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Commercial Media Bias

You are the product being purchased by the advertisers!
 
 

In America we strongly believe in the market. We believe that the market guarantees that the consumer can get the best possible product selection from the producers. But, if we examine the media market, this idea creates some ugly implications. We must realize that for the American commercial media the paying customer is the advertiser, not the viewer. The viewer is not the customer; the viewer is the product being purchased by the customer, the advertisers.
Since the viewer is not the paying customer, quality news and programming is not the product being produced. The low quality of American media and biases of American media result from the advertisers being the paying customers, not the viewers.
We can follow the unsettling implications of the advertiser being the customer and the viewer being the product. What types of viewers do advertisers want? They want viewers who are not too distracted by information or entertainment to pay attention to the commercials. The paying customers of commercial media, the advertisers, do not want to pay for viewers who are encouraged to think critically. Critical thinkers quickly spot the misleading nature of commercials. Advertisers want viewers who are too distracted to readily spot flaws in the implications of the advertising. This very relationship between the advertisers and the media puts serious limits on what the advertisers may allow media to show.
Many claims are made about the bias in media. But one real bias takes precedence over all other biases. The media may not contradict the claims and intentions of the paying customers, the advertisers. News and programming must not present ideas that will cause viewers to question or reject the claims of the advertisers. The news must not encourage thinking that leads viewers to question the advertisers. The advertisers, the paying customer, need the viewers, his product, to be sufficiently uninformed.
The advertiser doesn't just need his audience to be sufficiently uninformed; he needs his audience to be sufficiently distracted from critical thought. Thus, shows need to alter the moods of viewers for the sake of the advertisers. Shows may lull viewers into boredom, titillate the viewers with gossip and sexual inuendo, or hook the viewers with suspense. All of this irrelevance serves the same purpose; it lulls the viewer into a non-questioning receptive state. The paying customer, the advertiser gains the most when his viewers are distracted from reason. That is what the advertiser is paying for. Distracted unthinking viewers are what the media must present.
Since the goal of the advertisers is to have distracted non-critical viewers, advertising by its very nature, lowers the quality of media and imposes its own biases. According to market theory, if we want quality media we must not allow the advertiser to be the paying customer. We not allow non-critical viewers to be the product being sold.


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