Vol. 8, Issue 3, May 4, 2010
BP Quickly Buys All Nature Channels
Facing billions in cleanup costs and fines from the offshore oil well failure in the Gulf of Mexico, British Petroleum (BP) has taken the unusual step of spending an additional $30 billion in a quiet but urgent bid to acquire every cable channel which features nature shows as part of its programming.
"The acquisition of these properties represents part of BP's long-term corporate strategy, and has nothing to do with the unfortunate business in the Gulf," said Myron Shepherd, BP spokesperson, wiping his brow repeatedly with a handkerchief. "Really."
Channels now under the BP flag include high-profile networks such as the Nature Channel, Animal Planet, and the Discovery Channel, as well as lesser-known channels such as the Environment Channel and the Earth Network.
"They seem to be pre-emptively trying to control the message of the environmental impact that is sure to come in the near future when the oil spill reaches the coast," said Lars Fremont, of Louisiana State University. "They get points for creative thinking, I'll give them that. But the move smacks a bit of desperation. I mean, they even bought the SyFy network, which primarily focuses on nature only when it's on a distant planet."
New programming lineups are reportedly in development at all the acquired channels, including a Discovery channel show focusing on a thriving ecosystem underneath an offshore oil drilling platform in the North Sea ("All's Swell at the Well") and a TLC reality show about a gruff family man in Queens who works for BP ("Oil in the Family"). There are even sitcoms planned, such as the show focusing on a teacher working with tough but good-hearted teens whose parents work for an oil well ("Well-come Back Kotter"). The remainder of the schedules for most networks will consist of reruns of "The Beverly Hillbillies", which, according to BP, show the "positive economic impact" that oil wells can have on socioeconomically challenged segments of society.
"Basically, we have long wanted to show the positive side of the oil industry," said Shepherd. "This just seemed an opportune time to acquire half the cable TV lineup, despite the unfortunate and regrettable distractions down in the gulf."
Coincidentally, the BP acquisition has put on hold nearly three dozen shows and documentaries focusing on the impacts of oil spills such as the one in the Gulf, including older documentaries produced in the wake of the Exxon Valdez disaster and new shows being produced about the current crisis.
"We think the programs being offered by the new BP family of networks will be much more in line with what viewers want to see," said Shepherd. "I think people are tired of hearing about environmental disasters in the Gulf of Mexico."
"I sure am," said Fremont tiredly.