In an Editorial published on May 19, 1997, Advertising Age magazine
criticizes broadcasters who have balked request to devote 60 seconds a night
to old fashioned public service announcements. The request came from the
Advertising Council and others who want stations to air PSAs that focus on
inspiring help for inner-city kids.
Broadcasters claim they air public service-type messages from paying advertisers
and use their own on-air promotions featuring network TV stars. The editorial
accuses the networks of promoting their own shows while claiming credit for
"public service." Even though network on-air promos have climbed to 12 minutes
a night during prime-time, the amount devoted to old fashioned PSAs has dropped
to less than 30 prime-time seconds a night.
The editorial warns that broadcasters have picked a ridiculous fight which
will win them no friends in Congress. This matters because the National Association
of Broadcasters (NAB) is intensely lobbying Washington to avoid having a family
viewing hour established, to avoid giving away free time to political candidates,
and to maintian control of its old analog spectrum as well as the public-funded
new multi-billion dollar digital spectrum.
The editorial questions how NAB can thumb its nose at the request to run
traditional, non-marketing driven PSAs, when it is clear that what networks
call "public service" ads are self-serving promotions. The magazine warns
that broadcasters are jeopardizing their entire future, just to aviod
60 seconds of charity.