culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Monday, March 24, 2003
War is "strangely beneficial" to corporate media. This strangely disheartening statement comes from the people who ought to know, namely the
Wall Street Journal (sub. req'd):
The cable networks, including AOL Time Warner Inc.'s CNN, News Corp.'s Fox News and MSNBC, which is jointly owned by General Electric Co.'s NBC and Microsoft Corp., on Saturday returned commercials to their screens amid continued heavy war coverage, although not as many ads as before the war began. Many advertisers still are hesitant about having commercials run alongside violent footage of bombs and tanks.

For NBC, Viacom Inc.'s CBS and Walt Disney Co.'s ABC, the pace of the war has been strangely beneficial to their own programming concerns. Before last week's initial attacks, the general consensus was that the broadcast networks likely would go days with uninterrupted, commercial-free coverage, as was the case after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But some networks returned to regular programming as early as Thursday night, and all had returned to entertainment and sports by the weekend.
A commercial in a war broadcast is morally equivalent to selling concessions at a gladiator forum. Just as in ancient Rome, such commerce and routine consumption are to be regarded as normal — from the point of view of the Empire that stages and broadcasts the spectacle of the killing.

The phrase "theater of war" has never had so much resonance.

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