• TV Doesn’t Influence Behavior? Tell the Politicians

    by  • November 6, 2013 • Advertiser Accountability, Broadcast Decency, Profanity, Sex, Violence • 2 Comments

    The entertainment industry loves to claim that TV showing graphic violence, sex, and profanity has absolutely no influence on viewer’s attitudes or behavior. Yet a media analysis group predicts that $3 billion will be spent on political TV ads before next year’s midterm elections.

    A report from Kantar Media’s Campaign Media Analysis Group and Cook Political Report has estimated that $6 billion will be spent on next year’s elections – and half of that will go for TV advertising. (Notably, 80% of the $3 billion will be spent on local broadcast TV, which the industry claims is no longer “uniquely pervasive.” It seems advertising firms think otherwise.)

    The point is this: what people see on TV DOES influence their choices, attitudes, decisions, and behavior. If it didn’t, why would politicians spend billions of dollars on election ads? Why would businesses spend millions for a single 30-second ad during the Super Bowl? Why would TV air commercials at all, if what people see doesn’t influence their behavior?

    Obviously, TV isn’t the ONLY factor in people’s actions. Seeing one murder on TV won’t cause every viewer to become a murderer, any more than seeing one ad for Budweiser will cause everyone to switch beer brands, or one ad for a political candidate to change their votes. But it is equally obvious that TV does have SOME influence on behavior, or else nobody would show ads on TV at all, and they certainly wouldn’t spend billions of dollars on it. And the more of something viewers see – whether it’s toddlers demanding their favorite cereal, teens wanting the latest fashions, voters choosing which candidate to support, or children seeing graphic sex and violence – the more influence it has.

    This is obvious to politicians, to businesses, to advertising agencies. The only reason the entertainment industry lies about it is that they don’t want to be held accountable for the negative influence their programs have.



    Christopher Gildemeister is the PTC’s Head of Research Operations. He began as an Entertainment Analyst at the PTC in 2005. From 2007-2016, he was Senior Writer/Editor, responsible for communicating the PTC’s message to the public through newsletters, columns, and the PTC Watchdog blog. Dr. Gildemeister holds a Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America.

    2 Responses to TV Doesn’t Influence Behavior? Tell the Politicians

    1. Mrs.M
      November 8, 2013 at 4:43 am

      TV viewing has now lost all sense of good drama. It is sickening, instead of entertaining. It never appeals to anyone with an intelligence level past eighth grade. There is no learning about real life and how you can make it better or laugh at it’s foibles. It is as though every writer is from a third world, depraved country that has not learned it’s manners! Can you imagine how our visitors from outside the U.S. think about us; watching the horror in most of the shows that are considered comedies and dramas? It is embarrassing!

    2. Chris Stewart
      November 6, 2013 at 11:30 am

      I fell victim to bullying in 2002 and I think we need to regulate the broadcast industry and curtail violence, bullying, and profanity in the media. I firmly believe bullies are being negatively influenced by television and movies, and our politicians need to pass legislation ASAP. The broadcast and entertainment industry must be held accountable for the negative influences that television shows and movies contain.

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