Random thoughts October 12: Youtube, HK Don Report, Taiwan stalemate

Too busy to blog in the coming weeks. I will just jog down a few random thoughts:

Youtube deal

  • My first reaction of the 1.65bn deal was, as many have pointed out, why would google want to inherit all those copyright liability from Youtube? The fact Youtube has not attracted napster-like litigation is because Youtube has no asset to justify the legal fees. OTOH Google Video already has all the technology infrastructure, and even a comparable (though much smaller - in part due to the copyright concern) user base.
  • On a second thought, it sort of make sense, and pretty good sense. You may remember google had an advertising deal with myspace a while ago. What google found in youtube is the advertising space. Google probably already has a plan for video-based ads, and perhaps even some pending deals from major advertisers. Google video is faltering, and cannot supply the demand in ad space. OTOH, through the myspace partnership, Google might have noticed how much traffic (and ad value) myspace users are linking/embeding youtube. Google may have the clout to finally convince Hollywood that internet video will be the future cash cow for them. If this is the case, google has finally found the business model for Youtube
  • Think about this, the deal is no different from Disney acquireing ABC, or Viacom acquiring NBC, or Soy CBS. It makes sense even if you already owns a channel with less coverage. It makes more sense if the price is reasonable and you believe in the potential growth in the channel's coverage.

HK Don Report

  • CE Donald Tsang's new plan has attracted criticism from most media, which is not surprising. It is the job of the media to criticize, or to "pick bone from a poached egg"
  • Yes, there is a lot I can critize on the Don. But what irritates me is the self-contradictory comments from Jimmy Lai enterprise
  • 1) A smaller plan (hence shorter report) than previsous years (30% shorter in terms of trees cut) is precisely what free economist (including the editors of next media) have advocated for all these year. One measure for small government (which is consistent with the Taoism approach AD has been advocating, and I agree) I would use is the number of pages of the Don's report. I thought Next media owes the Don some serious flattery for this.
  • 2) The kindergarten education coupon was attacked as an unfaithful adaptation of Milton Friedman's model. Yes, it is imperfect, a better implementation would be to decrease the subsidy for profit-oriented kindergartens using a formula, so that the more expensive the fee is, the less subsidy (in absolute terms) it will received. But I see this as only the first step toward a broader implementation of the education coupon system. I cannot imagine how one could get to the full swing coupon system without some testing in smaller scale in less risky sectors. Perhaps the Don should draw out the long term vision of the coupon trial. But he only has less than a year to govern. The Next Media school is just trying to be unreasonable.

Taiwan stalemate

  • The Taiwan ordeal triggered by the myriads of Chen Shui-bian's alleged (and fairly well substantiated -- especially the State Affair Budget case) corruption charges is going down as a stalemate
  • In theory, we should respect the existing "democratic process", as pointed out by AD Taiwan's Pu Dazhong. However, as Pu also agreed, the crux of the matter is that the people in Taiwan do not trust its judiciary independence (we would see the same stalemate if CSB and SMT's position were switched, the pan-Green would have done the same). The distrust is further re-inforced by the increibly illogical outcome of the Sogo case, in which the receivers (wife of a public servant) escaped investigation with ridiculous reasons (amount of bribe "too small" to be commensurate with the size of the deal)
  • The solution is simple, have the Legislative Yuan (for which the Blue has majority control) appoint an independent committee to investigate the various charges, including a review on the Sogo Gift Certificate case. Same treatment as what they did for 3-19. This should give a good excuse for the Red to go back to work and ensure justice is given to the CSB family.

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