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Viacom...Superbowl...Jackson...Thoughts

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KharmaTrain Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-03-04 11:29 AM
Original message
Viacom...Superbowl...Jackson...Thoughts
When I was asked who I thought would win the Superbowl, I said "Viacom"...the company that owns both CBS and MTV and Blockbuster and other cable and media outlets. This is the corporate home of Spike TV and Howard Stern and Showtime...a corporate machine built on making money, and encouraging competition between its divisions to rake in the most green.

MTV is and remains the corporation's golden child. It's a low budget operation that is a "must buy" for companies wanting to lift folding greens from teens. The MTV way to deliver that audience is to be outrageous and play on hormones. Watch a Spring Break and see how out there this network has gotten. Since they're part of the corporate structure, there's little scrutiny over content at MTV as long as the kids keep buying Viacom's albums and videos and so on. CBS knew that MTV was bringing it's audience over and MTV knew it could use CBS to make a splash...both benefitting in the long run as this "incident" becomes folklore...and eventually a badge of honor for MTV. Just watch it marketed on videos and on network-produced specials in months ahead.

There's a Drudge report that says CBS execs knew and signed off on this stunt...and are feigning outrage in public while high-fiving behind closed doors. I'm not surprised. Remember, CBS gets the Super Bowl every 3 years and it's not assured they'll hold get a game in another 3 years since the NFL's contract is to be renewed. Remember, CBS went 4 years without football when the NFC jumped to Fox...right now NBC is outside looking in, with Cable and Pay-Per-View (always an NFL fave) becoming more economical and viable. CBS made hay while the sun of the largest TV audience of the year tuned in...and be damned with the initial outrage...since it's generating hours of free promotion for CBS & MTV (EVERY Talk station and morning zoo is yaking about it for the second day running) and the video continues to play endlessly on the cable channels.

As in other "controversies" in television history, the actual incident is viewed by a very few (most were eating or taking a potty break or half-paying attention)...and the "flash" was only a few seconds in length, but CBS, MTV and all involved knew that the "blowback" would link the networks, the artist, the game and controversy that can be manipulated by all involved for their own financial gain. I'd be curious to see the ratings on MTV and CBS shows (Letterman in specific) that would focus on the incident and see how many dollars in this represents for the suits...the same ones who are saying they were "unaware" and "outraged" by this incident. One involved is the infamous Mel Karmazin...little gets past this man who runs a very tight ship. All this controversy lately (that has played well on Stern and Imus' radio shows...also on Viacom-owned stations) isn't all bad...especially in January when ratings and revenues are at their lowest.

Now to the FCC. The laughter about Powell's response on the right and left is deserved as most of us assume he had to run his talking points past the NAB before he gave them. Now let's do a little math here and see how goofy any action Powell takes really is and how little it really matters. The maximum FCC fine for indecency is $25,000 per station per offense. Let's say CBS has 250 affiliates, thus the maximum fine would be about $6.25 mil. Now given that the average 30 second commercial during that half time show was fetching upwards of $2.5 million for 30 seconds...the real sting of such a large fine really isn't that great. Don't look for CBS to file Chapter 11 on this one. Plus, this expense can, and will be shared across the network...with the fines being assessed to the affiliates, thus the only damage to CBS directly would be those fines on the 20 or so stations they owned that carried the game.

Expect Powell to issue some edict...a fine or investigation and then let it die. I'll bet a bright shiny dime six months or so down the road we read where CBS agrees to pay a $1 million fine or other headline that makes both Powell and CBS come out smelling "clean". MTV walks since it really falls outside the direct jurisdiction of the FCC. Cable lives in a different world where FCC content rules don't apply. The signal on your cable or satellite TV is directly controlled by the operator and the FCC's ability to regulate Cable is nil.

For Jackson, if this milks a couple thousand album buys or media appearances or concert tix or magazine cover photos or "buzz"...say good, say bad, just say. Ditto for Timberlake. They know "pissing in the Superbowl" is "cool" and those who express outrage aren't their audience anyway. It's just like the wingnut author (take your pick) who gets on TV and says outrageous things since he/she/it knows it will move books off the shelves. In the pop world, fame is fleeting and anything that keeps your career in the public eye is a money-making opportunity.

For now this is the media flavor of the moment and I expect it to fade by the time this post hits the bottom of this page. Isn't there a Kobe or Lacy or Michael story about to happen? McLuhan would delight in how true his visions 50 years ago were.

Cheers.
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cosmicdot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-03-04 12:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. Did you catch The Daily Show's Rob Corddry's commentary?
Edited on Tue Feb-03-04 12:28 PM by cosmicdot
It should repeat sometime today. Hopefully, it'll show up at the comedycentral.com website

The day has arrived for me, cosmicdot, to join the generations before me in saying, 'call me old-fashioned' ...

but, what's wrong with local high school, college, university bands spelling out "Super Bowl XXXVIII" on the field doing a medley of songs without having Black Hawk helicopters flying overhead? why must everything be so X-treme? doesn't overkill enter the picture anymore? was this 'production' pared back? will we return to keeping it simple with quality high? can 'jump the shark' come into play here?

Nice commentary.

--> is permission given to post it elsewhere? <--

You're right about not looking at the bottom rung, but the top of the corporate ladder ... .....

"McLuhan would delight in how true his visions 50 years ago were."
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Shopaholic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-03-04 02:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Last night on Countdown with Keith Olbermann
Keith reported that sources from both CBS Sports and CBS Entertainment had told him that both knew what was going to happen and signed off on it. I don't think they had any idea it would turn out to have the kind of reaction it had. It just kills me that CBS didn't have the balls to air the Moveon.org spot but had no problem in airing Janet's little strip routine.
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