What does this 1976 film, which tells the story of a failing television network, and the psychological breakdown of its primary news anchorman, Howard Beale, tell us about market forces in media and the import of ratings in generating income? Why does the programming director, Dianne Christinsen, have no problem with exploiting Beale’s mental breakdown? What message is sent by the ironic fact that the communist party USA enters into contract with the network and a leftist splinter group, the Ecumenical Liberation Army to create a reality show? Are they not behaving exactly as the capitalists do? How does this film portray the cynicism in the arrangement and mirror the exploitative relationship between the establishment Communist Party and the splinter group, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the relationship between the CCA holding company, the UBS Network and Howard Beale? Why does CCA head, Arthur Jensen, sell Howard his “corporate cosmology,” yet not seem concerned as the message causes ratings to decline as Beale takes it up on the network’s revamped “news” show? What does the broadcast assassination of Beale tell us about all the parties involved in the conspiracy? How does the Hollywood of the time reflect the cynicism of the 1970s? Does this film’s message and “cosmology” have relevance for today’s media environment?

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