The major television stations, i.e. Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC have all announced plans to drastically cut regular programming beginning in July of this year in order to make room for the onslaught of corporate-backed political advertising set to gain full steam around that time. The networks are reportedly taking early bids for prime-time air time from such corporations as AT&T, BlueCross/Blue Shield, Pfizer, Bank of America, AIG, and others in order to accommodate corporate America’s plans to take advantage of the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing them to spend unfettered amounts of advertising dollars to ensure senators of their choice will be placed in office come November.
In addition to not being able to catch up on re-runs of their favorite shows this summer, television viewers will also have to wait until later in November for the beginning of the new fall season, an event that normally would begin in September. That includes Super Saturday Spectacular previews for children as well. For this year, at least, political advertisements will air right alongside ads for the latest GI Joe and Barbie offerings, but new episodes of Dora the Explorer and Spongebob are going to have to wait until sometime in December.
Those who get their news from network television stations are also going to find that their regularly scheduled morning, afternoon and evening news shows, both nationally and locally-produced, will be pre-empted in order to allow enough time for all the ads to air. Said one network executive, “we’re going to do what we can to accommodate all the advertisers, but even with taking all the news shows and other entertainment off the air for a good portion of the year won’t be enough to allow everyone a shot at some advertising time. In order for us to give at least a small portion of the ad time to the candidates themselves, groups such as the AFL-CIO, Public Service Organizations and other groups with less of an advertising budget will more than likely get shut out this season and we regret this to some extent.”
Asked why all the programming has to go and whether or not the networks are worried that cowtowing to corporate interests above those of the American viewing public may backfire, one executive had this to say, “First of all, it doesn’t have to go, but when looking at our bottom line, we realized that it would be inherently more lucrative to offer up what airtime we have to advertising dollars, rather than fill the time with mindless entertainment. And, in case you haven’t noticed,” he continued, “we are owned by corporate America, and it is becoming increasingly evident that when corporate America speaks, we all need to sit down and listen.” Maybe so. It just won’t be in front of our favorite shows this coming summer and fall.