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YouTube, CBS Can’t Handle The Truth

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The YouTube community is very important to CBS, which wants to spur viewership of its lucrative broadcast properties; the community just isn’t important enough to eat at the same table as the CBS clips.

YouTube, CBS Can't Handle The Truth
Does CBS Get Online Video?

Engagement means a lot these days on the Internet. Social media, social bookmarking, sharing, blogging, it’s all good unless you consider acronyms like DMCA, RIAA, and MPAA and their impact on all of that socializing.

CBS has been more in front of the whole concept of digital media for some time, particularly when it comes to news, and the “broadband-first” focus CBS News has been pursuing.

When it comes to engagement, CBS may be unclear on the concept. The velvet ropes are very much in place for CBS properties, and that now includes video sharing/lawsuit magnet YouTube.

It shouldn’t be real surprising, considering that when the network brought Katie Couric in to be their news anchor, she also got the managing editor role for CBS News. If you’re blissfully unaware of how the command chain works, first congratulations, and second, Couric reports to herself.

Reports of similar insularity taking place with the YouTube and CBS endeavor don’t surprise much, either. Commentary in the blogosphere has climbed all the way up the media pyramid, to being picked up at the New York Times.

On YouTube, one of the sharing aspects, comments, provides users the opportunity to express what they think of a video clip. Sometimes those thoughts are very raw, and possibly injurious to other people’s feelings.

CBS Interactive president Quincy Smith appears to be one of those thin-skinned types. If you want to see comments about a CBS video, they will be found on a separate page. Smith doesn’t want Mister and Missus Middle America to arrive at a Letterman clip and find enough heated language to boil water.

They might not stay up late enough to see Letterman anyway, though they might Tivo it, which would be worse due to commercial skipping.

That doesn’t matter, as YouTube regularly scrubs naughty words and “unconstructive” criticism from CBS video commentary. This places YouTube in a difficult position, as censor, instead of the friendly host of interesting video content that its nouveau riche founders want people to see.

The $1.65 billion in play from Google for YouTube probably makes it a lot easier to live with the censor versus features argument. No one is going to jeopardize a few hundred million dollars just so some 15-year-old kid can make nasty unfiltered comments on the site.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

YouTube, CBS Can’t Handle The Truth
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