Thursday, February 9, 2017

Television advertising: Has it become unbearable?

I call it Commercial Creep, the relentless, intrusive proliferation of commercials into every media second of our multi-media lives.  My tolerance is long gone.  The issue now is controlling my intolerance which is bordering on complete irrationality.

- Stuart Fischoff, Ph.D,
"Commercial Creep" - I Hate Commercials and You Should Too: It's beginning to feel like "We interrupt this commercial to bring you the show."
The Media Zone, Psychology Today, February 21, 2013

I heartily concur with the late Dr. Stuart Fischoff, the American media psychologist who passed away on November 21, 2014. As much as a enjoy watching television, I am becoming increasingly agitated by the large number of TV commercials and promotions.  I know!  I know!  Something has to pay for the shows we watch and, yes, some ads are entertaining (until you've seen them hundreds of times).

For a while now, the trend has been toward shorter and more frequent commercials. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of commercials, disturbs the flow of our favourite shows and it clogs the viewer's mind.  I can barely view live television anymore.  There are just too many interruptions. I don't expect free TV, but there has to be a limit!  It feels as if the commercials are being interrupted to bring us the programming.  It's insidious.  By the way, whatever happened to fun theme songs and creative introductions to TV shows?  Sadly, intros have become shorter and shorter to make room for more ads.

When you watch DVDs, you really get a sense of how dramatically the number of ads has increased. A one-hour show now contains about 15 minutes of commercials.  I checked a DVD of the The Mod Squad from 1969.  Four one-hour episodes contained 3 hours and 27 minutes of programming and 33 minutes of commercials back then.  Today four "one-hour" episodes contain about 3 hours of programming and one hour of commercials. CBS should change the name of their long-running news magazine show from 60 Minutes to 45 Minutes or maybe before long to 40 Minutes.

Why is this happening?  It's a case of pure greed, my friends.  As Dr. Fischoff, points in his 2013 article: "Networks and their local affiliates are huge profit machines. Huge. Since profit is revenue minus cost, obviously fewer commercials are both possible and affordable. The trouble is, of course, that greed is an appetite never sated. Programmers will insert as many commercials as the traffic will bear. Most of us dutifully, quietly bear it."

- Joanne

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