Campaign Aimed at Young TV Viewers Conveys "False Sense of Caring": Prof. Jeff McCall '76

Campaign Aimed at Young TV Viewers Conveys "False Sense of Caring": Prof. Jeff McCall '76

July 4, 2011

16154July 4, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — "An advocacy organization for the television industry has launched a summer campaign to encourage parents to support 'safe and healthy viewing habits for kids,' " but be wary, warns Jeff McCall. In an Indianapolis Star op-ed, the professor of communication at DePauw University writes of "the Remote PATROL campaign" being led by a group called TV Watch.

"Don't believe for a minute that TV Watch is flowing with altruism and concern for the kids whose minds are narcotized by too much television in the summer," declares Dr. McCall. "TV Watch's real agenda has nothing to do with protecting kids and everything to do with protecting big television corporations from government efforts to manage indecent and violent content on the airwaves."

He points out, "TV Watch is an organization made up of big media corporations (CBS, NBC, News Corporation) and groups of actors and producers. The organization is opposed to any efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to enforce 3961current laws that prohibit indecent and profane content in broadcasting. TV Watch would have us all believe that its opposition to government oversight is to defend the First Amendment, but what they really want is to avoid FCC fines while being able to dump any content they want into American culture.

McCall, a 1976 graduate of DePauw, asserts, "The media industry fakes concern for kids by providing online tutorials for parents about how to use video blocking technologies on television sets. That appears to be the only role for media producers in protecting kids. While TV Watch tells parents to be more responsible for what their kids see, the industry itself shoulders no responsibility for what ends up on television."

The professor argues, "The false choice offered by TV Watch and big media is that parents should do a better job of managing their kids' viewing or the government will impose more regulatory control. What is really needed -- a third approach -- is for the media industry to exercise self-control and air material that is unsuitable for kids only at times when kids aren't likely in the audience. That's the easiest way to keep the FCC out of the broadcasting kitchen. Self-control by the media industry, of course, would require big media CEOs to exercise cultural leadership, something they appear to be unwilling to do."

McCall's column concludes, "The First Amendment protects broadcasters in the airing of all kinds of culturally vacuous programming, and, EAST COLLEGE BOULDER hdrno doubt, many broadcasters will continue to dispense such fare. It would at least be nice if the media industry wouldn't insult us with its false sense of caring and flimsy educational campaigns designed to give itself PR cover."

Read the complete essay at College

Jeffrey M. McCall is frequently called upon by major media outlets to discuss media matters and has been quoted in more than 100 newspapers.  He's also the author of the book Viewer Discretion Advised: Taking Control of Mass Media Influences.

Source: Indianapolis Star