TV subscribers are ditching their cable companies at an ever faster rate in the past few months, and many of them aren’t signing up with a satellite or phone competitor instead.
Their willingness to simply go without pay television could be a sign that Internet TV services such as Netflix and Hulu are finally starting to entice people to cancel cable, though company executives say the weak economy and housing market are to blame.
Thomas Clancy Jr., 35, in Long Beach, N.Y., canceled the family’s Cablevision subscription this spring. He said he has been happy with Netflix and other Internet video services since then, even though there isn’t a lot of live sports to be had online.
“The amount of sports that I watched certainly didn’t justify a hundred-dollar-a-month expense for all this stuff. I mean, that’s twelve hundred dollars a year,” Clancy said. “Twelve hundred dollars is … near a vacation.”
When Michelle Obama implored restaurateurs in September to help fight obesity, she cited the proliferation of cheeseburgers and macaroni and cheese. “I want to challenge every restaurant to offer healthy menu options,” she told the National Restaurant Association’s annual meeting.
But in a series of confidential agreements approved by agriculture secretaries in both the Bush and Obama administrations, Dairy Management has worked with restaurants to expand their menus with cheese-laden products.
Consider the Taco Bell steak quesadilla, with cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella and a creamy sauce. “The item used an average of eight times more cheese than other items on their menu,” the Agriculture Department said in a report, extolling Dairy Management’s work — without mentioning that the quesadilla has more than three-quarters of the daily recommended level of saturated fat and sodium.
Dairy Management, whose annual budget approaches $140 million, is largely financed by a government-mandated fee on the dairy industry. But it also receives several million dollars a year from the Agriculture Department, which appoints some of its board members, approves its marketing campaigns and major contracts and periodically reports to Congress on its work.
After Politico’s reporting that MSNBC host Keith Olbermann recently donated $7,200 to Democratic candidates, in violation of NBC’s company rules that restrict employees from making political contributions, MSNBC president Phil Griffin suspended Olbermann indefinitely without pay. However, as reported by media watchdog, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), it appears that MSNBC’s parent company, General Electric (GE) along with potential new owner Comcast, both violated the company’s "news policy and standards" by each donating millions of dollars in campaign contributions.
In a statement, FAIR pointed to Center for Responsive Politics data, showing that GE made over $2 million in political contributions during the 2010 election cycle alone. In addition, GE spent over $30 million on lobbyists during the same election cycle and gave over $400,000 to Democratic and Republican governors since last year.
When comparing Olbermann’s donations to other NBC employee violations that went unpunished, there is a major contradiction in policy enforcement.