Excessive advertising on pay-tv I enjoy watching television. I grew up without cable, and though I felt slightly deprived, I always had plenty to watch on the broadcast channels. Now I have a Dish Network basic package which does provide several more channels to choose from, but I’ve found that additional content that I want to watch is limited. This is one problem with pay-tv (which I will refer to with the all-encompassing term “cable”), and it’s inherently linked to too much advertising. Not just commercial breaks, but entire commercial segments, commonly known as “Paid Programming” that commonly displace a station’s content for several hours a day, though usually during the middle of the night (one of my key channel surfing sessions), to the chagrin of many viewers. I have to say that I am disappointed in cable. Since I had an entire childhood to dream and stereotype how good it was going to be, my expectations were sure to be high, but they have been tempered by fourteen years of post-high school exposure to the reality of cable. Still I am upset at the quantity of advertising we are presented with, and consider it unjust and even morally wrong. Consider what we pay and what we get in exchange. Now compare it to the benchmark, broadcast, or over-the-air TV: We pay nothing (upfront) and are presented with programming comparable to the offerings of cable. Based on this, wouldn’t one think that cable should have less advertising than broadcast as a minimum, with the possibility of none?
When cable debuted in the 1970s there were high hopes. There was optimism. For content of course, but also for the possibility that we might not have to settle for only 22 minutes of show during a thirty minute block--there were thoughts of commercial-free TV. It is sad that things didn’t turn out that way and the dream was completely lost. As stated in The Ruminator, “Cable’s Promise [is indeed] Unfulfilled.”
Advertising is supposed to influence the recipient to “turn towards” the offering, be it knowledge, advice, or product. But does seeing the same ad five times in an hour, or even twice during the same break, make one any more likely to turn towards the product? With this kind of forced presentation, a sort of slamming it down viewers’ throats, viewers can become peeved and the opposite effect may result. What good does this do anyone, except the station, who continually banks their egregious advertising fees, which are of course still the consumers’ dollars?
The amount of non-content varies show-to-show, channel-to-channel, and hour-to-hour, but has been increasing over the years so it is always at the highest level in history. In the year 2000 “The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA) and the Association of National Advertisers, Inc. (ANA) released their annual Television Commercial Monitoring Report showing the level of TV clutter. This clutter is defined as "commercial time, public service announcements, public service promotions, promotions aired by broadcast and cable networks, program credits not run over continuing program action, and 'other' unidentified gaps within a commercial pod." The AAAA report showed that in the primetime slot, non-programming time on network television was 16:43 minutes per hour. The daytime level of advertising was 20:53 minutes per hour. Network news showed 18:53 minutes of commercials per hour and late night news aired 19:06 minutes of ads per hour” (Ratings). So, an astounding one-quarter to one-third of television time is clutter.
Should this bother us? Yes. But how many people are bothered by the intrusion of advertising into their shows? Is most of America aware that what they are paying for is broadcasting clutter nearly one-third of the time? Who is aware that we the consumer fully fund these ads through increased product costs? Do they have a problem with this? How come there’s not more outrage…