The Technology and Politics of Broadcasting


Television is one thing that Americans seem to have in common.  About 99% of American households have at least one TV set.  (Mine doesn't.  I haven't owned a TV since 1980.)  Television is powerful and could have been used as a mostly positive influence in our culture, but it has turned into one of the most destructive forces in our society.

Many TV stations and networks are on the air 24 hours a day and seem to have plenty of programming material available to fill the time.  (That's partly because drive-in movies disappeared and the "B movies" are now on UHF TV.)  But if you look closely, much of that material is merely serving as spacers between the commercial breaks.  The revenue from commercials keeps the stations on the air.  Therein lies the root of TV's troubles:  They have to keep your attention, so you'll keep watching, so the ratings for that station will go up, and the advertising rates on that station will then increase.  And the cycle repeats.

This results in programming and advertising that looks like it is designed to entertain and inform people with extremely short attention spans — people who get bored after looking at the same thing for more than five seconds.  In the business of television news, this means less thoughtful journalism and more three-second sound bites and one-liners.  It also means that the typical TV advertisement is a 30-second frenzy of special effects and very short edits.

The sound bite syndrome means that meaningful half-hour debates are condensed down to the few seconds when someone raises his or her voice.  That leads to political arguments (and entire campaigns) in which the winner is the person who has come up with the greatest number of memorable one-liners.  People who base their votes on this kind of shallow information — or on someone else's emotional outbursts — are likely to do more harm than good at the polls.

The effect on entertainment programming is that prime time shows are becoming more and more salacious in an effort to attract viewers.  Material that was considered unfit for broadcast 20 or 30 years ago is now commonplace.  Society's standards didn't change overnight — the TV networks kept "pushing the envelope" gradually to get us where we are today.  The envelope has taken quite a beating, but the incremental changes seem to go in only one direction.

Much of the blame for the deterioration of broadcasting belongs to the FCC, which has repeatedly deregulated the industry, allowing unlimited advertising time on radio and TV, and ownership of more than one station in each market.  More stations means a diluted market and the desperate need to attract an audience.  The FCC has also abdicated its role as enforcer of basic decency on radio and television, opening the door to FM "shock jocks" and prime time TV programming that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago.

Some of the blame should go to the producers of network shows.  Many of their creations carry the warning, "Viewer discretion advised."  (Apparently if they make that disclaimer, it's okay to include anything in a TV show.)  But why should discretion be entirely up to the viewers?  Couldn't the producers show a little discretion of their own?

The rest of the blame belongs to the audience.  You could say that the FCC has just stepped aside and let our society's downfall run its course.  The government prefers to "let the market decide" what's appropriate or unfit for broadcast, and how many stations can survive in a given city.  But the market doesn't seem to decide that anything is inappropriate.  No matter what is on the air, Americans keep watching and listening.

Newton Minow, in his famous vast wasteland speech on May 9, 1961, said, "When television is bad, nothing is worse."  If you allow television into your home, you will not benefit from it, unless your goal is to squander your time and take your mind off your troubles.  For that purpose, television is cheaper than alcohol and safer than heroin.  Television is widely used in hospitals, jails and laundromats as a Time Vaporizer -- it makes people less aware of the passing time.



Related topics covered on other pages:

Radio Broadcasting

The Fairness Doctrine

The FCC.

Recent television history:

      Coupons for digital converter boxes

      The Broadcast Flag

      The Transition to Digital TV

News Media Bias,  with numerous subcategories.

Cultural and political bias in the movies.

Cultural and political bias on television.

National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting Service:  NPR and PBS are taxpayer-subsidized fountains of humanist and socialist propaganda which should support themselves.

My comments about Spanish-language broadcasting can be seen here.

News Media Incompetence:  a discussion of cheap and shallow tabloid news shows.

You may also be interested in my page about the old Emergency Broadcast System.

And you may also enjoy The Last Empty Channel, which is about TV Channel 37, the only TV channel that is completely empty.  (Originally published in TV Technology.)



Closed Captioning

Closed Captioning started out as a simple favor to those less fortunate and has turned into an entitlement.  It is now mandatory.  But it costs a lot of money to put closed captioning into reruns of old sit-coms, and the TV stations will almost certainly pass the cost along to the advertisers, who will then pass the cost along to you, whether you watch TV or not.

Occasionally during a commercial break on TV, you may hear an announcement such as, "Closed captioning of this program is sponsored by...", followed by one or more commercials.  I find it hard to believe that sponsors sign up for commercial time to pay for closed captioning, since closed captioning is required by the FCC, and the station has to provide it anyway.

The FCC says, "Closed captions provide a critical link to news, entertainment, and information for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing, enabling these individuals to be part of the cultural mainstream of our society."*

That is simply nonsense.  Television is not an essential part of life, or of civilized society.  In fact our society was more civilized before television came along.  In any event, a person can be "part of the cultural mainstream of our society" without watching television.

The FCC's Closed Captioning Rules:  Definitions, requirements and complaint procedures.

The FCC's Closed Captioning Fact Sheet  says, "Closed captioning is an assistive technology designed to provide access to television for persons who are deaf and hard of hearing."

Usually when you see the word "access" it is a code word for the implementation of special rights and privileges for a protected and politically sensitive minority.  Everybody has access to television; sometimes a little too much access.  If a person can't make sense of a television program without being able to hear the sound, that person isn't missing anything.  I can see where it would be reasonable to require closed captioning on a tornado warning, but to require it on nearly 100% of all programs (no matter how old, unpopular, or self-explanatory) is the kind of foolishness one can expect from an overgrown government.

Brief History of Closed captioning:  The engineering department of the Public Broadcasting System started to work on the [closed captioning] project in 1973, under contract to the Bureau of Education for the Handicapped of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW).  The Federal Communications Commission set aside line 21 in 1976, for the transmission of closed captions in the United States.

The Editor says...
I should have known that the Department of HEW was in on this.  For those of you too young to remember, HEW changed its name in 1979 to Health and Human Services, to get away from the well-deserved stigma of the name Welfare, and to spin off the Department of Education into its own enormous entity.  The two departments devour a total of about $123 billion a year.  But that's another topic.

DOJ moves to require services in movie theaters for the blind and deaf.  The Justice Department moved Friday [7/25/2014] to open up the nation's cinemas to the visually and hearing impaired with a slate of draft regulations requiring movie theaters to offer closed captioning and audio description technology.  "This proposed rule will allow all Americans, including those with disabilities, to fully participate in the moviegoing experience," Attorney General Eric Holder said in unveiling the plan.  The DOJ's bid to amend the Americans with Disabilities Act comes four years after the agency signaled plans to move forward with new regulations, drawing more than 1,000 public comments.

The Editor says...
It is an act of tyranny to make the owners of privately-owned businesses adapt to customers who shouldn't be there.  It makes no sense for a deaf and blind man to go to a movie theater, just as it makes no sense for a paraplegic to go rock climbing or a blind person to go to a gun range and expect to be treated like everyone else.  If people go places they shouldn't be, the owners of those places should not be penalized.

Watching the State of the Union speech with the sound muted:
The Silent SOTU.  As I followed along via the closed captions, it was immediately apparent that Obama had a) nothing to say and b) was saying it very badly.  Mercifully spared his characteristic drone, the predictable cadences and the sine-wave rise and fall of his voice, all a viewer was left with were the president's policy prescriptions, often hilariously rendered into fractured English in the caption crawl, and his robotic body language; he appeared more akin to a hologram than a human being. [...] Finally, there is this:  At least half the country simply does not believe the man has the best interests of the union at heart.

Newest disabled right:  audio TV captioning.  The FCC has proposed that TV networks be compelled to provide at least four hours of programming a week with "secondary audio" descriptions of filmed action in hopes of giving blind viewers an "equivalent experience" to what sighted viewers are getting.

The Editor says...
Common sense should tell you that "blind viewers" will never have an "equivalent experience" sitting in front of a TV, no matter what provisions are made by the broadcasters.

Timeline of Closed Captioning Development.  Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 enacted, requiring all federally funded public service announcements to be closed captioned.

This kind of incrementalism only goes one direction.  First it's applied to television, then to movies in theaters, and before long it will be required on DVDs, video games, and anything that can be shown on a television.

Deaf group files lawsuit against movie theaters.  Invoking the Americans with Disabilities Act, eight hearing-impaired persons in Portland, Oregon have filed what aspires to the status of a national class action seeking to force three large cinema chains, Regal, Century, and Carmike, to install closed captioning devices for films in their theaters.

ADA Goes to the Movies.  The movie-theater snob looks for big screens, high-end sound, legroom, and the newest innovation, stadium seating.  If you're a movie-theater snob, chances are you worship at the altar of AMC theaters because they are the gold-standard of the cineplex world.  So naturally, the Department of Justice is trying to put them out of business.

Movie theaters face suit over lack of captioned films.  For most cinema buffs, silent movies went out with the Coolidge administration eight decades ago.  But for film fans who are hard of hearing, today's theaters offer little beyond an indecipherable silence.  Captioned showings remain rare, and existing technology that would allow attendees to read along at their seats is rarely used.



The V-Chip:
An ineffective substitute for parental supervision.

If you bring a television into your house, you know exactly what you're getting into.  Whether your TV set has the V-Chip or not, if you see offensive programs on TV, it's only because you failed to push the POWER OFF button.

Parents Have the Tools to Control TV Content.  What's so troubling about calls for increased media regulation/censorship in the name of "protecting children" is that it ignores the fact parents have at their disposal many constructive alternatives to censorship.

When the Chips Are Off:  If Americans overwhelmingly favor the V-chip, why don't they use it?  In his 1996 State of the Union address, President Clinton urged Congress "to pass the requirement for a 'V' chip in TV sets, so that parents can screen out programs they believe are inappropriate for their children."  He said the technology would enable parents "to assume more personal responsibility for their children's upbringing."  This was an odd way to characterize the V-chip, which actually represented an abdication of parental responsibility.  Instead of monitoring what their kids watch and deciding for themselves what was appropriate, parents would rely on ratings assigned by the networks.  There would be no need for active supervision or discussion:  Once the V-chip was programmed, everything would be automatic.

The obscene "reality" at MTV. There's approximately one instance of foul language every three minutes.  None of that onslaught would be caught by your supposedly foolproof V-chip, since MTV is skipping out on identifying its own filth.

The networks are fighting a two-faced war.  To parents and the general public, they talk of social responsibility, and spend hundreds of millions of dollars talking up their V-chip, and how they aid parents to navigate the channels.  But in court filings, and in the councils of power, the networks are unmasked for what they are:  people who believe in no limits, no standards, no scruples.  It's an industry that is just a profitable assembly line of garbage, and wants the "right" to offend many millions of families, using the public airwaves owned by those families to do so.

Ratings, V-Chips and Self-Policing:  "The ratings system is a fraud, and therefore the V-chip is, by extension, useless," said PTC Founder and President Brent Bozell upon the release of the April 2005 special report The Ratings Sham.  The report studied 638 different shows during 2003 and 2004 on the seven broadcast networks.  Among its major findings:
  •   Every network had problems with accurate and consistent application of content descriptors.
  •   NBC didn't use any content descriptors on its programs.
  •   81% of CBS's TV-14-rated shows contained sexual dialog yet lacked the "D" descriptor.
  •   43% of the Fox shows were missing appropriate content descriptors.
  •   73% of ABC's TV-14-rated shows lacked appropriate content descriptors.
  •   82% of WB's TV-14-rated shows containing sexual behavior lacked the "S" descriptor.

Cable's creepy lobbyists.  For the V-chip to work effectively, it must rely on an accurate ratings system.  This ratings system is at best wildly inconsistent, with each network making its own decisions determining what is or isn't offensive in its own programming.  At worst, it's a joke.

The V-chip is no magic pill.  For starters, most parents have no idea how this V–chip works or know that their TV set even contains one.  A survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation discovered that only 15 percent of parents they surveyed have used the V–chip.

Say Goodbye to Family Friendly TV.  Avoiding objectionable material has become more difficult, despite V-chips, which allow parents to control access to certain programs.  And one of the more toxic areas is now the ads.  Not only do commercials try to use sex to sell everything from automobiles to soap, it seems half the ads on TV now are marketing sex itself in the form of sex-enhancing drugs.  And there's no avoiding the ads, no matter how careful you are with selecting your programming.

The TV Boss.  A web site developed by the Ad Council to explain how to use the V-Chip.  (If you can't figure out how to use the V-Chip, would you be able to get to this web site?)

NBC slices and dices "Veggie Tales".  This is one of those moments where you understand that networks like NBC are only talking an empty talk and walking an empty walk when it comes to the First Amendment, and "creative integrity," and so on.  They have told parents concerned about their smutty programs like "Will and Grace" that if they're offended, they have a remote control as an option.  The networks have spent millions insisting that we have a V-chip in our TV sets.  Change the channel.  Block it out.  But when it comes to religious programming — programming that doesn't even mention Jesus Christ — just watch the hypocrisy.

TV's trouble with religion:  For an industry that claims to reflect reality, the results are not good.  Religion is virtually ignored, and when covered, more often than not it's attacked.

Industry leaders announce new ratings system.  The parent companies of the major broadcast networks, along with several media buying agencies and advertisers announced Thursday [9/10/2009] the creation of a new TV ratings measurement organization:  The Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement (CIMM).  The group includes 14 companies making a multi-year commitment to establish a new data system.

Judges Find Dignity in Profanity.  Anyone who's had half an eye on broadcast television in the last 10 years would not be so ridiculous as to suggest that Hollywood hasn't been trying to push the envelope on what frontier of dirty language, sex and violence it can surpass.  Of course, broadcasters came into the courtroom to tell judges they've made a "good faith" effort.  But the record shows — the useless V-chip, the corrupted ratings system and so much else — that they could care less.  After the decision, the broadcasters kept the phony routine going, insisting that nothing would change now on TV.



Senseless Violence
and the FCC's attempts to put a lid on it.

TV's Increasing Female Body Count.  Violence — especially grotesque, gory or bloody violence — has become a staple of network television during sweeps periods.  But there's a new kind of violence surging — violence against women.

More Television, More Crime?  In the fight against senseless violence, Hollywood remains a tempting target.  But don't blame the remote control.  Blame a remote dad.

FCC Seeks To Rein In Violent TV Shows.  The Federal Communications Commission has concluded that regulating TV violence is in the public interest, particularly during times when children are likely to be viewers — typically between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., FCC sources say.  The agency's recommendations — which will be released in a report to Congress within the next week, agency officials say — could set up a legal battle between Washington and the television industry.

ACLU Fires Back.  Although Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) grabbed the spotlight with his attack on TV violence, little noticed at the time was a proposal by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) to craft a bill strengthening the FCC's profanity-regulation powers and giving it authority to regulate violence.  The American Civil Liberties Union wrote to legislators asking them to oppose such a move.

The Editor says...
The ACLU's position is surprising:  They see no need to regulate profanity on television because of the "technologies enabling parents to control content".  They assume that children are the only people adversely affected by violence on TV, and that everybody makes use of the V-Chip and the POWER OFF button.

Media Violence and the American Public:  Scientific Facts Versus Media Misinformation.  Over the last 50 years, the average news report has changed from claims of a weak link to a moderate link and then back to a weak link [between media violence and aggression].  However, since 1975 the scientific confidence and statistical magnitude of this link has been clearly positive and has consistently increased over time.

The Ancient Problem of TV Violence.  How ancient is the concern over violence on television and its effects on society?  Crack open a cobwebbed copy of Lyndon Johnson's National Commission on the Causes and Prevention of Violence from 1969, where it reads, "Public concern for violence in entertainment television programming has been with us since at least 1954."  In other words, go back to the days when people were still using their first TV sets.  You'd also discover reading this report that even back then, the TV industry execs were trying to duck and weave out of any public concerns.

[The "violence" that LBJ saw on television was probably just a fistfight on "Bonanza."]

TV violence found to be more frequent, graphic.  America's children are being exposed to more dead bodies, fistfights and perverts than ever before, according to an analysis of violence on prime-time television released yesterday by the Parents Television Council.  Violent content from 8 to 11 p.m. on weekdays jumped 75 percent from 1998 to 2006, largely because of popular crime-solving shows and medical dramas such as "Law and Order" and "CSI," the Los Angeles nonprofit concluded in its report, titled "Dying to Entertain."

Here is their report:
Dying to Entertain.  TV violence has become a paradox of sorts.  Medical and social science have proven conclusively that children are adversely affected by exposure to it — yet millions of parents think nothing of letting their children watch C.S.I. or other, equally violent programs.  Prominent leaders in the entertainment industry publicly decry violent entertainment — but then continue to produce and distribute it.  Despite the widespread consensus that TV violence is a significant problem, it has become not only more frequent, but more graphic in recent years.

Remote control:  On Tuesday [6/26/2007], the Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing to discuss whether there is too much violence on cable and satellite TV and what to do about it.  The issue of TV violence is the baby of Kevin J. Martin, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, who was scheduled to testify, but canceled at the last minute for family reasons.  Martin thinks there is too much violence on subscription TV.



Criticism of TV in General

You probably know people who leave their television on all the time just for background noise.  I know a few, and I also know people who watch less-than-mediocre programs "because that was all that was on."  Television seems to be the primary source of entertainment for almost everyone — an indispensable part of their everyday routine.  But about 1980 I realized there was channel after channel of nothing worth watching, and gave away my last television set.  You'd be surprised how much spare time that opens up.

If you watch fifty hours of television every week, you might see one or two minutes of material that was informative, fresh, edifying or uplifting.  Something you're glad you watched.  But the rest of the time you're probably thinking to yourself, "What a pointless show!" or, "What a stupid commercial!"  It's like digging through a barrel of garbage, knowing there's a perfectly good chocolate chip cookie in there somewhere.  It just isn't worth immersing yourself in garbage to occasionally find one little morsel.

Another section you might enjoy is called Cultural and political bias on television.

TV is increasingly for old people.  TV is increasingly for the old, and the Internet is for the young, according to new research by media analyst Michael Nathanson of Moffett Nathanson Research.  The median age of a broadcast or cable television viewer during the 2013-2014 TV season was 44.4 years old, a 6 percent increase in age from four years earlier.  Audiences for the major broadcast network shows are much older and aging even faster, with a median age of 53.9 years old, up 7 percent from four years ago.

Average TV Viewer Is 44 Years Old.  [Scroll down]  The windfall from cable television doesn't come from viewership, it comes from forcing a hundred-million plus households to purchase and pay for, and ultimately subsidize, dozens of channels they never watch.  If you want Turner Classic Movies and Fox News, chances are you are forced to purchase a cable package that might include MSNBC or CNN or MTV.  Not only is that [stuff] pumped into your home, you are subsidizing it. [...] Young people, thankfully, are the biggest threat to this racket.  Thanks to Obama's terrible economy, which is hitting millenials hardest, young people just can't afford to pay $90 a month for TV.  They can, though, afford $8 a month for Netflix.

Analyst: End of Bundled Cable Will Kill Over 80 Channels.  Bundled cable is, in my opinion, one of the greatest hustles ever perpetuated against the American people.  The worst part is how it works as a kind of affirmative-action program for left-wing programming that likely wouldn't survive in a world where we weren't forced to pay for channels we never watch.  Chief among them, CNN, and MSNBC.

Bundled Cable Deathwatch: Ratings Plunge, Darwin Looms.  You don't just cut your cable or satellite television cord all at once.  There's a process involved where your viewing habits slowly migrate away from cable and towards alternative outlets like Netflix and Amazon Streaming.  Then "it" happens.  You realize you're paying $100 a month for a service you hardly watch (cable) and $10 a month for one you watch all the time (streaming).

Smart TVs keep dumbing down our living rooms.  The living room's been something like a holy grail for electronics manufacturers for decades.  It's the place where we spend hours every day sitting in front of our TVs, passively flipping channels and watching ads.  Even as our smartphones and tablets vie for our attention, TV dominates:  Americans still spend an average of 4 hours, 38 minutes a day watching the boob tube.

Women Serving in Combat Positions Is a Batty Idea.  First off, if you truly want to eviscerate the enemy — namely Muslims — then I propose sending the most nerve grating and foul women Hollywood has to offer straight into hot zones as our forward armies.  I'm a thinkin' starting off with Roseanne Barr, Joy Behar and Lisa Lampanelli as our first offensive.  Talk about shock and awe! [...] Just send this unholy trinity in with matching Frederick's of Hollywood teddies juiced up on a pot of espresso and then have them confront hajji with their spurious insights, high-pitched, nasally voices and their unfunny comedic screeds, and our foes will shoot themselves in the face.

Is America an Idiocracy?  In 1951, Ray Bradbury published Fahrenheit 451, a futuristic novel in which books are burned, and the citizenry occupies itself by watching hours of TV on wall-to-wall sets.  Contrary to popular belief, Bradbury says Fahrenheit 451 wasn't about censorship or McCarthyism.  It was about how TV undermines interest in reading and learning.

Gallup Poll Finds All-Time Low in Public Confidence in TV News.  [Bob] Schieffer and his colleagues will probably ignore the latest finding from Gallup's Confidence in Institutions Survey:  television news has fallen to a 21 percent approval rating, a record low and just eight points higher than Congress.

How Many Negative Images of Men Do You See on TV in 10 Minutes?  I was watching the show House Hunters last night on HGTV and noticed that, even with such a neutral show, in the space of ten minutes I saw two commercials that were abusive to men.  In one commercial, a woman was angry at a man at work and dumped a cup of coffee on him. ... I wish I could just peacefully watch a show without the constant message that says men are wimps, perverts, idiots, or must live in constant fear of women and the simultaneous message that women are powerful.

Media's moral morass.  The unabated moral confusion flowing through the media is stunning.  It's so bad, you can't look away.  But we should try.  With a few exceptions, the major TV networks are a torrential sewer of left-wing propaganda and smutty sitcoms.

Dish plans closure of 300 more Blockbuster stores.  Dish Network Corp., which owns the Blockbuster chain of video rental stores, plans to close an additional 300 locations over the next few weeks on top of hundreds closed previously, according to news reports Monday [1/21/2013].

9 Things to Say Goodbye To:  [#7] Television.  Revenues to the networks are down dramatically.  Not just because of the economy.  People are watching TV and movies streamed from their computers.  And they're playing games and doing lots of other things that take up the time that used to be spent watching TV.  Prime time shows have degenerated down to lower than the lowest common denominator.

When English is the official language of this country, lots of writers and reporters will be out of a job.
Nation wondering: what happening to language?  Something funny going on across the country.  Verbs disappearing.  Other speech parts, too.  Meanwhile:  sentence fragments, participial phrases running amok — starting in New York and Los Angeles, then blanketing the entire nation.  Law enforcement puzzled.  FBI, no leads yet.  Investigations ongoing.  And now a theory:  Nightly news to blame.

Television News: Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death?  Anyone who relies exclusively on television/cable news hosts and political commentators for actual knowledge of the world today is making a serious mistake.  Unfortunately, as Americans have devolved into non-readers with woefully short attention spans, newspapers providing even semi-analytical content have found themselves struggling to stay afloat while television, which delivers little more than news sound bites sandwiched between superficial chitchat and entertainment buzz, has become the prime source of so-called "news."

Tocqueville and the Tube.  Television makes us fat, lazy, inattentive, unsociable, mistrustful, materialistic — and unhappy about all of that.  It cheapens political discourse, weakens family ties, prevents face-to-face socializing, and exposes kids to sex and inures them to violence.  Yet Americans can't get enough.  In 1950, just 9 percent of U.S. households owned a television; by 1960 it was 90 percent, and by the year 2000 TVs were just about everywhere.  Now the average U.S. household has more TVs than people.

Silence that idiot box!  For turning brains into mush, you can't do better than television.  The "vast wasteland" Newton Minow deplored in 1961 is infinitely vaster now — a largely unrelieved wilderness of mindless, stupefying entertainment, where dysfunction vies for predominance with vulgarity, and where the insatiable hunger for ratings eventually overpowers every consideration of taste, morality, and intellect.

Smart Televisions are highly susceptible to hacking by radio transmission.  Researchers discover a massive security flaw in smart TV's that allow hackers to intercept data broadcasts, insert malicious code, and transform the TV into an antenna that infects all other Internet-connected devices in the household.  Once the television is infected, it seeks out all other devices connected to the router.  The attacks are untraceable as no source IP address or DNS server is ever presented, instead, hackers perform a classic man-in-the-middle attack using radio transmissions.

Publicly Funded Leftism on Community Television.  Community television began, like many bad ideas, in the 1960s, when self-styled "media activist" George Stoney and others began lobbying the FCC to mandate "public access" broadcasting.  Stoney is described as "an early advocate of video as a tool for social change," who makes films "focusing on issues of social justice."  In short, he's a leftist. ... Media activists demanded that this revenue be earmarked to support local public, educational and government television, known as PEG channels.  FCC rulings in 1972 and 1974 led to the mandate that every community with 3,500 or more cable subscribers be offered four public access channels funded by access fees.  The Supreme Court ruled in 1979 that the FCC had overstepped its authority, but by then it was too late...

How TV Killed the Republican Party's Family Values:  Republicans are searching for an explanation as to why voters rejected their vision of America.  The answer may be on their television screens, where an ever-expanding, bluer definition of family values makes their nostalgic idea of family values feel like a foreign world.

TV's 'air' pollution.  From "Glee" to "Girls" to "Two and a Half Men," television has devolved into a vacuous wasteland where ordinary notions of morality, fidelity and decency are not just censored.  They're a joke.  TV shows present teenage virginity as a curse, human intelligence as a disease, and promiscuous sex as the norm, while average human attention spans are as alien as the Martian landscape.




"I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes."
Psalm 101:3                                                                                  



The Toy Department.  Watching a day of NFL football on TV this past Sunday, I saw more ads featuring casual sex and explicit violence than in my first 30 years of sports viewing combined.  And yet we constantly hear from network broadcasters that sports are, after all, for the children.

TV Be Gone.  I can understand that a sports bar or pub would have a TV for sports or something (though with the PC stuff some of the sportscasters spout on ESPN etc., I sometimes think I am watching the news), but why at every regular restaurant or even just in a store or doctor's office do I continually have to watch the mayhem and anxiety-producing news that I am going out to escape?  Apparently I'm not alone, as others around the web have noticed the trend in recent years.

Unwanted televisions in restaurants too often cause conversation to tune out.  Isn't it enough that we have cell phones to lure us away from a real, live conversation with our dinner partner?  Now the squawk of a TV, too?  I feel sorry for the chef.  No one's paying attention to his creations.  We're wolfing down the food, forks frozen in midair as we contemplate an episode of "CSI" or read the CNN crawler across the bottom of the screen.

Are There Too Many Televisions in Restaurants?  Unless you're purposefully going to a restaurant to watch something — and again, sports bars seem to be an exception here — a TV can be noisy and intrusive.  Thus, a TV in a bar area where patrons are waiting for a table might be different than a TV in the dining room where it would distract customers from their meals and their company.

Survey: People Are Watching Less TV Drifting to Other Devices.  According to an article on Fox News, a survey by Accenture showed that the percentage of adults who watched TV fell by 23 percent from 2009 to 2011.  The survey consisted of 10,000 participants from 10 countries, 1,000 of which were Americans.  In 2009, 71% of the people questioned said they watched broadcast and cable TV.

Big Brother alert: Cameras in the cable box to monitor TV viewers.  New technology would allow cable companies to peer directly into television watchers' homes and monitor viewing habits and reactions to product advertisements.  The technology would come via the cable box, and at least one lawmaker on Capitol Hill is standing in opposition.  Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano has introduced a bill, the We Are Watching You Act, to prohibit the technology on boxes and collection of information absent consumer permission.

The Tyrant in Your Television.  When conservatives point to the obvious contradiction between Barack Obama's words and actions on spending, taxes, healthcare, the free market, Benghazi, and almost everything else, they merely reveal their naïvité.  Obama, like [Bill] Clinton, is not a president, or even a human, in the old sense of those terms.  He is a TV-president and a TV-human; his words need not match any reality beyond the media apparatus in which he "exists."  He is to be judged according to whether his TV-presidency is interesting and entertaining.  When the greater public gets bored of the show, they will switch channels and watch a different show.

The Media Threat to Democracy.  People emulate what they see on television.  Copycat killings are a good example.  I believe the television media is responsible for more children being killed in schools than any other single factor.  The widespread sexual deviancy in our society is another example of media influence.  Once people see what is possible on television they believe it is possible, even acceptable, for them to do.  When television began to show males wearing earrings and bandanas on their heads, and females sporting tattoos, we saw an immediate flood across the nation of males wearing earrings and bandannas and females getting inked.  Monkey see, monkey do.  Look around.  Television tells society what is cool and acceptable.  People emulate what they see on TV.

"The programming may be at its most primitive.  But the technology has never been so advanced."
Shoot on Sight.  The looped boredom might work as fare played on a re-education camp's closed-circuit screens.  But educational television?  A Learning Channel?  Orwell laughs.  If only it required barbed wires and guard towers to force people to tune in to Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, my faith in my fellow man might be reinvigorated.  Alas, millions view willingly.

Top Television Shows Today Full of Garbage.  A few years ago, network television became dominated by cheaply made reality TV shows and talent contests, sitcoms with hyperactive manic characters, and socially liberal themes.  Television has always pushed the edge when it comes to socially progressive themes. [...] Now, with the exception of sports shows, it is impossible to sit down with children and watch one of the top ten television shows on network TV without exposing them to sex and profanity.

FCC mulls relaxing policy for TV indecency.  The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering making changes to its rules that bar TV and radio stations from airing indecent material.  The commission on Monday issued a request for public comment on a proposal that would focus on penalizing only "egregious" cases.  The proposal would be a shift away from the agency's past policy, adopted during the Bush administration, of penalizing even "fleeting expletives."

At the same time ...
Gov't Spends $2.4 Million to 'Improve the TV Diet of Preschool Children'.  The federal government has spent $2.4 million to "improve the TV diet of preschool children," in grants administered through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Seattle Children's Hospital has received $2,415,519 since 2008 for a study, entitled, "Media Impact on Preschool Behavior," which aims to steer children away from violent programming.

The Editor says...
Violence is bad, they say, but "fleeting expletives" are okay.

FCC chief sets new standard for passing the buck on indecency.  Washington bureaucrats have long been known for buck passing, but [Julius] Genachowski has set a standard few D.C. paper-pushers could match.  Genachowski has been FCC chief for four years, but he has failed during that time to assess even one penalty against the broadcast industry for indecent content.

Report: Broadcasters fail to disclose fundraising data.  Two top campaign finance watchdogs filed complaints on Thursday with the Federal Communications Commission against 11 broadcast news stations claiming that they failed to disclose sponsor information for political advertisements. [...] After reviewing the stations' political files, the campaign transparency advocates found that the stations had not been following legally required disclosure rules and had failed to publicly list the candidate to which the ad refers, the issue, and the CEO or board of directors of the sponsor.

Relativism: America's new 'religion'.  It is unlikely that many Americans would consciously choose a culture of coarseness, so why is American culture — TV, radio, films, books and advertising — so immersed in violence, indiscriminate sex, superficiality, pornography and ugliness?  There is much talk about our freedom to choose, but we rarely hear that we can't choose the consequences of our choices.  When relativism is adopted by a society, it does not produce beauty, but coarseness, if not as the desired outcome, then as an unintended consequence.  One can see this occurring in America, in a descent to the lowest common denominator when it comes to art, music, literature, public discourse and entertainment.

The lucrative secret behind infomercials.  Nothing good is on TV between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., and for good reason.  Nobody's trying.  It's the time period known euphemistically in the media business as the "Post Late Fringe," and less euphemistically as the "Graveyard Slot."  It's when networks and local TV affiliates sign off.  They give up.  They stop pretending that anyone important is watching and sell off their airtime — not just 30-second commercial spots, but entire 30-minute programming blocks — to sponsors.  Those sponsors fill the left-for-dead airwaves with direct-response television (DRTV), better known as infomercials.

Feeding America: 'Public service' lies.  "People say I'm a pretty good kid.  Why, in a country as rich as America, should I have to go to bed hungry?"  So goes the Feeding America campaign of "public-service announcements," which since 2008 have proven more popular than all the other Ad Council "Don't" campaigns (Don't start forest fires, Don't bully, Don't eat paint...) combined.  Media programmers, especially at ad-poor online streaming outlets, run the spots continuously.

Hollyork Nation:  Denunciations of television have become as routine as breathing:  the programming is crass, stupid, propagandistic, so bad that only an idiot would watch it yet everybody does.  Actually things are worse.  They are much worse.  To see what is happening, start with what may be the crucial truth of our times:  People will watch a screen.  They will watch anything in preference to nothing, watch programs they don't really like, comedies so unfunny that only the laugh track tells them when to respond.  The bright know that the fare is witless, that it is directed at fools.  The ads irritate them.  Yet they too watch.  People cannot not watch television.

Which Network Will Win the Battle for Sharyl Attkisson?  Media and particularly cable news has never been as polarized as it is today.  It's also never been tilted more towards opinion and less toward objective reporting of hard news.  As a result, trust in media has fallen to an all-time low.  Reporters in particular are looked upon as dishonest brokers in the business, with Gallup showing only 20 percent of those polled finding journalists honest and ethical (that's 65 percent lower than nurses, 50 percent lower than doctors and engineers).

CBS, Colbert and Contempt for America.  The number of people who watch a TV show stopped mattering years ago.  If it did, Murder She Wrote, a show that had an older audience and high ratings, wouldn't have been canceled.  Instead there's talk of rebooting it with younger multicultural leads in a different setting.  Network television doesn't just fail to count older viewers; it tries to drive them away.  A show with an older viewership is dead air.  Advertisers have been pushed by ad agencies into an obsession with associating their product with a youthful brand.  The demo rating, 18-49, is the only rating that matters.  Viewers younger than that can still pay off.  Just ask the CW.  Older viewers however are unwanted.

Reality of Austerity TV.  [Scroll down]  Since the inception of commercial television in the 1950s, TV executives have always known the taste of the American public has dictated the programming schedule. ... Satisfaction without limitation is always the driving force.  Barnum understood that concept; Hitler recognized it, and every TV executive knows it as well.

The Editor says...
That is utter nonsense.  The American public, by and large, will sit and watch whatever the television delivers, if it is slightly less offensive or slightly more entertaining than the next channel up or down.  The American public has no input on program planning or approval of the next season's shows.  The public's only leverage is through the viewership ratings.

The "TV Gap" Cripples Minority Kids.  A powerfully disturbing new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that black and Hispanic kids consume 4½ more hours of media every day than their white counterparts -- investing a startling total of more than 90 hours a week on television, video games, social networking and other distractions.  "It's clear that, overall, American youth spend an enormous amount of time with media, but minorities spend most of their waking hours with media," says study director Ellen Wartella, head of the Center on Media and Human Development at Northwestern University.  The chief culprit is television, of course:  black youngsters spend more than 41 hours a week watching the tube, while white kids devote less than 25 hours per week.

Millions of children spend 32 hours a week in front of a screen.  Millions of youngsters are missing out on traditional family lifestyles because they spend 32 hours every week using technology, it has been revealed.  Children have their eyes glued to screens for more than four hours on a school day and six hours at the weekend.  The staggering figures emerged after a study was carried out using thousands of UK parents.

Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor.  Perhaps the most ironic aspect of the struggle for survival is how easily organisms can be harmed by that which they desire.  The trout is caught by the fisherman's lure, the mouse by cheese.  But at least those creatures have the excuse that bait and cheese look like sustenance.  Humans seldom have that consolation.  The temptations that can disrupt their lives are often pure indulgences.

Pope Francis: Turn Off the TV During Dinner.  Pope Francis has come up with 10 tips for a happier life, and one of them is to turn off the TV during dinner.  In the interview with Argentine weekly Viva, the pontiff says staying plugged-in during meals stops families from communicating with each other.  The pope also says that parents have to make time to play with their children and enjoy art and culture, according to a Catholic News Service translation of the interview.

Two year-old abandoned in favor of a widescreen TV.  A two-year-old boy was rescued from a Kmart parking lot after he was abandoned by a shopper who left with a wide-screen TV — just one of the shocking incidents on a day of chaos on Black Friday yesterday.

The side effects of binge television.  A good television show writer understands that Oscar Wilde wasn't kidding when he said, "I can resist anything but temptation."  Drama holds its audience in a perpetual state of anticipation, joyful in the knowledge that answers will be doled out only sparingly, that no resolution will ever be as powerful as the growing desire for it.  Theater and film do this for a few hours; television can do it for years.

TV shortens life by 22 minutes per viewing hour, says study.  A new study suggests that mom's warning might not go far enough.  It showed that too much television could make a person die sooner.  Researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia say every hour of TV watching after age 25 cuts almost 22 minutes off the viewer's lifespan.

Why TV Addiction Links to Liberalism:  An important new study from the Culture and Media Institute shows that those who describe themselves as "heavy" TV viewers embrace distinctly liberal attitudes on a range of crucial issues, placing them well to the left of those who report "light" TV viewing.

We're Struck Dumb.  The award show is cotton candy television at its most vacuous.  There's no story line to follow.  It's just a parade of famous people there for our viewing pleasure.

What Television Teaches Children:  All the way through college years, and beyond, young people too often learn little of the attitudes necessary to function as an adult. ... Television, I fear, teaches children from an early age that all parents are essentially fools, no more to be respected than one's peers.

Monkeys like watching television.  Monkeys like watching television, Japanese scientists have revealed in a new study.  A three-year-old male rhesus macaque thoroughly enjoyed a video of a circus elephant, giraffe and tiger performing, according to scientists from 1 University's Primate Research Institute, who monitored the monkey's brain during the experiment.

How to Lower Your IQ: Watch the History Channel.  As you have probably deduced by now, I am very unhappy with the pabulum and low-brow offering of programs aired on the History Channel.  I am most irked by shows that have absolutely nothing to do with history.  To wit, "Ice Road Truckers", "Pawn Stars", "Swamp People", "Stan Lee's Superhumans", "American Pickers", along with "Sharp Shooters" and "UFO Hunters."  These programs are utterly devoid of anything a moderately educated person would deem to be of any historical value.

Horsehide Hangover.  I have given up wondering when sports — which used to be a way to encourage young men away from more dissolute pursuits — has now embraced all that is debased in our modern culture; the objectification of women as sex toys, vulgar language, egotism, and violence.  All of this was on display during "The Hangover" promo and another one for a flick aptly titled, "Drag Me to Hell;" both of which would have never appeared in prime time a few short years ago, but now invade our homes on a Saturday afternoon.  Sadly, the trash emitted from Hollywood has now found its way onto the playing field; so much so that I sometimes feel that baseball itself has become some kind of perverted cross-promotion.

HDTV's turning Americans into couch potatoes.  The numbers are in, and it appears that high-definition television is getting Americans to spend more time glued to their TV than ever before. … At a minimum, consumers seem to find high-definition TV a more compelling experience.  In a survey conducted on behalf of ESPN, 22 percent of sports fans said they watched sporting events they would not have watched because they now have HDTV.

Too much TV leads to an early grave.  Couch potatoes sit up and take notice.  Every hour spent veging in front of the television increases the risk of early death. ... Even fit TV fans increase their risk of premature death from heart disease by 18 percent for each hour spent in front of the box.  They also have a 9 percent increased risk of endometrial and colorectal cancer and, similarly, an 11 percent increased risk of death from all causes.

How to extend your lifespan by 3½ years: watch less TV.  Watching television for less than three hours a day increases your life by two years, experts say.  Reducing it by another hour — to less than two hours daily — extends lifespan by almost 1.4 years extra, they believe.

Watching television 'damages the heart'.  The risk of heart disease and premature death from any cause doubled for those spending more than fours hours a day glued to a screen, it was claimed.  Metabolic factors and inflammation may be partly to blame, the report said.  Research revealed those who devote more than four hours watching television, surfing the web, or playing compuer games are more than twice as likely to have major cardiac problems.

Soap Operas Blamed For Lack Of Babies.  Researchers trying to discover why Brazil's fertility rate has plummeted in recent decades think they have found the problem:  Brazilians watch too many soap operas.  The London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) says that unrealistically small families portrayed in the hugely popular programmes influence the number of children women want.

Nielsen Study: African Americans Watch More Television Than Any Other Group.  There's a reason they call television the "idiot box."  Some believe that if you spend too much time watching television, it will negatively affect your ability to think.  Let's hope this isn't true, since a recent study from Nielsen is showing that African Americans watch television more than any other group in the country.

America Is Gone.  There is no better index for America's moral degradation than television programming.  Compare today's shows with those of a generation ago.  Every episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" contained a short moral lesson, and "The Twilight Zone" challenged our intellects and stretched our imaginations.  But entertainment and instruction have devolved into shock and novelty.  The networks are locked in a downward spiral to see who can provide the most outrageous and offensive programming.

The Editor says...
The television producers in New York and Los Angeles are pushing our society into the gutter.  They are not being dragged into the gutter by Americans clamoring for more and more salacious programming on TV.  Nobody writes to the networks demanding to see raunchier programs next season.  And another thing:  Notice that when TV shows "push the envelope" with something more violent, blasphemous or risqué than ever, the promos always end with "Viewer discretion advised."  Why don't the networks show some discretion?

Cable Company Bills Tornado Victim $2,000 for Damaged Equipment.  Time Warner Cable billed a number of Wheatland [Wisconsin] residents for equipment destroyed in the Jan. 7 twister that struck the southeast corner of the state.  [Ann] Beam's bill covered five cable boxes and five remote controls.  She immediately called the cable company, but a man who identified himself as a manager said there was nothing the company could do. … [But then, after the news media picked up the story,] Time Warner Cable spokeswoman Celeste Flynn said Beam's case was simply a misunderstanding.

Pay TV costing a pretty penny, and rising.  The monthly rate for pay TV has been rising at an average of 6 percent annually and hit $86 a month last year for basic pay and premium-channel TV, according to a reported released Tuesday [4/10/2012] by market research firm The NPD Group.

Economic bummer: 6.9 million homes ditch cable TV.  It started with homes, then cars, and now penny-pinching Americans, especially minorities, are giving up cable TV because they just can't afford it in the lingering recession.  Instead, they are switching back to free TV, improved with the recent switch to digital broadcast which requires a special antenna but eliminates the $70-$100 monthly cable, satellite or broadband service fee.

Shocker: Cable TV prices went up four times the rate of inflation.  The Federal Communications Commission today issued a report on average cable TV prices in the US, and to the surprise of no one, it turns out they went up a lot.  "Basic cable service prices increased by 6.5 percent [to $22.63] for the 12 months ending January 1, 2013.  Expanded basic cable prices increased by 5.1 percent [to $64.41] for those 12 months, and at a compound average annual rate of 6.1 percent over the 18-year period from 1995-2013," the FCC said.  The basic cable increase was four times the rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for the 12-month period, and substantially above inflation for the 1995-2013 measurement.

Most people say they'd abandon their cable company, if only they could.  A survey of subscribers on the nation's biggest cable providers has found that more than half of Americans would abandon their cable provider if they felt they could.  Cable rage is real, and here's the data to prove it.

Cable Subscriptions Plummet: Is This Cord-Cutting Critical Mass?  Cable TV may still have tens of millions of subscribers in the U.S., but the writing is on the wall:  Internet-based media is the future.  Thanks to new streaming services from the likes of HBO, Amazon, Dish, and even some sports networks, consumers are abandoning their traditional pay TV packages.  Even the word "cable" has taken on a negative connotation, conjuring up nests of coaxial wires and ethernet cords.  Streaming services and set-top boxes feel refreshingly modern and wireless in comparison.

Aereo is shaking TV networks — all the way to the Supreme Court.  In its three-year lifespan, Aereo has angered all the major TV networks, major-league sports, and the government.  Here's a portrait of the scrappy company — and its audacious CEO — that could change American television as we know it.

Aereo Internet service vs. TV broadcasters: US Supreme Court to decide.  The case involves a New York-based company that charges $8 a month to allow subscribers to watch broadcast television programs on their computer, tablet, or smart phone via the Internet.  The company, Aereo, Inc., can keep its subscription price low in part because it pays nothing — zero — to the major broadcast companies for access to their programming.  The broadcast companies aren't happy about it.  They sued Aereo, claiming the little firm is stealing their copyright-protected programming and re-transmitting it to Aereo subscribers.

The Editor says...
Stealing?  Broadcast stations spray their signals far and wide, hoping to reach as many viewers as possible.  The broadcast stations should be delighted when their programs reach additional viewers.

Update:
U.S. Supreme Court Pulls the Plug on Aereo's Streaming TV Service.  The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday dealt a potentially fatal blow to Aereo, an Internet service that allows customers to watch broadcast TV programs on mobile devices.  Launched a year ago in New York and then extended to 10 other U.S. cities, it allows customers to watch over-the-air TV programs on a smartphone, tablet, or computer for as little as $8 a month.  Selections can be viewed live or recorded for later viewing.  The court found that Aereo violates federal copyright law by retransmitting copyrighted programs without paying a copyright fee.

Grand Rapids TV Viewers May Experience Blackouts.  Retransmission disagreements have resulted in 84 television blackouts in the United States thus far this year, according to the American Television Alliance, an advocacy organization consisting of consumer groups, independent programmers and satellite and cable companies, that aims to ensure negotiations between broadcasters and local cable carriers don't result in blackouts.

LCD TV shipments decline for first time ever.  Got an LCD TV?  Apparently, so does the rest of the world.  The LCD flavor of flat-screen TVs are by far the most popular, making up 84% of the market, yet demand for them is waning.

Cable Copycats.  A survey conducted by the marketing-research giant GfK reports that 6.9 million American homes dropped cable and satellite television last year.  Nearly 20 percent of U.S. homes report watching free television to the exclusion of pay television.  Most of the people who no longer pay for pay TV cite the price they had to pay for TV as the determining factor.

The Al Jazeera Deal: How Al Gore Race-Baited His Way to a $100M Pay Day.  One of America's great legal rackets is cable/satellite television, where somewhere around 100 million Americans pay for literally dozens of channels they never watch.  As you well know, to do business with any cable/satellite provider means being forced into expensive tiers and/or packages that include channels we wouldn't watch for free.  Because of this, we're not only forced into subsidizing junk; we're also subsidizing programming that works against our own political and cultural beliefs, like MSNBC, CNN, OWN, MTV, etc.

Americans Being Forced to Pay for Al Jazeera.  Two weeks ago, Al Jazeera America launched, beaming into 48 million homes across the country.  The media company that allowed Osama bin Laden to use it as a vehicle to communicate with jihadists around the world is now on your TV screen and you are paying for it.  The network pushed its way onto basic cable packages with several providers.  If you subscribe to Verizon, Comcast, Dish Network or DirecTV, you are forced to subsidize Al Jazeera's propaganda as part of your cable bill whether you like it or not.

CNET Reporter Resigns Over CBS' Censorship.  One of the existential threats to broadcast and cable television is anything involving Internet streaming.  We the People are slowly but surely getting used to the idea of watching what we want, when we want.  And as people get used to this technology, the idea of flipping endlessly through expensive nothing-to-watch cable packages feels more outdated by the day.

The Golden Globes of Propaganda.  When the Golden Globe awards telecast was over, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation proclaimed, "It was a great night for LGBT-inclusive television."  They could have added:  "We run the joint."  Gay actor Matt Bomer thanked his "husband" and his surrogate sons when he won an award for HBO's Reagan-bashing AIDS drama "The Normal Heart."  But the bigger celebration came with a best actor award to Jeffrey Tambor, who plays Mort, a 70-year-old father of three who decides he's a woman named Maura in a show called "Transparent," or literally, "Trans Parent," since his three adult children have to figure this whole scene out.  The show "airs" on Amazon.com.

Being black or female or talented or intelligent isn't enough.
One in six BBC stars 'must be gay or lesbian or disabled' by 2020 says new staff-hiring guidelines at the corporation.  One in six of all on-screen BBC roles must go to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender or disabled people by 2020, the corporation's new diversity targets state.  In a bid to deter criticism that it has been failing to reflect its audience, the BBC has pledged that LGBT and disabled people will each make up eight percent of all on-air and on-screen roles.

Why Hollywood is dying.  Creativity is a rare commodity in the studios today and one has to wonder if the alleged heavy use of drugs in LaLa land is behind this drought of originality.  Everything coming out now is a remake of a former blockbuster only the characters' ethnicity or gender is changed to promote diversity.  What this really connotes is that the studios believe that persons of color have nothing of interest so let's just stick their faces on something that worked before. [...] So the Ghostbusters are now all women.  Whoopedoo — and having one of them be the stereotypical angry black woman is the typical mindset of the closeted racist misogyny of major studios.  I'm not planning on seeing that movie so that I don't know if they will inject the ubiquitous gay character to promote its LGBT agenda as has been its wont for the past decade.  That agenda has reached the level of hilarity for many as any person who's watched the TV program "Wayward Pines" knows.  Introducing a gay character in a futuristic series that's about repopulating the human race makes absolutely no sense except for pure tokenism.  There is nothing coming out in the films for senior citizens.  The products are geared for either children; sophomoric young adults; or those with no taste at all.

Good News From TV Land.  Shows like All In The Family, The Jeffersons and Good Times are on the drawing board for new versions. [...] It's not hard to imagine how this will go.  All In The Family will feature a mixed race family, where the patriarch is a transgender white man.  Gloria will be a gay male and Meathead will be a gender fluid lesbian, who enjoys lifting weights.  The Jeffersons will be the same show, but not funny, because nothing has changed for black people since the '70's and that's not funny.  Good Times will have Amy Schumer and Seth Rogan forced to live in a tenement owned by Donald Trump and managed by Richard Spencer.

Fake News and Fake Intelligence.  Nielsen Holdings PLC is a global data mining corporation that has been in business since 1923.  Its signature survey is in-home monitoring of television viewing habits.  TV content, programming, and advertising dollars are a of function of Nielsen ratings and statistics.  Well north of eighty percent all of domestic purchasing decisions are made by American women who watch television or use TV as a surrogate for child care.  Nielsen is in the business of both monitoring and creating truth in the American marketplace.  All so-called "Nielsen families" are aggressively recruited "volunteers," a demographic that has been led to believe that their household habits and tastes might be typical — or trend-setters.  The Nielsen monitoring pitch appeals to a passive, vain feminine demographic, all of whom volunteer, with incentives, to provide Luxemburg corporate snoops with a veritable gold mine of personal and family behavioral data.  Nielsen data is ubiquitous in entertainment, politics, marketing, advertising, retail, and manufacturing.  How volunteer victims, monitored electronically, became a "typical" demographic is a question seldom asked or answered by statisticians.

2016 Was Bad Year for Prime-Time Network TV.  [P]rime-time network television has sunk into irrelevance as viewers shun programming that fails to reflect any sense of Americana.  The big four networks' ratings are all down double-digit percentages for the fall season.  Premiere week for new shows in September was down 12 percent compared to last year, and nothing has happened since to reverse the decline.  The top-rated prime-time show in November was CBS' "Big Bang Theory."  The audience size would have made that program the 79th-ranked show 40 years ago, trailing such losers as "Mr. Belvedere."

Vizio Caught Spying on Customers Through Their TVs.  We've been warned about bringing devices into our home that have cameras, microphones or WiFi that are connected to the outside world.  Why?  Because any one of the devices has the capability to collect data about us.  And with advertisers and other organizations willing to pay for personal information, it's tempting for device makers to try to earn extra profits.  The consumer electronics hardware business has become highly competitive with so many similar products that do much the same, so the manufacturers are trying to find ways to increase their revenue through software subscriptions or by collecting data that they can sell to others.

Google's Home TV ad makes Google Home systems go crazy.  Google Home is the search engine's answer to Amazon's Echo system, in which users get it to respond by asking questions or giving orders starting with the name "Alexa."  Both are home systems that are dormant until a user calls out their name.  Then they perform any number of functions — from playing a musical selection to turning on or off the lights.

Death spiral TV news lies to fool advertisers.  The Wall Street Journal just accused major television networks of using deception to goose ratings that include deliberately misspelling the names of the news shows.  Sounds like fraud to me.  Unlike their cable brethren, the broadcast newsers seem to be losing customers.  I say seem because we have no way of telling as they have so gamed the ratings system that no honest person can say how many people watch them.

In TV Ratings Game, Networks Try to Dissguys Bad Newz from Nielsen.  Boosting TV ratings is easy for networks that don't mind playing dumb.  In a game largely sanctioned by TV-ratings firm Nielsen, television networks try to hide their shows' poor performances on any given night by forgetting how to spell.  That explains the appearance of "NBC Nitely News," [...]

America Fights Back:  Record Number of Patriotic Cord-Cutters Tumble TV Stocks.  There is only one way — one! — to finally and forever destroy Hollywood and much of the mainstream media.  You have to cut your cable or satellite cord.  You have to cancel your pay TV package.  The one-legged stool propping up ESPN, CNN, MSNBC, Disney, MTV, and the entire Tinseltown crime syndicate is you paying for cable TV. [...] Not to put too fine a point on it, but there is no single act any American can perform that will do more damage to the institutional left than to cut your cable/satellite cord.  So please do so today.

Nolte: Want to Destroy ESPN and CNN Forever?  Cut the Cord, Dummy.  Almost all of the cultural and political power possessed by Hollywood and the mainstream media is held up by a one-legged stool, a single leg that gets shakier by the month — this increasingly fragile appendage we call the Pay TV Package.  Going forward, for reference purposes, the Pay TV Package is your cable or satellite bundle, which brings with it hundreds of channels and a monthly bill that dings you for $1000 to $1500 a year.  Without this bundle, almost every institution determined to destroy everything you hold dear — faith, family, country, individual liberty, self-reliance, prosperity, racial harmony, and moral decency — would disappear entirely or at least be much weaker than it currently is.  Of course, I am talking about CNN, ESPN, Comedy Central, Disney, MTV, MSNBC, and the like — institutions you — yes YOU — are subsidizing against your will.

How To Destroy CNN, Survive Without Cable TV, And Save Lots of $$$.  Did you know that, on average, CNN is not only in last place behind MSNBC, but that the left-wing outlet's average viewers are below 1 million?  With such poor ratings, there is no way CNN could survive on advertising revenue alone.  So how does CNN stay afloat?  By picking YOUR pocket.  Yes, Genius, YOU are subsidizing a Fake News outlet that is actively trying to destroy you and everything you stand for.  How?  Whether or not you watch CNN (and no one really does), if it is part of your cable package, you are putting money directly into CNN's pocket with what is called a subscription fee.

Bring on transgender nudity and demonize the military?  The fall premieres have begun on prime-time TV, and just when you thought we couldn't sink lower into the cesspool, there are new "milestones" for the liberal cultural commissars to honor.  The Daily Beast reported with great pride that the Amazon show "Transparent" will have TV's first transgender full-frontal nude shot, during a massage scene: [...]

To see your gestures, the TV will have to watch you continuously.  Do you really want that?
End of the TV remote could be nigh as scientists invent technology to change channel using gestures.  The television remote could become a thing of the past according to scientists who have developed a new technology that allows the device to be controlled through gestures instead.  Computer scientists at Lancaster University have come up with a system that makes it possible interact with screens simply by using body movements, or waving objects.  Requiring only a simple webcam, the "Matchpoint" works by displaying moving targets that orbit a small circular "widget" in the corner of the screen.

TV And The Cloud People.  The people who have long careers in television, making hit shows, all have something in common.  They make it their first priority to give the public what they want.  Whatever political or personal agendas they have are secondary to putting on a good show.  Unlike a pollster or political operator, the guy pitching TV shows has skin in the game.  He has to be good at gauging public attitudes or else the show flops.  The pollsters never suffer for being wrong.  The thing is though, the TV shows also tell us, the Dirt People, something about the people who rule over us.  Hollywood is, after all, the class of people in American, whose duty it is to sing the praises of our rulers.  It's also their job to sell the public on the official cultural agenda.  Whatever fads or social issues are being pushed by our ruling class, will be praised in our TV shows and movies.  It's why all of our action heroes are barren cat ladies now.  It's why commercials are now full of race mixing.

Remember When Late Night Talk Shows Were Entertaining?  Regardless of your position on Obamacare or on the 2016 election, the bigger picture here is how ponderous and self-reverential and sanctimonious our late night shows (and their hosts) have become.  Can we get back to entertainment please?  If I want political debates on candidates and issues, I've got plenty of cable channels to choose from.  Last I checked, the network late night talk shows were supposed to serve a different purpose.  I want a humorous and entertaining talk show at the end of my busy and complicated day[,] and I doubt I'm alone.

The Emmys Celebrate a Dying Industry.  [Scroll down]  In fact, general TV audience has declined steadily among all ages below 65-year-olds in the past six years.  In the first quarter of 2011, Americans spent an average of 42 hours watching TV per week, according to Nielsen data.  By the first quarter of 2017, that number had dropped to 34.  The viewership of those aged between 12 and 24 years old has changed by the highest percentage since 2011, a 41 percent decline.

Emmys Go Political in the First Minute.  The 2017 Emmys Awards ceremony wasted no time getting political during Sunday's opening segment, as host Stephen Colbert and friends made political jokes within the very first minute — and Colbert quickly accused President Trump of treason.

Hurricane Irma And How The Left Has Politicized Even The Weather.  A number of years ago, I sat down with the general manager of a major television news station.  He told me that in their own survey, viewers tuned in for "weather first, sports second, and news last."  Therefore he stressed, weather forecasters were the "cash cow" of the station.  He further explained that much of television weather forecasting was a "sham."  He said that decades ago, they would give a "one-day" forecast.  But then Station B across town went to a "two-day" forecast.  So then they countered with a "three-day" forecast," until everyone went to the "useless seven-day" forecasts.  He emphasized that it was all done for reasons of competition and ratings and that with a "seven-day" forecast, the station and the networks were playing viewers for "fools," because they normally "couldn't even get the forecast for tomorrow correct."

Fox Sports to cut commercials to just six seconds during NFL games to try and hold viewers attention.  NFL ratings dropped in 2016, and in an attempt to fix the problem, Fox Sports will reportedly experiment with six-second advertisements alongside their traditional 15- and 30-second spots.  According to a report by The New York Times, Fox Sports is attempting to make the six-second advertisement an 'industry standard'.

Here's why ESPN is imploding.  ESPN's first problem has been the move of TV viewers to cheaper online viewing platforms.  With younger viewers increasingly choosing to forgo expensive cable packages in favor of selective products like Netflix, ESPN has been left with big bills and not enough subscribers.  Making matters worse, ESPN continues to charge existing subscribers an excessive premium for its product.  Why does it do so?  In part, because it must.  After all, ESPN has spent the last few years spending billions of dollars on broadcasting rights for a wide array of tournaments.  Had they negotiated more effectively — perhaps sacrificing one sport to disabuse other sports of their confidence in demanding astronomic broadcast fee payments — ESPN could have reduced their front-end costs and offered lower subscriber rates.

Is ESPN Unraveling?  I don't know, but it's certainly hurting. [...] But don't worry.  You'll be seeing more women in front of the camera.  John Skipper, the left-winger who runs ESPN, has directed that more women appear in "front-facing positions" during NFL coverage.  If he doesn't pay them what the departing males earned, there may be a pay discrimination suit in ESPN's future.  Why is ESPN in so much trouble?  Mainly because people are "cutting the cable."

Poll Shows CNN Brand Plummeting.  [Scroll down]  "CNN's negative acceleration point happened in mid-October 2016, around the time Anderson Cooper interviewed Melania Trump, notably discussing her husband's famous 'Access Hollywood' tape," YouGov's Ted Marzilli notes.  "Also at that time, a local North Carolina Republican office was firebombed, causing conservative-leaning media to pounce on CNN for suggesting Trump's rhetoric spurred the incident."

ESPN hemorrhaging viewers?  ESPN reportedly lost 555,000 subscribers this month, according to sports writer Clay Travis.  The drop in November for the sports media company comes right after its worst-ever month, when it lost an estimated 621,000 subscribers in October.

Is 'The View' the Dumbest Show on TV?  This week, "The View" discussed the death of Fidel Castro.  You can practically predict where this is going without watching a single frame:
  •   Unabashed Obama defense
  •   A clear lack of knowledge on the subject
  •   Turning the death of a dictator into a Trump-bashing session.
If you guessed all three ... congratulations!  The show's hosts mostly defended President Obama's toothless statement concerning Castro's death, one that didn't dare mention any of the vile truths of his reign.

"The View" is About to Get Cancelled, Audience is Tired of Arguments Mocking Jesus and the Bible.  Rosie and Whoopi may be abandoned soon as "The View" receives poor ratings.  Countrywide, viewers are tired of the yelling matches, and arguments that mock Jesus and the Bible.  Reports show ratings have plunged due to Rosie and Whoopi's continuous bickering back and forth, and the audience is complaining that the two constantly interrupt interviewers as well.  This long-running show may be in their final season.  Not only is there a bad vibe on set, but producers are fed up working around them.

Drown Out the Lying MSM.  Do you enjoy being lied to?  Or do you have to watch sports so badly that you're willing to fork over $150 per month for a cable or dish subscription that directly funds people who hate you and everything you believe in and want to mislead you, all while insulting you to your face?  In a budget-conscious move three years ago, I decided to terminate our television package.  Not only did I drown out the weasels on my screen, I increased the amount of quality time spent with my family and saved a lot of money.

BBC targets children to promote the transgender propaganda.  The BBC has been accused of acting recklessly after targeting children as young as six with a programme about a schoolboy who takes sex-change drugs.

Outrage As BBC Promotes Transgender 'Sex Change' Show To Children As Young As Six.  A BBC Television program directed at young children came under fire concerning a story-line about an 11-year old transgender character taking hormone blockers.  British parents and political leaders are outraged over the transgender story-line in "Just A Girl," a show aimed at children as young as six, reports the Mirror.  Peter Bone, a Tory Member of Parliament, called the show "inappropriate" and said he would demand the show be removed.

The Media Must Be Dismantled In Order For Freedom To Survive.  News has always been biased, but the American media exists for one reason and one reason only in 2016 — to further the agenda of the corporate-government complex a.k.a. the globalists. [...] You will never get any truth from the media when it comes to politics and many other issues. [...] I have personally not watched television in over a year since leaving the news industry, and my mind is more focused than it has ever been in my life.  I will likely never own another television in my life.

NFL ratings plunge could spell doom for traditional TV.  Football, America's biggest prime-time powerhouse, has been thrust into a crisis this fall, with dwindling ratings sparking questions over whether it can remain a gold mine for television in an age when more Americans are abandoning traditional TV.  Network executives have long used the National Football League's live games as a last line of defense against the rapid growth of "cord-cutting" and on-demand viewing upending the industry.  But now, the NFL is seeing its ratings tumble in the same way that the Olympics, awards shows and other live events have, falling more than 10 percent for the first five weeks of the season compared with the first five weeks of last season.  A continued slide, executives say, could pose an even bigger danger:  If football can't survive the new age of TV, what can?

The Editor says...
Football can survive and thrive again, if the players will keep their left-wing America-hating political opinions to themselves.  Especially if the well-compensated football players complain about how tough their lives are.  On the other hand, maybe it's better in the long run if the popularity of football diminishes greatly.  Football is a mixture of idolatry and vanity.  Football players are not heroes.  They are mercenary gladiators.  The game of football leaves many young players paralyzed every year, and many older players with lifetimes of irreversible brain damage.  If television falls out of favor with the viewing public, that could only be a good thing, unless you work at a television station.  Most over-the-air television these days is a mixture of infomercials, intellectually vacant talk shows, and local "news" programs that largely consist of re-phrased press releases from large corporations and promotional announcements for big government.  I should write a book.

Bad things happen when simpletons watch too much television.
Man Accused of Murdering 90-Year-Old Woman Blames 'The Walking Dead'.  Prosecutors allege that Richard Jordan Tarver, 31, kidnapped a 90-year-old woman from her home in July 2015 and forced her into the trunk of her car.  When they got to a nearby cornfield, he allegedly pointed a .38-caliber handgun at the back of her head and fired, killing the elderly woman.  Lavinda Counce wasn't found for ten days.  Prosecutor Grant DeProw told jurors that Tarver binged on zombie television shows and decided to see how he'd fare in the event that truth mirrored fiction.  "He wanted to feel what it felt like to kill someone," DeProw said.

TV alcohol ad exposure linked to greater chance of underage drinking.  Exposure to TV alcohol ads can encourage teenagers to pick up their first drink and engage in hazardous drinking behavior, reveals a study published Monday [1/20/2015] in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.  The survey, which included over 1,500 adolescents and young adults, suggests a direct link between receptiveness to these ads and teens' likelihood to binge drink.  "The alcohol industry claims that their advertising self-regulation program protects underage youths from seeing their ads.  Our study indicates that it does not," lead study author Susanne E. Tanski, pediatrician at the Chilldren's Hospital at Dartmouth-Hitchcock and associate professor of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth University, said in a news release.

Read more, watch ESPN less.  In a commencement address at the University of Central Florida, [ESPN President John] Skipper bemoaned the fact that, according to a recent survey, the average American spends three hours a day in front of a television and just 19 minutes reading.  "Please watch a little less television," the TV executive implored.  I would modify his plea slightly.  Please watch less ESPN.  Why?  Because [...] ESPN has taken the side of the political left.

The Misinformation Age.  Young people are floating in a sea of mass media and they have never known any other way.  It's perhaps why millennials are so demanding and entitled.  Watching TV is a passive exercise.  It is up to the show or movie to entertain you, the viewer.  There's no reward for loyalty to a channel, a show or a personality, so there is no loyalty.  Consuming mass media is a purely transactional exercise.  With so many channels competing for your attention, you have every right to be demanding.  Kids raised on TV are certain to be transactional in their daily human relations.  The thing is, our mass media culture is mostly fabricated nonsense.  Most of what the news people "report" is made up.  As soon as you see the word "sources" you know what follows is invented.  Even when someone is named as a source, nine times out of ten we learn that the named source did not actually say what he was claimed to have said.

Nothing But Commercials:  Furious viewers hit out at NBC for delaying Rio broadcast by an hour before filling opening ceremony with ad breaks.  Furious sport fans have blasted NBC executives over social media for their decision to delay broadcasting the Rio Olympics opening ceremony.  Viewers also lambasted network bosses for peppering the ceremony with advertising breaks, with the first coming barely five minutes into the event.  NBC executives refused to show the ceremony live, either on television or streaming online, in order to knock it back to the 8pm prime time slot.

The Death of the VCR Is a Time To Reflect on Disruptive Technologies That Pols Hate.  Technology ultimately liberates the masses more than it allows overlords to direct and control our lives.  The audience, presumed to be dumb receivers of whatever messages were beamed into or onto them by leaders, corporations, and others, has more power over media than ever before.

ESPN Wastes No Time Going Political at ESPYs.  You planned to have a smoke, maybe walk the dog before the ESPYs got in full swing.  Figuring that ESPN would at least recap some of the year in sports before putting on display their craven and gratuitous sellout to radical, racial activism.  Well, you guessed wrong.  NBA stars Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Dwayne Wade, and LeBron James derailed the evening of expected jockular festivities, instead redirecting the crazy train that ESPN has become down the tracks of athlete activism.

ESPN Turns ESPY Awards Into Black Lives Matter Rally.  ESPN is a girlish, gay chat channel like Bravo that features slightly less house-flipping and slightly more homoerotic tributes to the physical male ideal.  It's evil, it's stupid, it's a waste of your time, and it's time to block the channel so that you're never tempted to give them your money ever again.

Why I Blame TV for Trump.  I really would like to blame Trump.  But everything he is doing is with TV news' full acquiescence.  Trump doesn't force the networks to show his rallies live rather than do real reporting.  Nor does he force anyone to accept his phone calls rather than demand that he do a face-to-face interview that would be a greater risk for him.  TV news has largely given Trump editorial control.  It is driven by a hunger for ratings — and the people who run the networks and the news channels are only too happy to make that Faustian bargain.

ESPN Has Lost 7 Million Subscribers The Past Two Years.  According to a 10K filing from Disney today, which you can read here, ESPN now has 92 million subscribers.  That's a troubling number because just two years ago ESPN reported it had 99 million subscribers in the same 10k filing.  The last time ESPN had 92 million subscribers was 2006, so the past two years have erased the previous seven years of subscriber growth.  These filings are important because it's the first public acknowledgement of ESPN's massive subscriber losses.  Given that the average ESPN subscriber pays $6.61 a channel per month, this means that ESPN has lost somewhere in the neighborhood of $550 million in subscriber revenue per year since 2013.

Your Phone Is Listening — Literally Listening — to Your TV.  The TV is on in the background, and you're replying to a quick email on your phone nearby.  You don't know it, but the devices are communicating.  During a commercial, the TV emits an inaudible tone and your phone, which was listening for it, picks it up.  Somewhere far away, a server makes a note:  Both devices probably belong to you.  This information about which devices belong to whom is immensely valuable to advertisers hoping to target ads specifically to you.

Is the FCC ready to think outside the set-top box?  About 99% of the nation's 100 million pay TV subscribers lease a set-top box, with the average household paying $231 a year in rental fees, according to a survey by Sens. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.).  Those costs are one reason a growing number of so-called cord cutters are dropping their conventional pay TV service and now are streaming programming over the Internet directly through smart TVs or via much smaller devices, such as Roku, Chromecast and Apple TV, that they can purchase instead of rent.

Report: ESPN plans to cut 350 jobs.  The reduction of about 4.3% of its workforce could be announced early Wednesday [10/21/2015], the report said, citing unnamed sources.  ESPN declined to comment on the report.  The network has been battling rising programming costs and sluggish advertising sales as viewers increasingly ditch cable for streaming options.

Thursday Night Football is a menace to American families.  My husband's dish list keeps me busy while he lounges on our couch watching the games.  Some years, I don't get to all of them, and they roll over to the following year.  Some dishes become beloved and therefore frequently repeated.  On Sundays during the football season, my husband doesn't accompany me to the many children's birthday parties that our kids get invited to.  We don't make plans to go out.  My husband isn't responsible for errands.  We don't do any shopping.  I don't engage him in conversation about anything more complicated than "What's the score?" and "So you want more of that?"

The Editor says...
Well, lady, it is obvious that the television has a higher priority than you do.  Perhaps you ignored the warning signs before you married this guy, but now you're stuck with him.  You could convert to his religion (football, that is), or, you could treat his affection for the TV as an addiction, which it is.  If you ask him rational questions to point out the fruitless futility of his hobby, it will only make him angry.  For example, if you ask him how his life is any better or worse on Monday morning because his favorite football team won or lost, he won't have an answer other than "shut up."

Mexico hands out free TVs to the poor in massive giveaway.  Cradling a flat-screen television set in her arms, Tomasa Lopez beamed at her good fortune:  She'd just taken part in the world's biggest distribution of free digital televisions.  Lopez, a domestic servant, was among thousands of people who've thronged a cavernous tent in the populous working-class Iztapalapa district, one of hundreds of venues across Mexico where the poor are receiving some of the 10 million digital television sets the government is giving away at no charge.

The Editor says...
Just what they need.  The government keeps the teeming masses docile by providing bread and circuses.  These days the circus is televised.  And here's the best part of the whole deal:  The government bought all the TVs, so it doesn't cost anybody anything!

10 Most Politically Incorrect Moments this TV Season — Part One.  Hollywood has a narrative, and usually it isn't too subtle.  Religious people are perverts (and not just the priests), Republicans are oppressive, civil rights crusaders are saints, every variety of sexuality that doesn't start with the prefix hetero needs protection from an ignorant world, etc.  If a white businessman shows up on Law and Order, stop wondering who the bad guy is.

The Pixelated Moron-Maker.  The technology's pioneers exuded higher hopes.  Inventor Lee de Forest exclaimed, "What thrilling lectures on solar physics will such pictures permit!"  RCA honcho David Sarnoff predicted "a new horizon, a new philosophy, a new sense of freedom, and greatest of all, perhaps, a finer and broader understanding between all peoples of the world."  My studies have yet to reveal a prophecy of television creating a new race of quarter-ton amoeba-people or transmitting mental retardation to its most faithful viewers.

TV Watchdog: 91% of Sexually Violent 'Jokes' on Family Guy Involved Children.  Ninety-one percent of the sexually violent "jokes" during the 2014-2015 season of Fox Broadcast Network's animated Family Guy were about abusing children, up from 75 percent in 2012-2013, according to a research study by the Parents Television Council (PTC), a TV watchdog group.  Comedic references to child sex abuse on the show have increased 16 percent since 2012, researchers found.  The study identified 58 scenes over the past three years in which there was a humorous treatment of rape, statutory rape, molestation, or pedophilia.  In 79 percent of these scenes, children are the victim.

Today in TV History: The Culmination of 'Murphy Brown' vs. Dan Quayle.  Seldom have the spheres of politics and narrative television become more intertwined than in the lead-up to Murphy Brown's fourth season finale.  And in the annals of history, the battle between fictional character Murphy Brown and sitting Vice President Dan Quayle was decidedly definitively for the former.

Ad nauseam: Why have commercials gotten so crude?  Judging by a spate of new advertisements, what goes on in the bathroom is everyone's business. [...] These are not subtle euphemisms.  And some people like to eat while watching television.  Commercials are getting cruder and cruder, but unlike television shows, they are harder to avoid.  Particularly during sporting events, where you'd rather not use the DVR.  You can be taking in a perfectly nice baseball game, but it will be interrupted constantly by ads for Cialis or wet wipes.

From Edward Murrow to Diane Sawyer, the deterioration of TV news.  Somewhere, Edward R. Murrow is saying, "I warned you this would happen."  This month (April 27) marks 50 years since the godfather of broadcast news died. [...] Murrow's visionary speech in 1958 to the Radio Television News Directors Association warned of the growing influence of corporate power in news reporting.  He said the public interest could not be served when news was only "a commodity" to be sold for advertisers.  He said electronic news was "an incompatible combination of show business, advertising and news."  Journalism has been the loser in this combination ever since.

Mr. Noah and the Flood.  Comedy Central knows that Jon Stewart's viewers are cheap dates.  They are not very bright, and they are not very interested in the world around them.  The function of The Daily Show is to flatter the prejudices of a certain segment of largely white and middle-aged metropolitan liberals.  Daily Show viewers are not interested in original insight — indeed, the utterance of an original thought or the indulgence of an unpredictable angle of analysis would undermine the entire structure of the program.  Daily Show viewers tune in so that they can be made to feel clever for continuing to believe the things they already believe.  There is no reason to believe that [Trevor] Noah is going to fail to deliver those exceedingly modest goods.

Fast forward: Networks speed up TV shows to play more ads.  It's said that time speeds up as we get older.  The same is now apparently true for old TV shows.  Actress Courtney Cox, who starred in the series "Friends," noticed it while watching a rerun of one her old shows.  "My voice sounds so different because I think they speed it up a little bit, they speed it up a few frames to get another commercial in there," Cox told Conan O'Brien.  She's right.  With ad growth slowing and ratings slipping at some cable channels, some broadcasters are shortening their shows to have room for more ads.

The Editor says...
This has been going on for at least 25 years.  When syndicated shows were played on one-inch videotape machines with dynamic tracking, it was quickly discovered that the shows could be played at 105 percent of normal speed and hardly anyone would notice.  These days the shows are played on video servers, and no doubt there are servers that can play back a show a little faster than normal.  This practice came to a halt (20 years ago) when the sponsors discovered they were only getting 29 seconds of air time while paying for 30.

Your Samsung TV Is Snooping on You.  Your Samsung smart TV is capturing your conversations.  Samsung's privacy policy for an internet-connected smart tv with voice commands reads, "Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party."

Samsung's Smart TVs Are Collecting And Storing Your Private Conversations.  Compare Samsung's wording...  ["]Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party through your use of Voice Recognition.["] with Orwell's:  ["]The telescreen received and transmitted simultaneously.  Any sound that Winston made, above the level of a very low whisper, would be picked up by it, moreover, so long as he remained within the field of vision which the metal plaque commanded, he could be seen as well as heard.  There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment...["]
[Emphasis in original.]

Not in front of the telly: Warning over 'listening' TV.  Samsung is warning customers about discussing personal information in front of their smart television set.  The warning applies to TV viewers who control their Samsung Smart TV using its voice activation feature.  Such TV sets "listen" to some of what is said in front of them and may share details they hear with Samsung or third parties, it said.  Privacy campaigners said the technology smacked of the telescreens, in George Orwell's 1984, which spied on citizens.

Is your TV eavesdropping on private conversations? Samsung reveals its smart sets can capture every word.  Smart TVs and high-end games consoles that 'listen' to voice commands are becoming increasingly popular.  But Samsung is today under fire for what it does with this audio information after it is collected.  In its privacy policy, the South Korean firm has revealed that if their conversations contain 'personal or other sensitive information', this will be captured and transmitted to an unidentified third party.

Fear and Loathing at the Nanny Bowl.  [Fortunately] the on-field action was so compelling, because the ads were so unpalatable.  By my rough count, there were at least two ads featuring people with no legs, one with a missing father, one with misogynistic anti-male crack from comedienne Sarah Silverman, and one ad bullying a ten year old boy because he said someone "plays like a girl."  (The horror.)  And perhaps most infamously based on comments on Twitter and even the London Daily Mail, one dead ten year old boy, thanks to Nationwide.

Beware Of The Pop-Culturized History Channel!  As Americans, history is far too valuable to let accuracy be re-written by Hollywood and revised by media as a form of "entertainment."

How Bureaucrats Tried and Failed to Make TV [Worse].  Television permeates our culture and enters our homes and lives in a way that would certainly horrify the early self-appointed gatekeepers between electronic media and the American public.  That's a good thing, because the broad realm of video entertainment that we now call "television" would be [much] less interesting if innovators hadn't put much of the medium beyond the gatekeepers' grasp.  Relying on early rulings issued by courts baffled by new forms of communication, those gatekeepers insisted that free speech protections didn't apply to moving images and broadcast radio waves.  That made it open season for control freak regulators — and all those who inevitably crawl out from under their rocks to manipulate the power of regulation to achieve their own ends.

Viewers turned off by Hollywood writers' strike 'may never switch TV on again'.  American TV networks have lost almost a quarter of their audiences because of the Hollywood writers' strike, according to new figures, and executives fear that "orphaned" viewers may never return.

Writers vote to end strike that crippled Hollywood.  Striking Hollywood writers are going back to work.  The Writers Guild of America said its members voted Tuesday [2/12/2008] to end their devastating, three-month strike that brought the entertainment industry to a standstill.

The Editor says...
It is very difficult to feel sorry for the unionized writers.  These are the people who develop such great products as the TV series based on the Geico cavemen, and a great number of other shows whose "pilot" episodes weren't good enough to put on the air even once.  When you look at the worthless pap on prime-time television, you have to wonder if that's the best they can do.  If it is, our country would be better off if the writers stayed out on strike forever!

Think about it.  How many movies and TV shows about time travel, space wars, talking animals, talking babies, pirates, foul-mouthed cartoon characters, dysfunctional families and children-as-super-heroes can you stand?  Not to mention the sappy, predictable romantic films ("chick flicks"), or the unreal reality shows, or the cheap and insipid programs stitched together from other people's video clips, like America's Wackiest Dash-cam Videos?  Being a Hollywood writer requires less talent than the writers would have you believe.  It is only natural that they band together in unions, and even then, the writers' union would be worthless without the support of the other labor unions and the on-camera talent.

Violence on Television: Women's lives matter except in primetime.  In just one week of prime time television, female characters were violently assaulted 129 times.  They were punched, thrown down stairs, run over by cars, stabbed and tortured.  Women were hung to death, strapped to tables and used as medical experiments, even graphically tortured through witchcraft where characters' eyes bled.  When all the violence was finished, 10 women lay dead.  But it's OK.  It's all in the name of "entertainment."

The Editor says...
There is one sure way to keep that garbage out of your house:  Dispose of your television(s).  Push it (or them) out to the curb on Recycle Day, and find something else to do.  I did it several years ago.  There will always be lower-class losers who bathe in "entertainment," but you don't have to be one of them.

HDTV is a threat to Canadian culture, critics warn.  Bart Beaty and Rebecca Sullivan argue that while HDTV is offered as part of an expanded choice for consumers, the selection of programming using digital over analog technologies is almost exclusively American.  "If you were to ask most Canadians what's wrong with Canadian TV, they wouldn't say 'image quality,'" said Beaty, co-author with Sullivan of the newly published book Canadian Television Today, in a statement Thursday [11/23/2006].

Americans see media aiding moral decline.  Most Americans think culture is becoming more immoral, and they view the media — both entertainment and news — as prime culprits, according to a new survey.

American Pop Culture:  Degeneracy On Parade.  With television, movies, the Internet and even local stores and markets acting as conveyers of debauchery, it seems there is no escape.  Once confined to the margins of society, depravity has now become mainstream.  Those who mistakenly thought television shows geared toward families, such as "American Idol" and its dance version "So You Think You Can Dance," were a safe bet, might want to think again.

Turn the channel?  Are you kidding?  All information is not equal.  You would think we would know that by now, but all education is not equal either.  In fact, it seems like our modern education prepares us more to be consumers than connoisseurs of information.  A connoisseur of wine can tell the difference between an exquisite wine and a merely good one.

The Gratingest Generation.  Does it ever occur to media chatterboxes that people watch tennis because they want to see tennis, not hear about some celebrity's latest movie or TV series?  If those who lived during World War II were "the greatest generation," this must be the gratingest generation.  It's not just the constant meaningless chatter that grates.  There is the incessant self-dramatization.

Media easily influenced.  In between wars and terrorist attacks and election nights, reporters have very little to actually report. … Seasoned reporters make a good living sitting back and waiting to be pitched on the day's possible stories, and they grow accustomed to the spoon-feeding.  Add to this natural human inclination toward laziness most political reporters' left-leaning political ideas, and you get the current state of political journalism.

Inventor of TV Remote Control Dies at Age 93.  Robert Adler, who won an Emmy Award along with fellow engineer Eugene Polley for the device that made couch potatoship possible, died Thursday [2/15/2007] of heart failure at a Boise nursing home at 93, Zenith Electronics Corp. said Friday.  In his six-decade career with Zenith, Adler was a prolific inventor, earning more than 180 U.S. patents.  He was best known for his 1956 Zenith Space Command remote control, which helped make TV a truly sedentary pastime.

What are you laughing at?  In 1953, Charles Douglass invented a machine called the "laff box," which we commonly refer to today as the "laugh track," ushering in a new era of comedy on television.  Counterculturalist Paul Krassner once called the laugh track "the epitome of televised hypnotic suggestion."

More TVs Than People in Average Home.  The average American home now has more television sets than people.  That threshold was crossed within the past two years, according to Nielsen Media Research.  There are 2.73 TV sets in the typical home and 2.55 people, the researchers said.  With televisions now on buses, elevators and in airport lobbies, that development may have as much to do with TV's ubiquity as an appliance as it does conspicuous consumption.  The popularity of flat-screen TVs now make it easy to put sets where they haven't been before.

Beating back the TV takeover:  The typical household accommodates only 2.55 people, but 2.73 televisions.  An astonishing 50% of all homes boast three or more TV's, and only 19% contain just one.  In 1975, by contrast 57% of households owned only one television, and only 11% contained three or more.

Just Say "Off".  I was trained at a young age to worship television.  It was the center of our home, akin to a shrine.  From within the wooden box, a powerful force seemed to pull our small family of three toward it.  Our day didn't begin before the set was turned on, and no one went to bed until it was turned off.  The compelling need to constantly watch left me laying on the floor for hours, leaning first on one arm, then the other, until my elbows formed nearly permanent impressions of broadloom fibers.  Rather than be interrupted by meals, we simply adapted by eating on wobbly trays.

TV Addiction Quiz:  Do you eat dinner while watching TV?  Can you turn off the TV now, right now, and leave it off for three days?  Do you flip mindlessly through the channels to find something good?  Do you need TV to unwind or fall asleep after a hard day?  Do you need TV to wake you up in the morning?  Do you watch TV more than you talk to your family?

Doctors treat Thomas The Tank-obsessed boy.  A child obsessed with watching Thomas The Tank Engine has alarmed doctors after failing to make friends at school, instead wandering around in a daze mumbling lines from the show.  Specialists are so concerned about the three-year-old American, known only as 'Max', that a report has been published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics.

Television:  opiate of the masses.  The signs of addiction are all around us.  The average American watches over four hours of television every day, and 49% of those continue to watch despite admitting to doing it excessively.  These are the classic indicators of an addict in denial:  addicts know they're doing harm to themselves, but continue to use the drug regardless.

The Failure of Technology:  When Jerry Mander suggested in his book Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, published in 1978, that television was not reformable no matter who controlled the medium, it represented the first time anyone had dared suggest that we do away with television altogether.  Mander argued that television is visual intoxicant that entrances the viewer into a hypnotic state and thereby replaces other forms of knowledge with the imagery of its programmers.  It infuses young children with high-tech, high-speed expectations of life, so that a walk in nature would likely seem interminably boring.

The Editor says...
Yes, he's right so far, but as the interview goes on, you'll find that Mander is opposed to all forms of "high tech", just like the Unabomber.  And if you look around the web site where this article appears, you'll see that it's strictly for left-wing "activists" and anti-capitalist troublemakers.

TV or Not TV?  Not!  Television emerged as a mass medium in the 1950s and quickly came to occupy a key role in an orchestrated campaign to eradicate conventional middle-class morals and culture.

Turn Them Off — Turn Them All Off.  Mitch Altman's invention is called TV–B–Gone.  It fits snugly in the palm, a near-weightless lump of black plastic.  Its shape vaguely suggests the Batman logo.  A tiny diode rests on the very tip of Batman's head, between his pointy bat ears.  Press a button and from this diode a beam of invisible light escapes that can turn off any television — any television — within a radius of 45 feet.

Switch off TV and switch on your memory.  Turning off the television, picking up a crossword and eating more fish could be the key to a better memory, an Australian survey has found.  Those who took part in the test were asked to fill in a survey on a range of habits, such as alcohol consumption, television viewing and reading habits.  The results found no differences between men and women, with the same scores for both groups on all the tasks.  But it found television viewing had the main impact on results.

Watching action movies could make you overeat, study says.  It is no secret that TV viewing encourages mindless snacking, but it turns out that this effect may be particularly pronounced when it comes to watching certain types of shows.  A new study has found that people watching a Hollywood action movie ate twice the amount of snacks as those watching an interview program.

Too much TV for tots.  Many parents have created homes where the TV is a nearly constant presence, all around the house.  Almost half the children (43 percent) aged 4 to 6 have a TV in their bedroom.  Even more shocking, there's an idiot box in 19 percent of the rooms with babies one year or younger.

Preschoolers pacified with TV programming.  What do American kids ages 2 to 5 do an average of 32 hours a week?  It's not napping, playing outside or building spaceships out of Legos.  It's watching TV, according to a new report released by Nielsen, the ratings company.  According to the report, television-watching is at an eight-year high with children ages 2 to 5 leading the way, closely followed by children ages 6 to 11, who watch an average of 28 hours a week.

Fighting childhood obesity the family way.  At the root of childhood obesity are two connected problems:  At the same time that children are consuming more "empty" calories, they also are getting less exercise.  Many factors have combined to foster a more sedentary lifestyle, even for children.  In many communities, children are not allowed to walk or ride bicycles to school.  Many schools have eliminated recess and physical education from the school day.  At home, the children are watching more television and playing video games for longer and longer amounts of time during the day.

Watching SpongeBob Can Lead to Learning Problems?  The cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants is in hot water from a study suggesting that watching just nine minutes of that program can cause short-term attention and learning problems in 4-year-olds.  The problems were seen in a study of 60 children randomly assigned to either watch "SpongeBob," or the slower-paced PBS cartoon "Caillou" or assigned to draw pictures.

It's Official: To Protect Baby's Brain, Turn Off TV.  A decade ago, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that parents limit TV consumption by children under two years of age.  The recommendations were based as much on common sense as science, because studies of media consumption and infant development were themselves in their infancy.  The research has finally grown up.  And though it's still ongoing, it's mature enough for the AAP to release a new, science-heavy policy statement on babies watching television, videos or any other passive media form.  Their verdict:  It's not good, and probably bad.

Kofi Annan offers his #1 tip to prevent bad weather: "watch less TV".  ["]You may not like some of the suggestions I'm going to give.  First is to watch less TV.  Turn off lights when leaving the room.  Of course rationalize [sic] the use of appliances, for example expect that the washer is full before turning it on.["]

The Girl in the Plastic Bubble.  Everyone in America is exposed to the opinions of the left.  The journey of new Americans into the weird world of leftism takes root in children's television, which is filled with politically correct drivel, and progresses via films for younger audiences, which are lightly painted propaganda.  Public schools follow the same track.  Academia, almost invariably, is far to the left of the rest of America.  Television programming, documentaries, news networks — everything, really, is little more than a tool for reinforcing leftism in our lives.

A new study reveals the obvious:
TV Linked to Kids' Short Attention Spans.  Because the brain of a newborn develops rapidly throughout its first several years of life, researchers from the University of Washington and Seattle-area mental health professionals theorized that early exposure to TV might affect brain development.

Sometimes the danger to children is more immediate and more deadly:
Falling TV kills Pasadena baby.  A 9-month-old Pasadena baby died last week after a television weighing more than 60 pounds fell on him, police said. [...] In a September 2011 report, the Consumer Product Safety Commission said 169 children age 8 or younger were killed by falling TVs between 2000 and 2010.

Florida boy, 8, crushed to death by large TV in freak accident.  Authorities say an 8-year-old Jacksonville boy has died after being crushed by a large television.

TV and Furniture as dangerous as Guns to Children under 10.  As many children under ten die from accidental falling TVs and Furniture as from guns.

How Government Regulations Created the Time Warner-CBS Blackout.  When Congress and the FCC came up with the "must-carry" and "retrans consent" rules, they were afraid that local TV stations would be at the mercy of monopoly cable systems.  That didn't make much sense then, but today with cable facing competition from two national satellite TV providers, video service from traditional phone companies like Verizon and AT&T, as well as Internet video, it definitely doesn't make any sense now.  Congress should completely deregulate the video distribution marketplace by repealing broadcaster's special rights.

The Media is the Politics.  In a random telephone survey of 1,000 parents of children ages two months to 2 years in Washington state and Minnesota, parents said they let their babies watch television for "fun and education."  Few of them admit they use the tube as an electronic babysitter.  In other studies, doctors suggest that babies who watch television experience changes in their brain development at a time when they should be learning to talk through association with the larger of their species.

The Role of Television in Social Engineering, Predictive Programming, Culture Creation and Destruction of Children and Society.  This website is on the subject of "dajjaals" (great liars), and Satan and the Jinn, and what is connected to this of magic and the occult, and there are related issues that branch off from these subjects that are worthy of being covered.  From them is the television, which is simply an effective brainwashing and social engineering tool.  One of the clearest and most blatant aims of what is delivered through television is the "abolition of the family" (by tearing away and destroying all its bonds).  You just need to go and read up on eugenecist, self-righteous elitist socialist, collectivist, bigots like Aldous Huxley, Julian Huxley, George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, Charles Darwin, H.G. Wells and others to understand the war on "the family unit".  Television is the most-effective means of delivery for that envisaged social engineering.

Television: A Weapon of Mind Destruction?  Although little is known about changes that occur in the brain when children watch TV, much has been written in print and on the web about the negative cognitive and behavioral outcomes associated with TV viewing.  The claim that watching TV adversely impacts children's imagination is of special interest in this paper. [...] How may TV viewing affect children's imagination?  Are children who watch more TV less imaginative than those who watch little or no TV?  How has imagination been defined and studied?  This paper examines the relationship between TV viewing and children's imagination to evaluate whether watching TV undermines children's capacity to think imaginatively and creatively.

Findings: Parents Not Protecting Children from Destructive Media.  Christian parents are not protecting their children from destructive media according to recent findings by America's Research Group (ARG) sponsored by Mastermedia International.  Only 22% say that their Christian faith "very much" affects the movies or television programs they see or let their children view.  Only three in ten parents are even in the room when their kids watch TV.  "This is alarming," says Dr. Larry Poland, Chairman of Mastermedia International, the consulting organization which sponsored the research.  "Considering the violent, sexually explicit, and profane content of much of film, television, and internet content, this is parental negligence of the first order."

TV and Tykes Don't Mix.  Kids aren't just gravitating to the tube; the one-eyed monster is being used as a babysitter by parents who think they're too busy for them and by folks who see giving a child his own tube as a way of allowing parents to gorge on TV themselves. … This is so sad, because TV makes kids fatter and dumber.

Babies and TV Screens Don't Mix.  By the time children are two years old, 90 percent are spending two or three hours a day in front of a screen.  According to the article in TIME, "…the research team found that with every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos.

TV Really Might Cause Autism.  Today, Cornell University researchers are reporting what appears to be a statistically significant relationship between autism rates and television watching by children under the age of 3.  The researchers studied autism incidence in California, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington state.  They found that as cable television became common in California and Pennsylvania beginning around 1980, childhood autism rose more in the counties that had cable than in the counties that did not.

Is 3D TV hazardous to your health?  If conventional wisdom says that watching TV is bad for your eyes, watching 3D TV may be three times worse, we're beginning to discover.  Doctors and researchers are starting to warn viewers about the potential dangers of spending too much time in front of a 3D boob tube.

Warning — 3D TV may be bad for your health.  Less than a month following the roll out of its 3D TV, Samsung Electronics in Australia states on its Web site that some viewers may experience more than just awesome visual effects.  It cautions users to "immediately stop watching 3D pictures" and consult a doctor if they experience altered vision, lightheadedness, dizziness, involuntary movements such as eye twitching, confusion, nausea, loss of awareness, convulsion, cramps or disorientation.

Are 3D TVs Dangerous?  There are a total of 10 depth perception "cues", and stereopsis (the cue that relies on parallax) is only one.  And when you see a 3D movie, the other cues that don't match up are fighting with your brain, which is why people often feel a little disoriented when the movie ends and they take the glasses off.

The New Media Elites:  It has become a staple of Sunday newspapers, television talk shows, and late-night news programs:  the cautionary tale about the Internet turning America's youth into a generation of socially inept zombies, plugged in but tuned out, incapable of any conversation longer than an instant message, and headed for a sedentary life of weight gain, eye strain, and information overload.  But if anyone is in danger from the growing power of the Internet … it is not America's youth but the old media themselves.

Do not adjust your set:  TV is about to blow apart.  The internet, in the television industry as in many others, is both the infection and the cure.  It will do to television what it has done to journalism:  make everyone a producer and everyone a potential star. … I don't know about you, but I rarely leave my evening viewing to chance or to programmers any more.  It's planned and recorded in advance.  And even if I watch live I delay starting for 10 minutes so I can zip past the advertisements.

Turn that confounded thing off.  I have read the bumper stickers saying "Kill Your TV" and know the reasons why you should.  I realized that TV was creeping into my psyche:  the violent and overtly sexual shows, penetrating ads, the put-down humour, the time-draining, mind-numbing influence.  Most of all, it was hurting my relationship with my husband, my best friend.

Don't Expect Hollywood to Learn from Academy Awards Broadcast Bomb.  So Sunday's Oscar™ broadcast was, underwhelmingly, a television ratings bomb.  Not even the allure of Tinseltown's beautiful people walking down the red carpet in free gowns and borrowed jewels could tempt Americans to tune into what's known as the biggest self-congratulatory backslapping event in the history of mankind.

The CEO of silliness.  The late Steve Allen used cite a delicious analogy to describe why the public airwaves should be kept free from offensive content.  If a stranger walked into your house, stood before your children in the living room, and started stripping and cursing, would you feel their innocence had been violated?  Why then, he'd ask, should TV networks be allowed to do the same, using the airwaves owned by those very parents?

What The Most Watched TV Shows Say About America:  Fox News crushes CNN and MSNBC.  We've heard that so many times that it has become a meme.  But guess what?  Every one of the top 10 shows on the Hispanic network, Univision, beat Fox's top program (The O'Reilly Factor — 3.5 million viewers), as did WWE Raw's fake wrestling (4.9 million).  Proof that shows making the most noise aren't necessarily what people are paying attention to.

Americans will devote half their lives to forms of media next year.  In 2000, Americans each spent an average of 3,333 hours consuming media — and most of that time (1,467 hours) was spent in front of the TV, according to Veronis Suhler Stevenson, a media-oriented money management company that supplied much of the media data used in the report. Next year, Americans will spend 3,518 hours with their beloved media, including 1,555 in front of the TV, says Veronis Suhler Stevenson.  That means the average American will spend roughly 146 days, or five months, consuming media.

In every corner, a television set.  Television ownership used to be an accepted indicator of wealth and social class:  the higher the number of sets in a neighbourhood, the better off the residents.  No longer.  Indeed, some of the poorest corners of Britain now have the highest ownership rates. … Find a household with no television and it is likely to be a sign less of poverty than of middle-class sensibilities.

Medic, Marcus Welby, Dr. Kildare, Medical Center, Ben Casey, The Doctors, General Hospital, St. Elsewhere,
M*A*S*H, AfterMASH, Emergency, The Nurses, ER, Chicago Hope, House, Grey's Anatomy ...
TV, heal thyself.  What is it with you people and medical shows?  How is it that I and every other normal human being hates going to the hospital even if it's just to bring candy and flowers to someone who has to be there, but when it comes to TV, you can't seem to get your fill of smocks and surgical masks?

Unanswered TV questions.  Sure, I watch TV for entertainment, but sometimes it's all I can do not to put a foot through the screen in frustration.  Many reasons for that (the general quality of shows these days, Hollywood's obsession with wealth), but the shows also invite weird plot-related irritation with their UQs — Unanswered Questions.  Every show has one or more, questions that normal people would ask, but that would ruin the entire plot of a show if they were actually voiced.

Rumors of Broadcast TV's Death Are Premature.  Financial analyst Steve Kamman has said that, with the advent of digital video recorders and video-on-demand, there will no longer be any demand for broadcast television. … [However] Watching television is a passive activity.  To be entertained, you don't have to do much more than turn on the TV and surf until something good comes up.  If there were no channels to surf, only thousands of programs you could call up on demand, how would you know what to watch?

[What an odd question.  If there were no TV stations, how (and why) would you stay in the habit of watching TV?]

Cable choice now.  Increasing numbers of public policy organizations, political leaders, and even telecommunications companies are endorsing the very simple concept that consumers should take and pay for only that which they want on cable television, rather than having to continue subsidizing programming they find offensive or just plain lousy.

Many pay TV customers are tuning out.  The weak economy is hitting Americans where they spend a lot of their free time:  at the TV set.

Cable Loses Nearly Three Million Subscribers to Streaming.  The rise of streaming television is something I've been covering rather obsessively on my Daily Call Sheet for going on a year now.  Not because I have any kind of inside information or data, but because if you connect the dots of the hundreds of various news stories that have been written about the phenomenon, you can see that something seismic is happening.

Man admits killing the cable guy.  A Gary [Indiana] man became so enraged when he learned his TV wouldn't readily accept his newly installed cable, he shot and killed the cable guy.  Fransuah Mathews admitted Thursday he fatally shot a man installing cable for him to repay a debt when Mathews realized his TV was not cable ready.

Americans are Eager to Know about Economics, Study Says.  Television, by far the most popular conduit for those seeking economic knowledge, leaves its viewers with below-average knowledge.  But television viewers outperform those who turn to political leaders, friends, relatives, or civic or religious leaders as their primary source of information, according to Blinder and Krueger.

TV Profanity Will Go Before Appeals Judges.  Fox and CBS's First Amendment challenge to regulations against on-air profanity could either open the way to more cursing on network television or encourage broadcasters to play it safer with tamer programming.

Note:  This article is replete with profanity.
The words you can never say on TV, except when you can:  It's obvious by now that the FCC makes up the rules for acceptable speech as it goes along.  In the paradigmatic example of broadcast indecency, Carlin's monologue about "the words you couldn't say on the public airwaves," there's no question that the expletives were "integral" to the routine, which was partly about the very censorship to which it became subject.

Does Profanity Reign Supreme?  The Supreme Court has taken up the case of FCC vs. Fox Television Stations, the bizarre case in which Fox and other broadcast TV networks have argued that "fleeting" profanities are mere accidents that should not be punished with fines.  While it's laudable that the nation's top court would take up the matter, it's beyond outrageous that what Hollywood really wants — and, in a cowardly way, is refusing to declare publicly — is the "right" to bombard your living room, and your children, with obscenities.

The Editor says...
It is fairly easy for a TV network to include a ten-second delay into any "live" program, in order to catch and filter out profanity before it gets on the air.  With that technology available (and indeed, already installed), nothing gets on the air accidentally.  At least not at the network level.  So-called "fleeting" profanity is being justified and defended for one reason:  to open the door for more frequent, intentional and offensive outbursts, and eventually normalize every imaginable sort of corrupt communication.  Once again I remind you, this kind of incrementalism only goes in one direction.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in FCC Obscenity Case.  In 2002 and 2003, celebrities uttered obscenities during live television broadcasts.  The offensive words led to a battle over the Federal Communication Commission's indecency standards, ultimately argued Jan. 10 in front of the U.S. Supreme Court.  In the nearly 10 years it took for the case to reach the highest court, free-speech advocates question whether government censorship is still relevant as American viewing habits change with the growth of the Internet, and whether the FCC's enforcement of its indecency standards violates the First or Fifth Amendment, which cover free speech and protection from government abuse in legal proceedings.

Stop Taxpayer Subsidies for all Broadcasters!  As another conservative journalist is exposed on the payroll of the Bush Administration, the nation's leading media watchdog, Accuracy in Media (AIM), called on public television and radio to give up their $400 million in taxpayer subsidies.  AIM Editor Cliff Kincaid says that it is obvious that the liberal media are only against taxpayer subsidies for journalists when they are conservative.

The Disappearing Anchor 'Man'.  Turn on your TV for the nightly newscast and you're now more than likely to see a woman on the screen — whether it's Katie Couric, Elizabeth Vargas or the woman delivering your local news.

[Why do you suppose that is?  It is partly because TV stations are under pressure to hire women and minorities, but it is also because people have become accustomed to women as figures of authority, thus credible bearers of serious news.  Forty years ago it wasn't that way.]

The Struggle for Control of the Media:  One of the key, though underestimated, ways in which America differs from other Western democracies is that it lacks a partisan media system.  By this, I mean a complete panoply of openly partisan outlets in every form of media.  It has this today only on the Internet, and is acquiring it on television.

Network TV Lacks Diversity, NAACP Says.  Nearly a decade after the NAACP condemned a "virtual whiteout" in broadcast TV, the civil rights group said major networks have stalled in their efforts to further ethnic diversity on-screen and off.  Television shows of the future could be even less inclusive because of a failure to cultivate young minority stars and to bring minorities into decision-making positions, NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous said.

Television Statistics:  According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than four hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year).  In a 65-year life, that person will have spent nine years glued to the tube.

It's about time to clean up our act.  [The FCC] recently released a report that said Congress has the authority to keep programs with violent content from being shown during hours when children could view them.  Ha.  That is laughable.  Imagine Congress or any other lawmaking body in this country actually trying to regulate social behavior in an effort to give us a healthier climate to live in!  No, it won't happen because the self-centered majority won't let it happen.

Toned-down awards shows:  The "wardrobe malfunction" that launched a national outpouring of rage against televised soft-porn slime continues to reap great benefits for the forces of reason, reticence and decency on television.

Judges vs. the FCC:  The federal judges who ruled against the FCC suggested the agency's rulings were "arbitrary and capricious."  But is there anything more arbitrary and capricious than an egotistical celebrity dropping the F-bomb on national TV?  Or the network refusing to administer a tiny delay?  Pardon me if I can't imagine Thomas Jefferson and Co. pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor for the valiant cause of transmitting the potty mouths of washed-up pop singers and spoiled-rotten mall princesses into millions of American households.

The Editor says...
When you turn on a television, you know exactly what you're getting into.  When someone curses on television, or exposes herself (or himself), or sets a bad example for your kids, it gets into your home only because you didn't turn off the television. If it happens more than once, it is only because you didn't get rid of your television.

Reed Irvine, R.I.P..  In its infancy, network television news was a rip-and-read enterprise, 15 quick minutes of wire service copy.  But as TV news divisions recognized their own political power, they began actively to steer a national audience toward a political worldview of their liking.  Sometimes it was as simple as covering something, or refusing to cover something.

Dishonor Awards:  The Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters.

Even as Viewers Tune Out, BBC Bosses Get £3.7 Million.  The BBC paid its top managers £3.7 million in salary and bonuses last year despite losing more than half a million television viewers to rival digital channels and the internet, according to the corporation's annual report.

Media bias regarding gun control:  Today, the right to own a gun is under assault like never before.  Every time a firearm is used in a high-profile crime, calls for stricter gun regulation — even outright prohibition — are pounded into us by a press that has taken sides.  In fact, when it comes to guns, journalists have clearly made up their minds.  According to a recent study, television news stories calling for stricter gun laws outnumbered newscasts opposing such laws by a ratio of ten to one.  In other words, we are hearing only one side of the story.

The Sad Decline of Saturday Night Live.  It has had its hilarious streaks and its vacuous doldrums, but Saturday Night Live is an American institution.  While it has leaned left in its comedy for most or perhaps all of its 37 years on NBC, SNL never gave you the sense that it had tipped so far over as to lose all sense of perspective.  For many of us that may have changed with the revelation that an opening sketch for last Saturday's SNL was scrapped, apparently because it dug a little too deep at President Obama.  If that's true it shows just how far American comedy has become enervated by having an African-American liberal hero in the White House.

Violence and Promiscuity Set the Stage for Television's Moral Collapse.  Long hailed as the cheapest form of family entertainment, television has cost us our imagination, our conversation, and our children's innocence.  As Dr. George Gerbner puts it, "The roles [young people] grow into are no longer home-made, hand-crafted, and community inspired."  Instead, they are developing a worldview based on television and not their own experience.

The Dumbing Down Of Politics:  [Scroll down] The [LA] Times noted that Barack Obama, during a tight schedule that had him shuttling between New York and Washington last Thursday, "managed to squeeze in time to visit an influential national television program:  'The Tyra Banks Show.'"  "During the hourlong show," the Times said, "the supermodel turned TV personality challenged her guest to a game of pickup basketball and had him look in a crystal ball to divine his future."

The Editor says...
To describe the Tyra Banks show as "an influential national television program" is either a gross distortion or a sad commentary on the number of malleable dupes who watch it.  Tyra seems to have forgotten that she got where she is based entirely on her gender and her race, even as she preaches that all women and blacks are victims of discrimination.  The show is an hour of meaningless pap that exists only to fill the gaps between commercial breaks.

Flick Off Obama.  The omnipresence of Barack Hussein Obama is guaranteed by the television, more aptly identified by the little people as, "the boob tube".  Obama's speech to Congress last night was forced upon the unwashed masses.  Or was it? ... The television networks and lying politicians do not deserve your patronage.

Local TV Stations Face a Fuzzy Future.  Lisa Howfield, general manager of KVBC, the NBC affiliate here, watched last year as the broadcast-television business began to shrink.  She started cutting.  She combined departments.  She made do with old equipment, and did away with luxuries like yearly sales getaways.  In December and January, she laid off 15 employees, or 6% of her staff.  After the weatherman left last month, one of the morning news anchors took on both jobs.  "It's like a bad roller-coaster ride," says Ms. Howfield.  Her station's full-day viewership is down 7.7% this TV season from the same period last year, according to Nielsen Co., and Ms. Howfield expects her ad revenue in 2009 will be down 30% from 2008.

The Editor says...
Hey Lisa!  The advertising revenue is down because people don't like the meaningless drivel that you present in prime time.  Nor do they enjoy sitting through a three-minute commercial break that is packed with insipid spots and self-aggrandizing promotional ads for shows they aren't interested in watching.  Your "news anchors" are essentially reading the morning newspaper in front of a camera.  (In radio, "rip and read" has been a minimum wage job for 40 years.)  How much of your local news coverage is anything more than filler between the commercials?  Who cares if there was a car wreck on the other side of town last night, or if an airplane landed with one wheel up, or if a five-year-old kid in Wisconsin saved his grandma by calling 9-1-1?  Put something worthwhile on the air, and you won't have any difficulty attracting viewers and advertisers.  If you really want to perform a public service, sign the station off, surrender the license, and board it up.

Broadcast TV Faces Struggle to Stay Viable.  CBS ... is having a better year in prime time than any other network.  And yet, as at the other networks, profits have declined sharply at CBS.  For decades, the big three, now big four, networks all had the same game plan:  spend many millions to develop and produce scripted shows aimed at a mass audience and national advertisers, with a shelf life of years or decades as reruns in syndication.  But that model ... no longer appears viable.

WTVH Ends News Operation.  WTVH-TV (Channel 5), the first television station in Syracuse, lost its independent newsroom Monday after 60 years.  The station brought news legend Ron Curtis to living rooms for four decades, but has suffered since then in the race for viewers and advertising dollars.  About 40 Channel 5 employees were fired on the spot.

CNN Fails to Stop Fall in Ratings.  The trend in news ratings for the first three months of this year is all up for one network, the Fox News Channel, which enjoyed its best quarter ever in ratings, and down for both MSNBC and CNN.

In Ads, 1 Out of 5 Stats Is Bogus*  A downward-spiraling economy means less spending money, so food makers increasingly are running ads aimed at grabbing the other guy's share of the (pizza) pie — or burger, or soup can.  And their advertising arsenal includes numbers — based on their market research, often controversial and sometimes top-secret.

High-wrinkle TV.  They mandated the nation to transition to digital television, yet some members of Congress may be having trouble making the change themselves.  Makeup artists who worked both the National Republican and Democratic conventions, the presidential debates and in the U.S. Capitol say most lawmakers are unprepared for the toll that high-definition television is taking on their appearances — and that that could translate into lost voters in the 2010 elections.

California To Ban TV:  But Not For a Good Reason.  Why is the California Energy Commission (CEC), a Gov. Jerry Brown creation, wanting to ban television sets?  Well, it seems that a honking 48-inch plasma screen, that bright symbol of the bygone days of conspicuous consumption and purveyor of drooling vacuity, uses too much electricity, and electricity production makes too much greenhouse gas emissions (at least in America, where half of our electricity comes from coal — in France, a plasma screen would emit nary a CO2 molecule as the TVs there are nuclear powered).

California Proposes Ban on Energy-Hogging HDTVs Starting in 2011.  The California Energy Commission is proceeding with a proposal this summer to ban the sale of TV sets that did not meet new efficiency standards when they are turned on and displaying a picture — a measure of power consumption that is not currently regulated at all.

Is your TV watching you? Latest models raise concerns.  Samsung's 2012 top-of-the-line plasmas and LED HDTVs offer new features never before available within a television including a built-in, internally wired HD camera, twin microphones, face tracking and speech recognition.  While these features give you unprecedented control over an HDTV, the devices themselves, more similar than ever to a personal computer, may allow hackers or even Samsung to see and hear you and your family, and collect extremely personal data.

Broadcasters sue Dish over ad-skipping DVR service.  Dish, the nation's second-largest satellite TV provider, filed a suit of its own seeking a judicial all-clear for its "AutoHop" ad-skipping technology.

Supreme Court rules against FCC profanity, nudity policy.  In an 8-0 decision, the high court threw out fines and sanctions imposed by the Federal Communications Commission.  The case involved some uncensored curse words and brief nudity on various networks, including Fox.

High court rules for broadcasters on TV 'indecency'.  In an 8-0 vote, justices concluded the Federal Communications Commission cannot enforce its current policies against "fleeting" expletives and nudity on over-the-air programs, both live and scripted.  The agency had levied hefty fines on all four major broadcasters beginning nearly a decade ago.

Court ruling clears FCC to revisit old indecency complaints.  As a result of the Supreme Court's decision to keep the Federal Communications Commission's indecency rules in place, more than 1.4 million complaints that have been sitting in limbo at the regulatory agency will now have to be reviewed for potential violations and fines.  In a statement Thursday [6/21/2012], FCC Commissioner Robert Robert M. McDowell said, "It is now time for the FCC to get back to work so that we can process the backlog of pending indecency complaints — which currently stands at just under 1.5 million involving about 9,700 TV broadcasts."



The British method:

Television in England is apparently non-commercial, at least on some channels, but there is an annual license required for a TV receiver.

BBC [is] a total waste of money: more evidence.  Is anyone remotely surprised by this? This is what happens when you get an institution featherbedded with free money (confiscated from the taxpayer or licence-fee payer) and utterly unaccountable to its customers.  Over the years this has led to the creation of a top-heavy management culture imperiously aloof to the point of contempt over what its audience wants, likes or needs, and splendidly indifferent to the kind of efficiencies it would certainly need to adopt were it subject to the disciplines of the private sector.

BBC shuns video servers and clings to videotape:
BBC suspends technology boss over 'wasted' £100m.  Lord Hall said the Digital Media Initiative, an effort to develop desktop computer software to make the programme making process faster and more efficient, would be shut down immediately.  It was meant to link up the way BBC staff create, share, manage and archive digital footage, and do away with video tape.

BBC loses £100 million on useless technology.  What I find most extraordinary about this story is that it's one of those things that could only possibly happen in the fantastical parallel universe inhabited by public-sector institutions.  The basic rules of business do not apply to the BBC bubble.  That is the reason the licence fee should be scrapped — not because the Beeb doesn't produce some amazing programmes, which it does, but because it pays for this sort of catastrophe.

Colour TV licence goes up to £142.50.  Black-and-white only licences will go up by £1 from £47 to £48, it was confirmed today.  The current cost of a basic colour TV licence is £139.50.

License fee police may target you for watching TV on Net.  Viewers who watch television only through their computers could be forced to pay the licence fee, it has been revealed.  Currently, those who solely use catch-up services, such as the BBC's iPlayer, do not need to pay the annual £139.50 charge.  But a law could be introduced to change this, amid growing evidence that more television viewers are migrating online.

Blow for TV licence dodgers as detector vans go undercover.  TV detector vans have gone undercover in a controversial move to catch those watching without a licence.  The latest vehicles are unmarked to make them indistinguishable from those driven by 'white van man' as they cruise the streets — although they will probably be going a little slower.

The Editor says...
I don't get it.  If the British government is so concerned about people watching television without paying for such a great privilege, why aren't the TV signals encrypted?  Wouldn't that be easier than having someone drive all over the country looking for unauthorized receivers?

The British TV receiver tax could be easily implemented in the U.S.  Here's how:  Once the television stations in the United States have been converted over to digital transmitters, it would be a relatively simple matter for the FCC to order all of them encrypted and then charge the viewers for the keys to unlock the once-free signals.  The mechanism for subscription TV is already a part of the digital transmission protocol:  It's called "conditional access."  Look it up.

TV licence rebel seeks trial by jury.  A retired engineer who is being taken to court by the BBC for refusing to pay for a television licence over its 'biased reporting' is hoping to persuade a jury that the corporation is acting illegally.  John Kelly has refused to pay the fee since 2002, arguing he does not have to as the BBC has breached its requirement for political balance when covering issues such as the European Union.

In Sweden:
Outrage over licence fee demand for CCTV.  Swedish business owners are up in arms over a recent push by the country's television licencing bureau to collect fees from companies using surveillance cameras.  "It's crazy, the screens aren't used for watching TV," said Dick Malmlund, head of security for the Swedish Trade Federation (Svensk Handel), to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Cell phone owners could face TV licence fees.  Swedish TV licensing body Radiotjänst has indicated that cell phone users may soon face licence fees as technological advances bring television to the mobile.

Computers owners to face TV licence fees.  Sweden's television licensing agency Radiotjänst is preparing to push through measures requiring computer owners to pay the annual television license fee of around 2,000 kronor ($327).

Outrage over licence fee demand for CCTV.  Swedish business owners are up in arms over a recent push by the country's television licencing bureau to collect fees from companies using surveillance cameras.

Somewhat related...
Five of the Royal Family demoted as BBC changes its protocol on broadcast death list.  The BBC has downgraded five senior members of the Royal Family by ordering that their deaths should no longer trigger an automatic interruption of normal broadcasts.  [They] had formerly belonged to a special BBC list known as Category 2, which has now been abolished.

Scrap TV licence fee and make BBC subscription-based says think-tank.  The BBC should wind up its licence fee and become a voluntary subscription-based service, a report from think-tank the Adam Smith Institute said today.  The report ... acknowledged the importance of the corporation as "the UK's strongest media asset".  But it said that scrapping the fee would better equip the BBC to operate as a major business on the world stage.

France may extend TV licence fee to computer screens.  The French government is considering extending the television licence fee to include computer screen owners to boost revenues for public-sector broadcasting operations, the culture minister said on Saturday.  President François Hollande's Socialist government aims to raise an extra €7.5bn (£6bn) this year through tax rises included in an amended budget bill to be unveiled next week.

More and more Germans boycotting state media fees.  Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the AfD, has claimed that her account has been suspended for not paying her mandatory fees for Germany's state media.  A woman was also jailed for two months for non-payment.



Are commercial breaks louder than TV programs?

Yes and no.  The peak audio level is the same, but the average level is usually higher, simply because most advertisers have only 30 seconds to make their point and pitch their product.  Most movies, soap operas, and dramatic productions have long quiet scenes -- especially in the last few seconds before a commercial break.  Comedy shows are usually augmented with canned laughter and applause, so the viewers don't notice much contrast in loudness when the commercial break begins.

Congress considers shushing loud TV ads.  The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM Act, would require TV stations and cable channels to turn down the volume on those decibel-heavy ads that blast from the box during breaks.

Bill seeks to turn down sound on TV ads.  Fed up with TV ads so loud that they send viewers scrambling to hit mute on their remotes, a Bay Area lawmaker is pushing a new bill that would force federal regulators to ratchet down the volume of commercials.  The proposal was introduced this week by Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, and it isn't winning her any friends in the broadcasting or advertising industries.  But Eshoo's House colleagues are warming to the idea, which could address a daily annoyance for millions of TV viewers.

In the analog TV world, over-the-air TV stations used equipment that regulated the peak audio level of everything that went into their transmitters.  Soap operas, commercials, and local news programs were all treated the same way, and variations in audio levels (from one second to the next) were surprisingly small.

In the digital TV age, this problem is far more difficult to address than anyone in Congress likely realizes.

To impose new regulations on the subjective loudness of commercials, and keep those audio levels lower than the surrounding program material, the broadcasters would have to artificially boost the volume on program segments that are not necessarily intended to be loud, and actively suppress the effectiveness of commercials.  It is the commercials, after all, that pay the bills at a TV station, and I'd hate to be a TV advertising salesperson having to explain to a client that his spots will be intentionally half-muted.

In fact, many commercials are delivered to the TV stations through satellite/fiber distribution services that are contractually forbidden to alter the audio or video levels.  At the TV station, the commercials go from the "delivery truck" server to the main playback server without being tweaked by the engineers (if any), and as a result, the commercials are as loud as the production house wants them to be.  Strict adherence to a standard maximum level is voluntary, at this point.  But there are now devices being marketed to the stations which can measure the program audio loudness and make the commercial breaks match the shows.

Twenty years ago I noticed that the video levels are just as different as the audio levels.  Soap operas (a/k/a daytime dramas) are usually very dark, while the interspersed soap commercials are bright.  This is still true today.  Since many soap operas are produced by Proctor and Gamble, this should come as no surprise, and for the same reason, this trend will continue indefinitely.

Rep. Anna Eshoo may or may not have a good idea, but its implementation would require a new set of unambiguous standards for the measurement of average loudness, and a long discussion about how much reduction is enough, and whether it would be just as annoying and tiresome for a movie to have a constantly loud sound track.

I think we should leave things the way they are, and "let the market decide" if it's really that big a problem.  The viewers have plenty of options available, including the POWER OFF button.

Update:
House votes to turn down volume of noisy TV ads.  The House on Tuesday [12/15/2009] voted to level off the abrupt spikes in volume felt by television viewers during commercial breaks.  The bill — approved by a voice vote — is aimed at stopping TV ads from playing noticeably louder than programs.

Here's some good news: Loud TV ads may be near an end.  Under a proposal to be taken up Thursday [6/10/2009], the Federal Communications Commission would squelch ad volumes to the average decibels of the TV show during which they appear.  Currently, TV ads can't be louder than the loudest peak in a show, said David Perry, the chairman of the broadcast production committee of the American Association of Advertising Agencies in New York.  Ads often seem louder to viewers, he added, because a program's volume peak rarely comes just before an ad.

The Editor says...
If this becomes law, TV stations will have the incentive to compress audio levels on all programs, so TV stations will sound like AM radio stations.  In other words, the audio in every program will be homogenized, and the infomercials will all be consistently loud.

Congress acts to shush loud TV ads.  The days of getting blasted out of the easy chair by blaring TV commercials may soon be over.

House passes bill to reduce volume of TV commercials.  The House by voice vote Thursday [12/2/2010] passed a bill sponsored by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) that would lower the volume of television commercials, sending it to President Obama's desk for his signature.  The Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act would authorize the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the volume of advertisements to ensure they aren't noticeably louder than the programs they interrupt, a problem that has annoyed consumers for decades.

Obama signs law to limit volume of TV commercials.  President Obama on Wednesday [12/15/2010] signed into law a bill that will regulate the volume of television commercials.  According to the White House, the "Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation" or "CALM" Act "requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prescribe a regulation limiting the volume of audio on commercials."  The regulation applies to "television broadcast stations, cable operators, and other multichannel video programming distributors."

Blaring Commercials No More: FCC Passes Rules to End Loud Commercials.  Today [12/13/2011] the Federal Communications Commission unanimously approved new rules that require cable and broadcast stations to play commercials at the same volume as the TV shows they break into.  The new FCC order is a step in carrying out the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation, or CALM Act, which President Obama signed in 2010.

The Editor says...
Commercials don't "break into" programs.  In some cases, the commercials are scheduled almost as far in advance as the programs.



The United States of Advertising.  America is, I think, the only country in the world which permits advertising of drugs which are available only through your doctor.  The insidious message is simple; if your doctor is not offering you this drug, maybe you should be asking for it.  …The whole point of [prescription drugs] is that it is not considered safe to let us simply buy them over the counter.  They are so strong or so habit forming that it is up to the doctor to decide that we really need them.  Advertising subtly changes that relationship….

Why TV Ads Are a Waste of Money:  To the extent that TV ads have ever had an impact in a general election, that influence has been sharply diminished by the Internet and TiVo Ages.  Viewers now receive their information in ways that minimize their contact with commercials.  Sure, advertisers still flock to television.  But effective product commercials these days run far more often and strategically than do political ads, and production-value-wise, they are light years ahead of anything the candidates ever put out.

Warning:  Products Ahead.  Hide the children:  Commercial products are visible on network television.  That's the urgent message from a clatch of public interest groups who wrote to the Federal Communications Commission last week demanding an end to "advertainment." … This conspiratorial view of advertising goes back to Vance Packard and the "Hidden Persuaders," the book unmasking the supposed media manipulation of the 1950s.

TV and Test Scores Don't Mix.  A new study finds that children who have TV sets in their bedrooms score lower on school tests than those who don't, according to the New York Times. … The issue may have more to do with parental control.  Parents may not be aware if their children are up all night watching television, or if they are watching inappropriate programming.

Networks Plan on Blaspheming God — Most Shocking TV Season Ever:  ABC, CBS and NBC are considering dropping many of the few remaining standards on network prime-time TV programs — and will likely allow expletives and four-letter words never spoken before on broadcast TV.

Violence on Prime Time Broadcast TV.  Concerns about the impact of television violence on society are almost as old as the medium itself.  As early as 1952, the United States House of Representatives was holding hearings to explore the impact of television violence and concluded that the "television broadcast industry was a perpetrator and a deliverer of violence."

Foul Language on Prime Time Network TV.  The connection between media violence and real life violence has been well documented.  The consensus of the scientific and mental health communities is that children are profoundly influenced by the violent images they see on television and in films.  Constant exposure to media violence can result in aggressive, anti-social behavior, and even violent outbursts.

Sex Loses its Appeal.  For years conventional wisdom in Hollywood has been that "sex sells," and the more, the better.  That mantra has been reflected in increasingly frequent and increasingly graphic depictions of sex on television.  But does sex really attract more viewers?  In recent years, countless surveys have shown that not only are parents increasingly concerned about how exposure to sexual content is affecting their children, but even adults are turned-off by the rampant sex on TV.

This might be a case of over-analysis...
The Use of Offensive Language by Men and Women in Prime Time Television Entertainment.  A content analysis examined prime-time television entertainment programs aired on 7 broadcast networks during the 2001 season.  Profanity use within inter-sex and intra-sex interactions was explored.  Swearing occurred most often in man-to-man interactions, followed by women-to-men.  Men and women tended to use mild curse words more when talking to the opposite sex.  Unmarried women more often directed expletives at both men and women; unmarried men cursed more at other men.  Offensive language was most often met by a neutral response; men and women were equally likely to respond positively and negatively to cursing.  Men in feature roles, as compared to minor roles, used more profanity when speaking to men and women.



The Disappearing Family Hour

'Transparent' Shows TV's First Transgender Full-Frontal Nude Scene.  Before Season 4 of Transparent started production, transgender actress Alexandra Billings, who plays Maura's friend and mentor Davina on the series, walked into the writer's room to pitch.  She said she wanted to be naked.  That, of course, is a crude simplification of the process.  Billings' friend and Transparent co-star Trace Lysette suggested that the two of them talk to the show's writers about their lives and experiences as transgender women, with the hope that they might incorporate them, and therefore a broader reflection of the varied transgender experience, into the show's storylines.

You paid extra for this channel?
AMC's 'Preacher' Opens With Graphic Jesus Sex Scene, Closes With Inbred Messiah.  Let's offer some congratulations to AMC's Preacher for giving me the fastest, most efficient subject for an article yet.  The latest episode featured a subject so embarrassingly crass that I'm shocked I got through the entire episode without slamming my head against a wall.  It only takes three simple words:  Jesus having sex.

Trump's revenge and how Woodward/Bernstein ruined journalism.  Trump's self-made video parody that shows him wrestling down CNN has all the self-righteous pundits in an uproar, but it puts the heat where it belongs... on CNN and the rest of them that round-the-clock give him no peace, no mercy, no fairness, no slack. [...] On top of that the obscenities coming from our TV news and talk shows are so violent that there is no choice but to say that we are past media bias and deep into media depravity.

'Family Feud' not so family-friendly anymore?  [Scroll down]  Dan Gainor, VP of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, told FOX411 game shows have always pushed the limit, and the recent episodes of "Family Feud" are simply the result sexual content becoming more commonplace on TV.  "I think what has changed is that Hollywood has so undermined and coarsened our culture, that these answers have become the norm...  Sex acts many Americans had never even heard of are now typical dialogue," Gainor said in an email.  "Shows like 'Scream Queens' and 'Scandal' are trying to see how far they can go.  And TV is always trying to go further."

Guess which ABC show will feature full frontal nudity?  I suspect it's going to shock a lot of moms and dads when they discover that the family-friendly Muppets of the 1970s are no more.  Guess which ABC show will feature full frontal nudity?  "It's sort of an adult Muppet show," Kermit the Frog said during a promotional video for the show.  The mature version of "The Muppets" will cover a range of 'topics from sex and drugs to interspecies relationships, The Daily Mail reports.  "No subject is off limits," one show source told the newspaper.

The Editor says...
Here is yet another example of the poisonous effects of liberalism:  Fifty years ago, every TV show was appropriate for children and adults alike; but now even the children's programming has escaped the limits of propriety and decorum.

Parents' Watchdog Group: Virtually No Family-Friendly Shows Left on TV.  "There's very little family programming left" on television, lamented Melissa Henson, director of grassroots and public education at the Parents Television Council (PTC).  The non-partisan group, whose mission is to protect children from graphic sex, violence and profanity on TV, is urging consumers to "let your values be your guide" while shopping for the holidays.  To help them, Henson recently compiled PTC's annual list of "2014 Best and Worst Advertisers" in eight categories:  fast food, beverages, clothing, general retail, personal items, groceries, computers and financial services.

New NBC Show Claims Gay Parents Are 'The New Normal'.  From the twisted imagination that spawned the pro-gay high school show "Glee" comes another new sitcom that is poised to take the gay agenda even further.  Aptly-named "The New Normal," the show depicts a gay couple's quest to have a child via a surrogate mother and the awful conservative grandmother who dares oppose them.

Reality Bites Gays.  Image control has been crucial to gay activists.  In 1980 Hollywood produced, Cruising, a big budget film that showed the seamier side of gay life. [...] Since then, any filmmaker who does not conform his gay characters to a positive and largely asexual template is likely to be criticized.  The arrival of the AIDS pandemic helped reinforce this pressure by offering up a new version of a time honored movie stereotype — the terminally ill secular saint.  Today it is allowable to use a gay drama queen as a comedic foil, but only if he is also shown to have a heart of gold.  Otherwise gay characters have to be positive.  In recent years such gay characters have been everywhere on TV and in movies.

Former 'Saturday Night Live' star Victoria Jackson blasts 'Glee'.  Comedian Victoria Jackson, who attended this year's Conservative Political Action Conference, made headlines over the weekend for her Friday column, "The Muslims Next Door," in which she criticized the television program "Glee" for continuously promoting a socially liberal lifestyle. ... "Did you see 'Glee' this week?  Sickening!" Jackson, a former "Saturday Night Live" star, wrote.

The Toxic Tube Made Them Do It.  A recent study published in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Pediatric Association, points to a strong link between [teen-targeted television] and teen pregnancy. ... Dr. Nancy Snyderman noted on NBC's Today that 80 percent of entertainment programs targeting teens contain sexual themes.

Turn off, tune out, cancel the cable.  There's a brand-new poll out called "American Attitudes on Religion, Moral Values and Hollywood."  Its main findings, according to a press release, are that a majority of Americans (61 percent) believes that their religious values are "under attack."  A similar majority (59 percent) believes the people who run TV and the movies "do not share the religious and moral values of most Americans."  If that's all I told you about the poll, you might have assumed it was commissioned by Focus on the Family or a similar Christian "family values" group and that its leadership was feeling validated by the findings.  In fact, its sponsor is the Anti-Defamation League.  And as a Jewish defense organization, the ADL is worried.

Americans feel religious values attacked.  A majority of the American people believes that religious values are "under attack," and that Hollywood does not share the religious and moral values of most Americans, according to a survey issued Sunday by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). ... The poll also found that 59% of Americans agree that "the people who run the TV networks and the major movie studios do not share the religious and moral values of most Americans."

No cussin' allowed.  The federal law known as the indecency ban proscribes the utterance of "any obscene, indecent or profane language" over the airwaves.  Congress has set the enforcement times between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., and authorized fines, license revocations and denials of license renewals as possible punishments for infractions.

Hollywood's Ridiculous Lawyers.  When Justice Stevens asked if there were changes in community standards over the last 30 years, if society had grown more tolerant of curse words, Carter Phillips, the profanity-favoring attorney for Fox, proclaimed:  "I believe that society is significantly more tolerant of these words today than it was 30 years ago."  Justice Scalia replied:  "Do you think your clients have had anything to do with that?"  The answer is, of course, self-evident.  There is no greater cultural influence on impressionable youth than the entertainment industry.

Racy TV shows linked to higher teenage pregnancy rates.  Groundbreaking research suggests that pregnancy rates are much higher among teens who watch a lot of TV with sexual dialogue and behavior than among those who have tamer viewing tastes.  "Sex and the City" ... was one of the shows used in the research.

BBC bows to viewers and curbs swearing after 9 pm watershed.  The BBC is to tone down the amount of sex and swearing screened following the 9 pm watershed, because viewers were dismayed by the moral decline in programme standards.

The Frustrated Family Hour.  Since 2000-2001, violent content during the family hour has increased 52 percent.  Sexual content is up 22 percent.  Foul language is down 25 percent since 2000-2001.  But wait.  The decrease is almost entirely due to the drop in less objectionable words….  The major curse words have hardly declined at all, just 3 percent.

The Editor says...
Television (and radio, for that matter) can only provide inexpensive family entertainment in a country where either (a) the producers of broadcast programs have the self-control and common decency to present only G-rated shows and (b) the viewing public tolerates only the most benign material.  These conditions have not been met in the U.S. since the 1960's.  There is no "Family Hour."  Prime-time television, with rare exceptions, is a cesspool of tawdry and salacious pap that would have been considered "unfit for broadcast" as recently as the 1970s.

As you might expect, there is offensive language throughout this article.
More Than Ever, You Can Say That on Television.  Ever since George Carlin laid out the "Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television" in 1972, television writers and broadcasters have been digging more deeply into the thesaurus, seizing on new ways to titillate, if not offend.

Parents group criticizes heavy sexual content on TV.  On a recent episode of the CBS comedy "Two and a Half Men," it is implied that Jake, the teenage son of Alan's character, is having threesomes with some of his female classmates.  Like everything else in the raunchy sitcom, it is played for laughs and no actual sexual acts are depicted.  Not laughing, though, is the Parents Television Council.



The Coax Straightjacket:  Stopping Cable Copy-Protection Abuse.  The Supreme Court "Betamax" decision decades ago established the fair use rights of consumers to make copies of television programs, and save them on videocassettes.  But with the demise of VHS, the newly ascendant technology is Digital Video Recorders (DVRs), such as the TiVo and its various cruder generic cousins (the latter typically cable company supplied).

On the other hand...
DVR is TV's New BFF.  Digital Video Recorders, once considered a mortal threat by the entertainment industry, have now become its new best friend.  It's just the latest example of how the industry's constant warnings of the dangers of "piracy" frequently turn out to be baseless hysteria.

TV commercials can literally be a pain, German experts say.  If you have mysterious back pains which your doctor cannot explain, the cause may be partly due to watching TV commercials about pain-relief medication, according to findings of a revolutionary new study in Germany.  The German researchers said incidence of back pain among people living behind the Berlin Wall increased dramatically after German unification as East Germans became inundated by West German commercial television networks.

Wake-up call to a.m. news:  moms tuning out.  Several years ago, the 34-year-old mother of three stopped watching the morning shows.  After getting TiVo, she had no patience to sit through multiple commercial breaks during a live newscast.  On top of that, the segments began to seem more and more frivolous.  "Watching morning television for me is the equivalent of reading People magazine in the dentist's office," said Lauck, who writes for websites from her home in Santa Rosa, Calif.  "They don't have anything new or particularly relevant to my life.  It seems like a lot of fluff.  I feel like I can get information faster and cleaner on the Internet."

Reporting from inside the media vacuum.  With industry-wide belt-tightening, news organizations are dispatching fewer reporters to the trail, and [Mark] Halperin added that "some major candidates, some for whole days, don't have reporters from major news organizations with them."  Predictably, lower-tier candidates have only a handful of reporters with them at this point.

US news chiefs warn of evening TV news demise.  Paul Slavin, senior vice president of ABC News Gathering told a House of Lords Select Committee on Communications that while the network's evening news audience is growing, its audience in the 25-54 demographic is declining.  He stated that if this group continues to turn away from the evening news, then it is not inconceivable that evening news will disappear across the networks.

Anchor Away:  Katie Couric's ill-fated voyage with CBS.  The viewership of nightly national news began to decline more than two decades ago, before the Internet and before cable news became a big deal.  The erosion that has occurred on all fronts of all the news divisions, beginning in the mid-eighties, when Capital Cities bought ABC and G.E. bought NBC, is well documented, all the more fastidiously because it not only combines business and human interest but also involves media people's favorite subject:  media people.

Viewcrime:  TV dealers [in Great Britain] are required by law to collect the names and addresses of people who buy televisions.  This info then goes into a giant database.  Let me be perfectly clear.  This is mandatory.  This is about watching television.

Global Taxes and Global TV Now on the Agenda.  [Scroll down slowly]  In addition to global taxes, "The Global Agenda 2009" report urges creation of a global television channel. ... The report doesn't explain how this new global TV channel will be financed.  But global taxes cannot be ruled out.  Perhaps this new era of transparency and disclosure can start with disclosing details about media sponsorship and backing of the World Economic Forum and its plans for "global governance."

Interesting new invention:  The advert enforcer.  If a new idea from Philips catches on, the company may not be very popular with TV viewers.  The company's labs in Eindhoven, The Netherlands, has been cooking up a way to stop people changing channels to avoid adverts or fast forwarding through ads they have recorded along with their target programme.

The Editor says..
My recommendation is to abandon television altogether.  It has been rendered obsolete by the internet (for news) and DVD's (for entertainment).  It takes a lot of effort and imagination to raise children without television.  Fortunately, many books have been written, such as the following:

Alternatives To TV Handbook:  A sweet and practical guide to raising children with little to no TV, with very workable solutions for children of all ages.  Marie McClendon has an MA in Early Childhood Education, and is a mother of four resourceful children, raised with the methods outlined in this book.  61 pages.

Proper etiquette for televisions in public places.  I was in a waiting room this morning with at least thirty people.  Twenty-eight of those people were trying to read, or attempting conversations, or staring out the window.  Two of them were watching the enormous television, which was blaring some obnoxious program about the pressing problem of teenage girls who run drugs for their abusive first cousins or some such nonsense.  Now, it was clear that twenty-eight out of thirty people would rather have had the television off.  But no one dared to touch it.

TV-B-Gone:  A small universal remote control for all makes of television sets, with only one button:  POWER OFF.  This comes in handy in waiting rooms and other places where the TV is left on continuously even though nobody is watching it.

Interesting web site:
The Television Project:  We help parents understand how television affects their families and community, and propose alternatives that foster positive emotional, cognitive, and spiritual development within families and communities.

Broadcasters worry about 'Zero TV' homes.  There are 5 million of these residences in the U.S., up from 2 million in 2007.



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