by Norman Horowitz
When I was at MGM, the person in charge of selling pay television (Jim) called me from Toronto to tell me that the Canadian pay TV buyer (John) had said that he could only buy rights to 18 of our pictures for the coming year. He was saving the rest of his money to buy independent films that he liked.
My obnoxious reply was, “Please tell John that there are two numbers of pictures available to him from MGM and that’s all of them or none of them.” Jim told me that John had told him that I would say just that.
I had the power, and I abused it. Why? Because there was no one to stop me!
In 1949, the FCC introduced the “Fairness Doctrine,” which required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was — in the Commission’s view — honest, equitable, and balanced.
Good luck defining “honest, equitable, and balanced.” The doctrine never really meant anything.
As I’ve said before, freedom of the press (as it pertains to electronic delivery) is sadly limited to those that own the presses.
In the intervening 40+ years, “the system” has allowed the creation of “monster” media companies such as Comcast/NBC/Universal, Time Warner/TBS/TNT/CNN, News Corp/Fox Network/Fox, CBS/Viacom, and lest we forget The Walt Disney Company/ABC.
Several years ago, I asked the head of NBC, Ben Silverman, why NBC had not done a single documentary concerning our ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in accordance with NBC’s commitment to “serve in the public interest, convenience, and necessity.” He replied, “Norman, it would interfere with my schedule and my profitability.”
In my opinion, the for-profit media has not served our country well, and it appears that the feds don’t care one iota because they count on the media for “face time” and will never risk offending them.
They have the power, and they abuse it. Why? Because no one will stop them!
America needs a “break up the Yankees” attitude, but it appears that America does not care.