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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

why our entertainment sucks so hard

Frankly, we should be astonished that anything decent gets made at all:

media consolidation

In case you missed this choice tidbit:

A group of just 213 corporate executives control everything we read, watch, or listen to.

How many of them do you think are rich, white, male, and straight?

Via Upworthy.

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easter eggs

  • RogerBW

    All very worthy, but doesn’t mention the plummetting audience for newspapers and ClearChannel now that people have alternatives – to the extent that News Corp has moved its newspaper holdings into a separate arm ready for sale. So the real question in my mind is: why do people still treat Hollywood as if it mattered? Why for example do good directors (a) go to Hollywood and (b) lose their distinctive voices the moment they arrive there?

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Actually, I think the reason songs like “Mrs. Robinson” get played is because that’s what baby Boomers want to listen to.

    I’m not really sure what they’re trying to say in that particular point. Something about media consolidation, sure. And Clear Channel is the usual boogie man in that particular discussion, with their 850 stations. Except that there are over 15000 lisenced radio stations in the US. So Clear Channel actually only controls about 6% of the radio market, at least in terms of total number of stations. (I suspect they control significantly more of the total market share of listeners, but if so, why not use that number in the infographic?)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    “Money, dear boy.”

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    More confused stuff:

    Why does Hollywood keep making the same awful movies over and over again?

    A) Because Keanu Reeves

    I know Keanu Reeves is often used as a punching bag/shorthand for bad-yet-successful actors, but he also hasn’t had a starring role in a film since 2008.

    C) Movie studios owned by the Big 6 made more money than all other movie studios combined and want to keep it that way.

    Yay contextless statistics!

    Fun Fact: The Big 6 studios hit nearly $8 billion in sales in 2012! Congrats guys!

    Aaaand I think we have the answer to the original question.

    I also note at the bottom: “Fact checked… by Upworthy”, but nary a citation or link anywhere in the infographic.

  • Patrick

    A cabal of monied interests are only half the problem. The other half is a frightened, complacent, visionless citizenry. Linked is a George Carlin routine explain how these two forces meet at the twain.


  • teenygozer

    This is a updated but simplified (bastardized?) version of the original poster by Frugal Dad, found here:


    He put links to support his quoted facts on his poster (and it’s from Nov 22, 2011.)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    That makes the Upworthy version worse, doesn’t it?

  • dwa4

    If you don’t like the effects of this consolidation trend in entertainment, get ready for a similar trend in the healthcare system near you.

    While there are definite benefits to some consolidation in standardization and promotion of best care regimens, the sheer volume in cost and workload is eliminating small to medium sized practices and hospitals. The required electronic healthcare record software alone cost in the low 6 figures for a group of 6 primary care physicians 8 years ago..i suspect in the mid 6 figure range now.. The yearly “maintenance fees” are in the mid 5 figures and individual yearly add on requirements are in the low 5 figure range. The point and click requirements for mounting documentation and the info tech time required to manage all the new reporting regimens as well as the mounting reports of intimidating auditing processes are rapidly driving providers out of small to moderate independent groups into large corporate hospital owned urban care options that have the IT and legal resources available to accomplish what is being mandated.. These same cost and administrative requirements drive people out of primary care and further into specialty care. They are also fragmenting care away from the previous idea of continuity of care from hospital to outpatient idea and into multiple providers thus leading to increased costs. Fighting off medicare mandated length of stay expectations and payment loopholes has generated 2 levels of administrative provider support..first with multiple administrators at the hospital level for initial appeals and another at a national level with dedicated corporate entities after a lack of success at the initial local effort. The ability to manage and fund the administrative rules and expectations is starting to overwhelm smaller and rural hospitals and showing up as outright closing of or consolidation of services and or ownership by large corporate healthcare systems. This ultimately leads to fewer beds available and I am increasingly having to wait 24-48 hours for completely full tertiary care centers to have a bed available for transfer of critical care patient needs….and the increased patient volume that will soon be coming with the 2014 further implementation of the affordable care act has not even hit yet.

    Consolidation and its effects are not unique to your vocation.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Damn that Simon and Garfunkel! Thanks to them, you rarely ever hear an American radio station play anything by Adele. Or Taylor Swift. Or Kelly Clarkson. Or Carrie Underwood…

  • Tonio Kruger

    No doubt the above Upworthy is not to be confused with famous Southern comedian Jeff Upworthy, author of the best-selling book You Might Be a Corporate Serf

  • teenygozer

    The original poster is better than this one: less jokey (I’m not a fan of the cutesy multiple choice thing) and more fact attribution.


    From November 2011.

    My husband and I took a 3 hour car-drive last week and a two-hour day trip in the car yesterday, and although we were listening to completely different radio stations, we still heard pretty much the same songs on both trips: Billie Jean by Michael Jackson and Beast of Burden by the Rolling Stones stick out in my memory. I would never listen to these songs of my own volition! Don’t you think a lot of people are attaching their iPods to their car speakers and listening to their own line up of songs these days, essentially being their own DJs?

  • innpchan

    And its rich aunt in the attic, “distribution”.

  • teenygozer

    The number of radio stations is immaterial, it’s the percentage of the population that listens that counts. Clear Channel’s 850 stations have millions of people listening vs. 14,000+ teeny-tiny radio stations, each of which don’t reach many ears. When you say that Clear Channel “only” has 6%, you’re treating as equal a licensed college station that only reaches about 3 blocks around the campus to a single Clear Channel station that reaches millions and millions of listeners.

    And does anyone really want or need to listen to Mrs. Robinson at this point?

  • Danielm80

    It’s not just that lousy movies make money. It’s that they make money in a predictable way. A movie with an original or uncommon premise, like Inception or Titanic, might make a profit, but the studio doesn’t quite know how to replicate it. A formulaic romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston will make roughly the same amount of money as the last formulaic romantic comedy starring Jennifer Aniston, and the studio will know how to market it and how much money to spend. If a studio is a business, then that’s a safe business model. And that will remain true whether the studios are owned by six companies or six hundred.

  • teenygozer

    Huh, re-reading what I typed, there’s a possibility that my post was a bit confusing: I meant that the Upworthy version of the poster on this page was an updated but simplified version of the original poster by Frugal Dad… so yeah, I was trying to say that the Upworthy version was worse. :) I really don’t think the snarky multiple choice on the Upworthy poster adds anything good to the story it’s telling.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Clear Channel’s 850 stations have millions of people listening vs. 14,000+ teeny-tiny radio stations, each of which don’t reach many ears.

    I have no doubt, but that’s not the statistic being used. Both versions of the infographic cite the number of stations Clear Channel owns and nothing else. So why did both version use a statistic that, if you investigate, isn’t all that alarming?

    The original version also states that Clear Channel owns every station (ETA) in Minot, ND. Wondering what the significance was, I went and checked both the source (http://faculty.msb.edu/homak/homahelpsite/webhelp/Clear_Channel_-_Single_Voice_in_Minot.htm) and here: http://www.radio-locator.com/cgi-bin/locate?select=city&city=Minot&state=ND
    as well as basic stats on Minot, ND (pop. ~42,000). There are 9 stations in the city. 6 are owned by CC. Another 22 are within range of the city. Given that CC appears to own about 30% of the stations in North Dakota, that means 3 or 4 of those are likely also CC. So that stat is at best misleading and at worst a lie.

    And does anyone really want or need to listen to Mrs. Robinson at this point?

    Here’s the thing about the radio business that predates Clear Channel. Radio stations don’t really change. They find a format and a playlist that gets listeners. Then, as those listeners age, the station keeps playing the same songs, because that’s what those listeners want to hear. When the audience disappears, the station dies. Rare is the station that continues to be a “new music” station for more than a decade or so. As listeners, we hardly notice that effect, because in our minds such-and-so station has always played a certain playlist. Right now, the baby boomers represent the next audience that will disappear Mrs. Robinson will fall off the playlists soon enough, as the Boomers die off. But right now, yeah, there are a hell of a lot of people who want to keep listening to Simon and Garfunkel.

  • A bit off-topic…

  • Heh, yeah… and super lame.

  • I like Mrs Robinson. I’ll listen to it.

  • dwa4

    The common theme is the consolidation into fewer and larger corporate structures that is taking place in the industry (the subject of your post) and examples of the effect it is having on providers and the availability of the end product. At a recent national meeting a speaker encouraged a group of us to become “vertically integrated” into the corporate structure that is emerging in healthcare if we want to survive.

    Newbs label of “lame” may be a very good description of the outcomes….though I suspect that was not the point he was making.

  • Tonio Kruger

    Ditto. Besides, I am not sure why everyone is picking on Simon and Garfunkel when most stations that used to play mostly 60s music have changed their format to include music from the 70s and 80s and most modern teens’ idea of an “old” song includes any song released when GWB was in office.

  • Cashish

    I stopped paying for their crap looooooong ago and stopped paying attention to it completely shortly thereafter. My life is full of fun, love and adventure and I have many wonderful friends. Why do we need entertainment again?

    PS If you watch that junk and actually allow it to influence the way you think, you are by definition: retarded. Just wanted to point that out, have fun watching reruns of the same stupid shit, I’ll be busy enjoying life!

  • SortingHat

    It’s the new America philosophy that bad entertainment sells.

    There has been a purposeful dumbing down of our society since the 1920s first in the universities so they will all think that a central government is the answer then down to the media so they will want government protection.

    Big business and big government work together and have agreements/ties that protect each other.

    THAT is NOT a free market and it is NOT constitutional. What is constitutional is that corporations have charters where they have rules to follow and have to be neutral to politics.

    The charter for a LONG time has been shoved to the sidings and the US Constitution is in danger of being sent to the scrapyard.

  • SortingHat

    I actually understood what you were pointing out there unlike the 12 year olds behind keyboards on this site that have NO clue to what life was like pre corporation era.

    It’s sad that like you pointed out that healthcare is all corporate ran and it’s cost prohibitive to run a small to medium health clinic/hospital without all sorts of secondary costs that raises it to millions per year.

    There are very few if any independent hospitals left which ours is the only one in Oregon left that is that way.

    It has above average service for being a small hospital.

    The National Health Care bill was passed as a guise to the big corporations and it started all the way back to Nixon era.

    Former President Nixon had his own alternate plan for the (then) National Health Act that actually made sense and would lower the cost of insurance greatly for all EVEN THE POOR if it had been implanted in time.

    It’s better to lower insurance rates then to provide free stuff that isn’t sustainable.

  • SortingHat

    The few entertainment shows that are actually informative get canned and never see the light of day again.

    I miss the PRE HIT entertainment era of children’s shows. HIT is SHIT.

    Unfortunately American’s LOVE garbage and the worse it is the more popular it is.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Not sure anything that began 3 or 4 generations ago can be called “new”. You’re kind of smearing together a lot of complicated history here. I’m also not sure I’m on board with your constitutional scholarship there.

  • There has been a purposeful dumbing down of our society since the 1920s first in the universities so they will all think that a central government is the answer then down to the media so they will want government protection.

    Citations needed. Which will be difficult to find, because it’s actually the opposite: the right-wing governments that have been dumbing down education since the 1980s are doing so in order to reduce governments to the size where, as that idiot Grover Norquist said, they can be drowned in a bathtub.

  • pre corporation era.

    What, before the East India Company?

    better to lower insurance rates

    Better to eliminate for-profit health insurance entirely as completely antithetical to actually taking care of people’s well being.

  • entertainment shows that are actually informative

    I think you’re conflating two sorts of TV there.

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