Is reality is a little too ‘Real World’ for MTV executive?

In the Miami Herald’s Business Monday, they published an interview with an MTV executive conducted by Douglas Hanks. Below an excerpt:

Q: Is Cuba the only country where you don’t have a channel?
A: We talked about it. We were prevented. I talked with [Fidel] Castro directly.

I met him in my AIDS work because he hosted a lot of Caribbean countries at an AIDS conference several years ago. [Cuba] turned the whole epidemic around. They had no deaths one year from AIDS.

(Roedy explained Castro cited two priorities in their conversations: medical care and literacy.)

In China they have a show called MTV English. Where we actually stop the lyrics midstream and go back and put English on the screen. He loved the idea in Cuba because he wanted, a couple years ago, for everyone to speak English.

We didn’t [pursue] it any further . . . There’s been some talk over the years of music events. But no MTV Cuba.

No deaths attributable to such a deadly disease? Leaving aside the fact that the year was not specified, that is not believable. Where is the interviewer’s follow-up or why the lack of editing on that answer? If you are going to print an MTV executive’s thoughts about AIDS in Cuba, go the logical next step and follow up. If it’s meant to be a puff piece with some corporate mouth-piece, then please avoid serious topics and stick to celebrating MTV’s success in ridding an entire generation of superfluous and fatty brain cells.

Since I clearly have the space, let’s address that next question here. First, let’s assume that the rate of AIDS in Cuba is much lower than other Caribbean countries. The normal–or unsycophantic–question would be to ask why. Is Cuba claiming to have lower rates of homosexuality among its people than other Caribbean nations? I would assume no. How does their treatment of AIDS differ different from other countries? Better medicine? No, the absence of even basic medicine–like aspirin, let alone expensive AIDS medication–has long been a problem for the dictatorship.

It is much more likely that their success in battling AIDS is tied to the absence of freedom in Cuba. Turns out that when you do not have to worry about human rights, the odds of ‘success’ for government ‘campaigns’ dramatically improve. Let Reinaldo Arenas describe it:

The system of parameterization was imposed; that is, every gay writer, every gay artist, every gay dramatist, received a telegram telling him that his behavior did not fall within the political and moral parameters necessary for his job, and that he was therefore either terminated or offered another job in the forced-labor camps… the island became a maximum-security jail, where everybody, according to Castro, was happy to stay.

Perhaps that reality is a little too ‘real world’ for Mr. Roedy, whose pretentiousness is apparently only exceeded by his gullibility. Please see this link from Babalu, which describes a recently canceled gay parade. Mr. Arenas was the subject of the film, Before Night Falls.

[Post-post – Oct 22] – I sent a letter to the Herald based on this post and they printed the following:

AIDS in Cuba

In the Oct. 20 Business Monday article Top MTV exec in tune with Miami, Bill Roedy says that Cuba “had no deaths one year from AIDS.”

There were no deaths attributable to this deadly disease? Leaving aside the fact that the year was not specified, that is not believable. Where was the follow-up question from the reporter or an editor? If the story was meant to be a puff piece, then it should have avoided serious topics and stuck to celebrating MTV’s success in ridding many a child of superfluous brain cells.

Whatever success Cuba may have experienced in treating AIDS is likely attributable to its willingness to quarantine homosexuals. Roedy’s pretentiousness apparently is exceeded only by his gullibility.

JORGE COSTALES, Miami

Just another day on the Cuba dilettantes watch.

All articles referenced are copied in full at end of post.

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Top MTV exec in tune with Miami

Miami Herald – Posted on Mon, Oct. 20, 2008

BY DOUGLAS HANKS

Bill Roedy can tell you about pop videos in Bombay, comedy news spoofs in Holland and educational television in Beijing. He’s in charge of all of them.

The head of MTV Networks International has fought on the front lines of the music network’s spread around the world, an expansion driven by a ”localization” strategy Roedy championed in the 1980s. That approach calls for building each foreign MTV operation from the ground up, with local personalities hosting a stream of programs designed for that country’s audience.

”It shrunk the margins initially,” Roedy said during an interview at his summertime residence in South Beach. “But the basic driving force has been local product, local sensitivity, local attitude. . . . There’s no one out there who does it to the magnitude [we do] because we’ve been doing it for so long.”

Roedy, 59, lives in London, but he’s from Miami. The North Miami High graduate got his start in the media as a copy boy at The Miami Herald (in those times of sprawling newspaper staffs, Roedy used to go on coffee runs for 56 people). The West Point graduate (and holder of a Harvard MBA) earned the Bronze Star in Vietnam and went on to command NATO missile bases in Italy.

After the Army, Roedy took a job at the fledging Home Box Office network, eventually rising to a vice president. He joined MTV in the 1980s as CEO of the network’s European division, then became its chairman five years later.

Now he’s socializing with Bono and mingling with world leaders through MTV’s ”Staying Alive” campaign aimed at HIV prevention. He’s also served as the chairman of the United Nation’s Global Media AIDS Initiative. (Among the heads of state he’s chatted with: Fidel Castro.)

The father of four (ages 5 to 12) sat down with Business Monday in the lobby of the South Beach condo he owns with his wife, Alex. It overlooks the ocean and is about a 10-minute walk from MTV’s Lincoln Road office.

The history of that location reflects Miami’s diminished relationship with MTV. Once the creative hub for the network’s Latin American unit, it now only holds the corporate side of the division. Creative moved to Argentina last year.

And while MTV held back-to-back awards shows in 2004 and 2005, the spectacle hasn’t returned after a string of hurricane complications for those late-summer events.

But Roedy says Miami’s gravitational pull on the music industry doesn’t seem to be waning. Like the music video, he says, Miami has a knack for retaining star power.

Q: What is the state of the music video?

A: It’s not like it was in the ’80s, or even the ’90s.

Over the years, the MTV channel has evolved into a much bigger thing than just music videos, although it’s in our name so we still feel that in many ways it’s the heart and soul of what we do.

When you combine [MTV and VH-1] with our digital channels, we play more music videos than we have at any time in our history, ironically. The music video is still alive and well. We tend to get better ratings with the long-form youth programming. But we still generate a lot of good ratings from music videos.

You have so many different sources of music videos now. While you may not see a lot of music videos produced in Miami, you see it produced in India — big time — and China, never more than now. If you look at it globally, there’s probably more music videos being produced now than there ever was.

Q: Is Miami’s role as a creative hub for Latin America being diluted? You guys have moved your creative operations for the region out of Miami.

A: I don’t think it diminishes Miami. For us, we’ve always been driven by the premise of staying as close as possible to our audience. In that context, Miami was a bit of an anomaly for us. But it worked because of the whole thing we’re talking about: the Latin connection. . . . I wouldn’t worry about [MTV’s move] too much. All of us will continue to do a lot of ‘creative’ in Miami.

It’s a very friendly environment. And the weather is just among all the great benefits. Plus you have all the [production] infrastructure.

Q: When you talk about the social ills MTV focuses on — violence, irresponsible sexual behavior, AIDS — do you see a conflict between the programs that air on MTV, which lots of times do glorify violence and sex?

A: That’s a fair question. We deal with it all the time, obviously.

The best answer on that is our success has been to establish an audience that we have credibility with and who trust us for straight talk.

And when you have that connection with an audience, then you have a great opportunity to deliver the message. Because you have the trust.

So yeah, we do push the envelope, no question. We try very hard not to have a point of view.

We don’t preach. We can’t — they’ll turn us off in a second. We try to give them the straight information.

Q: Is Cuba the only country where you don’t have a channel?

A: We talked about it. We were prevented. I talked with [Fidel] Castro directly.

I met him in my AIDS work because he hosted a lot of Caribbean countries at an AIDS conference several years ago. [Cuba] turned the whole epidemic around. They had no deaths one year from AIDS.

(Roedy explained Castro cited two priorities in their conversations: medical care and literacy.)

In China they have a show called MTV English. Where we actually stop the lyrics midstream and go back and put English on the screen. He loved the idea in Cuba because he wanted, a couple years ago, for everyone to speak English.

We didn’t [pursue] it any further . . . There’s been some talk over the years of music events. But no MTV Cuba.

Q: Is there any international market where the MTV format has not worked, where it hasn’t caught on?

A: Uh . . . no.
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About Jorge Costales

- Cuban Exile [veni] - Raised in Miami [vidi] - American Citizen [vici]
This entry was posted in 2TG Favorites, Cuba and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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