Late Night - Early AM on WBZ-AM is now Mr. Computer

Rob Landry
Thu Jan 16 14:21:05 EST 2020

On Thu, 16 Jan 2020, Ron wrote:

> Wasn't Gannett, Westinghouse, Hearst, CBS, NBC, ABC, Metromedia and the rest
> "publicly held companies driven, as usual, by short-term financial goals"?

They were publicly held companies, sure enough, but up until about 1980 
the focus in such companies used to be the long term. Remember when AT&T 
had Bell Labs, and other companies like IBM had similar divisions, 
experimenting with new technologies and the like?

> I'm sure stock price, dividends and such drove all those companies as well,
> yet somehow they were able to service their communities, right?

The narrow focus on "maximizing shareholder value" was originally 
proposed, if I remember right, at Harvard Business School in the mid 
seventies. It didn't catch on generally until about a decade later, and 
the deregulation of the radio industry during the 80s and 90s allowed it 
free reign in our industry.

> Smaller, privately owned stations aren't doing much better.

We are all blown by the same economic winds.

> I think this has to do with the realities of the financial world, where once
> valuable properties (assets) are now worth a pittance of what they were
> purchased for.  Blaming "publicly held companies" driven by their fiduciary
> responsibilities is an easy excuse.

Publicly held companies have obligations that privately held companies 
don't have; everything they do has to be reationalized in terms of 
shareholder value. A publicly held company can't, for instance, build a 
big rocket and send its CEO's car to Mars, as Elon Musk's privately-held 
SpaceX can. Nor can it employ people for their own sake, the sake of the 
communites they live in, or anyone else's sake but shareholders.

> I think when the FCC allowed and Congress removed the ownership caps
> (through the "Omnibus Telecommunications Act") set the stage.  (Always watch
> out for anything with the adjective "Omnibus" attached.)

That is true, but the pressure on Congress and the FCC to change those 
laws and regulations was applied by Wall Street.


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