Type keyword(s) to search


Gideon Yago: Sumner Redstone obituaries fail to mention how he exploited workers for cheap TV programming

  • The former MTV News correspondent pointed out, via a lengthy Twitter thread, that the media mogul, who died Tuesday at age 97, was celebrated for programming that was not only made cheaply, but resulted in a lack of diversity behind the scenes. "What isn't discussed is how Mr. 'Content Is King' got his 'content,'" Yago tweeted. "Viacom Networks (MTV, BET, Comedy Central, CMT), the engine that drove Redstone's media empire was almost entirely built on 'reality', 'live' and 'free' content. Which is to say, Redstone's genius was finding a way to pipe content made and paid for by other people (music labels, comedy clubs) on to cable. And to fill the gap with non-union, unprotected 'perma-lance' innovation in-house. Reality and music television was just union-busting. Plain and simple. My Super Sweet 16? A PA came up with that. Jersey Shore? Just a rip-off of a True Life pitched by an (associate producer). There was no IP ownership. No health-care. And Redstone's bet was freelance 20 year olds wouldn't have the stones to organize or sue, which, for decades they didn't. It starved a generation of workers out of wages, health-care and residuals. And it had a corollary of making the cable broadcast industry whiter and more upper-middle/upper class. Because who else could afford to work in New York under these conditions without parental subsidy? And at the time, Viacom kept posting quarter after quarter of record profits. So why is Redstone's anti-union, anti-labor content playbook scrubbed from his final obituary? No f*cking idea. but it's a legacy worth noting. He made reality TV, even forced up its content on CBS when he bought CBS, because Mr. Content Is King never thought content was worth paying for. So rest in peace, Mr. Redstone. You cost a lot of my friends a lot of sweat and a lot of years."

    TOPICS: Sumner Redstone, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, Jersey Shore, My Super Sweet 16, Reality TV, ViacomCBS