Will the NBA Teach the Cable Industry to go Gunning for GunTV?




Just in time for the marathon Christmas Day viewing of NBA games, the National Basketball Association, in a powerful partnership with Everytown for Gun Safety, announced a high profile television PSA campaign featuring some of the games greatest stars.

Inspired by a meeting between filmmaker Spike Lee, who is a member of Everytown’s creative council, and ESPN, the NBA, fearlessly plunged into the fray, recognizing its moral and social responsibility to make neighborhoods less violent, in many of the communities which players, and fans, call home.

SF Warriors’ star Steph Curry is featured in one of the public service announcements, saying he was moved to take action when he heard about a recent three-year old victim of gun violence.

“My daughter Riley’s that age,” Curry says, bringing the message directly to tens of thousands of NBA fans who watched Curry introduce Riley to the national media last year, when the Warriors won the NBA World Championship.

Heading the effort for the NBA is friend and former colleague from the Administration of Governor Mario M. Cuomo of New York State, Kathy Behrens, who serves as the NBA’s President for Social Responsibility and Player Programs. Behrens is a dynamo with a conscience who gets things done, and turned New York Cares into one of the most successful non-profits in NYC, before being recruited by the NBA.

“ We know that far too many people have been caught up in gun violence in this country,” Behrens told the New York Times. “And, we can do something about it.”

The same passionate desire to constructively use his resources and save peoples’ lives was what motivated former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to form Everytown For Gun Safety. With Bloomberg’s financial backing the group has become one of the nation’s most aggressive advocates of stricter limits on firearms sales in just a few short years.

It’s too bad the rest of the Cable Television industry—with the notable exception of ESPN, a partner with the NBA and Everytown– is choosing to totally abandon any sense of social responsibility when it comes to gun violence. In fact, one of the industry’s own insiders, Doug Bornstein, who helped launch over 15 shopping networks via Direct TV, Dish and all Cable Networks, is “doing something” about guns—he’s launching GunTV next month, to make more money by selling guns the way viewers can buy any product on QVC or the Home Shopping Network.

Bornstein, who was President/CEO of Broadcast Cable Media, Inc., for 30 years—a media buying agency specializing in long form advertising and shopping networks—has lots of friends in the Cable TV and Satellite business who see nothing wrong with putting more guns and ammunition in circulation. Cynically, Bornstein and his wife and business partner Valerie Castle, call GunTV’s parent company “The Social Responsibility Network.”

Apparently, “Social Responsibility” to Bornstein and Castle is defined as “responding to a nationwide love affair with shooting sports,” as Castle told The Desert Sun newspaper of Palm Springs last month. GunTV, whose plans came to light during the week of the San Bernadino gun-massacre, will be based out of a television studio in the Coachella Valley.

But the issue of social responsibility goes far beyond Bornstein and Castle, who plan to launch GunTV.tv (which they are cleverly disguising as “GTV Live Shopping”) on January 20, 2016. To set a date for a network launch, GunTV had to get major commitments and contracts from cable sytems and satellite carriers.   Who gave those commitments? Who signed those contracts? Why is Comcast’s Brian Roberts silent on this matter? His multi-billion dollar Cable conglomerate serves the most U.S. urban areas with the highest levels of gun violence in the world. Don’t you care about the lives of your customers, Brian? What about Time Warner Cable which serves LA and NYC? Are you carrying GunTV, Jeff Bewkes? Does GunTV pass any kind of standard of social responsibility? Does any standard of social responsibility even exist  for television or cable?   Where is the National Cable Telecommunications Association (NCTA) leadership on this? Why hasn’t the Federal Communications Commission expressed its’ disapproval? Are any products fair game to be sold on television? I’ll take two AK-47’s and a missile launcher, please.

It’s time for the NBA’s Kathy Behrens, Everytown’s Michael Bloomberg, the Warriors Steph Curry, and filmmaker Spike Lee to teach TV & Satellite industry execs what “Social Responsibilty” means. It won’t be found on GunTV.tv, where guns and ammo are plentiful and where their moral code is:  “Live Shopping.  Fully Loaded.”

NBC & Mark Burnett’s New Reality Show: “The Quasimodo of Queens.”


Tom Brokaw’s two and one-half minute noble tsk-tsking of Donald Trump’s full-blown Fascism—coming at the tail end of a little-watched Tuesday night 6 pm newscast—was far too little, way too late from the Broadcast network which made Trump an international TV star and helped launch his political career.

Now that Trump’s big, ugly Un-American backside has been bared for all to see, those wonderful folks who gave this monster a global platform to pedal his pernicious views, are beginning to have some second thoughts, but very few have anything to do with soul searching. NBC, for example did pay Donald Trump a total of $213, 606, 575 in salary to host 14 seasons of “The Apprentice”—an average of about $15 million per season, according to documents Trump’s campaign filed with the Federal Elections Commission. Then, after they handed Trump the bully’s pulpit to pick on everyone from the disabled, to Mexicans, to Syrian Refugees, to wounded war veterans, to Muslims, NBC—no longer seeing profit in Trump’s pugnaciousness—fired the Towering Inferno after he insulted all Mexicans in late June, 2015, during his announcement for President. NBC’s Latino market was just too big for the network to fail.

Financially, as well as cosmetically, NBC’s announcement to Dump Trump was good business. Following its’ first five years, “ The Apprentice” began to rapidly lose market share. NBC meanwhile, had become the NBC/Universal/Comcast monolith after 2009, rolling up big new profits in its cable, movie and amusement park businesses. Donald Trump, like Brian Williams, was expendable, especially since company chiefs Brian Roberts and Steve Burke are attached to their $30 million plus annual salaries. Trump no longer fit Comcast’s “do no fiscal harm policy”; the days of Trump and Mark Burnett’s United Artists Media Group raising revenue and NBC’s prime time ratings were over.

NBC and Burnett made Donald Trump—long viewed as another wannabe starlet in New York politics–richer, far more famous, and extraordinarily more powerful than he had ever been before. Trump’s small million dollar start up loan from his father, inheritance of the Trump real estate fortune built with federal funds for constructing middle-income housing, and even a New York Daily News front page headline boasting of the “Best Sex I’ve Ever Had” with Marla Maples, weren’t enough to get him the kind of attention he craved. He looked like a silly little post-card painter without serious recognition of his talent.

Then, along came Mark Burnett and NBC, and the inner Trump was let loose in the living rooms of millions of Americans through the mindlessness of Reality TV. Burnett, Trump’s co-producer on “Apprentice” and “Celebrity Apprentice”, and a prime mover in bringing Reality TV to American television with his “Survivor” in 2000, and other programming such as “The Voice,” “Shark Tank,” “ Sarah Palin’s Alaska (yes, that too) and, the aptly named “Are you smarter than a fifth-grader?” boasts a net worth estimated at somewhere between $385 million to $450 million—a fortune built on convincing Americans that eating bugs and spitting bile at people was entertainment.   Trump spotted a winning formula for his brand of bragadaccio, and a malleable audience to swallow his hollow values and hateful views.

Forbes reported earlier this year that Trump’s entertainment-related income since 2004—the first, and most successful year of “The Apprentice”– was approximately $500 million, from his books, speeches, beauty pageants and Reality-TV employment, the bulk of which, came from NBC, and was made possible by his ten-year run on the NBC aired reality show–including nearly $100 million in product-placement fees Trump and “Apprentice” co-producer Burnett got from shaking down program sponsors like Pepsi and Crest.

NBC can roll out all of the Tom Brokaw mea culpa commentaries it wants; it can feign high-dudgeon by having Joe Scarborough cut off Trump after allowing the Quasimodo of Queens to rant on for four minutes. The network created this monster, and, with the willing leadership of programming ghouls like Mark Burnett, it disarmed the audience of any analytical ability to recognize that its collective brain was being snatched.