Guest comment on Warner Bros disc policy

This is in regard to the previous post, in which I’ve disclosed Warner Bros’ rather strange actions on disc reviews. I passed this on to my editors, as well as to the local head of Warner Bros here in Australia. One of the editors has written to Warner Bros as well, copying them some of my reviews to emphasise the point that on-line access is useless for review purposes.

Another has given me permission to reproduce his remarks here:

Amazing. Simply amazing. I wonder if Warner Music plans to do the same with ordinary CDs? Instead of providing review copies, they may be going to suggest that album reviewers log into a streaming site and hear a crappy MP3 version of the album. You can hear the record execs saying “If you like the music, buy the CD. The sound quality will be much better, trust us.” And why should we trust them? Even the quality of music on CD has been made worse in recent years by record companies, not because of any perceived limitations in the medium itself, but because of the way in which the music is encoded onto that medium (excessive compression, known to audiophiles as “the loudness wars”), which results in flat, unexciting sound. Warner Music might well try to save a few bucks on review copies, to try to recoup some of the US$18 million it lost in the latest quarter as people stop buying the poorly produced CDs they’re making.

I’d suggest to Warner Bros Home Entertainment that they could save money on the new movie site by dumping it, and instead sending movie reviewers the script instead. Just tell them who’s playing in what roles and they can review the movie based on that. After all, the story is what it’s all about isn’t it… that’s why reviewers don’t have to be concerned about the cinematography, or the ‘Bonus Extras’ (which is one reason Blu-ray was introduced in the first place).

Greg Borrowman, Editor, Australian Hi-Fi Magazine

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2 Responses to Guest comment on Warner Bros disc policy

  1. Simon Reidy says:

    Very clever post and funny mp3 analogy. Or at least it would be funny if this situation wasn’t such a serious one. The notion that you can review a Blu-Ray via assessing an compressed downloadable version of the film has to be one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard. What codec is the movie provided in? and what type of compression ratio? And how do you review the extra features like director’s commentaries? Are they bundled with the film too?

    Is this move designed to reduce piracy of review discs? Or is it save money? I would have thought it would be more expensive to host a server with enough bandwidth for HD movie downloads than it would to send out copies of discs to reviewers, so I’m guessing it must the the former reason?

    It just doesn’t make any sense.

  2. SimonB says:

    This is, in my opinion, just another example of the ‘dumbing down’ of the world. I remember when HDTV was first introduced and we actually had Dolby Digital sound and proper HDTV broadcasts of movies and TV episodes on occasions. Not any more. The lowest bloody denominator is being catered for.

    Steven, you’re doing the right thing. Arc up about it and tell the buggers to bugger off, as you have done. They’ll hopefully, realise that some of the great unwashed out there actually CARE about the quality of the stuff they watch. I don’t buy a BluRay out there until I read a review that comments on the quality of the audio and the video. Why? Because I’ve been bitten too many times with crap.

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