August 13th, 2013
Ever see those great old Japanese movies where one atomic monster battles another radioactive creature? They roar and bump and swat each other like gigantic reptilian sumo wrestlers. Inevitably one of the monsters wins and the other loses (until they are reincarnated in the next movie—Godzilla’s Grandson vs. Mothra’s Podiatrist).
But who really loses in these movies is not one monster or the other; it’s the people of Tokyo. While God Z. and Moth R. are waltzing with each other, half the city is destroyed; power lines are pulled down; generating plants explode, and buildings, both public and private, are smashed to smithereens. (This callous disregard for property is the true sign that you’re dealing with monsters—probably socialist monsters at that).
And besides the destruction of dozens of blocks of valuable real estate, hundreds of innocent people are crushed like plum tomatoes. But, you know, the monsters can’t be held accountable for this massive body count. If you’re a three-hundred foot, radiated beast, you don’t care what damage you do as long as you win. In fact, the one that comes out on top often gets the privilege of eating the rest of Tokyo.
This battle of monsters is much the same as the “struggle” between CBS and Time Warner. In many places in the country, including major “markets” like New York and Los Angeles and Dallas, Time Warner has blacked out CBS because the network is demanding that Time Warner pay more to carry CBS’s programming. This the first time in my life I can remember CBS being blacked out. Would that have happened, I wonder, if Walter Cronkite was still around?
Anyway, from the first day of the black-out, Time Warner, which had 21 billion dollars in revenue last year—a monster company if there ever was one, has been doing a lot of very expensive public whining in print and on TV about beastly old CBS holding the listeners hostage with their outrageous, mercenary demands for more money. And CBS, which had 14 billion in revenue last year, is also spending tens of millions of dollars in advertising letting the public know that monstrous old Time Warner is robbing you of your favorite shows just for money!
This battle has resulted in both CBS and Time Warner both ludicrously claiming that they are only poor little companies who exist merely to bring peace and happiness to Mr. and Ms. America. Money? Ptooiee! I speet on money. I am here only to bring joy to the peoples.
In the end, these two giant corporations will wind up spending probably a hundred million dollars fighting it out in public and in private with their lawyers and lobbyists…
Now I don’t think its matter of national urgency that we will miss Thursday night football, or The Real Housewives of Moose Anus, Alaska, or some dumbed-down, corporate version of the news. TV is not a necessity—though it can often seem like it if you’re trying to find some quick mental hide-out from the frightening reality of American economic and politics.
Who would you rather look at, Honey Boo-boo or Mitch McConnell?
No, I’m not rending my garments over this one. It is, after all, just TV…
But what does bother me is that in the end it is you and I who will wind up paying for all this. We—the people—even those who might never watch anything on CBS, will wind up paying for it all. Because you know damn well that CBS will get an increase and that Time Warner won’t absorb the cost. So, just like everything else in The Land of the Free and the Home of the Broke–whether it’s kitschy crap like CBS–or real necessities like water and electricity, the end cost will be borne by us, the lowly serfs, the saps…the consumers.
And you know for sure, we will also foot the bill the money they spent on advertising and the lawyers they hired to make their case.
Of course, nobody is putting a gun to our heads and forcing us to watch junk TV, so this is not a life and death issue. But it’s the symbolic meaning that stands out here; the struggle of two huge, commercial entities; Viacom and Sony, Microsoft and Google, Democrats and Republicans, or CBS and Time Warner—and the inevitable loss to the public, which winds up paying for it all.
How ‘bout this for a thought. These billion dollar corporations are either licensed to operate, and/or granted territories to operate in, by the people of the United States. So why not demand that the FCC—as representatives of The People—step in and do its goddamn job. Force these companies (especially Time Warner) to settle, and, while they’re at it, order both companies reduce the cost of their services by 20 percent.
What do you think the odds are this will happen? Slim, I’d say… More likely, our fates will be the same as the poor citizens of TOKYO; we will all continue to get squished under the feet of these monsters. The difference is that Godzilla and Mothra were fictional beasts. Time Warner, CBS, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Exxon-Mobil are REAL monsters.