Posted by: davidrcollier | August 1, 2009

Pulling the Strings – corporate owners censor cables news shows

An amazing article in the New York Times. In essence, it describes how GE and News Corp have agreed to put a stop to the Olbermann-O’Reilly feud, a ceasefire that began on June 1 of this year.

Not all that surprising if the reason was a decline in ratings. However both shows have seen a large increase in audience share during the feud, with Olbermann going as far as saying that he “should send [O’Reilly] a check each week”.

The actual reason, the feud was not in the interests of the corporate owners of Fox and MSNBC.

The reconciliation — not acknowledged by the parties until now — showcased how a personal and commercial battle between two men could create real consequences for their parent corporations. A G.E. shareholders’ meeting, for instance, was overrun by critics of MSNBC (and one of Mr. O’Reilly’s producers) last April.

Over time, G.E. and the News Corporation concluded that the fighting “wasn’t good for either parent,” said an NBC employee with direct knowledge of the situation. But the session hosted by Mr. Rose provided an opportunity for a reconciliation, sealed with a handshake between Mr. Immelt [G.E. Chairman] and Mr. Murdoch.


  1. Interesting article. I find it methodical that O’Reilly launched a counter attack at G.E. rather than Olbermann himself, even though Olbermann mainly focused on the journalistic integrity of O’Reilly and Fox News. He probably understood that Olbermann was seeing a much greater ratings boost than himself, as he already held the top spot, and wanted to put an end to it. I don’t watch either program but I’d like to see how this changes the ratings for the quarter. If anyone does watch either of these programs, is there a noticeable difference now?

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