Republican Sens. Tom Coburn and Jim DeMint have introduced a bill to cut that program that they always want to cut: subsidies for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, overlord of PBS and NPR. We already know why Republicans want to cut NPR funding so badly, because the liberal snob station fired a reporter last fall over his patriotic belief that Muslims are terrifying. And PBS! They're downright socialist, and Jim Lehrer is a Muslim spy.
ESPN is the USA's sports leader, sanctioned by God, the American Way, and Brett Favre. Males of a certain age (11-75) who don't watch the network risk placing themselves under serious suspicion of being candy ass pansy boy homos, NO HOMO. So you'd think that ESPN wouldn't have trouble drawing young viewers. But America's sports indoctrination machine is flagging because of the internet and the computers and the fatness! So ESPN has been forced to take drastic and, we daresay, un-American measures: Video games in the football broadcasts. This marks the failure of American P.E. teachers:
As you would imagine, it's hard enough for TV networks to come up with marketing campaigns for all their new shows every time the fall season rolls around, because most of the shows are doomed to be failures. Which ones? Hopefully not the ones you, network marketing person, came up with the campaign for! Promotions are always a balancing act between enthusiasm and tempered expectations. But this year the networks are having a slightly different problem: they don't even have enough material on many new shows to make ads for them. Thanks, writers' strike!
You think NBC is making a good return on its investment for these Olympics? You don't even know what a good return is. NBC had to bid for these Olympic rights in an auction, and they ended up paying more than $1.5 billion for the most recent summer and winter games. But how much did CCTV, the national broadcast network in China, pay for the money-minting opportunity to carry the games in its home country? (Hint: there's nobody for them to bid against):
There's no disputing the fact that NBC has made a fucking mint broadcasting these Olympics. They even used their clout to ensure Michael Phelps could be shown live in US prime time, and reaped millions while speeding up the Phelps backlash. But they have pissed off some serious sports fans by often relying on replays over live events, and announcing marginal Beijing events from Midtown NYC. So now ESPN is considering sneaking in and jacking the future Olympic broadcast rights, to bring you archery and steeplechase freaks every second, live! ESPN is considering a bid with ABC for the 2014 and 2016 games, and promises to "carry more of them live, regardless of the time zone, than NBC traditionally has done." They liken it to their World Cup coverage, where morning broadcasts of games results in bleary-eyed drunk fans stumbling out of Irish bars at 7:30 a.m. Um, yay. So why didn't ESPN and ABC get the games this time around?
While the New York Times spent hundreds of thousands of dollars sending dozens of reporters to Beijing for the Olympics, NBC spent hundreds of millions of dollars for broadcasting rights, only to leave a bunch of its announcers in cubicles in New York City. The Times (meta) reports that 13 different Olympic sports were deemed unimportant enough by NBC to have them called by announcers lounging around in jeans in an old Saturday Night Live studio, watching the action on TV. Oh, the glory of the Olympiad!
Wendy Williams, the queen of hip hop talk radio and sworn enemy of Method Man and his cancer-stricken wife, is in high demand these days. And not just by hitmen looking for work! Williams is about to launch a trial run of a morning talk show on Fox, for those who would rather watch a loud, be-wigged radio DJ first thing in the morning than learn some new summer smoothie recipes from Meredith Vieira. Television is a wasteland, let's face it. But at least Wendy is planning to keep things upbeat; the last long discussion her producer had was about "whether you can say penis."
Samir Shah, who sits on the BBC's board of directors, gave a speech last night that may not go over well, because he referred to the numbers of minorities on TV shows in the UK as a misguided act of "over-compensation." He also bemoaned TV as "a world of deracinated coloured people flickering across our screens - to the irritation of many viewers and the embarrassment of the very people such actions are meant to appease." But if you see scandal-tinged headlines all over the place like the Guardian's "Too many black and Asian faces on TV, says BBC director Samir Shah," just remember that that's only half the story. Shah doesn't just want fewer minorities on the screen; he wants to switch them out with the "metropolitan, largely liberal, white, middle-class, cultural elite" in the broadcasting boardroom. Fair trade? Excerpts from Shah's speech, below:
Not to be a total pawn for the evil Fox marketing machine, but I really love that show "Hell's Kitchen." I don't care if Gordon Ramsay says "cunt," or kicks couples out of a restaurant during their romantic Valentine's day dinners. Last night, as I sat through the commercials to find out which team had selected a portion of halibut that weighed closest to six ounces, I realized that this must be a good show, because it had me waiting anxiously to watch a dramatic scene of fish fillets being placed on a scale.
The American Jewish Committee wanted to run a pro-Israel ad on classical radio station WQXR in New York. The ad's opening line is "Imagine you had 15 seconds to find shelter from an incoming missile." The station decided not to run the ad, despite the fact that it has plenty of Jewish listeners. The reason, according to the station's GM? "First, the opening line . . . does not make clear that the potential target of the missile is not our listening area, and as a consequence, runs the risk of raising anxiety in a misleading way." Good to see the radio industry has learned its lesson after that whole "War of the Worlds" fiasco in 1938! This is also why old people should not be allowed to listen to the radio. [NYP]
John Mayer: some of us believe the crappy emo singer and blogger should take his guitar and go play in traffic; others believe he is hot, and therefore not that bad. But one thing we can all agree on is that he should not be a sports announcer. The evidence? This minute-long clip of him, for some reason, announcing a preseason baseball game in Tokyo. Which makes about as much sense as him supporting Ron Paul. Below, the video of Mayer's analysis of all sports occurrences: "Aaaaand, that happened!"
Deadpan actor and much-derided financial commentator Ben Stein has a long article in Best Life Magazine this week in which he speculates about why there are so many attractive women on TV business news channels these days. You can practically see Stein's drool spattered about the pages of the article, and he's drawn some (justified) mockery for the leering tone of the story. But he does raise an interesting question about the profusion of "Money Honeys" on TV. Compare that to the situation in sports broadcasting; it's full of ex-jocks and men's men, not Fox-branded eye candy. Why the discrepancy between the two traditionally male provinces of business and sports TV? You have come to the correct place to hear a theory.
Using the same principles of automatically assembling news media from various net sources, the experimental "News at Seven" in development at Northwestern University intends to do away with anchors, producers, editors, controllers, and every other carbon-based lifeform involved in broadcast news. Ignore the silly trappings of the clip above — like the Lara Croft-esque anchorwoman, who actually stops her narrative to kill a zombie, so cute — and focus instead on the newsgathering result. Images and video are pulled to illustrate the wire story at hand, complete with a cut to blog reaction. For some reason, the anonymous blogger copy is read by an old black guy in an alley, surrounded by armies of cloned suit-men passing by imperturbably. Oooookay. Sometimes the content selections really could have used a human touch, such as the lead for the story on Anna Nicole Smith's son's death, illustrated with Smith gleefully bouncing onstage during an awards show. Might not be ready to replace Brian Williams just yet, but there seems little material difference between this and, say, Rocketboom.