Article by Justin Allen
Like most mornings, I had the Today show on as I was getting ready for work today, and somewhere between shaving and putting on my socks, I overheard Matt Lauer talking about a story they were going to do later about how NBC had decided to pull The Jay Leno Show from its 10pm time slot. While the plans are still tentative, the plan puts Jay Leno back to his old, albeit abbreviated time slot, currently occupied by Conan O’Brien, who’s The Tonight Show would be displaced back to 12:05 am, if he even agrees to stay with NBC.
While I admit to not being a fan of late-night talk shows (it’s not the shows I don’t like, it’s the late night I don’t like) the story was intriguing to me. What happens now? Does Leno return to his late-night throne and act like he never left? What about Conan? Is he pissed?
The more questions I asked about the players, the more I started thinking about the play; it was a bold move to begin with to have a late-night talk show in a primetime slot, which is typically dominated by scripted dramas. NBC took a risk in doing so, and the experiment obviously failed, having cited a decrease in viewership in not only Leno’s show, but a drop in viewership in the following local newscasts and late-night programs as well.
NBC has claimed that while Leno’s show saw drops in viewership, it was still profitable. It wasn’t until NBC affiliates had threatened to stop broadcasting it did NBC brass pull the plug. Oh, the irony. It was only nine months ago when local station (WHDH) owner Ed Ansin challenged the network’s decision, and who’s threat to air what he thought would be a more profitable newscast instead, was met with a potential revocation of his network affiliate. In what is now probably an awkward conversation between the two, it seems Ansin was right.
Now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “So what does any of this have to do with people and the government?” And I’d say, “Look, dipshit…it has everything to do with it!”
NBC’s movement of The Jay Leno Show is an example of an entity listening to its constituents. It would seem that NBC would have all of the power, being the manufacturer in the process, but it is only perceived power. The real power exists in the collective distribution channel of the affiliates. The network can produce and provide all the content in the world, but if there aren’t any takers for it, they’re shit outta luck.
Elected officials are the same way. They only have the power that WE give them. The American people need to realize that they have the power to shape what we see on our streets, in our schools, and throughout this country. By being an informed and active voter, you can start to better the world around you. Get it? Good.
Now, how does the government learn from this? I’m glad you asked. Politicians are stubborn. Partly because they’re Type A personalities who’s egos should prohibit them from elected office in the first place, partly because they can be seen as weak for “flip-flopping” on issues. Post-9/11 America had most of Congress saying that Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Husseins were all in bed together and therefore all responsible. Well, nine years later, we’re still sending a substantial number of troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. We can debate until the Cubs win the Series whether we need them there now, or whether we needed to be there at all. That’s not the point of this commentary.
Just like the corporate world of the entertainment industry, we need to decide, act, and constantly evaluate those decisions and actions, and not be afraid of admitting fault or error. We need to adapt, and if, in light of new evidence, have to backtrack, then so be it. And the American people need to make sure they have a say in it. If we don’t, we’ll be watching Jay Leno at 10!