Recent reports by Comcast/NBCU and CBS show continued economic gloom. Comcast showed an increase in profit of 26%, due to improved results for cable and the inclusion of NBCUniversal’s entertainment business. Growth in broadband and business services was matched by declines in losses of cable TV subscribers. But on a pro-forma basis (assuming NBCUniversal was acquired on Jan 1, 2010), operating cash flow fell 6.8%, reflecting bad results at Universal Film studios and and NBC. Broadcast TV, which includes NBC and local network-owned affiliates, lost $80 million in operating cash flow, due to lower advertising revenues and higher marketing costs. Indeed NBC’s share of the 18-49 demographic was down 11% to 3.2 million viewers. “Smash” saw its average of prime-time viewers in the 18-49 demo also fall 11%. NBCU’s cable network saw operating cash flow increase 15% to $923 million. This includes a 10% increase in distribution revenue, a 2% increase in ad revenue, as well as flat programming and marketing expenses (basically starving the cable nets to feed NBC I’d guess).
Meanwhile CBS saw profit grow 31% as their ad sales slipped. CBS, the Journal notes, is more dependent upon advertising than other media companies, relying on it for two thirds of its revenue. Most of the profit gains came from higher fees to cable operators, and web streaming (namely Netflix) but revenues were down from last year over declines in advertising. Fourth quarter ad sales fell 4.4% from 2010. CBS hopes to gain from fees paid by cable/satellite operators, and from fees charged to local affiliates to run CBS programs.
Basically, for two of the four broadcast networks, ad sales are down, while costs keep going up. The networks are not even forecasting higher sales in advertising, investing in things outside of broadcast networks. Such as cable/satellite fees, and business services (at Comcast). Is this the death of broadcast TV? Probably not, but it does signal a decline in consumer income, which spells trouble for Obama.
Despite all the happy talk about the economy, gas price rises, which pass on costs to everything else in the economy, have hit consumer spending hard. Advertisers are not throwing money at the broadcast networks, quite the reverse, advertising spending is flat or down at the two of the major broadcast networks, the worst and best rated (NBC and CBS, respectively).
Even though some forecasters believe tv advertising will jump in 2012, much of that is due to the political campaign season, or PepsiCo Inc. The latter having been absent in marketing for its brands in the US for years, under the leadership of Indra Nooyi, who has emphasized foreign growth and “healthy” products ceding market share in the US to Coca-Cola. A few other brands plan increased marketing: Barnes and Noble for their e-readers and tablets, luxury cosmetics, and JC Penney. All engaged in wars with competitors or desperate measures to re-brand their stores.
Noticeably absent: automakers, long the big kings of TV advertising.
If good times were really rolling, you would have seen advertising pick up in the final quarter Comcast and CBS reported (it instead declined). You would see automakers and other major advertisers ramp up spending. You’d see Coca-Cola match PepsiCo in ad spending. But guidance from CBS and NBC suggests that TV broadcasters hope merely to hold in place revenues, and that with a big jump in political advertising.
This does not make Obama a lock for defeat, any more than he is a lock for re-election. But it does make on balance things far more difficult for Obama than the Media-led happy talk about a recovery in the economy would suggest. Obama has major problems, in that he has not delivered economic growth. At best he’s doled out lots of goodies to people who already supported him. To the broad middle he has produced only more pain. Hope and change has produced looking for change … in one’s pocket. To help pay bills.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics is so skewed and prone to hype and irresponsibility it cannot be trusted, save the household surveys which tend to be more accurate but less reported. Vdare.com reports half of new jobs went to immigrants and 96% to Hispanics, suggesting that at best the new jobs added were at places like Chipotle, addicted to dirt cheap labor in low-value service industries (fast food and the equivalent). From the report (itself taken from the BLS Household not Business survey):
- Total employment rose 847,000 (+0.60 percent)
- non-Hispanic employment rose 33,000 (+0.03 percent)
- Hispanic employment rose 814,000 (+3.93 percent)
As VDARE notes, the Pew Hispanic center has reported that Hispanics work for less than other groups, and of course have less net worth than the White majority (according to Pew, $113K for Whites, $6K for Hispanics, and $5K for Blacks).
While it is unlikely that most White voters will “see” the disparity in job gains (again mostly to low-wage fast food workers, that is the major industry that employs Hispanics) the disparity in the wallet is easily seen. Everyone knows what they pay out each month for absolute necessities, and what they take in. They know what they save, and what they spend. Obama is failing, and ad markets are projecting failing, in producing disposable income for most American consumers.
That makes a heavy burden on his re-election. More than ever, Obama is likely to employ a scorched-earth campaign, with overt suppression of White voters (ala the New Black Panther Party that Eric Holder, first Black Attorney General, dismissed from their guilty pleas) matched by dead people voting, and many others voting five or six times. Hoping to employ the usual Chicago style thuggery and corrupt voting practices to seal the election. By stealing it. He can’t run on his record of economic accomplishment, because for most people he has failed miserably.
Against a Mitt Romney, portrayed in the media as a RINO, he can’t paint him as a radical. Indeed the more the rhetoric against Romney as “not a real Republican” goes over the airwaves, the harder it is to paint him as an extremist, and the more swing voters like Romney. Against Santorum, maybe, for White professional women. Though even those voters have to eat, and the likelihood is depressed turn-out for Obama. Who has lost his “Alpha Glow” of media worship. Even an Alpha Male among women has to deliver something, sometime.
So scorched earth it is. Which raises the interesting question. If Obama loses, will he go full Fujimori? Plan a Self-Coup the way Fujimori did? After all, Obama has many, many scandals. Solyndra, EnerDel, the dealership cancelations, Fast and Furious, the AIG favoritism (benefiting Berkshire Hathaway and Warren Buffett), the Burlington Northern favoring (again bailing out Buffett) decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline, and more. Fast and Furious got a Law Enforcement (at least one known) murdered along with hundreds of Mexicans. Just to advance gun control. Who knows who will benefit from the “Catholics must provide abortion and birth control” decision financially?
And that is the failure of the Chicago Way nationally. It creates too many enemies. Bill Clinton was a far more adroit political figure, in that he gleefully used the Arkansas Way, to ensnare not just Republicans but Republican interest groups into his deals, and thus make himself fairly indispensable. If you want to know why Clinton was not convicted after being impeached for lying under oath, this is why. He got too many real estate, oil and gas, and other Republican interest groups into deals that would certainly unravel (to their detriment) if he were removed from office. By contrast, Obama has kept the goodies to his favorite cronies, and punished those who were outside the group. This just cemented alliances against him, as everyone could see he was not the “Sun King” model of a joyous dispenser of goodies to all who were favorably disposed to him, but a “mean” punisher who early on made examples of those on the outs. Making Obama in the minds of all but his closest cronies an enemy. To their wealth. The Chicago Way depends on the ability of those on the outs to simply leave. Most Americans and American interests can’t just leave America.
Thus a desire among Obama’s enemies to punish Obama, and his cronies, for making them poorer. The power of this motivation is universal, and well described by Machiavelli in the Prince.
Obama is not like other Presidents. He is the only one filled with ill-concealed racial hatred at the White majority. The only one who seeks to routinely punish America for racial and other sins in a way not even Jimmy Carter contemplated. The only one who is so much a creature of the coastal urban elites, and so innately hostile to the White majority on cultural issues. And the only one able to with a few words, set most cities with sizable Black populations alight.
This is not to say that a Self-Coup is set in stone. But the possibility certainly exists. An Obama defeat would mean jail for many Obama cronies, including his handler Valerie Jarrett, and likely Eric Holder. Michelle Obama may well have her Marie Antoinette hands in deals like the one for their house in Chicago, involving a Blago bagman and Saddam Hussein confidant, Tony Rezko. [Rezko’s wife paid full asking price for the parcel next door to Obama’s house, or $625,000. Obama then paid $300,000 under asking price for his house. Obama then bought a strip of the Rezko-owned land for $104,500. Basically the Rezkos over-paid for vacant land to get a deal for Obama, a nice bit of money-laundering to buy access or favors.]
For the house alone, the criminal acts if pursued by a vengeance-minded set of interest groups made poorer, would result in some serious jail time for at least one of the Obamas.
My guess, is that even if Obama loses, we are in for some seriously interesting times in November 2012. Remember Al Gore and the endless recounts? Now imagine Obama saying “racism” or something would not let dead people vote (discrimination against Zombie-Americans!) or Black people vote five times. Thus his need to “Set things right” and rule by decree. Its not as if say, Bev Perdue, Democratic Governor of North Carolina, has not called for suspending elections. Or that Obama has increasingly ruled by decree only. A Self-Coup would be a matter of degree, for Obama, not a terrible break with his character or record. I hope it does not happen. But it would not surprise me. California is on the brink of $4 a gallon gas already. Imagine what it will be like in Summer driving season.
As the story says, it is not a question of if gas will go to $5 a gallon, it is a question of how many, for how long. Perhaps even now, Obama is perusing the details of Fujimori’s Self-Coup record. As ad revenues project a long, tough Summer.