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Are We There Yet?

I’d like to congratulate all the networks on their outstanding coverage of NFL playoffs and Levitra ads. Yes, nothing brings a family closer than having to explain to children the dangers of a four-hour erection.Since when did the demographics for football change to aging, dysfunctional men? Since advertisers have always had a huge emphasis on the 18- to 34-year-old market, I can only deduce that a lot of 20-somethings are having problems with penile dysfunction. That or the networks have sold out to the highest bidder. I can’t imagine which one it might be.I used to think we had a lot of beer commercials during sports programming; I thought it ironic that America’s children could all recite “Bud-weis-er” with such finesse. I’d take that over sexual ads any day.Today’s parents address a surplus of difficult issues with our kids, from the inane (think “wardrobe malfunction”) to the arcane (where is Osama Bin Laden?). We are faced day-in and day-out with opportunities for discussion and the anxieties they induce. And what protects kids most is a secret weapon most parents don’t even know they have: that little bond called “connectedness.” How much you know about your child’s activities, favorite TV shows, their friends and friends’ families, contributes to a feeling of closeness. Something parenting experts agree will help keep kids out of trouble. With all that our kids are exposed to these days, sitting down to watch NFL playoff games seems like an innocuous activity. Yet it begs the question: Does an 11-year-old really need to be bombarded with the details of a mature man’s private sex life?And before our networks and cable executives smugly deflect the criticism by blaming the advertisers themselves for placing ad after endless ad, I’d like to point out the spectacular job their own promotions departments are doing in keeping all the children apprised of the latest CSI, 24, and Law and Order episodes. It’s never too soon for America’s children to know about pedophiles and serial killers.Don’t misunderstand me. As a healthy, well-adjusted adult I sometimes watch this programming and can somehow manage to sleep through the night. Children, however, can have nightmares after one 30-second promo.In this day and age, when we hook kids into sports at an earlier-than-ever age, isn’t it possible to keep our advertising in check? Whatever happened to promoting adult programming during adult viewing hours? Sunday afternoons are prime family time – and not just in my home. Be it the Super Bowl or the World Series, millions of American families are watching. Compared with – what? – a handful of men who need Levitra. And any adult in his or her right mind would gladly wait to see the much-anticipated promo for CSI until after the kids have gone off to play. I know the networks have programming to promote that all parents would find less offensive, and frankly, more interesting. Changing the status quo of advertising and promotion is really quite easy. Simply do better. The networks need to raise their level of awareness to expand beyond accounting, and realize that their influence goes well beyond the grown men they think are watching.I hope the advertising and promotions departments get their act together before the Super Bowl. But just in case, I’ll be keeping the mute button handy. Charla Belinski’s column appears every other Sunday in the Post Independent. E-mail Charla at Belinskis@comcast.net.


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