If you are having trouble viewing our video player, check out MediaBytes on YouTube.

GOOGLE is using April 1st to roll out a number of exciting new initiatives. The company has unveiled a joint venture with Virgin called Virgle, the first human settlement on Mars. Users can sign up online to be a Virgle pioneer. Gmail users received a useful Custom Time upgrade today, allowing them to send email yesterday. And, lastly, all Featured Videos on YouTube.com now redirect users to Rick Astley’s hit song “Never Gonna Give You Up,” complete with 80’s dance moves and a stylish trench coat. Enjoy.

COMCAST is facing an increasing online backlash for re-compressing HD channels so that it can increase its channel offerings. Users began noticing degraded HD quality and posted screenshots in forums comparing the Comcast images with Verizon’s FiOS HD images. Comcast’s HD showed increased pixillation and distortion. A company spokesperson confirmed the practice, saying “Compression is a reality.” Perhaps, but this is certainly a poor time for a cable company to offer lower video quality than a telco TV service.

SONY has launched C-Spot, a new online comedy channel. C-Spot features short-form comedies, including “Hot Hot Los Angeles” and “The Roadents,” an animated show about traveling guinea pigs. Actor Kevin Pollack will be featured in a C-Spot series called The Writer’s Room, a look behind the scenes of a sitcom. New episodes will be posted on a daily schedule and distributed trough AOL Video, Hulu, YouTube, Crackle and more.

FACEBOOK is apparently getting sued for using TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington’s image and name alongside its profile advertisements. In a blog post, Arrington said he is willing to settle for $25 million in Facebook stock. Of course, it is April 1st. In related news, Facebook will begin running ads for CareerBuilder that target recent college grads.

NICKELODEON is seeing increased online traffic due to iCarly, a network show that incorporates user-generated material. The show now accounts for a staggering 20% of all visitors to Nick.com. iCarly urges viewers to visit Nick.com to upload their own videos, offering them the chance to be seen on TV. This clearly works.

NIELSEN reports that Internet ad spending jumped 18.9% in 2007, while all ad spending combined only increased .6%. National cable ads were up 2.2% but network TV fell 1.5%.

SHELLY PALMER probes several issues surrounding digital rights. What are your rights as Digital Citizens of the United States? Do we have a national broadband policy? What is it? What should it be? Read about digital deficiency and how it may jeopardize our status as a “super power.”

About Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the Professor of Advanced Media in Residence at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and CEO of The Palmer Group, a consulting practice that helps Fortune 500 companies with technology, media and marketing. Named LinkedIn’s “Top Voice in Technology,” he covers tech and business for Good Day New York, is a regular commentator on CNN and writes a popular daily business blog. He's a bestselling author, and the creator of the popular, free online course, Generative AI for Execs. Follow @shellypalmer or visit shellypalmer.com.



Previous2008 03-31 MediaBytes: Microsoft - Yahoo - Sony - Xbox - Shine - MTV Next2008 04-02 MediaBytes: NBC - Liberty Mutual - SAG - BLINKX - BBTV - JumpTap - iPhone

Get Briefed Every Day!

Subscribe to my daily newsletter featuring current events and the top stories in technology, media, and marketing.