Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Thursday, May 13, 2010 6:15 am

From “Too big to fail” to “Too big to tell”


Apparently, officers and directors of publicly traded companies are no longer required to disclose material information to shareholders. At least, that would be a logical inference on the basis of an exchange between NewsCorp.’s Rupert Murdoch and Firedoglake contributor “spocko” during a stockholders’ conference call.

Spocko pointed out that with 81 advertisers have dumped Glenn Beck’s show after a boycott campaign organized by Color of Change, it appears that the show is attracting only minimal advertising and house ads (i.e., ads for other NewsCorp. properties). So how long, he asked, can we reasonably expect NewsCorp. to continue subsidizing Beck? Murdoch’s response:

“It’s not subsidizing the show at all. And it’s giving a terrific kick off to the whole evening schedule. It has plenty of advertising, and those advertisers you talk about, I don’t think there is anything like that number, but if there were they are on other shows.”

Let’s parse that.

  • “It (i.e., NewsCorp) is not subsidizing the show at all.” If the show is running house ads that it could sell to outside advertisers, and it appears to be, then, yes, it is in fact subsidizing the show.
  • “It’s giving a terrific kickoff to the whole evening schedule.” This response goes to viewership, not advertisers, and, while quite likely true, is therefore irrelevant to the question.
  • “It has plenty of advertising …” Oh, sure, all the slots are filled — but are they filled with outside advertisers providing real revenue? Even a cursory glance suggests not, the odd advertisement for gold notwithstanding.
  • ” … and those advertisers you talk about, I don’t think there is anything like that number …” Yup, there are, in fact, 81 advertisers who have dropped the show. I don’t know about NewsCorp., but here in the real world, my cold, hard, documented facts beat your clinical case of denial.
  • “… but if there were they are on other shows.” I presume by that he means other NewsCorp. shows — in other words, that there’s no net loss of revenue to the parent company. Maybe; maybe not. May we see evidence that all 81 advertisers who have dropped Beck are advertising on other NewsCorp. shows and spending a net total equivalent to what they were spending before the boycott?

Yeah, I’m not holding my breath, either.

Hey, Rupert, you can lie to reporters all you like. But when you lie to stockholders, sometimes the government takes an interest. Just sayin’.

And why couldn’t “real” reporters ask this same question? Why’d it have to be a DFH blogger who pointed out the elephant in the room whose new clothes are, at best, highly transparent (and not in a good way)?

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