Tag Archives: Comcast

Reflecting on the Biggest of 2009

Once again, a year has come to an end – faster than most of us would like.  This year has been no different providing us with a plethora of big stories, scandals, laughs and yes, a few tears.

The big news stories of 2009

Barack Obama inaugurated as 44th president. Eight years of Bush / Cheney have come to an end so along with that ended corporate bailouts, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, job loss, Gitmo closed and – oh well, never mind.  At least  Bush is out.  And Obama has his Nobel Peace Prize.

Healthcare Reform.  If a healthcare reform bill passes it looks like it will mean the status quo – only there will be a mandate to buy insurance when many cannot afford it.   If we didn’t have lobbyists, Fox News and politics over country, this would be a relatively simple bill to write.  This will be the story to watch in 2010 and the affect it will have on the midterm elections.

Afghan War.  With Obama winning the White House last year one thing was certain – the troops were coming out of Afghanistan.  Only Obama announced that the troops won’t begin coming home until 2011.  I’m not really seeing a change here.

Climategate.  Funniest story of the year.  A server is hacked which contains over a thousand emails from top notch Global Warming scientists where they apparently talked about ‘tricking’ the data to hide the decline in temperature and that it was a ‘travesty’ that the scientists ‘can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment’.  Skeptics claim this proves that Global Warming is a hoax meanwhile warmists say that those responsible for ‘hacking’ should go to jail but seem to ignore what was revealed with these emails.  Regardless, the Climate talks in Copenhagen were a huge stepping stone in dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.

Tainted Chinese Drywall.  Another big story that is being ignored by the media.  Homes built with Chinese Dry Wall develop a sulphur-like smell and encounter corrosion of coils and pipes.  The owners also find that there fine silver quickly tarnished.  Most builders will not take responsibility and the American government will not hold China accountable.  Instead the line is that there isn’t enough evidence to support these claims.  I’ve been on the tainted Chinese imports since 2007 from my defunct website. 

We’ve had tainted pet food, chicken and fish feed, toothpaste, imported fish, honey, tires, children’s toys and now drywall.  But the American government doesn’t think there is enough evidence and our media doesn’t believe it is newsworthy. 

Sarah Palin goes Rouge and resigns.  Palin resigned as governor of Alaska in order to avoid being a lame duck governor since she was not planning on running for reelection.  She popularized the lie that the healthcare reform legislation would contain ‘death panels’ that would kill senior citizens and her followers bought it.  The far right love her and the far left hate her.  Everyone in between just hopes she retires to Wasilla to watch the sunset on the Russian horizon.  Meanwhile, her memoir ‘Going Rogue’ is still selling well after 3 months.

Comcast / GE / NBC Universal merger.  This merger will lead to nightmares reminiscent to the AOL Time Warner merger / divorce.  Providers owning content is not a good thing as it will hurt competition and drive up prices.  I’m going to watch the next move by Time Warner Cable, DirecTV and Dish Network.  I’ll also be watching the government as this merger should be shot down courtesy of antitrust laws.

The big scandals of 2009

David Letterman.  Letterman shocked his viewers with the revelation that he has had sex with people who work on his show.  This scandal comes equipped with an extortion case as CBS News producer Robert Halderman tried to shake him down for $2 million to prevent Halderman from writing a screenplay about Letterman’s escapades.  Letterman instead went to police and Halderman was arrested in a sting operation and Letterman went public with an on-air explanation and apology.

Tiger Woods.  He made us forget about Letterman.  He wrecked his car – was apparently attacked by his wife with a golf club – and women are still coming out of the woodwork.  He took a leave of absence from golf to work on his marriage yet he and his wife, Elin separated.   He’s losing his endorsement deals.  And the jokes about a Viagra endorsement deal are running wild.

Mark Sanford & John Ensign.  What would a year in scandals be without the obligatory political sex scandal?  As usual, there were many this year but the two most prominent were Mark Sanford and John Ensign. 

After President Clinton admitted to infidelity, Ensign called on Clinton to resign saying, “he has no credibility left”.  What does it say about Ensign’s credibility that he had an affair with the wife of a top aide?  And who can forget that Ensign’s parents attempted to give Cynthia Hampton $96,000?

Meanwhile, Sanford said that Clinton’s behavior was “reprehensible.”  In June, Sanford disappeared for about a week saying that he’d be hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  In reality, he flew to Argentina with his mistress.  Let’s just say that Sanford doesn’t think this affair was reprehensible enough to resign from office.  To her credit, Sanford’s wife has since filed for divorce. 

Balloon Boy.  Has anybody seen my son?  He’s in a box attached to a balloon flying over Colorado.  The National Guard was called in along with local police.  The balloons proximity to Denver International Airport caused the airport to close down.  When the balloon turned up empty speculation led to fears that the boy had fallen during the balloon’s 50-mile trek.  Turns out the boy was hiding in his house and during an interview with Wolf Blitzer on CNN said ‘we did this for the show’.  And a scandal was born.

Glenn Beck – gold, loss of sponsors, crying.  The Fox News commentator began the year by saying in an appearance on Fox and Friends that President Obama has “a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture.”  He further stuck his foot in his mouth by saying “I’m not saying he doesn’t like white people.  I’m saying he has a problem.  This guy is, I believe, a racist.”  As a result, about 80 advertisers pulled their ads from his show and it looked as if Beck would not last much longer.  Beck then started going after Obama’s administration, first targeting White House Council on Environmental Quality, Van Jones – who later resigned.  He later went hard after ACORN.  Meanwhile, Beck continued to cry.

As far as I’m concerned, the biggest issue in 2009 involving Beck is his conflict of interest.  It came to light in, of all places, a feature on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.  They pointed out that Beck’s radio program is sponsored by Goldline International and aired a number of examples where Beck is promoting the investment in gold.

Personal notes of 2009

Seinfeld reunion.  Like millions of others, I was a huge Seinfeld fan.  I even had written an episode with the promise that my friend’s uncle who was an executive at NBC at the time would walk the episode over.  (My friend lied to me and never sent the script to his non-existent uncle at NBC.)  Though I enjoyed The Finale, I feel it came up a little flat.  I have also been a big fan of Curb Your Enthusiasm so I was thrilled to hear that they were doing a season long Seinfeld reunion arc similar to what they did with The Producers a few years ago.

The final episodes of the season was the walk-thru for ‘The Reunion’ and ended with Larry David watching the show on his television.  It was great to see the gang back on the air.  ‘Having said that’ it definitely made up for the finale.

10 year anniversary of Y2K.  It’s hard to believe that ten years have passed since the Y2K scam.  Companies around the world were panicking.  In preparation, we had to make certain that all of our computer programs and databases were capable of handling the 4-digit year.  Older languages and systems were at most risk so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we were told to take out extra money from the bank in case bank computers got all messed up; power companies could shut down leaving millions, if not billions in the dark; do not fly as planes could fall out of the sky; and unexploded bombs could explode.  On a summer 1999 vacation in the mountains of North Carolina I saw a Year 2K supply store which sold Y2K survival kits.  I had to work that evening in case the computers shut down and I had to physically be on site in case remote access became a problem.

The scam that was perpetrated on the American public that came close to the level of Y2K was Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone’s vault live on television 23 years ago.  Of course the vault was empty.

My2Buck$ on Twitter and new domain.  This year, My 2 Buck$ debuted on Twitter which has been fun.  I have determined that by following news sources, it is the best way to receive my news updates.  I can get details and stories that lacked coverage later.  I have also dropped ‘wordpress’ from my domain name which still seems to have Google confused.  Additionally, I have ghostwritten a couple of posts for a couple of friends on a Global Warming Facts blog. 

People / Things I hope stay in 2009 and never surface again.

This feature scares me now as last year I listed Billy Mays and he passed away in 2009.  Of course, during 2009, I became more of a fan of Mays especially since the Sham-Wow guy came on the scene.

Update on Joe the Plumber – still on the scene – sort of.  He was much quieter but did pop up occasionally.  And Sarah Palin – well we know what she’s been up to.  She’s the winner of the 15 minutes that won’t end.

For 2009, let me be clear – go away does not mean die.  RIP Billy. 

Rush Limbaugh / Glenn Beck / Sean Hannity.  Generally, anyone who would love to see Americans struggle and America disgraced for financial or political gain needs to go.  They clearly hate America.  That said, add nearly all Republicans who spent 2009 breaking filibuster records, obstructing progress and lying and distorting the truth.  And take the corporate lobbyists while you’re at it.  And Brett Favre.

2009 – A year of Loss

Each year the list hits closer to home.  We lost people I grew up with like original Charlie’s Angel Farrah Fawcett, Fantasy Island’s Mr. Roarke Ricardo Montalban, and Maude (Bea Arthur).

The news world lost pioneers Walter Cronkite and Don Hewitt.  Also, Tim Russert and Paul Harvey (‘Good Day’). 

Thank you to Larry Gelbart for adapting M*A*S*H for television which provided me years of laughs . . . and tears.

When MTV first explored programming other than videos, they ran a game show called Remote Control.  Host Ken Ober passed away November 15th.  (Adam Sandler came out of that show).

John Updike, Ron Silver, Natasha Richardson, Dom DeLuise, Ed McMahon, John Hughes, Les Paul,  Patrick Swayze, Henry Gibson also left this year along with scores of others.

Brittany Murphy dies at 32 presumably of natural causes – except there is nothing natural about dying at 32.  Nor is there anything natural about dying at 28 as Avenged Sevenfold drummer The Rev did yesterday.

Politics lost the Liberal Lion, Ted Kennedy and his sister Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

Stunningly, the King, Michael Jackson makes this list.

And the television show Monk ended its 8 season run a few weeks ago.

Happy New Year.  In case this is the last post you read from me in 2009 – May you and yours have a happy and healthy 2010.    

Hope to see you in 2010.

Gene – My 2 Buck$

Comcast to buy stake in NBC – Antitrust laws put to the test

Time to dust off the antitrust laws.  Comcast is purchasing 51 percent of NBC Universal from General Electric.  There really is nothing positive about this merger.

First the deal:

General Electric, which owns 80 percent of NBC Universal, has reached an agreement to purchase the 20 percent owned by French media giant Vivendi for $5.8 billion.

GE will in turn sell 51 percent of NBC Universal to Comcast (the number 1 U.S. cable company) for $13.75 billion.

About Comcast:

Comcast is the number 1 cable company in the United States serving roughly one-quarter of all American households in 39 states.  They own Versus, The Golf Channel, E! Entertainment and regional sports channels.

About NBC Universal:

NBC Universal owns NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, Universal Studios, NBC Universal Television Group, USA, Syfy, Bravo, iVillage, qubo, Telemundo, The Weather Channel, Hulu.  They also own more than 25 television stations across the country and theme parks.

Concerns & Impacts:

The sales pitch written in the papers addressed movies appearing on cable faster.  I guess they’re not talking about the straight-to-cable trash that shows up now.  And Comcast may allow television shows to become available on cell phones and other devices.  (A Hulu app for the iPhone?  There really is an app for everything!)

We have heard rumors that Hulu’s free days could be coming to an end.  This purchase could ensure that.

There could also be a big concern with Comcast restricting access to content that they own or by raising the costs for that content to their competition.  DirecTV has already dropped Comcast-owned Versus because of an alleged rate increase.  (about 21 cents to 26 cents per subscriber per month).  Versus brings phenomenal programming like National Hockey League games and bull riding. 

There is another battle between the two companies over Comcast-owned regional sports networks. 

No doubt, Comcast will pull the same garbage over their new NBC networks.  They could charge higher prices to the competition (DirecTV, uVerse, Dish) for the stations they own (NBC, USA, SyFy, etc) thus making it financially beneficial for customers to jump to Comcast.  They could wind up being the only company offering USA and MSNBC in some markets. 

Isn’t that one of the reasons why the antitrust laws are in place?

After the problems Comcast has already caused for DirecTV, don’t be surprised if DirecTV and AT&T (uVerse) try to purchase other media companies in order to compete and keep Comcast in line.  This would undoubtedly reduce competition.

The last time we saw a merger like this was the debacle merger between AOL and Time Warner.  As a result, Time Warner Cable has spun off into its own company and AOL is spinning off this week. 

Another potential issue is station placement.  Don’t think for a second that Comcast wouldn’t move all of its company-owned content to premiere locations or on basic packages while the competition is on less desirable channels / tiers. 

MSNBC (Comcast owned) can reside on their basic tier package while competitors Fox News and CNN could wind up on higher channel numbers and more expensive packages. 

It’s a bit ironic really.  Fox News and its conservative leanings believe in this capitalist corporate takeover mentality.  As a result of a deal like this one, their station could find themselves in a higher channel location hidden between a religious station and C-SPAN 3 or on a higher tier which charges more money to customers in order to receive the channel. 

As the Fox News demographic is older – most have cable rather than satellite.   Few spend the extra money for the higher packaged tiers.  Many residing in condominiums take the basic cable package which often is included in their homeowner’s fees.  So, if Fox News was in the highest tier package, many seniors (Fox News viewers) would be left out. 

Ruppert Murdock should be calling all Republicans demanding that they come out against this merger – unless he can purchase Disney which will provide Murdock with a stronger bargaining position. 

It’s time we stand up and make sure that this Comcast / NBC Universal deal does not occur.  It is bad for competition and bad for customers.

Sources:

Comcast-NBC deal moves closer after GE to buy Vivendi’s NBC stake for $5.8B – Daily Finance

Mega-Media Era Begins:  GE/Vivendi Deal Clears Way for Comcast/NBC Merger – The Huffington Post

Comcast’s big bet:  Deal for control of NBC Universal comes with risks and opposition – Sun-Sentinel

Comcast Gets NBC From G.E. in Deal That Reshapes TV – The New York Times

The NBC Universal sale by the numbers -  The New York Times