Is Fox coming down on fansites?

20th Century Fox, the network that airs Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, has reportedly come down hard on a fansite that it accuses of “doing a great disservice to the show,” with the director of publicity personally sending an e-mail to its webmaster.

6a00d8353a41e769e20112790a2bee28a4-800wi20th Century Fox, the network that airs Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse, has reportedly come down hard on a fansite that it accuses of “doing a great disservice to the show,” with the director of publicity personally sending an email to its webmaster.

The site in question, Dollverse, has consistently covered the show since the announcement of its production, however, the problem seems to stem from a report they filed regarding the transmission dates of the bonus episode ‘Epitaph One’ in Sweden, which the network’s PR team reportedly misread. In a particularly strong email to the website, in which several other Fox staffers were copied in, the director of publicity Todd Adair said: “Once again you have incorrect information posted on your Dollverse site. Fox has not announced that it will be airing ‘Epitaph One’ and for you to state on the site that it will air (and should be airing this summer) is false. This is yet another instance of you posting information that in no way helps the show.”

Adair then goes on to order the webmaster not to post any scheduling information that is not directly confirmed, or from the tone of the email, approved, by Fox. Soon after, he makes a damning criticism of the website, saying that it does harm to the show and its marketing efforts. “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 – you are doing a great disservice to the show and your own site. 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.”

Cease and desist orders, suggested corrections and requests to pull stories are not uncommon in the world of entertainment journalism, particularly for those operating as amateur reporters without the support of a publisher behind them, however, an email this blunt is rare. The webmaster, Kevin Beaumont, responded angrily to the email, citing his website’s support of the show and Fox’s alleged lack of support throughout its coverage: “The email was CCed into other staff at Fox. I tried replying to everybody to clarify to the issue; however, nobody at Fox chose to respond,” said Beaumont. “Dollverse has broken many big stories about the show – none of which were with the assistance of Fox’s publicity team, since they failed to supply any material and often ignored requests for comment.” He then went on to say that he has offered to work more closely with the network, but again, has been ignored. “We have offered to have Fox give their feedback on any stories we publish, but had no response to this suggestion. If we reported things Fox had officially announced about the show, this site would be tiny and they wouldn’t have to bother with pesky calls from journalists about the show – but… well… As far as I’m concerned, if Fox’s publicity department are getting press queries from things we have written, that’s a high class ‘problem’ to have.”

Beaumont was defiant throughout, almost baiting Fox to respond and claiming that they were attempting to censor his site’s journalism: “As far as I am aware, this is the first time a US network has tried to exert specific editorial control over a fan site, and I think deserves a debate. As fans, do we want to hear news Fox wants us or approves us to report about a TV show we watch?” he began, before saying later: “There are some things from Fox we’ve seen over the time spent with Dollhouse, such as the announcement of shifting of the show to Friday night being made on Twitter, which caused outright panic in the fandom … but we’d never demand Fox do these things differently. Because we can’t. Because we’re viewers. Fox can not also demand we don’t cover certain subjects on the site. We might only be fans, but we’re also viewers, and that gives us the power to be a fandom.”

The alleged email to Dollverse has been included below.

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From: Todd Adair
CC: “Shari Rosenblum” ,
“Cait Hood”
Subject: Dollhouse
Date: Wed, 20 May 2009 13:08:32 -0700

Once again you have incorrect information posted on your Dollverse site. FOX has not announced that it will be airing “Epitaph One” and for you to state on the site that it will air (and should be airing this summer) is false. This is yet another instance of you posting information that in no way helps the show. You also posted an incorrect airdate schedule for the remaining season one episode stated as fact that “Epitaph One” would air on May 15, then May 22 – which was never announced by the network – as we never licensed that episode for air.

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 – you are doing a great disservice to the show and your own site. 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.

Todd

Todd Adair
Director, Publicity, FOX Broadcasting Co.

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The lead for this story was originally sourced from Airlock Alpha.