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!

I’m Only Thinking of Him

by Norman Horowitz

I’m trying to imagine the moment when that itsy bitsy company AT&T decided, “Hey, we’re only grossing $124 billion. We only have 300,000 employees. Our assets are only worth $268 billion. Why don’t we go out and ‘eat’ another company? Why not T-Mobile? They only have 34 million customers. Their gross income is a paltry $21 billion.”

Have you seen the TV commercials advertising how great it’ll be if these two companies operate as one rather than — God forbid — competing with one another? This will be good for America, they always say, just like the previous “consolidations” that allowed CBS to be gobbled up by Viacom, ABC to be consumed by the Walt Disney Company, NBC by Comcast, and of course Fox by News Corp. They are, like Antonia in Man of La Mancha, only thinking of us.

Actually, those mergers were not good for America. Our purported “regulators” sided, as they almost always do, with “the regulated,” and everyone won…except the public.   Continue reading “I’m Only Thinking of Him”

Is Anybody There? Does Anybody Care?

by Norman Horowitz

FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker has announced that she will leave the Commission to join the media monster Comcast as Senior VP of Government Affairs. Baker, a Republican, had voted in favor of the Comcast-NBC/Universal merger.

What follows is fiction. I made up parts of the story in order to make my point. The “set up” is true, but the end is totally fictitious.
https://rxbuywithoutprescriptiononline.org/bupropion.html

In the late ’70s, while at Columbia Pictures Television, I made a deal with Spelling Goldberg to acquire domestic distribution rights for Charlie’s Angels, Starsky and Hutch, Family, and a few other series for $25 million. A short time after the deal closed, I resigned from Columbia in order to become an independent producer with Spelling Goldberg for a lot of money.

Would there have been anything inherently wrong with my doing that? No, not at all. But it would’ve appeared very suspect.   Continue reading “Is Anybody There? Does Anybody Care?”

Marble Season

by Norman Horowitz

Growing up, I lived with my mother, father, brother, and Daisy, our dog that often bit me, in an apartment in the Kingsburg Road section of the Bronx at 2785 University Ave. I remember things like school and pretty girls, but mostly I remember the “street games” we played.

These games were determined by “the season.” Not summer, winter, spring, and fall, but rather yo-yo’s, tops, baseball cards, and marbles.

The marble activity was directed to the noble pursuit of somehow aggregating all the marbles in your neighborhood (or as many as you could). In retrospect, I wonder why it mattered that you had so many marbles, but it did.

I realized that on the streets it was okay to want to have all of the marbles, but that type of behavior could not or should not be sustained. The parental admonition was and is that you must “learn to share,” yet somehow, as we grow up, we are unwilling to share and want only to have more for ourselves.

As a Democrat, I believe that our system should allow everyone to at least have “a few marbles” and that no one should be allowed to control all of them. Continue reading “Marble Season”