Cable Channel Nods to Ratings and Leans Left
Riding a ratings wave from “Countdown With Keith Olbermann,” a program that takes strong issue with the Bush administration, MSNBC is increasingly seeking to showcase its nighttime lineup as a welcome haven for viewers of a similar mind.So what does Portland's cable provider, COMCAST, do? It drops MSNBC from basic cable. A majority of viewers in one of the most progressive areas in the country will be unable to watch an alternative to FOX.
Lest there be any doubt that the cable channel believes there is ratings gold in shows that criticize the administration with the same vigor with which Fox News’s hosts often champion it, two NBC executives acknowledged yesterday that they were talking to Rosie O’Donnell about a prime-time show on MSNBC.
During the nine months she spent on “The View” before departing abruptly last spring, Ms. O’Donnell raised viewership notably. She did so while lamenting the unabated casualties of the Iraq war and advocating the right to gay marriage, among other positions.
Under one option, Ms. O’Donnell would take the 9 p.m. slot each weeknight on MSNBC, pitting her against “Larry King Live” on CNN and “Hannity & Colmes” on Fox News.
But even without Ms. O’Donnell, MSNBC already presents a three-hour block of nighttime talk — Chris Matthews’s “Hardball” at 7, Mr. Olbermann at 8, and “Live With Dan Abrams” at 9 — in which the White House takes a regular beating. The one early-evening program on MSNBC that is often most sympathetic to the administration, “Tucker” with Tucker Carlson at 6 p.m., is in real danger of being canceled, said one NBC executive, who, like those who spoke of Ms. O’Donnell, would do so only on condition of anonymity.
Over at Blue Oregon Kari Chisholm has more. The decision was COMCAST's alone and a lot of people are not happy about it.
This is outrageous. The cable news lineup in Portland is now: CNN, CNN Headline, CNBC, Weather Channel, FOX News, NW Cable News. Seriously. Weather.If this is censorship on the part of COMCAST they should be held accountable and forced to reverse the change.
And I'm not alone. I was hoping the Oregonian's Peter Ames Carlin would dig into this - and he has. Turns out, Comcast has some explaining to do.... and not just to bloggers.[On] Thursday Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees the city's cable communications and franchise management office, fired off a letter to Comcast complaining that the MSNBC move amounted to a backdoor rate increase. And on Friday, David Olson, the Mount Hood Cable Regulatory Commission director, said his office was preparing to send a complaint to Comcast because the cablers had yet to provide its regulators with any official notice of the lineup change.What's Comcast's reasoning?[Comcast spokesperson Theressa Davis] was vague about the criteria used to decide which news channel had to move -- she ticked off something about content, quality and viewership -- but it's worth noting that MSNBC consistently scores the lowest ratings of all the major cable news outlets, even in liberal Portland.Seriously. Content? Quality? They've tons of home shopping and televangelism channels, not to mention channels devoted to re-runs and other stupidity. Want to charge someone extra money? How about moving the Golf Channel?
We're heading into a presidential year, and they're pulling the one channel that's devoted entirely to politics - and the one channel that's got one show with a progressive host? And they're leaving on FOX's entire right-wing lineup, plus CNN - with its idiotic Glenn Beck?
One more thing: MSNBC is still posted as Channel 47 on the TV-Guide channel, where they list all the upcoming shows. More and more, this seems like a half-ass decision made by a programming executive who just got tired of Olbermann's speaking truth to power. Especially since they're slowly rolling this out across the county - Atlanta, Denver, now Portland.