Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
October 17, 2005
Tell the TV networks what offends/pleases you
You have the economic clout to make them listen
Light One Candle
Early in the summer, I was watching golf on television on a Saturday afternoon and at a commercial break I was surprised to see an advertisement promoting a new fall television show. My first reaction was that we had barely enjoyed a couple of weeks of summer and the networks are already talking about fall.
It took me back to those car trips when, after riding for 30 minutes, the kids would start asking, "Are we there yet?"
Getting past my first reaction, I noticed that the show being promoted was another of the "reality shows." Most of us have seen or read the ads for those - participants either get fired or they are stranded on a desert island.
Increasingly the reality shows are becoming standard prime-time fare which makes me think the television decision-makers are striving more and more to appeal to the lowest common denominator.
I know that I am a dinosaur, but more and more I think that calling the cabinet that holds our television set an entertainment centre is an oxymoron. Most of the current prime time shows are not entertainment by my definition and, truth be told, I find many situation comedies insulting and offensive.
However, according to what I read, the television networks don't care if I watch. Their advertisers want the 18 to 35-year-olds - and money talks.
So what does that say to those of us over 35?
We're not an important or even worthwhile audience?
We don't spend enough to appeal to advertisers?
Everything I read indicates that as we get older - and our children are finally out of school - we have more discretionary income, which, as I recall from college economics, means that we spend more.
My question is: how do we convince decision makers that we value quality entertainment, appreciate good programming and support those who offer it to us?
During the funeral of Pope John Paul II and the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, the television coverage I saw was excellent, and I heard the same kind of favourable reaction from many, many people. The large amount of time allotted and the thorough reporting, as well as most of the analysis, was outstanding.
If you feel as I do, that the quality of television programming is deteriorating, then instead of merely complaining, do something proactive. Write letters to the networks, letting them know how you feel. Praise what is good and offer thoughtful criticism of what isn't.
PEN A LETTER TO SPONSORS
It's also important to write to sponsors of shows that we find offensive. Someone in those vast corporations reads the incoming mail and if enough letters critical of the sponsor's choices come in, they will react.
They are trying to sell products and there are many stories of how quickly they respond when large numbers of viewers are not pleased with their marketing decisions.
What impact will your letter have? Father James Keller, founder of The Christophers, believed that each of us has the gifts to create productive change and that change always starts with one person.
(For a free copy of the Christopher News Note, write: The Christophers, 12 East 48 St., New York, NY, 10017; or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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