They’re called “up fronts” — sessions held in New York each May between broadcasting networks and their top advertisers. The events are referred to as “up fronts” because the meetings take place months in advance of the new fall prime-time season, giving corporations a chance to decide up front — or before the programs air — what shows they want to sponsor. And each year in conjunction with the meetings, the media watchdog group Parents Television Council does its best to be up front with viewers by letting them know about those companies who sponsor some of the most offensive content on the airwaves.
“Today we call for greater responsibility by the corporations whose media dollars underwrite some of the most harmful material on broadcast television,” PTC president Tim Winter said in a news release issued in mid-May.
Winter explained that their top-10 list is not exactly one companies will be bragging about being on. After all, they underwrite some pretty awful programming — programming that glorifies everything from adultery to violence.
Concerned viewers can find the complete list of the sponsors being called out by the PTC by going to the organization’s website at parentstv.org. Some of the companies mentioned in the PTC report include corporations whose products are geared toward families, including McDonald’s and Toyota. Winter explains that it’s ironic companies seeking the business of families are involved in sponsoring some of the most vile programming content on the major networks. Winter said their group has been taking steps to educate these companies on how their choices can and do impact their bottom line.
“Beyond just attempting to reach a desired viewer demographic, both client and agency buyers should weigh carefully whether continued association with this kind of content will help or hurt their brands. Research conducted by the Association of National Advertisers found that when companies perceived to be family-oriented advertise on programs with explicit content, their brand equity can be hurt by as much as 30 percent when compared to advertising on family-oriented programs. We are asking these companies to reconsider the direction of their media spending and instead sponsor more family-oriented programming.”
The PTC looks at different categories when it comes to content, including sexual content, suggestive language, violence and foul language.
“The companies on our lists are the worst offenders in each category, and McDonald’s, YUM! Brands and Toyota Motor Sales Inc., in particular, have been the top contributors to the most explicit broadcast TV shows,” Winter said.
Winter said the PTC has reached out to the companies in an effort to help them realize the financial benefit of backing family friendly programming and, more importantly, the effect their programming choices have on children and the culture in general. Winter also suggests TV viewers can have a real influence on sponsors by being up front with them about their choices. Whether driving past McDonald’s or driving out of the dealership with something other than a Toyota, consumers need to let businesses know they are watching what corporations are sponsoring.
“Family quality programming doesn’t just benefit families,” Winter said. “It is also more profitable for the corporate sponsors who advertise on the broadcast networks. We hope that companies will choose wisely where to put their ad dollars for the benefit of families across this country.”
Teresa Tomeo is the host of “Catholic Connection,” produced by Ava Maria Radio and heard daily on EWTN Global Catholic Radio and Sirius Channel 130.