Monday News: AT&T gobbles up Time Warner, dogs of Venice, and “sometimes it’s hard to be a woman”*
AT&T and Time Warner reveal merger to create ISP, TV, and media giant – So AT&T is plunking down a mere $85.4 billion in cash and stock for Time Warner. The media company has a bit of debt, so AT&T will effectively be paying almost $109 billion for the opportunity to exercise more control over streaming and television services. Although the deal will come under FCC scrutiny as the companies decide which FCC licenses will be transferred to AT&T, can we really count on the Commission to put a stop to the increasing monopolization of these media spaces? As Ars Technica points out, should the deal go through, AT&T could effectively favor what Time Warner streams and penalize DirectTV competitors through pricing and licensing. Even Donald Trump thinks it’s a bad idea.
“Each of Time Warner’s three divisions is an industry leader: HBO, which consists of domestic premium pay television and streaming services (HBO Now, HBO Go), as well as international premium and basic pay television and streaming services; Warner Bros. Entertainment, which consists of television, feature film, home video and videogame production and distribution,” AT&T said. “Warner Bros. film franchises include Harry Potter & DC Comics, and its produced TV series include Big Bang Theory and Gotham; Turner consists of US. and international basic cable networks, including TNT, TBS, CNN and Cartoon Network/Adult Swim. Also, Turner has the rights to the NBA, March Madness and MLB. Time Warner also has invested in OTT [over-the-top] and digital media properties such as Hulu, Bleacher Report, CNN.com and Fandango.”
AT&T already is the largest pay-TV provider in the US thanks to last year’s purchase of DirecTV. It is also the third largest provider of home Internet service after Comcast and Charter, and the second largest provider of mobile data and voice services after Verizon Wireless. – Ars Technica
New Book Accuses Weight Watchers of Tricking Women – Putting aside the fact that advertising is all about manipulation (a word that in and of itself is not negative), health food developer Jeff Scot Phillips has written a new book about the industry that he helped make (and that made him). Phillips takes a bleak look at health food, arguing that not only it is generally unhealthy, but pointing out the way that the diet industry, in particular, is all about capitalizing off the failure of (primarily) women to diet successfully (and he doesn’t take an approving view of the concept in general). Women already pay a premium for products like skin care and perfume, with comparable products for men costing appreciably less, and we see every day how women are the target of countless advertising campaigns (daytime television is a revelation for this). But Philips takes his critique one step further, arguing that companies like Weight Watchers actively prey on women (e.g. using failure as an “opportunity to “upsell) and that “health food is worse for you than junk food.”
Do you think women specifically are being targeted and kind of being taken advantage of by the health food industry and the health industry in general?
That’s one of the sickest parts of [the industry]. Last time I checked, [Weight Watchers was] 90 percent women. We almost have to target them. When I worked with one of three biggest food retailers in the United States, we used marketing to target women in every way you could think of. Some of the big ones were playing to their insecurities—we literally designed marketing materials for the thigh gap. When you hold your arm out and you shake the flab on your arm, we would write stuff about that. We would absolutely play to the feminist thing. I felt like such a jackass doing it, but we did it. Something like, “Take Back Your Power!” or “You can do this! You don’t have to do what men want you to do!” That planted feminism kind of thing. Really, really crappy marketing tactics. – Broadly
Why your daughter may never need to buy a tampon – On the flip side (??), female entrepreneurs are now taking on the “period industry,” which is changing in part as a response to what many see as a societal pushback to shaming and hiding. New products are being marketed by and to women, with one designer, Miki Agrawal, putting on a New York Fashion Week event for her Thinx leakproof, absorbent underwear. Of course, just thinking about menstruation as an “industry” is problematic, because it becomes part of the commercial space, and therefore subject to profit-making schemes. At the same time, it’s past time for the taboo to end and for women to be more involved in ‘period engineering.’ An interesting commentary on the way in which advertising (manipulation) and entrepreneurship (economic opportunity and equality) are often intertwined.
Eight decades after a male doctor patented the tampon in the United States, and more than a century after the first disposable pads landed in stores, these pharmacy staples still dominate the field, boasting generations of customer loyalty. Since 2014, though, Thinx and its cohort of women-led start-ups have tried to shake up the two-party system of period protection, introducing such products as moisture-wicking thongs and insertable, liquid-catching latex discs.
These businesses think the market is ready for them, largely because people are openly talking about periods. Lawmakers across the country are slashing taxes on menstrual products, arguing that these are mandatory purchases for about half the population. A runner finished the 2015 London marathon in crimson-soaked leggings, telling interviewers that menstruation “does exist and we overcome it every day.” A Chinese Olympian in Rio de Janeiro complained about her period on television. A British model talked to reporters last month about how her cycle had thwarted casting calls. – Washington Post
Dogs of Venice model for new photography book – Cutest. Thing. Ever.
Adorable and charming, the four-legged fashion icons featured in the book “Die Hunde von Venedig” (The Dogs of Venice) reveal details of everyday life in the City of Bridges. The dogs were found enjoying a break in the various cafes, shops and markets of the city. Many popular tourist highlights can also be recognized in the pictures along the way. – Deutsche Welle
* thus sayeth Tammy Wynette