Monday, February 15, 2010

The Corporate States of America presents...

Last week Senator Franken tore into Comcast CEO Brian Roberts over conflicting responses he gave regarding the proposed merger with NBC. read more

And previously a few weeks before, the Supreme Court put the control of elections in the hands of Corporations by giving them a blank check to buy any politicians they want, no matter who the American people would rather have represent them. This decision insured that party affiliation will cease to matter and candidates will represent entities such as banks, Pharmaceutical companies, the Insurance lobby, agri-business, Wall Street, and anyone with the millions and millions of dollars required to run for office as a voice of the "people."

There is no clearer example of how bad this can get than that found in NBC's coverage of the Olympics. Most Americans don't realize what an obscenity this coverage has become because they're not allowed to see anything but NBC's little handpicked circus.

People like me who live on the border with Canada receive in the moment live coverage through Canada's CTV, while viewers in Seattle, 90 miles south, and much of the country, have to wait for taped versions airing hours later. (By the way, my cable service is Comcast which means they are CHOOSING to block Seattle viewers from an event happening in their own backyard.)

And if anyone wants to go online to try and find live coverage, they'll run into a blockade set up by the marriage from hell between NBC and Comcast. There is no live coverage. Between the two of them, they've made sure no one gets to watch any Olympic coverage that hasn't passed through their biases and filters.

As a consumer with a small window of choice, I've noticed some glaring differences in the coverage between CTV and NBC. The most obvious and the saddest for Americans, is that Canada still remembers the Olympics are a sporting event. They try to cover as many events live as possible, and they show taped events only when it wasn't possible to show two things at once. Even then, there's access on another Canadian service for those who must watch their favorite events live.

While they praise their athletes, they are fair about it and show as many of the other competitors as possible. Their coverage is like the Olympics of a few years ago when everyone gathered to watch their favorite events live...even if they were televised at 3 am. There were dead times, there were athletes from obscure countries, there were unrehearsed moments. And there was excitement, anticipation, fun and a sense of the whole world watching at the same time.

This was the spirit of the Olympics, an event that began as a break from war and hostilities to put on an athletic event that allowed nations to compete with each other and bring honor to their nations in a peaceful manner. And it is a spirit the Canadians clearly understand and share as much as possible with anyone who wants to take part.

In contrast, NBC/Comcast do not see the Olympics as an athletic competition. For them it is a marketing event, a chance to herd "viewers" into a common pen they have no choice of allowing themselves to be herded into if they want to watch the show. Once in this pen they are bombarded with advertisements and messages designed to sell you everything from drugs to your next president.

And their coverage is filled with jingoistic praise and slogans for the individual athletes--as long as they are American and have a wealthy future of many endorsements waiting for them. Everyone else is irrelevant, unless they come from one of the many evil empires America has to keep thumping its chest over, so the sheep will continue to give them even more money for war. Then it becomes hero vs. villain, a real comic book depiction of what other countries take as a serious athletic competition.

American commentators talk incessantly through the events, chattering inanely about petty gossip and endorsement futures, while the Canadians remain respectfully silent except for the moments when they explain the technical aspects of an event as if they had an intelligent audience interested in what they have to say. American commentators talk as if their audience was a captive test group for the corporate marketing departments who study the right buzz words to win the consumer dollar.

This is sad because the Olympics were meant to be a time of peace when all nations came together for some good, old-fashioned fun. It's a shame that in America, that fun has been handed over to the corporate ringmasters interested only in financial gain and propaganda.

I wish everyone had the opportunity to watch the Olympics as they were meant to be watched. It might end some of the cynicism, the divisions, the mean-spirited attacks on each other that seems to grow bigger each day. But then, maybe that is what the corporate interests fear. They can only profit from hatred and division. It's their bread and butter and they're not about to give it up.

But you can fight back by writing to Senators such as Al Franken and letting him know he has your support at preventing a merger between NBC and Comcast because with their Olympics coverage they've given the American people a very clear picture of why this merger is a very bad idea. And it's your right to have what our neighbors to the north have so skillfully demonstrated is the right of everyone to enjoy--a sporting event meant for the world to share together in real time.

1 comment:

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