Time magazine in an editorial comment
27 following a deep scrutiny of the
jury system in 1982, wrote: "TIME observes that trial by jury realizes an essential
democratic ideal; that a citizen's security is best protected not by any institutional
or intellectual elite, but by the common sense of his fellow citizens . . ." In a
meaningful way, ratings are also an expression of democracy in action--viewers
and listeners have free choice of a wide variety of free entertainment, news, and
information. No other medium anywhere in the world can match the variety and
quality of the total output of the programs that weather our ratings system to
reach the American public.
The initial break in the tradition that the advertiser owned the time period
came in 1954, when NBC forced the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company,
sponsor of the "Firestone Hour," a semiclassical music program on NBC
at 8:30 P.M. Monday evenings since September 1949, to relinquish its
time period. The program's ratings were always abysmally low, and as
TV competition heated up NBC decided that Firestone must move to a
new time period on Sunday afternoon. Sylvester (Pat) Weaver, president
of NBC Television, took the proposal (with ratings analyses) to the
Firestone family in Akron because Mrs. Harvey Firestone, widow of the
founder, had a personal interest in the program. The NBC move was
rejected (one Firestone family member remarked that "everyone is playing
polo on Sunday afternoon"), and Firestone moved to ABC, where it
occupied its 8:30 Monday time period for three years.
David Halberstam, The Powers That Be ( New York: Alfred A. Knopf,
Inc., 1979), p. 39.
Based on computer-based sales figures from 160 bookstores in every
region of the U.S.
Since January 1976 daily newspapers have suspended operations in Chicago, Philadelphia (2), Boston, Washington, Cleveland (2), Buffalo, Hartford (2), Oklahoma City, and Memphis. Scores of newspapers have
disappeared through suspension and mergers in other cities.
The Wall Street Journal, February 3, 1982, p. 1.
There's an old saying in Washington: "Until you can count the problem
you can't solve it."
Joel Swerdlow, "The Ratings Game," Washington Journalism Review, Washington, D.C., October 1979. The odd part about this comment is
that neither Swerdlow nor any of the scores of other professional critics
of ratings ever seem to discuss their concerns with advertisers.
Television advertising expenditures for 1983 as estimated by the Television Bureau of Advertising, based on data from B roadcast Advertiser
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Audience Ratings:Radio, Television, and Cable.
Contributors: Hugh Malcolm Beville Jr. - Author.
Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
Place of publication: Hillsdale, NJ.
Publication year: 1985.
Page number: 240.
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