Media Criticism Spring 2012

Part 1: Deconstructing Super Bowl Ads

Dateline: Watch This Show!

Posted on | April 26, 2012 | No Comments

While watching the show 30 Rock I noticed that they often times poke fun at products created by the company General Electric.  After doing some research I found that until recently NBCUniversal was owned by the conglomerate General Electric until being sold in 2011 to Comcast Corporation, according to the website  Being the communications studies scholar that I like to think that I am, I immediately pointed out to myself how this is an example of synergy at its finest.

While synergy can be harmless, as it is in the show 30 Rock, it also has the ability to negatively affect what is considered news by stations owned by conglomerates trying to promote other business ventures such as movies.  As pointed out by Elizabeth Jensen, in her article for the Los Angeles Times entitled “NBC Welcomes Promotion Synergy”, Dateline NBC, one of NBC’s flagship news programs, ran a two hour story on the Friends  season finale.  This helped the final episode of Friends garner close to five million more viewers than the show normally gets.  To further the synergy, the cast of Friends then

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appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno, which lead to the highest ratings for that show in six years.  These ratings mean more profit for NBC who essentially turned its feature news program into a glorified advertisement.

Synergy can also have an effect on politics as pointed out by the website which posted an article detailing how The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story on a pollster, Scott Rasmussen, who is a Fox News contributor that was written by John Fund, who also serves as a contributor to Fox News.  The article portrayed Rasmussen in a very positive light which makes sense because of the story being written by another person who works under the same umbrella.  This example of synergy shows how synergy can be used to push not only products, TV shows, and movies, but also political ideologies.

In Ken Doctor’s book, Newsonomoics, Twelve News Trends That Will Shape the News You Get, he defines NBC as one of the “Digital Dozen.”  The Digital Dozen are the news contentproduction companies that he believes will thrive in the upcoming years of the digital revolution because of their global reach, ability to transcend the news platform they started in, and their ability to garner larger amount of money from advertisers due to the huge amount of consumers that want their content.  What Doctor specifically points out about NBC however is how this particular company is learning how to synergize its brands and the content that it produces through its many different subsidiaries such as MSNBC, CNBC, NBC Local, and the original NBC.  Synergizing is the term for when a
company is able to use its subsidiaries and affiliates to help cross promote each other in order to acquire higher profit margins for each.  Another example of synergy between NBC affiliates, besides the one pointed out by Jensen, would be NBC promoting a featured story on to get viewers of a signature NBC program such as Dateline NBC to visit that website.  This would cause to have more hits on their website which would lead to more money from advertisers.  Another example of synergy, this time in order to get a political viewpoint across, would be publishing stories on its website that portray politicians that the owners of NBCUniversal and now Comcast Corporation favor in a positive light so that readers and others who go to the site could possibly be swayed into voting for that particular politician.

Looking at this trend I now understand the importance of being able to recognize synergy and how important it is to companies that are trying to or already have become major powers in terms of the media world.  Going away from this, hopefully people now understand how far some conglomerates will go to get the message that they want across out so that their ideals will be pushed further or their products sold.  Going towards the future I will now be more critical of product placements in TV shows and in the news.  I will also look deeper into political pieces I read to make sure that a biased viewpoint does not influence my political views and decision making.

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