The NFL Network takes Comcast to the FCC. TV Week has the details.
The folks at the Progress & Freedom Foundation weigh in with this paper.
Update: TV Week on ratings for the NFL Draft.
There are two things I hate about vacations. The first is my ability to go from pasty white to overcooked lobster red in about 15 minutes. The other is culling through all of the e-mail that I missed (750+ in this case).
That said, in Bruce Einhorn’s “Eye on Asia” column in the Business Week Asia Insider newsletter from earlier this week, I found a link to the following interesting entry from John Pomfret, The Washington Post’s former Beijing bureau chief and current editor of the “Outlook” section, titled “The Ugly Chinese.” It’s about global reaction to recent events in China and is worth a look.
Two new polls — one from Pew and one from Gallup — are out and confirm what we’ve noted from earlier polls about climate change. While Americans think global warming is an important issue when you as them about the issue in a vaccum, they also think there are many more important issues for politicians to deal with right now. Here’s an excerpt from a story in ClimateWire.
Americans have spoken about global warming, and their current message seems to be: “It’s serious, but we have other problems to worry about.”
The issue tied for last on a list of domestic priorities for President Bush and Congress in a 2008 survey from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, lagging behind the “influence of lobbyists” and “moral breakdown.” The results mirrored an April New York University poll finding that global warming had less immediacy in American minds than Medicare and Social Security.
Last week, Gallup reported that only a third of Americans worry about global warming “a great deal,” a percentage that has budged little since 1989. Less than half of the respondents in the poll indicated that climate change would pose a serious threat to them in their lifetimes, prompting Gallup’s Frank Newport to write that “there has been no consistent upward trend on worry about global warming going back for decades.”
While Americans frequently express concern about climate change when asked about it separately by pollsters, they often list the economy, crime, illegal immigration and health care higher on their anxiety lists. The lack of intensity behind global warming threatens to stifle lawmakers who hope to ride a public opinion wave to cutting greenhouse gas emissions, many analysts say.
Given these poll numbers and a strong chance that Lieberman-Warner will go nowhere this, it looks like Al Gore and his allies have a lot of work to do. Moreover, given all of the commentary last week about “What Killed Earth Day?,” it is going to take new thinking to move the needle.
And, who is this king about whom we are talking? Well, in our modern era of communications, it must surely be the sound bite! And, I think the king will live on forever (or at least until mainstream TV news dies) even though Jonathan Alter, in his column in Newsweek, makes a couple of points that could lead the reader to consider the possibility that the sound bite era may be coming to an end. However, I agree with Alter’s perception that the online arena provides space for fuller context. And, that is a good thing.
Indeed, campaigns in today’s environment cannot survive on 7 second sound bites. After all, the sound bite is hardly nourishing but it does have its role in a communications program. Nevertheless, people demand more enriching information and that is where the web, in particular, comes in.
Alter correctly points out what some communications strategists, especially those who are digitally savvy, have known for a while - the Internet provides an abundance of rich information for people who want to “search for their own context” and go well beyond the morsel of a sound bite. While the presidential campaigns help some people focus on “new” ways of communicating, using the Internet to feed the hungry people at the buffet table actually has been taking place in the public affairs and marketing communications spaces for quite some time.
The Democratic foreign policy elites, such as Sen. John Kerry, and their blogging allies used to like to point to the Bush Administration’s policies on [fill in the blank -- Iraq, global warming, Israel vs. Palestine, the United Nations' Millennium Goals, Cuba, the death penalty, and/or the Dixie Chicks (okay, the last one was sarcasm)] and use them to explain why the masses around the world had a low opinion of the United States. Unfortunately for them, the Europeans have a new bad boy — China.
The latest Harris survey done for the Financial Times (free link to a summary of the survey on the English language site of Der Spiegel) shows that the PRC has replaced the United States as the greatest threat to global stability in four of the five European countries surveyed (France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom).
There are two ways of looking at this.
One is that the survey was conducted shortly after the unrest in Tibet and during all of the problems regarding the Olympic torch relay (Paris, London, San Francisco).
The other is that Europe is softening on the Bush Administration in its last year (an opinion offered by FT writers).
In either case, the Beijing government looks bad….
Here is the country-by-country breakdown.
Italy: China hits 47%, compared top 26% last year.
France: China hits 36%, compared to 22% last year.
Germany: China hits 35%; compared to 18% last year.
United Kingdom: China hits 27%; compared to 16% last year.
Ironically, the FT doesn’t supply comparable statistics for Spain, other than to say that 41% say that the United States is the greatest threat, compared to 28% for China. No comment, of course, about Spain being the only country with an openly anti-U.S. government.
Yesterday, I commented on two politically themed blogs that seemed to have found a business plan that works. Today comes word that one of the oldest, Salon, is back in a place it knows well — financial trouble. PaidContent has the details.
After a busy couple of weeks, I’ve finally hit a bit of a lull — time to catch up on a couple of things I’ve been meaning to write about…
The following news item broke late Friday — no, not Obama’s “bitter” comment that promises to make the Pennsylvania Democratic primary interesting again (more on that below). Here it is, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter (with a hat tip to TV Barn).
Okay, not earth shattering…but at least it made me smile for reasons expressed earlier. The NFL Network has overplayed its hand in a number of ways and having to admit that it made yet another mistake can’t make Jerry Jones and other owners happy.
While many may think this is an irrelevant battle, it goes to the larger issue of how sports fans will view coverage in the future. NFL Network has had the most aggressive stance in regard to the cable and broadcast networks by deciding to ignore big bucks and shift actual game coverage to its own network. Other sports have used their nets to supplement what goes out on traditional sports outlets. Given the relative paucity of games compared to other leagues (yesterday, NFL Network reaired its entire coverage of the first day of the 2007 NFL Draft — pure filler), this was a high risk strategy — one that I don’t think is succeeding…
I don’t have a lot to say about Sen. Obama’s “bitter” quote that wasn’t said on the Sunday talking head shows, except to add one small item — the source of the story being the Huffington Post. The Post has gotten a lot of good news recently based on its increased page views and its desire to turn more into a newspaper on the Web. Although I rarely agree with much that I read on the site, I do find myself reading more and more often as we get closer to the election. I do, however, find myself asking two questions — what is the future of the HuffPo (as they call it in conservative circles) if the Democratic candidate wins in November and what happens to it if this story (with audio) turns out to be Obama’s “Macaca” moment?….
Update…Just saw this on Politico. I agree with almost every word.
Speaking of liberal blogs, a very belated congrats to Josh Marshall and the staff of Talking Points Memo for winning a George Polk Award back in February for its coverage of the Gonzales attorney general scandal. I’ve met Josh several times through a mutual friend and actually was interviewed by him once for a story when he was a dead tree journalist. With little more than that to go on, I have to say I admire him, not just because I’ve always heard he is a decent human being, but because, like Huffington, he seems to have found a business model to produce original reporting on the Internet that works….
There are two new advocacy groups out there with big bucks that want to make a big splash in the political arena. The first is Al Gore’s $30 million “We Can Solve It,” an initiative sponsored by the Alliance for Climate Protection. It seeks to convince politicians that Americans want action on global warming. The other is a new four-month, $40 million campaign headed by David Brock and Paul Begala to go after John McCain
These two interest me for different reasons. Gore, through “An Inconvenient Truth” did a fine job of raising the issue in the minds of many Americans, but as recent polling shows, it has begun to slip as an issue as Americans are more concerned with the economy, health care and other pocket book related issues. Moreover, there is both a partisan and gender split on the issue. The folks at the new energy and environment blog at The New Republic have some interesting focus group research done by the Rasmussen Group regarding the Gore campaign’s first ad that is worth a look. There is no doubt that the next president will have a different view on global warming that the current Administration, but will it be at the top of his/her list?
The other group, which is named Progressive Media USA, interests me for different reasons. First, will his role in the campaign mean that we will see less of Begala on CNN? Next, given the fact this could be a watershed moment for Democrats, why did existing groups fail to raise the money that said they would to do the same thing? (Of course, this is apparently not unique to Democrats.) What does this mean to MoveOn.org and its strategy of raising money from small contributors? If Clinton and Obama keep up with their march to Denver and keep getting hurt by self-inflicted wounds, how many people will pay attention to an anti-McCain ad campaign? Finally, who will have the inevitable hit cover story on the group first (including references to how George Soros is trying buy another election) — The National Review or The Weekly Standard?
I was interviewed by Communications Daily in regard to the deal between Comcast and BitTorrent. My quotable quotes are below.
Comcast’s announcement probably won it public relations points, Ogilvy Public Relations Vice President Greg Stanko said. “It was a short-term success for Comcast,” he said. “Certainly it removes a lot of the attention that reporters might pay to the Stanford hearing.” It gives Comcast a chance to claim that as the largest U.S. cable operator it already has dealt with the problem, likely spurring similar actions by cable industry peers, he said: “It sort of defangs the issue, at least in the short term.”
Comcast probably acted to blunt the threat of regulation, he said. “Comcast saw the handwriting on the wall, decided it was probably easier to make an agreement with BitTorrent, and let the FCC commissioners know that something was coming,” said Stanko. That way, the commissioners wouldn’t be blind-sided and were more likely to react positively, he said. “By the looks of it they were partially successful.”
Thanks to a friend, I got tix to tonight’s Os vs Nats exhibition game at the new Nationals Field. Since tonight was the in-town try-out and tomorrow is opening night, I wanted to post a few thoughts since the stadium is the local politicians’ answer to the question of, “What did we get for $611 million?”
Okay, the stadium is really nice. Nice, but sterile. Outside of MLB’s first HDTV video scoreboard, the stadium could have been just of easily been built elsewhere. (See below). Yes, they solved a number of problems that plagued the experience of the old RFK — too few ATMs, lousy lighting — but they still have a lot of work to do.
Tonight’s game versus the Baltimore Orioles was the chance to work out the kinks in a controlled environment. Based on tonight’s experience (the stadium was deliberately half full), they have a long way to go.
Start with the fact that the team is relying on Metro to funnel fans to the game. While tourists think the system is the “bee’s knees,” most Washingtonians know that the system is on the brink of crashing on a daily basis. Tonight was a good test and Metro (at a minimum) had huge problems. While having staff give conflicting instructions in the Navy Yard station was bad enough, the inability of Metro to get the escalators at Navy Yard to work an hour before game time was a huge black eye. Moreover, there were news reports that Metro bus drivers who were shuttling fans from the old RFK to the new stadium didn’t know where to go. Given the deliberate lack of parking, the stadium will live or die based on how Metro does its job. Based on last night, Metro, whose motto should be “we apologize for the inconvenience” based on how often it is heard over the intercoms in stations and rail cars, has a long way to go.
And then there is customer service…. The old administration at RFK Stadium got by — running out of food was a common occurrence — since there was no expectation that the service at the ball park would be better than at the DMV or other local government bodies known to be incompetent. Based on tonight’s show, things haven’t gotten any better. (How many people does it take to stand in the background and do nothing while I order a $7.50 beer? About five based on tonight’s showing.)
The final reason why I think the stadium is a disappointment…. Other than the scoreboard, other new stadiums have something interesting in their architecture. Camden Yards has the warehouse. There is something similar in San Diego and Cleveland. Pittsburgh has the open part of the stadium that shows off the confluence (thanks to Beano Cook for making confluence a part of my vocabulary), while Cincy’s Great American Park has the view of the mighty Ohio. Reliant Park in Houston has the train. Heck the Texas Rangers even have a little league stadium just outside the main gates where games go on even during the Big League games. Nationals Stadium has nothing distinctly local about it — even the Wall of Fame, a list of DC sports stars that was so prominent at RFK is largely hidden.
Pretty as it is (and the score board is pretty), Nationals Stadium was a disappointment. Maybe they can solve some of the opening night problems, but I doubt it. Frankly, I expected a lot more.
Our colleague Dave Tamasi had the following piece in the current issue of PR Week.
Tailor approaches to clients’ traits
March 24 2008
When former Sen. George Mitchell released his anticipated report on steroid use in baseball this past December, it included Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.
Clemens and Pettitte have been teammates and friends for years. Their on- and off-the-field styles, however could not be more different. Clemens is the hard throwing, intimidating hurler, while Pettitte has made his living painting the corners, patiently waiting for the game to come to him. True to their form, Clemens aggressively denied the allegations through high profile public appearances, while Pettitte remained quiet, only commenting when necessary.
Watching Clemens defend himself in the media is like seeing him on the mound: high heat and plenty of it. First, he issued a video statement through his Web site denying that he had ever used steroids, followed a few weeks later with a highly publicized appearance on 60 Minutes. The next day, he held a Houston press conference, where he alternately scowled and ruminated aloud about why his former trainer Brian McNamee would suggest such allegations. Now he faces possible perjury charges from his testimony before Congress last month.
In comparison, Pettitte made himself available to the press for one hour after he gave his testimony to Congress and upon his arrival at spring training. Pettitte was forthright and direct, acknowledging his use of human growth hormone (HGH) and the desperation that drove him to use it in the first place.
For the crisis communications pro, the lesson of L’Affaire Clemens is clear: Know a client’s communication strengths and weaknesses, and set strategy accordingly. When representing a client with a reputation for being difficult, consider these issues:
Never depend on the individual. Since the release of the Mitchell Report, the media focus has been on Clemens. Recruiting and mobilizing third parties to deliver the message can lend greater credibility to the campaign, and [in this case] could have shifted the spotlight from Clemens’ less than stellar public performances to McNamee’s possible motives.
Lawyers are not third parties. Clemens has relied exclusively on his attorneys to publicly defend his case. Who can forget the image of Clemens before the House Oversight Committee - with his attorneys standing, gesticulating behind him? Compare it to Pettitte’s press event where he was greeted with a bear hug from the uber-popular Derek Jeter.
Resist the combative element. Clemens did not earn the nickname “The Rocket” overnight; his nature is to challenge and intimidate. But when on the defensive from allegations of wrongdoing, conveying an even tone is essential. Raising your voice, interrupting the questioner, and acting dismissive do little to reassure the public that you are telling the truth.
Actions, not just words. It is an oft-used phrase, but it’s true. Clemens participated in a number of media engagements. But missing was a signature event that could have showed Clemens as selfless or cognizant - such as funding an anti-steroid public awareness campaign. Instead, we were left with Roger being Roger.
For Clemens, the next act of this story has yet to play out. As the stakes get bigger, he may want to take a page out of his fellow Texan’s playbook, alter his delivery and throw a curve.
David Tamasi is an account director in public affairs practice at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide in Washington, DC.
Media Relations Myths