Study: Broadcast TV still shows excessive gun violence

Published: Monday, May 13 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

It starts with parents — they’re the first and last line of defense, and they have to be more involved in the media consumption of their children. But it doesn’t end there: You also have to talk about the broadcasters and what time of day they’re putting out there the type of material they’re (airing). You have to hold some level of accountability on those who create and produce programs, and you also have to have some level of responsibility for those who underwrite with their media dollars the advertisers.

D.N.: You mentioned advertisers; do you believe that advertisers have the ability and willingness to influence what types of content networks show on broadcast TV?

T.W.: I saw a statistic recently: In 2012, advertisers spent $76 billion just on television. And the sole purpose of each dollar was to influence the behavior of the viewer — that’s the only reason that advertisers spend a dollar, let alone $76 billion. And to say that the ability to influence the behavior of the viewer ends when the commercial’s over and the program begins is ludicrous. So the advertisers do share in the responsibility, and they don’t like it. They hate it, and they tell us they hate it when we talk to them.

(Advertisers) say, “We don’t want to be the arbiters of the content. We don’t want to be censors. We don’t want to tell people what to watch. All we want to do is find an audience.” And we say, “OK, that’s fine. But if Pepsi Cola were to buy a television show that made fun of Pepsi Cola, they’d stop sponsoring it. So you can’t say the content doesn’t matter.” The question is: Where is (the content’s) level of importance, as it relates to impact on our nation, on children, on families, on our society?

So by holding (advertisers) at least partially accountable — and holding the writers and producers at least partially accountable, and holding the networks partially accountable for when and where they air the stuff, and holding parents ultimately accountable — I think we have given our citizenry the ability to say, “We all have a piece in this together. And if everybody is going to hold everybody accountable, as opposed to finger-pointing, then we have an opportunity to have positive change here.”

Jamshid Ghazi Askar is a graduate of BYU's J. Reuben Clark Law School and member of the Utah State Bar. Contact him at jaskar@desnews.com or 801-236-6051.

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