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Mass Media Study Questions

Exam 3

Thursday, April 29

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Study Material from Final Projects

Commercials and Sports Broadcasting

1. Despite conventional wisdom, sports broadcasting is NOT driven by alcohol advertising. Beer and wine advertising only comprise two to four per cent of college sports advertising. In professional sports, the figure is only eight per cent.
2. The percentages run counter to the arguments of network executives, who have long lobbied against a ban on alcohol advertising---similar to that imposed on broadcasting in 1971, which eliminated cigarette advertising. The networks have long argued a loss of beer advertising would force big-ticket college and pro sports onto pay-per-view. The analysis indicates networks would be hurt far less if they lost alcohol commercials.
3. Sports advertising is generally tailored to the 30-49 age bracket. Automakers are the leading advertisers in network sports. The prime reason: more upper middle class and upscale decisionmakers watch network sports.
4. Network promotion is the second heaviest form of advertising on sports programming. The prime reason is networks have an easier time attracting females over males to prime time entertainment programming. By promoting their weeknight lineups during sports broadcasting, programmers hope to attract more males to view their nightly sitcoms and dramas.

The Language of Sports Television

1. The language of sports television is tilted more toward entertainment, rather than informational deliveries during sports news broadcasts. While some analysts, including the survey group from Mass Media, see some of the language as unnecessary, the jokes and cliches have tapped into a younger audience which is less discerning in its own conversational styles.
2. The prime reason for an entertainment-style presentation in cable sportscasts is competition. When ESPN originated twenty years ago, the network had the field to itself as a twenty-four hour cable sports news source. Today, ESPN faces the challenge from a regional series of Fox Sports networks and from Time Warner-Turner's CNN/SI, which uses the resources of Cable News Network and Sports Illustrated. Each network seeks to distinguish its own niche in the market.

Movies: Then and Now

1. While films only use subtle commercial advertising, such as in blatant impositions and product placements, as previously discussed in class, each movie is after a target audience. The prime moviegoing audience is between the ages of fourteen and thirty. Typically, that age bracket is less discerning in its choices of film entertainment.
2. The prime difference in original versions of films from their remake successors is the originals tap more into a family-oriented audience and the remakes typically bear little resemblance to the original. In some instances, producers merely license the title of a film to attract an audience. The survey group's examples of Dr. Dolittle and Romeo and Juliet provide the most significant recent examples of remake differentials.
3. The Dr. Dolittle title in the 1990s version was merely used to exploit the talents of Eddie Murphy. Profanity, sexual innuendo, and bodily-function humor far distanced from the original prevailed. In Romeo and Juliet, the updated version was focused in Los Angeles and placed a premium on violence to illustrate the warring factions of two families. Ironically, the early 1970s version, featuring Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey, created controversy over its brief nudity in a scene between the two lovers. Across the nation, high school teachers, who required students to attend the film as part of Shakespearean emphases, protested to theater owners in large numbers.

Animation in the 1990s

1. Animation has become a major force in network television entertainment in the 1990s. The success of The Simpsons opened programmers' eyes to what viewers would be willing to accept in a form of prime time comedy which had not been offered regularly on major networks at night since the 1960s.
2. Trey Parker and Matt Stone are considered the prime pioneers in what has been labeled by some critics as trashtoons, animated programming which appeals to a younger populous which is embracing what older viewers term vulgarity. Parker's and Stone's South Park randomly features eight-year-olds uttering profanities, engaging in sexual conversation, disrespecting authority, and committing violent acts. Some of the episodes have been among the highest-ranking programs on cable television during the weeks the broadcasts air.
3. Parker and Stone have repeatedly suggested their program has "no purpose," other than to entertain. The characters engage in an average of fifteen violent acts per program, more than twenty sexual references per show, and an average of fifty-four profanities per week.
4. Michael Medved, whose book Hollywood vs. America challenged the moral intentions of the creative establishment in films and television, suggests, "You cannot protect your children from the influence of television by throwing the TV set in the closet." Medved has used South Park as an example of a program which will affect children through peer interaction with those who view the series without parental restrictions.

The Impact of Must See TV

1. NBC's Must See TV situation comedies are a continuation of the longest-running single-night ratings success in the history of network television. However, the programming has evolved from anchor comedies with family virtues, such as The Cosby Show and Family Ties in the 1980s to so-called adult-oriented humor of Cheers and, later, Seinfeld and the Cheers spinoff, Frasier in the 1990s.
2. No less an authority than television critic Tom Shales of The Washington Post has termed NBC's Thursday night lineup "a leader in the era of the sexcom."
3. Audience acceptance of shows, such as Friends, which has been termed the biggest purveyor of casual sex as fun and games in entertainment, and Veronica's Closet, which contains repeatedly overt sexual references, have led to a re-examination of Dr. Ted Baehr's Theory of Desensitization. Dr. Baehr has said sexual and violent content in television and movies have increased because younger audiences have viewed so many such acts, they become more tolerant of such entertainment.
4. The new president of NBC Entertainment, Scott Sassa, a former chairman of Turner Broadcasting, said in January, "The NBC of the future should move toward less emphasis on sex in its programming. I'm not saying an elimination of discussion of sexual matters altogether. I'm saying the pendulum has tipped too far in the direction of sex as the prime focus of our programs, particularly in situation comedies." One of Sassa's first moves was to incorporate the family drama Providence onto NBC's Friday night lineup. Providence immediately became the highest-rated new dramatic series of the 1998-99 season, giving hope to observers who believe viewers will embrace well-written and acted family-oriented programming.
5. The incorporation of sexcoms, as well as other successful programming trends of the past, is typically dictated by focus group research. Pilot programs are screened for test audiences to gauge emotional reactions to storylines, characters, and casts. In the 1990s, NBC found sexually-oriented comedies scored high with younger test audiences.

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