As I am known to do, I like quoting from time to time the amount of money television networks pull in from advertisers on an annual, or per season basis. I do this because there are times that when you read about how schools are running out of money or people going hungry or homeless, or diseases like cancer (or what ever cruel facet of life has impacted you) keep running rampant, I really have to stop and shake my head.
I shake my head because of the multiple billions that advertisers spend to have their products put out on the television screen.
During last year’s (2014) upfronts* “broadcast and cable netwroks brought in $18.125 billion,” with cable networks accounting for $9.62 billion of that tally. Crazy, huh? And to think that the cable advertising “bill” for adverts was down six percent from the year before (2013), when they pulled in $10.22 billion.
(*An “upfront” is when networks sell ad time before the television season begins, where they sell the majority of their television ad times at a discount. Yes, I said discount.)
All while these ads are served to viewers in the usual overly loud volume. Sure, the CALM Act was enacted to tone down the perceived volume of network TV ads, but The CALM act was “passed” to help control the perceived volume of television ads. I say perceived because technically, they’re not that loud, but any television viewer’s perception (and ears) always say otherwise.
Now technically, no TV ad can by louder than the average volume of the programming it is accompanying. Which explains why every thing we watch seems to have loud booming moments in them!
But there is a trick to the CALM Act. Rather than the FCC stepping up and enforcing it, they have put it on the TV viewer to report loud ads. (The FCC seems to have a finger in the honey pot of the billions.)
And yet television programming and the entertainment and economic value of such is undeniable. It is the programming dollar that dictates what shows stick around what shows go. Sadly, without trying to call any demographic out, it is the simplest programming, riddled with annoying laugh tracks and reality based dramas that pull in the biggest viewer numbers.
Yes, I just called out laugh tracks… or what is referred to as Laff Boxx or Canned Laughter in the industry.
But I have this weakness and it is called being told what to do, so I have a tough time being told when to laugh by this crap when it goes off every seven seconds in a comedy. Yes, I timed it in a few shows and they crack out that Laff Boxx every seven seconds or so. (I did not think our attention span was THAT SHORT!)
But the laugh track is a very old tool designed to make people think they’re enoying something. They were first used over 500 years ago in Shaekspearean plays to motivate people to feel entertained. On television they were first deployed in 1950. We’ve been doomed ever since!
Yes, it has been proven that laughter can be infectious.
Personally, I already know when I like something and do not need to be told or insulted by the premise. And no, there is not one single series with a laugh track on my DVR or watching schedule.
As it stands, television (entertainment as a whole) is a very well tuned industry of psychology and science, aimed at tricking or taking advantage of certain aspects of the public mindset. We love our down time and we love train wrecks that happen on TV. And it always amazes me how TV ads today actually work, but they do. If they did not, we would all be living under the PBS subscription process or the UK’s federally funded entertainment venues.
But I digress, and lament how many billions are spent on TV ads (and political campaigns) while other facets of our society fall by the wayside. But what are you gonna do about it?