Update: Back when the Comcast / NBC-U merger “agreement” was announced in January, I pointed out a curious provision within the Merger Order that made me look twice. You see, within the 272-page order outlining the conditions that Comcast “agreed” to, sat one which said:
Within 12 months of the Closing of the Transaction, at least half of the NBC O&Os shall operative arrangements with locally focused non-profit news organizations that provide reporting on issues of particular concern to each such station’s market and/or region (“Online News Partners”)…
…These cooperative arrangements shall be similar in approach and level of involvement and support to the arrangement, in place as of the date of adoption of this Order, between NBC O&O station KNSD(TV), San Diego, California, and the website Voice of San Diego, including, as appropriate: story development; sharing of news footage and other content resources; financial support; in-kind contributions; shared use of technical facilities and personnel; on-air opportunities; promotional assistance; and cross-linking/embedding of websites.
The radical Left, like Internet activist Susan Crawford, cheered this seeming non-sequitur of a condition, scribbling in her blog:
FCC tries an experiment in supporting local journalism. Lots of people are worried about the fate of local news coverage. Rather than requiring NBCU to have particular numbers of journalists on staff, the FCC decided to embrace the Voice of San Diego model…It’s fascinating – we’ll see how it pans out. (Emphasis added)
Why such excitement? After researching it a bit, it turns out that VOSD gets support from George Soros’ Open Society Foundation, among other progressives.
I surmised then on Big Government that:
…Having these arrangements working within 12 months puts the new partnerships into action well in time for the…2012 election cycle. And, guess where NBC has O&O’s? In the biggest metropolitan centers of our nation – like WMAQ-TV, Chicago, IL; KXTX-TV, Dallas, TX; KNBC, Los Angeles, CA; WTVJ, Miami, FL; WNBC, New York, NY; WCAU, Philadelphia, PA; and WRC-TV, Washington DC, among others. All places where it’d b great to shore up young, Progressively-oriented / independent voters.
Replicating this model across a network of stations represents a coup of sorts, a backdoor Fairness Doctrine, combating, with government imprimatur, conservative voices that “flood” the AM radio dial. You see, the “Voice of Sand Diego Model” is a socially progressive news organization. Ostensibly designed to supplant failing news operations, such media outlets are typically NPR-styled…
…You think there’ll be a superfluity of stories on the unconstitutionality of ObamaCare? Or, how Citizens United was the right decision for America and the First Amendment? Or, the reasons why Net Neutrality regulations actually thwart innovation and ubiquity of broadband access?
Tain’t happenin’. Not on George Soros’ or the FCC’s dime.
Well, last week I came across an update of the story in Broadcasting & Cable. It confirmed my past suspicions, with B&C writer John Eggerton reporting:
NBCU Local Media has put out its request for proposals for nonprofit partners in community Web news operations it promised in at least five of its TV station markets as part of the Comcast/NBCU deal.
NBCU says it is looking for “robust news gathering capabilities, a track record of accuracy, fairness and independence in their journalistic efforts, and an ability to provide diverse viewpoints and programming”…
…The markets in play are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas-Fort Worth, Washington, and Hartford… (Emphasis added)
Good golly. Everyone of those new, (Soros-approved) VOSD replicants looks to sit in a huge “blue” city (with the possible exception of the Forth Worth area), meaning that the resulting output stands a good chance of looking “blue” / “NPR-biased,” too.
Do we need another “blue” news outlet in any of these cities (or anywhere in America, for that matter)?
Sure. The bulk of NBC’s 28 O&O’s serve “blue” / urban communities. But, couldn’t they have at least added a little more “red” to the mix – like the O&O in Phoenix?
Now, I don’t blame Comcast for this. Merger “agreements” have been called by many in the industry an exercise in “legal extortion” by Uncle Sam. The company is just doing what the Man tells ‘em.
And I guess that’s the biggest problem I have here. Did the Man architect an “agreement” that went beyond the specific competitive issues at hand, and arbitrage the situation so that (“blue”) politics would win, too?
Uncle Sam’s got some ‘splaining to do.