Does Anybody See What I See?

by Norman Horowitz

Is anybody there?

Does anybody care?

Does anybody see what I see?

— John Adams in the musical “1776”

In our media-abundant country we have a gazillian cable networks available to consumers, but the vast majority of “signals” that deliver news content are controlled by a very few companies.

I subscribe to the notion that money and power determine what we see, read, and hear. A little history will demonstrate this point.

In the late ’60s, the Nixon FCC promulgated the “Prime Time Access, Financial Interest, and Syndication” rules that basically told the networks (ABC, CBS, and NBC) to divest themselves of financial interest and syndication rights to programs that they carried.

About forty years after the fact, we find the studios and the networks joined at the hip. For the upcoming season, here is what new content the studios sold the broadcast networks:

  • Warner Bros. TV sold nine programs.
  • Universal Television sold eight shows.
  • CBS Television Studios sold seven shows.
  • ABC Studios sold six shows.
  • 20th Century Fox and Sony Pictures each sold five shows.

Forty years since the promulgation of PTAR and Fin/Syn, we still live in a world where the major broadcasters, networks, and production companies are almost all the same. It appears that nothing will change the power of the studios.

I adore the profit motive, as long as it comes with a federal oversight that reduces the chances that the public will be exploited and that competition will be limited to the really big guys fighting over the unnecessarily high prices that the consumers will be forced to pay.

Had someone awakened from a 30-year sleep and watched television news and asked: “How is television controlled now and more importantly who owns it?” They would be shocked to learn that it is partially controlled the executive branch (the FCC) and owned by industrial giants such as The General Electric Company, Time Warner, Viacom, News Corporation, and lest we forget, the Walt Disney Company.

They could ask: “How do opposing views reach the public?” The answer, of course, is that they don’t.

Why are things the way they are, rather than the way that they could or should be? In my opinion, it’s because the process is controlled or influenced by the malleable FCC and the even more easily influenced Congress.

MONEY AND POWER MATTER!

No, Dorothy, We’re Not in Bloomingdale’s Anymore

I’m sorry there are no pictures on today’s posts. Tagaroo — the WordPress plugin we use on this site for pictures — is acting up. We’ll try to fix it ASAP. In the meantime, I just couldn’t delay this wonderful post from Norman any longer. — AWO

by Norman Horowitz

It’s 115 degrees in the shade, and there’s no shade. A man lost in the desert for three days without food or water has almost given up hope of living to see another sunset. He crawls to the top of a sand dune and for a moment believes that he’s saved when he sees a man wearing a suit-and-tie sitting under a huge umbrella next to a table piled high with ties.

Our dying man staggers over to the man with the ties and notices a sign, “Ties for Sale: $750”. With his last bit of strength he groans, “Water, water, please I must have water.”

The man with the ties tells him, “I don’t have any water, but would you be interested in buying a tie for $750 dollars?” Seeing the devastated look on the dying man’s face, the tie salesman adds, “There’s a restaurant fifty yards ahead where you can get water.”

Our dying man crawls over the next sand dune and arrives in front of a big restaurant. He is about ready to go in when he sees a sign over the front door, “ABSOLUTELY NO SERVICE WITHOUT A TIE!”   Continue reading “No, Dorothy, We’re Not in Bloomingdale’s Anymore”