The trouble with being the mouthpiece of an oligarch is that you have to spout so much rubbish.
Trump and Murdoch prove this in different ways.
Sky has built a broadcasting empire on the back of sporting rights, but its attempts at becoming a studio are pathetic. The likes of Mad Dogs and the dreadful, dreadful Riviera shows that it is light years behind Netflix and Amazon in nonfactual programme commissioning.
The 700k audience for the first episode of Riviera has fallen to the point where the show's episodes has no one to post Wikipedia entires for them: even the press department gave up and went home to watch something else.
And so Sky has regrouped around 'themed' sports channels, but still shows content on channels which don't seem available (can anyone actually view 'Sky Sports Mix'? We certainly failed to do so when trying to find the Super Rugby final at our local pub the other day).
The charging makes no sense, it isn't based on content, just on the number of channels. One channel is £18, additional channels are £4 or all channels are £27.
I'd be delighted to pay a tenner for a cricket and rugby channel, but I'm not cross subsidising the idiocy that is soccer. So, the pirates are drawing me into their grasp.
Sky does not understand the pound to pennies world it now operates in whilst trying to keep up with the pennies to pounds demands of soccer agents.
In the US this issue was solved a long time ago through salary caps. It's time for soccer and rugby to do the same. How can you have teams with twenty times the money competing in the same tournament. That's not sports, it's hunting. It's not fairness, it's capriciousness.
In Europe, Sky has built its own bed and now needs to lie in it as much richer competitors like Amazon and Google come along. Laughing. There is always someone with a bigger bank account. And we mere fans, petty minions get shafted time and again.
You may think that rights are things that only big companies need to worry about, but this is far from the reality.
If you have a website, then there's a fair chance that you have acquired rights for software. In fact, a simple website probably has many, many licences attached to it, from open source to fully commercial. And then every image that you use on your website, brochure and presentations have rights attached to them.
Of course, you can ignore all of this, but clients are increasingly conscious of the need to audit their suppliers and maximise the rights they own and have acquired, so there are sound commercial reasons for effectively managing your rights.
Companies have two kinds of rights to deal with:
Rights in or acquired rights
Rights out or rights owned and available for sale
These obviously need to be dealt with separately, but rights in and rights out can often be linked. If you produce a book, but use an illustrator; if you produce a video with music and actors, you are dealing with rights in linked to rights out, and often this can be part of an even wider ecosystem. We call this the "rights chain".
The effective management of your rights involves a number of key steps:
Rights are often granted or defined in contracts or deals. Sometimes they are bundled together or offered as part of comprehensive access: a viewer's Spotify or Netflix accounts is an example of this, as would be a subscription to an image bank or music library.
These rights, in turn, are made up of what we call "rights dimensions": these cover what rights have been acquired or awarded, eg territory, language, window (start and end time and date), usage, platforms and so on...
The permutations are potentially infinite.
Traditionally the granting and usage of rights are handled by lawyers in non-standard contracts, but increasingly larger organisations such as Amazon, Apple and Netflix handle their rights in a standardised way.
Moreover, software such as TV Everywhere's Assetry platform enable rights to be managed effectively in the cloud. It's used by major brands, ad agencies and even pharma companies, indicating how prominent rights management is becoming; important not only financially, but also for compliance.
It's time for every organisation to reflect and review on how they use and manage rights. In a world where many things are becoming virtualised, rights are everything.
Last week I was watching the rugby with an old friend of my wife's family who is ten years retired (so even older than me) and he bragged how he used Mobdro to watch all his sports at home.
If you're not familiar with this unofficial Android app, it aggregates (illegal) streams from across the internet and gives you access to most of the world's main free and pay TV services, including HBO, Sky Movies and Canal +.
It also lets you set recordings and can beam to your big screen via Fire TV or Chromecast (or whatever Google are calling it this week...).
The trouble with it, of course, is that the quality is variable and the streams often fail n the middle of a movie or a sports event.
Still, it could save an average cord cutter a thousand pounds a year.
The ongoing battle by content owners to control their content is becoming a rather futile battle driven by viewers' frustrations with the slicing and dicing if services across multiple se vice providers. Content owners sliver up their rights to obtain maximum revenue and then the content providers aggregate them again, but there are very few content services that offer absolutely all content. Therefore we live in a world of apps and dongles and set top boxes and proxy streaming.
Clearly, this is the free market, but as illegal content continues to become easier and more convenient to access, the true trade off will be in quality and reliability.
Bug telcos and cablecos have long realised this and see this game playing out straight into their hands, just as net neutrality is in grave danger of being undermined further in markets like the US.
In a world of covers and sampling, memes and widespread piracy, one of the biggest questions facing us is 'what is original ?'.
Adobe this week proudly unveiled Voco, a programme that can literally put words into your mouth (or anyone else's) by editing your recorded speech. A bit like their Photoshop product does for images, or After Effects does for video.
The reality is that all copyrighted works become derived. A musical piece or song becomes a performance, a play is a theatre event, a script becomes a film. In a film, music, performances and other artistic contributions are woven together. And even the finished work may be further versioned into different cuts, languages, dubs and components of yet other movies.
In the past such versioning at the very least demanded an expensive infrastructure such as a sophisticated audio studio or edit suite. Now, it's all available in your mobile phone.
So, as we spend more and more time altering others's work, we have to ask what is original and where do the rights exist ? Or possibly where do they persist ?
In a world where one of two liars (one perhaps more blatant than the other) is about to be elected President of the United States, the veracity of our world is in danger of slipping away unless we find a way of tracking and making accountable how ideas are developed, improved or manipulated or debased, and by whom.
Art has long been about editing reality, and so perhaps has politics, which is fine if everything is in the public domain and we can track its veracity, but what happens when a lying politician is acceptable to millions of people, but a forged work of art is not ? And who takes credit ?