Back in January, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a ban on advertising on 4 state-run television networks. He says he’s doing this for a “cultural revolution in public broadcasting,” and essentially wants to move closer to the ad-free model used by Britain’s BBC. To make up for the roughly 800 million euros of advertising which would be transferred from the public to the private sector, private stations will be taxed to support their public counterparts. However, critics allege that his plan serves only to benefit his friends in the private television sector, based on the general assumption that shares in public TV stations will go down when they can’t gain revenue from ads (indeed, shares in France’s two largest commercial broadcasters went up the same day as his announcement). He’s being compared to former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi who kept media on a tight leash during his reign, and even before this decision one of Sarkozy’s nicknames was “Telepresident.”
So what does this have to do with us? We’re writing on this now because French public radio/television workers went on a 24-hour strike yesterday in protest of Sarkozy’s ban, but it’s also a good time to check in about what exactly ads are for: revenue. A world without advertising would not necessarily be a good thing! Entertainment is a very important part of our popular culture, and it is largely fueled by advertising. Sure, advertisers do a lot of things to make us want something, or even suddenly think we need something, but with media literacy you can make smart choices. An educated consumer is a good consumer–and we are all, adults and children, consumers. In my opinion, banning advertising creates more problems than it solves (see our earlier post about this). The real answer is to understand the media around us.
One way you can do this is to sign up for our workshops starting this month at the Prospect Park Y. Choose ‘Programs’ from the menu above for exact dates and times, and email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Even if your child has taken a class before, he or she will undoubtedly learn something new the second time!