Fox Publicity Department Trying To Exert Editorial Control Over Dollhouse Fan Site?

from the that's-not-how-it-works... dept

It's no secret that some entertainment companies have had trouble recognizing that fan sites help promote a show and add value to the show for free. In spite of these benefits, they still seem to have trouble with fan sites, sometimes threatening them over intellectual property violations or simply trying to shut them down. Now Blake points us to the news that someone in Fox's publicity department is apparently trying to exert editorial control over the fan site Dollverse, which helps promote the TV show Dollhouse. From the details, it really does look like a single person in the publicity department writing a too-sternly-worded letter demanding: "Moving forward do not make any further announcements on your site regarding network scheduling unless you receive notification from the network that scheduling is confirmed." It sounds like, otherwise, the network had been supportive of the site (and this didn't come backed up with any specific legal threat). However, it's still quite an amazing move for a "publicity" department to first demand that a site no longer write about stuff without confirmation, and then to later claim: "Clearing up your misperceptions of the show has become very time consuming and frankly takes away valuable time that could be spent actively marketing the series in the proper way." That's not exactly embracing the fan community.

Filed Under: control, dollhouse, dollverse, fan sites
Companies: fox


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    RD, 26 May 2009 @ 10:19am

    'Tards

    Yes, lets come down HARD on those who promote a show that barely had an audience sufficient to warrant renewal for next year. After all, it wasnt a runaway hit and barely made the cut for renewal, so lets stomp out those remaining fans but good! Copyright is absolute!

    Fox is run by the biggest bunch of dumb-f*cks to ever run a major network. Seriously, why do they even BOTHER to make shows anymore? All they do is lock up interesting shows in development deals, then cancel them the INSTANT people start to like it. Soon, in an effort to feed their greed even more, they will start to pre-cancel shows before they air, thereby freeing up all that money that would have gone into production so they can line the pockets of their executives.

    Idiots.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    dev, 26 May 2009 @ 11:06am

    Don't worry, if the show is any good, FOX will cancel it before this becomes and issue.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Philip, 26 May 2009 @ 11:07am

    RE: 'Tards

    HA! Your reply is titled RE: 'Tards..... retards.... GET IT?!

    Anyway, I also second what RD said. RIGHT ON!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Shadow, 26 May 2009 @ 11:08am

    No More

    LastFriday when the fall schedule was released my brother and I decided that we are not going to watch any new shows on Fox. Over the years they have burned us badly, (we liked Brimstone, Firefly, Fast Lane, And Sarah Connors), I just started watching Arrested Developement on HULU and feel like Fox burned me again.

    They have my ratings for theis current shows, (Bones, House,24), but they are not going to dissapoint me again with another one season (good) show.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jake, 26 May 2009 @ 11:09am

    I actually sympathise with them on the first point; if they put up a prominent announcement on their front page giving a date and time for the premiere of the new series that later turns out to be wrong, everyone loses. Could have been expressed more tactfully though.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Yakko Warner, 26 May 2009 @ 11:18am

      Re:

      Agreed. They are in the unfortunate situation where, if a rumor gets out about their show, they have to clean up the mess. And here, they've found one source of misinformation, so they hope to be able to control that.

      A better and more tactful way of going about it might have been to, you know, ask. Or, if this site is really seen as a prime source of information for their fans, FOX could've better served their customers by offering to release information to this site, or provide a designated contact for getting confirmation of releases before they're posted.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 26 May 2009 @ 11:23am

        Re: Re:

        Or, if this site is really seen as a prime source of information for their fans, FOX could've better served their customers by offering to release information to this site, or provide a designated contact for getting confirmation of releases before they're posted.

        Whaaa? Talk to your fans? That's crazy talk! They will get what we deliver, when we deliver it! Any speculations before the fact are trampling on our IP!!!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    RD, 26 May 2009 @ 11:17am

    Way to miss the point...

    "interesting idea here. Are you saying that after a certain amount of the investment is secure they can cancel the show and make an extra profit?"

    No, I was satirically suggesting that the FOX execs believe that the way to profit is to pre-cancel shows to "Save production costs" so they can line their pockets.

    These arent funny if they have to be explained, man.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), 26 May 2009 @ 11:24am

    Over-reaching much Mike

    How can such a trivial piece of information, such as the time the show is scheduled to air, be of any importance to the fans? Obviously the fansite is really helping out the shows' fanbase by providing erroneous show times. /sarcasm

    Who is looking out for the fans of the show here, really Mike? Fox marketing for making sure the fans know what the actual schedule for the show is or the careless Dollverse admin who can misguide fans into watching/setting DVRs to 8pm instead of 9pm? C'mon, you said it yourself, there was no legal threatening and with Fox marketing asking that the site confirm the schedule does show that Fox is willing to confirm that to the site if they would just ask.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Mac, 26 May 2009 @ 12:09pm

      Re: Over-reaching much Mike

      SERIOUSLY?

      You actually think the Dollverse is the problem here? From a marketing and PR perspective, Fox has financial obligation to work with the fan sites and other show supporters. So far, they seem to think that traditional paid spots on their own channel and maybe a few print ads will cut it. Not so anymore. The lengths to which fans go to save their shows are expanding with every good show that is canceled. It started with Farscape where fans created the first fan-paid ad on public TV and has grown exponentially since. The fans and supporters are a huge PR engine that Fox, and frankly any other network, has yet to figure out they can tap into. I read the post and the response by Fox. Yes, the post was in error. But BIG DEAL, we're talking about in JULY here folks. If Fox REALLY wanted to get the information out, they would put tidbits of info, and official info out through fans and traditional press releases. Oh, and the PR dept. might also want to start returning the phone calls of major fan site operators.

      If I were an executive at Fox? I would have fired Mr. Adair for creating a MASSIVELY larger problem and PR issue for the whole network.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike (profile), 26 May 2009 @ 12:10pm

      Re: Over-reaching much Mike

      Who is looking out for the fans of the show here, really Mike? Fox marketing for making sure the fans know what the actual schedule for the show is or the careless Dollverse admin who can misguide fans into watching/setting DVRs to 8pm instead of 9pm? C'mon, you said it yourself, there was no legal threatening and with Fox marketing asking that the site confirm the schedule does show that Fox is willing to confirm that to the site if they would just ask.

      A simple email correcting the info would have worked wonders. Telling them not to report on such things without approval from corporate is something entirely different.

      The site simply posted a rumor about when the show would air, it wasn't confirmed and fans understand that. No harm is done. It helps get fans excited.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Beefcake, 26 May 2009 @ 11:43am

    Advertising Fail

    The statement: "...takes away valuable time that could be spent actively marketing the series in the proper way." indicates a clear lack of marketing vision and creativity. I suppose they're focusing on "proper" marketing such as newspaper ads, billboards, and telemarketing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Petréa Mitchell, 26 May 2009 @ 11:59am

      Re: Advertising Fail

      PR departments put a lot of time and effort into crafting a look or narrative to base their marketing of a show around. They try hard to pitch it just right to get it to catch on with their target demographic. What's happened here is that they're so focused on controlling the message that they've lost sight of the fact that they're dealing with people who've already been sold on the show.

      Unless there's some sort of legal problem-- as, sadly documented here, there too often seems to be-- you should never find yourself telling your biggest fans, "You're enjoying it wrong."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    another mike, 26 May 2009 @ 12:22pm

    time-consuming accuracy?

    How is it time-consuming for Fox to police the fan site's accuracy? If the site gets it wrong so much, the fans will move on to the next, more accurate fan site to pop up. Fox can market their show as an uncorrelated process with regards to Dollverse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Peet McKimmie (profile), 26 May 2009 @ 12:29pm

    Fox are *so* predictable.

    I signed the "Bring Dollhouse back from cancellation" petition almost three weeks before the first episode aired.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 May 2009 @ 1:18pm

    They weren't trying to exert editorial control, they were trying to stop a guy who posted wrong info from claiming he had an inside source. The letter sure makes it sound like he had gotten other "please knock it off" letters from them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, 26 May 2009 @ 3:10pm

    It's FOX they hate to renew SCI-FI

    It's FOX they don't get a slow building show. If it isn't a blockbuster right out of the gate they tend to cancel it. SF shows often take a while to build and SF fans tend not to watch FOX shows until they look like they got legs. They have broken out hearts too many times.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ben, 26 May 2009 @ 6:45pm

    And whose fault is it?

    Perhaps wrong information was posted because the Fox promotion dept. was not doing its job in getting the reliable information out there for the fansite to report on! If they would work with them in the first place, how much "effort" could they save?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    ranon, 26 May 2009 @ 7:27pm

    I dont see what is the problem here

    Fox is only asking the fansite to report correct timings of shows. There is no legal threat here. What is the issue?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 26 May 2009 @ 11:30pm

      Re: I dont see what is the problem here

      Fox is only asking the fansite to report correct timings of shows. There is no legal threat here. What is the issue?

      Hi Ranon, I think the issue goes beyond that. If they had just asked the site to correct the info, it would be one thing, but instead they issued a demand that the site never publish any info on scheduling without confirmation from the network. That's well beyond asking them to correct a report:

      "Moving forward do not make any further announcements on your site regarding network scheduling unless you receive notification from the network that scheduling is confirmed."

      It's quite common for fansites to post rumors about when a show might air -- it's part of being a fansite or a fan to discuss such rumors. It's not clear why Fox feels threatened by this. Most people realize it's only a rumor from a fansite.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Petréa Mitchell, 27 May 2009 @ 9:51am

        Re: Re: I dont see what is the problem here

        "Most people realize it's only a rumor from a fansite."

        It's not uncommon for fan sites to come to be seen as highly reliable-- sometimes *more* reliable than an official source. Case in point from a competing media empire: I'm a big fan of Disney theme parks, and there are three fan sites I check regularly which give me the details of major changes, upgrades, and closures long before they make it onto the official Disney sites. The only difference is that Disney appears to be sensible enough to not feel threatened by this.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2009 @ 8:10am

    FYI the dollverse admins and FOX PR seem to have worked everything out. Also, the link in the article is dead.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.