Aug
01
2011

On Lockout, NFL and Media Play on Same Team

TV deals give networks billions of reasons to root for owners

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/RMTip21

When it comes to reporting on labor disputes, corporate media don’t exactly have a track record of even- handedness. (See, e.g., Extra!, 4/11.) Throw in a $4 billion media investment, and you’ve got a story ripe for misreporting: the recent dispute between the NFL Players Association and the owners of what Forbes magazine (9/13/07) called “the richest sports league in the world.” The NFL labor conflict dates back to 2006. In March of that year, the owners—desperate to avoid a work stoppage—voted at the 11th hour to accept a new six-year collective bargaining agreement with the players. Two years later, […]

May
01
2011

ABC's 'Made in America' a Shoddy Product

Holding consumers, not corporations, responsible for missing jobs

Photo Credit: ABC World News

ABC World News’ five-part “Made in America” series (2/28-3/4/11) purported not so much to explore as to answer the question of how to create jobs for unemployed Americans, by exhorting those same Americans to buy more U.S.-manufactured products. Not just any jobs, but “America’s manufacturing workforce, our true grit,” contended anchor Diane Sawyer (2/17/11). And at near negligible cost: “If every one of us spent an extra $3.33, just $3.33 on U.S.-made goods every year,” Sawyer (estimated annual income: $12 to $15 million) told viewers, “that would create almost 10,000 new jobs in this country.” The implication that consumer choice […]

Mar
02
2011

ABC's 'Made in America' Hypocrisy

Focusing on consumers, not corporations like Disney

ABC World News With Diane Sawyer kicked off its "Made in America" series on February 28, encouraging consumers to buy U.S.-made products in order to spur job growth. But why focus on consumers and not major corporations like ABC parent Disney, who are the ones who actually choose to manufacture products overseas? The February 28 report consisted of reporter David Muir touring one family's home, discovering that the vast majority of the family's possessions are not made in the United States. Muir even checks the children's toys, only to discover that they are mostly made in China. Consumers, of course, […]

Mar
01
2011

11th Annual Fear & Favor Report

How power shapes the news

U.S. media consumers are used to magazines where ads outnumber stories, to on-air hosts who contractually consume brand-name drinks, to “consideration provided by” this and “brought to you by” that. But when it comes to the news, many still maintain at least the kernel of expectation that reports in the paper or on TV have more to do with journalistic judgment than with anything else. The Fear & Favor report is about some of the things that come between that image and reality on a daily basis. From pushy advertisers to heavy-handed owners and local power players, there are a […]

Jan
24
2011

Olbermann Is Out

MSNBC host's departure shows the limits of corporate media liberalism

Whether the abrupt termination of MSNBC host Keith Olbermann's contract on January 21 was connected to Olbermann's left-of-center politics or the recent purchase of NBC by Comcast from General Electric, the host's departure provides an opportunity to reflect on the bigger picture. MSNBC's current liberal identity is generally attributed to Olbermann, whose success offered compelling evidence that a left-of-center TV host could find a sizable audience. Olbermann's willingness to criticize prominent Republican leaders and right-wing commentators like Fox's Bill O'Reilly was virtually unknown in corporate television. And the show did more than that for progressive causes; for instance, as the […]

Jan
01
2011

Taking Media Mergers to the Next Level

Comcast/NBC would be unprecedented powerhouse

Over the last decade, dozens of media mergers and purchases have resulted in a media industry controlled by a handful of companies—and the cable giant Comcast wants to be one of them. After a failed attempt to purchase Disney in 2004 for $66 billion (Inter Press Service, 3/20/04), Comcast offered to take over NBC Universal for the bargain price of $30 billion—which would buy a 51 percent controlling interest from General Electric, with the expectation of acquiring the remaining stake over the next seven years (Globe and Mail, 12/3/09). While Comcast has so far been mainly a cable and Internet […]

Nov
01
2010

Who Owns Public TV's Nightly Business Report?

None of Your Business

This article was originally published as a sidebar with: "What's 'Public' About Public TV's News Flagship?" The Nightly Business Report has been distributed by PBS for over three decades, making it the de facto business show of the public television system. But who exactly owns the show became murky last August, when it was revealed (Broadcasting & Cable, 8/19/10) that Nightly Business Report was being sold by Miami public TV station WPBT to a private company called NBR Worldwide. The company is headed up by Mykalai Kontilai, whose Resumé includes some educational video projects, a sports energy drink company and […]

Aug
27
2010

Pratap Chatterjee on Task Force 373, Timothy Karr on net neutrality

By

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The WikiLeaks Afghan War Diaries prompted waves of media coverage, though much of that amounted to "move on, there's nothing to see here." But digging into the documents might reveal more about the Afghan War than we knew—like the existence of something called Task Force 373, set up to capture or kill specific al Qaeda or Taliban figures. What does it really do, though, and where does it fit in with what we know about U.S. war policy? Journalist Pratap Chatterjee will join us to talk about that. Also on CounterSpin today: A few […]