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Big mouths sound off on state of television

'Loose Cannons' talk touts privacy, tech's TV advance

LAS VEGAS — A collection of wealthy loudmouths convened Monday morning at NATPE to offer up opinions on everything from media intrusion to the TV industry’s relationship with burgeoning technology.

Panelists at “Loose Cannons: They Say What They Mean and Mean What They Say” included talkshow host Jerry Springer; Dallas Mavericks/HD Net owner Mark Cuban; Pat Croce, former Philadelphia 76er president and current star of syndie “Moving In”; King World heavy Roger King; and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.

Morning’s most pointed question from moderator Larry King — considering all participants have had some experience with tabloid reports and press battles — involved the right to privacy: Is there any way celebs, interview subjects and public figures can maintain a reasonable expectation that their personal and professional actions will remain confidential?

“There’s a definite line that shouldn’t be crossed,” said Springer. “But if celebs and others open themselves up to further their career, then they give up the right to cry foul when things go south.”

But, Ventura said, “The media lies. Anybody can write anything, and nobody has the right to hold them accountable.” (Ventura, who did not seek re-election, said his bond with the Minnesota press has been damaged beyond repair.)

As for the biggest changes facing television, the popular answer centered on technology. “TV is looking more like the Internet every day,” said Cuban. “I’m convinced we are heading into the golden age. High-def will contract cable television platforms.”

King’s answer revolved as much around the idea that America just isn’t controlling the business like it used to. “The U.S. used to be the leader when it came to show purchasing and show creation,” he said. “But there are now bigger players everywhere, and America just doesn’t dominate anymore.”

Springer said diversity is the most influential alteration to the landscape. “When I started out, American TV was all about middle- and upper-class white people,” he said. “The Jerry Springer Show” proved that “people will tune in to watch people other than their own kind.”

Panel was mainly business but still got a few zings in. When asked how he went from being a respectable news anchor to ringleader of such a “crazy” hour, Springer said, “I was drinking”; and when Cuban was pressed for a one-line answer as to whether he respects people who exhibit desperate attempts to contact him for money, he replied, “Sure I do. Hey — no balls, no babies.”

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