Integrity Matters
October 15, 2003

Early evening TV needs to watch its mouth

Question: (E-071)

Dear Jim:

I do not blush when people use rough language, but are you aware of the words polluting prime-time television? In fact, Parents Television Council (PTC), a watchdog group reports that during the early evening hours from 8 to 9 p.m., the so-called "family hour," foul language increased by 95 percent between 1998 and 2002, and it grew by 109 percent during the 9 p.m. hour in the same period. Where is the integrity of television?


Perhaps the question to be addressed is this: Does television lead society or reflect the behaviors of the public?

It starts with language used by parents with children. If you have not gone to an amusement park in a few years, prepare yourself for some shocking experiences. How parents ought to behave is a topic for another column.

Television has too often become a baby-sitter, mesmerizing children with its multisensory charms as parents have abdicated responsibility for what is shown in their homes.

Whose integrity is on trial? Parents or the corporation selling programs that the buying public is demanding? Frankly, when we do not like a program, we can change channels -- or even turn off the television. We can remember that reading, listening to music, and sharing ideas are all positive by-products of a non-television evening.

Keep in mind that if television programs were not satisfying sponsors, they would change. After all, those who sponsor programs on television do market research to ensure that their advertising dollars attract more customers. Somehow, the economic system of television is meeting market needs. If television programs are not satisfying your needs, then pull the plug. And, if that does not satisfy you, then write to local station managers and elected officials and make your concerns known.

Finally, if television does not regulate itself in relation to society's values, then regulators will. But there is this question of you: Does television pollute the culture, or have the deteriorating values of the society set the tone?

It is time for social behavior, even within a family, to become more gracious and less destructive. Decide to exhibit interpersonal integrity all the time, monitor what programs are acceptable in your home; foster this commitment among your friends and associates, and anticipate that the television industry will follow. When good taste dominates our culture, smart business will fall into line.

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