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The Magic Money Machine

By Mumia Abu-Jamal  Posted by Hans Bennett (about the submitter)     Permalink
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The Magic Money Machine
 
[col. writ. 11/10/07]
(c) '07 Mumia Abu-Jamal
 
 
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    TV has become, increasingly, a magic money machine.
 
    Virtually every billable hour is dedicated to commercial tripe, skewed towards the lowest common denominator, designed to shock or titillate - and rarely to inform.
 
    Ostensibly, the airwaves belong to the people, but in fact, the machinery used to bring us programming brings us a world where money rules all.  From children's programming to the evening news, the cling-clang of cash rattles -- (or is it the swish of credit card swipes?) - whatever metaphor we choose, the TV is a money-meter for the owners -- and a dumbing down machine for viewers.
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    Serious TV is almost an oxymoron; it's a non sequitur - for 'it does not follow!'
 
    Cable TV, launched over a generation ago with the promise of commercial free programming, has become commercial - fat programming.  It is the land of 1/2 hour or hour long infomercials -- all night long.
 
    If product sales aren't taking place, then religious programming illustrates well why Jesus threw money lenders out of the temple!  Cable TV is the temple of the religion industry.
 
    Commercial radio, too, hasn't escaped this racket.  Under the old FCC rules, every station had to air both news and public affairs programming; but under the guise of deregulation many of those rules were abolished - and today, news is a rarity.
 
    Is there any wonder why so many know so little, in a time of war and peril?
 
    News, however, is just another commodity - a product for sale to the highest bidder.
 
    Several years ago, the Orlando Sentinel's media critic, Hal Boedeker asked readers to let him know what they thought of their local TV news.  He was flooded by over a thousand letters, which excoriated the business.
 
    Boedeker summarized their reactions, writing: "People are really angry about local TV news. They're tired of being teased.  They feel their time is being wasted. They're tired of anchors being cute. They're tired of repetition." *
 
    Other sources showed the same symptom.  The broadcast industry's research firm, Insite Media Research  (http://www.tvsurveys.com) found 1 in four adults no longer tunes to the local news.  The nonprofit group, NewsLab came up with similar results, finding people deeply annoyed (Borjesson 249).
 
    Folks are tuning out from local, and also national news.  Let's not get into young viewers!
 
    Black radio is today becoming a vanishing breed; those that still remain have no news.
 
    Think of this -- what audience in America needs less information?
 
    BET, under its sale to Viacom, jettisoned almost all of its news programming, except for occasional 2 minute 'updates' that are almost indistinguishable from ads for either upcoming rap albums or station programming.
 
    In a time of a war built on lies, what demographic needs less news, less relevant information about the world on fire?
 
--(c) '07 maj
 
{*Source: Idsvoog, Karl, "Let's Blow Up Our Brand: The Dangerous Course of Today's Broadcast Newsrooms."  fr. Borjesson, Kristina , ed., Into the Buzzsaw: Leading Journalists Expose the Myth of a Free Press (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Bks., 2002), p. 249}

 

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