You Read It Here First -- And Last


Many exciting things will happen in media and marketing in 2006. The following items will not be among them. In a more delightful world, all of these reports would clack across news wires everywhere -- that is, if anything still clacks across a news wire anywhere. In the current reality, you can call these the five best media stories you won't read in 2006.

(NEW YORK, JAN. 23) Moving boldly to remake its nightly newscasts, CBS News today made the surprise announcement that Borat Sagdiyev, the Kazakhstani character portrayed by humorist Sacha Baron Cohen on HBO's () Da Ali G Show, will succeed Dan Rather as its evening news anchor. "Mr. Sagdiyev is a dynamic, fearless reporter who epitomizes CBS's fresh new approach," said a spokesman.

Many observers were flummoxed, since CBS gave no indication of understanding that Sagdiyev does not, you know, exist. Others expressed different concerns. "Having a fictional character read real news will severely impact the credibility of broadcast journalism," says Frank Discussion, chief editorial officer of the Edward R. Murrow Center for Literal-Mindedness in Reporting. An interview with the crude-spoken Sagdiyev, whose signature trait is extreme social inappropriateness, yielded no comment suitable for this publication.

(WEST LAFAYETTE, IND., MAY 16) Sony () suffered another public-relations black eye today when a copy of anti-piracy software embedded onto Sony BMG CDs was charged with bludgeoning a Purdue University student. Clem Kruczynski, 20, was hospitalized with a concussion after attempting to load former Phish front man Trey Anastasio's 2005 album, Shine, onto his PC. After a brief struggle, campus security subdued the software and took it into custody. Kruczynski's roommate, DeWitt Clinton, expressed bewilderment over the attack. "What's a CD?" he asked.

(DUBLIN, AUG. 2) Analysts predict a wave of consolidation will reshape the music industry after noted rock group U2 completed a hostile takeover of David Bowie. Although no announcement was made, it is expected that Bowie's duties as David Bowie will be assumed by U2 singer Bono. (Bono appeared at a post-announcement press conference wearing a wig that resembles Bowie's hairstyle and imitating Bowie's accent, which visibly confused the rest of his band.) U2's excruciatingly politically correct bona fides belies the band's fierce ambitions. Executives close to the situation said U2 was "actively pursuing" acquisitions of Eminem, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Usher, and Shania Twain, each of which would significantly diversify U2's musical portfolio.

(LOS ANGELES, OCT. 20) Executives at Warner Bros. (), Fox Searchlight (), and DreamWorks jointly announced today that they would reduce the time between films' theatrical and DVD releases -- known as "the window" -- and will begin issuing movies on DVD in advance of their completion. A studio executive denied the move was related to last week's news that U.S. cinema chains will remove seats from all theaters and convert them into venues for interactive video-gaming.

(SAN FRANCISCO, NOV. 14) Google () has kept mum on reports that it's readying brain-search application GoogleYourMind. But a bizarre incident during a press briefing with CEO Eric Schmidt today gave ammunition to observers who ascribe supernatural powers to the leading search engine. "I know what you're thinking, and it's not funny," snapped the usually soft-spoken Schmidt following a question from a CNET Networks Inc. () reporter about GoogleBaseTen, the company's bid to make mathematics more efficient. Schmidt's PowerPoint presentation was then interrupted, and an onstage screen alternately displayed a three-dimensional brain image -- later confirmed to correspond to that of CNET's reporter -- and the phrase "At least they can't search this." The reporter, initially stunned into silence, sprinted from the room after a lengthy list of his "hottest celebrities" appeared on screen.

For Jon Fine's blog on media and advertising, go to www.businessweek.com/innovate/FineOnMedia

By Jon Fine


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