Advertising and TV Programs

Advertising And TV Programs

It was Noam Chomsky, the famous controversial linguist that identified broadcast media as being propagandistic.I watched a few DVDís of his lectures and was impressed by his clear, undeniable point of view.I took some of the ideas he expounded to heart.So much so, that I began to see in the TV programs I watched (which are very few) examples of the implicit, but persistent message of propaganda and thus mind-control.It comes in the form of advertising.My favorite game show, Jeopardy is an example of the prolific presence of commercials.I know most of us realize that TV in general is rife with commercial advertising.What most of us donít know, is just how reinforcing it is to shaping our behavior.Below I look at a typical episode of Jeopardy and analyze how much time we spend watching the programs as compared to watching commercials.It turns out that we are being sold on a product most of the time.If this is the case, then it is plausible that we could be influenced in other ways by the media of television if we spend enough time watching it.For instance, if we get our world news strictly from television broadcasts, what we are shown on them could be designed in such a way as to make us form specific opinions about the world in general.This is the thesis Chomsky was positing.And heís not wrong.By the way, I was amazed to see a Jewish professional, exposing the atrocities of his brethren the Israelis.He pointed out how with classic propagandistic methods the Israelis murdered and slaughtered thousands of Arabs in Lebanon after the attacks on the West Bank settlements by Hamaas.Yet, they portrayed it as defending themselves.

 

Jeopardy: an Advertiserís Paradise

I find Jeopardy a mentally stimulating quiz program and have enjoyed this program for many years.In the last few years, I began to see the elements of propaganda in it and decided to make a time study of Jeopardy.I tabulated how much time we spend watching commercials and how much on the program itself.With this done, I extracted some statistics for analysis.What I found is surprising.

I stopwatch timed each of the 3 segments of the program and rounded when necessary.Using 10 minutes as the segment total, if we compare the time on commercials for each segment to program, you will see that more than half the program is spent on commercial in segment 1, half in segment 2, and a fourth in segment 3.If we ignore final Jeopardy and the ending credits, since its time is negligible compared to the whole show (approximately 7%) we find that looking at Jeopardy by averages of the 3 segments almost half of the program is spent watching commercials! Can you believe that? I would like make another informal study of why this has changed. Itís very close to 50/50.If we compare it based on total minutes on advertising vs total minutes on the program, the percentage breakdown is 40% to 60%.See the table below for details.

The Time Figures for Jeopardy

As an aside comment, I distinctly remember back in the 60s this was NOT the case. If the TV audience had to endure more than 1 to 2 minutes of commercials all hell would break loose for that station. In fact viewership would have plunged. That's not the case today. I suspect it's because the audience that endures this type of propanganda is the indigent, old, computerless and unable to afford more expensive media like cable.

JEOPARDY PROGRAM TO ADVERTISING BREAKDOWN

TIME SEGMENTS

MINUTES

SECONDS

SEGMENT % PROGRAM

SEGMENT % ADVERTISING

JEOPARDY I

3.00

48

35%

65%

JEOPARDY I CONTD

4.00

54

50%

50%

JEOPARDY II

7.00

38

75%

25%

FINAL JEOPARDY

1.00

1.00

51

SUBTOTAL

15.00

140

53%

47%

JEOPARDY GRAND TOTAL

(plus approximately 3 minutes of secs (2.5 to be exact)

0.08 (total seconds of 30 minutes)

AVERAGE PROG

AVERAGE ADV

18.08

COMMERCIAL GRAND TOTAL

11.92 (time on commercials out of 30 minutes)

% PROGRAM

60%

% ADVERTISING

38%

 

What the above table doesnít tell you is how much Jeopardy the program augments advertising by having categories that are in reference to advertisers and their products!So, try to find in your own television viewing experience how much this medium is turning you into a consumer purchasing machine and socio-political nitwit the next time you watch something like Desperate Housewives. The name itself makes me want to throw up.

Of greater importance I ask you to notice is all of these game shows springing up on network TV, use a formula to get us to watch what is really just an hour or half-hour pitch for their advertisers. A little test you can perform is to get a pen and paper and count how many times the questions involve some of the products of advertisers. Tally that against the non-advertiser questions and take the percentage. You can see directly how much we're conditioned to buy products while watching these avarice-based game shows. Because that's what they appeal to, our greed. Then to take it a step further, consider if you've bought any of the products pitched either in the show or the incessant commercial breaks. Here in the 21st century here is something you can do in 20th century style, no need to Google search for stats or anything like that.