Diverse Media Systems, or DMS for short, is the second largest media corp in the Cyberpunk universe behind only Network News 54, has been known to commonly be involved with them in skirmishes on the battlefield and in the boardroom. DMS was involved in a joint venture to create and distribute the first Braindances.
Diverse Media Systems was founded in 1998, in post-Collapse Los Angeles, by former Columbia Records executive James Haughton lt. Haughton was bored by what he thought was the evolution of the entertainment media into predictable, cliché-trodden pathways. Haughton recognized the entertainment potential in the emergence of new technologies and social structures, and wanted a corporation built from the ground up to capitalize on them.
Or, at least, that was the plan on paper. By the time DMS was getting started, Network 54 was already established as the new heavy on the block. When Net 54 execuWes looked at creative new media start-ups, the first thought that usually crossed their mind was "acquisition." This aggressive, hostile-takeover strategy was propelling Net 54 toward the stratosphere, but, in arrogantly predicting his own success, Haughton had foreseen the inevitability of Net 54 meddling and had prepared. When Net 54 made their first overtures in the boardroom and on Wall Street, Haughton politely informed them that he was not interested in being a subsidiary of Net 54. When they waved off Haughton's protestations and launched a full- scale hostile takeover bid, Haughton took the steps that would define the relationship between Net 54 and DMS for over twenty years. He sent an envelope to the Net 54 boardroom containing enough blackmail material to ruin four marriages, destroy three prominent political careers (including, rumor has it the Presidency), and result in at least six indictments for offenses ranging from theft to conspiracy to commit murder, and possible treason. Net 54 quietly quashed its takeover bid within twenty-four hours, and DMS bought back a substantial portion of its own stock at a greatly reduced price, doubling Haughton's personal fortune in the process. Haughton had been etched into Net 54's collective mind, however, and a feud was born that generates a substantial annual body count to this day. Many place the corporate rivalry between Net 54 and DMS as second only to that between Arasaka and Militech, in terms of its possible widespread implications.
Once DMS established its independence, it set about building the Media Corporation of the Future. Haughton invested heavily in the development of media technologies, including improvement of existing systems, such as cable television, and introduction of entirely new products, such as braindance and the Video Music Chip (VMC) format. Behind aggressive marketing and cooperation from hardware manufacturers eager to introduce new entertainment equipment, DMS rapidly became the most potent force in cutting-edge entertainment By 2008, under the visionary leadership of CEO Howard Wong, DMS had developed extensive holdings in concert promotion, recorded music and music video, movie and braindance production, and, of course, network television. In the decade since Howard Wong bulwarked DMS' place as a media empire, fortune has been kind to the once-upstart company. DMS has firmly cemented its position as the premiere media content-provider. Although it owns fewer stations than rival Net 54, DMS produces more successful television shows, movies, braindance titles, records, and multimedia products than any other company. They have maintained the cutting-edge image that propels sales to younger consumers. In other words, DMS is still "cool."
There have been some internal differences, however. Shortly after the death of Howard Wong, a power struggle erupted between DMS founder Jonathon Haughton Il and his son, Jon Ill. Jon Ill was disturbed by what he saw as "executive complacency" in the wake of Howard Wong's tragic death. In a boardroom struggle, Jonny Haughton seized control from his father, Jonathon, who subsequently "retired" to Palm Springs, where he rarely speaks to the public. Jonny Haughton immediately put his own stamp on DMS, stepping up internal research on new media technologies, aggressively pursuing corporate espionage and black ops, and intensifying the conflict with Network 54. A year after the Howard Wong conflagration, the rivalry between Net 54 and DMS had cooled to boardroom and market-share jockeying. Jonny Houghton recognized the publicity and espionage values in open conflict, and rapidly escalated the conflict back into a shooting war. The relationship remains tense to this day.
Today DMS stands atop a pinnacle with Net 54 as one of the two major media corporations in the world. They maintain an aggressive. hostile attitude and are widely feared by smaller corporations. The rivalry between DMS and Net 54 has polarized the smaller media companies, with many of them seeking shelter in alliance with one of the big two. Truly independent, smaller media corporations are becoming rare. DMS position is not unassailable, however-Time marches forward, and aggressive, young companies are always nipping at the heels of the giants. For the time being, however, DMS has the image as the corporation to beat. Creative, deadly, and, for a corporation its size, dangerously agile.
Shortly before the Fourth Corporate War, the Northern California anchor for DMS, Marylou Ellerby, was revealed to be an AI, although resulting legal resolution on AI rights were never attempted, due the the Fourth Corporate War. During wartime, DMS covered the events of the Fourth Corporate War along with Network News 54, dedicating entire channels to its coverage.
Who's in Charge Now?
After Wong's death DMS put up a solid corporate front, but insiders knew that behind the placid facade the shareholders struggled for control. At first the company was run by Jonathon Houghton II, the original founder of DMS. Houghton II proved more conservative a CEO than Wong. He continued the new directions Wong had begun, choosing to solidify his position within those new markets rather than diversify into any further areas. He also scaled down the conflict with Net 54, preferring to fight in the boardroom rather than on the streets. Others in the company, notably his son Jonathon Houghton III, disagreed with the new CEO and wanted DMS to continue the aggressive stance it had under Wong. In 2012 the legal issues surrounding Wong's complicated death were resolved. Much of the legal bickering revolved around the question of whether Wong had planned his extraction with Net 54, which according to his contract would mean his shares revert back to the senior Houghton. At the end, the probate judge determined there was no evidence that Net 54 had contacted Wong prior to his extraction, so Wong's stock in DMS remained in his estate. In a surprising move shortly after the settlement, Jonathon Houghton III announced that he headed a majority coalition of DMS stockholders. He placed himself in the positions of CEO and chairman of the board, and announced that his father was entering retirement at Palm Springs. While the actual boardroom records are private, industry analysts contend that the younger Houghton could not control a majority without the support of Wong's shares. Wong's estate sold its shares to Blackwell Pension Fund immediately after the probate settlement, which makes Blackwell into Houghton Ill's hidden partner. While there is no hard evidence, the facts do seem to suggest that Houghton III planned his usurpation from the time of Wong's death, sharing inside information with Blackwell Pension Fund in return for their support of his power grab. Or maybe he had planned it even earlier — there is still a cloud over Wong's death. Some who were there say DMS purposefully shot down Wong's plane. Still others contend that Wong was coerced into helping with the extraction, but the probate court concluded that the coercion didn't come from Net 54.
A Face Lift for a Familiar Network
Under the direction of the new CEO Johnathon Houghton III, DMS is no longer content with operating the second place network. They have revamped their programming with a new line of exciting and sensationalist shows designed to attract the dominant younger audience. They have new live footage blood and guts shows like CyberSquad and TraumaTeam, and a soap opera spin-off of the extremely popular You Decide! Court Date audience participation format called You Decide! Soap Opera. Also new every Sunday night is Weekly World Enquirer, the tabloid news show the critics love to hate but the audience can't get enough of. On CyberSquad, DMS cameramen ride with the Night City police cyberteam on psycho terminations. Featuring actual film of real crisis events, CyberSquad is every bit as exciting as it sounds. TraumaTeam makes use of the same live-action reporting format as CyberSquad. The cameramen film the exciting rescues of TraumaTeam subscribers. DMS likes these kinds of shows because it costs them very little to film live action compared to the costs of traditional TV shows. And the audience likes the thrilling blood and guts. The You Decide! shows are viewer-interactive shows in which the viewers call in votes during the commercials to determine the outcome of actual events. The shows have been so popular that DMS is working on a You Decide! format cliffhanger adventure series. The You Decide! Soap Opera is the first fully computer generated television series; not a single human actor appears in the entire show. The format works like this: first, the producers prepare possible story lines ahead of time. At key decision points, the show flashes 1-900 numbers to call to vote for one of several plot choices, then breaks for commercials. Votes are tallied, then after the commercial the show continues — following the winning plot direction. The Weekly World Enquirer, a tabloid Style television show, broadcasts every Sunday evening. It features the most outrageous stories from around the world. Stories about Vampire killings, Elvis sightings, UFOs, and slanderous gossip about Network News 54's stars. DMS doesn't care that the critics blast it for not verifying its news items; in its first season WWE is already the most watched news program. Besides a slew of new shows, DMS has kept many of its old favorites: game shows like CyberSoldier; Fashion in Modern, the fashion show featuring the latest in clothes, body sculpting, and trendy weapons; and Competition Laser Sport with the National Laser League.
DMS has also made impressive inroads into the rockerboy recording scene. In 2008 they signed Crimson Streets to their corporate label when DMS needed a hit band and Crimson Streets needed the money. Their hardcore fans, who were with them from their Night City club days, predicted the band would lose its distinctive hard edged sound when they went mass media. With Crimson Streets, some said, the rough edges are what the band is all about. While their detractors may even be right, whatever the band lost of their original following has been made up ten fold by the fans who swarmed to hear the newest DMS recording stars. By signing vigorous new bands like Crimson Streets, Diverse Media Systems has expanded their music promotions division into an international recording label. Combined with their experience in live and animated video recording, DMS is able to produce top-rate music videos for their bands, music videos which they now distribute in their proprietary Music Video Chip (MVC) format. (For the unhip, MVC format chips can plug into any standard stereo system. Customers wired for high quality audio and optical input can plug directly into a portable replay unit to see and hear their favorite music at the same time. Anyone can zone out and tune in whenever they want, wherever they want.)
Shortly before his death in 2009, Wong recognized the potential of a whole new entertainment media. He organized the joint venture with Militech and Braindance Inc. (the inventors of the Braindance) to create and distribute a commercial chip, but he died before the first Braindance was available to the public. DMS makes Braindance chips in their LA facility and distributes them in the largest North American distribution network.