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Viacom Drops The Ball On Michael Jackson (Update)

By Peter York, Published: June 26th, 2009 11:23 AM CDT

Within an hour of Michael Jackson's untimely death, t-shirts of the pop legend were being sold to crowds in Los Angeles and New York, and Michael Jackson eBay items were being sold at more than ten times the previous value.  The cable news media and even some networks dropped everything and it was non-stop Michael Jackson on television.  But a couple cable networks were silent.  While media guests reminisced about Michael's glory days of breaking through on MTV, if you had switched to MTV like I did, all you would have seen was a news ticker about Michael Jackson on the bottom and regular programming.  On VH1, there was pretty much nothing.

This will have to go down as one of the most mismanaged situations on modern television that I have witnessed.  I would be willing to guess that I wasn't the only person turning to MTV to see what they were doing.  It was their moment to shine and they were featuring "Pregnant and 16," business as usual.

Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA) has many stations: Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, BET, and Spike being the other big names.  MTV and VH1, however, are the names that defined a generation.  Today, the MTV name is more irrelevant than ever, due to mismanagement that was displayed in this situation.  All they had to do was switch to non-stop Jackson videos and half of the news audience would have switched and felt the comfort of the little MTV logo being alive and well, along with the immortal music of the King of Pop.

Instead, MTV continues to fade away, and we turn to YouTube, brought to you by Google.

UPDATE: Despite another writer also stating that MTV and VH1 "were weirdly silent all day," a representative of MTV stated that this article is "incorrect."

"Within two hours of his passing, we were on the air with wall-to-wall Michael Jackson music videos, exclusive live performances (many of which have not been seen for years) and news segments and specials.  We also aired numerous personal statements submitted by today's top musicians including Madonna, Justin Timberlake and others paying tribute to the great Michael Jackson. Finally, please know tribute coverage spanned across all MTV brands (MTV, MTV2, mtvU and MTV Tr3s) and VH1."

Related: GOOG, VIA

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