Thursday, May 10, 2007

News Corp gets back

More food for thought on my new favorite topic--charity in the hands of big business:

On the night of the Idol Gives Back performance show, Ryan Seacrest announced that News Corp would be generously donating 10 cents per Idol vote, up to a maximum of 50 million votes, or $5 million. In other words, for every call a viewer made to vote for their favorite Idol contestant, a few cents would be given to charity. Wow. Big round of applause. That is a lot of money. Seriously. No sarcasm intended here. That's like food for a week for 100,000 African families, or school for a month for 250,000 African children, or 500,000 mosquito nets to save families from malaria.

Who the hell is this amazingly generous News Corp? Well, News Corp is a mega-corporation that owns Fox Television, among many, many other things, such as DirectTV, National Geographic Channel, HarperCollins, New York Post, MySpace, and anything with the Fox name on it, including 20th Century Fox. Incidentally, 20th Century Fox produced Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, that movie the remaining Idol contestants were shown checking out last night in a lengthy clip.

Yesterday, News Corp announced that its profits have increased 6.7% in the third quarter compared with the same quarter last year. Net income: $871 million. Overall sales: $7.51 billion. A big chunk of its earnings came from the movie Night at the Museum, which earned $571 million and starred Ben Stiller, who was, coincidentally, featured repeatedly doing a silly I'm-gonna-sing-and-dance-badly-until-we-reach-$200-billion bit in a pre-recorded guest appearance on the Idol Gives Back show. You may also remember that bit at the beginning where Stiller tried to make a joke of listing the many, many movies he has starred in. By the way, Night at the Museum was released on DVD the night before the Idol Gives Back event aired, and if you have DirecTV it will be premiering on pay-per-view May 23.

A cynical post on TV Squad notes that, unlike the post-9/11 or tsunami televised charity events, which were broadcast commercial-free, the Idol Gives Back two hour extravaganza was broadcast with commercials. No word on how much money Fox made on those commercials, but the 2005 two hour finale brought in $40 million. Of course, maybe all the commercials were PSAs; I wouldn't know, since I recorded the event and skipped them. I just can't take all that advertising and promotion.

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