By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Times deselect

Mickey Kaus has some worthwhile thoughts on what’s wrong with TimesSelect. No, information doesn’t want to be free. But it does want to be available.

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  1. Anonymous

    What timing. He says each newspaper charges people to read its particular offerings. Most cable channels aren’t sold individually, after all. They’re sold as part of packages.But he says this just as the FCC is contemplating requiring cable companies to un-bundle, and charge by the channel. (Will that require upgrading every cable box in the country? Is this the idea of the cable-box manufacturer?).Syndication subscription is probably a better model for both.– Bill R

  2. Anonymous

    The FCC proposal seems aimed at taming the increasingly “adult” content on basic cable, aka pandering to the conservatives. It’s not a proposal that will improve the economics for cable, and not a subscription model that will work for websites.I wouldn’t be surprised if 3/4 of the cable channels went out of business if people had to subscribe to them individually. And I doubt that 1% of newspaper websites could make enough money on subscriptions to pay for the person who processed the payments.I’m originally from Worcester and I used to read the Telegram & Gazette website several times a month. It’s the newspaper site I’d be most likely to pay something for. But since the T&G (owned by the New York Times) started charging for all their content a year or so ago, they have disappeared from my viewing habits. Too bad, I miss reading about Central Mass., but – such is the Internet economy.

  3. Tim F-W

    But the Times has in fact bundled its TimesSelect offerings with its archives (at least back to 1981). If you use the archives much at all, then the bundle being offered is a pretty good deal.

  4. Anonymous

    Instead of this hare-brained attack on indecency, I’d really like to see the FCC get off its collective rear and do something about a far more serious problem: technical interference.The rampant deregulation and proliferation of unlicensed services has destroyed the 2.4GHz band and made it unusable for anything but wireless internet (and that’s getting mighty crowded). The 5 GHz range is right behind it. The 900MHz band has been hosed for years.Cellphones are everywhere and something people don’t seem to quite understand is how much signal they’re throwing out there, and how much it interferes with TV, radio and other wireless services.Medical advances in wireless are growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s only a matter of time before some poor bastard’s life-saving wireless monitor gets screwed up by someone’s wireless internet walking past. Or worse, by some computer virus. Yes, yes, there are safeguards and rules but they’re getting increasing antiquated since many of those rules were written over 10 years ago when half the cool wire-free gadgets we have now didn’t even exist.And for that matter, what about all the damn pirate broadcasters? We have literally dozens of unlicensed AM and FM pirates, some of whom operating with 100 to 1000 watt transmitters, who’ve been on the air for years. Local broadcasters have resorted to threatening federal lawsuits to get the FCC’s enforcement bureau to act, but apparently they’re too busy combing cable TV for smut.There’s such a huge amount of technical and engineering issues for the FCC to face that they seem unwilling to do so. It’s like being charged with cleaning up after a huge house party and deciding the job’s too big so you’ll go drinking at the local pub instead and hope nobody notices.

  5. Anonymous

    Um, Dan, I think information has no feeling either way. However, people want information to be free and available.

  6. Dan Kennedy

    I think information has no feeling either way.Pardon me if I’m taking this the wrong way, but your schoolmarmish desire to correct my syntax suggests you are unfamiliar with “Information wants to be free,” a widely known quote from Stewart Brand. Click here and scroll down.Yes, people want information to be free and available. It would be cool if gasoline, housing and medical care were all free, too. Information may want to be free, but information-providers have a right to be paid. The question is how best to do that.

  7. Anonymous

    Dan, No. I’m familiar with it. However, as one might expect, Brand’s full quote reveals a bit more (from Wikipedia, where information is free! Or is it?): “Information Wants To Be Free. Information also wants to be expensive. Information wants to be free because it has become so cheap to distribute, copy, and recombine–too cheap to meter. It wants to be expensive because it can be immeasurably valuable to the recipient. That tension will not go away. It leads to endless wrenching debate about price, copyright, ‘intellectual property’, the moral rightness of casual distribution, because each round of new devices makes the tension worse, not better.”As an information provider myself (like you, I put information on the same level as food and petrol), I agree with the points in the second paragraph of your comment post and apologize if I seemed schoolmarmish. I suppose I should’ve added to my last sentence: “However, people want information to be free (it isn’t; somebody gotta pay, as Papa Jack might say) and available (it is, but, again, somebody gotta pay).” The Times seems to be flailing about–journalistically and as an enterprise. WSJ stuck by its subscription business for its online content when no few were charging. That now looks like a prescient move. ESPN wanted to charge for its web site in the early days, but gave up on it and only recently has added subscription elements–in a way similar to the Times (Gammons is no longer free via the web, but for some reason remains free if I access via my BlackBerry–go figure). Interesting stuff–not unlike the open source software debate (and equally as charged) in my business.Thanks for your work in this area, Dan. Much appreciated.

  8. Anonymous

    Now didn’t The Houston Chronicle just cancel its subs model and unlocked everything for public viewing??That is a sign of climbdowns to come.I’ll give TimeSelect another 6-12 months.I think pinch is too proud to admit amistake or a lack of paying subs -beyond the print subscribers-But I can see him unlocking it for PR reasons to get some much depleted credit after he seemed to shield and favor Miss Run Amok.Now he was touting some very strong double digit -may have been three- growth on the online advertising growth on his show with Charlie Rose.Now if he is not lying about the strength of that revenue stream, then WHY does he have to secure any more revenue to counter ‘mounting costs’ that justified the wall to begin with?Something is not adding up….N.

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