Friday, November 30, 2007

U.S. Automakers Smell the Winds of Change. Will Builders of Gas Hogs and SUVs Change their Products or just to whom they send political donations?

Detroit 3 swing support to Dems

November 29, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Long a reliable contributor to Republican candidates and causes at the federal level, the auto industry is giving a lot less overall than it did four years ago but donating more of it to Democrats now that they hold majorities in Congress.

Republicans still get the lion's share of the money in this election cycle -- 67% from auto-related business, including dealers, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, which analyzed federal campaign records this fall.

But the amount contributed to federal candidates and parties -- $5.1 million -- is 20% less than in the same period in the last presidential election cycle, in 2003-04. In that cycle, Democrats got just 22% of the money contributed, compared with 33% so far this year.

The swing is even more pronounced when looking at Detroit's automakers.
From General Motors Corp., the split is an even 50-50 between the parties this year. Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC contributions have swung even more definitively to the Democratic side.

"What we now have is a year when it looks like this is likely to be a Democratic cycle, so it's not surprising we're starting to see some shift toward the Democrats," said Anthony Corrado, who studies campaign finance as a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution and as a professor at Maine's Colby College.

"You're seeing that not only in the auto industry but in other industries," he said.
That is borne out by the data collected by the Center for Responsive Politics and published on its Web site,

In a year when news reports have touted the Democrats' success in fund-raising, particularly in the presidential race, the data show many traditionally Republican sectors leaning more Democratic this year.

The securities and investment business, for instance, hasn't gone for Democrats in a presidential cycle since 1992. This year, however, 61% of its money is going to Democrats. The trend also is apparent in the real estate industry and among health professionals.

Meanwhile, other industries -- like automotive -- may still be in the Republicans' corner overall, but some are giving less. Those giving more, like the oil and gas industry, aren't keeping pace with the increases from traditionally Democratic givers like nonprofit institutions and education interests.

Lawyers and law firms, traditionally the largest federal donor by sector and one that strongly leans Democratic, has increased giving 52%, to $76.4 million, this year -- with 77% going to Democrats.

The UAW, a staunch Democratic giver, has contributed $436,410, fourth among industrial unions, with nearly all of it going to Democrats. The UAW total is not included with the auto sector in overall calculations.

When compiling its data, the Center for Responsive Politics not only counts contributions made by political action committees tied to an industry trade group or corporation, but also tallies donations of $200 or more made by anyone who lists his or her occupation or employer as part of the industry.

For example, Sen. Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, has collected more than $9,000 in individual donations from top managers at GM, Ford and Chrysler and leads recipients from automakers as a group, with more than $111,000 in contributions so far.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with $357,250, leads all recipients in the industry as a whole. Four years ago, President George W. Bush led automakers and the industry as a whole.

In the automotive sector, none of the Detroit Three is the biggest donor overall, however. That would be the National Auto Dealers Association, since at least 1990.

The NADA remains reliably Republican, but this year it has been giving less -- $709,750 compared with $865,800 in the first nine months of 2003. The money has been split 39% to Democrats and 61% to Republicans, a slight change from the 31%-69% split four years ago.
The big change with the Detroit Three has been in the Democrat-Republican split.

GM's donations, now an even split, went 54% to Republicans in the first nine months of 2003 and a wider margin, 65%, to the GOP by the end of that cycle.

Ford, which sent 66% of its donations to Republicans at this point four years ago and ended the cycle with a slightly larger share for the GOP, has sent 60% of its contributions to Democrats this year.

Four years ago, 61% of Chrysler donations went to GOP campaigns and parties; this year, Democrats have gotten 55%.

Contributions from Detroit's automakers as a group have come down slightly, from $908,489 in the first nine months of 2003 to $881,831 this year. The decline is attributable to a huge drop in Ford's giving; the others have increased contributions somewhat.

When asked about the change, GM spokesman Greg Martin said, "PAC spending generally reflects the election cycle, political party shifts on Capitol Hill and similar considerations."
Bruce Andrews, Ford's vice president of government relations in Washington, said his company's giving with its PAC is down, but the company is smaller, too.

"Our policy has always been to support those members who support us," he said.
Damien LaVera, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, said that "voters and industries are pushing back against Republicans which have failed to address major problems like health care."
Biggest Wastes Of Space
They are famous simply for being famous ... Time magazine took a look at who are the biggest wastes of space of 2007, and picked ...

Paris Hilton: "All she seems to do is keep very small dogs, dance her way around the world's nightclubs and get arrested for driving offenses. She spends the rest of her time dating multimillionaire shipping magnates or having public fights with other celeb-nobodies, What a gal!"

Lindsay Lohan: "Sometime actress and full-time Hollywood party girl, Lindsay catapulted to fame ... After three car crashes in a year and admitting to alcohol and drug addiction, Lindsay checked herself into rehab. With a third album on the way and a threat to "tour like Madonna," the Lindsay epidemic won't be going away soon. Sadly."

Britney Spears: "She has managed to dilute her brand and her fan base with one fell swoop into crazy-town. But even with a string of poor performances and personal humiliations, Britney's latest single, "Gimme More," continues to climb the charts and her net worth is still estimated at around $150 million from past albums, tours, an epic advertising deal with Pepsi ,and the sales of four different perfumes branded by Brit. She may be a train wreck, but this pop tart isn't leaving the spotlight any time soon.

Kim Kardashian: She was "close" friends with fellow celebutante Paris Hilton, but that alone wasn't enough to make Kim famous. Thanks to a sex tape that was leaked onto the Internet with a former boyfriend, singer Ray-J, and the reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians -- AND Kim posing in the December issue of Playboy, it's obvious Kim is here to stay for the time being.

Heidi Montag: The girl everyone loves to hate on The Hills. Heidi and her stupid fiance, Spencer Pratt, stay in the media spotlight by courting paparazzi to follow them just about everywhere. Heidi and Spencer are desperately trying to launch Heidi as a pop star, but her debut single, "Body Language," tanked in August.

Monday, November 26, 2007


A Guide to Corporate Ownership of Everything

SUMMARY: the mega-monopoly corporations that control most major industries in America also fund the (generally) right-wing corporate media by being the source of most of their advertising dollars, as they are the only ones that can afford the high-priced commercial airtime. They control the corporate political parties that run the country and, due to the mutually-beneficial advertiser-publisher relationship between the corporate press and the corporate monopolies, the corporate press rarely investigates the conflicts of interest between politicians and their corporate benefactors.

THE SOLUTION: STOP GIVING THEM YOUR MONEY!!! Shop at locally owned stores. Get an alternative-fueled car that doesn't need gas from the big-5 oil companies. Dump your cable TV. Seek out non-monopoly-corporate alternatives for everything you need. If every progressive American chose to not give their cash to the corporate monopolies, we could help starve them for cash that they would then not be able to give to their other corporate buddies.

Is it difficult? Maybe. Is it impossible? NO!

---Rex Frankel, webmaster


Here's an inspiring story:

Boycott Everything...

Like so many great ideas and Movements, this one is simplicity itself.

Just boycott everything.

Take public transportation to work, or walk to the corner store, or figure out a way to leave your car in the garage for the weekend. If you own an SUV, sell it. If you are in the market for a car, look into the gas/electric hybrids that are available. Thus, you boycott the petroleum companies that rape our planet and soil our air. Make your own coffee, or buy your morning cup of brew from the mom 'n pop joint you always walk by on your way to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts. Sure, it's crummy brew. But you are boycotting corporate hegemony.

Turn off the God damned television. While it is on you are a vapid receptacle for all of the invasive nonsense that is our sad and deranged estate. By simply boycotting television, you are saying 'NO' to all the advertisers and corporate hucksters who have sold us all down the river. If you are a news junkie, satisfy yourself with a couple of newspapers or the Internet. CNN hasn't told you anything that you need to know for a long, long time.

continued...Boycott Everything...


Details on what the Mega-Corporations Own:

updates on corporate mergers:


How to Overthrow Corporate Rule in 5 Not-so-easy Steps



1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

Greetings, Compact-wegians,

Tomorrow is the start of our 12-month flight from the consumer grid. To aid us all in getting started and sticking to the regime, I've compiled the guidelines we set in stone at our great dinner a few weeks back.

As agreed, The Compact has several aims (more or less prioritized below):

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact

2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er)

3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)

So, here goes for the rules:

  • First principle - don't buy new products of any kind (from stores, web sites, etc.)
  • Second principle - borrow or buy used.
  • A few exceptions -
  • to read the rest:
    Rich getting richer faster

    New studies spotlight a growing gap between top and bottom. The divide
    is widest in Arizona, narrowest in Wyoming.

    By MSN Money Staff 1/30/06

    Two new studies find the rich are getting richer at a faster pace.

    A study released in late January, from the Center on Budget and Policy
    Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute, found that the gap
    between the highest- and lowest-income families is significantly wider than
    it was 25 years ago.

    And an analysis of income-tax data by Congressional Budget Office found
    that the top 1% of households own nearly twice as much of the nation’s
    corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.

    The studies come among a growing push to increase the federal minimum
    wage of $5.15 an hour for the first time in nine years. Public advocacy
    groups have successfully lobbied for “living wage” reforms in 18 states
    and a number of cities, raising the minimum wage in some places as high
    as $12 an hour.

    An employee working full-time at the federal minimum wage makes $10,712
    a year. About 7% of the workforce earns a minimum wage.

    “Growing income inequality harms this nation in a number of ways,”
    stated Jared Bernstein, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute
    and co-author of the income report. “When income growth is concentrated
    at the top of the income scale, the people at the bottom have a much
    harder time lifting themselves out of poverty and giving their children a
    decent start in life.”

    Market rebound favors well-off:

    The five states with the largest income gap between the top and bottom
    fifths of families are New York, Texas, Tennessee, Arizona and Florida.
    Generally, income gaps are larger in the Southeast and Southwest and
    smaller in the Midwest, Great Plains and Mountain states. (To see the
    state-by-state list, ranked, see end of story.)

    Income inequality declined somewhat, the report found, following the
    bursting of the stock and high-tech bubbles in 2000, which were costly to
    the highest-income families. But incomes at the top have rebounded,
    while the negative effects of the recent recession on low and
    moderate-income families have lasted longer than usual.

    In 38 states where the incomes of the bottom fifth of families grew
    more slowly than those at the top, incomes at the top rose by an average
    of $45,800 (62%), while the incomes of the poorest grew by $3,000 (21%).

    The only state in which incomes of the poor grew faster than those of
    the rich was Alaska.

    The study is based on Census income data that have been adjusted to
    account for inflation, the impact of federal taxes and the cash value of
    food stamps, subsidized school lunches and housing vouchers. Income from
    capital gains is also included. The study compares combined data from
    2001-2003 with data from the early 1980s and early 1990s, time periods
    chosen because they stand as comparable low points of their respective
    business cycles.

    Possible steps to stem the disparity, the report offers, include
    raising state minimum wages, strengthening supports for low-income working
    families and reforming the unemployment insurance system. In addition,
    states can pursue tax policies that partially offset the growing
    inequality of pre-tax incomes.

    Corporate wealth concentrates further:

    The richest 1% of households -- those with incomes above $237,000 for
    2003, the latest year analyzed -- owned 57.5% of all income from capital
    gains, dividends, interest and rents in 2003, the CBO analysis found.
    That was up from 53.4% the year before and 38.7% in 1991.

    Long-term capital gains were taxed at 28% until 1997, and at 20% until
    2003, when rates were cut to 15%. The top rate on stock dividends was
    cut to 15% from 35% that year.

    The poorest fifth of Americans owned 0.6% of corporate wealth in 2003,
    down from 1.4 percent in 1991.

    The CBO analysis excludes the stock held in retirement accounts such as
    401(k)s and IRAs, which isn’t subject to taxation and was thus
    unaffected by the tax cuts.

    Although these tax cuts are slated to expire in 2008, Congress is
    already debating whether to extend them through 2010. The Bush
    administration has been calling for the cuts to be extended or made permanent.

    An analysis by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center found that an
    extension of the tax cuts would save households with incomes under $50,000
    about $11 in 2009. Those with incomes above $1 million would save about

    The growing gap in family incomes:

    Rank State Top 5% Bottom 20% Ratio

    14 Alabama $172,029 $14,765 11.7
    45 Alaska $180,148 $20,533 8.8
    1 Arizona $223,081 $15,719 14.2
    13 Arkansas $163,908 $13,888 11.8
    8 California $207,363 $16,773 12.4
    19 Colorado $215,109 $18,983 11.3
    24 Connecticut $231,928 $21,003 11.0
    41 Delaware $188,435 $20,225 9.3
    7 Florida $199,892 $15,396 13.0
    36 Georgia $158,382 $16,345 9.7
    26 Hawaii $208,340 $19,294 10.8
    43 Idaho $162,923 $17,847 9.1
    20 Illinois $203,876 $18,032 11.3
    30 Indiana $195,217 $18,590 10.5
    48 Iowa $155,722 $18,503 8.4
    17 Kansas $209,125 $18,284 11.4
    5 Kentucky $193,766 $14,814 13.1
    16 Louisiana $153,334 $13,347 11.5
    31 Maine $164,232 $15,975 10.3
    12 Maryland $253,923 $21,480 11.8
    11 Massachusetts $233,108 $19,690 11.8
    21 Michigan $200,814 $17,927 11.2
    33 Minnesota $223,411 $22,608 9.9
    25 Mississippi $145,342 $13,456 10.8
    38 Missouri $176,320 $18,482 9.5
    42 Montana $135,164 $14,788 9.1
    49 Nebraska $160,862 $19,242 8.4
    39 Nevada $180,521 $19,143 9.4
    35 New Hampshire $226,178 $23,128 9.8
    4 New Jersey $268,889 $20,391 13.2
    18 New Mexico $157,011 $13,748 11.3
    3 New York $216,061 $16,076 13.4
    9 North Carolina $183,253 $14,884 12.3
    44 North Dakota $147,519 $16,805 8.8
    27 Ohio $195,175 $18,216 10.7
    37 Oklahoma $150,011 $15,483 9.7
    32 Oregon $175,976 $17,367 10.1
    10 Pennsylvania $223,152 $18,548 12.0
    28 Rhode Island $200,859 $18,916 10.6
    29 South Carolina $157,634 $14,957 10.5
    47 South Dakota $155,427 $18,353 8.5
    6 Tennessee $187,026 $14,303 13.1
    2 Texas $203,174 $14,724 13.8
    34 Utah $192,142 $19,594 9.8
    40 Vermont $176,291 $18,846 9.4
    23 Virginia $200,191 $18,110 11.1
    15 Washington $195,170 $16,911 11.5
    22 West Virginia $147,434 $13,208 11.2
    46 Wisconsin $174,919 $20,197 8.7
    50 Wyoming $145,587 $18,171 8.0


    Big contributors to GOP reap big post-election rewards
    By Jim Drinkard, USA TODAY

    WASHINGTON - Just six months into a new term for
    President Bush and the Republican-controlled Congress,
    some of their heaviest donors are scoring victories on
    the legislative and regulatory fronts.
    From rewrites of the laws governing bankruptcy and
    class-action lawsuits to relief for oil, timber and
    tobacco interests, GOP supporters who gave millions of
    dollars last year are reaping decisions worth billions
    from a Congress with more Republicans.

    "Clearly, the election outcome has helped," says Bruce
    Josten, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber
    of Commerce. "We are heading in the right direction. A
    lot more has been done by this time in a new session
    than usual."

    While much public attention has been focused on Bush's
    sputtering effort to sell an overhaul of Social
    Security, legislation long sought by the GOP and its
    business allies have been enacted with bipartisan
    support. In February, Congress passed and Bush signed
    a bill that sharply limits class-action lawsuits. The
    savings will likely come to several billion dollars a
    year, says Russ Sutter of Tillinghast-Towers Perrin,
    an actuarial firm that studies tort costs.

    The business sector that includes manufacturing and
    retail was among top GOP donors last election cycle.
    It directed three of every five political dollars to
    Republicans--almost $121 million, according to the
    non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics.

    There was a similar partisan tilt in political giving
    by the finance industry, which won passage in April of
    a law making it harder to erase debts by declaring
    bankruptcy. Credit card companies and banks sought the
    change as a way to collect more debts.

    The finance sector gave nearly $195 million to the GOP
    in the 2004 elections. And 105 of Bush's 548 elite
    fundraisers--those who raised $100,000 or more--were
    from the world of finance, making it his biggest base
    of top-dollar support, at $34 million.

    "Many of the traditional business supporters are
    really getting the agenda they wanted, and it seems to
    be speeding up," says Larry Noble, director of the
    Center for Responsive Politics, which studies the
    impact of money on politics.

    Still to come: Congress is pushing to complete an
    energy bill. Business interests want limits on
    liability for water contamination caused by MTBE, a
    fuel additive designed to reduce auto emissions, and
    oil companies seek to open the Arctic National
    Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The Senate passed its
    version Tuesday.

    Bush supporters also have had good luck outside the
    legislative arena:

    --Justice Department lawyers this month abruptly
    scaled back their request for a penalty in the
    government's lawsuit against tobacco companies. Rather
    than the 25-year, $130 billion smoking cessation
    program their own expert had recommended, they are
    asking for a $14 billion remedy. The tobacco industry
    favored Republicans three-to-one over Democrats last
    year, giving $2.7 million to the party and its

    The Justice Department's Office of Professional
    Responsibility is looking into whether politics
    influenced the decision.

    --After Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman
    William Donaldson resigned under fire from business
    groups who complained about overzealous regulation,
    Bush replaced him with someone with a pro-corporate
    record: Rep. Christopher Cox, R-Calif.

    "It's hard to imagine somebody with a more nakedly
    deregulatory agenda," says William Lerach, a trial
    lawyer who has brought shareholder lawsuits against
    corporations accused of securities fraud. Securities
    and investment firms gave $47.8 million to Republicans
    last election.

    --The administration last month reversed a ban on road
    construction, timber harvesting, mining and energy
    development on undeveloped national forest land. The
    government also has expanded oil and gas development
    on federal lands, including areas in New Mexico and

    Energy and natural resources interests gave $39.3
    million to the GOP last year, three times the amount
    given to Democrats.

    Election Campaign Spending:

    The top 10 corporate donors to 2006 California ballot initiatives are responsible for half the money given to ballot initiatives :

    Philip Morris USA Inc. - $30,420,081

    Chevron Corporation - $30,250,000

    Aera Energy (ExxonMobile & Shell) - $24,620,838

    R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company - $22,781,513CA

    Hospitals Committee On Issues, Sponsored By CAHHS- $9,916,673

    Occidental Oil And Gas Corporation - $9,350,000

    U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Co. - $2,121,799

    California Alliance For Jobs Rebuild California Committee - $1,800,000

    Plains Exploration & Production Company - $1,250,000

    Commonwealth Brands, Inc. - $1,250,000


    Cable a la carte still isn't on menu.
    Tired of So Many Violent Programs and high rates for Sports that you never watch?


    WASHINGTON - Sports fans everywhere want to know: "Why do I have to subscribe to the soap opera channel when all I really want is ESPN?"

    That's the kind of question the cable TV industry hates answering.

    The channel choice issue comes up every few years, but people who argue that subscribers should be able to choose channels "a la carte" have never made any real headway.

    The latest effort, and the newest reasoning for requiring cable companies to offer channel choice, or a la carte cable, has to do with yet another issue: television violence.

    The Federal Communications Commission released a report in late April suggesting to Congress that an a la carte system would allow parents to shield their children from violent shows by not subscribing to the channels that carry them.

    FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who has been unshakable in his support of channel choice, says it can't happen without federal legislation. And thus far, the issue has gotten little traction on Capitol Hill.

    Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who is expected to unveil a bill addressing television violence any day now, has opposed the creation of an a la carte system.

    The overall lack of support might seem surprising, considering the average household in 2006 received 104 channels, yet tuned in to only 16 of them, according to the Nielsen TV ratings company.

    If we aren't watching all those channels, why can't we just pick the ones we want and avoid paying for the rest? The answer lies within the arcane world of cable TV economics.

    In the old days (pre-1970s), cable systems provided viewers with broadcast channels that viewers couldn't tune in because the signals were too weak where they lived.

    Since then, there has been a steady growth in cable-only channels, starting with popular ones such as HBO, CNN, MTV and ESPN.

    Federal law requires cable companies to offer a bare bones, "basic tier" of service, consisting of local broadcast and public access channels.

    The second tier, commonly known as "expanded basic," includes most of the major cable networks. There's usually no choice on this tier; subscribers get all the channels or none of them.

    Beyond that, subscribers may pick premium channels such as HBO, that are priced separately.

    Unlike over-the-air broadcasters, which rely almost entirely on advertising to stay in business, cable networks earn about half their revenue from per-subscriber charges levied on cable system operators. Those costs are passed on to subscribers.

    Two types of companies dominate the cable industry: those that own both broadcast and cable networks (such as Walt Disney Co.); and those that own both cable systems and cable networks (such as Time Warner Inc.).

    Disney, for example, owns the ABC television network, which feeds programming to 228 affiliates, several popular cable-only channels (80 percent of ESPN) and several not-as-popular cable channels (SOAPnet).

    Cable customers demand that their local cable company carry the ABC affiliate so they can watch popular shows such as "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" or catch the local news. Disney can charge the cable operator to carry the ABC network, but the cable operator can avoid the cost by agreeing to carry other, less-popular Disney-owned networks.

    The second model is a form of vertical integration, or ownership of the cable delivery system and its programming content.

    Time Warner owns the second-largest cable television service in the nation with 13.4 million subscribers. It also owns some of the most popular cable channels in the U.S. That means that Time Warner the cable system owner must negotiate with Time Warner the cable channel owner to provide programming.

    In a nutshell, the cable television business is a closed, profitable system with a small number of very large players who negotiate secret deals with one another and have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.

    "The whole system feeds on itself," said Jeannine Kenney, senior policy analyst with Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. "It's almost like everyone benefits except for the consumer and the independent content provider."

    An a la carte regime would blow up that system and disrupt its economic model. And that would lead to higher prices and less programming diversity, according to the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, an industry trade group.

    Fewer channels would mean less advertising and fewer advertising dollars. An a la carte system also would require more customer service representatives, higher billing costs and higher marketing costs.

    These factors and others would ultimately lead to higher rates for consumers, according to the NCTA.

    The bottom line is there is no way of knowing for sure. A 2003 GAO report stated that "a variety of factors" make it "difficult to ascertain how many consumers would be better off and how many would be made worse off under an a la carte approach."

    Consumers Union has lobbied long and hard for a la carte, saying it would put a halt to steadily rising cable prices. It has an ally in the Parents Television Council, a group that successfully pushed for higher fines for broadcast stations that air raunchy programming.

    The opponent is the cable industry, led by the NCTA, which issues press statements every time Martin utters the words "a la carte."

    Cable networks that cater to minorities fear cable choice. They worry that it will drop their subscriber base dramatically and run them out of business. (The biggest minority networks, such as Black Entertainment Television, are owned by big cable or broadcast companies.)

    Cable's closed system has developed mostly because of the industry's status as a monopoly for most of its early years. Even when direct broadcast satellite providers like Dish Network and El Segundo-based DirecTV came on the scene and cut heavily into cable's customer base, the system still didn't change much.

    The same programming rules that apply to cable apply to satellite. If you want the popular channels, you have take the unpopular channels.


    Satellite TV offers a la carte deals:

    Digital 4DTV A la Carte Channels MonMonthlythly


    Animal Planet/The Travel Channel/TLC E/Discovery E $3.50 9.60 31.80
    Bravo E (C-band) & W (Ku-band) 4.50 12.00 43.00
    Cinemax Digital 14.25 38.75 145.00
    Discovery HD Theater (High Definition) 6.00 16.75 59.00
    ESPN Classic 4.69 12.69 45.29
    GAC - Great American Country (Ku-band) 4.89 12.69 45.29
    Golf Channel (Ku-band) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    Mini Scripps (HGTV/DIY/Food Network E&W/Fine Living) 8.89 24.97 76.99
    History Channel E (Ku-band) & W (C-band) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    HBO Digital * 16.75 46.50 174.00
    HBO/Cinemax Digital 22.25 63.00 243.00
    Independent Film Channel (Ku) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    PT24E - CBS 5.35 14.95 53.19
    PT24E - ABC 5.35 14.95 53.19
    KDVR FOX Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    KUSA NBC Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    KMGH ABC Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    KCNC CBS Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    KWGN WB Denver 3.15 8.99 30.60
    Sci-Fi (Ku-band) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    Showtime Digital Triple * Showtime/FLIX/TMC 15.25 42.00 159.00
    Showtime Digital * 14.50 40.50 150.00
    Speed Channel (Ku-band) 4.85 12.80 45.99
    STARZ! Digital 14.75 41.00 152.00
    Sundance Digital 13.00 35.75 126.00
    TV Land (Ku-band) 4.69 12.69 45.29
    WE: Women's Entertainment (Ku-band) 4.39 11.69 41.59
    Wealth 1.99 4.99 18.72
    * Get the Analog movie channel free (analog decoder required) when you subscribe to that Digital movie channel.
    Analog A la Carte Channels Monthly



    FOXNews 2.25 - -
    HBO 15.75 - -
    Showtime 13.75 38.27 138.00
    The Weather Channel 2.25

    or other satellite providers:


    AT&T: Buying Back its Monopoly

    AT&T is the U.S.’s dominant phone company. Despite the 1983 breakup of AT&T’s monopoly by the Justice department into seven local phone monopolies, since then the company has re-acquired four of those local firms. Two of the local monopolies are now owned by Verizon, and one by Qwest, leaving 3 companies in control of almost the entire USA land line and cell phone market. (Other options for phone service are from the cable monopoly in your area, usually either Comcast or Time-Warner, which together have over half of all USA cable subscribers.

    After the passage of the 1996 U.S. Telecommunications Act by congress, AT&T was freed to move into most other communications businesses. In the hopes of establishing a “synergy” between using phone and cable lines together to reach the maximum number of American homes and sell phone service, cellular, internet and pay TV as one package, AT&T made an ill-fated foray into the cable TV business, buying TCI, the nation’s largest cable system owner in 1998. In 1999 AT&T bought MediaOne, another large cable system owner. AT&T also bought a 2.5% stake in DirecTV.

    Because this “synergy” did not excite the buying public, and the massive run-up in values of entertainment properties after the 1996 Telecom act meant that AT&T had rung up enormous debt in buying cable systems that were not worth those prices, AT&T’s stock took a huge dive. Several other major media firms that had expanded rapidly through debt-financed purchases in the 1990’s also soon wrote off billions of dollars in value. These firms included AOL-Time Warner, Vivendi Universal, Clear Channel radio, Qwest and MCI Worldcom. In 2001, AT&T sold its cable systems to Comcast, creating the USA’s largest system owner with almost 40% of all subscribers. AT&T also spun off its cell phone division, which was bought in 2004 by a partnership owned by SBC and BellSouth. This left AT&T as only a long distance firm again.

    Ironically, the weakened AT&T sold itself to SBC in 2005, and SBC later that year bought BellSouth, re-creating the massive AT&T of before.

    --Rex Frankel


    -1983 AT&T is split up; parent company will be AT&T long distance and Bell Labs phone equipment firm. Newly spun-off local phone service companies are Ameritech, Bell Atlantic, Pacific Bell, U.S. West, BellSouth, Southwestern Bell and Nynex. For the next 13 years, AT&T was restricted to only providing long distance phone service, while the local companies were restricted to selling local service.

    -7/1990 AT&T buys Western Union’s email and telex business for $180 million

    -1991 AT&T buys NCR for $7.5 billion

    -8/1993 AT&T merges with McCaw Communications (#1 in US cell business) in deal valued at $12.6 billion

    -9/1995 AT&T spins off its Bell Labs phone equipment business as Lucent Technologies (now known as Alcatel-Lucent) and also spins off NCR computer and cash register biz.

    -4/1996 Southwestern Bell buys Pacific Bell for $15.6 billion

    -1/1998 SBC buys independent Southern New England Telecom for $4.4 billion

    -6/1998 AT&T buys TCI for $43.5 billion in stock. In deal, TCI’s former owner John Malone will retain control of TCI’s Liberty Media division and its interests in over 90 cable channels as a tracking stock of AT&T. AT&T will get TCI’s 111 million subscribers, and TCI has partnerships with other cable system owners that bring its reach up to half of US subscribers. AT&T will also get control of TCI’s @home internet service.

    1/1999 SBC merges with Ameritech for $85 billion. Will sell off its Chicago cell system. Combined SBC/Ameritech/PacBell will control 1.3rd of USA local phone lines. FCC staff calls merger anti-competitive. FCC eventually OKs the deal in 10/1999 after adding 30 conditions The conditions require SBC to sell discount access to other DSL ISPs and they must open their local phone service to competition.

    -4/1999 AT&T bids $58 billion for MediaOne cable systems outbidding Comcast.They become part of AT&T Broadband. AT&T agrees to sell off 2 million subscribers of MediaOne to Comcast. In the deal, AT&T gets 25% stake in Time Warner’s cable systems. Time Warner protests the deal.

    -10/2000 facing a loss of half its stock value in past year, AT&T splits into 3 companies: cable, wireless, and long distance phone and business services. The costs of upgrading TCI cable to broadband were underestimated at $2 rather than $10 billion. AT&T also controls Liberty but doesn’t own it as it is owned by shareholders of a separate tracking stock.

    -11/2000 AT&T board votes to spin off Liberty Media and its stakes in Encore-Starz, USA, BET and Discovery, and could also sell its stake in Rainbow Media (controlled by Cablevision). 8/2001 is set as spin-off date, and Liberty holdings will also include stakes in Time Warner cable and News Corp.

    1/2001 AT&T plans to sell its stake in E Channel, Food Network, Outdoor Life and Speedvision, Digital Cable Radio, Fox Sports New England, In Demand, National Cable Communications and the Sunshine Network which were acquired as part of MediaOne deal

    -7/2001 AT&T Wireless is spun off to shareholders. AT&T will keep 7.4% stake, other holders include NTT DoCoMo of Japan with 17.4% and AXA financial firm with 6.7%

    In 12/2001 AT&T sells cable broadband systems to Comcast for $52 billion in stock; giving existing AT&T shareholders 66% stake in Comcast. Comcast also gets 25% stake in Time Warner Entertainment, which owns HBO, Warner Brothers studio and TW’s cable systems, plus gets $20 billion or ½ of AT&T’s debt.

    -2/2004 Cingular wireless, owned 60% by SBC and 40% by Bellsouth, bids $41 billion for AT&T Wireless. With purchase, Cingular will have 30% of US cell users compared to 24% by Verizon. FCC eventually requires sell-off of assets in 22 markets

    -1/2005 SBC buys AT&T long distance for $15 billion. AT&T had been weakened by rise of cell phone use, appeals court ruling in 2004. SBC changes its name to AT&T. FCC and California's PUC require SBC to offer stand-alone DSL to customers

    -3/2005 AT&T agrees to pay $67 billion in cash for BellSouth, and assume $22 billion in debt, giving it ownership of 4 of the original 7 Baby-Bells that were ordered spun-off in 1983 to settle monopoly issues.

    Sunday, November 25, 2007

    British Government Investigating Murdoch Media holdings; Murdoch wants British Sky News to be more like rightwing Fox

    Owen Gibson, media correspondent
    The Guardian
    Saturday November 24 2007

    The media mogul Rupert Murdoch has said he wants Sky News to become more like his rightwing US network Fox News, and revealed the extent of his editorial grip on his British newspapers to a House of Lords committee.

    The communications committee, chaired by Lord Fowler, toured the US in September to meet media executives, regulators and consumer groups as part of an inquiry into media ownership. Their conversations were made public yesterday in detailed minutes.

    Murdoch said he wanted Sky News, which has confounded cynics by maturing into a well-funded and award-winning 24-hour news operation, to be more like Fox News to make it "a proper alternative to the BBC".

    Due to the lack of impartiality laws in the US, Fox News became successful as a rightwing counterpoint to the perceived leftwing leanings of its rivals.

    Murdoch said Sky may become more like Fox, even if there was no overhaul of news impartiality laws by Ofcom, by copying its presentational style. He complained that changes had not been made because "nobody at Sky listens to me". The BSkyB chief executive is his son James.

    Murdoch, 76, recently added the Wall Street Journal to an empire that includes 20th Century Fox, the Times, the Sun, a stake in BSkyB, MySpace and interests in South America, Asia and Australia.

    Murdoch restated his antipathy towards British legislators and regulators, saying the UK was "anti-success" and this had prevented him from expanding his media empire further. They kept investigating his purchases on the grounds of plurality, he said, but he had invested in plurality by keeping the Times afloat and putting 200 channels on the air through Sky.
    He claimed the government's concern about cross-media ownership was "10 years out of date" given the proliferation of media outlets, and said concern over BSkyB's purchase of a 17.9% stake in rival ITV stemmed from "paranoia".

    Next month John Hutton, secretary of state for business, enterprise and regulatory reform, will receive the Competition Commission's final verdict on the matter and decide what action to take.

    In the minutes, Murdoch distinguished between the Times and the Sunday Times, in which he said he did not interfere in editorial matters, and the Sun and the News of the World, where he said he acted like "a traditional proprietor". "He exercises editorial control on major issues - like which party to back in a general election or policy on Europe," said the minutes.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    OMG! Text message charges soar

    It's the communication method of choice these days, but texting two-liners can totally add up.


    By Jennifer Dickler

    Texting your boss that you'll "brb" (be right back) can save a lot of time and energy, but chances are it won't save you money. Although teenagers have been driving the trend, nearly everyone is texting (also known as SMS, or "short message service"). According to Forrester Research, now more than one-third of all cell phone subscribers are on board with "txt" - and sending almost a billion messages each day.But that convenience comes at a price. If you don't shell out for a texting package, which can cost $3 to $20 a month depending on the provider and the plan, most carriers will charge you for each message whether sent or received, read or unread, solicited or unsolicited. More Raw Deals And the price per text is on the rise. Earlier this year, T-Mobile, AT&T (Charts, Fortune 500) and Verizon (Charts, Fortune 500) raised their rates to 15 cents a text, from 10 cents, while Sprint (Charts, Fortune 500) upped the cost to 20 cents per domestic text, and those prices get even higher across the board for international messaging.That can really add up. Especially with incoming texts - even spam - that you can't control. Paying per text can exponentially impact your monthly bill....

    more of this story:

    Ticketmaster charges: A concert killer

    After paying a 30% to 40% premium ove
    r the face value of a ticket, some concert goers have had enough of Ticketmaster's hefty fees.

    By Jessica Dickler, staff writer
    October 11 2007

    Hankering for some live music or sports this fall? Be prepared to shell out some cash. Above and beyond the rising face value of tickets is a heaping helping of service fees. Nearly anyone who has ever ordered a ticket through Ticketmaster will say the charges, which can be as much as 40 percent above the face value depending on the event, are excessive.

    The company claims it's the cost of doing business, but consumers are tired of paying through the nose for nose-bleed seats, and even some politicians are considering capping the fees levied by ticketsellers. There is no doubt that Ticketmaster has mastered the ticket-selling business. The company, which is a division of IAC InterActive Corp. (Charts, Fortune 500) has 9,000 clients (mainly arenas, stadiums and theaters) in 20 countries and exclusive rights to sell tickets through its Web site, retail outlets and call centers.

    Last year the West Hollywood, Calif.-based company sold more than 128 million tickets with a face value of over $7 billion and raked in the service fees.

    On top of the face value of a ticket, which is determined by the promoter, venue or artist, Ticketmaster levies a convenience charge that covers the costs of providing tickets at local ticket outlet locations, staffing call centers and ongoing maintenance of its Internet-based system. But ticket buyers must pay this charge regardless of how they purchase their tickets, be it on the phone, online or in person.In addition to the convenience charge, there is also an order processing fee which covers taking and maintaining the order, arranging for shipping or coordinating with the box office will call. And in almost all cases, additional delivery prices may be charged based on the delivery method.Standard mail and will call are usually, but not always, free, although other delivery options, like FedEx, UPS and even email cost extra.

    There can also be a facility charge, which varies depending on the location and goes directly to the venue, not Ticketmaster.S

    o say you purchase a $35 ticket through Ticketmaster for an upcoming event, there could be a convenience charge of $8.35 (per ticket) in addition to a $3.15 order processing fee and $1.75 fee for an e-ticket. That adds up to a whopping 38 percent premium over the face value of the ticket price."Like any business, we have every right to seek a fair return on our investment and efforts," the company said in a statement.

    Even artists have complained that the company's anticompetitive practices result in unfair markups of their concert tickets. In 1994, the rock band Pearl Jam attempted to sue Ticketmaster for refusing to lower its service fees for the band's tickets. But because Ticketmaster had exclusive contracts with so many large venues, Pearl Jam had no alternative but to cancel their tour....

    for rest of story:

    to read more "tales of economic injustice":

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Are the corporate suits ruining TV?

    Network control and media consolidation are wringing the creativity out of entertainment.

    By Marshall Herskovitz

    L.A.. Times, November 7, 2007

    After 20 years and five series, including "thirtysomething" and "My So-Called Life," my partner, Ed Zwick, and I have -- for the time being at least -- stopped producing television programs.

    It's not personal. I count as friends many of the executives who work at the networks. We had a deal at one network, ABC, for all of those 20 years, and, in spite of many regime changes, we were always treated with great respect. This is not about how we were treated but rather something much larger: How a confluence of government policy and corporate strategy is literally poisoning the TV business.

    It started in 1995 when the Federal Communications Commission abolished its long-standing "finsyn" rules (that's financial interest and syndication, for those unfamiliar with the term), allowing networks for the first time to own the programs they broadcast. Before that, under classic antitrust definitions, the networks had been confined to the role of broadcaster, paying a license fee to production companies for the right to broadcast programs just two times. The production companies owned all subsequent rights. In the mid-1990s there were 40 independent production companies making television shows. If a particular network didn't like a show -- as famously happened with "The Cosby Show" many years ago -- the production company could take it to another network.

    But not after 1995. The abolition of the old rules set in motion an ineluctable process, one that has negatively affected every creative person I know in television. Today there are zero independent production companies making scripted television. They were all forced out of business by the networks' insistence -- following the FCC's fin-syn ruling -- on owning part or all of every program they broadcast.

    The most profound change resulting from that ruling is the way networks go about the business of creating programming. Networks today exert a level of creative control unprecedented in the history of the medium. The stories my friends tell me would make me laugh if the situation weren't so self-defeating. Network executives routinely tell producers to change the color of the walls on sets; routinely decide on the proper wardrobe for actors; routinely have "tone" meetings with directors on upcoming pilots; routinely give notes on every page of a script. (When we did "thirtysomething" in the late '80s, we never received network notes.) And by the way, they have every right to do these things. As owners, they have a responsibility to satisfy themselves that their product is competitive and successful.

    The problem, of course, is that these executives often have little background or qualification for making creative decisions. They are guided by market research and -- they want to believe -- a learned intuition about what the public wants. This season's new shows have been a good indicator of how successful that strategy is: Even before the current writer's strike, virtually every new show was struggling.

    But the changes have gone further. Over the last few years -- during a time when network profits have been increasing -- salaries and profit participation for the writer-producers who create the shows have been slashed. Fees were cut by one-third to one-half, and profit participation in many cases was effectively eliminated. It's a curious (and peculiarly American) fact that many of the great artistic talents in the history of film and TV also have been entrepreneurs: Chaplin, Capra, Serling, Pakula, Lucas, Spielberg -- the list goes on. For reasons that are probably more psychological than anything else, creative and financial independence seem to go hand in hand.

    Yet what we have now is a complete absence of either in the world of television. Your TV may receive 200 channels, but virtually every one of them is owned by one of six big companies -- NBC Universal, Disney, Time Warner, Viacom/Paramount, Sony and News Corp. And each channel has a brand identity dictated by those companies to which each program must adhere. Producers are now employees, not creators. If you were foolish enough to independently produce a TV pilot today, when you took it to the network, you would give up at least half of your ownership and all of your control, even though the network wouldn't pay any more than it used to pay as that old license fee.

    Is there significance to this, outside the narrow concerns of Hollywood and the lost earning power of producers? I think so. Besides any esoteric discussion of the value of storytelling in a culture -- which I believe is immense -- this trend is part of a larger problem caused by the FCC in all areas of media. The relaxation of the Fairness Doctrine (which required the networks to present the news in a balanced way), the lapse of any oversight of networks' civic responsibility, the commoditization of network news -- these are all parts of a troubling move toward the aggregation of control of information in an ever-shrinking number of entities.

    Our founding fathers could not have foreseen that freedom of the press might eventually be threatened just as much by media consolidation as by government. And if you doubt that's happening, just watch Bill Moyers' recent expose on the networks' passive collusion with government in selling the Iraq war.

    Because the business of television has become an exclusive club, closed to new members, some producers are turning to the Internet to have a voice. And, of course, the Big Six are doing everything they can to own and control that as well. Already, it's impossible to make an "overall deal" -- the time-honored arrangement in which producers are kept on retainer to develop shows for a particular network -- without agreeing to be exclusive to the network on the Internet as well as television. The logic of this defies all laws of economics; producers pledge fealty to networks because they (the producers) don't have the millions it takes to shoot, distribute and broadcast their own programs on television. Producing for the Internet, on the other hand, costs as little as $30,000 an hour, and "broadcasting" costs much less. Virtually anyone can do it.

    So what value do the networks provide that makes it worthwhile for producers to agree to that exclusivity? You tell me, because I can't figure it out. Less polite folks might call it extortion.

    Zwick and I have joined that migration to the Internet. We've created a project called "quarterlife" -- a series and a social network -- that we own and control, and we had to give up our TV deal in order to do it. The series will premiere Sunday on MySpace and then on our site,, the next night. We've worked very hard, and spent a great deal of our own money, to make it as good as anything we've ever done on television. And we've gotten calls from every guild and virtually every producer we know, all of whom are curious to see if this little experiment can succeed. Because if it does, it will prove that there's a way to independently produce, finance and distribute ambitious content on the Internet. And if we can do it, others can do it. To be sure, there's every possibility this series will end up on television after it's established on the Internet, but only if we still own it and control it creatively, which would make it unique in today's landscape.

    The problems of network ownership and creative control are not directly at issue in the current strike by the Writers Guild of America. What's at stake is how writers will be compensated, given the control everyone assumes the big companies will exert over new methods of delivery.

    But make no mistake -- deep resentment in the entire creative community over the absolute power now wielded by these companies is the fuel that feeds the strike. The public is also fed up, turning out in droves and sending millions of e-mails whenever the FCC holds hearings on the subject. And yet the large corporations move forward, seemingly unaware that they are strangling the creative engine that might save them.

    Within five years there won't be a significant distinction between TV and broadband. As of now, the Internet is just too big for any company to get its hands around, and that's good for all of us. If the large companies -- and the FCC -- cannot come to comprehend the paradox that too much control is destructive to their own ends, they may bring about their own downfall, losing their audience and their workers at the same time. Like carriage makers at the dawn of the auto age.

    Marshall Herskovitz is a TV and movie producer whose credits include "Blood Diamond," "thirtysomething" and the upcoming "quarterlife." He is president of the Producers Guild of America (which is not affiliated with the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, currently being struck by the Writers Guild of America).

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Liberty Media-Controlled Interactive Corp. to be split up into 5 new pieces; was split in two in 2005

    Interactive Corp. once owned USA Channel, Universal TV in Complex Deals in 1990's that attempted to create "synergy" between creative assets and internet portals

    taken from and other sources

    IAC will be all-Internet and will include many of the company's popular online media brands, including, Bloglines, BustedTees, Citysearch, CollegeHumor, Evite, Excite,, iWon,, Vimeo, and Zwinky. In addition, this new pared-down IAC will include the company's current investments in brands like, Brightcove, and OpenTable., under the new plan, will spin off into its own publicly traded company, along with other IAC-owned global ticket brands like, Echomusic, and TicketWeb, Biletix, Billetnet, BillettService, LiveDaily, TicketService and TicketWeb as well as the company's investments in Frontline and social music service iLike

    Home Shopping Network (HSN) will also spin off along with a number of IAC's retail brands and catalogs, like HSN TV, Frontgate, Garnet Hill, and TravelSmith, and Cornerstone Brands

    Additionally, several of IAC's vacationing brands will join the title Interval International, CondoDirect, Resort Quest Hawaii and

    LendingTree brand will also include, Domania, GetSmart, Home Loan Center and iNest.

    This is not the first time that IAC has shrunk itself; in 2005, the company ditched its Expedia travel brand. Expedia includes, Hotwire,, Activity World,,,,, eLong, TV Travel Shop, Expedia Corporate Travel, Classic Custom Vacations and TripAdvisor.

    "If you total all of the assets that include Expedia and IAC, it's an enterprise of about $19.5 billion," Diller said in the press call. "We thought Expedia was certainly large enough to stand on its own, and we thought that it would be enhanced as a standalone company, and that has certainly proven true."

    Under the deal, IAC will retain all the company's cash and the new businesses will be "appropriately capitalized," Diller said.