Lebron James is too good at basketball

freak…

Michael Jordan is still the best

Censorship on TV

Programming is what attracts audiences to television but advertising is the primary means of revenue generation for most networks and stations.  In a situation when 1) specific broadcast programming is attacked for containing too much “skin and sin” by traditional family values groups, 2) advertisers are inundated with thousands of email, letters and telephone calls to stop buying commercial time by concerned family group followers and 3) some advertisers withdraw, is this a triumph for the television audience, a chilling effect on broadcast TV creativity, or a step towards censorship and bland programming?   Assume each of these perspectives and cite evidence from previous program histories to explicate how these electronic media issues evolved, were resolved and continue to coexist.

 

Mackenzie

Liz

Adrienne

Monica  

I. History/Background

 

A) Concerns started early in broadcasting– government reluctant to censor outright, First Amendment concerns – different audiences have different tastes

  • What tends to happen is self-censorship – occurs to varying degrees depending on the decade, political climate
  • Always tension between family values groups, advertisers and content creators
  • All have to coexist within the framework of television production business model

 

B) Early TV – sponsors basically created the shows, would edit content as they saw fit

  • Form of self-censorship: writers of programs would stop writing controversial material, or material that could be seen as defiling advertiser’s products
    • Thunder on Sycamore St. – change black neighbor to criminal (seen as less controversial)
  • Television code: 1952 – NAB sets internal standards to follow
  • Red Channels/Red Scare: blacklisting becomes common practice within the industry – advertisers don’t want suspected Communists in shows they sponsor, so producers start blacklisting actors 
    • Jean Muir fired from The Aldrich Family  – General Foods backs out until she’s gone
  • Having a chilling effect on content, some members of audience see it as triumph (McCarthy). It is a form of censorship, and lead to blander programming

 

C) 1960s through today – advent of shared sponsorship in late 60s – no one sponsor has as much control anymore, but similar issues of appropriate content persist, technology evolves as ways to mitigate, changing audience due to popularity of cable and importance of demographics continues to change climate

l  Minow’s “vast wasteland” speech attacks TV content as too violent and full of ads – leads to dozens of bland programs – Beverly Hillbillies, Gomer Pyle

l  National Federation for Decency organized fundamentalist churches and others to protest  “unwholesome shows” like ABC’s Soap – politically sensitive, controversial material not welcome on TV – several sponsors pull out

l  Parents Television Council founded in 1995 to protect children from sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. The group advises actions such as letters to sponsors and FCC complaints.

l  V-chip – mandated in all new sets after ’96 – way for parents to be censors for their children rather than government setting standards for what’s appropriate

  TV ratings system – to guide concerned groups about content appropriate for age groups – parents can become censors rather than the network

l  Growth of cable leads to bolder programming and sometimes to stricter measures of decency.

  “Keeping advertisers happy despite scheduling three of the most boundary-crossing shows on TV — “The Shield,” “Nip/Tuck” and “Rescue Me” — has become something of an art for FX. Cabler pulls in robust ad dollars — $271 million in 2006, according to Kagan Research.” (Variety, 2006)

l  Awards shows – 3 second delay now in place, not entirely “live” broadcast for fears of indecent content

 

II. Fact or Fiction?

 

A) Creativity

”The biggest problem with how much sex there is on TV now isn’t whether it’s offensive,” says Norman Lear, one of the people who broke television’s sexual taboos in the 1970’s to raise social consciousness. ”It’s that most of the sex on TV today just isn’t funny. It’s stupid and boring.”

               IN FACT = the Kaiser-Children Now study concedes that out of 451 depictions of ”sexual behavior” in the family hour, only 15 involved sexual intercourse.

 

ABC’s steamy intro Monday Night Football in November of 2004, featuring a naked Nicollette Sheridan jumping into the arms of Eagles receiver Terrell Owens, drew complaints from viewers and the NFL.

               IN FACT = ABC’s switchboards were not swamped by shocked viewers on Monday night. A spokesman for ABC Sports told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he hadn’t received a single phone call or e-mail in the immediate aftermath of the broadcast.

B) Exaggerating Numbers

There’s another, more insidious game being played as well. The F.C.C. and the family values crusaders alike are cooking their numbers.

 

               The first empirical evidence was provided this month by Jeff Jarvis, a former TV Guide critic turned blogger. He had the ingenious idea of filing a Freedom of Information Act request to see the actual viewer complaints that drove the F.C.C. to threaten Fox and its affiliates with the largest indecency fine to date – $1.2 million for the sins of a now-defunct reality program called “Married by America.” Though the F.C.C. had cited 159 public complaints in its legal case against Fox, the documents obtained by Mr. Jarvis showed that there were actually only 90 complaints, written by 23 individuals. Of those 23, all but 2 were identical repetitions of a form letter posted by the Parents Television Council. In other words, the total of actual, discrete complaints about “Married by America” was 3.

C) Exaggerating “Pull”

Such letter-writing factories as the American Family Association’s OneMillionMoms.com also exaggerate their clout in intimidating advertisers.

 

               They brag, for instance, that the retail chain Lowe’s dropped its commercials on “Desperate Housewives” in response to their protests. But Lowe’s was not an advertiser on the show; the advertiser who actually bought the commercial was Whirlpool, which plugged Lowe’s as a retail outlet for its products under a co-branding arrangement.

               Another advertiser that the family-values mafia takes credit for chasing away, Tyson Foods, had only bought in for one episode of “Desperate Housewives” in the first place. It had long since been replaced by such Fortune 500 advertisers as Ford and McDonald’s, each clamoring to pay three times as much for a 30-second spot ($450,000) as those early advertisers who bought time before the show had its debut and became an instant smash.

 

III. Specific Show Examples

 

l  NBC’s Saturday Night Live – March 1989 – Advertisers pull out after pressure from Christian group

1.      Ralston Purina Co. confirmed that it had dropped plans to run about $$1 million in ads on the program starting in April because it felt one of the shows “crossed over the line of good taste.”

2.      General Mills Inc. said it had canceled an undisclosed number of ads on the show after reviewing the other episode.

l  Fox’s Married…with Children – March 1989 – one woman, Terry Rakolta, from Michigan writes numerous letters to have show pulled.

1.      Several advertisers, including Procter & Gamble Inc., McDonald’s Corp. and Coca-Cola USA, cancelled or curbed their advertisements on the show.

l  ABC’s thirtysomething – In November 1989, when ABC’s “thirtysomething” broadcast an episode showing two gay men in bed talking, advertiser defections cost the network $1 million. Fearing additional financial loss, the network did not repeat the installment during summer reruns.

l  NYPD Blue – September 1993 – show’s premiere episode was not aired in 50 markets due to conservative groups targeting it for its language, violence and nudity. At ABC’s request, Steven Bochco trimmed 15 seconds from a love scene. Parents’ groups – declared the show indecent by community standards.

 

l  ABC’s Roseanne – episode where she kisses a woman in a gay bar (aired on March 1, 1994)

1.      “We have some advertisers who won’t go near it, but plenty who will say there is a price that it is worth,” said Grey Advertising senior VP Jon Mandel.

2.      Rev. Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family Assn., which has waged an ongoing campaign against “NYPD Blue,” said, “Lesbians kissing will cost them in ad revenue.”

3.      The show ran with an advisory. (In response to the network’s plan to include an advisory, “Roseanne” exec producer Tom Arnold said in a statement that the show will be delivered to the network as shot. “No editing will be done,” Arnold said.)

 

l  CBS’s The Ellen Show – Ellen’s “coming out episode” April 30, 1997 – three major sponsors pull ads. Only one affiliate in Birmingham, AL decided not to air the episode at all.

1.      Wendy’s – spokesperson Denny Lench says: “The story content no longer fits our advertising guidelines, which are primarily to avoid controversial subjects,” Lynch says. “Story lines that could be controversial or cutting-edge, we would definitely avoid.”

2.      J.C. Penney

3.      Chrysler

4.      Companies that ignored the pressure from some conservative groups not to advertise included Warner Brothers and Viacom’s Paramount Pictures, consumer product companies like Bayer and Warner-Lambert, and apparel retailers like the Gap and the Burlington Coat Factory.

 

l  CBS’s Family Law – August 13, 2001 – episode thought to have been pulled because of gun violence.

2.      Writers Guild of America president John Wells said the decision to pull episodes from the “Family Law” rerun schedule “because one advertiser [Procter & Gamble] objected to the content (was) a serious threat to the creative rights of all artists in our industry.”

3.      CBS subsequently issued a statement denying that the programming decision was forced by the sponsor, Procter & Gamble.

“If you only plan to repeat a few episodes of a series,” said the network, “it is common business sense to rebroadcast the episodes that have the most sales potential. CBS does not program its network based on directives from advertisers, and in fact neither Procter & Gamble nor its agency asked for or suggested these changes.”

Eventually CBS gave Wells what he wanted. It issued a statement in response to Wells: “We are as mindful of the rights of artists as is the Writers Guild. The episode of ‘Family Law’ in question will air on Monday, September 10.”

l  Janet Jackson’s 2004 “wardrobe malfunction” on the Super Bowl Halftime Show: “That exposed nipple shield emboldened the parents groups and religious orgs to ramp up the pressure, galvanizing the FCC to start cracking down on TV shows denounced by self-styled guardians of moral decency.” (Variety)

1.      The incident from Super Bowl XXXVIII led to severe fines. FCC fines levied on CBS: $550,000, Cost to NFL (in sponsor refunds): $10 million
more than 500,000 American complaints

l  Survivor: Cook Island – August 2006 – GM was the show’s top advertiser for 12 seasons but it severed ties with the reality show, claiming the show no longer fit into GM’s business objectives. (This was the season that the contestants were separated by race.)

1.      The show quickly merged tribes into multicultural groups early in the season, but lost out on the potential $12.8 million GM would’ve spent on advertising, as well as Home Depot, Campbell Soup and Coca-Cola North America.

l  Showtime’s Californication – September 2007

1.      Religious groups called for a boycott of the program by sponsors as it depicts explicit sex scenes, language, drug use and lewd behavior by its star David Duchovny.

l  BET’s Hot Ghetto Mess – July 2007 – critics claim the show puts black stereotypes on display.

1.      State Farm Insurance Cos. and Home Depot asked BET to drop their ads from the series debuting July 25.

 

III. Today – and beyond

 

               Screening of episodes for ad executives to calm jitters.

o   For instance, CBS screened the first episode of Kid Nation for advertising executives after growing concern about its content.

               NBC’s recent promise – returning the 8pm-9pm slot to “family hour” starting in fall of 2008. Will other networks follow suit?

               The bottom line is that if a show is hot—in ratings, critical acclaim and stars—then it can get away with more.

               Issues over sponsor’s concerns, content creators’ concerns and special interest/traditional family groups still persist and will continue to persist.

 

 

Further Reading/Article Examples:

 

1) Type in ‘Advocacy Groups and Television Advertisers’ into Search Bar in the proQuest search:

 

Advocacy Groups and Television Advertisers

Hill, Ronald Paul; Beaver, Andrea L.

Journal of Advertising; 1991; 20, 1; ABI/INFORM Global

pg. 18

 

2) Type in ‘Terry Rakolta’ into Search Bar in proQuest and numerous articles regarding “Married… With Children,” “Temptation Island,” etc., will come up—all containing information on what happened and the situation of “sexy and sin” on TV.

 

3)http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE3D61F3AF933A05755C0A96F958260

TV NOTES; ‘Family Guy’ Loses Sponsors

 

4) http://www.mediacoalition.org/reports/wildmon.html

The Rev. Donald E. Wildmon’s Crusade for Censorship, 1977-1992


By Christopher M. Finan and Anne F. Castro

 

5) Complaints over America’s Next Top Model: http://www.parentstv.org/PTC/publications/release/2008/0408.asp

 

6) Parents’ Television Council’s Advertiser Accountability Campaign: http://www.parentstv.org/PTC/advertisers/campaign.asp

 

7) Advertisers pull from BET series: http://www.backstage.com/bso/news_reviews/multimedia/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003609482

 

8) Advertisers pull out of Californication: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/section/1/story.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10475815

 

9) Ellen comes out on show: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990CE3DD1031F933A05757C0A961958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all

 

10) MSNBC pulls Imus in the Morning: http://www.cnn.com/2007/SHOWBIZ/TV/04/11/imus.rutgers/index.html

 

11) Controversial content boosts ratings on ABC: http://media.www.dailytrojan.com/media/storage/paper679/news/2004/10/26/Opinions/Controversial.Content.Helping.To.Boost.Abc.Ratings-780724.shtml

 

12) PBS concerned over profanity used in Ken Burns’ War: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/08/26/MNCARP3OJ.DTL

 

 

 

 

Cable TV vs Telephone Companies

The questions

5. In the coming years Cable TV will face very real competition from the telephone companies for customers. Give the competitive advantages of each industry and the efforts both have made in Congress and at the FCC to deal with perceived inequities in the competitive landscape.

Comprehensive Examination Question #5
Andrea P. Fuller

I. Cable Industry

A. Competitive Advantages

1. Due to the competition from satellite companies and more recent the telephone companies (mainly AT&T and Verizon Communications), cable companies (Comcast and Time Warner Cable-the two dominant companies) have to increase their services offered to their customers.
a. According to statistics, 90% of US cable systems currently offer HD video services as of January 2008 (Anonymous, In-Stat: Increased Competition Pushes US Cable Operators to Continue Investing, Business Wire, Jan 2, 2008)

2. Cable companies have limited competitive advantages due to their competing companies offering the same services. As a result, many cable companies are exploring offering improved services to keep customers.
a. Conversion of analog to digital (If customers have cable, on analog television, they don’t have to worry about the conversion from analog to digital on February 2009).
b. Increasing spectrum that increases the capacity of the networks
c. Capacity sharing through switched digital video
d. Node splitting, which improves
e. MPEG-4 provides capacity sharing (Anonymous, US Cable-New Strategies for a Competitive World, Business Wire, April 10, 2008)

3. Cable companies are now offering bundles to customers which includes cable, internet, and land-line phones

4. Cable is targeting small and medium business in offering commercial phone services (voice and data services)
a. Comcast is investing $3 billion over the next five years
b. Time Warner Cable is investing $6-7.5 billion for commercial phone

5. Time Warner plans to cut prices of telephone services 10-15% (Jon Hemingway, New Front in Cable-Teleco War: B2B, Broadcasting and Cable, October 1, 2007)

B. FCC/Congress vs. Cable Companies.

1. 70/70 rule
a. Under the Communications Act of 1984-which gives the FCC power to regulate cable companies when they feel they are too big.
b. FCC must use the 70/70 Test: cable must pass through 70% of households, and 70% of those households must be subscribed to a cable services.
c. State Representatives including Marsh Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and Joe Barton (R-Texas) a bill to challenge the 70/70 Test.
a. Bill call for stripping FCC powers to reregulate the cable industry
b. Bill getting support from NCTA, Rainbow/PUSH Coalition ad America for Tax Reform (John Eggerton, Blackburn’s 70/70 Bill a Reality, Broadcasting and Cable, December 6, 2007).

2. November 2007: FCC Chairman Kevin Martin introduced a 30% percent cap on cable companies prevent large companies such as Comcast and Time Warner from growing or making acquisitions after its conclusion that cable
a. States that no company can own no more than 30% in a market
b. FCC goal of rule is to promote “diversity of information sources”
c. Cap opens cable market to independent programmers and telephone companies (Stephen Labaton, FCC Planning Rules to Open Cable Market, New York Times, November 10, 2007)
d. In 2001, the FCC tried to establish a cap for cable companies, but it was struck down by the US Court of Appeal on First Amendment grounds. (John Eggerton, FCC Releases 30% Cable-Subscriber Cap Order, Broadcasting and Cable, February 11, 2008).
e. In March 2008, Comcast sued the FCC over the 30% cap
i. Company is at 27% of 30% cap
ii. Claims that the FCC has no evidence for a horizontal cap especially with numerous competitions among other cable companies, independent programmers, phone and satellite companies.
iii. Comcast also accuses the FCC of playing favorites with telephone companies (John Eggerton, Comcast Sues FCC over 30% Cap, Broadcasting and Cable, March 13, 2008).

3. FCC End Cable Deals for Apartments
a. October 2008: FCC ban cable deals/contracts giving cable companies the right to provide services to apartments
b. AT&T and Verizon benefit the most after lobbying for the new rules.
c. Can lower cable prices
a. Keven Martin, chair of FCC: cable prices risen 93% within the last decade.
b. New competition = lower prices (Stephen Labaton, FCC Set to End Sole Cable Deals for Apartments, The New York Times, October 29, 2007).

4. States creating laws creating franchises for telephone companies
a. Cable companies filing lawsuits claiming that cable will lose revenue, damage of reputation, and unfair competition (John Eggerton, Telecos Celebrate Franchise Wins, Broadcasting and Cable, September 29, 2006).

II. Telephone Companies

A. Competitive Advantages
1. 2006: FCC passed a reform video franchised legislative reform that made it easier for telephone companies to get into video through national franchising (John Eggerton, House Passes Video Franchise Reform, Broadcasting and Cable, June 8, 2006).

2. AT&T and Verizon offer new technology that has advantage over cable
a. Both companies have IPTV services
a. Unlimited number of channels
b. 2-way interactive services (Anonymous, US Cable-New Strategies for a Competitive World, Business Wire, April 10, 2008)
c. AT&T offers U-Verse in limited areas
i. Features includes 300+ channels, high-speed internet, phone services, DVR specialties, streaming live video from cell phone to tv, and games
ii. Criticism: U-Verse only targets affluent and avoid minority, low-income (Rick Barrett, AT&T U-Verse access debated: City’s low-income areas often lack cable alternative, McClatchy-Tribune Business News, December 11, 2007).
d. Verizon offers FiOS TV

3. Incentives
a. Verizon conducts Retention-Marketing
a. Provide incentives for their current customers for not switching to another cable company.
i. FCC refuse to intervene after cable companies pressured them to stop stating Verizon is violating law (John Eggerton, FCC Won’t Stop Verizon Communications’ Retention-Marketing Effort, Broadcasting and Cable, April 1, 2008 )
ii. Also offer incentives for new customers
1. Offered 19-inch HD TVs, camcorders and camcorders in December 2007
a. Cable companies only relied, promotional prices and good services (Toni Whitt, Cable war could be proving ground; Analysts watch Verizon’s use of incentives in effort to entice local consumers, Sarasota Herald Tribune, December 20, 2007)
b. Offering bundles (phone, cable, internet)

4. States are recognizing phone companies as video providers, and granting them licenses to compete with cable companies

B. FCC/Congress vs. Telephone Companies
1. One problem that telephone companies may endure is still being recognized by states as video service providers such as in November 2007 it was reported that AT&T spent $11.2 million lobbying for a franchise bill in TN.
a. Most money spent on public persuasion, and advertising between October 1, 2006 to September 2007.
b. Cable companies are claiming AT&T is trying to get an unfair advantage and cable will continue to fight (Andy Sher, AT&T, cable fight nears $11 million, McClatchy-Tribune Business News, November 20, 2008).

2. FCC bans phone deals for apartments
a. Unfair competitive advantage
b. Hurts consumers
a. Prevents residents from purchasing bundled services

Children, Obesity, and the Media

Questions

#7

I.                   Obesity

a.       What contributes to childhood obesity

                                                              i.      Media influence on eating habits

1.      Product Placement

2.      Commercials (Preoperational Stage- not being able to tell the difference between a commercial and the program; don’t understand the advertiser’s intent)

3.      Endorsements (e.g. Spongebob cereal)

                                                            ii.      Eating between meals, convenience meals

                                                          iii.      Sedentary lifestyle (being lazy)

                                                          iv.      Genetics

                                                            v.      Parenting methods

II.                Findings Based On Existing Legislation

a.       Bumpers- “After these messages…”

b.      Limits on commercial times- 10.5 min/hr (wknd) and 12 min/hr (wkdy)

c.       A character from a program cannot advertise their product (e.g. Spongebob cereal) during their program(i.e. in-program host selling).

d.      Cannot advertise websites if they encourage children to buy products.

III.             Solutions to Parents

a.       After educating yourself, educate children about healthy foods.

b.      Practice healthy eating habits as a family at a dining table, and buy healthy foods

c.       Set time limits on television viewing.

d.      Discourage eating while watching television.

e.       Encourage physical activities.

IV.             Assurances to Policymakers

a.       Keeping advertisers in mind, regulate “junk food” advertising on children’s television; regulations based on time of day- less in the afternoon when pre-school aged children are home.

b.      Balance out good/bad food advertisements. Have more outside activity advertisements.

c.       We can’t actually regulate the amount of television a person watches – that’s up to the parents to do

V.                Violence

a.       Definitions

                                                              i.      Cartoon- unrealistic- no consequences

                                                            ii.      Realistic- real consequences

b. Cartoon violence has less consequences so it’s more effective

VI.             Causes of Aggressive Behavior

a.       Media violence (all inclusive- video games, television, comics, etc.)

b.      Genetics

c.       Parental guidance/upbringing

d.      Education

e.       Socioeconomic status

f.       Religion

VII.          Regulations

a.       There are currently no regulations that focus specifically on violence.

b.      The V-Chip and the ratings systems (e.g. Y7, MA) collectively include violence in something they monitor; however, it is a bi-product of monitoring sex on television.

VIII.       Parental Solutions

a.       Educate children about violence and its effects

b.      Regulate viewing of violence w/o relying solely on the V-Chip and ratings system.

c.       Discourage violence in the home and elsewhere.

IX.             Assuring Policymakers

a.       V-Chip in all televisions (it was not implemented in televisions that were smaller than 13in)

b.      Internet television must be regulated

c.       Air PSA’s for non-violence by cartoon characters to increase effectiveness

d.      Television on other platforms should include ratings

e.       Have the FCC request the production companies of every television show submit a list of what types of violence is typical on their shows.

                                                              i.      The lists will go on a website that is regularly updated.

                                                            ii.      PSA’s and listings on “parental discretion advised” screens will promote the list and its website, informing parents of its existence

X.                Sound Bite for the next news cycle:

“With the joint efforts of our nation’s parents, advertisers, broadcasters, and cable companies, we will increase awareness of obesity and aggression caused by television through education and cooperative regulation.”

 

 

-Contributed by Brian, Kelly, Alex C., and Hakan-

looks like the marshmallow man had kids

looks like the marshmallow man had kids

Tell Me what you think

This is an experiment…

1. Review the theoretical underpinnings of persuasive messages in relation to specific audiences, taking into account at least three of the following constructs: agenda setting, diffusion of innovation, central and peripheral processing, cognitive dissonance, source credibility, reasoned action, two-step flow, selectivity, expectancy-value and fear appeals.  As a writer/producer, which basic model would you use in developing political advertising for your candidate targeted at the general public.  Justify your selection.

 

2. The media landscape has certainly changed in the last few years. A dramatic example of this is the way non-fiction films are distributed.  Ten years ago there were only a few places where independent producers might sell their documentaries. Today there are many more outlets.  What are these new opportunities? Describe at least three case studies of non-fiction films that have profited from these new avenues of distribution.

 

3. Programming is what attracts audiences to television but advertising is the primary means of revenue generation for most networks and stations.  In a situation when 1) specific broadcast programming is attacked for containing too much “skin and sin” by traditional family values groups, 2) advertisers are inundated with thousands of email, letters and telephone calls to stop buying commercial time by concerned family group followers and 3) some advertisers withdraw, is this a triumph for the television audience, a chilling effect on broadcast TV creativity, or a step towards censorship and bland programming?   Assume each of these perspectives and cite evidence from previous program histories to explicate how these electronic media issues evolved, were resolved and continue to coexist.

 

4. In November 2007, the Writers Guild of America went on strike after its members and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers failed to negotiate a deal.  What are (were) the issues at stake in this conflict?  Trace the history of this conflict between these two groups and the consequent effects on television viewing audiences and new programming development.  How will this strike inform the future of new media and old media, and how will it affect you as someone who will be working in the industry as a) a writer, and b) a studio or network executive?

 

5.  In the coming years Cable TV will face very real competition from the telephone companies for customers. Give the competitive advantages of each industry and the efforts both have made in Congress and at the FCC to deal with perceived inequities in the competitive landscape.

 

6. The utilization of new and different media platforms — web streaming, mobiphones and the like — to deliver television programming has given rise to “anytime, anywhere, media measurement.” This system purports to track in-home and out-of-home viewing, Internet and phone TV usage, as well as traditional television viewing.  In addition, commercial ratings or audience viewership levels during the commercial breaks are now available to advertisers.

A)    What improvements does this system of audience measurement represent over the traditional ratings system?  

B)    How would producers, programmers and advertisers benefit from the new audience measurements?

C)    What are some of the concerns critics have raised and how can these be addressed?

 

7.  “American TV is dangerous to our children’s health.”   Scientific studies have shown that children who spend the most time with television are also those who are more likely to be overweight.  Children who watch television violence are more likely to behave in harmful ways towards others and become less empathetic.  You are testifying on behalf of television writers and producers before a congressional subcommittee intent on refining policy to protect the health of our nation’s children.  How would you address these findings in the face of existing legislation and offer solutions to parents, assurances to policy makers as well as a sound bite for the next news cycle?

 


8.  Screenwriter William Goldman, a two-time Academy Award winner, has long preached that “screenplays are structure.” What is he talking about? 

A) If he’s referring to a particular story-telling model, describe that in detail.

B) If there are multiple models, what are the most influential ones and how do they differ?

C) And how has story structure evolved through the centuries?

Use examples from the 2008 Oscar nominees to illustrate your points.

 

9.  Think about this: Today you can watch movies on your video iPod.  You can also watch TV on your cell phone.  Through global marketing you can catch the release of the latest big studio film in Shanghai, China the same day as in Syracuse, New York (probably a few days earlier).  The social media network, Facebook on which you used to post pictures for your friends is now valued at $15 billion. 

 

During your year at Newhouse, the media environment will continue to change dramatically. These changes may come from some new technology or an economic or policy shift. For example, if you’re reading the papers and the trades, you know that ABC News and Facebook have teamed up to develop a new tool to facilitate political debate coverage and interactivity on the social networking site;  the major TV networks continue to offer streaming video of their programs, and advertisers are using “skins,” “overlays” or “bugs” to promote their products and services online.

 

If you’re bright, flexible and entrepreneurial, you’ll find ways to make your career in any number of these future transformations. Even better, you should be smart enough to anticipate and take advantage of such changes before they (or you) are history. This is your chance to begin the birth of a future transformation that will bear your name.

 

Write a proposal for your new concept. What is it? What makes it unique? How does it take advantage of existing or new technologies, economies and/or policies? Specify what research you will do to determine if there is an audience and market. What legal and regulatory issues will you have to be aware of? Who are the people or institutions you need to convince this is the greatest thing since the iPod? Who are the people or institutions you don’t want to know about your idea until it’s a reality and why? Describe how this concept will ripple through the media environment or how it might have an impact on only a specialized niche.

 

An important part of your answer will be a personal inventory assessment: what talents, skills, knowledge, etc. that you possess make it possible for you to actuate this concept? Be realistic; if you’re not Steve Wozniak, recognize that and plan to hire him as a consultant. But if your idea is “television for housebound cats”, be-up front about your special understanding of the feline spirit.

 

10. In the book “The World is Flat” by Thomas Friedman, referring to a program called “Higglytown Heroes” being produced for the Disney Channel by Wild Brain, an animation studio in San Francisco, Wild Brain CEO Scott Hyten remarked about how the all-American show was being produced by an all-world supply chain —  The recording session is located near the artist, usually in New York or L.A., the design and direction is done in San Francisco, the writers network in from their homes (Florida, London, New York, Chicago, L.A., and San Francisco), and the animation of the characters is done in Bangalore 

(India).  These interactive recording/writing/animation sessions allow us to record an artist for an entire show in less than half a day, including unlimited takes and rewrites.

            Given the increasing trend in production toward on-line collaboration using work flow software, discuss the impact of such a trend on established television production methods and financing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The answers will come after a time.

-Alex

70’s show analysis

That Seventies show                           

 

The episode of That Seventies Show “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” is a good work of art as a whole because it has substance and deeper meaning but lacks the humor that would normally be associated with the characters.  Even when evaluating this one episode, there must be some context particularly because the episode is uncharacteristic of the series.  The production does succeed in showing deeper ultimate values within a comedic framework. 

The show begins in a basketball court where six friends gather to play horse talk about girl problems.  One scene later we have the main conflicts of the episode looming.  An ill tempered grandmother is going to spend the day with the family after church while the grandson agrees to spend time with the old lady so as to deflect the unpleasantness aimed at his mother. 

The scenes move upstairs to downstairs, from the family adult world to the basement where the kids hang out and goof off.  The camera angles are standard sitcom for the most part, a range of medium shots centering on the person speaking or being spoken to.  There are times where the characters are sitting in a circle and the camera rotates around from the point of view of the food.  This is a visually stimulating way to get a quick jump from person to person without cuts.  The best material value comes from the dialogue and the acting who are at the same time very normal and very funny.

One of the most creative techniques for telling the story is when we hear the inner monologue of the characters.  Moving from one person to the next while they are sitting in church and hearing their prayers tells us a lot more than any conversation could.  The mother wishes the grandmother would go away, the grandmother asks god “whats with all the polacks”, the son asks god to do his homework and the father’s prayer to god is “would it kill you to let the packers have a winning season”.  To maintain the feel of the seventies or at least remind the viewer that it is not a contemporary show, the transitions from scene to scene are a background of hippie graphics, old music and the characters jumping around on screen.

At the end of the episode, the son is doing his term paper at one in the morning because grandma occupied him the whole day and his mother comes down to sneak a cigarette. We see the moral of the episode in this short conversation where the tension created by the family visit is finally over; the mother and son are content to be with each other and appreciate the unpleasant sacrifices each of them has made.

 

 

Medium shots

Close shots from middle of the table

Leave one by one while the camera rotates

A poem inspired by the Wire

A Witness

 

A witness

Is an idiot

For helping the cop

Not very bright

 

Darwin’s nightmare

Adapt or die

Keep quiet or die

Law conflicts with evolution

 

Can’t see the forest but for the trees

We are the forest

Structure is a tree

Nature still applies

I can’t believe the professor encouraged me to write on this topic

Powder Road: a primer in drug trafficking

                       

“Always there is more”—The Greek

 

Drugs are a commodity, like many others, in that they are produced, distributed, and sold—by individuals or corporations—to make a profit. Like many other products, the people at the beginning and the end of the distribution chain are the people making the least amount of money, and yet have the largest amount of risk. The Afghani opium farmer, for instance, does not make very much money, but grows opium anyway—either because it is still the most profitable crop for him personally, or a local warlord has a gun to his head.  On the opposite end, the street-level dealer who sells heroin to his consumers also makes very little money, and generally ends up dead or in jail.

            It’s intriguing to see how much the grower and the dealer have in common, which prompts the question “where does all the money go?”  In the international drug trade, it’s the middleman who gets rich and has the least risk. The scope of this study will be limited to the traffic of morphine and cocoa-based products, such as heroin and cocaine, since, currently, most of the other vast spectrum of types of drugs—for example, marijuana and methamphetamines—are produced locally or, at least, within the borders of the United States.  Cocaine and heroin, however, originate in South America and the Middle East, and make a long and elaborate journey on their way to the street corner. The risks and demand for these drugs allow for an extraordinary mark-up at all stages of the distribution chain.

It’s important to understand how this sort of business works, so as not to mistakenly place the blame for drug abuse and related crimes on the street dealers or their third-world counterparts.

The farmer is most often a victim of his circumstances because he does not have the geographic mobility to do anything else. In the areas where poppies and cocoa are grown, the militias are the law, and the drug cartels pay the militias. Generally, this means that growing something other than what the cartels want is not a smart thing to do. It can also be considered a lethal move because a farmer growing anything else may not provide enough crop (read: money) for his survival. This is the only major advantage the farmer has over the street dealer—he’s not nearly as likely to be killed by a rival, or jailed, because he is insulated and protected by the militias, as well as the police, who incidentally are also being paid by the drug cartels (McCoy p.31).

The farmer starts the process by planting Coca or Poppies in areas of the world where the official laws of the country are not enforced. Columbia and Afghanistan are the two largest suppliers of cocaine and heroin with about three quarters of the world’s cocaine production coming from Columbia (NDIC) and 87% of the world’s heroin coming from Afghanistan (Nazemroaya).  Despite state- and internationally- sponsored programs aimed at eradicating supply, the supply has not been significantly affected. We can see a clear parallel between the street-level enforcement and the supply reduction methods used internationally. Local narcotics teams may shake down a corner and take a small amount of drugs off the street as UN planes spray a poppy field with poison. Despite these hands-on approaches, neither method works to significantly decrease the consumption, or supply, of drugs.

           

            After the harvest, the unrefined product is transported to a suitable refining area by smugglers. Drug-smuggling operations are becoming more vertically integrated and, as a result, the distribution chain has become harder for law enforcement to infiltrate, and thus the quality of product has increased (CS). The refinement process generally occurs in semi-industrialized regions, due to the large amount of chemicals and laboratory instruments that are necessary. These areas tend to be in Eastern Europe and Mexico, as both have fairly easily-bribed public officials and are also close to the consumer markets. Smuggling the product across the border is the most dangerous aspect, with respect to evading authorities. If done successfully, however, it can also be the most financially rewarding (CS). The methods used in smuggling are numerous and often very intricate, but the most common and effective method is shipping as legitimate cargo, using a front company.

            Once the cocaine and heroin are inside the United States, they are generally wholesaled to independent interstate smugglers who often have gang connections to the retailers in a given market. It is important to understand that the structure of a drug-trafficking organization is not like the traditional mafia, with a pyramid hierarchy—until the product reaches the street, the distributors operate in independent cells that are ignorant of the higher-ups (CS). This limits the potential for police investigations because no one has the ability to make a deal with anyone regarding information they simply do not have.

These illegal drugs are usually purchased by the head of a localized gang that in turn distributes to the consumer. These gangs can be independent, low-level organizations, but more often than not are affiliated with a national gang, such as the Bloods, the Crips, MS-13, or the Aryan Nation. This happens oftentimes simply because the members of the gang are close-knit or related to each other (Jacobs p.31).

            Once the product is at this level, the pure product is generally diluted to a less-potent form, in order to increase profit, and then is distributed to the street corner dealer. These “cutting” agents can be any number of benign or harmful substances, and are often used liberally because the demand is completely inelastic. The dealer is then responsible for the day-to-day retail drug business.

            The organization of the street operation is important to understand because it is effective in theory, and gives the operators a sense of progress. A young kid may start off as a lookout, be promoted to handling drugs, and eventually might get to run his own operation if his superior sees him as competent. The extensive use of minors contributes to the effectiveness of this type of operation, mainly because they can not be punished like an adult and, as such, are less likely to cave to police pressure (Bourgois p.194). Other ways the street organizations effectively protect their players are with quick, helpful handouts, such as bail money and lawyers fees. There is also the concern for physical safety, its subsequent protection, and its use as a threat, that comes along with being part of a gang.

 

People sell drugs for many reasons, but in low-income ethnic neighborhoods, there are several factors that weigh in heavily. The first is simply the desire to make quick, easy money. On the surface it seems that street dealers are making significant amounts of cash, and are more than happy to spend it. This is not the reality, however—most of that easy cash goes to superiors, leaving a very small percentage to the street dealers.  In addition, the conspicuous-consumption dealers engage in to maintain street respect often leaves the dealers living from hand to mouth their entire careers(?) (Bourgois p.91). A lack of legitimate employment opportunity is yet another factor that is particularly hindering for people trying to get out of the drug business, because most employers are loathe to hire someone with a police record. Ultimately, it seems like a bad option for anyone to take, but it is one of the only options available (Jacobs p.41).

            The drug business is run like any other business, with the caveat that there is a huge amount of money and resources dedicated to totally eradicating drugs and drug addicts. The war on drugs, therefore, is not a “war” by any definition of the word, because only one “side” is trying to destroy the other “side”.  Drug dealers do not usually try to fight the police, nor are they mounting a general attack on the citizens of this country. On the other end of the distribution network, the farmers are not actively trying to hurt anybody either. On the most basic level they are trying to feed themselves by growing the only crop anyone wants to buy. This is by no means a defense of drug dealers, but in looking at the drug trade as a whole, it seems clear that we are punishing the poorest and most helpless persons involved. We are also losing the “war”.

           

           

           

 

References

 

Adler, Patricia A. (1985). Wheeling and Dealing; An Ethnography of an Upper Level Dealing and Smuggling Community. New York, NY: Columbia University Press

 

Bourgois, Philippe. (2003). In Search of Respect; Selling Crack in El Barrio. San Francisco, CA: Cambridge University Press

 

CS = Confidential Source

 

Jacobs, Bruce A. (1999). Dealing Crack; The social world of streetcorner selling. Boston, MA: Northeastern University Press

 

McCoy, Alfred. (2004). The Stimulus of Prohibition: A Critical History of the Global Narcotics Trade. In Steinburg, Michael K., Hobbs, Joseph J., Mathewson, Kent. Dangerous Harvest: Drug Plants and the transformation of the Indigenous Landscape. New York, NY: Oxford University Press

 

Nazemroaya, Mahdi Darius (October 17 2006). The War in Afghanistan: Drugs, Money Laundering and the Banking System. GlobalResearch.ca.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=NAZ20061017&articleId=3516

 

NDIC (2006). “National Drug Threat Assessment 2006

http://www.usdoj.gov/ndic/pubs11/18862/index.htm

 

 

12 oz. mouse

Alex Churchill3/22/06                                                12 oz. mouse            12 oz. mouse is a cartoon series that airs on Cartoon Network at 1 am on Sunday nights.  It is in its first season with about 7 episodes so far and each episode is 15-20 minutes long usually without commercial interruption.  The animation is of the lowest quality on television.  Most people who see it would believe they could draw better than these animators. The stills are little more than stick figures.  This is a conscious decision by the creators because they occasionally throw in some impressive special effect or a detailed character that looks nothing like the rest of the show.  The show is somewhat serial because the ending of the each show flows right into the beginning of the next like it was created as one long movie and cut up in fifteen minutes segments.  They also introduce one or more new characters every episode. Despite this, each show could effectively stand alone without any introductory explanations because the viewer is occupied with trying to figure out the plot and dialogue.            Each show begins with a fast moving camera barreling through a cardboard city. This tiny city is also overtly cheap, obviously open top cardboard boxes with square holes cut out to look like widows.  The camera movement is accompanied by a heavy metal guitar riff and explicit lyrics, “car full of bitches and a brand new bong!” About halfway through the opening segment the buildings begin to explode in giant bursts of flame and flying debris. There are close ups of bars and strip clubs exploding and the camera passes right through the flames and eventually the whole cardboard city is up in flames.  This opening definitely sets the tone for the rest of the show, which centers on a drunken mouse who likes to drive his jet car through the streets.  The opening also gives the viewer some idea of the production values of the rest of the show.            There are certain themes that run through the series, none of them having any moral or social value whatsoever. For instance, Mouse drinks a lot all the time and likes to shoot other characters quite often.  The producers bring in extremely annoying characters just so Mouse can shoot them.  This pokes fun at traditional cartoon violence because there is never any blood and when someone gets shot they simply bounce around like pool balls. Every episode he goes to the bar and orders twelve beers at once from a floating head that is clearly a cutout of an e-mail or memo of some kind.  The theme of drinking and driving is prominent but somewhat convoluted. For example mouse is driving his jet car, asks for a few beers and his passenger in the back seat says “but you’re driving.”  Immediately mouse is in the back seat, “I’m not driving I’m sitting back here with you.”  The jet car crashes into a bank and mouse proceeds to rob it.            There isn’t really an identifiable plot even for one episode; the stories are structured around the other characters in relation to Mouse.  There are scenes that do connect with each other but often the episodes try to be as a random and inconsistent as possible.  This all part of the humor of the show, which relies mostly on ridiculous dialogue and characters as well as extremely ludicrous situations.  There are relationships that are consistent throughout all the episodes such as “shark” hiring Mouse to do things while Mouse runs off and exploits the situation. Mouse also has a friend named Skillet, and well drawn squirrel who squeaks and vibrates rapidly as well as moving with jets of flame from his paws.            The pacing of the show is very fast, switching from scene to scene often without any transition or connection to the scene before it.  This makes any continuity very rare but the goal of the show is clearly not to present a structured narrative with arching themes and value judgments.  The creators want the viewer to be amused and seem to concentrate solely on that goal, consciously rejecting the normal way to create a structure television series.            The characters are the most diverse group of strange drawings and personalities. There is the blue peanut shaped policeman who is consistently very stoned and unloads his shotgun not infrequently.  There is a pink rectangular box wearing sunglasses, a spy from Seattle, “that’s how you will know him, by his rectangularness”.  There are also countless other strange characters that defy description.  While the characters are hilarious, it is not easy to identify with any of them because they don’t resemble anything in reality and don’t even speak like normal human beings.            The dialogue and the random chaotic nature of the show give it its success as a comedic series.  For example there is a giant eye who pronounces the letter I in hard case.  This is just strange at first but as you listen more and more its starts to grow on you and eventually its so funny you start laughing before the eye even speaks.  Despite the crude drawings, there are many scenes that are ridiculous without any dialogue. In this particular episode Mouse and Skillet have a shoot out with an unseen foe while the peanut policeman laughs hysterically.  The only audio is gunshots, explosion, and giggles. This audio combined with the various weapons and movements of mouse and squirrel makes for a gut-busting scene.            Because of its unique and innovative style it is hard to tell if the series will be a commercial success.  The production values may turn some people off because low production values are usually a sign of poor creativity and value.  Something that could be improved is the general story line because it is very easy to get confused about what is going on.  Sometimes this creates a comedic effect but sometimes it can be too nonsensical and annoying.  It may become a success as a late night cartoon but if the producers want a time slot or channel with more exposure, they may have to change or eliminate some of the politically incorrect content.                       

Episode of “Entourage”

                                                                                               

Entourage

 

 This is a show that follows a rising movie star and his entourage, consisting of his older brother Johnny, his manager Eric and his friend Turtle as they run around the Hollywood scene.  Each episode always includes several Hollywood cameos and the show was created and produced by Mark Walburg.

The opening sequence is a sped up caddy going down Hollywood boulevard with many quick cuts to the sidewalks where we see fans screaming and the names of the actors on billboards.  Immediately after the opening we cut to an interior establishing shot of the entourage eating breakfast.  There are three basic shots in this scene, the long shot of everybody, two close-ups of the actor Vince and his manger as they have a dialogue, as well as tangential pans that give us the comments of the peanut gallery. As the conversation becomes more general and all four are involved, we see more of the steady medium shot with some quick reaction cuts. The entourage decides to go to Vegas following a bad press conference.

The new scene starts with the agent talking on his cell phone on the sidewalk and looking very stressed as the agent seems to be perpetually in that character.  We cut to Vince and his driver smoking a joint and telling the agent to come to Vegas with them.  We cut back to the agent as he is protesting and the escalade carrying Vince pulls up to the curb.  The agent is convinced to join the group, he jumps in the car, the music fades up and we cut to a montage of them driving down Las Vegas Boulevard in a very excited state.  The montage has a good shot of every major casino as well as the characters standing out of the sunroof and even being stuck in traffic.

They pull into the Hard Rock and we have a close up of the agent arguing with his wife as he is getting out of the car which pulls out to a long shot of the entourage getting out of the car. The audio is still mostly with the agent but the dominating image on the screen is with the fans that have approached the car to get autographs.  The camera then returns to a medium dolly shot face on with the characters as they enter and walk through the casino. At this point Comcast decides to go out of service for several hours.  As they get into the gambling area of the casino they encounter Seth Green and his entourage. At first there is a wide shot of the two groups facing each other exchanging pleasantries.  When it becomes clear through the dialogue that Eric and Seth have some animosity towards each other there are close-ups of them and it creates the impression that the conversation is revolving around them when in fact many people are talking.

The camera then resumes the dolly leading the characters all the way up to the room where the camera stops, lets the group pass and follows them into the room. Inside the suite the characters spilt up into different rooms or different parts of the same room.  We rotate close ups and medium shots of the suite as they continue the conversation. Eric, Ari(the agent) and Johnny all leave at the same time for various destinations and we follow Vince and Turtle as they go out on the casino floor with 100k. This is a very interesting shot because while we can clearly see the movements of the two centered characters, there are hundreds of people between the camera and the characters. The characters make a turn and come toward the camera as it slowly zooms out to reveal a blackjack table that Vince and Turtle sit down at.  After he throws down 100k in cash, we cut to an establishing shot of a strip club.  After we see Eric and Ari sit down to watch the strippers there is another cut to an establishing shot in a massage parlor where Johnny meets his masseuse who he treats with a little too much affection for a man.

The episode now begins to rotate between the blackjack table, the strip club and the massage parlor and the three different sub-plots.  At the strip club there are two main shots, a wide shot of the two guys from behind with the stage taking up most of the screen and a side close-up of the two of them pretending they want to leave.  At the blackjack table there is a medium shot of Vince and Turtle at the table with the dealers’ hands jumping into the shot to deal the cards. There are also several attractive girls standing behind them along with a good view of the casino floor.  In the massage parlor there is a close up of Johnny’s face as he enjoys his massage and there is a medium shot of the masseuse as he reacts to Johnny’s uncomfortable statements.

Ari and Eric join the blackjack table and the four take another walk through the casino with the familiar dolly lead shot.  They encounter Seth Green again and this time the animosity is clearer and the only conversation is between Seth and Eric.  Apparently Seth slept with Eric’s girlfriend and is pushing his buttons about it.  We cut to an establishing shot of the four sitting at a pool that looks to be stocked with playboy models.  The scene rotates close-ups of the characters two at a time as they discuss Seth Green.  Eric gets up to call his girl and is replaced by five strippers and the camera does a smooth 180 pan at about waist level so that the audience is clear about their professions.  We now cut back to the massage parlor where the two men are in different positions but the shots are the same one close up and one medium shot alternating with the speaker.  There is also a cut to Eric’s girlfriend talking to him in the car on a cell phone and back to Eric.

Returning quickly to Turtle, who has about twenty strippers surrounding him now, the camera does another 180 pan just to make sure the audience fully appreciates the fact that these are very attractive strippers.  After this we are back at the card table where Vince and Ari are losing lots of money.  Vince and Ari are partners in gambling and the close-ups of both their face make a funny contrast because Vince doesn’t care about losing in the slightest and Ari as usual is freaking out.  Ari stays at the table as we return to the hotel room where everyone else has returned and are getting ready for the night.  After this quick moment in the room we cut to an establishing shot of a crowded party as the entourage enters.  The characters follow the camera in a circle around the room in the middle of which we see Seth Green enter the party.  After a little while the group passes the door they came in and we notice that the party has gotten a lot bigger and more rowdy.  Interspersed in the medium shots of the group are close-ups of random girls dancing and people doing shots.

We go back to the card table where Ari has lost 200k and Vince shows up trailing a crowd and an exciting game of blackjack follows.  We cut between a wide shot of the whole table complete with a large crowd in the background and a close-up of Ari who is screaming and pulling out his hair.  They win the hand and we cut to a long shot of everyone flipping out.

Johnny and his masseuse have gone back to his hotel room where the masseuse undresses, assuming Johnny is gay from the way he has been acting all day. We see Johnny in the bathroom getting ready for a massage with a wide neutral shot. We also see the masseuse acting very conflicted as he takes off his clothes and Johnny rushes out of the suite as the music fades up.

A low medium shot of Johnny walking quickly down the hall cuts a few times to close-ups of strippers at the party. The last of these close-ups pans away from the stripper and we have another confrontation with Seth Green. This time the exchange is much more heated, everyone is drinking and the party is very loud and very crowded.  At the climax of this exchange, Johnny jumps into the medium shot of Seth and Eric and punches out Seth.  A huge brawl starts, we get a close up of Ari talking to Vince, “This should be good for your image” and then we zoom out to a long shot of the whole party; strippers on the stage and people fighting in the crowd.