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Podfire: Setting the records straight

The accusations that Michael Cheng made in his recent blog post was unfair and at best, libellous.

Blogger’s Treat was an idea that I developed and saw into fruition early 08, with an original intent of being inclusive to all bloggers – famous, just starting out, young, old – in the spirit of something more ‘open-sourced’.

I am neither rich, nor had the resources when we first started out, making do with mobile phone vidcams – nowhere close to the professional equipment that PodFire has. Yes , quality was not perfect and nowhere near broadcast quality, but that was true to our roots – content created for bloggers, by bloggers – raw and natural.

It was never meant for ‘MediaCorp’ style programming.

I’m grateful to PodFire for their fantastic video production skill sets but let me first set the record straight. This argument is all about PodFire’s various efforts in wresting intellectual property, creative control, and go-to-market – as a large company they have the means to play such games; I don’t.

When Blogger’s Treat first started out, PodFire made me sign a contract which had an original intent that PodFire would produce at their cost the first 5 episodes of Blogger’s Treat in return of 70% of revenues (if any).

In subsequent episodes, PodFire would charge me $250 per episode in production fees if we decided to continue with them. However, they made me sign a contract that practically signed away my life and ideas to them – the unfairness of which was made known to me by some lawyer friends . I believe some other producers like myself have signed similar contracts (I think you guys should check in with legal counsel – maybe some terms might have changed esp for the more recent contracts, but better to be safe than sorry)

Cracks in the relationship even for the agreed first tranche of 5 episodes appeared from the beginning. PodFire’s almost fanatic control over source video files; non-uploads of ep 4 & 5 without the courtesy of informing me; non-communication; and creative differences went against the initial spirit of what we were trying to do. This was a programme for the community, by the community – but it morphed into something too commercial, too political. If i wanted that, I might’ve well have worked for MediaCorp or something.

But I kept true to my word – we were willing to fulfil the contracted 5 episodes with PodFire, but start looking at bringing Blogger’s Treat to something more ‘real’ from the 6th. When we mentioned that, all sorts of things started happening: from untrue whispers to friendly ears and posts such as what they just did, to gatecrashing interviews and misinformed representation to commercial parties. I may not have the time to monitor the industry due to my day job but word does get back to me.

I must thank and acknowledge the contributions PodFire has done in getting Blogger’s Treat out of the ground – commercial or not. From the Chinese words in the logo, to the polished advice they have given – I thank PodFire for this. But I’m just one person against a whole company previously; and the big should not press down the small guy with such bully tactics.

I’m no longer alone. Blogger’s Treat, and my future ideas on content is now backed by a well-to-do supporter of the local community. They allow me to do what I want, commercial or not, profit-making or loss – it doesn’t matter to them. As long as in the long run, it helps develop the local blogger community, I can continue to keep things ‘real’, without the commercial politics and infighting I faced previously.

So here’s what I promise you: I’m not going to go into a catfight with Michael et al – I have a day job; my baby’s coming; and a family to build than to delve into petty commercial politics. But what I will continue to do is to continue more wacky content that’s fun, and engaging to the blogging community.

It may not be as ‘polished’ as what PodFire claims they have done, but it’ll be my own content – my style, produced with whatever tools of the trade I have on hand. And it’ll be more consistent – no more delays, or jumping through hoops just to get someone to publish it.

Blogger’s Treat and my other content down the road will be stuff created by the bloggers for the bloggers, and not just to make a quick buck.

My advice to those that want to start producing their own ideas – read the fine print of contracts, don’t sign away your life.

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