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CES Preview: Content Takes Center Stage (Top 5 Storylines For Media & Tech) – Forbes

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Well, it’s that time of year again. No, not the holidays. I’m talking about the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) that kicks off the new year to showcase the latest and greatest in tech (and snap us all out of our holiday hibernations). And, this time, media, entertainment and content share the stage with all the new gadgetry in this annual gathering of the tribe. Jeffrey Katzenberg (the quintessential Hollywood mogul) and Meg Whitman (his NorCal tech titan doppelganger) will keynote the event to discuss their pioneering new mobile-first video service Quibi and reveal Quibi’s first mini-sodes. The dynamic duo’s “Hollywood meets Silicon Valley” Quibi storyline serves as the perfect mantra for this year’s CES. NBCUniversal’s secondary keynote adds more content fuel to the CES punch. Execs from the Peacock will also discuss their upcoming entry into the overall subscription video on demand (SVOD) wars – which, for better or worse (you be the judge), is actually called “Peacock.”

Here’s a preview of CES’s headline stories for media, entertainment and tech execs.

(1) The Great Streaming Wars of 2020

Netflix versus all SVOD comers – and there are now lots of them – is the headline media story for CES. Netflix, of course, remains the undisputed champ amidst long-time SVOD rivals Amazon Prime Video and Hulu (respectively 2 and 3 in the U.S.). But 2020 promises to be a whole new world for the champ, since both Disney+ and Apple TV+ are now immediate mega-players with mega-cash. I recently wrote about Netflix’s daunting future for Forbes, and all other SVODs also face an uncertain future given the intensity of the competition amongst goliaths. Perhaps Disney+ is least immune and most certain to be a long-term winner, given that Disney holds content and franchise crown jewels that no others can match (not even close). These include Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, the Disney Princesses, and its new Fox and friends (X-Men, Avatar, The Simpsons). CES gives each SVOD contender a chance to tell its story and convince us that it can win amidst this SVOD fever.

(2) The Coming 5G Wave

5G promises to be a massive overarching story at CES for myriad reasons, not the least of which is its anticipated transformational role in our media and entertainment experiences. 5G speed and capacity mean that we all will have more reason to live our lives heads down on our mobile devices. Gone are the days of pixelation and buffering. We will voraciously consume copious amounts of video content on our smallest of screens since our movie and television experiences will be even more impactful. But it’s much more than video. 5G promises to accelerate the already explosive growth of eSports – a $1 billion plus industry today that will double in just a few years. Cloud-based gaming takes center stage as 5G networks deploy, since latency becomes a thing of the past (think Google’s Stadia and Apple’s Arcade here). 5G also means that, at long last, augment reality’s (AR’s) mass market promise begins to reveal itself given the edge-based computing 5G facilitates.

(3) AR Gets Real

Speaking of AR, 2020 promises to be its break-out year due, in large part, to 5G’s transformational power. Expect the AR ecosystem (both content/experiences and the hardware/glasses that facilitate them) to immerse CES as a result. Apple’s great hope (and our collective expectation) for its “next big thing” may be its long-anticipated AR glasses. Many expect to see those enter the marketplace in 2020. Maybe that’s why Apple will actively participate at CES this year for the first time in nearly three decades (yes, decades!). (Of course, Apple also faces pressure to convince us that Apple TV+ will be a breakout hit, because results have underwhelmed so far). Many attendees will also look for long-time AR darling Magic Leap to see how it plans to justify its near $3 billion investment to date. Entertainment experiences drive a significant part of its story, and now it’s time for Magic Leap to deliver a real, significant and scaling monetization story (rather than a semi-immersive promise of one).

(4) AI’s Home Invasion Accelerates

Artificial Intelligence (AI) already has transformed our entertainment experiences in significant ways. Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have become our new DJs, serving up our favorite music choices on demand in our homes and on our smart speakers (which are sure to abound at CES). The music business benefits greatly from this home invasion, which is yet one more factor that continues to drive annual double-digit growth for a long-starved industry that is expected to more than double in size to $45 billion by 2030, according to Goldman Sachs. AI moves beyond music in 2020 and begins to actively transform our video experiences as well, and we will see those early efforts on display at CES. AI-born virtual beings will also join us in Las Vegas this year, giving us an early sign of the mind-blowing things to come.

(5) TV’s, TV’s & More TV’s

CES wouldn’t be CES, of course, without TVs filling every inch of Las Vegas’s convention walls and halls. Each year, the industry gives us yet more reasons to ditch our existing living room screens for their “next big thing” – always bigger and better (after all, TV size and resolution have no limits, do they?). And, now that the great streaming wars have kicked off in earnest – and our SVOD-driven premium television and movie programming choices are better than ever – we have even more reasons to listen to the tech pitch people. Let’s also not forget about our new “TV’s” – our mobile devices. New mobile form factors will fill the halls (remember last year’s foldable phones?), especially with the coming onslaught of 5G. That’s good news for mobile-first Quibi. Katzenberg and Whitman have timed it well.

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Threat of inauguration violence casts a long shadow over social media – TechCrunch

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As the U.S. heads into one of the most perilous phases of American democracy since the Civil War, social media companies are scrambling to shore up their patchwork defenses for a moment they appear to have believed would never come.

Most major platforms pulled the emergency break last week, deplatforming the president of the United States and enforcing suddenly robust rules against conspiracies, violent threats and undercurrents of armed insurrection, all of which proliferated on those services for years. But within a week’s time, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google had all made historic decisions in the name of national stability — and appearances. Snapchat, TikTok, Reddit and even Pinterest took their own actions to prevent a terror plot from being hatched on their platforms.

Now, we’re in the waiting phase. More than a week after a deadly pro-Trump riot invaded the iconic seat of the U.S. legislature, the internet still feels like it’s holding its breath, a now heavily-fortified inauguration ceremony looming ahead.

(Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

What’s still out there

On the largest social network of all, images hyping follow-up events continued to circulate mid this week. One digital Facebook flyer promoted an “armed march on Capitol Hill and all state Capitols,” pushing the dangerous and false conspiracy that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Facebook says that it’s working to identify flyers calling for “Stop the Steal” adjacent events using digital fingerprinting, the same process it uses to remove terrorist content from ISIS and Al Qaeda. The company noted that it has seen flyers calling for events on January 17 across the country, January 18 in Virginia and inauguration day in D.C.

At least some of Facebook’s new efforts are working: one popular flyer TechCrunch observed on the platform was removed from some users’ feeds this week. A number of “Stop the Steal” groups we’d observed over the last month also unceremoniously blinked offline early this week following more forceful action from the company. Still, given the writing on the wall, many groups had plenty of time to tweak their names by a few words or point followers elsewhere to organize.

With only days until the presidential transition, acronym-heavy screeds promoting QAnon, an increasingly mainstream collection of outrageous pro-Trump government conspiracy theories, also remain easy to find. On one page with 2,500 followers, a QAnon believer pushed the debunked claim that anti-fascists executed the attack on the Capitol, claiming “January 6 was a trap.”

QAnon sign

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

On a different QAnon group, an ominous post from an admin issued Congress a warning: “We have found a way to end this travesty! YOUR DAYS ARE NUMBERED!” The elaborate conspiracy’s followers were well represented at the deadly riot at the Capitol, as the many giant “Q” signs and esoteric t-shirt slogans made clear.

In a statement to TechCrunch about the state of extremism on the platform, Facebook says it is coordinating with terrorism experts as well as law enforcement “to prevent direct threats to public safety.” The company also noted that it works with partners to stay aware of violent content taking root on other platforms.

Facebook’s efforts are late and uneven, but they’re also more than the company has done to date. Measures from big social networks coupled with the absence of far-right social networks like Parler and Gab have left Trump’s most ardent supporters once again swearing off Silicon Valley and fanning out for an alternative.

Social media migration

Private messaging apps Telegram and Signal are both seeing an influx of users this week, but they offer something quite different from a Facebook or Twitter-like experience. Some expert social network observers see the recent migration as seasonal rather than permanent.

“The spike in usage of messaging platforms like Telegram and Signal will be temporary,” Yonder CEO Jonathon Morgan told TechCrunch. “Most users will either settle on platforms with a social experience, like Gab, MeWe, or Parler, if it returns, or will migrate back to Twitter and Facebook.”

That company uses AI to track how social groups connect online and what they talk about — violent conspiracies included. Morgan believes that propaganda-spreading “performative internet warriors” make a lot of noise online, but a performance doesn’t work without an audience. Others may quietly pose a more serious threat.

“The different types of engagement we saw during the assault on the Capitol mirror how these groups have fragmented online,” Morgan said. “We saw a large mob who was there to cheer on the extremists but didn’t enter the Capitol, performative internet warriors taking selfies, and paramilitaries carrying flex cuffs (mislabeled as “zip ties” in a lot of social conversation), presumably ready to take hostages.

“Most users (the mob) will be back on Parler if it returns, and in the meantime, they are moving to other apps that mimic the social experience of Twitter and Facebook, like MeWe.”

Still, Morgan says that research shows “deplatforming” extremists and conspiracy-spreaders is an effective strategy and efforts by “tech companies from Airbnb to AWS” will reduce the chances of violence in the coming days.

Cleaning up platforms can help turn the masses away from dangerous views, he explained, but the same efforts might further galvanize people with an existing intense commitment to those beliefs. With the winds shifting, already heterogeneous groups will be scattered too, making their efforts desperate and less predictable.

Deplatforming works, with risks

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told TechCrunch that social media companies still need to do much more to prepare for inauguration week. “We saw platforms fall short in their response to the Capitol insurrection,” Greenblatt said.

He cautioned that while many changes are necessary, we should be ready for online extremism to evolve into a more fractured ecosystem. Echo chambers may become smaller and louder, even as the threat of “large scale” coordinated action diminishes.

“The fracturing has also likely pushed people to start communicating with each other via encrypted apps and other private means, strengthening the connections between those in the chat and providing a space where people feel safe openly expressing violent thoughts, organizing future events, and potentially plotting future violence,” Greenblatt said.

By their own standards, social media companies have taken extraordinary measures in the U.S. in the last two weeks. But social networks have a long history of facilitating violence abroad, even as attention turns to political violence in America.

Greenblatt repeated calls for companies to hire more human moderators, a suggestion often made by experts focused on extremism. He believes social media could still take other precautions for inauguration week, like introducing a delay into livestreams or disabling them altogether, bolstering rapid response teams and suspending more accounts temporarily rather than focusing on content takedowns and handing out “strikes.”

“Platforms have provided little-to-nothing in the way of transparency about learnings from last week’s violent attack in the Capitol,” Greenblatt said.

“We know the bare minimum of what they ought to be doing and what they are capable of doing. If these platforms actually provided transparency and insights, we could offer additional—and potentially significantly stronger—suggestions.”

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Music producer, convicted murderer Phil Spector dead at 81: Media – Toronto Sun

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Article content continued

Spector had a long-standing reputation for gunplay. He carried a pistol and a biographer said he often placed it on the recording console as he worked. He reportedly fired a shot in the studio during an acrimonious recording session with John Lennon.

WALL OF SOUND

Born Harvey Phillip Spector on Dec. 26, 1939, he grew up in New York City and formed the Teddy Bears with three high school friends. They scored a hit single in 1958 with a song titled after the inscription on his father’s headstone: “To Know Him Is to Love Him.”

The Teddy Bears had little other chart success and disbanded the following year, allowing Spector to shift from performing to working behind the scenes at the dawn of the ’60s. He teamed with songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, co-writing the Ben E. King hit “Spanish Harlem,” playing guitar on the Drifters’ “On Broadway” and producing several top 10 hits.

In 1961 Spector and promoter Lester Sill formed Philles Records, issuing singles with what was becoming his trademark sound but also albums such as the perennial holiday favorite, “A Christmas Gift for You.”

Spector signed Ike and Tina Turner in 1966 and released what he considered one of his masterpieces – the powerful “River Deep, Mountain High” – but it reached only No. 88 on the U.S. charts.

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For a time, Spector turned his back on the record business, marrying Ronettes singer Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett, who would later say he was abusive, possessive and made her a virtual captive in their home.

Spector returned in 1969, signing a production deal with A&M Records and working with Lennon on his hit single “Instant Karma” and with the Beatles on the “Let It Be” album.

“Let it Be” was considered a major comeback for Spector, but Paul McCartney was so unhappy with it that in 2003 he oversaw the release of “Let It Be … Naked,” which removed most of Spector’s work.

Spector returned to the studio in the mid-1970s to work on records by Cher and others but by the end of the decade he had become increasingly reclusive and worked rarely after that.

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Music producer Phil Spector, convicted of murder, dead at 81: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Rock producer Phil Spector, who changed the sound of pop music in the 1960s with his “Wall of Sound” recordings and was convicted of murder for the 2003 murder of a Hollywood actress, has died at age 81 of COVID-19, according to authorities and media reports.

Spector produced 20 top 40 hits between 1961 and 1965 and went on to work with the Beatles on “Let It Be,” as well as Leonard Cohen, the Righteous Brothers and Ike and Tina Turner.

He was diagnosed with COVID-19 four weeks ago and transferred to a hospital from his prison cell, where he had been serving a 19 years-to-life sentence for the murder of actress Lana Clarkson, the Daily Mail newspaper said.

In a brief statement, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said Spector died of natural causes at an outside hospital, and that his official cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner in the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.

Clarkson, 40, was killed by a shot to the mouth, fired from Spector’s gun in the foyer of his mock castle home outside Los Angeles on Feb. 3, 2003. The two met hours earlier at a Hollywood nightclub.

Spector was convicted of second-degree murder in a second trial, after the first trial deadlocked in 2007. The case drew worldwide interest because Spector was widely known as a rock music pioneer. In 1989, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He began his career as a performer, recording a hit single as a teen with his band the Teddy Bears, but found his true calling as the producing genius behind 1960s girl groups such as Crystals and the Ronettes.

His signature production technique was the “Wall of Sound,” which layered pop and even classical instruments into a full, lush sound that was new to pop records. He called it “a Wagnerian approach to rock & roll: little symphonies for the kids.”

By the late 1970s Spector, who once said he had “devils that fight inside me,” had become something of a recluse, retreating behind the walls of his 33-room hilltop mansion near Los Angeles where Clarkson was killed years later.

Prosecutors charged Spector with murder despite his assertions that Clarkson, star of such films as “Barbarian Queen” and “Amazon Women on the Moon,” had shot herself for reasons he could not grasp.

He told Esquire magazine in an interview that Clarkson had “kissed the gun” in a bizarre suicide.

Spector had a troubled early life. His father committed suicide, his sister spent time in mental institutions and Spector suffered bouts of severe depression.

Spector had a long-standing reputation for gunplay. He carried a pistol and a biographer said he often placed it on the recording console as he worked. He reportedly fired a shot in the studio during an acrimonious recording session with John Lennon.

WALL OF SOUND

Born Harvey Phillip Spector on Dec. 26, 1939, he grew up in New York City and formed the Teddy Bears with three high school friends. They scored a hit single in 1958 with a song titled after the inscription on his father’s headstone: “To Know Him Is to Love Him.”

The Teddy Bears had little other chart success and disbanded the following year, allowing Spector to shift from performing to working behind the scenes at the dawn of the ’60s. He teamed with songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, co-writing the Ben E. King hit “Spanish Harlem,” playing guitar on the Drifters’ “On Broadway” and producing several top 10 hits.

In 1961 Spector and promoter Lester Sill formed Philles Records, issuing singles with what was becoming his trademark sound but also albums such as the perennial holiday favorite, “A Christmas Gift for You.”

Spector signed Ike and Tina Turner in 1966 and released what he considered one of his masterpieces – the powerful “River Deep, Mountain High” – but it reached only No. 88 on the U.S. charts.

For a time, Spector turned his back on the record business, marrying Ronettes singer Veronica “Ronnie” Bennett, who would later say he was abusive, possessive and made her a virtual captive in their home.

Spector returned in 1969, signing a production deal with A&M Records and working with Lennon on his hit single “Instant Karma” and with the Beatles on the “Let It Be” album.

“Let it Be” was considered a major comeback for Spector, but Paul McCartney was so unhappy with it that in 2003 he oversaw the release of “Let It Be … Naked,” which removed most of Spector’s work.

Spector returned to the studio in the mid-1970s to work on records by Cher and others but by the end of the decade he had become increasingly reclusive and worked rarely after that.

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Daniel Wallis)

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