Elaine Meinel Supkis
The media systems are always seeking ways to make money off of gullible people. Starting with Big Brother 6 years ago, the business of luring foolish viewers to call into shows and then making money off of the phone charges, has grown like weeds. Now, in England, it is revealed that these shows were cheating people calling in, getting them to stay on line until $3 or more was charged or by having winners chosen early on but keeping the lines open for hours just to make more money. How sweet of them.
This deception of viewers on such a vast scale represents one of the greatest crises in confidence in British television since commercial TV began more than half a century ago. The scandal has been steadily growing amid revelations that more and more television shows are implicated.
None of the major terrestrial broadcasters, including the BBC, has remained untainted. Last night's investigation by the BBC investigative programme Panorama contained the most damaging allegations yet, suggesting that millions of viewers of ITV's GMTV breakfast show had been duped into making premium-rate phone-calls for competitions they had no chance of winning because the winners had already been chosen.
The alleged swindle, which is denied by Opera Interactive Technology, is thought to have generated £45,000 a day (or £10m a year) in wasted calls and to have resulted from alleged malpractice that has been going on for four years. GMTV yesterday said it had terminated its contract with Opera Interactive Technology with immediate effect after its own inquiries had revealed "irregularities''"in the system.
Far from being unknowingly deceived by the Opera operatives, all the TV station owners and the programmers loved this foul system. Revenues for ads are declining because Britain doesn't have a very energetic economy. The article notes that some quiz shows would have really stupid questions that anyone could answer as a lure to get the maximum number of callers, for example.
Other shows used a sort of, actually very much like 'Brave New World' sort of entertainment whereby the watchers could press a red button to 'vote' what would happen next. It turns out this was a total scam. The show was pre-set and it didn't matter what the pigeons on the other side of the screen pecked at, the results were the same.
Indeed, all this is very much like living in a Skinner box only you don't get fed, it steals from you! Great going. This reminds me of our own economic system: as we lose money, we are told that we are getting richer and we are encouraged to 'vote' for things but these are not really tallied.
Federal regulators, concerned about the effect of television violence on children, will recommend that Congress enact legislation to give the government unprecedented powers to curb violence in entertainment programming, according to government and TV industry sources.
The Federal Communications Commission has concluded that regulating TV violence is in the public interest, particularly during times when children are likely to be viewers -- typically between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., FCC sources say.
I guess that will kill all those Tom and Jerry or nearly every single Walt Disney cartoon ever made not to mention Popeye or Woody Woodpecker. Not to mention nearly any kiddie TV show. Defining 'violence' is difficult. In some cultures or life forms, just looking sharply at someone is considered violent. Some violence leads to imitation while some doesn't and censoring stuff is stupid since this is all about free choice. Many parents don't care if their kids watch violent stuff. Some don't care if they watch mass murderers in movies kill one person after another. Over the years, I noticed that lower-income families really like this stuff.
Teenagers love it and try telling a 12 year old, they can't see a violent movie all the 18 year olds are seeing! Instead of controlling access to guns, we will control all the content of all our media, practicing Soviet-style censorship, etc. Great.
We will still see one mass murderer after another. Today, in Houston yet again, another mass murderer went on the rampage and killed several people before being killed. In a very rich neighborhood. He used a gun, of course.
So, we will all have the capacity to kill many people but will not have the right to watch many movies or cartoons or read many books or play video games, or whatever? Right? And this is freedom.
Gun nuts like to pretend having guns will make us free. But our country isn't free at all, we have zillions of rules and regulations and they are growing by the hour and the more people use guns, the more our freedoms are restricted! So far from freeing us, these pieces of equipment are making us less and less free.