With New President, TV Economy Means Lending A Helping Hand

One thing came out loud and clear in President Barack Obama's inaugural address: encouraging Americans to "serve" their country.

This doesn't mean in the traditional ways -- in the armed forces -- but helping people out when a levee breaks and homes are destroyed, or, for the unemployed, volunteering their time.

This kind of message had been delivered before. But in a time of recession it takes on more weight.

That got me thinking. How can those in the TV business "serve" best, for viewers, advertisers, competitors, and new media platforms?

A long time ago, a kids' TV executive talked to me about TV stations being "pigs" -- especially when it came to asking for more than their share of local TV advertising dollars, money that was -- at the time -- always attached to delivering a kids' TV show free to the station.

That's right, I said "free."  It was because those kids' TV shows were directly attached to kids'sponsors/license-right holders. Those advertisers most times had little real concern about the quality of those shows; they just wanted their local media dollars placed.

To me, the greed wasn't just with those TV stations. It was everywhere. Now, TV stations owners have found themselves in trouble. TV marketers are under the gun as well, demanding more for their media agency executives.

Who needs to "serve" here? Producers of the multibillion-dollar enterprise "American Idol" have been giving back to those in need  -- -- some $50 million for the past couple of years -- with the "Idol Gives Back" program.  Is that enough?

The problem is, words like "business," "greed," "philanthropy" and "service" don't easily work together in one seamless thought.

TV writers went on strike looking for better benefits and wages. Actors, in theory want the same. TV marketers may want their share in the coming months -- with lower program prices in the upfront advertising market.

Seems another word goes with "serving":  "sacrifice.



4 comments about "With New President, TV Economy Means Lending A Helping Hand ".
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  1. Clinton Gallagher, January 21, 2009 at 11:03 a.m.

    Dear Goliath,

    Have you heard about the "no fascist licensing" free market Internet Protocols (IP) and the fact that the IP enabled TV and the microcomputer digital electronic devices are now becoming indistinguishable from one another?

    What color flowers will you prefer at your funeral?


  2. Thane Ryland, January 21, 2009 at 1:47 p.m.

    You might be interested in a recent report from the British media and comms regulator, Ofcom, on the role of PSB in Britain.

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 21, 2009 at 1:57 p.m.

    Sorry, I don't believe America became great by everyone helping one another. We learned from the first settlement in the Plymouth colony, the one that failed miserably the first winter because they tried to cooperate and share. (See

    Those who worked hard became demoralized and those who might have worked hard decided it was easier rely on help from the others. The second winter, people became self-sufficient and competed. That didn't keep them from helping at a barn-raising or titheing in church, but it was not the sure-fail socialism that Obama seems to be promoting. I will be patient and see what his plans our; Lord knows he has been pretty vague so far. Let's meet back here in two years and decide if his plan puts us in a better position. 100 days is not long enough for anyone.

    As for "giving back," that combination of words makes the assumption that something was GIVEN to those who have something. Is it not possible that those who have something EARNED it?

  4. S.e. Olson from Why We Watch, January 21, 2009 at 4:47 p.m.

    FYI Idol Gives Back was cencelled this year

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