Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?
 

 
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • A Convergence of Media Empires and Telecommunications Empires

    Posted by David Foster on March 31st, 2019 (All posts by )

    CNN and MSNBC have come in for much criticism for irresponsible reporting and political bias–merited criticism, IMO–especially in the wake of the Mueller report.  It has been too rarely, noted, though, that these networks are not independent entities.  CNN is owned by AT&T, and MSNBC is owned by Comcast.

    Not to be left behind, Verizon appears to me to also be playing the political-bias game through its Yahoo service. I have a Yahoo Mail account (Yahoo owned by VZ since 2017), and every day I get a “news” email from them.  A high percentage of these are anti-Trump in tone, and I doubt that an objective observer could look at a month or more of these communications and conclude that any attempt at balance was being made.

    From a business standpoint, I question whether there is any real synergy between a telecommunications business and an entertainment and “news” business.  After combining Yahoo and AOL into its ridiculously-named ‘Oath” division, Verizon has already written down $4.8 billion in asset value (and also changed the name.)  I doubt that AT&T management is really going to add any value to its vast Time-Warner acquisition.  But, not being a shareholder or bondholder in any of these companies, I really don’t care all that much.  What I do care about are the societal and public-policy implications of these amalgamations.

    Why is AT&T adopting, through its CNN subsidiary, a strident anti-Trump position?  Does this reflect AT&T’s corporate policy, or are they merely adopting a decentralized management style and letting subsidiary-level management make their own decisions? Does the anti-Trump drum-beating that I perceive in Yahoo reflect Verizon corporate policy?  Do they even know it is going on, or is it just a lower-level decision in a department that is now probably perceived as being not all that important or strategic?  Does it make sense for VZ to offend a lot of people–somewhere around 50% of the US population–current or potential customers for a wide range of their services–in the name of a strident opinion stream that doesn’t even have any direct revenue generation associated with it?

    TV news viewership isn’t what it once was, but is still nontrivial.  The assets and income streams of these telecommunications companies are so vast that they can easily afford to subsidize marginal or outright unprofitable news operations on behalf of corporate political opinions or those of individual executives. At some point, they may hit ‘negative synergy’, as the political slant of the news operations drives away customers for other services, but they don’t seem very concerned about that and relatively few people, so far, even seem to realize the connection between the TV channel or the online systems and the telecommunications company that owns it.

    When people talk about ‘the media’, they need to recognize who/what the media actually is.

     

    27 Responses to “A Convergence of Media Empires and Telecommunications Empires”

    1. Mike K Says:

      I don’t have to worry about Verizon anymore as I finally, after much difficulty got rid of them.

      I had been a subscriber for years and the last two or three had involved monthly costs of $250.00. Some of that was my wife’s iPad and an iPhone she never used. There were also a few mystery items that I had somehow acquired. Then, in September , I got a bill for over $900. It turned out, when I inquired, that someone had bought two iPhone Xs on my account. They had added some options like the Google spy system and had even signed up for accounts. I immediately contacted Verizon and, after 3 hours on hold, reached there fraud department. After another two hours, they agreed it Was a fraudulent purchase and said it would be deleted.

      Next month, not only was thew charge still there but I was dinged for late payment. Another three hours resulted in the woman who answered in the fraud department hanging up on me.

      Finally, I sent a letter to the only physical address I could find in Arizona and informed them I would sue in Small Claims court. Around early January someone called me in response to the letter. I explained the story and a month later, the fraud was deducted from my bill. In the mean time, I had signed up with Sprint for $69 a month. My wife did not want her cellphone and the iPad works fine on the house network.

      Dealing with a corporation like Verizon could almost make me a Bernie voters, There is zero customer service.

    2. David Foster Says:

      “Dealing with a corporation like Verizon could almost make me a Bernie voter”

      Ha, wait till you try the People’s Democratic Telephone Agency.

      I do think that since most people have a lot more interaction with businesses than with government, their frequent encounters with awful corporate bureaucracies tend to stay in the mind more than their less-frequent encounters with awful DMVs and so on. Hence, more emotion about eevil corporations than about eevil government.

    3. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      The converse of this kind of politicization of business is — Why don’t other businesses exploit the opportunity to serve customers who do not want this kind of politicization?

      Perhaps both phenomena stem from the agency problem in corporations, i.e. the agents running the business have different interests from those of the actual owners of the business. And Boards of Directors are generally very poor stewards of companies — hiring CEOs at excessive cost and giving them contracts which effectively insulate the CEO from the consequences of poor performance. (Not just talking about Cook at Apple).

      In a rational world, we would have two rules:
      1. Directors would be required to invest at least 20% of their personal net worth in the common stock of the company, held in a trust that could not be liquidated until 3 years after the Director left the Board.
      2. CEOs would be hired the same way that companies award major contracts — pre-qualification of bidders, followed by awarding the contract for a specified time period to the low-bidding potential CEO. No stock options, although part of the salary could be paid in company stock instead of cash, with the same limitation that the stock could not be liquidated until 3 years after the CEO left the company.

    4. Mike K Says:

      their less-frequent encounters with awful DMVs and so on.

      The difference between Arizona and CA DMVs is simply amazing. When my daughter started U of A, I quickly got her an AZ plate as CA plates are cop magnets.

      It was as close to a pleasure as I could imagine. Even testing for emissions is easy,. And I was concerned and looking for my plate renewal form. I finally realized my registration is for three years, Renewal is not until next year.

    5. Bill Brandt Says:

      Years ago I read Rush Limbaugh’s autobiography. IIRC he as a failure at radio until he came to Sacramento to replace Morton Downey. And, unlike all of his other radio jobs, the mgt gave him pretty much free reign. And he angered 50% of his listeners, but the other 50% were strident supporters. Later when he went national the same formula launched several sponsors – Snapple -Sleep Train – into the stratosphere.

      That 50% really brought in the revenue.

    6. Helian Says:

      @Gavin

      “Perhaps both phenomena stem from the agency problem in corporations, i.e. the agents running the business have different interests from those of the actual owners of the business. And Boards of Directors are generally very poor stewards of companies — hiring CEOs at excessive cost and giving them contracts which effectively insulate the CEO from the consequences of poor performance. (Not just talking about Cook at Apple).”

      Norman Podhoretz, who made the transition for radical leftist to neoconservative, pointed out this phenomenon in one of his books. He thought it was the natural outcome of people with degrees in the liberal arts, thoroughly indoctrinated with all the leftist narratives in school, discovering that they were only employable in places like the advertising or “news” departments of huge corporations. Of course, part of the narrative is that big corporations are evil. They compensate by promoting their “social justice” dogmas in their new jobs. The actual owners are typically indifferent to what’s going on as long as it doesn’t impact the bottom line, and occasionally too dense to notice even if it does.

    7. David Foster Says:

      Gavin…”Why don’t other businesses exploit the opportunity to serve customers who do not want this kind of politicization?”

      WIred Internet and TV service still has natural-monopoly or at least natural-oligopoly characteristics, due to capital costs; also, local franchise laws and permitting requirements. In my neighborhood, the only alternatives are Verizon and Comcast.

    8. Mike K Says:

      There is an interesting experiment going on this week.

      There is an anti-abortion movie called “Unplanned” which has faced determined opposition from the usual suspects.

      Facebook refused ads, Twitter suspended the film’s account after positive comments. the story.

      Guess what ? It is selling. I just looked and it is in four theaters in Tucson this week.

    9. Grurray Says:

      I try to watch as little TV as possible, except for sports. My wife, however, enjoys the whole Fox News line up, so it’s hard to avoid.

      I couldn’t help but notice recently that they suspended Judge Jeanine for having the gall to actually quote the Quran in a segment about Ilhan Omar, the new Democrat congresswoman who is on a mission to make anti-antisemitism fashionable again. Quoting religious texts that harm that narrative is now off limits. on Fox.

      Then immediately following, as if to throw salt in the wounds of the viewers, they hired Donna Brazile, the disgraced DNC chair who passed the debate questions to Hillary.

      Some real head-scratchers at first glance. I guess it’s been suggested that Fox is smarting from being shut out of broadcasting the Democrat debates. In a bid to get back in the good graces of the Left, they are now denying there is any connection between their reports and the truth.

      CNN or Yahoo News are that last places I ever want to get information from, but, to give them some credit, at least they know they have nothing to be afraid of by towing the Deep State line. Fox, on the other hand, operates in constant fear they won’t get enough leaks thrown their way or they might be dis-invited to the next correspondents gala hosted by the latest obscene flash-in-the-pan.

    10. Mike K Says:

      I try to watch as little TV as possible, except for sports. My wife, however, enjoys the whole Fox News line up, so it’s hard to avoid.</i.

      Exactly the same here. I will watch Tucker Carlson sometimes but once a week or so. Fox News is now being run by the Murdoch spins who seem to be edging left.

      I'm reminded of the Chinese proverb:

      First generation-coolie
      Second generation- merchant
      Third generation- rich man
      Fourth generation- coolie.

    11. MikE K Says:

      That should be Murdoch sons. Autocorrect, I swear, changes things after I see them.

    12. Brian Says:

      “First generation-coolie
      Second generation- merchant
      Third generation- rich man
      Fourth generation- coolie.”
      Different wording:
      “Hard times create strong men. Strong men create good times. Good times create weak men. Weak men create hard times.”

      Gavin: “Why don’t other businesses exploit the opportunity to serve customers who do not want this kind of politicization?”
      Listen to talk radio even a little and you’ll hear ads for “conservative” phone plans, email, AARP competitors, etc. Of course they’re super niche. Most people don’t want explicitly partisan stuff like that, they just want ones that work, and don’t actually really care about the fact that these big businesses are now actively advocating leftist causes.

    13. Mike K Says:

      ads for “conservative” phone plans, email, AARP competitors, etc.

      We are going to see the movie “Unplanned” tonight.

      The left has tried to shut it down. No ads, no music. Still made $6 million last weekend.

    14. David Foster Says:

      Fanny Kemble, a famous British actress, visited the US in the early 1830s, when there was heated debate about The Bank of United States. She observed with amusement a hat store whose sign proudly proclaimed the store to be “an anti-Bank hat store.”

      https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/55632.html

    15. Grurray Says:

      Autocorrect, I swear, changes things after I see them.

      In my comment it changed antisemitism to anti-antisemitism. They must’ve snuck in a politically correct algorithm in the last browser update.

    16. Trent Telenko Says:

      >>From a business standpoint, I question whether there is any real synergy between a telecommunications business and an entertainment and “news” business.

      The convergence is called political power.

    17. MCS Says:

      Remember that AT&T is the company that killed the home land line business dead, dead, dead. They are in the process of killing voice cellular with the same stick.

      The same process is ongoing with internet advertising. It’s been allowed to become such a cesspool of malware that everyone simply blocks all of them that they can.

      I haven’t watched commercial TV in weeks. I find my tolerance for commercials is gone. I find the relatively sparse commercials that Amazon has started to put between episodes annoying.

      I don’t know how everything is going to be paid for. I assume that eventually advertisers will stop paying for adds nobody sees.

    18. David Foster Says:

      MCS…even without malware, the sheer amount of advertising appearing on many web pages must surely detract from ad effectiveness, as well as persuading lots of users to just go away.

    19. MCS Says:

      I use Firefox with Noscript. I have a very few white listed sources and enable others as I feel like it. This breaks a lot of pages. I’ve gotten at least a little good at judging which, from the list that Noscript provides, of blocked scripts have content that I want, and which ones don’t. Generally If I can’t do it with one or two, I go on.

      The thing to remember is that each script on that list is the equivalent of a program that you would be running on your computer if it wasn’t blocked. I’m not that trusting. As David says, in the least objectionable instance, the often poorly written scripts are at best using your bandwidth and machine cycles to force a load of crap down your throat.

    20. Gavin Longmuir Says:

      MCS: “Remember that AT&T is the company that killed the home land line business dead, dead, dead. They are in the process of killing voice cellular with the same stick.”

      Could you please expand on that cryptic statement. Lots of us still have land lines — and use them for important calls, because the sound quality is so much better than cellular. And the cellular business appears to be very much alive and growing — continually expanding coverage areas, very competitive.

    21. MCS Says:

      They allowed telemarketers unlimited access to their systems. I ended my land line in 2005 after I got tired of constantly being bothered even after going to the trouble of installing different blocks.

      Your comment about voice quality is correct. It’s probably irrelevant. I just read a very long smart phone review and don’t recall voice call quality even being mentioned.

      I simply no longer answer my phone unless it recognizes the number. Most people I know are the same way. If you want a call back, use my name and not be an obvious robot. I find myself less concerned as well with sorting through my mail for the very rare piece I care about.

      It may finally be dawning on some people that the telemarketers and scam callers are doing damage to the public welfare. Voice service has become something that the phone companies give away with data plans.

    22. Mike K Says:

      In my comment it changed antisemitism to anti-antisemitism.

      One thing it does that drives me nuts is it will complete a word that I am typing. I am a hunt and peck typist so I don’t watch the word I am typing. Thus, many words will have the last few letters duplicated.

      I use Firefox with Noscript</i

      I quit Firefox when they fired Brandon Eich,

      I get many robocalls on my cell phone,. The usual giveaway is a 949 area code, which is my cell number but makes the telemarketers think I am still in California. I even get some that are in Chinese language.

    23. MCS Says:

      I suppose I’m too lazy to go to the trouble of finding an alternative and configuring everything to work. I have Vivaldi installed without any additions for those few sites that I can’t get to work. It’s based on Chrome but with some claims of privacy which make Chrome unacceptable. There are similar variants of Firefox that I’ve tried.

      I’ve been looking at VPNs. As inept as my ISP is, I’m sure they’ll eventually find a way to try to leverage their access to my line against my interest.

    24. Mike K Says:

      A little variation in topic. I saw an article this morning, on a New Zealand family finding a hidden camera in an Airb&b apartment.

      Now, I’m looking at these detectors of hidden cameras and WiFi streaming. We have Airb&b reservations twice in the next three weeks.

      Not that there would be much to look at.

      There is a wide range of prices. From $250. to $15.

      Anybody have any experience?

    25. MCS Says:

      I don’t have specific experience. The device you linked seems to do two plausible things. First it seems to have an IR detector and IR source to detect the IR filter that is in front of the camera sensor. This would allow detecting any electronic camera, wired or wireless. The second part seems to be an RF detector to localize wireless signals. This, however, would detect any wireless device, including some perfectly legitimate smoke detectors.

      I had all ready seen the story you linked. I sort of doubt that it was intended to spy on the guests. If it was, it was really stupid to leave it unencrypted on a network that his guests had access to. Most home routers have provisions for separate guest networks and if it had been properly configured they couldn’t have discovered it the way they did.

      Honestly, the idea of renting out my home to strangers gives me the willys. I can’t get very excited about being the renter either. I’ll probably be sticking to hotels for the foreseeable future.

    26. Mike K Says:

      Our trip to LA in 10 days will be to a studio apartmant, not somebody’s house.

      Tye week after, we will stay in a private home. It’s our first experience with Airb&b.

      Maybe the owner just wanted to check for damage but he seems to have been rather clumsy.

    27. MCS Says:

      There are a huge number of internet connected cameras with either default passwords or no passwords set. The MAC address is also visible, this lets you determine the manufacturer. From there it’s just a mater of looking in the manual to find the default password. It’s been automated and I’m sure if I looked that I could find software to do my own scans.

      Clumsy, careless or perverted, it amounts to pretty much the same thing. Even if the property owner wasn’t after some sort of thrill, there’s a good chance that any random person could find the stream. It’s not even hard to imagine that the camera was left by a previous renter as an investment in future entertainment.

      There are occasional stories about cameras discovered in hotel rooms that are probably just that. I expect that you could set one up with a prepaid SIM card to be independent of the hotel network for <$200. Cheap fun for the right perv.

    Leave a Reply

    Comments Policy:  By commenting here you acknowledge that you have read the Chicago Boyz blog Comments Policy, which is posted under the comment entry box below, and agree to its terms.

    A real-time preview of your comment will appear under the comment entry box below.

    Comments Policy

    Chicago Boyz values reader contributions and invites you to comment as long as you accept a few stipulations:

    1) Chicago Boyz authors tend to share a broad outlook on issues but there is no party or company line. Each of us decides what to write and how to respond to comments on his own posts. Occasionally one or another of us will delete a comment as off-topic, excessively rude or otherwise unproductive. You may think that we deleted your comment unjustly, and you may be right, but it is usually best if you can accept it and move on.

    2) If you post a comment and it doesn't show up it was probably blocked by our spam filter. We batch-delete spam comments, typically in the morning. If you email us promptly at we may be able to retrieve and publish your comment.

    3) You may use common HTML tags (italic, bold, etc.). Please use the "href" tag to post long URLs. The spam filter tends to block comments that contain multiple URLs. If you want to post multiple URLs you should either spread them across multiple comments or email us so that we can make sure that your comment gets posted.

    4) This blog is private property. The First Amendment does not apply. We have no obligation to publish your comments, follow your instructions or indulge your arguments. If you are unwilling to operate within these loose constraints you should probably start your own blog and leave us alone.

    5) Comments made on the Chicago Boyz blog are solely the responsibility of the commenter. No comment on any post on Chicago Boyz is to be taken as a statement from or by any contributor to Chicago Boyz, the Chicago Boyz blog, its administrators or owners. Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners, by permitting comments, do not thereby endorse any claim or opinion or statement made by any commenter, nor do they represent that any claim or statement made in any comment is true. Further, Chicago Boyz and its contributors, administrators and owners expressly reject and disclaim any association with any comment which suggests any threat of bodily harm to any person, including without limitation any elected official.

    6) Commenters may not post content that infringes intellectual property rights. Comments that violate this rule are subject to deletion or editing to remove the infringing content. Commenters who repeatedly violate this rule may be banned from further commenting on Chicago Boyz. See our DMCA policy for more information.