"Projects unsuitable for corporate sponsorship tend to die on the vine," the London Economist (Dec. 5, 1987) observes, noting that "stations have learned to be sympathetic to the most delicate sympathies of corporations." The journal cites the case of public TV station WNET, which "lost its corporate underwriting from Gulf&Western as a result of a documentary called 'Hunger for Profit,' about multinationals buying up huge tracts of land in the third world." These actions "had not been those of a friend," Gulf's chief executive wrote to the station, adding that the documentary was "virulently anti-business, if not anti-American." Most people believe that WNET would not make the same mistake today," the Economist concludes. Nor would others. The warning need only be implicit.

Many other factors induce the media to conform to the requirements of the state-corporate nexus. To confront power is costly and difficult; high standards of evidence and argument are imposed, and critical analysis is naturally not welcomed by those who are in a position to react vigorously and to determine the array of rewards and punishments. Conformity to a "patriotic agenda," in contrast, imposes no such costs. Charges against official enemies barely require substantiation; they are, furthermore, protected from correction, which can be dismissed as apologetics for the criminals or as missing the forest for the trees.

Necessary Illusions, page 8

In 1989, for example, a television special produced by the National Audubon Society was aired without commercials on a cable channel owned by Turner Broadcasting System after eight advertisers pulled out because of pressure from the logging industry. The special, Ancient Forests : Rage Over Trees, was deemed too radical by U.S. logging companies. Meanwhile, Domino's Pizza canceled its advertising on NBC's Saturday Night Live because of the show's alleged anti-Christian message.

Unreliable Sources : A Guide to Detecting Bias in News Media, by Martin A. Lee and Norman Solomon (Carol Publishing Group, 1990), page 60

Filter: advertising as the primary income source of the mass-media


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