Who Wins Part III

Why, Why do they do it?

I was recently reminded: “Don’t blame people for disappointing you; blame yourself for expecting too much from them.” The bar is already so low it nearly touches the floor; how can I expect less. Maybe it’s best not to expect anything because then I’ll never be disappointed. 

You see, I expect people to behave like adults, love this country as much as I, and have the same level of respect for the country and each other. These unrealized expectations are the root of my disappointment.

I don’t have hard facts, but that doesn’t stop anyone else, so here goes. It makes sense to me.

There is an old Cherokee Parable:

An old Cherokee told his grandson. 

My son, there’s a battle between two wolves inside all of us. 

One is evil. It’s anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. 

The other is good. It’s joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, and truth. 

The boy thought for a moment and asked, which wolf wins?

The old man quietly replied; the one you feed.

So, why are we in this mess? 

Which wolf do we feed?

I find that it is all about greed. An almost insatiable desire drives the demise of our country. There are more complex, convoluted reasons, but the synthesis is selfishness and avarice.  

Because we have more, we want more. It is self-perpetuating. It is how we are socialized in America. I’m not talking about the political ideology; I’m talking about our introduction to greed and what it does to us all.

Yes, friends and neighbors, I am talking about the crux of the problem – advertising. The bane of our existence and the common denominator for most of man’s ills. Advertising is a ploy to create dissatisfaction and therefore want in the process. It is an uncontrolled but necessary evil.

Most Americans already have too much stuff; the advertising process builds the illusion of desire by design.  

Advertisers use greed to encourage desire by showing us that we are not complete or as good as anyone else without their product. Advertising moves you from nice to have to need instantly.  

You need transportation, but do you need a $90,000 SUV, or will something more modestly priced suffice? But you’re convinced that you’re not complete without that 1000 horsepower monster SUV because, without it, you are not… You get the idea.  

Watch any advert to see my point in action. Hide your credit cards – these guys are really, really good.

Advertising is a super-tool of the media – the press. In 2020 advertising revenues exceeded $139.8 BILLION.

Advertising is the engine that makes the media go. It is why they are in business; to make money, and as much as possible – the greed coefficient.

Our notion of the altruism of reporting died with Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Pre 1950, radio was the media du jour. Advertisers sponsored programs to showcase their products. Listeners and readers trusted the reporters.

Before 1950, most homes consumed print media, newspapers, and magazines, but the T.V. was fast becoming the latest craze, portable radios became a popular alternative, and mobile advertising burgeoned. Only 20% of homes had T.V.s, but by 1960 that number increased to 90%. The introduction of television marked the dawn of advertising as we know it.

In 2020 Nielsen estimates that there are 121 million T.V.s in America. In addition, there are over 275 million home computers and 298 million cellular devices — all ripe targets for marketers’ messages.

During our day, we spend 6.58% of our time on ads. During 10 minutes of navigation, we spend 40 seconds on Ads. It’s getting harder to avoid these ads with pop-ups, screen drops and pops, email ads, and web-based ads, text ads, robocalls, and all manner of other annoyances. Cyberspace is fertile ground for vendors and hucksters of all kinds.  

Most Americans are exposed to between 10,000 and 40,000 ads per day. The United States is the largest advertising market globally, with ad spends exceeding $242.54 billion in 2020.

The media’s slice of this abundance depends on their share of the available audience. The more viewers or subscribers, the more they can demand for advertising and the more money they make. 

To understand the media’s vulnerabilities to China, you should know who owns what:

  • NBC News, CNBC, and MSNBC are owned by Comcast, which owns Universal Pictures, a minority partner to five Chinese state-owned companies in the Universal Beijing Resort. The resort will feature attractions from Universal properties, like Harry Potter and Jurassic World, and licensed properties from other American entertainment companies, such as Warner Brothers and Paramount Pictures, giving Beijing a single point of pressure on several U.S. media firms. In 2016, Universal and China’s Perfect World Pictures announced a $500 million co-financing deal of a slate of films.
  • ABC News is owned by The Walt Disney Company, which also owns Walt Disney Studios and participates in the Shanghai Disney Resort, where it is a 43% partner to three Chinese companies controlled by the government of the city of Shanghai. The resort saw 11 million visitors in its first year of operation and is a significant contributor to Disney’s earnings. Disney also owns 80% of ESPN, which shied away from covering the story of Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey’s tweet supporting Hong Kong demonstrators and the ensuing controversy.
  • CBS News is owned by ViacomCBS, which also owns Paramount Pictures and ViacomCBS Networks International, the latter of which produces MTV and Nickelodeon for the Chinese market.
  • CNN is owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which controls NBA TV. NBA TV had its broadcasts in China suspended in 2019 after Daryl Morey’s controversy, which prompted the league and its leading players to distance themselves from the protests. WarnerMedia is also a 49% participant in Flagship Entertainment, a film production company located in Hong Kong; the other major participant is venture capital firm China Media Capital.

(This is what we know about from registered investments. This source did not disclose secondary, tertiary, or other hidden ventures.)

At just over $9 billion, China is the world’s second-biggest film market, behind North America. However, it is projected to become the largest by 2025 with a projected $22 billion in sales and is key to future revenue growth in Hollywood. Recently, several big-budget American films had bigger openings in China than in the U.S. China is BIG Business for American companies.

This massive market potential means careful attention is given to media messages and coverage regarding anything with a Chinese connection, topic, or inference. Since it is all interconnected, the filters in place work for the U.S. market as well. The CCP investors are not interested in our political views, only in spreading theirs. Since they pay the piper, they call the tune.  

China is investing $1.3 billion to extend its state message reach this year. Their investments and control over U.S. media are their megaphone to spread their propaganda and silence critics abroad.

So who wins?  

The Media Companies and their investors win. The loser is America because we have diluted content tailored to the narrative of the CCP investors. This control extends to social media companies as well. If they want to do business in China – and believe me, 1.4 billion potential users and advertising targets speak very loudly indeed.

Next: The Game…