Advocacy Groups and the Entertainment Industry

By Michael Suman; Gabriel Rossman | Go to book overview

13
Advocacy Groups in the Age of Audience Fragmentation: Thoughts on a New Strategy

Robert Pekurny

During the past 20 years there have been major changes on the media horizon which have altered the economic structure and cultural impact of electronic media. A new environment has been created by a huge surge in the number of independent TV stations; the creation of the fourth, fifth, and sixth broadcast networks; the rapid adoption of VCRs; the even more rapid spread of direct satellite dishes; and the broad penetration of cable with its myriad basic and pay services. Yet, while the days of three major networks attracting 90% of prime time viewers are gone, many media advocacy groups employ the same strategies they used in those bygone days, days when the networks still constituted the core of their parent corporations. This chapter will examine this new media ecosystem and suggest a new strategy which could increase the chances of media advocacy groups to achieve their goals.


PAST STRATEGIES: THE BOYCOTT OR THREAT THEREOF

One of the two major strategies employed by advocacy groups has been the threat of a boycott of advertisers who sponsor specific controversial shows and/or of the broadcast/media entity itself. Groups have leveled these threats through letter-writing campaigns and press conferences and at annual conventions. The latest wrinkle has been to cross-boycott a conglomerate, as evidenced by the Southern Baptist Convention's threat to boycott Disney/ ABC because of allegedly pro-gay and anti-Christian broadcast programming content and the company's same-sex domestic partners policy. The Convention has aimed its boycott not only at the company's media operations, but also at its theme parks, merchandise, and other enterprises.

These threats have lost whatever power they may have once had for several reasons. First, most of the threats have failed to pan out. Second, there has been a significant increase in number of both advocacy groups and media outlets. Messages can not be as effectively delivered as there are too many voices making

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