mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Getting The Sports Moguls Off Our Backs”: The Subsidy-Bloated Profits Generally End Up In The Pockets Of The Owners

It was not out of a sense of decency that the National Football League recently let go of its tax-exempt status. You see, as a tax-exempt organization, the NFL had to disclose Commissioner Roger Goodell’s compensation — $44.2 million in 2012. That seemed an excessive sum for the head of a “nonprofit” freed from having to pay any federal income tax. Now the NFL can keep it secret.

Tax exemption is a subsidy. The taxes the NFL money machine didn’t have to pay, everyone else had to pay. Thanks go to former Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), for railing against such unsightly deals.

But that’s not the only good news for citizens tired of being milked by billionaire sports moguls. Consider Verizon’s decision to let customers buy TV packages that do not include ESPN or other sports channels.

An explanation: Animal Planet and Food Network are not why TV bills are so ludicrously high. What drive them up are the enormous fees the sports channels extract for their programming.

ESPN alone tacks an estimated $7 on monthly bills. By comparison, USA Network adds less than $1.

An interesting calculation: If every month you put $7 into an investment with an annual return of 4 percent, you’d have $1,027 after 10 years. These things add up.

It was not charity that prompted Verizon to let its customers buy a smaller base package of channels, plus extra bundles containing the channels they actually watch, at lower cost. Every month, thousands of Americans — incensed by their monthly TV bills and now able to get most of what they watch from the Internet — have been “cutting the cord,” that is, dropping their cable, satellite, or fiber-optic TV service altogether.

Anyhow, ESPN has dragged Verizon Communications into court. The sports network, the Disney empire’s most lucrative business, claims that Verizon broke a contract requiring that ESPN channels be part of its basic offerings. Verizon says that any of its customers can obtain ESPN through a bonus bundle at no additional cost and that therefore it is included.

Never did I think I’d say this, but I am rooting for my pay-TV provider.

On to another reason to cheer. President Obama’s proposed budget would ban the financing of professional sports stadiums with tax-exempt bonds. Such bonds lower borrowing costs for the zillionaire team owners. Currently, 22 NFL teams play in stadiums financed by tax-exempt bonds, as do 64 professional baseball, basketball and hockey teams.

Why would tax-exempt bonds — created to help cities, towns, and states pay for needed infrastructure — go to benefit mega-businesses? Because the team owners have succeeded in conning locals to see sports arenas as economic magnets pumping money into their weary tax bases.

Lots of studies contradict this self-serving propaganda. First off, the economic activity generated by the teams often pales next to the concessions wrenched from the taxpayers. Secondly, many of the dollars spent at the games are dollars that would have otherwise been left at local businesses, such as restaurants.

Furthermore, the subsidy-bloated profits generally end up in the pockets of the owners and their magnificently paid players — who promptly take them out of town. With all due respect to Cleveland, one doubts that LeBron James spends many of his millions there.

Ending tax-exempt bonds for sports arenas might reduce our elected officials’ temptation to sacrifice their taxpayers in return for good tickets to the game. That would be the best outcome.

They who love professional sports should pay for them.

 

By: Froma Harrop, The National Memo, May 7, 2015

May 16, 2015 Posted by | Corporate Welfare, National Football League, Nonprofit Organizations | , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Forced Extortion”: Cable Television Is Just A Cartel

Today’s cable television model forces consumers to pay for dozens of channels they don’t want in order to get the handful of channels that they do want. It is ostensibly a cartel, with industry profits built entirely on the consumer’s back. If you don’t like the model, too bad.  There is no alternative. What’s worse, this arrangement is “blessed” by government regulations.

If given a choice, most parents would choose not to subsidize the sexually-charged content on MTV. Some people might not want ESPN. Others may only want news or movie channels. Cable choice, where consumers decide for themselves which channels they want to purchase, is a realistic solution for all of us who face sharply higher costs every year without fail.

The Federal Communications Commission just released new data showing that the average monthly price increase for expanded basic cable service continues to far outpace inflation, just as it has done for more than a decade. Choosing video content has become a lot easier, except for cable. One reason for this anomaly is an outdated and arcane federal regulation such as the 1992 Cable Act.

The Cable Act requires cable companies to offer a “basic tier” that consumers must buy before they can purchase other services. Other programming is only provided in bundles of additional networks – a forced-extortion scheme that causes us to pay for more than we need or want. For instance, more than $100 of our annual cable bill goes to the ESPN networks, regardless of whether we are sports fans. Media outlets have reported that the ESPN networks, owned by ABC/Disney and forced onto every cable subscriber, reflects nearly 20 percent of the wholesale cost of cable programming, yet it reflects only 2 percent of viewership.

Such a model clearly lacks a demand curve. And whether you get your video via cable, satellite or Telco-delivered video service, the package and price are about the same.

In a true free market, prices reflect what the marketplace dictates. If consumers knew what they were paying for each cable network in their bundle, they could make an informed decision about which networks they actually wanted to buy.  And the cable networks would be forced to compete for the consumers’ business, instead of perpetuating the near-monopoly powers they currently hold.

It’s time for the cable industry either to voluntarily join the free marketplace for its products and services, or it must be forced to do so through the same regulatory means that allow it to operate like a cartel in the first place. In the meantime, consumers will continue to be fleeced by exorbitant cable price increases, mostly for networks they don’t even want.

 

By: Timothy F. Winter, The Debate Club, U. S. News and World Report, September 17, 2013

September 18, 2013 Posted by | Consumers, Media | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hank Williams Jr. Doesn’t Quite Get The First Amendment

ESPN will no longer air Hank Williams Jr.’s song at the beginning of Monday Night Football, it was announced today. Will MNF survive? Ha, of course it will. Nobody cares about that song. ESPN could play literally any song in the world before Monday Night Football, and the experience would be just as good. Please just don’t use this song. We can’t take it anymore.

Amusingly enough, both ESPN and Williams took credit for the split. ESPN, in a statement, said, “We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years.  The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.” Williams, meanwhile, posted this note on his website, once again capitalizing whatever words he felt deserved capitalization.

“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment
Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE.  It’s been a great run.”

Williams makes a common mistake here. His “First Amendment Freedom of Speech” was not “stepped on” by ESPN. Williams was and is free to make whatever Hitler analogies he so desires. He can write a new country song called “President Obama Is Just Like Hitler” if he wants to and play it at his next concert. But ESPN isn’t bound by the First Amendment to associate with him. The First Amendment doesn’t protect anyone from the repercussions of their own stupidity.

 

By: Dan Amira, Daily Intel, October 6, 2011

October 9, 2011 Posted by | Capitalism, Democracy, Freedom, GOP, Ideologues, Ideology, Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

%d bloggers like this: