Boy, Those Corn Farmers Sure Are Interested In Internet Politics

from the something's-not-right-here... dept

You may recall last summer, an NBC Universal exec tried to convince Congress that corn farmers were very, very concerned about movie piracy, coming up with an obviously laughable theory that more piracy would hurt corn farmers by having fewer people buy popcorn in the theaters (forgetting, of course, that people eat popcorn at home too — and that popcorn isn’t exactly a significant portion of corn farmer revenue these days). Anyway, it appears those “corn farmers” sure are busy when it comes to keeping politicians aware of what’s happening on the internet. Declan McCullagh found it odd that a group of corn farmers had sent a letter to Congress demanding Congress investigate the potential harm done by a Google-Yahoo advertising deal. It didn’t take much investigating for McCullagh to figure out that the letter wasn’t actually written by corn farmers, but by a secretive lobbying/PR firm called Law Media Group, which was clear from the metadata on the corn farmers’ letter.

McCullagh then explores how these lobbying groups basically get other groups to put their name on various letters, quoting one anonymously saying: “You go down the Latino people, the deaf people, the farmers, and choose them…. You say, ‘I can’t use this one–I already used them last time…’ We had their letterhead. We’d just write the letter. We’d fax it to them and tell them, ‘You’re in favor of this.'” Amusingly, McCullagh notes, a Latino group also wrote a letter of concern about the Yahoo-Google deal, just hours after the farmers did.

As for Law Media Group, McCullagh talks a bit about how secretive they are, and tries to dig out what cable firm or telco might really be behind the letter. He notes that AT&T claims it used to work with Law Media Group, but no longer does and wasn’t behind the letter. I can say with near certainty that Law Media Group doesn’t work with AT&T anymore… because representatives from Law Media Group have spent the last few months trying to get me to say bad things about AT&T. They contacted me a few months back insisting they had some really damaging info on FCC chair Kevin Martin. They sent over the “evidence,” which basically could be summed up as: Kevin Martin has good friends who work or worked at AT&T. Oh really? That’s like sending over documents saying that Kevin Martin is a Republican. It’s not news. Ever since then, though, someone from Law Media Group sends me various alerts and press releases that all seem to be at the expense of cable industry foes. So, I’d say it’s pretty likely that the “corn farmers” are really just representing the cable industry here. Hope they at least get a discount on those ever increasing cable TV rates.

Update: Declan now has a follow up, where LMG insists it had nothing to do with the letter other than to create the PDF. It also denies any lobbying activity, though McCullagh points out that the company filed disclosure forms for lobbying earlier this year — to which LMG had no response.

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Companies: law media group

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Comments on “Boy, Those Corn Farmers Sure Are Interested In Internet Politics”

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Overcast says:

Went to a movie last week – didn’t eat popcorn anyway.

I’m not seriously nuts enough to buy popcorn at the cinema. It’s habit now to eat prior to going to a movie. Found it wasn’t just me either – the whole group I went with – didn’t buy an ounce of popcorn.

Stupid Argument.

Actually, I am FAR FAR more likely to buy popcorn when I’m watching movies at home – that way I can get 3 pounds for a buck and a half, instead of 5 ounces for 3.50.

Doug (profile) says:

Having had several friends who have worked with theaters over the years, I know why the prices for the snacks and drinks are steep. When you look at how much a theater pays to show a movie (which is so much per screen per day), and look at how much they make on tickets, they are making almost no money. This means that they have to jack up the prices on the snacks to pay for the employees. After all, if there is a choice between $6.50/person for a movie or $7.00/person, we will choose the former without really thinking about the snacks, which could be $6.00/person while only $5.50 at the latter.

So like Overcast, I am in favor of popcorn at home instead of the theater.

Oh… and having grown up in farming country, and having a father who sold silos to farmers… I **KNOW** they are not getting the majority of the money we pay the groceries for food. That goes to the middle folks, like the processors, wholesalers, etc., and leaves the farmer trying to figure out where his next tank of diesel fuel for the tractor and truck are coming from. One reason I am buying more of my food through co-ops.

cvpunk says:


So the cable industry is using farmers to push their agendas?
I don’t know about the rest of the country but where I live in central California the farmers can’t even get cable. It’s either satelite or crappy huge antenna’s on top of their house.
also, even though this story wasn’t actually about buying popcorn at theatres… keep up the good work there.. stick it to “The Man”, don’t eat their overpriced nasty popcorn?

Brian says:

This is barely related to the topic at hand, but it’s a wonder why anyone buys anything at movie theaters. Over here it’s $10.50/ticket, and a plain hot dog costs $5. Popcorn ranges from $3.50-$6.

What’s worse is that the major local theater allows people to bring in food and drink from the neighboring shops, which include at least six fast food and/or cheap take-out, a Starbucks, several nice restaurants and two convenience stores. I could spend $3 on a six-pack and throw away what I don’t drink, or spend $5+ on one crappy watered-down soda at the theater.

So let’s do the math here… $20+/person buying at a theater, or $13-15/person shopping fifty ft. away for more food that you can comfortably eat in two hours.

What theaters need to do is to take some advice from Vegas and start selling fairly moderately-priced liquor. Sneaking beer in can be a pain, and sometimes I’d prefer a nice cocktail.

Anyway, /tangent.

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