First published in 1966, Good News for Modern Man was a “modern language” translation of the New Testament. There are now more than a 100 million copies in circulation. Good for the book, and good for the publishers.
But you don’t have to get Biblical to hear some good news for modern man and woman. Sometimes it’s right there in the rarely holy business section of your newspaper.
Last week Clear Channel Communications, Inc., the nation’s largest radio broadcaster and a name now synonymous with giant corporate media conglomerates, announced a 59% drop in net income in its first quarter. When you make an announcement like that, you almost always follow it with another announcement describing the corrective measures being taken. Often, that adjustment statement begins, “We’ll lay off about 4,000 workers in various economically depressed cities across America, then move our operations to India.”
Clear Channel’s adjustment will be to spin-off its live entertainment division, which the corporation had assumed would succeed with all the media synergy Clear Channel could provide. It didn’t. It’s not. Clear Channel is de-synergizing.
Just a few years ago, observers such as your humble servant were alarmed, rightfully, at the convergence of media under just three or four enormous umbrella corporations. There was no way it didn’t look ominous, since much of the current corporate synergy we are currently made to suffer is oppressive and militates against such things as independent film and music. Or independent thought, if we’re still (hopefully) anxious about that. Put another way, have your kids seen the movie A Shark’s Tale? Of course they have. Essentially, they had no choice.
So a headline suggesting that one of the larger corporate media octopuses is having serious tentacle problems is, I would argue, good news for modern man. There’s also buzz that Viacom, the “Shaq” of media conglomerates, might split up some of its assets. When there seemed to be nothing we could do to stop all these mergers, why now are things turning?
Clear Channel bought SFX Entertainment for $2.99 billion, virtually certain that Clear Channel’s radio station and billboard divisions would bond with live entertainment and get revenue moving all one way in a wider, rushing river. But now, those in the know say it simply didn’t happen. It may have turned out that you couldn’t just bombard people with a coordinated message and pound them into submitting to your desires.
This is where somebody in the room might say, “Yeah, like New Coke…,” reminding us that when Coca Cola tampered with its original formula, America combatively rejected the change. There’s also been a lot of talk recently that, no matter how many Led Zeppelin songs they used to make us think they’ve got hot products, General Motors isn’t making the cars America wants to drive.
But those might be cycles or patterns of taste. What I want to believe, desperately, is that the de-synergizing of media giants indicates that, at the end of the day, feisty consumers still choose what they want, not always what they’re told. You wonder if corporations would adjust to that, and then maybe the idea would catch on at the White House.
This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz
1) Our governor calls the border “Minutemen”
(b) some other hack cliché.
(c) “really good for my image.”
2) NASA will delay the shuttle launch to
(a) not hurt the “Idol” finale.
(b) make safety checks.
(c) catch the last two Cher concerts.
3) A venue in Carson has lifted a ban on
(a) the rock band Green Day.
(b) anything with “river” or “dance.”
(c) anything with “Barney” or “love.”
1) (a) “The Mistake-inator.”
2) (b) “And maybe catch Cher…”3) (a) “Okay, but no Captain and Tenille…”