Online media distribution网络媒体分销Raging bulls（注）愤怒的“公牛”
Music and television firms fret about their distributors’ new business models
New ways to enjoy songs and shows音乐影视欣赏新招迭出
RELATIONS between the companies that create media products and those that distribute them have long been poor. But perennial arguments about the price that ought to be paid for content are turning uglier as digital distribution transforms the media landscape. Like ageing boxers, big media firms have twice climbed into the ring to slug it out with high-tech outfits that seem to be building new business models with their property. In both cases the media firms are morally right. Yet both encounters have left them bruised.
Time Warner Cable (TWC) was, until a couple of years ago, a part of big-media veteran Time Warner; now it is in the other corner of the ring, keen to prove its tech chops. On March 15th TWC launched a feisty little iPad application that lets its customers watch some of the television channels they subscribe to on their tablet computers. Customers were so enthusiastic that the system promptly crashed. Many media firms were not. They say TWC has no right to redistribute their content without permission, even within a subscriber’s home, and complain that iPad viewings do not count towards a programme’s ratings. Cease-and-desist letters have been sent.
The second challenger is a heavyweight. On March 29th Amazon launched a digital-locker service for media. This will let the e-retailer’s American customers upload music from CDs or digital tracks (not just ones bought from Amazon’s store) to remote servers. They can then play their collections through a variety of devices—with the notable exception of some sold by Apple, the firm that dominates the music-download market. As with digital books, Amazon is trying to create a “buy once, consume anywhere” service.
Sony Music complains that Amazon does not have the right to stream music. Like TWC, the e-retailer is pushing ahead without the content owners’ permission in the hope that the public will come to regard its service as an inalienable right. For music firms that have been quietly negotiating with Apple and Google, which want to build locker services of their own, Amazon’s tactics are below the belt.