TV viewing is up (or not)

I love it when self-serving research is foisted upon the public as revelatory fact. Witness the case of Jack Wakshlag’s latest use of “new research” to hammer home the reality that cable TV is beating broadcast TV. As written in Tuesday’s MediaLife, the study shows the average person watched 30.7 hours of television a week in the second quarter ending June 19th — up a whopping ten percent!

“People are watching more television than ever before,” says Jack Wakshlag, chief research officer at Turner. He notes that while his analysis focuses on a comparison of viewing this year to 2001, the average amount of time people spend watching TV has steadily been increasing.

“What’s happening is that the total amount of television viewing keeps going up, despite what other media types say or what people believe or what people tell you when you ask them in a survey.”

Wait a minute, Jack. You’ve analyzed data from this year against 2001. Why that year? How does that prove anything, except give you another pulpit from which to tell the world how well cable is performing? Are you taking into consideration the increase in the number of TV sets in the home? Jack, your JOB is to sell cable, specifically Turner properties. Your “research” is tainted out-of-the-box.

I’m sorry, folks, but this is a bit much. It’s one of those “everybody else is wrong,” self-deceptive acts of an emperor with no clothes. And the worst part is that anything in this day and age that encourages television to stay in their rut is highly destructive.

Let’s all remember Bob Papper’s great line: “Television didn’t kill magazines by taking their readers; it killed magazines by taking their advertising.”

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