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Television can be wonderful, it can be horrible. In 1961, FCC Commissioner Newt Minow described television as a "vast wasteland." What terms are strong enough for it forty years later? What used to be the prime time "family hour" is now filled with the sort of vulgarity, sex, and violence that make parents leap for the remote when their children are in the room.
Today's TV business is a frantic world in desperate need to capture viewers and boost ratings. The pie has been cut into smaller and smaller pieces by cable, but most of the programming you see is controlled by a few gigantic corporations. The FCC has eased enforcement of regulations. The prime time entertainment business has descended to levels of commercialization, exploitation, and vulgarity that could not have been imagined a few years ago.
But the same medium that brings us ElimiDate and Fear Factor has also brought us M*A*S*H, Mr Rogers Neighborhood, wonderful nature shows, The Cosby Show, and incredible made-for-TV movies like
Horatio Hornblower and Door To Door. The family hour may have been wiped out by sex, rude language, vulgarity, and violence, but there is still tremendous potential for fine prime time entertainment programs!
What impact does television have on your children? Hundreds of studies have confirmed that media violence and vulgarity on TV shows has a huge impact on our children and our culture. Current levels of television watching cause problems with childhood obesity, with lowered performance in school, and with higher levels of aggressive behavior. Teen eating disorders, particularly among girls, have been tied to television. Every season seems to be cruder and more exploitative, normalizing rude, aggressive, and coarse behavior.
TV network executives who control prime time entertainment programs must take responsibility for the effects of the programs they create. Advertisers must take responsibility for the shows they sponsor. Extra ratings points and increased profits cannot make up for the increased aggression, depression, rudeness, eating disorders, obesity that studies show are the result of current media programming practices.
Changing the Channels is dedicated to providing you with the information you need to control the negative influence of television and find the positive contribution it can bring to your family. You'll also find out how you can help make a difference!