Murdoch Versus Dolan: The Two Least Sympathetic Figures In Media Are Fighting

It’s a pissing match. In a pissing match everyone gets wet.

Cablevision and Fox are fighting. It’s tough to take sides. This is like the old commercial where you had to choose between a headache and upset stomach!

Seriously, it’s Rupert Murdoch versus Chuck Dolan. These are the two least sympathetic characters in media!

As of this moment WWOR and WNYW have been removed from Cablevision systems serving millions of viewers. It’s a pissing match. In a pissing match everyone gets wet.

The New York Times reports:

News Corp. quickly issued a release headlined, “Cablevision Drops Fox.” At the same time, Cablevision began posting a message on the screen that accused News Corp. of “pulling Fox 5 and My 9 off air” and declared it was News Corp.’s decision, “not ours.”

I work in TV so I’m not quite an unbiased observer, but I can give you an idea what’s going on.

For the longest time TV stations were thrilled to be on cable. Cable brought our pictures into people’s homes more clearly. It was a marriage of convenience on both sides. Cable served the overwhelming majority of our viewers and we in turn provided the most watched stations.

As cable began to sell local advertising and the cable networks began to pour money into new programming the marriage became a little more strained. We were still cable’s big dog, but the cable systems themselves were becoming our competitors!

Then local TV revenue began to shrink and TV station owners looked at cable and wondered why TV stations weren’t getting the cash they were paying money to CNN, USA, TBS, The Weather Channel, and all the others. TV station owners began to demand money from cable systems to carry our signals. Our marriage of convenience was turning ugly!

Over the past few years there have been a few showdowns like the one between Fox and Cablevision. Stations have been pulled from cable systems taking away popular shows and even more popular sporting events. In New York City this weekend Fox will be carrying the baseball playoffs and the NFL. How unhappy do you suppose Cablevision subscribers will be to lose the Yankees&#185 and football Giants?

At some point one of the parties will cry “Uncle” and a truce will be declared. It could happen tomorrow. It could happen months from now!

In the meantime both Cablevision and Fox are calling each other names and trying to look like the good guy. Like I said earlier, it’s Dolan versus Murdoch. This fight has no good guys!

Here’s the video Cablevision has been running on the channels formerly occupied by WWOR and WNYW.

&#185 – I’ve got an error to correct. The Saturday Yankees game is actually on TBS and not affected. The Phillies game Saturday night is on Fox and will be missing from Cablevision’s New York area systems. In addition the Fox station in Philadelphia is part of this dispute, so Cablevision subscribers near Philadelphia won’t get to see tonight’s game nor the Eagles game tomorrow.

The Wrong Polls

Uh… guys… that’s not how we elect a president.

I keep watching the national cable networks talk about the upcoming election and touting polls. It’s very close. Just a few points separate the candidates.

Uh… guys… that’s not how we elect a president.

You don’t need a majority of the voters to become president. You need a majority of electoral votes. Though that race is reasonably close, it’s not as close as the simple horse race numbers. is a typical site showing current Electoral College sentiment. In this race Obama-Biden is much farther ahead of McCain-Palin. is another site breaking it out this way. also predicts Obama-Biden and breaks it out with more stats than even I want to see (and I love stats). They claim there’s a 78.5% chance Democrats will prevail versus 21.5% for the Republicans. That’s a little less than 4:1 odds, which is very strong. It’s stronger still when you consider is only calling for Obama-Biden to receive 50.6% of the popular vote!

Obviously things can change. A candidate can make a major faux pas or inject a wild card (like Sara Palin’s nomination for VP) to shake things up. Right now it’s Obama-Biden’s to lose.

I just wonder why the national media chooses to dwell on meaningless aggregate popular vote projections? They mention the Electoral College, but as an afterthought not as their main point.

Does it just make for a more interesting story when it’s more of a horse race? Do they think Electoral College numbers are too complex for mere mortals to comprehend? We’ll probably never know.

What Jon Stewart Can Teach The Mainstream Media

Jon Stewart is doing something the mainstream media doesn’t do–and should (though on a bipartisan basis).

Take a look at the video below. I know it’s a partisan attack, but the concept is non-partisan. Why doesn’t network news remember what people said earlier? Why is this fundamental journalistic charge left to Comedy Central?

Jon Stewart is doing something the mainstream media doesn’t do–but should. Wouldn’t the viewing public be interested in seeing inconsistency from all sides? No one is better equipped to do this than the cable networks and heaven knows, they’ve got plenty of time to fill.

Right now lying works marvellously.

What Katrina’s Forecasters Are Thinking

I’m writing this from the Mohegan Sun Hotel in Eastern Connecticut. Tomorrow I’ll be emceeing a program for Norwich Free Academy. It starts so early, the only way to make it work was to stay on site.

What a spectacular hotel. It is attached to a spectacular casino, which would be a great place for me to go… but they don’t have poker anymore.

More on all of this tomorrow. Tonight there are bigger fish to fry in the form of Hurricane Katrina.

I’ve got WWL-TV streaming here on the computer. This is much better than watching coverage on the cable networks.

The cable networks are more polished and hard hitting. This local New Orleans station is providing the kind of news people there need.

Carl Arredondo, who I remember from The Weather Channel, is their chief meteorologist. He’s pretty solid.

I just watched another met do a fascinating explanation of the radar display. There’s no time for this except on New Orleans TV where tonight, there’s nothing but time!

I know what the forecasters are thinking… the local guys and the PhD’s at the Hurricane Center. Am I right? Did I miss anything?

Forecasters have spent the last few days scaring the living… well, you know… scaring people. Now they have a moral dilemma.

If the forecast comes true, people get hurt (maybe die) and property loss is great. If they’re wrong, they become the goat. “Why did you make us leave? For this?”

Snow forecasts are similar, but the downside to this is so much greater. This really is a life and death forecast. And, accuracy of track to the degree people want and a good intensity forecast are beyond the current state of the art.

We can be close. We cannot get it exactly right – ever, except maybe by accident.

Tonight I spoke with a friend in the Miami area. She had been through Hurricane Katrina last week when Katrina was a ‘minimal hurricane’. She only got her power back today. She still has no phone service.

New Orleans will be hit so much harder.

She also said, fill up the car tonight. Gasoline prices will skyrocket tomorrow. I’m afraid she’s right on that forecast.

Live From Titan

Before the cable networks interrupt (probably around 2:45 PM), I thought I’d start the cheering section for the Cassini-Huygens mission and the upcoming pictures from the surface of Titan.

As best I can figure it, we’ve launched a rocket to Saturn… made course corrections along the way, then more enroute, to allow it to fly between Saturn’s rings… then launched a Volkswagen sized space probe, carried on this mothership, to the surface of one of Saturn’s moons.

That just gets us there. On its way down to the surface of Titan, Huygens had to transmit data which was received by Cassini still in its Saturn orbit. There was only one chance for this. Then Cassini swung its antennas around and sent the data to Earth.

At this moment it looks like there’s real data coming back, though no one knows what it shows or if it’s useful… and won’t for another hour and a half. After that we should get photos and atmospheric data from the surface of this other planet’s moon.

It is amazing, even before you realize the Huygens probe had to be packed with sensory equipment that would survive its blast into and journey through space, its separation from Cassini (using pyrotechnics to separate the two) and its plunge through the unknown Titan atmosphere&#185.

I have had plenty to say about NASA , most of it bad, in this blog. This is a real positive… a major accomplisment from an engineering standpopint. I’m looking forward to seeing the pictures.

It is amazing what man can do – what should be impossible… if we want to, put the right people on… and throw money at.

&#185 – The main reason we find Titan so interesting is that it does have an atmosphere. There are some scientists who feel it replicates the Earth’s during what could have been the dawn of life.