In addition to the big vote earlier tonight, there was another big vote in Canada that ended recently — one I wrote about earlier.
That vote chose the new theme for Hockey Night in Canada.
As I wrote earlier, the CBC chose not to renew its rights agreement for the theme for the iconic show — rights that ended up being purchased by TSN, the Canadian version of ESPN, which, in turn is owned by CTV, the nation’s largest private broadcaster. Faced with the loss of a song that has been synonymous with Saturday night in Canada for literally decades, the CBC held a contest to choose a new theme song and let the Canadian public chose the winner. Moreover, although they did most of it on the Web, they also put together several shows over the summer to keep the momentum up and thinking about the contest top of mind (I almost compared it to American Idol, but since Canadian Idol airs on CTV, that didn’t seem to work.)
Well, fresh ice is being spread at NHL rinks across the continent and the first night of Hockey Night in Canada (now available on the NHL Network in the United States) is past. And we have a winner.
I’ve posted the link to the winning entry via this YouTube URL link here, since imbeding it doesn’t seem to work in this version of the WordPress.
I have to admit I like the new theme, even with the bagpipes. The video is the same as last year as is the voice of Foster Hewitt; it’s the music that is new — which will help popularize it in the Great White North.
UPDATE: Okay, it’s not the new CBC video, which I now know since NHL Network now airs Hockey Night in Canada in the United States. That said, the new music still works well.
Take a gander.
No, not Obama…at least tonight.
No, it is election night in Canada and the question is whether Prime Minister Harper will go from a minority government to a majority one. It’s now 10 PM ET and the CBC (thanks to C-SPAN), the Canadian pubcaster, is projecting that Harper will get to form a government. That was the minimum the Conservatives were expecting. It is too early to call anything yet (although it looks like the Conservatives will not make it to a majority), but two points are interesting so far.
First, the Conservatives are doing better than expected in Ontario, especially in the 416 — Metro Toronto. This has been a Liberal stronghold, or as a CBC commentator noted, a Liberal fortress, for years.
Second, the CBC coverage (as I mentioned, being simulcast on C-SPAN) is decidely low-tech and almost circa 1990s. But that is not a bad thing. Moreover, the coverage is easy to follow, province by province, and, with Peter Mansbridge anchoring, the show is an interesting one. There is no CNN/John King-esque magic screen or similar whiz-bang, high-tech elements.
The private networks are doing it a little different. CTV, which has previously streamed its coverage online, has blacked-out its coverage from being viewed in the United States. This is too bad since Lloyd Robertson, the longest standing anchor in Canada, is likely in his final election. Global TV, the second private network, is airing online and featuring former ABC News anchor/reporter Kevin Newman. It’s coverage looks a lot better — okay, a lot more American with the high-tech gizmos– than the CBC coverage, but I’m not sure it’s much better. I find myself paying more attention to the CBC on the TV than Global on the computer.
UPDATE: The CBC just called the election as a Conservative minority government — a stonger minority, but still a minority government.
UPDATE 2: Interesting article in The Globe and Mail about one issue that seems to have significantly hurt the Liberals (and the Greens, who were shut out of Parliament). Apparently Canadians weren’t big fans of the Liberals’ carbon tax plan and the already existing carbon tax in British Columbia may help bring down the Liberal government in the province next year. The Conservatives, who campaigned against the tax picked up five seats in British Columbia, taking four seats away from the Liberals (and one from the even more liberal, pro-carbon tax NDP).
I may be tilting at windmills here, but the news in the morning’s Wall Street Journal regarding four FCC commissioners (both Ds and Rs) ganging up on Chairman Kevin Martin to halt his desire to enact a staff ruling in favor of the NFL Network sounds like the Chairman has lost any semblance of control. The key paragraphs are here…
The Federal Communications Commission’s staff was on the verge of ruling in favor of the NFL Friday afternoon, when the decision was derailed by an unusual protest by four of the FCC’s five commissioners….
A sympathetic ruling from the FCC would essentially save the NFL Network, which has operated in near oblivion since it launched in 2003. The channel is in 42 million homes in the U.S., but satellite systems account for nearly 75% of the penetration and Comcast is one of several large cable operators which has balked.
The NFL tried to appeal to the public to protest their cable providers’ decision, hoping that the eight games it airs exclusively on the network would anger fans who were shut out. It didn’t work. This year, the company pursued negotiations with Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN about merging the NFL Network with ESPN Classic to gain wider distribution. Talks stalled, however, over numerous issues, including who controls the channel. An FCC decision in the league’s favor might make those discussions moot. Comcast has 24.6 million subscribers.
As the article goes on to point out, the network’s efforts to gain public support met with a collective yawn from cable viewers (bad PR campaign). Moreover, since the case will go to an administrative law judge, the ruling will be pushed out at least another 60 days, effectively keeping the NFL Network off basic cable (assuming the league wins) until next season.
If you are going to read one magazine this month, I highly recommend the current issue of The Atlantic — especially Jim Fallows’ article on wiring western China, the short article on whether wind power is the next ethanol and the article on the 1958 Giants-Colts NFL championship game. The cover article on John McCain is also worth reading.
I was in Minneapolis last week for the Sustainable Forestry Initiative conference. While the Twins’ run to the MLB play-offs was great theater and dominated the headlines and newscasts, ultimately the Twins didn’t make it to the play-offs (even if I got to sit in on a meaningful game btw. the Twins and the ChiSox at the Metrodome).
The other REALLY big thing on TV was the Senate race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken. The ads were everywhere. Franken’s ads (his and the DNSC funded ads) went after Coleman for his role in his initial support for the Iraq War (which the candidate has backed away from). The DNSC is relying on ads featuring the parents of a dead Iraq War veteran whose mom lays the blame for her son’s death at the senator’s feet and a dad who says “Norm’s gotta go” and a less effective testimonial from a Minnesotan businessman who attacks Coleman over high gas prices.
Unfortunately, the first ad sound like a bad parody of “Fargo” (which puts Minnesotans on the defensive when you point that out) more than anything else. The Coleman and NRSC ads focus on Franken’s temperament and Franken’s record as a sometimes blue comedian and talk show host (lots of bleeps). There is also a mostly positive ad that focuses on (bipartisan) solutions that benefited the state. My take: advantage Coleman. Although there are 1.5 pro-Franken ads on the air for every pro-Coleman ad, the Minnesotans I spoke to said Franken’s temperament was a defining issue.
Advantage Wall Street…
The U.S. House of Representatives held its first hearing today on the Wall Street collapse of Lehman Brothers. Watching the hearing today on CNBC, I have to say it was a PR disaster for Rep. Henry Waxman and the Democratic-controlled Committee (not that some Republicans asked equally stupid questions). That is because a lot of the coverage focused on what Waxman said in his first round of questioning.
That rightfully angered (perhaps too polite a word) many on Wall Street and other places because the questions had less to do with what went on and had more to do with class issues of how much Richard Fuld made over the past 15 years and what he did with the money he made (earned is still subject to some debate). Given Lehman didn’t lose money until last year, see this clip from CNBC of this example of Wall Street outrage — forward to about 4 minutes in where Sue Harrera talks to reporter Matt Nesto. It is here:
(Unfortunately, the clip only works if you are using IE and the latest Mister Softy plug ins.)
My take: Go Matt, Go.
Senor Independent (previously known as CNN’s Lou Dobbs) also had a field day at Waxman’s expense on his show tonight. Alas, CNN has not put up a clip as of now.
Long story short, I want to quote “The West Wing’s” White House Press Secretary C.J. Craig. When asked how to short circuit a legitimate investigation, she answered, “This is a job for the House of Representatives.”
At the time, the barb was directed at the Republicans who controlled the House. But now it shows that the House Democrats are equally (if not more) stupid.
As PR types, we are often asked what it takes to get an letter to the editor published in a major paper. There are many things that go into it, but creativity is always helpful. Here is a great one from Wednesday’s Financial Times….
From Mr. Jonathan P. Kahn
Sir, Citibank’s woes have been in large part blamed on the failed business model of trying to be every bank for everybody or, as Wall Street likes to call it, a financial supermarket.
With the purchase of FleetBoston, MBNA, USTrust, Lasalle and now, Merrill, Bank of America is defying conventional wisdom and, in choosing to walk down the aisle yet again, has become the Elizabeth Taylor of financial institutions. Hope it has better luck.
Jonathan P. Kahn
Great Neck, NY, US
Also, it appears that the PTBs at the University of Virginia have further clamped down on free speech. Should you have wished ask Coach Al Groh about his team’s 45-10 loss to UConn on the 1-2 team’s radio network, you would have been forced to submit it by text or by e-mail — no live calls where you might say something that hurts the coach’s feelings.
Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald had an interesting article — actually two in one — on cable nets dominating political coverage as of late (such as at the conventions) and on why the end of the Bush Administration will not mean the end of Fox News. The nut paragraph is here.
For years, hostile TV critics and political columnists have been writing that Fox News was some kind of weird transitory political phenomenon, the video equivalent of Pet Rocks or Ross Perot, that would soon disappear. Isn’t it time to start acknowledging the obvious — that Fox News is here to stay?
After both party nominating conventions and with less than two months until Election Day, here are nine things we now know about the candidates running for president and vice president:
These trivial tidbits of information have two things in-common â€“ each has received extensive coverage in the mainstream media (and unending attention in the blogosphere) and none of them have anything to do with the candidates’ ability to lead the country.
This dynamic is by no means unique to the 2008 election and it is the subject of quadrennial hyperventilating by pundits wringing their hands over the state of America’s democracy. But the disconnect between what matters and what is covered has never been as pronounced, or as damaging, as it is this year.
With two wars, a deepening recession, a health care crisis, global warming and $4/gallon gasoline all awaiting the next president and an American electorate that overwhelmingly feels the nation is “on the wrong track,” what passes for political discourse is a discussion of flag pins and lobbyists. Something has gone seriously amiss.
As always in politics, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Certainly the candidates and their campaigns play a major role in trying to focus attention on the trivial and deflect attention from more difficult or controversial issues. There is also always the hope that one of these trivial issues will take hold in voters’ minds and play a pivotal role in determining the outcome (think about Al Gore’s sighing during the first debate against George Bush â€“ meaningless until the conventional wisdom took hold that it was a sign of Gore’s unrepentant arrogance).
Among losing campaigns there is always a tendency to blame the voters, and it’s probably true that voters get the politicians and campaigns that they deserve. That said, by all indications voters this year are looking for concrete solutions to the very real problems the country faces.
Finally, there is the media. In an election that has generated so much interest for so long, there is tremendous competition among media outlets and the digerati to be the source of political information.
One would hope that this competition would result in a better product. Instead this competition has led to a significant “dumbing down” of the campaign coverage; a race to the bottom to see who can uncover the most innocuous but potentially salacious details about the candidates, their families, advisors and pets.
The mainstream media appear to believe that the way to beat back the onslaught of the blogosphere is to emulate them â€“ focus on the trivial, the prurient, the outrageous rather than the substance. This is a battle that the mainstream media simply cannot win.
Rather than trying to outshout the bloggers, the media might find their vanishing relevance restored by focusing on the substance of the campaign. Reporting and analyzing the very real differences between the McCain and Obama approaches to taxes, health care, energy policy and Iraq would not only provide a public service, but re-establish the media as a trusted source of important information.
Each campaign has spelled out specific policy proposals in all of these areas. The problem is no one is reporting on the policy differences, so it’s hard for us humble voters to find them behind all the noise created by flag pins, lipstick on pigs and field dressing a moose.
Time’s Bryan Walsh weighs in on Al Gore’s “We” Campaign. Translating his review review into a numerical score, I estimate he gives it between a 5 and a 6.
Given Time’s support for an activist green agenda, I would have expected a better rating from the magazine’s environmental reporter. However, his criticism of the campaign ties in nicely with the findings of the Forrester study I referenced earlier — namely it doesn’t make the case for significant change in lifestyles (which Americans are not predisposed to do so far) nor does it have a call to action for those who aren’t already predisposed to Gore’s “act now or else” message.
In addition, the fact that the one specific example referenced in the article talks about ad with Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton, two long irrelevant charlatans whose heyday was in the 1980s, demonstrates that the campaign has problems beyond just “the ask.”
Update: Google’s Eric Schmidt offered his own plan to solve global warming on September 8. You can read Matt Nauman’s story in the San Jose Mercury News here. I won’t comment on the merits of the plan, but the key sentence in the story is here:
The fight against global warming is a big deal, Schmidt said, and he doesn’t understand why more people don’t realize it.
Bad or misguided PR campaigns, perhaps…
Media Relations Myths