Amanda D. Lotz
University of Michigan
Peabody Media Center
Amanda Lotz is a media scholar, professor, and industry consultant. Her expertise includes media industries, the future of television, the business of media, net neutrality, and digital distribution.
Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television
Is Netflix television?
Television audiences and its industry alike have been confused by the emergence of new ways to watch television. On one hand, the programs seem every bit like the television we’ve long known, while the way we can watch, what we can watch, and the business models supporting them differ significantly.
Portals: A Treatise on Internet-Distributed Television pushes understandings of the business of television to keep pace with the considerable technological change of the last decade. It explains why shows such as Orange is the New Black or Transparent are indeed television despite coming to screens over internet connection and in exchange for a monthly fee. It explores how internet-distributed television is able to do new things – particularly allow different people to watch different shows chosen from a library of possibilities. This technological ability consequently allows new audience behaviors and new norms in making television.
Portals are the “channels” of internet-distributed television, and Portals identifies how the task of curating a library of shows differs from channels’ task of building a schedule. It explores the business model—subscriber funding—that supports many portals, and identifies the key differences from advertiser or direct purchase that require development of a model of subscriber-funded media. Portals considers what we know about the future of television, even though we remain early in a process of transformative change.
Available open access here
Available for purchase here
Available March 30, 2018
We Now Disrupt this Broadcast
How Cable Transformed U.S. Television and the Internet Revolutionized It All
My current project pieces together the twenty-year transformation of U.S television. The story begins in 1996 and, contrary to what many thought at the time, is not a story of death, but of the collision of new technologies, changing business strategies, and unprecedented storytelling.
We Now Disrupt This Broadcast explores U.S. television’s transition through two extraordinary disruptions. First, the success of original, scripted cable series transformed long held norms of television storytelling, perceptions of what U.S. commercial television could be, and several of the established practices for making television. As the book begins in 1996, advertiser-supported cable channels have to beg talent to produce series for their channels. Within a few short years, the dynamic is reversed, and cable becomes the epicenter of television’s new identity as a sophisticated and interesting cultural form. Chapters in Sections One and Two use milestone series including La Femme Nikita, OZ, The Shield, Monk, and Mad Men to tell the story of changing business practices in the industry.
But before the new norms of a broadcast/cable television landscape could be established, the emergence of broadband distribution of video threatened nearly every aspect of the television business, while also tremendously improving the experience of watching television. Broadband distribution not only brought additional program providers such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu into an already abundantly competitive space, but also finally forced adjustment of business models that were barely holding together. The cable service industry that was largely forgotten during the flurry of attention to cable channels and their distinctive and innovative programming revealed that it had transitioned into the internet service industry. By the time anyone realized that the future of television—broadcast or cable—was intricately tied to the internet, the cable industry had established an incredible advantage in incumbency.
In addition to the many technological changes broadband distribution introduced to television, Section Three uses series such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards to explore how the business of making television changed as cable channels created their own studios and expanded internationally.
By 2015—the year that became the tipping point from the television of the broadcast and cable era to the beginning of the post-network era of broadband distribution—new indications of the future of television emerged by the week. Legacy industry competitors launched broadband-distributed services such as HBO Now and CBS All Access to chart a path into the new era. With appetites whetted by increasingly prevalent streaming and on-demand services, viewers’ desire to self-determine viewing practices assaulted industry norms such as channel bundles, the linear television schedule, advertising, and even the notion of the channel. Contrary to many predictions, broadband distribution didn’t come to kill television, but to revolutionize how it reaches viewers.
Upcoming Talks and
I'll be attending the Media Industry Studies Conference at Kings College, London, April 18-20, 2018 and Media In Transition Conference, June 26, 2018, Utrecht University.
911 dispatcher under investigation after 'cold' treatment of Amanda Berry as she made desperate plea for help
- Dispatcher was one of the first people Berry spoke to after captivity
- Criticized for not comforting and not keeping Miss Berry on the phone
- 'I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now', she screams
- Her call led to liberation of fellow hostages Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight
- Ariel Castro, 52, and his two brothers have been arrested over kidnapping
By Jill Reilly
Published: 10:36 GMT, 8 May 2013 | Updated: 23:15 GMT, 8 May 2013
Fled: Amanda Berry called 911 seconds after she fled the Cleveland dungeon
Cleveland officials are reviewing the actions of the 911 dispatcher who took Amanda Berry’s call seconds after she fled the Cleveland dungeon where she and two others had been held captive for a decade.
The desperate call for help led to the discovery of Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, who were found alive on Monday inside a house in the west side of the city.
But the 911 dispatcher - one of the first people Miss Berry spoke to after her decade long captivity - has been criticized for not comforting the distressed caller and not keeping the 26-year-old on the phone until the police arrived.
The dispatcher came under fire as it was revealed last night that police bungled three calls that could have led to the earlier rescue of the sex slave victims.
Miss Berry's phone call on Monday evening from a neighbor's phone lasted less than two minutes.
Miss Berry, who disappeared in 2003 aged 14, is heard screaming down the phone to an Ohio police operator: 'I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now.'
But multiple times the dispatcher’s response was 'Talk to the police when they get there,' before asking the name of Miss Berry’s captor, as well as his age and ethnicity.
In the 911 call Miss Berry implores the dispatcher that she needs the police immediately, but she is told authorities will be sent as soon as a 'car becomes open.'
VIDEO: AMANDA BERRY'S DESPERATE 911 CALL AFTER 10 YEARS IN CAPTIVITY
At one point when Miss Berry says 'I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years,' the dispatcher replies 'I got that, dear.'
In the recording the emotional cries from DeJesus and Knight can be heard.
As Miss Berry becomes more frantic the dispatcher says 'The police are on their way; talk to them when they get there.'
The dispatcher, whose identity has not been revealed, repeats again 'I told you they're on their way; talk to them when they get there, OK.'
Found: Amanda Berry (right) and Gina DeJesus (left) were found alive in Cleveland on Monday afternoon
FULL 911 TRANSCRIPT FROM DESPERATE AMANDA BERRY'S CALL FOR HELP
Caller: Help me. I'm Amanda Berry.
Dispatcher: You need police, fire, ambulance?
Caller: I need police.
Dispatcher: OK, and what's going on there?
Caller: I've been kidnapped and I've been missing for 10 years, and I'm, I'm here, I'm free now.
Dispatcher: OK, and what's your address?
Caller: 2207 Seymour Avenue
Dispatcher: 2207 Seymour. Looks like you're calling me from 2210.
Dispatcher: Looks like you're calling me from 2210.
Caller: I can't hear you.
Dispatcher: Looks like you're calling me from 2210 Seymour.
Caller: I'm across the street; I'm using the phone.
Dispatcher: OK, stay there with those neighbors. Talk to police when they get there.
Dispatcher: Ok, talk to police when they get there.
Caller: OK. Hello?
Dispatcher: OK, talk to the police when they get there.
Caller: OK (unintelligible).
Dispatcher: We're going to send them as soon as we get a car open.
Caller: No, I need them now before he gets back.
Dispatcher: All right; we're sending them, OK?
Caller: OK, I mean, like ...
Dispatcher: Who's the guy you're trying -- who's the guy who went out?
Caller: Um, his name is Ariel Castro.
Dispatcher: OK. How old is he?
Caller: He's like 52.
Dispatcher: And, uh -
Caller: I'm Amanda Berry. I've been on the news for the last 10 years.
Dispatcher: I got, I got that, dear. (Unintelligible) And, you say, what was his name again?
Caller: Uh, Ariel Castro.
Dispatcher: And is he white, black or Hispanic?
Caller: Uh, Hispanic.
Dispatcher: What's he wearing?
Caller (agitated): I don't know, 'cause he's not here right now. That's why I ran away.
Dispatcher: When he left, what was he wearing?
Caller: Who knows (unintelligible).
Dispatcher: The police are on their way; talk to them when they get there.
Caller: Huh? I - OK.
Dispatcher: I told you they're on their way; talk to them when they get there, OK.
Caller: All right, OK. Bye.
'One of the things that jumped out was that after the dispatch took the information, she moved on to the next call. I think that realizing the gravity of the situation, the dispatch might have stayed on the call with that person,' Gary Allen, a dispatcher for 20 years in Berkeley, California told theDaily Beast.
'You generally want to hold the person on the phone and try to make a personal connection until law enforcement can get there.'
CBS58played the full 9-1-1 call for Kenosha County Telecommunications and Training Officer Sandy Zuerlein, who admitted she would have kept Miss Berry on the phone.
Combing: Cleveland police and FBI agents search a yard. There were apparently signs that dirt had recently been moved in the backyard of the house
2207 Seymour Avenue, Cleveland, where the three girls were held captive for the past decade
'In this call, she was afraid that the man who had her was coming back. If I had kept her on the phone, and he came back, we could have alerted officers,' Ms Zuerlein said.
In response Cleveland Department of Public Safety Director Martin Flask said police were dispatched and on scene in the west side neighborhood in less than 2 minutes.
'While the call-taker complied with policies and procedures which enabled a very fast response by police, we have noted some concerns which will be the focus of our review, including the call-taker’s failure to remain on the line with Ms. Berry until police arrived on scene.
'Please be assured that this matter will be investigated, and if necessary, appropriate corrective action taken.
Brothers: From left, Ariel, Onil and Pedro have all been arrested in connection with the abduction of Gina DeJesus, Amanda Berry and Michelle Knight almost ten years ago
'I would like to note that the call-taker did take the call, create an event and send it to the channel dispatcher in less than 90 seconds. Within 1 minutes and 18 seconds from the time that the call-taker answered the call our dispatcher was broadcasting the assignment to available police units.
'As a result of the call-taker’s actions, police were dispatched and on scene in less than 2 minutes.
Meanwhile it emerged that police bungled three calls that could have led to the earlier rescue of the trio held in a house of horrors.
On one occasion, neighbours saw three naked girls on all fours with dog collars around their necks and three men controlling them in the back garden – but police didn’t even bother respondiong to their call.
The shocking revelations emerged last night as more details emerged about the nightmare ordeal suffered by the three women – Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight – who were finally rescued from their suburban prison in Cleveland, Ohio, on Monday.
Police said a six-year-old girl who was also freed was thought to be Miss Berry’ s daughter.
The sadistic kidnappers raped their victims repeatedly over the last ten years, resulting in several pregnancies and the birth of at least one child, according to US reports.
Distraught: Felix DeJesus, holding a banner showing his daughter's photograph, standing by a memorial in his living room in Cleveland (file photo)
Victim: Last year, Gina's mother Nancy Ruiz raised concerns that her daughter might have been the victim of human trafficking
The women were forced to have sex with their captors and they became pregnant up to five times, the New York Post quoted police sources as telling local TV channel WKYC.
The babies, other than the six-year-old, who has not been named, did not survive. It wasn’t immediately clear how they died.
Officers were searching the house yesterday, specifically looking at ‘disturbed’ dirt in the back garden where the suspects might have been digging.
Three brothers, aged 50, 52 and 54, were being quizzed today and are expected to face charges as soon as tomorrow.
Miss Knight disappeared in 2002 when she was 21, Miss Berry was 16 when she vanished in 2003 and Miss DeJesus went missing about a year later when she was 14.
Israel Lugo, who lives two houses down from the home where the girls were held – owned by former school bus driver Ariel Castro - said he heard pounding on some of the doors of the house, which had plastic bags on the windows, in November 2011.
Police did respond to his call, but left when nobody answered their knock on the front door.
'They walked to the side of the house and then left,' he said.
Mr Lugo said neighbours who live in a nearby block of flats called the police after seeing the three naked women being treated like animals in the garden. He said they waited for two hours by the house but the police never arrived.
Another neighbor, Nina Samoylicz, who lives three doors down, also reported seeing a naked woman in the same back garden two years ago, but police didn't take her seriously when she reported the incident.
We thought it was funny at first, and then we thought that was weird so we called the cops.' she told CNN.
Ashley Summers and, right, an 'age-progressed' rendering of her, as might would look now at 19
'They thought we was playing, joking, they didn't believe us.'
Soon after that, Castro covered his garden in tarpaulins so passers by couldn’t see over the fence.
Despite the growing criticism over the time it took to locate the young women, the authorities in Cleveland denied they were to blame yesterday.
‘We reviewed tips regularly with the family and with our partners in the Cleveland Police Department,’ said Steven Anthony, the FBI special agent in charge in Cleveland.
‘Not a year went, not actually probably a three -month period, went by where we didn’t have some lead generated by the public or the family.’
Cleveland police said they searched their records and did not find any emergency calls to the home where the women had been kept before Monday.
The captives, who were reportedly chained and gagged inside the house, escaped after Miss Berry’s shouts for help were heard by a neighbour, who broke the door to get her out.
Ariel Castro has lived in the house since 1992. His two brothers - Pedro, 54, and O'Neal, 50, - do not live at the home but were arrested in connection with the three abductions.
This map shows the block, Lorain Avenue, in Cleveland where the three girls went missing, years apart. They were found Monday on Seymour Avenue, approximately three miles from where they were abducted
Police are also investigating whether a fourth teenager was abducted by the Cleveland kidnappers.
Ashley Summers was 14 when she disappeared in 2007 from the same American neighbourhood.
Detectives have long believed that the cases were linked, but there was no sign of Ashley when the three girls were finally set free.
It is understood that police will be quizzing the three brothers taken into custody over the kidnapping about Ashley’s disappearance.
Her family was in touch with the authorities in Cleveland yesterday to see if there was any information about the missing teen, who would now be 20.
Ashley was initially thought to have run away after a family row, but police were called in after she never made any contact.
Her grandmother claimed she saw Ashley in a car in November 2007, with short, dyed-blonde hair.
Appearing on an Oprah Winfrey show about the cases of Miss Summers, Miss Berry, and Miss DeJesus in 2009, FBI Special Agent Phil Torsney insisted there had been ‘no legitimate sighting of Ashley since she left her house.’
The FBI had speculated that the disappearances were linked and that ‘one or more of the girls may have been forced into prostitution.’
Ashley’s house was about a mile and a half from where Miss Berry and Miss DeJesus went missing and three and a half miles from the house where they were found on Monday.
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