Saturday, March 26, 2005

FOX Blocker and TV-B-Gone

Here is an ideal product for liberals aggrieved with the swagger of the premier right-wing message machine:
FOX Blocker
The idea of Sam Kimery, the inventor of the filtering device (who is a former precinct captain of the Republican Party turned independent, according to the Associated Press ["Fox News 'Blocker' For Sale -- A 'NY Times' Filter Next?" Editor & Publisher 25 Mar. 2005]), is not so much to have viewers block Fox News from their cable lineup as to have buyers of FOX Blocker encourage Fox advertisers to spend "their money somewhere else":
Priced at JUST $8.95, the FOXBlocker is a wonderful way of telling the advertisers at FOX News that you are no longer interested in being exposed to right wing propaganda.

With every order placed, will send an e-mail in your name to the TOP 10 advertisers at FOX News letting them know that yet another subscriber has opted out of FOX News. With a little luck and a lot of volume, we can shut the FOX up!
Fox Blocker was to make an appearance in an episode of Boston Legal, but the final script for it became "thoroughly scrubbed on orders from top ABC network executives, and all mention of Fox News and O’Reilly has been sent down the Memory Hole" (Rory O'Connor, "Free Speech Impediment," AlterNet, 10 Mar. 2005).

While I doubt that a corporate campaign pressuring advertisers will actually make a big dent into Fox's revenues, Kimery's concept is certainly an intriguing instance of for-profit culture jamming.

Fox, however, is outranked by CNN in all important respects: "CNN regularly claims a cume [the cumulative total number of viewers who watch a channel for at least six minutes during a given day] about 20 percent higher than Fox's. . . . A study by the ad agency Carat USA . . . found that 37 percent of viewers calling themselves 'very conservative' watch CNN in the course of a week, while only 32 percent tune to Fox. . . . [W]hile Fox is growing faster, CNN is still earning about $200 million more per year than Fox" (Steve Rendall, "The Ratings Mirage: Why Fox Has Higher Ratings -- When CNN Has More Viewers," Extra! April 2004). And the cable channel's viewership doesn't come close to even the least popular broadcast network's: "The O'Reilly Factor is the best-rated show on Fox, with about 2 million viewers a night. . . . CBS Evening News, the least-watched broadcast network evening news show, routinely gets four or five times as big an audience" (Rendall, April 2004).

Besides, the White House's "Good News" propaganda, employed by Republicans and Democrats alike, is planted not just in Fox but all major media, including wire agencies like Reuters and the Associated Press, as David Barstow and Robin Stein recently documented ("Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged Television News," New York Times, 13 Mar. 2005). For many viewers, excepting true conservative believers, subtler propaganda (especially misleading through its omissions rather than commissions) from less bombastic channels than Fox is likely to be the the main blinkers that limit their political vision.

In any event, there is a problem that liberals cannot solve by purchasing FOX Blocker: liberals are bigger TV junkies than conservatives. Surprising as it may be to liberals (who think they are smarter than conservatives) and conservatives (who think liberals are more of cultural snobs than them), "Democrats watch more television than Republicans," and "[d]uring the week, Republicans switch off the tube earlier than Democrats do" (Katharine Q. Seelye, "How to Sell a Candidate to a Porsche-Driving, Leno-Loving Nascar Fan," New York Times, 6 Dec. 2004).

What liberals really need may be not FOX Blocker but TV-B-Gone, a universal remote control that turns off any television:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you so much for this article. Because of it, I learned of TV-B-Gone, and I just ordered one! I've always been very annoyed at TVs blaring while I stood in line in banks or the Post Office, and I've always wanted to just turn them off. Now I can!