TUNE IN, TUNE OUT: Broadcasting Regulation in the United States by Ann Weiss

TUNE IN, TUNE OUT: Broadcasting Regulation in the United States

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Weiss has fumed up her point of view since The School on Madison Avenue (1980); she's far less sanguine about sponsors, in particular, than she was then about advertising. The book is more or less pegged on the current rush to deregulate--and though Weiss concludes by posing all the going questions (""Do you think Congress should pass a law to get violent programming off the air? To require networks to carry more news and documentaries? To abolish the equal-time requirement and the fairness doctrine?"" etc,), her very last query is a loaded one: ""Should we, the public, surrender out airwaves to private interests?"" To arrive at the issues, she briefly recaps broadcasting history--the licensing of stations (and how educational broadcasters got squeezed out); the. inception of advertising (which, it was originally thought, public objections would keep minimal); the end of direct sponsor control of programs (with the 1959 quiz show scandals); the indirect control sponsors exercise through their desire for programs ""compatible"" with a ""want-to-buy mood."" (What is an incompatible program? . . . One capable of convincing us that there are satisfactions that money can't buy and problems that can't be solved with a new brand of shampoo or a more minty mouthwash."") News and documentary programs are affected too--not only by pressures on and from sponsors (the anti-gun Guns of August), but also by domestic and foreign political pressures. (The furor over Death of a Princess, Weiss writes, is ""only the tip of the iceberg."") Moreover: ""The corporations that underwrite public broadcasting are also looking for compatibility."" Weiss also takes up the sex-and-violence/censorship issue (noting the ""tremendous failure"" of the Family Viewing Hour); she points out the benefits of radio deregulation--that are not necessarily applicable to TV; she at least touches upon the imponderables of cable and pay TV, computer-linked systems and communications satellites. In little over a hundred undaunting pages, she provides a basis for understanding and addressing the broadcasting situation at large.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1982
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin