Ed Driscoll

Tom Shales NBC's The End

Never let it be said the Washington Post’s veteran liberal TV critic doesn’t dare to think big:

NBC is no longer owned by RCA; it’s owned, for now, by General Electric, a company that has been an ill-suited, penny-pinching guardian — sort of like Nicholas Nickleby’s. If current plans are approved, meanwhile, NBC will soon pass into the mighty clutches of Comcast, the giant cable conglomerate. Sadly enough, Comcast is much less interested in the NBC Television Network than in all of the little niche cable networks that NBC owns: USA Network, Syfy, Telemundo and more.

Might the trademark “NBC” be retired and the TV network become just another cog in a large, empty capitalist apparatus — one that plops out leisure-time product with the slick, chilly efficiency of an assembly line? It’s possible that Comcast could be even more tightfisted an owner than GE and that NBC might be the first network to prove that the whole idea of broadcast networks really is over. It could prove it by dying.

No wonder NBC has bled the Law & Order franchise dry, and returned middle America-pleasing Jay Leno to the Tonight Show to stem its ever-shrinking audience, as once mass mediums continue to fracture. But since NBC once asked the rest of us to turn our lights off, it’s only fair that they finish the job themselves.

I’m sure Gaia will thank them.