July 11, 2006

Big Three Network Evening News Viewership Has Dropped Like a Rock This Year

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 9:55 pm

A year ago tomorrow, I did a post on the continued decline in evening news viewership at Big Three Networks NBC, ABC, and CBS, and made these observations and predictions about why that decline was taking place, and would continue (some of last year’s text was slightly revised):

  • All three nightly broadcasts most likely lose money, when isolated from their morning counterparts (Today, Good Morning America, CBS Morning Show) and their documentary shows (Dateline, 60 Minutes, 20/20, etc.). At a minimum, none makes an acceptable level of profit.
  • BUT, the news operations of each of the Big 3 networks are very small parts of very large organizations (CBS-Viacom, NBC-GE, and ABC-Disney), so small that apparently no one at any of the three parent companies cares enough to do anything about the continued hemorrhaging in their evening new shows, as long as the news operations themselves are profitable.
  • So because those other parts of the news operations make money, the nightly news programs can chug right along, oblivous to normal profitability expectations.
  • The journalists who put together the nightly news programs could care less if the broadcasts are profitable. It’s obvious that their agenda is more important.
  • Because of all of the above, the ever-shrinking audience for these broadcasts will be spoon-fed biased reporting, Bush bashing, and conservative-bashing for the foreseeable future.

Now, a year later, in today’s story about network TV’s generally low level of viewership last week (HT Drudge), the real eye-popper is not that the predicted viewership decline has occurred (that was, after all, a pretty easy prediction to make), but that it has accelerated:

“World News Tonight” averaged 7.3 million viewers and “Nightly News” had 7.2 million (both 5.1 rating, 11 share). The “CBS Evening News” averaged 6.5 million viewers (4.6, 10).

That’s a big-whoop total of 21.0 million people, and is down precipitously from just the end of 2005. The deterioration is especially obvious when you compare the total and individual network numbers to these two graphs from the 2006 State of the News Media report:

ViewersAllNets
ViewersByNet

The line in the first graph, if extended into this year, would drop below the bottom level of last year’s axis. The second graph, if extended, would show every network below the level of 2005 cellar-dweller CBS.

We’re talking about a total audience drop of over 20% in just six months (from roughly 27 million to 21 million). Sure, it’s summertime, but I’m skeptical that the total viewership numbers will recover at all in the fall, even with (especially with?) the arrival of Katie “Don’t Call Me Perky” Couric at CBS. Barring a recovery I don’t see happening, the nets have lost one-third of their evening news audience in the past 5 years, while the general population has grown 5% or so.

Okay, much of the long-term change in viewership has to do with increased television and other news and entertainment choices. But all of those choices were already in place six months ago, so that excuse doesn’t wash in explaining this year’s steep drop.

I daresay that the Big Three Nets are finally paying a substantial accumulated price for their years of endless leftist bias, and especially for their past 5 years of undisguised Bush-bashing. It couldn’t happen to a more worthy bunch.

The crumbling is so severe that one of my predictions from last year may not be correct — The higher-ups at Disney, GE, and CBS (spun off from Viacom) might actually notice and do something about these dying dinosaurs.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE: Ed Driscoll points to the increase in home broadband penetration as a possible contributor. Maybe it’s the straw the breaks the evening news’s backs, though interestingly, cable news viewership is still growing.

You Must Be a Nativist If You….

At OpinionJournal.com today, Brendan Miniter pins the term “nativist” on an awful lot of issue positions, and even on the idea of figuring out what’s going on.

It must therefore be that Mr. Miniter’s dictionary has a definition “nativist” that you and I aren’t familiar with.

According to Miniter (with apologies to Jeff Foxworthy), you must be a nativist if:

  • You are “pushing for a study to determine the ‘cost’ of illegal immigration–a forerunner to legislation.” (Oklahoma)
  • Support “pass(ing) a bill making English the state’s official language.” (Pennsylvania)
  • Want to “hold field hearings on illegal immigration.” (Pennsylvania)
  • Dare to criticize an opponent for supporting a bill “that would allow children of illegal immigrants to take advantage of a state scholarship program.” (Arkansas)
  • You support “using the tax code to go after businesses that hire illegal aliens” and having employers “lose tax deductions if they are found to have illegal aliens on the payroll.” (Colorado)
  • You support “putting a referendum on the ballot this fall to deny illegal aliens government services that aren’t mandated by the federal government.” (Colorado)

In Miniter’s dictionary, you must be a “nativist” if you support any one of the items listed above, or any one of a plethora of other reasonable and responsible ideas for preserving our borders, language, and culture while allowing an appropriate number of immigrants to legally enter our country each year.

For what it’s worth, I think legal immigration levels of about double what we allow now could be managed (an increase from about 1 million to about 2 million a year) — IF and only if the flow of illegals is reduced to a trickle. This level of legal immigration is proportionally consistent with what the country was able to assimilate in the first half of the 20th century.

But going back to Miniter, since it would be difficult to find a person who doesn’t support at least one of the above items, or some other reasonable idea for border control and enforcement that would conflict with The Journal’s “There Shall Be Open Borders” mantra, all I can conclude is that he must think that, with the exception of everyone who isn’t on the Journal’s editorial board or part of the ignorant Beltway elite, we are all nativists now.
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UPDATE: Bryan at Hot Air rips apart Miniter’s rewrite of electoral history.

UPDATE 2: Michelle Malkin’s Hot Air video today exposes the REAL nativists at La Raza (The Race), the organization that Corporate America and pandering politicians can’t get enough of. One Hot Air commenter suggests that a more correct name for the organization would be La Racista.

UPDATE 3: For intellectual firepower, I’ll take Thomas Sowell over the collective talents of the Journal’s Editorial Board any day. Or, based on his column today, is Sowell a nativist too because he doesn’t bow to “There Shall Be Open Borders”?

Add Another Busted Economic Myth to the Pile

Myth: “Sure the economy is expanding, but real wages are declining, and the average family is falling behind.”

Reality (link requires subscription):

WSJwagesComp

So what has really happened in the last 5-plus years?

  • Real wages are up slightly, in contrast to a decline in the comparable period of the early 1990s. The “real wages” figure understates the improvement, because the tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 have enabled take-home compensation to increase even more. By contrast, the 1991 and 1993 tax increases caused the take-home compensation of workers during that period to fall by more than the 1.5% indicated.
  • Real compensation is up significantly. I believe that the main reason it is up by so much more than real wages is that health care costs have been rising at a rate that is significantly higher than inflation, and employers are in many cases absorbing the lion’s share of those increases.
  • Median household net worth is up significantly as well, due largely to the runup in housing prices and the partial recovery of the stock market. Note that this is a median figure (half are higher, half are lower), meaning that the result isn’t affected if the very rich have benefitted disproportionately (a subject for another time).

The Wall Street Journal adds:

Our point isn’t to disparage the growth of the 1990s, which was a boon to all Americans. The recession of the early 1990s was steeper than the recession of 2001, so the wage declines were larger. And we should point out that wage gains accelerated in the latter half of the last decade, as growth continued and the labor market grew tighter. We mention all this merely to point out that the current expansion is at least as healthy as that one at a comparable stage, and that if growth continues so will wage gains.

In most parts of the U.S. today, the biggest labor-market problem isn’t the lack of jobs but a shortage of willing workers with the proper skills. That’s a problem that much of the rest of the industrial world, with jobless rates nearly twice as high, would love to have.

So Dr. Sanity has another item to add to her list of “cross-outs,” which already includes these busted economy myths:

  • The Bush Economy Is Tanking
  • Tax Cuts Preferentially Help the Rich
  • Bush Is Bankrupting the Country (see this Fox News report today for more on that)

(There is a technical error in the fine print in the WSJ’s table, whose intro should read: “Comparison is from peak of business cycle through recession to 62 months after peak of business cycle.”)

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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UPDATE:See this NewsBusters post by Mark Finkelstein for The Associated Press’s biased treatment of President Bush’s comments on deficit reduction. What’s funny is that the headline (“Budget Deficit Drops $296B Under Estimate”), which AP may be responsible for (since it is appearing in multiple places, including the Washington Post and Yahoo!), is wrong — The correct statement is that the deficit is projected to drop TO $296 billion, which is a reduction of $127 billion from the original estimate. I guess Mr. Bush should send dingaling article writer Andrew Taylor and The AP a thank-you note for an inadvertent gift. CORRECTED: I just spoke with Taylor and he said the papers picking up the story are messing up the headline. I trust that he’s seen worse descriptors than “dingaling,” but I nevertheless apologize for the reference.

UPDATE 2: Gregg at Pundit Review has more.

Cincinnati Is on the Verge of Another Eminent-Domain Nightmare

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:34 am

The Castle Coalition cites The City of Cincinnati as being among the nation’s worst offenders when it comes to using heavyhanded eminent domain tactics:

Cincinnati city leaders dream of a glitzy new downtown area, but time and again they bungle planned redevelopment projects, leaving a string of relocations, condemnations and wasted funds in their wake.

Two examples cited include the 1998-2000 to have retailer Nordstrom build a store (the targeted property, which had previously had businesses operating on it, is a parking lot today), and the expansion of the Contemporary Arts Center, which took out a business that had been operating next to the Center for 95 years that was speciously accused of being “blighted.”

This week, it was revealed that the city appears close to having another colossal failure on its hands just two miles north of downtown:

Huge UC project might be dead
‘The rug was pulled out from under us’
Cincinnati Business Courier – July 7, 2006
by Dan Monk, Senior Staff Reporter

Rising costs and skeptical lenders might deal a death blow to McMillan Park, a $100 million condominium development planned for the Calhoun Avenue corridor, south of the University of Cincinnati.

The nonprofit development group that has been planning the project for more than five years claims its lending partners — which include the University of Cincinnati and the Uptown Consortium — are changing elements of the project’s financing plan, a move that could force them to scuttle the project altogether.

“We’ve basically destroyed a business district only to have the rug pulled out from under us,” said Dan Deering, a trustee for the Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corp., or CHCURC. Deering is the group’s former executive director. He’s been working since 2001 to develop a massive condo and retail project in the blocks bordered by Calhoun and McMillan Streets, Ohio and Clifton Avenues.

Here is the area in question, which appears roughly as it did before the McMillan Park demolition began:

UCsouth

The red area is the border identified in the article. The yellow area roughly represents the demolition done to date. What has yet to be torn down is an operating Shell gas station on the east and a couple of buildings on the west that still have operating businesses. I do not know whether or not a completed McMillan Park would require their destruction, but the article makes it appear that way. The blue area is a new multi-story building the University completed early this year. That building contains storefront space on the first floor that has already been partially rented out to a restaurant, a bank branch, and perhaps a couple of other tenants.

The fact remains that roughly two city blocks of operating businesses were leveled for a project that not only has dicey prospects, but also breaches good faith with tenants in the UC building across the street who surely moved in based on the assumption that the McMillan Park project would be completed.

Why has this happened? First, a consortium of entities (three hospitals, a zoo, and a university, which formed the Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. cited later) with little experience in development projects decided that they could handle something like McMillan Park. Second, they were able to get the City of Cincinnati to use eminent domain to take the properties of those in the business district who were resisting “progress,” and (surprise) to personally benefit at least one of the parties involved.

Here is an excerpt from a 2004 Cincinnati Business Courier story about a couple of the final holdouts (also note what I see as an outlandish edifice complex exhibited by one of the consortium’s representatives):

Another eminent domain fight gets ugly
Cincinnati Business Courier – May 21, 2004
by Dan Monk, Courier Senior Staff Reporter

Two Clifton Heights business owners, struggling for survival, are taking aim at the leaders of an urban-redevelopment project that could wipe out their businesses but bring $150 million in new investment to a three-block area just south of University of Cincinnati.

The fight pits two small businessmen — Joe Kennedy, owner of Acropolis Chili, and Bill Wood, who owns a restaurant and bar called Inn The Wood — against the UC-financed Clifton Heights Community Urban Redevelopment Corp.

….. In the Clifton Heights case, scheduled to go to trial May 24, attorneys for the two restaurateurs are expected to argue that officers of CHCURC, an economic-development nonprofit, have used a $24 million UC credit line and the city’s power of eminent domain to benefit their personal real estate holdings.

“This thing just reeks of conflict of interest,” said Wood, whose 20-employee restaurant was labeled “blighted” by city officials shortly before the city sued to take Wood’s property by eminent domain last year.

Kennedy faces a similar threat. The 46-year-old Amelia man bought the Acropolis restaurant in 1987. He leases the building from his father-in-law, Tom Mirkos, who began selling chili dogs and double deckers there in 1976.

If Mirkos is forced to sell, Kennedy may go out of business. If he prevails in court, however, Mirkos could force developers to scale back their plans to bring condos, townhomes and upscale retailers to the Calhoun corridor, where dozens of buildings already have been razed in anticipation of the new development.

“I wasn’t a blight for 17 years while I was paying my taxes,” Kennedy said. “The blight is what the city’s creating up here. I’m in a panic. I haven’t slept a decent night in two damn years. I’m not looking to start over again from a brand new spot.”

Trouble is, Kennedy’s “spot” is CHCURC’s flashpoint for a neighborhood’s rebirth, under a plan that took two years to craft and already has run up a $24 million tab for land acquisition, demolition and due diligence.

“We’ve never seen anything like this in Cincinnati,” said Dan Deering, CHCURC’s executive director, who hopes by 2007 to build 241 luxury condominiums, including 52 rooftop units that would fetch up to $750,000. “You could see the airport” from the planned rooftop terraces, Deering said.

In addition, CHCURC plans 18 townhomes, 70,000 square feet of retail, a 0.7-acre park and a 606-car underground parking garage on the blocks bordered by Calhoun, Ohio, McMillan and Hartshorn streets. And that doesn’t include two other companion projects that could bring new entertainment venues, a hotel and more housing to the corner of Calhoun and Vine.

Another companion project is a $90 million student-housing development on UC’s southern border, on the north side of Calhoun, across from Wood’s and Kennedy’s properties.

Deering thinks the project could fuel an influx of homeowners to the hillside neighborhood, now dominated by rental properties, and help the city stem the flight of upper-income residents to the suburbs. He notes 11 other land owners in the district willingly sold their properties to the city, which is handling site assembly via a $6.2 million contract with CHCURC.

….. “We want to change,” said Deering. “This is not some private developer trying to make something happen without community consensus.” (Somebody’s pants are on fire. Consortium Consensus? Yes. Community consensus? Please. — Ed.) “We have to re-invest in ourselves if we want to be competitive in the future. If we don’t, we’ll continue to experience population decline.”

….. But mostly what makes Kennedy angry are the ways he said CHCURC board members stand to gain from the development. Both Deering and CHCURC’s board president, Paul Pratt, own investment property within the “urban renewal” area targeted by CHCURC. Like the buildings occupied by Wood and Kennedy, Pratt’s and Deering’s properties were labeled blighted. But neither are targeted for acquisition. Pratt testified in a pre-trial deposition that CHCURC’s development “may help” his property values at 113 Calhoun St.

….. “That shows Pratt was trying to profit from this,” (Attorney Matt) Fellerhoff said. “They’ve contracted out (the city’s) power of eminent domain (to use) for their own benefit. If they wanted to come in and buy my clients’ property without the threat of coercion, that would be one thing. Instead, they’re removing one business for the benefit of another business. My clients are very successful where they are. They invested in the neighborhood and only want to be left alone.”

Kennedy and Wood eventually gave in. The loss of daily business cited in the article surely had to be a factor.

What this again shows is that the power of eminent domain should not be used by governments to take property away from one party for the purpose of conveying it to another. Aside from its original-intent unconstitutionality, it encourages deals that don’t work.

If you are inclined, read through all of last week’s Courier story to get a flavor for how much public money was going to be “invested” in the project in various ways (i.e., taxpayer money spent on credits, loan forgiveness, etc.) if did get completed. Even with all the breaks, the project is in limbo.

Somebody ought to ask Joe Kennedy and Bill Wood how they feel about being forced to sell their businesses so that their former sites can lie dormant for what appears will be quite some time, because McMillan Park appears not to make sense now even with government and institutional subsidies.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ-Life Links (071106)

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Immigration,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:01 am

Free Links:

  • The Home Depot wants to own a bank, and the same tired arguments that are being used against Wal-Mart owning one are being repeated. There’s no love lost between me and Home Depot, which unbeknownst to many is the second largest retailer in the country, but I see no reason the company should be prevented from having its own bank. Unfortunately, many in Congress do, as legislation is pending to close what many of them think is a “loophole.”
  • USA Today had a story yesterday on state law enforcement efforts against illegal immigrants, and catalogs what 30 states are doing. Ohio didn’t make the list, though there are noteworthy efforts taking place in Butler County, north of Cincinnati.
  • The speech police in Belgium lost a round, but (of course) they’re appealing.
  • The Atlanta chapter of The Minuteman Project is on the lookout — Look at what they’re alleging:

    Employers of illegal immigrants, take heed. The Minutemen are watching.

    Launched May 12, the Atlanta chapter of the Minuteman Project civilian border patrol group has reported more than 100 businesses to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for allegedly keeping illegals on their Georgia payrolls.

    The list of alleged offenders features some of metro Atlanta’s top corporations, including poultry processor Gold Kist Inc. (Nasdaq: GKIS), The Home Depot Inc. (NYSE: HD), home builder John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods Inc., and No. 1 U.S. carpet manufacturer Shaw Industries Inc.

    More of this would be welcome elsewhere.

  • On the other hand, Georgia is the latest state that appears to be using legislative sleight of hand to allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition rates.

Positivity: Client Donates Kidney to Limo Driver

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:02 am

Some tip:

Limo driver gets big tip: a kidney
Sun Jul 9, 2006 7:38 AM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) – As tips go, Chicago limousine driver Abdul Faraj got a priceless one this week when one of his regular customers offered up a kidney, media reports said.

Faraj and Minnesota businessman Dave Baker underwent transplant surgeries at Chicago’s Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

“He gave me part of his body. He saved my life,” Faraj, a diabetes sufferer whose kidneys were failing despite a three-times-a-week dialysis regime, told area television stations.

Baker has used Faraj, a native of Lebanon, as his driver on trips to Chicago for several years. Making small talk months ago, Baker learned of Faraj’s poor health and struggle to find a kidney donor with a matching blood type.

“At that time, he tells me, ‘What’s your blood type?’ I tell him O-positive,” Faraj said. “He said, ‘I’m 0-positive. I’ll give you one.’”

Baker is out of the hospital and expected to fully recover within weeks.