Millennial Makeover: Myspace, Youtube, and the Future of American Politics

By Morley Winograd; Michael D. Hais | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 9

Social Networks Will Change
America's Political Map

MOVING FROM A BROADCAST entertainment architecture, with its centralized control over both the production and distribution of content, to the decentralized, user-driven structure of the Net was not easy to accomplish for many in the media industry. “I want my MTV” was the emblematic 1980s mantra of Gen-Xers, who demanded their parents give them access to that cable channel and its music. But today, MTV's corporate parent, Viacom, struggles to find the right formula for attracting Millennials to its web sites (Karnitschnig 2006). The idea that the Internet was just another distribution channel for the type of programming that had made Viacom so successful with Generation X was firmly fixed in the company's underlying strategy.

In March 2007, Viacom's owner, Sumner Redstone, made it clear just how much he believed in the old model by suing YouTube's new owner, Google, for $1 billion in damages for alleged copyright violations. Viacom could have joined its media brethren at NBC Universal and News Corporation in their efforts to create a rival to YouTube's video-sharing web site, one that would fully respect the intellectual property rights of all the media companies involved in this new venture. But Redstone preferred the RIAA's “sue 'em” strategy instead. “It's hard for us to believe [Google] has any desire to protect our content,” remarked Viacom's chief executive, Philippe Dauman, summarizing the motivation for the lawsuit (Delaney and Karnitschnig 2007). Completely missing from this statement is any acknowledgment that viewers on YouTube might have something of their own to contribute to the site's content. But Viacom, unwilling to give up the control it felt was necessary to make money from its investments in its existing properties, in effect sacrificed the

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