Boycott Campaign Against Fox’s Beck Has Its Limits

As my colleague Ted Johnson has documented, an organized sponsor boycott against Fox News Channel host Glenn Beck has left his program a little light in the sales department, with ad pods populated mostly by cut-rate direct-response advertisers.

Yet any thoughts that the campaign against Beck will significantly harm his status at Fox — other than giving Beck an opportunity to paint himself as a victim, and thus fortify bonds with his audience — seems highly unlikely.

For starters, the revenue from Beck’s program itself seems increasingly irrelevant, inasmuch as his gaudy ratings at 5 p.m. ET have helped boost Fox’s entire lineup, creating a hammock between Beck and “The O’Reilly Factor” that has elevated the hours between them. Whatever Fox might sacrifice by losing sponsors within Beck’s show, that’s almost surely being offset by the higher rates the channel can charge elsewhere throughout the day.

So while the boycott by colorofchange.org has been effective in calling attention to the excesses of Beck’s rhetoric, the impact of that could ultimately be negligible. Sounding increasingly like a modern-day Joan of Arc, Beck has made it pretty clear he has no intention of toning down his program on either radio or TV. Fox, meanwhile, is acting like it has no control over what Beck says (the same strategy CNN has employed in dealing with criticism of Lou Dobbs), and all the attention is simply rallying more people to watch him. Heck, even former Alaska governor Sarah Palin put in a plug for Beck on her Facebook page.

In other words, Beck’s implications that he is under siege has the feel of deft play-acting, since his lucrative career hardly appears to be in any jeopardy — unless, perhaps, he begins to believe his own hyperbole.

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  1. Steve Beverly says:

    What I find interesting is this: we have an organized advertiser boycott against Glenn Beck. Those who are in support of this protest appear to find their actions perfectly within the confines of the First Amendment, to which I agree. If you don’t like Mr. Beck’s comments, you have every right not to advertise on his show or not to buy products promoted on his program.
    However, for 30 years, Dr. Donald Wildmon has called for viewer boycotts of sponsors that support network programming which leaves plenty to be desired in the family-friendly category. When Dr. Wildmon attempts to organize such advertiser protests, he is vilified by everyone from Phil Donahue to Dick Wolf as a censor and a creative hijacker.
    I find no explicable difference in the Beck boycotters and Dr. Wildmon’s protests. Could it be that one is defined as a censor by boycotting sponsors of left of center programming but one is defined as a patriot by boycotting sponsors of right of center commentators? Just something to ponder….

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