Monday, July 05, 2004


Jack Valenti

Here's a quote from Jack Valenti, soon to be gone president of the MPAA regarding VCRs:
I say to you that the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone.

The VCR avalanche, I told you about that. Now, what about the VCR owners. Now, from here on out, Mr. Chairman, I am going to be speaking about a survey done by the Media Statistics Inc., which is a prestigious firm out of Silver Spring, Md. We, meaning the MPAA, did not commission this survey. We bought it after it was done when we heard about it. So, this was not a case -- we have commissioned a lot of things, but this is not one of them.

87 percent, 86.8 percent of all these owners erase or skip commercials. I have here, Mr. Chairman, if you are not aware of how this works -- this is Panasonic. This is a little remote control device that you use on machines. It has on here channel, rewind, stop, fast forward, pause, fast advance, slow, up, down, and visual search, either going left or right.

Now, what does that mean, Mr. Chairman? It means that when you are playing back a recording, which you made 2 days or whenever -- you are playing it back. You are sitting in your home in your easy chair and here comes the commercial and it is right in the middle of a Clint Eastwood film and you don't want to be interrupted. So, what do you do? You pop this beta scan and a 1-minute commercial disappears in 2 seconds.

Mr. RAILSBACK. Is that all bad?

Mr. VALENTI. If you are watching a Clint Eastwood film it is the most cheerful thing you can do. However, if you are an advertiser who has paid $280,000 a minute to advertise, he feels a very large pain in his stomach as well as in his checkbook because it destroys the reason for free television.

The entire testimony can be found here.

Very good, Jack. A VCR is the equivalent of Albert DeSalvo. So on the relative scale of things, is TiVO the equivalent of say, Lavrenti Beria, and are DVD burners the equivalent of Rudolf Hoess? What about A/D and D/A converters? Somewhere on the evil scale of Vlad The Impaler? It's people like Valenti that give analogies a bad reputation.

One of the greatest folk sayings in Spanish is "dime con quien andes y te dire quien eres", translating as "Tell me who you go with and I'll tell you who you are". Jack Valenti was a stalwart of the LBJ administration. Boy, were those two made for each other.


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