TV Pressure Groups Lose Power in Digital Age
August 8, 2006, 4:57 pm
Filed under: gay and lesbian, marketing, You Tube

Traditional TV Pressure Groups Losing Ground
A media critique by Wayne Friedman, Monday, August 7, 2006

WILL THE PLETHORA OF NEW digital platforms make TV pressure groups obsolete? Maybe not. But, in the wake of more entertainment choices, advertisers certainly are not scared to publicly talk back to those who seemingly position themselves as the arbiters of TV morality.

Two advertisers, Toyota Motor Sales and DaimlerChrysler, basically told one prominent TV pressure group, the Parents Television Council, where to go, in reference to recent media buys on FX’s “Rescue Me.”

“Rescue Me,” with rough language and drama about New York City firefighters, targets adults. PTC says there are kid viewers too, and has Nielsen data to back that up.

The reality is, you could do this exercise with virtually any TV show–broadcast, cable, syndication, pay-cable. You could show some kids watching everything – perhaps just one. In that regard, you would need to take off all shows, like “Two and A Half Men,” “The Sopranos” and “Lost.”

Networks will defend themselves by saying 90 percent or 70 percent of its audiences for specific adult-language shows comes from adults. And that makes sense for its advertisers. Toyota and Chrysler would be wasting their money if 70 percent of the audience were 12-year-old boys and girls.

TV pressure groups think these shows wouldn’t exist without these topnotch TV advertisers. They’ve actually got it backwards. Audiences already exist for established shows like “Rescue Me.” In this fractionalized video and TV age, advertisers like to see proof of performance. Otherwise, why bother?

TV pressure groups are in the business of finding TV shows to protest. Then they ask for money because they are protecting people from the evils of entertainments. To tout their businesses, they love to make crazy claims that they force advertisers from specific shows. In fact, by the time any of them see the spot, those advertisers may already be gone–and not because of any pressure. Media plans are as such that advertisers don’t buy all time in all shows all year round. They go in and out of shows, as their plans–and budgets–allow.

Case in point: The PTC sent a letter asking Chrysler to pull ads from “Rescue Me.” Chrysler’s brands Dodge and Jeep had advertised during the show, but aren’t in those shows for their near-term media plans. Still, the company hinted it could start up again.

“We do this not with the intent to offend but with an appreciation for diversity in consumer viewing preferences,” wrote a Chrysler spokesman to the PTC, according to Advertising Age. “It is also important to remember the American consumer has the ability to turn on or off TV shows, as do PTC members.”

Or turn off his TV, and turn on Google or YouTube. In a vast and multiplying democratic entertainment world, users, advertisers, parents, children, and TV producers have tens of thousand of choices for video content.

TV decency laws are surely gaining strength. But advertisers and users have other places to turn to. And that means TV pressure groups will have pneumatically less air.


OMG Y’all, My Girlfriend’s Film is On YouTube!
August 6, 2006, 4:51 pm
Filed under: gay and lesbian, lesbian film, Traveling Companion, You Tube


Yesterday, while performing my ritual mindless googling about who knows what, I came across a copy of my girlfriend Paula’s film, Traveling Companion (1999) on You Tube.

Not only is the film up and running, I am happy to report, but people are actually watching and enjoying it. And though we’re not making a dime, we’re just happy to see the film have a new life on the Internet.

Paula, who is sitting on the couch with me now, says the film is about, “love and loss and the ability to love again.” She now feels the film is earnest and “achingly sentimental,” but I love it because it shows Paula’s sweet, uncynical side. Like her, the film has a good heart.

The coffee house scenes were filmed at the now defunct WeHo lesbian coffee house Little Frida’s, and the rest of the film at a friend’s home in Laurel Canyon.

Traveling Companion won the Executive Director’s Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival and stars Sex in the City’s Kristin Davis. It’s available on Wolfe video should anyone want to buy a copy of their own.