What I write here reflects what I perceived to have happened at the time.
As a former CBS executive [1968-70] I watched from inside as the network would "try to not piss off the government or their advertisers too much or too often." After all they were trying to make as much money as possible, yet the attitude of their management was to allow their News Division to grab a few time periods for the airing of meaningful documentaries. The news guys would always put up a good fight for the presentation of important "real" breaking news and even though they lost most of the time, they did have a fighting chance.
I am proud to have worked at and for CBS when I did.
They were certainly a "class act."
It was almost 40 years later that I asked Ben Silverman of NBC why NBC played no documentaries about our wars. He replied to the effect that it would cost his company money if he did that. It is incredible that he said what he did and that no one publicized what to me was a horrendous gaff.
I will now try and segue into the point of this article.
Fifty years ago when I was working part time in the Screen Gems Editorial department I attended a screening of an upcoming episode of an action adventure series called Tightrope starring Mike Conners. The screening was for network and advertising agency executives who were there to make sure nothing in the program could embarrass anyone.
Conners played a private detective who in this episode was being pummeled, in the back seat of a speeding car, by the bad guys. A door is flung open, and Conners is thrown from the car. Fade to black, and an Anacin commercial comes up with a white coated Doctor saying: "And what do doctors recommend for pain?"
Everyone in attendance laughed at this juxtaposition except the agency rep for Anacin who stood up and shouted, "STOP, this is not OK!"
That was my first and certainly not my last encounter with the obvious connection, albeit this time a minor one, between the "advertiser and the broadcaster." Notwithstanding anything else in broadcasting, never ever lose sight that this is a business and the over-riding consideration is to make as much money as you possibly can. It is much simpler to figure out everything if you understand that basic principle.
I write this as a result of the "conflict" between CNBC's Jim Cramer and Jon Stewart of Comedy Central. I will on this occasion ignore the "who did what to whom" in order to bring up a different point of view about this silly "conflict."
CNBC is owned by The General Electric Company and Comedy Central is owned by CBS/Viacom. I would ask a short but simple question. Can these media "giants" ever comfortably be in a big time conflict with any part of our government? Are they ever willing to annoy any major advertiser that they or their affiliated companies need in order to continue to get bigger, and of course, more profitable?
General Electric that teeny weenie company owns television stations in the following markets: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Jose/San Francisco, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington D.C., Miami, San Diego, Hartford, Raleigh, Columbus, Birmingham, and lest we forget, Providence.
They also control the Spanish Telemundo Stations in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Houston, Chicago, and about nine or ten other cities.
They also own:
NBC Universal Television Studios
NBC Universal Television Distribution
Cable networks: CNBC, MSNBC, Bravo, Mun2TV, Sci-Fi, USA, Sleuth, and Oxygen.
Universal Parks & Resorts
Other General Electric Businesses:
GE Aircraft Engines
GE Commercial Finance
GE Consumer Products
GE Industrial Systems
GE Medical Systems
GE Power Systems
GE Specialty Materials
GE Transportation Systems
While CBS/Viacom own substantially less, their holdings are vast as well. Let us imagine that Cramer perceived that the General Electric Aircraft Engine Division was making faulty engines; would he vigorously pursue the story? What do you suppose would happen if he attacked in some way a major NBC Network advertiser?
I would present the same questions concerning Jon Stewart, although from what I have seen Stewart would probably say whatever he wanted to say.
I would wonder if either Stewart or Cramer has any journalist integrity and if either or both were indeed "Journalists." They are, along with almost their entire broadcast and cable brethren, actors, or performers. However almost all of them "pretend" to be more than that.
I will not delve into the issue of integrity, I'll let others comment on that if they wish. Our once great country has reduced or removed the regulatory oversight in recent years in very many areas of "commerce" and along with that they have allowed a great media consolidation under both Republican and Democrat administrations. Is it possible to expect anything more than we are getting from those who are in the "we need to make as much money as possible from our media assets" camp?
I do after all love the self serving statements of: General Electric, Time Warner, Walt Disney, News Corp, CBS/Viacom, as well as a few Cable, Radio, and Satellite Companies. Americans need more/better from these companies, and the only way we will ever get it is to metaphorically speaking: break up the Yankees!
Public interest, convenience, and necessity my ass!