Our recent notes on Balanced Programming on TV may have perplexed some people, for the simple reason that it’s been absent from local screens for so long that they have forgotten all about it! Teleseryes have dominated the screen so much that other program types are underrepresented, and viewers have stopped missing them.
So, why is this a problem? The across-the-board success of teleseryes indicates that viewers approve of the same-same diet, so shouldn’t the ratings call the shots?
Uh, not quite. The TV networks get permission from the state to use the airwaves, which belong to the public, only after promising to field a balanced slate of shows that are intended to develop all of the different aspects of a viewer’s psyche.
Specifically, TV outfits pledge to allot at least 15 percent of their available airtime to the production and telecast of good shows for children. Even a cursory look at current programming shows that most children’s shows are foreign productions of the strident and sometimes even violent, cartoony sort—and, as for local shows for kids, where in the world are they?
Clearly, in this and other instances, TV networks are generally not living up to the conditions stipulated in their franchise and contract to operate from the state—so, why isn’t the state complaining? Because government regulatory bodies are weak and don’t protect the welfare of the viewing public, as they should.
As for the viewing public itself, many of its members don’t care all that much about their rights, so who will speak up for them? We don’t even have a network of viewers’ advocacy groups, as many other countries do—all we have are more than 10 entities that hand out awards for TV—even if much of what we see on local screens is predictable and irresponsible, and thus, not at all “awardable!”
What can be done about this sad situation? More viewers, especially parents and educators (stop handing out awards!) should care about the welfare of viewers enough to demand that the program spectrum we get is balanced, as promised. More viewer advocacy groups that watch TV regularly and use the media to react to it should be set up in different communities and schools.
It would also be great if a high government official (think senator or higher) would make it his or her key mission to raise the level of TV shows on the local scene.
In the States, the wife of former VP Al Gore headed a national viewers’ advocacy group that was especially strong on insisting on good programs for children, and this made US TV people live up to their obligations. Would that such a champion of viewers’ right to balanced programming similarly make his or her action-oriented presence felt on the local scene?