Monday, February 11, 2013

Cue the FCC?

While not a shock or surprise, I believe things have changed drastically since FCC chairman Newton Minow addressed the public and the television industry in 1961 with his speech titled, "Television and the Public Interest." The sheer scope of what the FCC regulated then and what they regulate today has changed and grew over the years to become a more complete or full-circle government agency. Take a look:

"The Federal Communications Commission regulates interstate and international communications by radio, television, wire, satellite and cable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. It was established by the Communications Act of 1934 and operates as an independent U.S. government agency overseen by Congress. The commission is committed to being a responsive, efficient and effective agency capable of facing the technological and economic opportunities of the new millennium. In its work, the agency seeks to capitalize on its competencies in:
  • Promoting competition, innovation, and investment in broadband services and facilities;
  • Supporting the nation’s economy by ensuring an appropriate competitive framework for the unfolding of the communications revolution;
  • Encouraging the highest and best use of spectrum domestically and internationally;
  • Revising media regulations so that new technologies flourish alongside diversity and localism;
  • Providing leadership in strengthening the defense of the nation’s communications infrastructure."      

Minow’s chief concerns of the times included the content of programming offered on television, specifically to children (who were estimated by him to consume just as much television time as they did school and church), that Broadcasters not be slaves to ratings but masters of the ratings themselves (catering broadcasts and programming that fulfill needs of the country’s population and not merely whims), and of course, to grow the television industry as it is public property.

“Tell your sponsors to be less concerned with costs per thousand and more concerned with understanding per millions. And remind your stakeholders that an investment in broadcasting is buying a share in public responsibility. The networks can start this industry on the road to freedom from the dictatorship of numbers.”

While every week my topic of interest (chapter in the book) has not been chosen to discuss amongst the class, I am confident that this week may change that! I ask you, has the industry changed in the last 50 years? Are our networks that serve us any less slaves to ratings and numbers? We, mainly as advertising folk, care about the number of people that catch glimpse to our advertisements…so…can the government in-turn change the minds of those running the networks?

The idea of ratings being masters of broadcast networks got me thinking about ratings. And accurate and in-depth ratings, for me, remain in the Nielsen ratings. With careful examination and thought added to the changing scope of how we receive our media, it is no shock that I came across the following “ad” or “announcement” by the Nielsen ratings company.

My final parting thought on this massive topic in media and culture: The average American currently spends 20 percent of their day watching television…

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