TelevisionWeek's new blog by World Poker Tour boss Steven Lipscomb marks this publication's second blog by a member of the television industry. As the founder of WPT, Steve often is credited with starting the televised poker boom. He's also known to say a controversial thing or two.

Just as Rich Goldfarb, senior VP of sales for National Geographic Channel, offered candid insight into the upfront advertising selling period, Steve plans to pull no punches in discussing the people, practices and pitfalls of the television business.

And remember: TVWeek.com encourages you to respond to what you read here. So feel free to post comments on Steve's blog.


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November 2006 Archives

Daddy, You’re Older Than the Zoo!

November 24, 2006 1:16 PM

Just went to the fortieth anniversary of the Los Angeles Zoo – at which my lovely daughter pointed out that, having just celebrated my birthday, evidently I am older than the zoo. Now, age has never been an issue in my life – at all. But, that one made me think. So I assembled a little list:

I am older than:

The Personal Computer
Reality Television (as we know it)
The Superbowl
Hip Hop (but not R&B, thank you)
Cable Television
The Internet
Al Qaeda?

On the other hand, television, the polio vaccine and even the planet are older than I am. Little solace.

Pretty funny exercise, though. Anything to add to the list?

Promises, Promises …

November 15, 2006 2:36 PM

Contracts are living, breathing documents. No matter how hard you try, you can never anticipate all eventualities or even accurately portray the complexities of the real world. That makes perfect sense. And, people on all sides of every deal come to understand that once a contract is signed, the practical “deal” begins to evolve and work based on real world conditions. The reason contract negotiations are such a bear is because everyone knows that if something goes wrong and the parties wind up in a dispute, it is the contract that everyone goes back to in order to resolve the dispute — despite what the relationship has evolved into.

I suppose you could keep updating the contract, but the reality is that we have businesses to build and run. And, already make enough money …

My latest attempt to solve the reality/contract divide is to aggressively use arbitration clauses. If there is an area of the partnership or deal that both sides understand will be changing enough that it is hard to draft the possibilities now, we describe what is supposed to happen in the deal, that we will work together in good faith and if something goes wrong, we can submit the matter to arbitration while we continue to work.

Now, the reality is that no one wants to go to arbitration and hardly ever will. This approach allows the contract to breath and the relationship to grow without being constrained by an overly restrictive contract. It also may help you get to a deal where one was not possible because both sides are trying to control something that no one understands yet.

Lessons Learned

November 7, 2006 3:58 PM

I remember reading Machiavelli’s "The Prince" in college and being appalled by the cynical premise (and conclusion) of the book. I’m sure the years have blurred the message in my mind, but, if memory serves, the basic message to the young prince about leading his country was that it is better to rule by fear than by love—because love can change on a given day—fear will not. We have been living in a world of fear for quite a while in this country—some justified, some not. Today, many people will vote Democratic because of the war. But, I can’t help wondering if we are just tired of being told to be afraid. It is very hard to live that way.

People in war-torn countries often find a way to feel normalcy in their lives (even if that seems crazy from the outside). I suppose Machiavelli understood this issue as he included admonitions to be a just leader (and particularly not to mess with a citizen’s home or mate—because those are the kinds of things that make people rise up and overthrow governments with reckless abandon).

On the love vs. fear equation, I wonder how much we could have gotten done with the three hundred eighty billion dollars (and counting) we have spent on the Iraq war. How far could we have gotten in the quest to gain energy independence in forms cleaner than the fossil fuels that the scientific community tells us are dangerously altering our climate? Or, how much could we have helped countries and people who need our help?

Instead, we have chosen to be afraid—and to use force. And, in doing so, whether you believe in the cause or not, you have to be aware that we have destroyed an awful lot of homes, mates and loved ones. The impact of those actions will be felt for generations.

The optimist in me continues to hold out hope that Machiavelli, the fatalist, will be proven wrong by someone (perhaps a woman?) who dares to rule with compassion in today’s complicated world.