TV faces looming crisis

In human and corporate behaviour, there is a phenomenon known as the “Icarus Paradox”, began York Prof. Alan Middleton in an essay warning of a looming television crisis, in the Jan. 31 issue of Marketing magazine. “In contemporary parlance, this describes the tendency of individual strengths that when taken to an extreme become key weaknesses. And that’s what is happening to television, particularly to the networks and general interest channels.”

“Right now TV is looking strong,” observed Middleton. But “there are a number of early signs that this happy TV land is about to suffer a fall.” First, he pointed out, “viewers have been gradually changing their habits from the old mass markets of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s. Rarely do they sit in family or friendship groups to watch mainstream TV any longer,” he wrote. “Viewers are increasingly program and narrowcast specific in the way they use TV. Second, other options are increasing in both number and attractiveness: specialist channels, Internet, video games, participation in sports or out-of-home entertainment and the other media,” he wrote. “Third, the type of programming that reality TV represents needs ever-inflating activities. This very inflation will not only be increasingly difficult to accomplish, but increasingly unattractive to larger segments of the audience,” he wrote. And, fourth, “marketers are already experimenting with broader and different media, from buzz marketing to greater sponsorship marketing and so on.

“Cheap superficial programming, sold to smaller audiences at ever-increasing rates is not a sustainable formula,” Middleton predicted. “It may be attractive in the short term, but it may be the very formula that accelerates the medium-term decline of TV. Icarus still has much to teach us.”

Detective aims to beat scamsters at their game

As a member of the major fraud unit, detective Robert Gauvin is spearheading a project to teach consumers to defend themselves against scamsters collecting money for charitable causes, such as the tsunami relief effort, reported The Hamilton Spectator Feb. 1. For this project, the 32-year-old constable – who holds degrees in law (from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School in 1998) and economics – is mustering all the skills he learned in the boxing ring, walking the police beat and hammering out legal briefs. His next opponents will be more elusive, resilient and cunning than anybody he met in the squared circle when he won a bronze medal in the 178-pound class at the 2003 police Olympics in Barcelona. “A good offence is a good defence,” Gauvin said, during an interview in his private law library at the central police station. In the past months, Gauvin has also worked as a lawyer for the Hamilton police service. At Osgoode, he excelled at corporate tax law and seemed destined for the business world, said the Spectator.

Eddie Greenspan – destined for law

“I had no childhood dreams of being a fireman, a policeman, teacher, doctor or candlestick maker or a corporate mogul. I was committed to being not only a lawyer, but a criminal lawyer,” wrote Eddie Greenspan in an essay on defence and law in the Jan. 31 issue of Canadian Business. “The allure, the show business part of criminal law, the great trials, cross-examinations, jury addresses that I had read about in all the books when I was growing up, that made me want to become a criminal lawyer, like Perry Mason – none of them talked about the truth. And the truth is that for every great one hour of cross-examination, you have to spend about 50 hours preparing alone in your office, late at night, when no one else is around and you can think it through, take notes. It’s completely unglamorous and completely nothing more or less than very hard work,” wrote the 1968 alumnus of York’s Osgoode Hall Law School.

Schulich places third at Enterprize competition

The student team from York’s Schulich School of Business placed third in the master of business administration business plan competition at the Sauder School of Business Enterprize competition held Jan. 28 and 29 in Vancouver, according to a news release carried on Canada News-Wire Jan. 31. Over 300 undergraduate and MBA students from top business schools in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia took part in the two-day conference. Enterprize is an annual event organized and run by students at Sauder to foster entrepreneurship.

 On air

  • Thabit A.J. Abdullah Sam, history professor in York’s Faculty of Arts, discussed the results of the Iraqi election, on TVO’s “Studio 2” Jan. 31.
  • At their match with Brock University, York University’s women’s hockey team held a minute of silence for those killed in the Windsor-bus crash near Rochester, reported CFTO-TV’s “Night Beat News” Jan. 31.