Networks' Portrayal of Drugs Praised 

Networks' Portrayal of Drugs Praised 
Posted by FoM on January 14, 2000 at 21:28:51 PT
By Michael Miller
Source: Reuters
Network television's sparing portrayal of illicit drug use in prime time earned it an "A" Friday in a report commissioned by the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy.The survey of 168 prime-time television episodes over a three-month period in 1998 showed that illegal drugs were seen being taken in only 3 percent of all the episodes viewed, while tobacco was used in 19 percent and alcohol in 71 percent.
The report, on the influence of television on teen substance abuse, found that only three major characters were seen using illicit drugs. A male adult and a male teen-ager smoked marijuana, while a female teen was seen taking a drink laced with the "date rape" drug.The study was released at the Television Critics Association's biannual press tour in Pasadena, where the networks present some of their midseason replacement shows.White House drug policy chief Barry McCaffrey, director of the office that commissioned the report, said he was pleased with the results of the survey and praised the networks."These findings make it clear that the broadcast television industry is sending our kids the right messages about drug abuse -- it is dangerous behavior, and the consequences can be devastating," he said in a statement."I am pleased that the networks are helping youngsters understand that they take on tremendous risks if they use drugs. Honesty in the media is a critical step in giving young people the confidence to reject drugs," McCaffrey said.Teens A Special Focus:The survey team of three university experts put together by Mediascope, a nonprofit research organization, looked at four consecutive episodes of 42 top-rated situation comedies and dramas, including the 20 most popular shows among teen-agers and adults as well as the 20 shows most watched by African-American teens, Latino teens, who can be of any race, and white teens.It found that although illicit drugs were mentioned in 21 percent of the top teen shows and 20 percent of the top adult shows, their mention was in the context of negative comments.The online magazine said Thursday that the U.S. government inserted anti-drug messages into popular television programs in exchange for giving the networks back millions of dollars in discount television advertising time it had bought.Officials at McCaffrey's agency said the program existed but there was nothing secret or illegal about it and was exaggerating what was happening.The survey commissioned by the agency concluded: "Illicit drugs were infrequently mentioned and rarely shown in prime-time television. In the few episodes that portrayed illicit drug use, nearly all showed negative consequence. ... Overall, teen viewers were exposed to very little illicit drug use and what little there was did not glamorize drugs."The study was the first major look at illicit drug use in television in more than 20 years. Two studies in the 1970s found that illegal drug references of any kind, either verbal or visual, were rare, occurring only once in every five hours of prime-time programming.PASADENA, Calif. (Reuters) Reuters/Variety Updated 12:47 AM ET January 14, 2000  Copyright  1995-2000 Excite Inc. Salon Magazine Articles: for Dollars - 1/14/2000 Script Doctors - 1/13/2000 Money, How the White House Secretly Hooked TV-1/13/2000 Related Articles:New York TimesIn Deal With TV Networks, U.S. Drug Office Reviews-1/14/2000 LA TimesWhite House Tie to Anti-Drug TV Scripts Criticized-1/14/2000 PostWhite House Cut Anti-Drug Deal With TV - 1/14/2000
Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help

Comment #2 posted by Doc-Hawk on January 15, 2000 at 16:48:20 PT:
Cover Story?
Yeah, It's how the General will try to cover his butt when the public realizes that he is wasting $200,000,000 per year re-writing the scripts to America's favorite TV shows.Hey, he's only doing it to keep us safe from ourselves.
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #1 posted by Chris Campbell on January 14, 2000 at 22:54:36 PT:
What is this supposed to be, some sort of cover story?
[ Post Comment ]

Post Comment

Name: Optional Password: 
Comment: [Please refrain from using profanity in your message]
Link URL: 
Link Title: