YouTube’s emerging corporate model is Hulu, the spin-off site owned by NBC Universal and Fox Entertainment Group. HuluTube will be safe for transnational corporations and government, a universe where millions of channels exist but nothing is on.
May 12, 2009
It comes as no surprise YouTube has pulled the plug on Jason Bermas’ Infowarrior channel. In addition to clips from Jason’s show, the channel served as a replacement for the Alex Jones Channel, pulled earlier this month after the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette allegedly filed a complaint with YouTube in response to Alex Jones showing a computer printout of a page from the newspaper’s website on his show. YouTube considers this a copyright violation, a rather absurd accusation considering Viacom filed suit against Google in March 2007, seeking more than $1 billion in damages for allowing users to upload clips of Viacom’s copyright material.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette incident was merely a pretense. YouTube no longer has any use for Alex Jones and thousands of other users who have contributed to the site and have made it what it is today. In fact, YouTube’s users are basically suckers for Google’s corporate vision of the future and they were shamelessly exploited in order to build the site up over the last few years.
According to Nielsen Online, YouTube is the 5th most popular website in the United States and had over 83 million unique visitors in February. It is estimated that 41% of all US video streams will go through YouTube in 2009 and the site will see 375 million unique viewers worldwide.
Even so, YouTube is a failed business model. It loses millions of dollars a year. In order to realize a profit, YouTube has penned deals with with CBS, Lions Gate, MGM, Disney, ESPN and other corporate leviathans. Last month YouTube announced a partnership with Universal Music to build VEVO, a premium music video website.
“Those overtures have led some observers to question YouTube’s long-term ability to serve both its homegrown community and Hollywood, with its emphasis on professionally produced content and tight copyright controls,” Chris Snyder wrote for Wired last month.
But is not simply the copyright issue. YouTube and its parent Google are in the process of “ghettoizing user-generated clips” and deliberately Hulu-izing the site in order to make it acceptable to its corporate partners. YouTube claims it can and will balance both interests.
Hulu is a YouTube spin-off produced by NBC Universal and Fox Entertainment Group. The Hulu venture was announced in March 2007 with AOL, MSN, Facebook, and Yahoo! as partners. Hulu offers commercial-supported streaming video of TV shows and movies from NBC, Fox and many other networks and studios.
YouTube is in the process of a site redesign that “separates its premium and long-form programming from the user-posted videos that account for most of its activity,” Clickz reported in March. In other words, YouTube plans to ghettoize non-corporate content. In addition, YouTube plans to insert ads in the middle of user videos using new technology called Google TV Ads Online.
So-called “balance” is not in the equation when it comes to the videos of Alex Jones and other truthseekers, however. As radio host Jason Bermas discovered yesterday, YouTube will no longer use flimsy excuses in order to shut down accounts, they will simply — without warning or explanation — delete channels deemed unacceptable to their corporate masters and send terabytes of video content to the memory hole.
YouTube’s new business model is a microcosm of the brave new internet envisioned by corporations and government — not unlike corporate-dominated television, an electronic universe supporting millions of channels but with nothing of significance on. In this universe, there will be no space for democratic discussion untethered and micro-managed by government and mega-corporations.
The Hulu-ization of YouTube represents the beginning of this process. In the not too distant future, government will step in at the behest of corporations and impose regulations designed to domesticate the internet and exclude those who do not tote the company line. Jay Rockefeller’s so-called “cybersecurity” bill (allowing the president to shut down the internet on a whim) and the misnamed “Megan Meier Cyberbullying Prevention Act” represent the beginning of an orchestrated plan to make the internet safe for the ruling elite, government, and transnational corporations.
Jay Rockefeller wasn’t kidding when he said we’d be better off if the internet was never invented — that is to say government and corporations would be better off if an open and democratic internet was suffocated in its infancy.