Mass Media Study Questions
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
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
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
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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