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Marianne Paskowski

February Is ‘Obamavision’ for Broadcast Nets

February 6, 2009 10:44 AM

According to WashingtonPost.com, broadcast network executives are not happy about President Barack Obama’s plan to hold a televised press conference in primetime on Monday.

President Barack Obama's First Press Conference

In fact, they are bracing themselves for the likelihood of three such primetime speeches from him during the February sweeps that will cut into their profits. “We’re all going to take a bath,” said one network executive interviewed for that article.

In the piece, entitled “Obama’s Preemptive Strike,” another network executive snidely said, “His economic stimulus package apparently does not extend to the TV networks,” referring to the likely $9 million loss in advertising revenues.

And the savvy Obama picked Monday, a night that gets better ratings than, say, Friday or Saturday.

What a heap of hubris this is, given that the networks have been the beneficiaries of free government-owned spectrum since the get-go.

Throughout his campaign, Obama warned that the economy will worsen before it improves. Given today’s job-loss report, that fear has become a reality.

Upon becoming president, Obama said we’re all in this together, asking for sacrifices from everyone. So despite the hand-wringing from broadcast nets about loss of ad dollars, they will comply and air Obama’s speeches.

“You don’t want to incur the wrath of the White House,” another executive told the Washington Post.

Frankly, I’m happy we have a president who is using the airwaves to tell the nation what’s going on, unlike his predecessor, who ruled in near secrecy.


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Comments (26)


"Frankly, I’m happy we have a president who is using the airwaves to tell the nation what’s going on, unlike his predecessor, who ruled in near secrecy."

So am I. I'm interested in hearing what he has to say.

And this isn't happening during February "sweeps" which was delayed this year due to the DTV transition originally having scheduled for mid-February. I think they have more to worry about from the now-delayed transition, especially in those markets where some of stations are sticking to the original Feb. 17 date.

Marianne Paskowski:


Thanks, had no idea February sweeps was delayed, but that makes sense given the DTV transition

Totally agree with you that there will be more confusion with some stations sticking to the Feb. date and others waiting until June. Not a good outcome, but another lemon to try to make lemonade from. m

Jeff Mulligan:


You are certainly right about the broadcasters' use of free spectrum--a fact they conveniently forget, especially when it comes to what should be an essential question about free political advertising air time.

Let's have some brave congressperson introduce a bill to charge spectrum users for their bandwidth. I'd love to see the public prevaricating from the broadcasters over that one, and also be a fly on the wall when greedy broadcast executives threaten legislators behind the scenes.

Remember: Broadcasters are Republicans.


Joe Guerin:

Ms. Paskowski,

Once again the Pinkos and their front man in the White House want to stick it to legitimate businesses. As if the public wants more political hot air instead of their favorite Monday night sitcoms!

Why tax the broadcasters? It is they and their colleagues in cable TV and radio--heroes like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh--bringing desperately needed good sense to the public debate. Let them tell the truth, and relegate the South Side Chicago community organizer to 3 a.m. where he belongs, wedged in between commercials for vegetable slicers and the Sham-Wow.



Yo, Blondie --

Do I hear "Fireside Chat, 2009" in Obama's plan for addressing the public? It worked for Roosevelt and calmed a nation in crisis. That's the kind of leadership we've sorely lacked since 2001.

Cruisin not bruisin

Marianne Paskowski:

Broadcasters conveniently forget their responsibility as the recipients of free spectrum.

But you have to give them credit for spending and updating plant for the digital transition that requires them to give back the analog signals to the gov. m

Marianne Paskowski:

Sure, some folks might be bummed out if they can't see their Monday night broadcast sitcoms or whatever, but they have options, like cable.

More important, remember that broadcasters have responsibility here and there has never been a more important time for them to keep up their end of the deal.

Did you notice in in the Wapo piece that every single broadcast next who was quoted, did so without attribution?

They now something you don't....m

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Cruiser,
No doubt Obama is media savvy and not afraid to communicate with the people who voted for him, unlike Bush who had so little contact while in office for eight stinking years....m


I am also interested as to what he has to say. He has been on the sidelines regarding this bailout package. I'm ready for him to show leadership and speak directly to the public with practical info. He spoke so much during the campaign about "hope", now it's all about fear and doom if we don't pass the stimulus package as is.

And regarding the DTV switch, America has known about this switch for three years now. Stick to the plan. I'm tired of the government holding our hands. People will still not be ready in June.

David Cohen:

I confess to not being a big TV watcher. But now that we have a president who can actually speak without putting a shoe in his mouth (or getting two thrown at him), I'd much rather hear what he has to say than watch "brilliant" TV like the Grey's Anatomy/Private Practice combined episode. Shoot me now.

Marianne Paskowski:

We are going to have to agree to disagree here. Obama has been out there every day on this, whether it's an op/ed piece for the Washington times or as he was just the other day warning Congress that he didn't want the same old eight year old solutions to the economic crisis.

So far I don't like the way the stimulus bill looks but it's work in progress and a lot of things that our in it right now will not be there in the end.

As for the DTV switch, sounds like stations that are ready are going ahead in Feb. and remember some stations already made the switch, so what's the big deal?
Thanks for your post, m

Marianne Paskowski:

Well said Dave, should be interesting to hear what he has to say Monday night and thereafter while the nation endures this economic nightmare.

Andy S.:

"Let's have some brave congressperson introduce a bill to charge spectrum users for their bandwidth."

Well, the analog spectrum was auctioned off for billions of dollars, so the government has already made out nicely there. The new business uses to which stations will put their digital spectrum in theory should yield profits, and therefore tax revenues.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Andy,

Thanks for responding more pointedly to Jeff's post than I did.

Yes, the government has made money by selling the analog spectrum to Verizon, etal. But with the new June 12 deadline for the DTV transition, when do they actually get the spectrum? I certainly have no idea.

Given that, isn't it hard to imagine how the government ran out of money to issue enough $40 coupons for the delay and is now looking at a couple million people on a waiting list for the coupons?

I guess we'll see which stations turn off the analog spigot Feb. 17 and if that creates any more problems. I suspect it will when you look at the larger picture as you have.

Thanks for the post,


Hey M,
Obama's going to need a week's worth of his fireside chats to get most of this country on board with his pork-filled stimulus package. I'd rather watch the Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother and I'm sure CBS agrees. Perhaps all these new digital sub channels could permanently become the Obama channel.

Take care,

Marianne Paskowski:

Oh Jason,
Aren't we a shade cranky this Sunday evening before work and tomorrow's Obamvision, first prime time speech in the middle of this economic mess?

Actually, I'm watching the funniest thing on TV right now on CSPAN, of all places: Amy Kolbuchar (D-Minn) a new fresh voice in the Senate at the Washington Press Club roast.

You should widen your horizons. I don't generally watch CSPAN but there's nothing else on now that was remotely intelligent or funny.

Trust me, if SNL is on its game its next parody will be Kolbuchar.What a fresh voice.

In the meantime, peace, even though we agree to disagree...m

Thurston Last:

I keep on hearing from Pubs that people knew about the switch to digital television for three years now. That's untrue.

The plan to move to digital television started sometime around 2004, the February 17, 2009 date came into effect in 2006 (the same year all televisions sets had to have digital tuners), the first widespread public campaign informing the public about the switch began in September 2007, the coupon program began in January 2008, the first consumer converters became available in brick and mortar stores beginning in March 2008, the depression hit us in the summer of 2008, and the broadcasters asked the government to delay the transition last summer.

The broadcasters are the ones who wanted the delay. And yet . . . they still have nothing to put in the open sub-channel space that will become available. Meanwhile, affiliates are left to find programming options on their own as well as find additional funds to keep broadcasting in both digital and analog for four more months.

If they choose.

Marianne Paskowski:

Hi Thurston,

It's getting messy out there. I deliberately kept one TV set analog cable. A couple of months ago Comcast here moved MSNBC, some religious channel and something else were moved to the digital tier.

I just did a quick check on the analog cable set, no digital converter box on that baby, and channels 3, 9, 21, 22, 23, 27 and others are blank. Thanks for spurring me on to check.

I suspect you're right that all broadcast network affiliates are not ready to program their digital channels. But some are.

However, I live in an unusual TV market where my broadcast channels come in from both Boston, and Providence, RI.

Guess I'm going to cave in and get digital service for the TV set in my office. It's been an interesting experience, seeing the difference among the other digital set top TV sets in the house.

Thanks for your post....m

The Wordsmith:

Ummmmmm.....getting back on topic -- Obama using prime time for an address -- I'm with Cruiser: Fireside Chats Redux.

We need them. There is something special about the calm, forthright, intellegent tone of our new president that conveys a message of hope.

While Obama's "chats" certainly can never be tapped, puffy -- his descriptions of our economic condition are authentic and brutally frank -- they do reassure that we've elected a reality-based leader who not only still believes that the 'American Dream' belongs to me, but will work to give it back to me.

I like to hear it; even during prime time in a month that may or may not be a sweeps period (whatever that is...)

Marianne Paskowski:

We always get off topic here somehow, folks are so ticked off with the DTV transition.

But I'm with you and Cruiser, this president gets it and needs to be out there and tell Congress in particular what we want, not what they want.

I'll be watching at 8 p.m. (ET) and I know you will be, too. And for those who won't be watching and are bummed out about the Obama roadblock, tune into USA and watch the Westminster Dog Show.

I would sooner have a man in the West Wing who will stand up and speak HIS mind.

We just went through eight years of listening to the will of the advisors and VP following a time delay while they enacted their dirty deeds prior to informing we the people.

Mistakes are, have and will be made. The great part is that this time WE are being informed, kept in the loop.

Its refreshing to see our President speak knowledgingly about the various issues that we all face.

We all have inherited a Mount Everest high stack of problems.

I am impressed by the new team's Spirited approach to begin working on the challenges that we face.

There's no time to give them any slack. We just came through eight years of slack and slime.

God Bless Obama, his team and us.
Peter Bright


Well, I watched Obamavision last night and was looking for more of a State of the Union type speech. At least have set it up as a "real" press conference.

The questions were canned, the answers long winded, and the stage was out of a movie. He is better off doing a Town Hall Meeting style like he did yesterday and today. Of course I'm not quite sure why he refused to accept McCain's invitation to debate in that forum during the campaign, he is actually quite good at it.

Andy S.:

Obama criticized the Bush administration's lax oversight of TARP, saying that we can't afford to waste that money, then in virtually the next breath said that we can't afford to let oversight and earmark issues delay passage of a stimulus bill. If he's going to regale us three times a month, I'd like to see some clearer thinking, and perhaps some consistency, on display.

Marianne Paskowski:

Like you I'm impressed that he's out there, but if he said anything new, I missed it...m

Marianne Paskowski:

One of the problems I had with Obama last night was that he seemed to be trying too hard to be tough.

Like where was the team maker here? Think he ticked off plenty of Republicans...m

Marianne Paskowski:

Frankly I'm more disappointed in what fed head Timmy Geithner had to say or didn't say about the bank bail out. There was nothing there at all and the DOW right now is down 355 points.

Traders expected specifics, they got nil...m

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