09 September 2007

Is Wolf Blitzer worth $42.00 a month?

So, I currently have a TV which appears to receive zero channels. And, as you probably already know, there isn't that much to do in Princeton. As a result, I am thinking of getting myself some cable. Wolf Blitzer, here we come. Or, maybe, here we don't come. The local cable outfit, Patriot Media, charges a quite reasonable $14.80 a month for their "Limited Basic" package, which gets you the following extensive but rather duplicative assemblage:

  1. (nothing)
  2. New York CBS
  3. Philadelphia CBS
  4. New York NBC
  5. Philadelphia FOX
  6. Philadelphia ABC
  7. New York ABC
  8. the cable company's own "Patriot 8"
  9. New York "MyNetwork TV" (what?)
  10. Philadelphia NBC
  11. New York "CW" (this)
  12. Philadelphia PBS
  13. New York PBS
  14. WFMZ-TV (wikipedia: "a general-interest independent television station in Allentown, Pennsylvania")
  15. a "family-friendly" channel called ION
  16. New York FOX
  17. Philadelphia MyNetworkTV
  18. "NYC-TV" (seemingly a generic CItyTV-like item)
  19. WMBC ("an independent full-power independent station licensed to Newton, NJ")
  20. the Spanish-language Telemundo
  21. the Home Shopping Network
  22. Telefutura (another Spanish station)
  23. New Jersey PBS
  24. Shop NBC
  25. Educational TV
  26. Mercer County Community College TV
  27. the Princeton University Channel (who knew?)
  28. Princeton Borough Government Access
  29. Princeton Township Government Access
  30. TV30 (can't figure out what this is)
  31. Philadelphia CW
  32. a Christian channel
  33. Chicago CW (just what I need)
  34. TV Guide
  35. a Philadelphia-based non-PBS public station
  36. another Christian channel ("Sonshine" (sic): clearly these people need to read Aquinas)
  37. CSPAN
  38. CSPAN2
  39. the Lehigh Valley's PBS
  40. "Local Access" (whatever that means)
  41. Univision (also in Spanish)
  42. QVC (home shopping).
But no Wolf. This requires "Expanded Basic", including the Wolf's own CNN, the Weather Channel, the sports channels - basically, anything with a specific theme, and anything I would actually spend much time watching - which takes an additional $42 for a total of $56.80 a month. Fifteen bucks a month is quite reasonable; fifty-seven, not so much. It equals two round trips to New York, say. Or 45 bottles of Papst Blue Ribbon at the D-Bar. But as anyone who has seen Wolf Blitzer knows, the value of Wolf Blitzer is high indeed. Every weekday, three hours of eight video screens at once, of token critics of American hegemony being shut down at high volume, of an unmatched electoral circus: it's only September 2007, and already there is a team live in Iowa and one live in New Hampshire.

We have in the Group both a scholar of Media Ecology and a social scientist for whom economics is an allied discipline, so we should be able to determine this with the utmost precision: how much is Wolf Blitzer worth?


Aldous said...

"[W]e should be able to determine this with the utmost precision: how much is Wolf Blitzer worth?"

The trivial answer is $0.125 per Patriot Media cable customer per month. Since your $42 gets you 42 channels and The Situation Room eats up 3 hours out of 24 per weekday.

Trivial and imprecise: some of the channels that John can get with his $42 are clearly worth more than CNN: for example, channel 99 (The Jewellery Channel - I've done my research).

I would instead argue that Wolf's value is subjective or at least sobjective to the observer.

But whatever the answer is, it's probably true that Wolf Blitzer needs to read Aquinas.

John said...

Aldous, perhaps I was not clear enough. As you say, we know what value Patriot Media assigns Wolf Blitzer. But what I want to know is the value I should place on Wolf Blitzer, in order to know if Patriot is selling at a price point at which I should buy the package. I should assign him the same value as his objective value. If, as you suggest, you doubt that Wolf Blitzer has objective value, clearly you are not watching enough Wolf Blitzer.

Luke said...

I must not yet be accomplished enough in the study of Media Ecology to have a solid grasp on the media's ecology, because it seems impossible to find out what Wolf Blitzer (or Ze'ev Barak, as he once styled himself when writing for Yedioth Ahronoth) gets paid.

An article on Salary.com about Canadian-born CNN anchor Jonathan Mann claims that, "CNN stars like Lou Dobbs and Wolf Blitzer make millions each year." This is a nice ballpark figure, but unhelpful.

And yet...even though my colleague for whom economics is an allied discipline (Nick, that's you, right?) will cringe as I equate correlation with causation, I will point out that in 1999, when Wolf Blitzer first became an anchor on CNN, the network's profits were a paltry $287.8 million. In contrast, the year 2000 saw CNN profits skyrocket to $347 million.

So the real question is: could Wolf Blitzer - not as a sentient being and CNN employee, but merely as an anchor - be worth a sizable portion of 59.2 million dollars? Remember, we're talking profits here - Wolf's salary, one assumes, had already been taken care of.

John, on another note, I count three shopping channels in the Limited Basic Package, but only two Christian channels. This seems to indicate that the idol Mammon is making good headway in the land of the free (Patriot Media? Did it used to be called FrenchOnionSoup TV or something?)

Anonymous said...

To me, the question is more, how much is it worth to you not to have the possibility of stumbling upon LOU DOBBS!!! \-rosie

Bronwen said...

um, isn't the point of all four of you having the same blog that you can all just post your comments about others' posts on the main blog page?

clearly, you all need to take "FIS Inforum Instructional Learning Module 4: Web 2.0: An Introduction"

John said...

Uh, no, the main point is not to have to check separate blogs that don't get updated very often. I think comments in the comments section is fine.

simon said...

john, pbr? how hipster.

Aldous said...

How lowbrow.

John said...

Actually, it's kind of vile - I only used it here for maximum rhetorical effect cause it's the cheapest at the D-Bar.