?) commercial break, had to be uncut, and with the exception of children's titles, had to be subtitled (the 'no cheesy dubbing' law). The subtitling provision even applies to theaters.

      It was wonderful.

      To any Europeans reading this post - can you imagine watching the mini-series version of Das Boot (running time over five hours) on American television - 20 minutes of commercials per hour would bring the running time to eight hours. Our (Americans') collective attention span is currently about eight seconds - I suspect that American television networks have played a large part in this. In addition, imagine watching a deep movie that is interrupted with a commercial that's narrative starts out with, "Painful, burning vaginal itch...." I'm not making this up - this is an actual commercial here that runs during prime time on national networks.

      I feel a rant coming on, so I'll end with this - Europeans might not know the value of a law like this because they have not been exposed to the unrelenting onslaught of advertising that is American Television.
      Americans might not know the value of a law like this because we have not been exposed to the bliss that is commercial free movies and sporting events. Well, except for the eight or ten of us who watched the World Cup.

      microrant And God Dammit!!!! I had to stop watching the World Series last night (kept the sound on though) because of the fscking inserted ads right in the pitch trajectory - you MUST read the ad on every goddamn pitch, and it changes every half inning. FUCK I HATE THOSE THINGS.
      /microrant

      Sorry.
      • Other than when we pay (in theater, premium channels on cable, renting movies) we Americans are rarely exposed to commercial free anything.
        I don't know what movie theaters you go to but the ones I have been to recently all have ads before the movies. It's the main reason I've stopped going to the movie theater. I'm not going to pay for a movie if you're going to show me ads for vacuum cleaners and cars before the movie.
        • Heh - I went to see 'Welcome to Collinwood' (I grew up in Euclid, about a mile from Collinwood) this past Friday evening. A 10:15 showing, the final showing of the evening. I walked in at 10:19 and the movie was already playing. I'm not sure if it was because it's an independent film, the theater ('The Esquire' in Chicago) is an artsy theater, or because the theater will save more by closing a few minutes earlier than they otherwise would if the movie had a commercial prefix.

          Contrast this to seeing movies at Universal City (in Los Angeles). Between movie ads, Pepsi ads, and other crap, it's rare that a movie starts within 17 minutes of its listed time.

          By the way, unless you can see 'Welcome to Collinwood' in a packed theater, wait for the DVD - it's that kind of comedy.
        • That's when I go to the loo, buy some popcorn etc. for example a 20:00 movie goes like so
          • 20:00 ads for banks/beer etc.
          • 20:10 trailers for upcoming movies
          • 20:20 the film

          I aim to sit down between 20:10 and 20:20 (earlier if there is a good trailer expected like LOTR). It is trivial to arrive at the right time. And since I generally sit in the front row I don't have to step over people.

          I actually miss intervals; generally I go to the loo in the quiet "emotion" scene near the end of Act 2 where they say nothing of importance :-)

      • here in the Netherlands we have quite a bit of advertising on the commercial (non-public) stations. Not as much as in the US, but the thing is that advertising time on the commercial stations is very expensive, so you tend to see good quality commercials. Not like the crap I saw in the US (been there couple times). For some reason the ad companies really do their best and most of the commercials are actually quite entertaining (except of course the washing powder commercials... there's absolutely nothing funny to be done with washing powder).

        In conclusion, I feel sorry for you American types. I'm glad the commercials are better here. :-) Oh, and back OT, I hope those directors win...Nice precedent. It'd be cool if there were less breaks.

        Cheers,

        Costyn.
        • here in the Netherlands we have quite a bit of advertising on the commercial (non-public) stations. Not as much as in the US, but the thing is that advertising time on the commercial stations is very expensive, so you tend to see good quality commercials

          Yeah, especially this one:

          http://mjfrazer.org/~mjfrazer/movies/dutch.qt [mjfrazer.org]

          After thinking, "What kind of sick...." I spewed milk through my nose when I saw the end of the commercial.
        • here in the Netherlands we have quite a bit of advertising on the commercial (non-public) stations. Not as much as in the US, but the thing is that advertising time on the commercial stations is very expensive, so you tend to see good quality commercials.

          Also less chance of ads being simply overplayed. Though, no doubt, there are still cases where the ads don't appear to make much sense in the context of either the programme or the other ads.
          • mpe wrote:

            Though, no doubt, there are still cases where the ads don't appear to make much sense in the context of either the programme or the other ads.


            Do they ever? I mean, sure they're targetted towards certain audiences which are watching the current show, but they certainly don't seem to be made relating to other commercials or the current show.

            Cheers,

            Costyn.
            • I mean, sure they're targetted towards certain audiences which are watching the current show,

              In theory, it's not too hard to find examples to make you think: "What rational person would assume that anyone watching programme X would want to buy product Y."
      • When I was studying in England in 1991, I went to the "art house" movie theater fairly often but rarely went to the regular theaters. When I did I was surprised that there were TV-style commericals as well as trailers before the movie started. I thought, "this sucks! I'm glad we don't have those in the U.S." Now we have them here as well (can't remember when they started here, 2-3 years ago?). The worst have been those Pepsi ads with the "cute" girl. The worst was the Western themed one which combined hawking with warnings about not talking during the movie or smoking. It was only used by Regal Theaters in my area and I was so sick of it, I would go to a competitor (Cinemark) to avoid it. Judging by often often I heard laughter during the stupid thing, annoying frequent patrons isn't a big concern for them.

        Some videos have commercials as well but this appears to not have caught on yet.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:34PM (#4490004)
    The whole entire point of TV programming is to sell advertisements...period. It hasn't changed in 40+ years.

    Anyone who licenses content to a TV station thinking they won't run ads during it is just plain stupid. The TV station doesn't give a crap- they'll run a film from a director who isn't a space case instead.
    • by Amanset (18568) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:44PM (#4490044) Homepage
      Maybe in some countries, but take the likes of the BBC who were broadcasting before the second world war (1939-1945, a bit more than 40 years ago) and with no adverts, thus saying that " The whole entire point of TV programming is to sell advertisements...period" is incorrect and very US-centric.

      • Yes. And the UK has to pay for the television tax (is it each set, or each household?) and then they get such *wonderful* channels out of it... chock full of government sponsored rhetoric.

        Explains why The Simpsons is one of the most popular UK programs.

        Yes, you do get Black Adder, Monty Python, and Faulty Towers every few years, but I would resent the fact that some of the programming would come down from the mountain and tell us that tonight was "Ballet Night."

        Don't get me wrong, but if I had to see Weathering Heights one more time, I would just shoot myself or buy a sattelite.
        • You just don't have a clue do you?

          Firstly, the purpose of the BBC is not to sell advertisements. Your arguments seem to fail to refute the point you were responding to.

          It is not a TV tax. It's a TV licence (and per houshold btw). The key point being that the licence fee goes directly towards funding the BBC, and not into the treasury.

          There is no government sponsored rhetoric. The BBC has a respnsibility to be neutral. The government gets no more say in the matter than the opposition.

          The Simpsons typically draws an audience of less than 5 million. A popular soap will get three times that.

          We get more than Blackadder, Monty Python, and Fawlty Towers. In fact, the newest of these - Blackadder hasn't had a new series for over a decade. You seem to have totally ignored all the high quality programming the BBC have produced. Why is that?

          It's called Wuthering heights. Not Weathering Heights. How often does the BBC show it anyway?

          Did you know that the majority of BBC TV is new television. Most of this is factual and drama. Maybe I'm missing the goverment rhetoric in the latest series of Silent Witness.
          • The only difference between a tax and a license is the spelling.
            • The main point is that the income from a tax goes to the government whereas the income derved from the TV licence goes straight to the BBC.

              Techinally, it's a minor difference, and granted, the penalties for not payting a licence are pretty much the same as not paying for a tax, but that wasn't really the main thrust of what I was getting at.
          • I'm curious. If the BBC is so wonderful, why is it supported by government licensing? Why doesn't it raise funds like public television in the United States does.

            Does Britain support Al Jazeera in a similar manner for the muslim population?

            It's kinda weird that the government is in the broadcasting business.

          • There is no government sponsored rhetoric. The BBC has a respnsibility to be neutral. The government gets no more say in the matter than the opposition.

            Which has a few times upset the government of the day.
    • There's public TV-- no commercials-- except during "Pledge Season". Of course, during those periods, the quality of the content goes way down.

      PBS used to be a lot less prudish than the broadcast networks, too.
  • by shatfield (199969) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:42PM (#4490035)
    We are already seeing commercials at the beginning of a movie at the theater. We've paying a premium price to watch a movie, and they are forcing us to sit through three commercials as well?

    Next thing we know, we'll be watching a movie that we paid $10 a peice to go see, and having to sit through advertisements for "refreshing Coca Cola and Popcorn at the snackbar"

    This is absurd!
    • Did you know that if you buy a DVD from Disney, you will be forced to watch several minutes of commercials before you can watch the actual movie? It is rigged in a way that you cannot skip the commercials (usually for other Disney movies) and go directly to the movie with normal DVD players.
    • Worse than having commericials before movies (rental or at the theater) are the mistmatches you see. I bought a Shirley Temple VHS for my nieces a couple of years ago. Here's a video presumably for kids, and at the beginning is the scene where Marilyn Monroe is sitting naked by a pool! Unreal! How vacant does a this video's producer and his studio have to be?
  • by Sebby (238625) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:43PM (#4490040)
    I always thought that those damn logos in the corner of the screen networks put in should be treated as unauthorized modification of the work being displayed, and hence be considered a copyright enfringment.

    Might finally get rid of those stupid things once and for all...

    • they would have bought the rights to using logos on the screen just as they would have the bought the rights to have commercial inserted inbetween. I really dont know, am guessing.
    • wow, I must be the only person in /.land who isn't annoyed to DEATH by those things. Granted, working second shift wed-sun and having 2 kids + wife I actually only see about 10 minutes of TV a week (there is NOTHING good on before 2PM during the week).

      I noticed when the "new TNN" started using them, and they annoyed me for all of 5 minutes. Then I just phased it out...either that or I am being secretly controlled by them by opening some sort of subconcious tunnel thingy.

  • by Anna Merikin (529843) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:44PM (#4490042) Journal

    IIRC, when Bergman's The Lie (abridged, but edited by Bergman from the Swedish version) played on US commercial TV some thirty years ago, it was broadcast without commercial breaks -- because it was in Bergman's contract.

    As a former player/writer in TV/movies, I can assure you that for the last twenty years in the US, the writers/artists have had no rights about `artistical' matters; the producers now expect the TV/Cable/International revenues to cover their production costs, and they have the paperwork drawn up to give them the greatest prof-- um, er, flexibility to package and sell the project after initial theatrical runs.

    I know nothing about European artistic license/law -- and from reading this article, I want nothing to do with it. It sounds completely absurd to me. As I understand the article with regards to the use of a religious song in the tree-f*cking scene in I am Curious (Yellow), Kubric would have needed the song writer's permission to use Singin' in the Rain as compellingly as he did in A Clockwork Orange.

    If you want artistic control over your project, get it in writing like Bergman or form your own production company like Fritjof Capra did for Mind Walk.

    BTW, there is a so-called `director's cut' on some DVDs because the director usually does not even decide what is in the final version of the film in most cases. Sometimes the director of a film is not even invited in for the editing -- and the writer almost never is.

    Perhaps this story illustrates the difficulty Europen cinema has competing with the US variety as much as it does a real trend in European artistic rights.

  • thrashing of artistic vision, would the broadcasters start sueing for breach of contract, or perhaps limiting corporate expression? The Sweedish constitution [llrx.com] Does have the The Freedom of the Press Act and the The Freedom of Expression Act.

    It -is- afterall an expression of the company of which comercials to air, and when.... Like perhaps overall the comercials, are funny, or political, or downright serious

  • by rosewood (99925) <rosewood@ch[ ]ru ['at.' in gap]> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @12:54PM (#4490096) Homepage Journal
    One thing slashdot has covered before and I am starting to see a lot of in movies is digital editing. For example, I was watching Tin Cup on TBS yesterday. Towards the end of the movie, at the majors, on the last hole, there is a big banner for CBS sports. You *can't* miss it. It is big black letters on a yellow banner. Well, TBS edited it out. All it is now is a big yellow hole. In a few shots where you only see a corner of it, you still see the text, but in the wide shots - NOTHING. How long until that says "Watch Atlanta Braves Baseball" ??

    Then I was watching a hockey game and I noticed how all the adds on the walls were changing. I thought that was kinda strange since Ive only seen them painted on. But then I saw the adds ON the ice change. Turns out none of the in stadium adds are broadcast, just ones from the networks. What the HELL is that? I would be pissed if I bought that advertisement spot!
    • Towards the end of the movie, at the majors, on the last hole, there is a big banner for CBS sports. You *can't* miss it. It is big black letters on a yellow banner. Well, TBS edited it out. All it is now is a big yellow hole.
      Actually, I'm all for this. I'm tired of all the blatant product promotion in movies. I'd actaully find it rather amusing if all the people trading movies on filesharing networks edited out all the product promotion from the movies they trade. Granted, it's illegal to trade copyrighted works without permission, but if you're going to do it, at least clean it up from ads.
  • Slick vs commercials, ads, teasers, plugs [sinfest.net] (or just the image [sinfest.net] if you don't want to see the site's ads).
  • by dreamword (197858) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @01:09PM (#4490152) Homepage
    For the curious, a FAQ on moral rights and their place in U.S. law is here [harvard.edu].

    In short, U.S. law provides very little moral rights protection, except for visual fine art.
  • Will he be arested in the middle of a movie conference and tried for copyright infrigement?
  • Integrity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yar (170650) on Sunday October 20, 2002 @01:20PM (#4490200)
    I have a question.

    How does European law define "integrity?"
    The term can be used to refer to the wholeness or completeness of a work, unaltered from its original state, or the term can be used to refer to moral (in this case, artistic) values. So EU copyright law applies to the author's artistic intent?

    This brings up some of the same vagueness the term "authenticity" possesses.
  • I disagree with the argument that commercials during movies are different from TV shows because the latter is designed for commercials.

    Do you think the screenplay writer(s) of say - friends or survivors designed their scripts with commercials in mind ? The problem has more to do with the audience "not being used to something". With TV shows, we are used to seeing them with commercials when there are options to watch movies without breaks on DVDs and tapes.

    Spaniards are having the same problem, the concept with commercials between movies is new to them - they are complaining.
    • It's particularly obvious when you get an American show shown on one of the Terrestrial channels in the UK (where you cannot have more than 7min/hour advertising) or on the BBC, where you don't get any commercials. It always seemed to be most obvious in Babylon 5 - they'd have some tense moment in the plot come up (spaceship charging up weapons...) and then fade to black, fade up to black and essentially re-play the last bit of footage before continuing. It makes sense if you've got a commercial in there but is quite odd if you haven't. Luckily not all shows are quite as blantant with it...
      • It's particularly obvious when you get an American show shown on one of the Terrestrial channels in the UK (where you cannot have more than 7min/hour advertising) or on the BBC, where you don't get any commercials.

        Which means that an "hour" programme will actually fit into a 50 minute slot, commercial or a 45 minute slot, BBC. Non terestrial TV can show up to 12 minutes ads per hour and can pad the rest with promotional material.

        It always seemed to be most obvious in Babylon 5 - they'd have some tense moment in the plot come up (spaceship charging up weapons...) and then fade to black, fade up to black and essentially re-play the last bit of footage before continuing.

        Quite possibly whilst the visual is identical the incidental music is not. Which makes re-editing the scene difficult, assuming the broadcaster is allowed to do this.
    • Short reply (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CrystalFalcon (233559)
      Do you think the screenplay writer(s) of say - friends or survivors designed their scripts with commercials in mind?

      Yes.

      End of story.

      (Actually, it's even more obvious when you watch American TV shows here in Europe. You can see _so_ _clearly_ where advertising is meant to go in those shows, only it doesn't over here.)
    • Do you think the screenplay writer(s) of say - friends or survivors designed their scripts with commercials in mind ?

      These programmes are written to conform with whatever ad scheduling is common, in the US, when ther were written.

      The problem has more to do with the audience "not being used to something". With TV shows, we are used to seeing them with commercials when there are options to watch movies without breaks on DVDs and tapes.

      Movies are not written with ad breaks in mind, the only assumption with the typical movie is that the whole thing will be about an hour and an half long.
  • by kaphka (50736) <1nv7b001@sneakemail.com> on Sunday October 20, 2002 @01:27PM (#4490238)
    Breaking up a movie to insert commercial breaks is mildly irritating. On-screen "bugs" are somewhat more intrusive. On-screen "bugs" that pop up to advertise another program are worse. On-screen ads that include a bell or other sound effect are worse still. However, on-screen ads that take up the entire screen and deliberately try to distract you from the film have got to be over the line.

    That's what TNT started doing a few years ago. In particular, I remember one ad for an awards show of some sort, in which a "spotlights" would suddenly wave across the screen, then converge on the ad at the bottom. My interest in TNT had been declining ever since they fired Joe Bob [joebobbriggs.com], but those new ads were the last straw -- I changed the channel, and I haven't look back since.

    Anyway, although I was surprised that TNT would make such a concerted effort to drive away viewers, I was even more suprised that the filmmakers would let them. A movie with those graphics superimposed clearly constitutes a derivative work, not just a performance of the original. Even a relatively flexible director wouldn't stand for that.

    Of course, it's up to the copyright holder, which, in TNT's case, is almost always AOL. (In fact, AOL seems to hold most copyrights, period.) The more TV stations are able to run content that they own, the more freedom they have to do this sort of thing. It's just another consequence of the media oligopoly.
  • Yes, a pointless grammar flame, but this one always annoyed me. Let's review:

    A noun: art.

    Noun turned into an adjective: if something has the quality of art, it is artistic.

    Adjective turned into a redundant adjective to add more syllables so the author sounds smarter: artistical.

    Hey, let's turn it back into a noun by adding more syllables! How about artisticalness?

    Same thing with symmetrical. If something has symmetry (noun) it is symmetric (adjective). WTF does "symmetrical" mean that "symmetric" doesn't?

  • On a tangent - since a majority of posts mentions American media - I'm wondering if there is a trend towards commercial-free television in the US.

    Already, soccer in the US is broadcast without commercial breaks, but that's not really a good example since noone watches it.

    But supposedly, next years US Masters (golf) will be broadcast entirely witouth commercial breaks and in-game endorsments ("leaderboard presented by Dodge - Dodge, where do you want to pollute today?"). This is a side effect of the arranging club not wanting to admit women and therefore losing sponsors etc, but that's not the point. This commercial-free block of programming is actually presented as a really positive thing for the viewers.

    And this fall FOX will be broadcasting their hit series 24 - which is a one-hour (i.e. 50 minutes) show - entirely without commercials. Presented by blablabla but anyway.

    I wondering if this will catch on, I sure hope so.

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