COMMENTS: How Many Reporters Does It Take?

When a coalition of energy utilities, environmental activists and a consumer electronics giant--"talk about strange bedfellows," joked ABC's David Kerley--announced a campaign for households to switch their lighting from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescents to improve electricity efficiency, the response from ABC and NBC was delicious.

Why? Because the consumer electronics giant is Philips, manufacturer of compact fluorescents. Its chief rival is General Electric, incandescent bulb maker--and owner of NBC. ABC's Kerley characterized Philips as "the world's largest bulb maker" without allowing GE's name to pass his lips.

Did the report by NBC's Roger O'Neil represent special pleading for his corporate bosses? He suggested that not just compact fluorescents, but also halogens and LEDs, can replace the incandescent. He too cited the electricity cost savings--$55 for the life of a bulb--but he also offered the less flattering purchase side of the equation--four incandescent bulbs sell for 96c while a single fluorescent costs $5.97 (on CBS, Daniel Sieberg found fluorescents for only $2.52 each). O'Neil quoted the incandescent lover's complaint that the fluorescent light "is just too harsh" next to the other's "warm, soft glow." General Electric, "the world's biggest bulb maker," in O'Neil's words, is not part of the coalition, since it supports "consumer choice."


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