“Zero TV” households

tv-staticThat’s what Nielson calls folks who “fall outside the traditional definition of a TV home. There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007. […] The number of people signing up for traditional TV service has slowed to a standstill in the U.S.”

And then there are the “cord-nevers.” Young people who move out on their own and never set up a landline phone connection or a TV subscription. More »

The 700 Club

“We had unwritten policies in place at The 700 Club, for example, that denied access to overweight people. We required people who wrote to us to report a “miracle” to include a photograph, so that we could filter people out based on how they looked. We wanted youngish, intelligent, attractive and articulate people to counter the view that Christians are all stupid Bible-thumpers. We very rarely, if ever, invited guests on the show that were overweight or fit the stereotypes discovered in the Gallup study. When crowd shots were taken in the studio, the camera operators were advised to zoom in on the most attractive people in the audience. None of this was written down, of course; it was just understood.”

Terry Heaton was a producer for the 700 Club in 1981

James Arness

When I heard that James Arness had died my first thought was, “How could he still be alive?!” It’s just that Gunsmoke was so long ago.

So I dug out this photo taken when Craig Watson and I “interviewed” the popular TV actor when he appeared at the Sikeston Bootheel Rodeo. KBOA news guys John Reeder did the recording and Craig (on the right) and I asked some questions. Marshall Dillon signed my Fanner 50 holster.

The post-anchor era of network news

“So perhaps when CBS News signed Couric it understood that we had reached the end of the anchor-era better than I give it credit for. Indeed, when ABC News gave Diane Sawyer the keys to its World News telecast in 2009, they were overtly endorsing the CBS News strategy of hiring a middle-aged bottle blond from morning TV to chaperone all the unschooled geezers turning on their sets at night. Putting Couric and Sawyer in the anchor chairs was admitting that the programs had no future, only a past that could continue to be harvested for profits (yes, the evening shows are still profitable, thanks to pharmaceutical ads) until their audiences finally die off.”

–Jack Shafer, Slate

“The Net is the new TV & radio”

“Smartphones and other portable Net-connected devices are now the closest things we have to universal receivers and transmitters of live news. Not many of us carry radios in our pockets any more. Small portable TVs became passé decades ago. Smartphones and tablets are replacing radios and TVs in our pockets, purses and carry-bags.”

“Television has also become almost entirely an entertainment system, rather than a news one. News matters to TV networks, but it’s gravy. Mostly they’re entertainment businesses that also do news.”

“…emergencies such as wars and earthquakes demonstrate a simple and permanent fact of media life: that the Net is the new TV and the new radio, because it has subsumed both. It would be best for both TV and radio to normalize to the Net and quit protecting their old distribution systems.”

From a post by Doc Searls, co-author of The Cluetrain Manifesto.

“How to make trillions of dollars”

David Cain is (Raptitude) helping me (and many others) “get better at being human.” In this post he explains how television has been used by “very-high-level marketers” to create a nation of people who typically:

  • work almost all the time
  • absorb several hours of advertising every night, in their own homes
  • are tired and unhealthy and vaguely dissatisfied with their lives
  • respond to boredom, dissatisfaction, or anxiety only by buying and consuming things
  • have disposable income but can’t find a more fulfilling line of work without losing their health insurance
  • create health problems for themselves, which can be treated with drugs they can “ask their doctor about”
  • own far more items than they use, and believe they don’t have enough
  • are easily distracted from the unhealthy state of their lives and their culture by breaking news and celebrity gossip
  • perpetually convince themselves it is not the right time to make major lifestyle changes
  • happily buy stuff that breaks within a year, and which nobody knows how to fix
  • have learned, through the media’s culture of blame-mongering, that the key to solving public and private issues is to find the right people to hate

Wow. Sound like anyone you know?

I’m trying to stop watching the evening network news. A tough habit to break. It’s been part of my life since… well, since the beginning of network news. Thanks to DVR technology I can skip all the adds to which Mr. Cain refers.

My friend (and one of the 5 smartest guys I know) Henry has eliminated “news” completely. Or so he says. I’m not sure how one does that. But if anyone can, it’s Henry. He makes a compelling case that knowing the news adds nothing to his life. He’s very well (selectively?) informed, so…

The excerpts above don’t tell you much about “how to make trillions of dollars” so I encourage you to read the full post if that’s something you’d like to do.

    Max Headroom now on DVD

    After 20+ years, Max Headroom is available on DVD. Yes, I know there were some shit-quality bootlegs because I paid good money for one. It’s great to be able to watch Max, Edison, Fiona and the gang again.