Televiewers rail against sponsored features passed off as public serviceBy Nestor U. Torre | Philippine Daily Inquirer
Local televiewers must be wising up, because more of them are railing against “sponsored features” on TV shows that try to pass themselves off as public service tips and recommendations, but are actually expanded commercials for products and services.
Time was when clueless viewers couldn’t tell the difference, but they sure can now, as proven by the number of complaints they have raised against those hypocritical and self-serving featurettes.
It’s instructive to note that the exploitative features are being perpetrated not just by obscure TV people out to make a fast buck, but even by some “award-winning” and thus, ostensibly “exceptional” and “responsible” producer-hosts.
Here’s how the sponsored features attempt to have their cake and eat it, too: A public service topic or problem is raised—for instance, the lack of certifiably clean drinking water in the metropolis.
Initially, the discussion focuses on the health hazards that this problem threatens consumers with, unless it’s addressed and solved, thus, instilling concern and fear in viewers. What can be done about it?
Ah, this is when the long feature shifts focus and presents a water-purifying process or product, extolling its many virtues to high heavens!
At times, the camera takes quick shots of the product’s brand name, to make sure that viewers associate the stated problem with this particular “solution.”
Another show recently did a long, laudatory feature on a very successful self-made businesswoman, lavishly praising her for acumen and beauty—which were not clearly evident. It visited her opulent mansion, building her up not just as a wealthy achiever but also as a woman of exquisite taste—which, again, was not an incontrovertible evidence!
Just in case
Then, the feature focused on the lovely lady’s business and the services it offered, in case viewers were interested in availing of them.
Thus, the feature’s sponsor (who must have paid for it in cash or in kind), got a real bargain: Not only did her cachet rise in terms of her alleged beauty, taste, wealth and business acumen, but she also got more customers for her enterprises!
Viewers should be able to see such features for what they are, and realize that they’re being manipulated and their time is being wasted, all in the fictive name of public service and “inspirational” television. We should realize that these are extended commercials, period, throughout our televiewing day or night.
The fact that some of them are now complaining indicates that the game is up, and more viewers now refuse to be used and abused in the name of “public service.”
The wonder, of course, is that the TV channels involved don’t police their ranks and put an end to the obviously exploitative practice that benefits only the payer and the payee.
TV regulatory bodies should also be rapped for failing to do their duty to protect and defend televiewers’ rights and welfare. Even more viewers should complain, to remind them of their obligation to the hapless viewing public!
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