Like many ABC Daytime soap fans, I am reeling from this week’s firings of some of my favorite soap stars; but, I have not been watching Adam Chandler, Asa Buchanan, and Edward Quartermaine all these years for nothing. I know what to do when a company pisses me off: buy them!
Fantasizing about firing ABC Daytime executives is a popular parlor game among dissatisfied soap fans, but this week’s firing of popular General Hospital actor Rebecca Herbst, who portrays Elizabeth Webber, Dr. Steve Hardy’s granddaughter, has long-time fans lashing out with unusual vigor. According to Soap Opera Digest, ABC claims the ouster is “storyline dictated.” Long-time soap pundit, Carolyn Hinesy patronizingly hypothesized, “soaps are a business…kids,” as if our pretty, little heads cannot comprehend strategic business and economic decision-making.
Anecdotally, fans claim to be flooding the network with letters, emails, and phone calls. Passionate fan pleas on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, and podcasts call for boycotting ABC Daytime during the critical February Sweeps period. ABC Daytime has upset fans before. Doubtless, they even anticipated the usual flurry of audience backlash this time. What ABC/DISNEY absolutely does not expect is for their predominantly female audience to fight back in a way that could give them a voice in the governance and future direction of the entire company.
Disney is a publicly traded corporation, which means they answer to shareholders. Every Disney shareholder, whether they own one share or a million, has a right to attend the Annual Shareholder Meeting, vote for the Board of Directors, and receive regular updates on corporate finances and strategic, future plans. Even if a shareholder cannot attend the Annual Disney Shareholders Meeting, they are provided an opportunity to vote via proxy through mail or electronically. Every shareholder has one vote per share owned, but even with a single share, you can vote to retain or replace Board Members who share your vision for Disney/ABC.
Friday, Disney (DIS) stock closed near $40 per share. The price range for Disney stock over the past year has been between $28.71 and $40. Essentially, for less than $40, you can own a piece of ABC/DISNEY. Suddenly, you are no longer “just a soap fan” to be ignored; you are part-owner of the whole shebang.
Obviously, with nearly two billion shares of Disney stock outstanding, one share is de minimus in its real impact, but the symbolic impact of ABC soap fans collectively empowering themselves to participate in the Disney corporate process should not be underestimated. If nothing else, it might demonstrate to ABC Daytime executives, the soap audience is no longer at home eating bon bons and clutching their June Cleaver pearls. Instead, we are busy reviewing Disney financial statements, discussing ABC Media Division’s strategic plans, and actively seeking ways to align with other major shareholders or Board Members who might sympathize with our concern for the imperiled future of the current network business model.
Imagine the power of starting your letters to ABC/DISNEY with the words, “As a Disney share-holder, I am writing to express my concern…” As a stockowner, you can legitimately expand your communication to Disney’s Investor Relations and the Disney Board of Directors, rather than just the usual suspects at the ABC Daytime division who routinely ignore soap fans.
Stockholder or not, any interested soap fan can listen in for free on Disney Earnings Calls and Webcasts, such as the upcoming presentation on Disney’s 1st Quarter Financial Results, scheduled for February 8, 2011 and featuring Disney CEO Bob Iger. Imagine the collective corporate shock if even a few hundred ABC Daytime fans suddenly start listening to Earnings Calls and watching live Disney Executive webcasts. That’s when fans will no longer have their legitimate concerns ignored.
You may already own a piece of Disney/ABC and not realize it. If you have a 401(k) or other pension plan, your portfolio may include Disney stock. Call your Human Resources Officer or contact your 401(k) account manager to find out if you already “own” Disney.
There are a number of ways to purchase a stock. Even if you have no experience with stock purchase, the process is nothing to fear. If your personal bank has a financial adviser, you can contact them about purchasing one or more shares of Disney stock for you. This may be the least expensive way to obtain a share of Disney.
Another relatively inexpensive way to acquire a share of Disney stock is OneShare, a company specializing in providing high profile company stocks as gifts for children, special occasions, etc. Disney is one of the companies on OneShare’s roster of approximately 150 popular corporate stocks. The cost of using OneShare is the cost of the stock plus a Certificate Fee of $39. There are no other minimum purchases or fees required. These are real stocks with voting privileges and all other indicia of corporate ownership.
Disney itself has a direct share purchase program. Disney’s program has a one-time $10 enrollment fee plus minimal fees for purchases, sales, and termination. Disney requires a minimum investment is $250 or authorization of monthly bank deductions of at least $50.
There are also internet brokerage firms that permit the purchase of single shares with limited investment, and small brokerage fees under $10. Some of these include Scottrade, E*Trade, Ameritrade, and others. Be aware, some of these brokerage firms require a minimum deposit of $500 to open an account.
The point is: owning just one share of Disney stock provides additional leverage and credibility when contacting ABC Daytime. Disney stock ownership costs less than the typical price of attending one personal appearance for your favorite ABC Daytime star. If you feel strongly about the future of the soap genre and scripted daytime programming, empower and educate yourself in the best tradition of the soapy corporate raiders we have enjoyed watching for years. Buy the company, and have a voice in its future.
*The information above does not constitute investment advice. Prior to making any investment, a prospective investor should consult with their own investment, accounting, legal and tax advisers to evaluate independently the risks, consequences, and suitability of that investment.