Our Loss That Profit is No. 1

Our Loss That Profit is No. 1
Posted by FoM on January 15, 2000 at 15:25:16 PT
By Diane Carman, Denver Post Columnist 
Source: Denver Post
Just in case you hadn't noticed the steady erosion of the whole concept of integrity in American life, along comes the story of paid antidrug propaganda in TV series.The deal began in 1997 when Congress approved a five-year, $1 billion television ad campaign that required networks to sell the government time for the anti-drug spots at half price, according to Daniel Forbes of Salon magazine.
But with the economy roaring and demand for advertising time deliriously high, the networks weren't wild about giving it up so cheaply.Drugs were a problem, they said, but there were stockholders to worry about.No problem, said Alan Levitt of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. He came up with a system to place a dollar value on anti-drug messages insinuated into TV scripts and, voila, an all-new payola system was devised.The drug czar's office would review the scripts, offer a few changes, establish a price, and the money rolled into the networks, an estimated $25 million so far.The anti-drug messages rippled across prime time, the networks were compensated and nobody was the wiser. Even producers were not informed of the collusion.Among the shows reprogrammed by Levitt's mind-control goons were: "Chicago Hope," "Beverly Hills 90210," "7th Heaven," "The Drew Carey Show," "Smart Guy," "The Practice," "Home Improvement," "Sports Night," "The Wayans Bros.," "Promised Land," "Cosby," "Trinity," "Providence," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," "Boy Meets World," "General Hospital," "Hang Time" and the big kahuna, "ER." George Orwell should get royalties.Andrew Jay Schwartzman, president of the Media Access Project, told Salon that it is "an outrageous abandonment of the First Amendment ..." Bill Kovach, curator of the Nieman Foundation, called it "breathtaking." But it's increasingly difficult to find words to express outrage over such breaches in the public trust. They're so common.You have your TV news segments promoting entertainment programming; cover stories hawking "blockbuster" movies in magazines published by the same companies that produce the movies; newspapers engaging in profit-making sponsorships of teams, events and institutions they cover; politicians who sell "access" to their office via high-priced tickets to inaugurations and anniversary galas.You also have college athletes wearing Nike swooshes all over their uniforms; school districts negotiating sponsorships with soft-drink companies that include complementary curriculum packages; cities buying influence with the International Olympics Committee.The list goes on.As the profit motive replaces all other motives in our cultural life, forms of expression from art and journalism to the most fundamental acts of public service become suspect."Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is the pop icon of the season.The answer is obvious: everybody. And it's so easy.All you have to do is sell your soul.Published: January 15, 2000Copyright 1999-2000 The Denver Post. Salon Magazine Articles:White House Defends TV Drug-Ad Deal - 1/15/2000 Script Doctors - 1/13/2000 Money, How the White House Secretly Hooked TV-1/13/2000
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Comment #1 posted by Sledhead on January 15, 2000 at 19:32:16 PT
The Denver Post
Keep those cards & letters coming. The Denver Post is turning about face on prohibition.
Drug Testing Clearinghouse
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