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Watch our Society make money for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp by fanning “the flames of violent racism”

From American Gypsies needs to catch up with the reality of Roma people’s lives, by  in The Guardian:

… Now comes National Geographic’s new reality series, American Gypsies, launched on the heels of TLC’s ongoing My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding, itself a spin-off of the UK’s Channel 4’s enormously successful Big Fat Gypsy Weddings. Sadly, this spate of exoticising voyeurism has nothing to do with genuine interest in Roma or Travellers, the two ethnic groups lumped together under the term “Gypsy” (a term considered derogatory by most Roma activists). Rather, it has everything to do with the chase for ratings, which is at the heart of the tabloidisation of television everywhere. Consequently, these shows are built on tried and true tropes: broad stereotypes, artificially constructed conflicts, unidimensional characters, set-up scenes and scripted lines.

Accuracy is beside the point: these shows are invested in reproducing a version of what it means to be a “Gypsy” that broadcasters believe to be most comfortable for their audience – Esmeralda-like headscarves, belly dancing, innate violence, gaudy parties, psychic healing parlours. The teaser for the series [see below] manages to cram all of those cliches into one minute, with time to spare. The response has been predictable: within a day, online comments were rife with racial slurs and no small number of sympathetic references to Hitler.

I have seen this dynamic before. I grew up in an atmosphere permeated by the kind of stereotypes about violent, dirty and scheming “Gypsies” that abound in Europe. I am ethnically Romanian and grew up in Romania, where Roma were enslaved until the 1860s and deported to extermination camps during the second world war. The few who remained nomadic were forcibly settled during communism. Then, many were chased out of villages during violent, deadly pogroms in the 1990s. To this day, Roma children are shunted into dead-end segregated schools which trap them in the vicious cycle of poverty and disenfranchisement. …

These shows are especially harmful because Roma people do not have any alternative representations in the public’s imagination. There is no Roma equivalent to Leonardo da Vinci or Joe DiMaggio, to Rosa Parks or Barack Obama. In the US, where there is very little awareness of Roma, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding and American Gypsies will likely turn ignorance into all-out prejudice. In the UK, Big Fat Gypsy Weddings has already led to a spike in bullying of Roma and Traveller children. Elsewhere in eastern Europe, where it has been syndicated, the franchise will only fan the flames of violent racism by playing into the hands of skinheads and nationalists.

{ Read the whole thing here. }

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp continues its relentless pistol-whipping of the National Geographic Society

James Fox: “I know how disappointed all of you are. I am too. It’s not the show that was sold to both myself and scientist Ben. Two months into it, we were off to a great start; good locations, solid witnesses and some opportunities for Ben to apply his field research as a geologist at some crash sites. Very exciting stuff. Unfortunately, when we actually got out in the field, we began to realize that they were more interested in poking around at night than allocating the time necessary during the day as, apparently (so we were told), Americans love watching others sneak around at night from the comfort of their couches. For the most part, it was gratuitous nighttime baloney. … I promise I’ll either quit or change my position within the show because at least I can make it all make some sense. The show does get a bit better further down the road, but not a lot. … My credibility and reputation has, deservedly, taken a serious hit.

Ben McGee: “When we were brought onboard, the project certainly had a much harder inclination than its final realization, and as a career scientist, I was excited that NatGeo was at the helm (unaware of their desire for a major shift in programming flavor). Our intentions were very sincere. … James and I both had expectations and (for our own reasons) hopes of an ultimately serious product. We both saw the project heading in a different direction as time went on and were powerless to influence it. Injecting science into mainstream media is also problematic, and I am suffering heat in my own circles for the lack thereof on the show.

Fox and McGee wrote their comments on the Facebook page of New York Times best-selling author Leslie Kean.

NatGeo put up a brave face and tried to spin the criticism, suggesting what the two stars said could be taken out of context. …

According to National Geographic, “Chasing UFOs” has been the highest-rated Friday night series on the channel since 2009. …

Read the whole thing here.


Erin Ryder, the third star of Chasing UFOs,
hasn’t yet made a similar public statement.
But she did just pose for Maxim:


For the National Geographic Channel:

“Nothing is out of bounds”: David Lyle, Chase Carey, and the drumbeat from News Corp headquarters

David Lyle, CEO of the National Geographic Channel, just announced his upfront slate for 2012-2013 (via RealScreen):

David Lyle

New series include 

  • Jersey Combat (10 x 60 minutes, airing globally), which follows the action in the world’s largest military warehouse, located in New Jersey
  • Bid & Destroy (12x 30 minutes, U.S. only), which documents the activities of the Danley Demolition Company, which looks for hidden treasures in demolition sites
  • Are You Tougher Than a Boy Scout? (6 x 60 minutes, U.S. only). Here, adult “civilians” will compete with actual boy scouts in challenges pulled from the Scouts handbook.
  • Brain Games, a mix of interactive experiments and brain teasing challenges as a 12 x 30-minute series, produced by National Geographic Television (NGT), and airing globally
  • American Chainsaw (8 x 30 minutes, global), and featuring chainsaw sculptor and hard rock frontman Jesse “The Machine” Green

Returning series include

  • Alaska State Troopers
  • Border Wars
  • Doomsday Preppers
  • Hard Time
  • Locked Up Abroad
  • Rocket City Rednecks
  • Taboo

Specials include

  • the 120-minute Deepsea Challenge, which follows filmmaker and adventurer James Cameron as he takes the plunge 6.8 miles to the bottom of the Mariana Trench in a single-pilot submersible. (Cameron successfully completed the voyage last night.)
  • America vs. Iraq features interviews with Condoleeza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld and other pivotal figures in the Iraq War
  • Inside the Afghanistan War features ground-level footage taken during the conflict
  • a celebration marking the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society
  • Dragon Wars: Fire and Fury
  • Maya Underworld: The Real Doomsday
  • The Secret Life of Predators
  • the return of the National Geographic Bee, hosted by Alex Trebek
  • Sex – How it Works
  • When Earth Attacks

Event programming on the way for NGC includes:

  • The 80s: The Decade that Made Us
  • Killing Lincoln, based on a book by Bill O’Reilly [of Fox News]
  • ‘Treasure Week,’ designed to document the exploits of explorers and archaeologists
  • ‘Secret Access Week,’ which promises “unprecedented access to everything you never knew existed”

… Lyle says the upcoming slate should provide ample evidence to producers that both NGC and Nat Geo Wild are extending their reaches and adopting a “nothing is out of bounds” attitude.

That attitude may seem like an odd one for the National Geographic Society, which has long had a sense of “in bounds” and “out of bounds.”

Chase Carey, COO of News Corp

But the National Geographic Channel is a News Corp property. Here’s Chase Carey — the COO of News Corp and Rupert Murdoch’s right-hand man — who recently addressed an investor conference in Palm Beach, Florida (via The Hollywood Reporter):

Amid a discussion about News Corp.’s cable networks, Carey said that the National Geographic Channel has a lot more upside. Compared to non-fiction juggernaut Discovery, “we are not even close,” he said. The goal must be to get the right programming for the network, Carey added.

Why doesn’t John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of the National Geographic Society, publicly address what the Channel should be showcasing? Why doesn’t he stand up and say: “Actually, boys, some things are out of bounds.”

Because the National Geographic Society doesn’t control the National Geographic Channel; News Corp does.

John Fahey National Geographic

News Corp & NGS: Joined (painfully) at the hip

Boycotts like this one make us wonder:
Do John Fahey’s “brand controls” really work?

News Corp is the majority owner of the National Geographic Channel.

FYI: We have no connection to this Facebook campaign, and don’t want to join it. As card-carrying members of the National Geographic Society, we prefer to work for constructive change from within. But that’s not easy when National Geographic’s Chairman & CEO refuses to talk to us — and to pretty much all other journalists.)

“Should the U.S. Department of Justice look to see if News Corporation broke any laws in America?”

A poll from Survey USA


News Corp is the majority owner
of the National Geographic Channel.


News Corporation faces global bribery investigation of all its subsidiaries

John Fahey, Chairman & CEO of the National Geographic Society, has called a staff meeting for today (Tuesday).

We hope someone on staff will ask John if this worldwide bribery investigation of News Corp might include the National Geographic Channel, a News Corp subsidiary.

Although it’s hard to believe that our Society could get dragged into this mess, we’re still worried. News Corp plays dirty in the grocery coupon business, so it’s easy to imagine them playing dirty in the cable business, too.

Read the whole thing here.


The “underlying pathology” of News Corporation

The News Corp scandal
is about a lot more than newspapers. 

The article goes on to document the questionable and perhaps criminal activities of News America (part of News Corp):

… [T]he money the company reportedly paid out to hacking victims is chicken feed compared with what it has spent trying to paper over the tactics of News America in a series of lawsuits filed by smaller competitors in the United States.

In 2006 the state of Minnesota accused News America of engaging in unfair trade practices, and the company settled by agreeing to pay costs and not to falsely disparage its competitors.

In 2009, a federal case in New Jersey brought by a company called Floorgraphics went to trial, accusing News America of, wait for it, hacking its way into Floorgraphics’s password protected computer system.

The complaint summed up the ethos of News America nicely, saying it had “illegally accessed plaintiff’s computer system and obtained proprietary information” and “disseminated false, misleading and malicious information about the plaintiff.”

The complaint stated that the breach was traced to an I.P. address registered to News America and that after the break-in, Floorgraphics lost contracts from Safeway, Winn-Dixie and Piggly Wiggly. …

Because consumers (and journalists) don’t much care who owns the coupon machine in the snack aisle, the cases have not received much attention. But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t a useful window into the broader culture at the News Corporation.

News America was led by Paul V. Carlucci, who, according to Forbes, used to show the sales staff the scene in “The Untouchables” in which Al Capone beats a man to death with a baseball bat. Mr. Emmel testified that Mr. Carlucci was clear about the guiding corporate philosophy.

According to Mr. Emmel’s testimony, Mr. Carlucci said that if there were employees uncomfortable with the company’s philosophy — “bed-wetting liberals in particular was the description he used” Mr. Emmelt testified — then he could arrange to have those employees “outplaced from the company.”

Read the whole thing here.


News Corp is the majority owner
of the National Geographic Channel. 

What’s so bad about selling the National Geographic brand to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp?

Murdoch’s scandal
becomes our headache.


Is the News Corp scandal coming stateside?

Murdoch’s Companies May Face US Actions


Published: July 11, 2011 at 12:36 PM ET

Rupert Murdoch is the head of News Corp, which is the majority owner of the National Geographic Channel.

LONDON (AP) — Legal experts said Monday it is possible Rupert Murdoch’s U.S. companies may face legal actions because of the shady practices at the News of the World, his now defunct British tabloid.

They said Murdoch’s News Corp. might be liable to criminal prosecution under the 1977 Corrupt Foreign Practices Act, a broad act designed to prosecute executives who bribe foreign officials in exchange for large contracts.

The News of the World was accused of making payoffs to police in exchange for information — a possible violation of the anti-bribery provisions of the act. It would be up to the U.S. Department of Justice to decide if this merited criminal charges, while the Securities and Exchange Commission would determine if there had been financial wrongdoing at News Corp.

Former federal prosecutor Dan Guthrie of Dallas, now a lawyer specializing in white collar cases, said Murdoch’s concern about possible legal exposure under the corrupt practices act may explain his abrupt decision to shut down the tainted tabloid. ….

He said that by shutting the paper Murdoch may be hoping to prevent any possible U.S. prosecution under the act, and also keep prosecutors from investigating whether the corrupt practices were used at some of Murdoch’s other newspapers.

“By closing the paper, you’ve essentially lopped it off from the empire and said it’s gone,” Guthrie said. “That tends to mitigate the need for an investigation. You don’t just close down a profitable paper in a cavalier way; there must be something going on behind the scenes.” …

Read the whole thing here.


Dear John,
Since the National Geographic Channel
is one of Rupert Murdoch’s U.S. companies,
is our Society at any risk in this scandal?

News Corp is the majority owner of the National Geographic Channel, but our Society still maintains complete editorial control… uh, right, Maryanne?

Not only is Michael Rosenfelddeparting,” but Steve Burns was recently seen “exiting.” Both have long histories with National Geographic.


The National Geographic Channel (which is majority owned by News Corp) recently tapped David Lyle to lead its new West Coast office. Lyle is the former president of the Fox Reality Channel.

“David knows what makes good reality television and how to satisfy its audience’s desire for more,” Tony Vinciquerra, CEO of Fox Networks Group, told Variety in 2007. “He’s done an outstanding job launching this network and helping to make it grow.”

One of Mr. Lyle’s programming moves: Bringing the U.K. reality series There’s Something About Miriam to the States. The plot: A group of young guys compete to win the affections of the beautiful Miriam. The big secret (which the guys don’t discover until the very end): Miriam is a transsexual.

Prior to the show’s U.S. launch, David Lyle — an Australian ex-pat — told Variety: “I look forward to unleashing that on the American public.

Contestants in the U.K. version of There’s Something About Miriam took legal action against Sky One.

“The screening of the show was postponed due to an injunction having been obtained by the show’s participants. It was lifted after substantial out of court payments had been made to compensate for their considerable humiliation.”

David Lyle, formerly with Fox, will soon be unleashing new programming for the National Geographic Channel.


Your thoughts, John?

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