April 7th, 2011
New York Times
By: Brian Stelter
Glenn Beck will end his daily Fox News Channel program later this year.
His departure was jointly announced in a statement on Wednesday by Fox and Mr. Beck’s company, Mercury Radio Arts.
Fox News and Mercury Radio Arts, which have clashed over the making of the program, will “work together to develop and produce a variety of television projects for air on the Fox News Channel as well as content for other platforms including Fox News’ digital properties,” the companies said in the statement.
As expected, a senior Fox News executive, Joel Cheatwood, will join Mr. Beck at Mercury Radio Arts starting later this month.
The joint statement did not specify an end date for Mr. Beck’s show, called “Glenn Beck,” which has been telecast at 5 p.m. on Fox News since early 2009. Asked if Fox News had a rough end date for the program, a spokeswoman referred back to the statement. Mr. Beck’s contract with Fox ends in December.
Mr. Beck is a hugely popular figure on Fox News, averaging 2.2 million viewers each weekday, though his ratings have fallen somewhat in the last year. He is beloved by his fans for speaking out against what he sees as threats from progressives, socialists and people he deems “radicals.” His opponents — and there are many — condemn him for his conspiratorial views and apocalyptic predictions.
Notably, his program is a rare daily broadcast platform for a strain of libertarian politics that is also evident in the Tea Party, a movement he embraced and encouraged.
Though the discord rarely spilled onto the television broadcasts, Mr. Beck and his managers repeatedly clashed with Fox, and they had been contemplating an exit from Fox for some time. Two of the post-Fox options Mr. Beck has considered, according to people who have spoken about it with him, are a partial or wholesale takeover of a cable channel, or an expansion of his subscription video service on the Web. His company has been staffing up — making Web shows, some of which have little or nothing to do with Mr. Beck, and charging a monthly subscription for access to the shows.
A spokesman for Mr. Beck declined to say whether the agreement announced Wednesday included a non-compete agreement that would preclude Mr. Beck from hosting a television show elsewhere for a period of time.
Mr. Beck also hosts a syndicated radio show on weekday mornings. He was estimated to earn about $32 million in total revenues in 2009, the first year that he worked at Fox.
In the statement on Wednesday, Mr. Beck said he would be starting a “new phase” of a partnership with Roger Ailes, the chairman of Fox News. “I truly believe that America owes a lot to Roger Ailes and Fox News,” he said.
Mr. Ailes said in the statement, “Glenn Beck is a powerful communicator, a creative entrepreneur and a true success by anybody’s standards. I look forward to continuing to work with him.”
Almost immediately after Mr. Beck’s announcement, the progressive group Media Matters for America, which combats Fox on a daily basis, said it was “no surprise” that he was leaving, given that many advertisers had shunned Mr. Beck’s show ever since he labeled President Obama a racist in the summer of 2009. (Fox has said in the past that the advertisers simply moved over to other programs on the channel.)
Color of Change, the group that spearheaded an advertiser boycott of Mr. Beck, asserted that the program lost “over 300 advertisers.” James Rucker, the executive director of the group, said in a statement, “Fox News Channel clearly understands that Beck’s increasingly erratic behavior is a liability to their ratings and their bottom line, and we are glad to see them take this action.”
November 29th, 2010
By: Gergana Koleva
The Better Business Bureau has issued a mea culpa over a series of egregious missteps in its ratings system that included giving top grades to two fake companies set up to prove the organization favors any business that pays its accreditation fees.
In exchange for $425, a dummy company named “Hamas” became an accredited BBB member and got an A- rating, while a neo-Nazi website called Stormfront got an A+. Oblivious to the terror group reference, the BBB listed the former as a business “providing educational programs for troubled youth.”
By comparison, in July the organization gave Starbucks an F, but changed it to a B- two weeks later after an indepedent website questioned the grade. It similarly gave the Los Angeles Times a failing grade in February 2009 and without explanation changed it to an A a month later. Last year, the BBB granted dues-paying Yahoo! an A despite 1,228 consumer complaints, but assigned a D to non-accredited Google, which had just 423 complaints.
“Plain and simple, we made a mistake,” said Steve Cox, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, in an interview with a TV reporter. The nonprofit was founded in 1912 to alert the public to frauds against consumers and businesses, but in recent years has run afoul of business groups and officials for operating what they say is a pay-to-play system.
Cox’s apology came after the ABC News program 20/20 aired a segment last week documenting how firms can secure substantially higher BBB ratings when they apply for fee-based accreditation. The report addressed numerous criticisms alleging the letter-grading system, which the BBB adopted last year, is unfair to small businesses and is often used capriciously.
In September, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal echoed some of those concerns when he warned his state chapter that it risked losing credibility for rewarding companies that pay for the privilege of displaying the BBB accreditation seal over those that don’t. Blumenthal called the ratings “unreliable” and “suspect” due to the fact that the bureau lacks the resources to verify much of the information that goes into its rankings, relying instead on businesses to self-report, without independent confirmation.
And for the past three years, a former CBS newsman who goes by the nom de plume Jimmie Rivers has run an investigative website building the case that the BBB is on the take.
“What’s going on at the Better Business Bureau reflects what’s going on throughout America, where greed plays an ugly hand,” Rivers told Consumer Ally. “That’s what happens when you have outsourced field representatives selling accreditation for a commission.”
Rivers, who says much of his information comes from former employees, described the organization’s accreditation process as a “boiler room,” high-pressure sales operation where representatives are expected to fill quotas and are rewarded with up to 40% commission for closing calls with prospective new members.
What that means for consumers is that top-rated companies aren’t always the best ones. Many consumers misunderstand what the BBB is, believing it to be a government agency rather than a membership-based business organization.
Accreditation fees run between $400 and $800, depending on the size of the business. But for those that choose not to pay them – which does not release them from scrutiny, only witholds the BBB seal from them – this could mean dismal ratings justified by as few as one consumer complaint.
“The BBB does not have the resources to really go out and do their due diligence, and yet they arbitrarily run some kind of algorithm that assigns a letter grade. The grades are just ludicrous, but unfortunately they carry weight because of the BBB reputation,” Rivers said.
Neither consumers nor businesses have a recourse when that happens. The BBB has been riding on the coattails of its brand for at least a decade now, according to Rivers’s website.
“This goes back to their arrogance and smugness — ‘We’re the BBB, so how dare you question us.’ They tend to believe their own press releases and you can’t take them to court, because they claim to be a whistleblower,” the former newsman said.
He explained he uses a pseudonym because some of the clients he currently works with are BBB-accredited members and his muckraking may affect their grades.
Rivers told Consumer Ally the BBB often doesn’t have the right contact information to notify businesses when there are consumer complaints lodged against them. It also goes so far as to intentionally fail to notify non-paying businesses when there’s a problem, so as to justify slapping them with a low grade and bully them into paying for accreditation.
“How many degrees of evil do we need to know,” he offered.
December 9, 2009
By Robert Schmidt and Rebecca Christie
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner plans to tell Congress that the Obama administration will extend the $700 billion financial-rescue program until next October, according to people familiar with the matter.
While the Troubled Asset Relief Program expires on Dec. 31, Geithner can extend it by notifying Congress. A letter notifying Congress of the extension could come as soon as today, said the people, who declined to be identified. Andrew Williams, a Treasury Department spokesman, declined to comment.
The TARP, passed in October 2008 to prevent a collapse of the financial system, has drawn criticism from Congressional opponents of taxpayer-funded bailouts of banks including Citigroup Inc. The Obama administration, preparing the ground for an extension, has emphasized that the program may also be used to aid homeowners and small companies.
“There has rarely been a less loved or more necessary emergency program than TARP,” President Barack Obama said yesterday in a speech in Washington. “I’m asking my Treasury secretary to continue mobilizing the remaining TARP funds to facilitate lending to small businesses.”
In public comments about the program over the past several weeks, Geithner has cautioned that shutting it down too soon could hurt the economic recovery.
Unemployment at 10 percent has sapped Obama’s approval ratings and threatens to cut into the Democratic Party’s majorities in Congress.
A year into Obama’s presidency, only 32 percent of poll respondents believe the country is headed in the right direction, down from 40 percent who said so in September, according to a Bloomberg National Poll.
The poll of 1,000 U.S. adults was conducted Dec. 3-7 by Selzer & Co., a Des Moines, Iowa-based firm. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.