HOW MANY COMMERCIALS IS TOO MANY?

by

Dr. Jim Freim

Copyright ©2013 Dr. Jim Freim All rights reserved.

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I watch very little television, but I always watch the Packers! In addition to the proliferation of inane reality shows and the lack of quality programs, the massive amount of commercials is a turn off. While recovering from broken ribs, I was particularly bored and decided to watch the ‘telly’ as the Brits say. I was struck by the number of commercials; seemed like more than I remember. There were so many commercials that when the show resumed, I had to remind myself what show I was watching and what was the plot (assuming it had a plot!)

 

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) is the federal agency charged with regulating TV commercials and how many minutes of commercials are permissible. (2)

For an hour program, you get 42 minutes of program and 18 minutes of advertising (1)

For a half hour program, you get 22 minutes of program and 8 minutes of advertising. (1)

The 8 minutes is 6 minutes of national advertising and 2 minutes of local advertising.

 

At the risk of revealing my age, in the 1960’s you got 51 minutes of program per hour. (1) So, indeed, the amount of program is shrinking and the go-to-frig-time is increasing.

 

So, while watching 3 hours of TV from 7:00 pm until the news at 10:00 pm, I counted commercials. Anything (repeat anything) not part of the program counted as a commercial. Could have been a 30 or 60 second spot for a drug, “Call your Doctor to see if X is right for you?” I’ll get right on that, after I polish the silverware! Could have been a very short clip, “Stay right here, for news and weather at 10.” Could have been “Wednesday night, new episode of Program Y.”

My life has been so enriched because I learned everything there is to know about 4 hour erections, huggies, bloating / gas / nausea , and whole house carpeting for $299. After listening to the endless commercials for statin drugs, headache drugs, heartburn drugs, etc., etc. etc., I can now publish a drug dictionary. And the drugs’ side effects sound worse than the problem being cured! And before I finished writing this essay, I had to rush out and get that TP that pampers my butt.

 

SO HOW MANY COMMERCIALS DID I SEE?? DRUM ROLL PLEASE!!

In the 3 hours I saw 150 commercials. Folks, that’s One Hundred Fifty – 1 5 0!. Good Grief! 42 minutes of program and 50 commercials per hour!! No wonder my TV is in the closet. To verify this number I did more penance (God, are you reading this?) and watched another 3 hours on a different night on a different network. You guessed it – same result!

Obviously, we are seeing many more ads per hour compared to the 1960’s when most ads were 60 seconds. Maybe short sound bites is what American public or Gen XYZ (What’s the current label?) can handle. Short ads for short attention spans.

Technological life has become populated with short, short, and short. Short phone calls. Short text messages. And the endless growth of acronyms (for use on internet / Twitter) so we don’t have to spell out common phrases like LOL (Is that Lots of Love, Lots of Laughter, or Lots of Luck? I assume you know the meaning by the other abbreviated content!) Or YOLO (You Only Live Once – that must be the shortened version of the early Bond movie, You Only Live Twice). Only 140 characters for a Tweet and short pithy emails.

With so many commercials, stations now have a GPS sounding voice to wake us up, “And now back to our program.” At least the loud commercials have been outlawed since 12/12/12. Hurray – I won’t need to adjust my hearing aid as often!

Ever watch your favorite movie on TV? (Using what use to be my granddaughter’s fav 2 word phrase) ‘You know’, the movie that you know by heart. You say lines before they are being said and you sing along to the tunes.. Ever notice that a scene or line is missing? The first time it happens, you think, I must be mistaken. But the second and third time it happens, you know the movie has been gutted to make room for the commercials. For example, “a television broadcast of the 101-minute film The Wizard of Oz (1939) for instance, could, in the early to mid-1960s, take two hours even with advertisements. Today, a telecast of the same film would last approximately two hours and 15 minutes including advertisements, if the film were not edited to fit within the time allotted, as is common practice.” (3) So, your favorite scene or dialogue gets cut so you can hear that chest pains, nausea, and uglier than usual stools (not the three legged variety!) are side effects of the latest arthritis medication.

Product placement is another form of advertising. See your favorite star drinking a Pepsi or James Bond sipping a Heineken or home improvement stars shopping at Home Depot. I had hoped that product placement would reduce the number of commercials. No!

And now we are subjected to advertising banners at the bottom of the TV screen while the current program is still running! Or the star from the next program is imitating Chubby Checker by doing the twist in the lower right of the screen.

At WalMart I use their machine to check my blood pressure (BP). The old machine took your BP and gave the results. The new machine has a nurse looking female who guides through the tests. While your BP is being checked, you get a commercial for WalMart’s house vitamins. Stop, already!

And don’t get me started on internet advertising. My latest bane is the banner ads that are multiplying faster than rabbits, pop ups that won’t close, and countless emails that hope I’ll succumb to the latest scam. (And who the hell is selling my email address?) And I go zero to irate in 1 second when I click on a link that goes to page that won’t let you out -you can’t backspace to the previous page!

Between TV and the internet, we are awash in ads and commercials with no relieve in sight. I can turn off the telly, but I’m stuck with the internet advertising for now. So don’t bother me!! I’m going into my laboratory to create the ultimate, universal internet ad and BS nuker! Be right back after a few messages from my sponsors!!!

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_advertisement

2 http://www.ehow.com/about_6569735_fcc-regulations-tv-industries.html

3 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Television_advertisement

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