18 November 2007

How I got hooked on a soap and how it relates to FCC media consolidation plans

Confessions of a serial Soap Opera Addict

I lived in South Africa (RSA) at the end of the Apartheid era (88 to 91). In fact, when I first moved to RSA, only 11 hours of TV was available for the entire week. And, all of the TV network programming was handled by the government controlled media company called SABC.

I was rather skeptical of any news I read in RSA as it was all controlled by an Apartheid-led government. I was as an American leaving in a society that had no "freedom of the press". Later around 1990 - 1991, SABC did allow the live broadcasting of CNN one hour a day. I used to tape this hour of news to watch. It was during one of the Soweto uprisings and CNN was a doing a live report with photos of military abuses. SABC immediately cut that feed and put in a still photo of an SABC journalist saying "and now live from Soweto SABC is reporting yada yada".

With this FCC Media Consolidation act - this will become our reality in America.
P.W. Botha - the last "apartheid dictator" of RSA would come on TV drunk. I thought those "Presidential" speeches were a joke - because the man was so obviously a "wet brain". Fast forward 15 years in USA and the food for fodder Bush offers Jon Stewart for the Daily Show. RSA also had something called "Information Freedom act". I was preparing a presentation as a keynote speaker at a SAPICS conference, I needed to get back copies of the Economist. I had to put in a formal request to Pretoria to get a six month old copy of the Economist to be mailed to me in RSA! When I received the copy of the Economist - pages had been removed at the discretion of the South African government censorship.

Final connection of the B&B and being in a "media blackout" country.
With a government controlled media and still living in a relative healthy democracy called America in the late 80's, I was hungry for any type of non biased programming that was available. SABC chose the Bold and the Beautiful soap opera to take up 1.5 hours of the 11 available TV hours programming weekly. Talk about the dumbing down of your citizens!

It was not until I returned to the states that I realized that the B&B shown in RSA was 5 years behind. Imagine my surprise when I realized I had missed five years of libido teasing story lines! How did I fill myself in on those years? I moved to Italia for a year contract & viola - in Italia the B&B programming was only year year behind. So I got to fill myself in on 4 years of missed story lines and practice Italian at the same time. If you are passing judgment on me right now - may I remind you in the last couple of years our media has been obsessed with OJ Simpson, Chandra Levy, Monica Lewinsky, Anna Nicole Smith, etc.

One additional point I might add to Mr. Moyers' great program at the end, is that the LOCAL newspaper market (along with the Hispanic market) is the largest ad growth market in the industry.

PBS two relevant blogs by Rick Karr on Media Consolidation:

Media Consolidation: A primer on making your opinion heard blog:

The Net @ Risk update

Media Ownership Act of 2007
U.S. Senators Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Trent Lott (R-MS) have introduced legislation to halt the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) "fast march" toward easing media ownership rules.

S.2332 :
A bill to promote transparency in the adoption of new media ownership rules by the Federal Communications Commission, and to establish an independent panel to make recommendations on how to increase the representation of women and minorities in broadcast media ownership.

Committees: Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation

Cosponsors (11) Sen Biden, Joseph R., Jr. [DE] - 11/8/2007 Sen Cantwell, Maria [WA] - 11/8/2007 Sen Clinton, Hillary Rodham [NY] - 11/8/2007 Sen Durbin, Richard [IL] - 11/13/2007 Sen Feinstein, Dianne [CA] - 11/8/2007 Sen Kerry, John F. [MA] - 11/8/2007 Sen Lott, Trent [MS] - 11/8/2007 Sen Nelson, Bill [FL] - 11/8/2007 Sen Obama, Barack [IL] - 11/8/2007 Sen Snowe, Olympia J. [ME] - 11/8/2007 Sen Tester, Jon [MT] - 11/14/2007

Bill Moyers: Media Consolidation Program Nov 16th

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