Editorial: Show, but Tell 

  Editorial: Show, but Tell 

Posted by FoM on January 03, 2001 at 07:35:10 PT
By Elizabeth Hovde for the Editorial Board 
Source: Columbian 

The government has been paying TV networks for including anti-drug messages in some of their show's scripts. And the networks took the sponsorship money and never announced the arrangement to viewers, as broadcast regulations require.The problem certainly isn't that an anti-drug message was sent. The problem is that the government should not be using taxpayer dollars to influence the culture through TV programming, especially without letting folks know about the message-sending effort.
Another problem is the networks' decision not to disclose the deal appropriately. Just imagine if the message concerned gun-rights or abortion. Would we want the government quietly infiltrating the air waves on those issues? Certainly not.The Federal Communications Commission has now warned the networks involved -- ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and the WB -- not to break disclosure rules again. It said that failing to identify the government's sponsorship as required was wrong and could get them into trouble.The warning came with no basis for enforcement action and does not impose a fine. Smart move, really. After all, it was the government that seduced the networks into becoming message-sending partners in the first place. The networks made more than $20 million over the past two years for including the messages in scripts of popular TV shows. To fine the networks now would be confusing at best, betrayal at worst.Robert Thompson of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University told the Los Angeles Times, "The TV networks must feel 'damned if you do and damned if you don't.'" He added that TV networks get a lot of pressure from both the right and the left about cleaning up their programming."To an extent, this is like a sting," he said. "The government is slapping the hands of the networks for doing something that the government asked the networks to do."Politicians, cultural leaders and concerned parents have been asking the networks to clean up their programming, which in many cases has grown too vulgar for some families' tastes. But most expected networks to do so of their own volition, not because the government paid them to rise to the occasion. The networks can hardly feel damned if they do and damned if they don't. They are surely not victims.Still, Thompson is right in his implication that the government has bungled this the worst. The government must stick to paying for anti-drug advertising that is clearly labeled as a government-sponsored message. To slip messages into scripts without telling people is downright creepy. Note: Networks, government are both to blame.Source: Columbian, The (WA)Author: Elizabeth HovdePublished: January 2, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Columbian Publishing Co.Address: 701 W 8th St, Vancouver, WA 98666Contact: editors columbian.comWebsite: Articles:FCC Blasts TV Over Non-Disclosure Slaps Anti-Drug TV Shows for Dollars 

Home Comment Email Register Recent Comments Help


Comment #1 posted by michael on January 03, 2001 at 09:18:56 PT:

Another blind robot speaks.
Elizabeth Huvde says, " the problem certainly isn't that an anti drug message was sent." But of course this certainly could be a problem, as those of us with any brains know how distorted the governments anti-drug message is. She is obviously in love with the messanger and not the truth. 
[ Post Comment ]

  Post Comment

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

Link URL: 
Link Title: