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Summary:

Technology companies like Google/YouTube and Joost are “parasites,” said British broadcaster ITV Chairman Michael Grade, at the IBC technology conference in Amsterdam today. “The day that Google or Joost or any of these people start investing £1bn a year in UK content is the day I’ll start to be worried… They’re all parasites, they just live off our content is what they do. As long as we can create the content, the content is the keys to the castle for us going forward.”

Silicon Valley and Hollywood may be making nice these days, but relations between content creators and online distributors are hardly peachy keen. The breakups come about as often as the makeups, as demonstrated by NBC and iTunes patching things up last week and then continuing to talk smack about each other to the press. But today brought yet another verbal attack from the content side.

Technology companies like Google/YouTube and Joost are “parasites,” British broadcaster ITV Chairman Michael Grade said at the IBC technology conference in Amsterdam today. “The day that Google or Joost or any of these people start investing £1bn a year in UK content is the day I’ll start to be worried…They’re all parasites, they just live off our content is what they do. As long as we can create the content, the content is the keys (sic) to the castle for us going forward.”

ITV hasn’t exactly been doing well lately, with active talk of a buyout in progress. The company says it can make £150 million ($269 million) in online revenues by 2012, two years later than it had previously estimated. Meanwhile, it’s been reported that YouTube expects to make $200 million this year.

Grade said ITV compares favorably to tech companies because its content expertise has long-term value.

Personally, I think any media company that hopes to stick around needs to master both production and distribution, especially since some of the most interesting opportunities arise when you combine the two. Then again, starting out in technology before venturing into content hasn’t worked out especially well for anyone, either. So where do you think the staying power lies?

  1. Well if we’re parasites, they are big dead animals.

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  2. Liz, you missed the “h” in “http” of “patching things up” link.

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  3. Grade, somewhat not surprisingly, misses the point. By making such brash statements, he buries his head in the sand, ignores real and dramatic shifts in consumer behavior and gives other media execs unneeded ammo. He also fails to distinguish between Google/Youtube, which will indeed take and distribute his content without permission, and companies like Joost, which are set up only to distribute his content with his permission and with a deal he has signed that likely gives him the bulk of the revenue generated, otherwise they won’t distribute it. That’s not a parasite, that’s a distributor. In fact, if he were a little smarter, he’d back companies with Joost’s model if not Joost itself. Joost et al struggle because the ITVs of the world won’t cut deals with them for the best content, which only means they are creating a world where youtube, etc will prevail, in which case he can count on a continued erosion of his business. And this is why big media execs don’t seem to the rest of us to get it.

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  4. Thanks Sonny, fixed.

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  5. Hi,

    Dealing with most large rights-holders in Europe is such a energy-draining experience compared with American/Asian content-producers.

    There’s people who get it, and people who don’t get it, essentially what Daniel said, the inability to comprehend and differentiate “online” distribution.

    even an old fogey like Murdoch gets it, let alone the young wonders at MTV and CBS!

    Is it any wonder that YT took off so quickly when it took the hurdles down, and removed any friction between viewer and content. Old media (some) takes so long to catch up, that by the time they do, its too late, and then they complain, rather than grasping the nettle early -but then ITV is also the company that had the largest social network in the UK, and by being late to the party (removing the pay-wall), now has minimum visibility.

    Kind regards,

    Shakir Razak

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