Rating: Threat or Surveillance

irfan erdoğan 

Mark Twain once said, "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education." 

"Adults find pleasure in deceiving a child. They consider it necessary, but they also enjoy it. The children very quickly figure it out and then practice deception themselves." -Elias Canetti 

Introduction: Communication, Society and Ratings 

This critical-evaluative article focuses on ratings issue in an unorthodox manner by providing conceptual framework of analysis fundamentally different than any form of the ruling agenda of inquiry. 

Rating is an important concept related with measurement, decision making, administration, control of communication and surveillance, and the process of commodification and market relations. By rating, something is measured by using interval, ratio or ordinal scale, then, evaluated and ranked. There are basically two types of ratings in broadcasting world. The first type is called audience rating that establishes market relations between the television broadcasters and advertising agencies. The second type is the kind that is related with the content control of communication, content rating of media products. The both can be considered as threat or surveillance depending on the interest involved and ideological position taken. Ratings can be threat for a party, while an expression of gratified need for realized interest for the other. Similarly, ratings can be an unwanted surveillance for some, but an expected, desired necessity for others. Thus, it is necessary to be aware of gross generalizations and reductions and ask the questions like for whom, what for, to whose gain and loses, who benefits what and why. That is why it is more realistic to go beyond the dominant agenda of evaluation. 

Development in communication technology is jubilantly presented as modernization and advancement of society. The new technologies for printing and broadcasting require a considerable amount of capital investment. Only those international conglomerates and national monopoly and oligopolies can mobilize capital, technology, television programs and commercial goods and services, and move and distribute them to the communication market all over the world. Therefore, capitalist mode and relations of production create a privileged access to means of production and distribution of communication. That’s why, not only economical interests are realized, but also composition of ideas, tastes, values, attitudes and beliefs are formed and channeled by products of broadcasting media. Therefore, ratings issue, though rather functional for the current dominant view of media practices, is far beyond threat, surveillance and moral considerations. 

Developments in communication take place, not only because of technological discoveries, but also there is a social, political, economic and cultural consciousness of opportunities and needs. “States, with public funds at their disposal, took cognizance of new opportunities offered by the media to influence the thinking of citizens and replaced the old strategy of clamping down on freedom of expression by a more active policy of harnessing the new techniques to their own ends.” (UNESCO, 1980:13, 20). It means closer attention to the media industry’s actions and also advancement of symbiotic relationship between the two. However, concentration of economic and political power, mutual interests, but also mutual mistrust and competition for power and influence, create and keep the problems of communication on the agenda. Citing concern with public interest, law and order, national security, moral and ethical conduct, states install regulatory control over the broadcasting system. One of the control mechanisms is called control of the content of communication. Private broadcasters claim they provide public service and air programs well suited to the needs and wants of people. They insist that they provide multitude of content to multitude of people. Hence, any outside interference with the content is considered a threat to freedom of communication and an unjust surveillance over the industry. Whenever they are under a heavy criticism and formidable pressure of content control, they saintly come up with their own, self-serving solutions. Some control mechanisms introduced by the state authorities and/or private sector are called program content ratings. 

Control over the mass production and distribution, concentration in communications industry and Intensified competition for market-share promotes the standardization of program types and content. Pressures of audience rating amplify such promotion. Determining influence of audience ratings on programming decision-making ends up standardization in production, content and types. Commercially successful programs are reproduced, replicated, imitated, copied, thus create the impression of abundance which is indeed quantitative multiplicity not the qualitative diversity. Content ratings of any kind, supported or criticized, bring about justifications of dominant practices. All these intensify cultural dependence in countries like Turkey via increased use of imported programs and increased imitations on production processes, professional culture and ideologies. Then, the real threat and unwanted surveillance over social communication via broadcasting is to be situated in the structural modes and relations of organization, production and distribution of communication technology and products. 

This article is definitely not trying to rationalize and, thus, legitimize the control of communication (i.e., content ratings and censorship), rather explain that it is an integral and inevitable part of social life organized in domination and struggle. The inevitability is because of the established dominant mode and relations of production. Ideas and expressions are acceptable to society as long as they encourage the prevailing modes of relations and behavior and do not fall in conflict with the ruling framework of the expression of discontent and dissatisfaction. 

Based on the above considerations, this article provides a critical discussion on ratings question in terms of meaning of ratings, threat and surveillance as production, distribution, mind management, ideological domination and struggle issues. The article establishes connection with the mode and relations of production, commodification, information and consciousness management, using the U.S. and Turkish television as examples. 

First audience ratings will be discussed, followed by discussion on content rating. Then, an evaluation of communication control and broadcasting will be presented. Finally conclusion will be provided as a recap of the critical assessment. 

Audience Rating: Business Relations and Commodification 

Audience rating is measurement of audience television exposure level and is the subject of, i.e., industrial relations, business to business relations, marketing and marketing research, and political economy of communication. It emerged as answer to specific need related with the management of business to business relations in the mass media and media related sectors. It provides information to the broadcasting media and advertisers to make crucial decisions. It is the basis for the business transaction between broadcasters and advertisers, because the prices charged for advertising are based on the audience exposure level. It helps the industry to establish an industry wide accepted advertising rate system. 

The Nielsen firm, that was founded in 1923 and was infamous among broadcasters for deciding the fates of many sitcoms in the U.S., is the leader in television audience rating research. Nielsen Media Research has a sample of homes with set meters (not people meters) which provide information on channels and time the television set is on. Nielsen ratings also measure who watches what program and what channel by means of weekly diaries conducted four times a year. The ratings provide an estimate of the audience format about every program that can be seen on television. 

There are private rating research firms, but no established audience ratings system in Turkey yet, probably because there is no measuring agency that provides reliable and valid rating information to the industry. Furthermore, the broadcasters in Turkey seem to have too crooked business culture to allow establishment of a fair system of relations. The same cultural character is likely to be paramount in those agencies that claim doing audience research. However, the broadcasters in Turkey use the disreputable audience ratings to advertise their superiority to the audience and advertisers. 

There are mainly three parties involved in audience ratings: advertising agencies, broadcasters and audience. 

(1) Advertising agencies act in the interest of their clients. Advertising is to sell simultaneously products and worldviews. The advertising agencies use audience rating information for deciding on when and where to put their client’s commercials. Advertising, claiming rationality and freedom, exalting the materialistic virtues of consumption and stressing on achievement drives and emulative anxieties, mostly simplifies and distorts the real human condition. Advertising promotes certain needs at the expense of others, exploits emotions and simple pleasures, expectations and anxieties, focuses on freedom of consumption, massages superstition and stereotyping, inflates enticement, feigns information, trivializes and eliminates objective state, contrives illogical situations, and tries to reduce people to the role of irrational consumer. 

(2) Television broadcasters is in the production business of producing news and entertainment programs and mass viewers for television industry and for the ruling system in general and advertisers in specific. Television operates day and night to produce programs for the audiences, audience commodity for the advertising industry, consumer desires for capitalist products, voters and believers for capitalist political processes. Television industry can’t rely on demand and supply rules of the so-called free market. Mass production requires mass consumption; thus people can’t be left alone, but should be molded in certain content types and preferences. 

The broadcasting industry use the rating information to decide on a two crucial policy issues: (a) Decision on either to keep an existing or new program on the air or not and (b) Advertising rate. The ratings are the main determinants of a program’s success or failure. Programs that fail to maintain an expected and satisfactory level of ratings can’t survive. A new show’s fate is determined by the initial ratings. At the same time, television broadcasters have to maximize their advertising revenue in order to make money. That’s why, they have to maintain and, if possible, increase their program ratings in order to keep advertisers happy, because the low rating means loss of revenue. 

(3) Audience occupies a special place in the rating business. The audience market exists to serve the material and ideological interest of the broadcasting and advertising industries. The commercial television is positioned in between audience and advertising agencies. The broadcasters have two connected markets, audience and advertisers. The audience market is viewed in terms of viewer socio-demographics and channel and program preferences. Broadcasters provide news and entertainment to the audience market in order to reach two interrelated objectives: to get higher market share in terms of number of viewers and simultaneously to propagate the ideology, especially market ideology of the capitalist system. 

These three parties have mutually dependent, supportive and also conflicting interests. Concern of advertisers is not the type or content of the program, but size of the target audience measured by ratings. Thus, concern of the television broadcasters is to capture as many viewers as possible by programs. The audience interest is not how many people watch a program, but the content and qualitative diversity in programs. Then interest of audience, advertiser and television industry are not same, rather looks contradictory. The broadcasters seem to be in a difficult position to serve competing, contradicting or dissimilar interests of the audience members and the advertising agencies. It is normally expected that the broadcasters try to establish a balance between two interests, but the working of the broadcasting media and rating system clearly indicate that media serve the interest of the advertising industry that pay the bill for the service. 

The above presentation on the audience ratings is acknowledged accounts of the issue. There are important shortcomings in the account and serious criticisms directed toward the audience ratings. These shortcomings and critical assessments will be discussed next. 

Ratings and Commodification 

Audience ratings are intimately related with the control and management of information, commodification and ideological domination. The audience ratings indicate that the information is an invaluable commodity, has an owner, thus, it is a part of the mode and relations of production. The ratings have exchange value, but further more, it is a commodified information determining the exchange value of media products between the broadcasters and advertisers. Ratings are used to form the price of time slots in television program schedule. Figure 1 graphically shows the relationship. 

Figure 1. Viewers, broadcasters, advertisers and commodification 

The rating audience size, composition and patterns of media exposure are part of the process of transformation of audience to a commodity. Audience commodification process involves transformation by means of rating for setting their exchange value and monitoring techniques to keep track of production, distribution, exchange and consumption. Monitoring exemplifies by a range of practices including traditional business accounting. 

A television program, produced or bought by the television station is a commodity aired to the audience for free or paid viewing, so that another commodity (audience commodity) can be created in order to market to advertisers. While television programs have use value for the audience meeting needs like information, vicarious interaction, entertainment and/or escape, have exchange value for the television industry, because the program produced or bought, aired free or not, is a commodity. Television use value assigned by the audience is not measured and is not important for the industry. When the rating is concerned, this use value is useless, since it is not translated into exchange value. Industry defines the use value in terms of what is watched, the distribution of television exposure according to programs and other socio-demographics. The relative frequency distribution of television exposure becomes criteria for determining the exchange value. This use value is transformed into exchange value by means of the relative extent of program exposure (rating) is expressed in terms of price for ad time allocated in a program timetable. Hence, the audience is transformed into a commodity in the institutional and marketing system that transform the specified use value into exchange value in order to extract profit. Hereby, exchange value is determined by the industry through the unaware audience participation. 

Television program uses are conditioned or limited by the structural properties of the commodity and take their existence from them. In the determination of exchange value, the audience gets economically nothing. The audience is central in the determination process, but they are not aware of it. Exchange value is determined outside the control and will of the audience. There is no mutual determination of either use or the exchange value. Programming and rating market producing exchange value brings about control that eliminates or marginalizes alternative ways of social control and of media content production. 

Ratings and mind management 

Advertisers demand from television large numbers of audiences who are intellectually, emotionally and culturally molded in such a way that their wants, desires, hopes, expectations, likes and preferences are in line with the interests of the capitalist mode and relations of production, distribution and especially consumption. Thus, television acts as an agent of capitalist socialization and acculturation. At the same time, television is a commercial enterprise making money by selling itself as a necessary part of capitalist democracy, supposedly playing the role of the fourth estate, and the global system that created the television. 

Broadcasters via audience ratings find their legitimized way of survival and expansion. At the same time, pluralist theory finds its ideological support in the ratings. Television broadcasters believe and advocate the idea that television industry produce what the audience want, thus serve public interest. According to this view, it is the taste of the public that the U.S. networks and advertisers accede to. Reliance on audience ratings is analogous to maintaining an opinion poll regarding network programming and responding to the majority in determining the program schedules. Hence, the audience determines what television carries (Chapter 5 in my computer). In fact, ratings merely create the illusion that broadcasters give the public what it says it wants (Fowles, 1992:70). The former president of NBC news R. Frank puts the fact in a succinct way: "is news what the public interested in or what's in the public interests? This business of giving people what they want is a dope pusher's argument. News is something they don't know they' re interested in until they hear about it." (Hickey, 1998, cited in The Guardian, July 11, 1998). 

Broadcasters and proponents of commercial system claim that audiences have large variety of channel and content preferences. No television programmer and executive can escape the ratings pressure, because television system depends on ratings to protect profits. Thus, ratings issue becomes an obsession in the daily media activities. Because of obsession with ratings too, there is narrowing choices for viewers despite the claim that there is many channels and programs to choose. 

Public broadcasting, with no commercial interest and no sizeable advertising revenue, escapes the managing influence of the audience ratings. The liberal ideology asserting that the competition within a market system compels the media to respond to public wants, needs and views doesn’t apply to public broadcasting. Claims that ratings antennae of commercial television are on constant alert to catch any perceptible change in public preference and that much of the effort, energy and creativity of the media industry are spent for pleasing audience in a fiercely competitive environment are inapplicable to the public broadcasting. 

Ratings, threat and surveillance 

The audience rating can be seen as a social and cultural threat, because it is aimed at knowing behavioral patterns via measuring television audience produced by the media and social relations in order to exploit for private self interests. The audience rating is, at the same time, an important part in institutional surveillance systems. It is instrumental for daily business transactions, thus, for the maintenance and expansion of capital accumulation. Furthermore, audience measurements and ratings are also integrated part of audience surveillance systems helping the process of intensifying the audience control and producing marketable products (basically programs and audience commodity) based on the research findings. 

Ratings and positivism 

The audience ratings are to identify values expressed as the television program preferences in order to establish some marketing advertising goals. Such measurement based on positivist empiricist tradition falls in contradiction with the logic of positivism. The moral question and normative considerations are left out of scientific inquiry on the grounds that they “get in the way of scientific achievement and ultimately prevent science from developing the means to address the very problems that moralists raise” (Mosco, 1996:35). While the positivist empiricism stress on value neutrality and rejecting the normative evaluation and notion of morality, the bulk of social, economic, political and cultural research are about finding out values of population. Hence, The audience measurements and ratings can be criticized as unscientific assessments done in order to establish control mechanisms for the interest of capitalist industries. 

Methodological considerations 

The ratings are used as indicator of popularity of programs. They are rather crude measurement of audience interest and preferences, since they only provide frequency analysis or summary statistics based on frequency distributions. That’s why, they can not measure critical reception (or reasons for no reception) of a particular program preference and use, hence, they are invalid measure of popularity and public service. If the ratings report that television sets are on, It means only television sets are on and gives us a dispersion statistics that can be grouped according to some personal socio-demographic information; then this information can be ranked according to frequency. Empirical research designed by rating firms is not devised to study audience experience and psychology, social, economic and cultural meaning of viewing. What sense audience members make of their experience are not studied and not reflected in rating studies. Frequency analysis and distributions with some nominal data can not actually give necessary information beyond cross tabulations. The ratings measurement justifies existing practices and sets for standards for success based on high rated program types and contents. Thus, policy decisions and justifications and claims based on information may be functional for the prevailing system. But ratings data can’t provide required information to understand the viewing issues and questions within its changing and different contexts. Various studies confirm that market and ratings data can not reveal much of what we need to know if actual media use is to be understood as a question of cultural and economical development" (Jefrey, 1994) 

Content Rating: Control of Communication by and for whom? 

It seems the concept of content rating is unfamiliar to television broadcasters and some communication scholars in Turkey. Herein, a critical assessment of the content rating in The U. S. and Turkey will be provided. The U.S. rating system is selected because it will be daily dominant agenda in Turkey in the near future. 

Content control of communication is aimed at the suppression of ways of expressions ranging from applauding a dissident (nonverbal communication) to technologically mediated word. Objectives set for TRT programming policy is a prime example for the control over the mediated communication. 

Content rating in the U.S. is a special kind of control of communication. It is not censorship because it is not applied to the production and distribution of a film or television program. It provides information about the character of a finished product via a coding system that rates the content according to, i.e., violence or sex. It is supposedly a control introduced at the consumption stage of a communication product. 

Because of amounting concerns, quelling public outrage and despair over television programming over fifty years, the U.S. government was intended to implement its own rating system, if the television industry didn’t. In Section 551 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Congress gave the broadcasting industry the first opportunity to establish voluntary ratings. The intention of the U.S. government was criticized by the proponents of the media and of liberal theory as an attempt for censorship and a threat to the freedom of expression. Answering the critics, i.e., senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut has said the issue is not about “rating the garbage,” but “how to get rid of the garbage”. ( the end of V chip; read it completely). 

Legislation was introduced forbidding the FCC to renew a television station’s license unless it implemented a content rating providing information on sex, violence and language in its programs. The ratings system required by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was first put into use in January 1997 by cable and broadcast television, with all shows bearing a rating in the upper left-hand corner, except for news and sport telecasts. This system is used with the new V-Chip control device. The extra content letters were instituted starting the fall 1997 TV season. (CNN, 1997). On Thursday, July 10, 1997 a majority of the television industry agreed to update its television ratings system. Starting October 1, programs included new content ratings: V (violence), (S) sex, L (offensive language), D (dialogue, i.e. sexual innuendo) and FV (fantasy or cartoon violence). NBC network, like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), refused the rating system by citing attempts to regulate program content and other such First Amendment violations. 

This rating system, also known as "TV Parental Guidelines," was established by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB), the National Cable Television Association (NCTA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The objective is to offer parents some advance cautionary information so they can better supervise the TV watching of their young children (Parental Guidelines, 2000). These ratings are displayed on the television screen for the first 15 seconds of rated programming and, in conjunction with the V-Chip, permit parents to block programming with a certain rating from coming into their home (FCC, 2000): 

TV-Y (appropriate for all children.) 

TV-Y7 (for children age 7 and above.) 

TV-G (suitable for all ages; containing little or no violence, no strong language and little or no sexual dialogue or situations.) Actually, TV-G rating will ensure that no body or very few people will watch. 

TV-PG (Parental Guidance Suggested; programs with moderate violence, some sexual situations, infrequent coarse language, or some suggestive dialogue). This rating is supposed to bring the cooperative decision and family watching together at home. Family members mostly don’t watch television together. Many children prefer not to watch rather than watching TV with their parents. 

TV-14 (Parents strongly cautioned; unsuitable for children under 14 years of age; programs with intense violence, intense sexual situations, strong coarse language, or intensely suggestive dialogue). 

TV-MA (Mature Audience Only; unsuitable for children under 17; programs containing one or more of the following: graphic violence, explicit sexual activity, or crude indecent language). 

There are no specified standards on the type of the ratings, despite the TV Parental Guidelines. Decision on which television show gets which rating depends mostly on the individual choice of the network administration. Because of the lack of consensus on the rating criteria, a program that gets TV-Y14 on one television network might get a TV-MA on another. A love story television movie with nudity my get a PG13, while a movie with similar nudity gets R. Sometimes vice versa. For instance, some networks use additional rating codes to clarify their own rating system, like N for nudity. 

The public service tradition in Europe and elsewhere like in Turkey, though under the pressure commercial system, is theoretically and/or legally organized around providing quality programming for defined national goals. 

These functional goals attached to the broadcasting system indeed spell the content control of communication by prescribing do’s and don’ts of television programming policy. 

The broadcasting regulations and objectives stated in the policy statements set rules in formation, ownership, organization and functioning of the media organization. The state theoretically acting for the general public interest rather than private interests set regulations with respect to blasphemy, insult, slander, libel, state secret, national defense, morality, decency, obscenity, pornography and so on. The legal framework supposedly is to prevent undesired ways of conduct, thus uphold the desired ones. As legal provisions are severely criticized by the effected parties, at the same time, they are most often violated, infringed in practice by the broadcasters and their political allies. RTÜK in Turkey is a prime example of state regulated content control of television broadcasting and of a public agency unable to work properly, because of the reason stated above. No pressure compelled commercial television programming in Turkey for taking any content rating action on their own. Moreover, broadcasters use their economic and political influence in order to cripple any attempt to employ rules and regulations. Television signals need broad channel of 6,000 kilocycles, that’s why the electromagnetic spectrum over which signals are transmitted is a limited, hence invaluable resource. The ownership of this invaluable resource belongs to public. The allocation of public airwaves for a license fee and public service principle are regulated by a public authority in many country. Acting with commercial greed, self-interest and disregard for laws and regulations, Television broadcasters in Turkey ignore the right of public and use the public airwaves illegally. This airwave piracy has been goings on since the private television broadcasting illegally started in Turkey over 10 years ago. The value of the airwaves, a limited national resource –hence by legal definition a public property – which has in effect been usurped by the broadcaster for his own corporate use and private profit. Persistent domination of illegality raises the question of cooperation of state authorities, including RTÜK, as well paid accomplices or “silenced for self-interest participants” in the process. This self-centered moral and business ethic in the broadcasting business is reflected in working relations within the broadcasting firms and among themselves. 

Rating and agenda setting 

Content rating is an important issue, because it triggers the classical discussion on freedom of communication via mass media; it diverts public attention from the mode and relations of production in television industry to the end products (programs) and moral and ethical effects. By setting the agenda on the end products, it automatically assumes a normal material system and subsystems of communication in national and international relations. Thus, it legitimizes the existing structures. By driving attention over freedom of communication and television content, it finds a ground for propagation of capitalist system as free market place of ideas and virtuousness of freedom of entrepreneurial action. Social control of communication is defined through the ideological framework capitalism. 

Control of communication in a form like content rating, springs from utilitarian view of communication relations combined with dominant moral and religious values. A system based on sex, language and violence ratings reduces the media issues down to only certain moral concerns, thus, sets a context for media discussion within such limits and excludes ideology, consciousness management, economic, cultural and political interests. 

V-chip, ratings and question of social responsibility 

The v-chip and the rating system challenge parental authority and place them in an untenable position: They have to hold their own against the relentless wave of commercial exploitation from outside, while fighting an adversarial war to suppress their child's desire to experience the advertised world. (Burke, 2000). 

The v-chip is different from all previous and prevailing control of communication. This time, the enforcers of the control are no longer broadcasters with their own commercial and ideological interests, nor advertisers with insidious ways of allurement, or any federal agency like FCC. V-chip is a perfect example for finding technological solution to a critical problem of material and ideological domination. V-chip support the active audience and selective exposure theories by providing an electronic control gadget to audience and, thus, shifting the cultural site of struggle by bringing parents to the front lines. V-chip and the rating system conveniently transfer the moral responsibility over parents’ shoulders. Hence, billion dollar television, advertising and Hollywood corporations that know well how to manipulate communication and have the necessary resources to do so, and their soldier in arm partners in the state system absolve themselves of responsibility. Playing a self-regulating socially responsible agent role, the broadcasters relieve themselves from the responsibility for the program content they put on air. With a bright and clear conscience broadcasting industry is now free to continue obsession with news and entertainment filled with violence, sexual exploitation and promotion of certain way of life as universal one. 

The rating system saved broadcasters also from the social responsibility set in the Children's Television Act of 1990. The act reminds broadcasters that there is indeed a common ground outside their narrow interests, a responsibility beyond profiteering, that they must truly attend to the "educational and informational needs of children." (FCC,1995). 

By providing a rating system, the television industry is in fact neither clearing themselves from responsibility for what they air nor solving the issue that children are exposed to programs they are not supposed to watch and parents mostly don't control (or don’t want to control) what their children watch. It is obvious that if parents really decide on what their children watched, there wouldn't be a need for ratings system. Furthermore, the industry, by putting a rating system is not changing their prevailing program practices to a more socially responsible one. Concerned parties want more family friendly programs rather than existing programs that are mostly adult oriented (Stone, 1999). 

Content rating and freedom of choice 

Content ratings of television programs indicate the kind of control geared toward the establishing rules of conduct between the television broadcasters and viewers. Television broadcasters inform the viewers about the specific content of a program and viewers decide on exposure based on the rating. It is a guiding sign for selective exposure based on some moral values like nudity, obscenity and violence. Hence, the control of consuming a communication product is left to the viewers’ initiative. This kind of mode of relation gives a strong impression of freedom of choice. It is mostly a farce impression, because prerequisite for freedom of choice is to have access to the products that are qualitatively diverse and all competing choices are made available (i.e. alternative product and services, all sides of an issue) to viewers’ selection. Otherwise, any assertion on freedom is nothing more than an attempt for mind management or public relations ploy, a part of ideological conditioning. 

The proponents of broadcasting industry also claim that the viewer freedom of choice because the displeased viewer has the option of turning the television off. Even this is called as an option, it is only an option for selecting another alternative to television watching, but it still is not an option to established mode of relationship, because the audience still be paying for television advertising through the increased prices of the goods he/she buys. 

Television content rating theoretically assumes an active and rational audience and empowers them with v-chip and rating codes to enforce communications control over TV exposure. This is rather deceiving, because commercial television and advertising outputs are not geared toward rationality, but irrational conspicuous consumption activities.. It's also “a hoax however because it purports to empower parents and increase their influence over television, but instead sets them up as the fall guys for television's new world of unlimited exploitation.” (CEP, 2000). 

It is obvious that freedom of expression is to be defended. However there should be answers to questions like how can we defend industries’ freedom to pollute the human and natural environment and present it as development? How can we defend the prevailing programs of commercial television stations? We can, if we consider mounting piles of junk as some form of art or consumable product. We can, if our economical, cultural and ideological interests promoted by broadcasting practices. We can, if we own or have share or have some kinds of interest tie with the television industry. We can, if we believe in the capitalist system and conveniently refuse to deal with social and moral issues on the grounds that television is a site for freedom of expression and that audience is active enough to make preferences that fit in his/her needs. 

Ratings and blaming the victim 

Concept behind the content ratings also indicates that children are corruptive and open to suggestions and effects which are anti-social and anti-establishment. The same concept is extended to the idea that potentially or actually obscene, violent and/or corrupt is the audience’s own self. Hence, ratings help the audience to choose according to his/her own deviant taste. 

When we think of the effect of the program, we should decide if it is a causal agent or a trigger mechanism or the both. When only causal agent, then it should be under control in order to prevent undesirable outcomes. If it is only a triggering agent that is used by i.e., violent and corrupt people, then, it means corruption and violence already present in the character of viewers. In this case, like in gun control, the programs are rated in such a way that corrupted or violent people or people susceptible to corruption can’t have access to the programs. You can’t reach to such objective by informing viewers by rating. In fact, by providing ratings you help viewers, including youngsters, seeking violent, obscene, pornographic content. You can help parents who actively seek for control what their children watch. Far from discouraging viewers, most rating systems have had a reverse effect on viewing. "The "R" rating is a case in point. A recent report by Mediascope Inc. on television violence (commissioned by the cable industry itself) reported that among the very ones most susceptible to television violence-boys between the ages of 10 and 14-not one would choose a movie rated "G." But if the same movie were rated "R" more than half of the boys (53%) would want to watch it. Thus with a wink of an eye and tongue in cheek, the rating system becomes another illusion in a world of grand illusions, a mirage of morality on the barren road towards cultural dehydration (CEP, 2000). 

According to a media watchdog group study, “parents trying to screen television shows for foul language, sexual references and violence can't trust the TV ratings system.” The system "doesn't come close to accurately informing parents whether or not a show is suitable for their children." Greater concern is the nature of programs aired at the time children tend to watch TV. "The real solution to the problem is cleaning up content in that first hour of prime time programming," (CNN-Watchdog report, 1998). 

Content and commodity 

Television program is a commodity produced by an industry shaped by certain production mode and relations within and without. The program as commodity has an exchange value depending on the real and imagined intrinsic value of its content. 

The value of content of a program is determined not only expenses occurred during the production and distribution processes, but also by the viewership. Then, the content control is related to what to produce (issues selected) and how to produce (expressive quality). 

The television program is an instrument of communication. It commands interest because it has some elements attractive or drives attention for some reason. 

When we view popular television shows, including news, no opportunity is provided for viewers to imagine, to add something, to express something. These shows makes no or very little demand from viewers for an intellectual expression or participation beyond immediate spurious consumption of the show and probable latent consumption of mass produced products of capitalist market. These shows themselves are prime examples of communications control since they are end products of a certain mode and relations of production. They are prepackaged goods of a structure that aims at accomplishing specific material and immaterial objectives. They close the use of other possible alternatives by capturing the viewers with specific contents, while claiming totality of experience and ultimate satisfaction. 

Threat and surveillance 

Television content rating system is industry’s own measuring; it indicates a stage in the development of institutionalized self-surveillance system. When imposed by public authority, it indicates the stage of state control of communication. The both kind of surveillance under capitalist mode of production is not detrimental to the accumulation of capital. Rather organized accumulation activities for contributes to the development of surveillance system, control of communication. State surveillance under capitalist domination is not set against the interest of capitalist class as a whole. It may be a threat for expansion of a segment of capitalist class, but can not run against class interest of capitalism. 

Content ratings imposed by government or any state agency are considered censorship, a threat on freedoms by the effected parties, When the broadcasters establish their own rating system, it is called self regulation, self surveillance, self control and are mostly welcomed by the proponents of the free market place of ideas. Thus, when a behavior or act of one party demonstrates a threat to the interest of the other parties, it is called threat or censorship. The content rating system is a serious danger, not for the industry’s freedom of speech, but for the public’s free expression of needs, problems and solutions, seeking and finding valuable and useful information and entertainment The rating system politically and publicly solves the moral, ethical and ideological problems of television content by providing a rating system and, thereby ends the discussion. The result is that the concerned sides continue to provide dissatisfaction and their own solutions, while the industry which has the upper hand engage in mind management business by, i.e., self imposed rating system and other public relations activities. 

Control of communication may extend to themes and treatments. A judgement is made for content ratings. This judgement might be made in a context that is claimed to be ideal or some other contexts such as personal, a specified group, group interest, economical and standardized. Which context is to be chosen depends on the real purpose or the ideological justification, for which judgement is being made. That is why, the questions “who is to judge whether a program is, i.e., obscene, violent, only for mature audience? Judgement for what ends and whose interests?” can be answered in different ways. Depending on the resolution reached after the power relations or imposed, judging can be made by qualified person or persons, or by the producers of programs or viewer themselves or by all concerned parties. Depending on the mode and relations of social production, judging serves certain interests and actualizes certain material and ideological objectives. 

The rating system is rather functional for the broadcasters who urgently need justification for their daily program practices. Then, the rating system is a threat for the society in general, because it keeps the existing media program practices that promote stupidity, anti intellectualism, banality, sexual exploitation, sexual degeneration, sexism, superstition, superficiality, political stupidity, economical stability, cultural stupidity, inhumanity in the name of humanity, antidemocracy in the name of democracy, slavery to cosmetics, drugs, fashion, and conspicuous consumption in the name of freedom of choice, escapism, escape from thinking and evaluation to standardized solutions, It bestows of an economical and political system based on exploitation of human soul, body and labor in the name of free enterprise and free market place of ides that are under the control of monopoly and/or oligopoly capital. 

Rating system is a threat in the way of betterment of the television programming. It is surveillance over quality shows and news that ensures that socially, economically and culturally responsible and meaningful programming wont take hold on. It is a threat and surveillance, because it guarantees and promotes a competition to sell products, services and ideologies via exploitative programming practices. Television rating system based on informing the public about the content serves the economic and ideological interest of the industry. 

A rating system geared toward controlling the content and language by establishing and implementing production codes brings about real control over the daily program practices of the broadcasters. As soon as we talk about the production codes and control of content, we face with severe and also cynical criticism indicting that content control impinges the public’s right to be informed, to collect and obtain information. It is cynical and hypocritical because it doesn't state that the control of content might put a severe restriction on the current practices of the broadcasting industry, force them to comply with quality and responsible programming. 

Production control of the content based on the same concerns is out of question in the rating system. Production control outside the prevailing professional ideologies and practices is considered a censorship that shapes and limits communication content according to some prescribed standards, normative rules and regulations. Such censorship is qualitatively different than the factors that shape the thought and practice of the producer of a television program. The program producer is already an active product of a worldview that has inclusive and exclusive characters of a censor. The censorship issue emerges because of the conflicting interests and power relations among the concerned parties. Censorship has a relational character, thus it is a relative term, because it is censorship only for the ones who are subjected to, but it may be considered as a necessary means for establishing socially, culturally, ethically, politically and economically sound, meaningful, ethical standards for socially responsible conduct. 

It is also mostly because he content control practices are put by the public authority and heavily contaminated with the ideological chauvinism and prejudices of the state and abused by he governments, thus, production codes on content are righteously seen as threat to the freedom of expression exercised by the broadcasting firms and institutions. It is not seen as public surveillance or the interest of he public, rather state control over the right of individuals and institutions. 

Content and commodity 

Commodities indeed have their own content and meaning attached to it not only because of the intrinsic qualities, but also through the process of fetishisation. The content rating has crucial importance because the television program is a commodity with its content and its meaning. The content of communication (a program or ratings) is a marketable product. The process of commodification of the program involves the whole procedures and steps to produce the program involving professional skills and property relations. The rating add an informational control dimension to the product to be marketed. Regardless of a program produces within or bought form the program software market, it is a commodity with use and exchange values. The content of communication is a produced product and can't be limited with semiotic or linguistic meaning. It is a product of certain mode and relations of production that involve a complex set of factors like people as labor force and audience and capital. 

Television program contents perhaps much more than the content of other commodities, it produces both surplus value like all other commodities, and meaning that shapes and manipulates consciousness. Different than other commodities, television produces products that address directly to the mind of human beings through sight and sound. The control of the communication content thus means an important influence on the relations of production, qualitative shape of the product and probably ideological disposition. 

Television as a commodity production and as an important agent in the process of commodification throughout the economy is an extremely important site of struggle for domination and extending the domination. That’s why the content rating issue is a matter of lost or gain in the struggle for continuously shaping the product of communication and thus audience consciousness, audience as consumer, laborer, professional, viewer and criteria for determining the audience ratings and advertising rate in television. 

Content, ideology and consciousness 

The content rating issue is important but it is not to be taken as central issue in communication by connecting it with freedom of expression, censorship or ideological practices. It is important because it is related with the production of ideology and hence the production of audiences for the capitalist economical and political structure. Content and ideology is not apart from and external to the mode and relations of production in a national and international context. The content control of communication is tied with he audience activity ands consciousness can not be open to a perilous negating contestation and control of the dominant practices. Decision on what, where and how to produce, distribute and exchange can’t be for any body else but for the ruling interest of the capital. 

Content rating is part of the relationship between organized mode of capital accumulation and associated modes of societal and ideological control. Rating encompasses control practices that help to characterize a social structure of accumulation by contributing to shaping the accumulation process and it’s associated consciousness. Content of communication regulates the daily practices or looks like regulating the daily practices in the case of state regulations that exist only to be broken by the powerful and applied on the powerless. 

Action flows from impulses, habits and predispositions are not so easily changed. That’s why the most important policy is to form viewer impulses, habits and dispositions. The television programs form a mindset and also trigger a process already primed. Television shows work both as a socializing agent to form specific impulses, habits, values, believes and attitudes, and as a trigger mechanism for those primed ones by exploiting the existing characteristics created. Because of the manner of working, television is a means or tool of mind setting and management. If shaping the consciousness for present and future manipulation is an art, like art of politics, administration, commercial art, film art etc, that television is artist’s tool and television programs are work of administrative, ideological, commercial art forms. 

Television, despite the claim that the audience is active, indoctrinates viewers into learning a particular reality and conditions their ability to perceive reality. The viewer’s own daily world and world outside, his environment, is defined in a particular way for a predetermined economic, political and cultural structure and situated in a proper context for the commercial interests. The viewer is inducted into the lifestyle of the consumer of the modern industrial products and their ideology through television programming that programs the mind via so called news and entertainment that are commercially and ideologically well regulated. As S. Ewen (1976), H. I. Schiller (1974) J. K. Galbrait (1957), Parenti (1984) and many others indicated television is a prime means of mind management for capitalist system’s daily operations. 

Moral and ethical question: Violence and sex 

The control of communication through the audience ratings functionally shapes the type and content of the programs. The audience rating is not connected with the social values in the society. However it is not immune from ethical considerations. Not only ethics of research but also ethics of business relations are involved in the audience research and rating issues. 

The television content rating is closely related with the moral values and morality of daily practices of television industry. The dominant moral positions on television programming emerge from the economic and political perspectives and associated with conception about social, economic, political and cultural practices. 

The morality of television programming is always questioned and generally severe criticism are provided by those who find television programming ethically and morally degrading and detestable. The content rating of television programming is industry’s answer to the pressures of concerned parties, especially state supposedly acting in the interest of public interest and parent associations and NGOs acting with the moral and ethical considerations. 

Moral considerations of those parties involved are squeezed in very narrow sites of struggle involving sex and violence. It is rather ironic to come up with such moral issues wherein sex and violence are inherent characteristics of a system. The television industry and concerned intellectuals find themselves in a dilemma, because they acknowledge the problem of sex and violence in the programming. But they also keep a strong commitment to the capitalist principle of freedom of expression. Television industry can not accept any interference in program type and content because violence and sex content is tied with the material interests. At the same time, television industry can not ignore the amounting pressures. The morality principle of the capitalist enterprise calls for protection of the right of capital’s adventure. The industry does just this by establishing a content rating system that highlights the interest and moral values and practices of the capitalist system. 

The rating issue is not what a television producer writes, because already television programming include the two basic content types, news and entertainment. The rest of programs fall in either news or entertainment or the both categories. The rating issue is how it is written in terms of the character of messages/content of the program. Social control of communication based on sex, obscenity, violence and religious belief seek for the content character which is morally undesirable, corruptive, criminally suggestive, educationally teaching or promoting violence, sexual deviance and immoral behavior. The prevailing ideological standpoints indicate that the program may have effect on viewers, but violence and obscenity are not in the program but in the mind of audience. Then, the character of the program content can not be under question, but the mind of the audience. If we hold the idea that mind is corruptible and should be protected against the corruptive influences and defending the freedom of industrial practices, then, we came up with the solution that the audience should be informed about the content character and controlling choice should be left to the initiative of the audience. 

Aggression is repressed and controlled by the dominant cultures. Only the justified aggression exercised by the dominant power centers is celebrated. Television reflects and over represents aggression in the form of violence by the aggressors and against the illegitimate aggressors (bad men and women who break the capitalist codes of property relations) by the legitimate aggressors (good man and women of organized structures like police, detective agencies, firms). 

Thus, violence in society finds its redefined and reshaped expressions in television programs. What we see in television is nothing less than the affirmation of life under capitalist mode and relations of production. It jubilantly celebrates the human condition created by capitalist market. 

The moral challenge of the capitalist system is to instill the domination of so called free enterprise spirit, that’s spirit of exploitation based on unabashed misuse of the nature and labor in order to extract surplus value. It is rather convenient to reduce the moral question of our times to sex and individual violence. Whence the immorality of a system is kept out of dominant agenda via this cover up. Via content rating television industry redefines moral spheres in such a way that it fits in the commercial ratings and interests. 

Control of communication and broadcasting 

Social control of communication exercised by dominant forces is unavoidable since social formations (society) are historically based on certain production mode and relations that characteristically require and justify the control as a reasonable. Control of communication set by the dominant culture is presumably to protect economical, political, and cultural values and practices. Anything that attacks established standards of expression are subject to control. The control is exercised because it undermines the authority of established patterns in a society. Throughout the history, the control issue is being reduced to a very functional trio, politics, sex and religion. The most of the rationale for control is based on grounds like threat to society’s moral, religious and ethical values, violation of good taste and impeding sound judgement. 

The television industry and legal sanctions connect obscenity, sex and violence with the use of some dirty words, some individual violent acts and some explicit sexual scenes. If A television program is an integrated and coherent whole, its expressive quality can not be additively constructed from what is expressed by its isolated parts (Phelan, 1969:136). Obscenity, violence etc is presented as localized in intention of the producers based on the probable effect on people. Indeed, the intention and effect should be evaluated according to expressive substance of the program rather than only obscene words used and violent acts performed. There is more to it than what the dominant agenda and critics like Phelan present. The violence and obscenity in television programming in fact acknowledges the authority of dominant cultural standards. It doesn’t openly attack accepted standards. It is generally affirmation of sexual and violent acts despite restraints, while celebrating sex in the name of freedom and violence in the name of law and order. It talks about moral, ethical, social and cultural values, but defines them in commercialized utilitarian terms. Television program policies and industry’s rating system seem like the television industry accepts the dominant moral codes in the U.S in order to flout it, or codes presented as advanced and modern in the case of country like Turkey in order to ridicule traditional ones. Then, working through the established or preferred codes, perverted and perverse are made attractive and desirable. Sometimes, claiming to rise above predefined morality and rejecting the dominant definition of normality (i.e. defending homosexuality, transsexuality, bourgeois feminist values in the name of breaking the taboos in Turkey), some programs pretend to ignore and others discuss the taboo, supposedly to dissolve it. Namely, television industry’s program policy is a special kind of economical, political and cultural indecency claiming decency and various freedoms. Television program policy in its perversion is concerned primarily with the social evils of particular sex and violence patterns such sex is claimed dirty; then, the programs occupy themselves with sex and violence for the sake of dirt. In perverse obscenity of entertainment industry we watch pathetic spectacle of ceremonial sexual and violent worshipping scene after scene. 

The most talked control of communication has always been sanctions from outside. This is so, because the control is part of the relations of domination and struggle. It indicates an exercise of power and struggle against use of the power by crying, i.e., censorship. Control of communication is sometimes easy to recognize, especially when vigorously employed by possessors of political, economic and cultural power. Blatant or subtle creeds and codes of communication control put in motion by individuals, groups and institutions aren’t the only ones. Most control is hard to recognize. There are control processes that look natural and act as built in censors that preselect the communication issue and content to fit in the program time. For instance, a television programmer may claim no ideological commitment by presenting the both sides of an issue. But indeed he/she is ideological and biased by preaccepting that there are two sides to an issue. The programmer by presenting the both sides with the supposedly conflicting opposite views, while ignoring the rest. Thus, control of communication also works within organized self. Bias is introduced and thus control exercised in the process of decision on selecting and processing an issue, while ignoring others. 

A similar and one of the most effective communication control arises from one’s fear (i.e. a journalist’s fear) of struggle against the dominant flow and chose to adopt. This is self-censorship that has many names like professionalism, socialization, adaptation, selective exposure/avoidance, normal behavior etc. It is because individual exists in society and finds good reasons in screening out information and behavior that will introduce unmanageable and/or high-risk conflict in his/her life and relations. 

Thus, control of communication implies control of both consciousness and social organization. Culture of the favored institution would infiltrate every aspect of social life. Structural necessity and desire for hegemony and superiority (that bring about social, economic, cultural and political control) as well as fear of risky communication under a ruling structure of relations (that imposes self-censorship) are determining causes of communication control. Self-censorship is commonplace in the news media today. 

Television has an intimate connection of its ownership patterns and mode of production with the dominant business culture in a society. While American television reflects American commercial culture, Turkish private television, with secular and theological forms, demonstrates the quality and character of dependency and neo-colonial culture of the year 2000, a neocolonial culture that presents itself in intellectual circles as post-modern condition, globalism, glocalism, interdependency, postmodernism and other posts. 


“The industrial system is profoundly dependent on commercial television and could not exist in its present form without it” (Galbraith, 1957:20). The commercial structure and nature of bond between broadcasting industry and commerce and state have made of television broadcasting a monopoly over social communication via owning and controlling the means of production and dissemination. 

Content, morality, ideology and consciousness: Television program content question is related with industrial praxis and moral philosophy. Moral issue is reduced to violence, sex and foul language, and the content ratings are presented as solution. The problem with the television is that programs are so many and all are similar and all are biased toward a certain language, extremely expressive styles, objectives and intentions. Television programs are extremely overloaded with sexism, male chauvinism, trivialization, superstition, escapism, conspicuous consumption, commercialism, emotional exploitation, superficiality, glorification of “right” violence as means of primary problem solving, and justification of the wage policy and wage slavery of our times. That’s why, the solution is not embedded in ratings, but in elimination or reduction in commercial and ideological biases that are the primary cause of such overloading. 

Television is an extremely important means of accomplishing economical and political interests. Television, through programs and commercials, affirm the implicit values and unquestioned standards of thought and behavior that form the contextual reality which surrounds it. Television programs and commercials project a myth of good life that creates and reinforces inner and outer environment of audience. Hence, Television audience not only buys and watches the medium, but also consumes the myths of capitalist interests and worldview. The morality and ethic of American and Turkish business world of economics and politics have determining influence on the content of television program policy. Any kind of ratings or of communication control is integrally tied with the broadcasters’ program policy. The morality and ethic of television broadcasting that is projected on the audience through the content ratings are circumscribed considerably by highly specialized business interests. That’s why television is not a mass medium in terms of reflecting the morality and ethic of public interests. The morality and ethic of television inculcate a commonality of purpose and a collective consciousness of not Anatolian or American people in general, but of logic of capitalist consumerism which constitutes a shared ruling ideology among dominant forces. 

Ratings and mode of production: Industrial praxis is mostly reduced to the legitimization of daily practices of broadcasters by the way the ratings are structured and presented. The specific organization of content and audience ratings is propelled by the needs strongly felt by television and allied industries in order to run organized activities effectively. The content ratings provide a controlled agenda for alternative that connects the content issue with moral and ethical considerations, away from mode and relations of program production. The content rating system is not geared toward redefinition and reformation of program types, program content and program policies and practices. Consequently, the television sector keeps its own program policy as it sees profitable and productive and naturally rationalizes the mode of production, distribution and consumption of television programs. One of the vital questions to be answered is that, if content ratings system is not a practice of control of industrial output, which is not, then who controls what, how and for what ends. 

The concept of “ratings” mostly is used to refer to audience ratings done by audience measurement firms. But audience ratings are also an important part of commodification process in the media that connects a range of practices in a spiral of expanding exchange value that pulls all organizations into the orbit of the information business. It is within this general framework of commodification that it becomes useful to examine the application of new measurement and surveillance technologies to expand the production of media commodities. These would include pay per view programming, people meters for rating measurement, room scanners that monitor specific program choices and attention, and smart cards that are used to activate television receivers and to purchase products. These new measurements and products are more than discrete units rather part of a commodification process that connect them in a structural hierarchy. (Mosco, 1996:152). 

Rating system, whether audience or content ratings, is an integral part of a capitalist form of organization and market structure. The system helps the process by which use values are transformed into exchange values, and goods and services are being produced exclusively for sale and marketing. This commodification process transforms messages into the audience of marketable products as consumer or itself a commodity. Commodification demands the use of measurement procedures to produce commodities and monitoring techniques to help track of production, distribution, exchange and consumption. Commodification therefore tends to promote surveillance practices. Consumers as audiences are produced and in turn audiences reproduce themselves in the pre-produced forms and, thus reproduce the system itself. 

Expansion, concentration and horizontal and vertical integration in media sector, links between the manufacturing and information industries, the vital role of advertising in broadcasting business, marketing and mind management, concentration of distribution of media products and the like are critical issues of management and/or control of communication. All these are intimately associated with moral, ethical, cultural, political, economical values and, thus, should be included in the ratings issue. 

The content and audience rating systems indicate a condition of domination established through relationship within dominating class and among the ruling and ruled classes at a certain place and time. They reproduce a system of domination of market and its ideology, while reproducing also negating forces. They set processes that strengthen social control of communication exercised over population by the political and economic powers that be. At the same time, they inevitably open public scrutiny and may lead to a critical inquiry of the system as a whole. Thus, it is important to recognize the communication issues set by and for the policy interests of the capitalist media, but also it is necessary to recognize that these issues are not exclusively closed up, rather part of the contested areas for domination and struggle. 

Audience issue: By cable, pay for per view and subscription television (like Cine 5 in Turkey) viewers have to pay for the most current and supposedly quality programs (mostly movies and sport shows). Television and allied industries need mass users in order sell and repair television sets, antennas, VCR sets, VCR tapes etc. Television is a high voltage appliance and provides a good income for the utility firms. People buy television sets to watch programs and buy products that are directly and indirectly advertised on them. What television audience pays for television is not only price for a set for once, but also is the incognizant privilege of being sold daily to advertisers. Television doesn’t sell programs and time for programs, instead sells audiences to the advertiser in volumes indicated in ratings. Thus, audiences who are sold and bought are themselves consumed. Audiences are set in the position of surrendering control over their own time, energy and money and their allocation. 

Control and production relations: Social control of communication is tied with social production relations wherein many interests are involved. Social control of communication in macro levels can be set and exercised by powers that can deal with the organized political, economical and cultural interests. Today these powers are actually rested on the state authority and organizations of capitalist market structures. State can be considered as an embodiment of general interest in a society or a political structure of class domination. Regardless how the state is defined, the broadcasting industry and the political establishment are inevitable partners, because they both need each other for survival. Commercial television stations must reach the mass audiences for commercial interests and political parties have to reach for the largest number of national voters. The politicians need voters for political influence and acceptance; the television needs for persuasion and acceptance for consumption of goods. Neither of them can afford any continued controversy and provocation. They both are powerful and have mutually supportive interests that attract each ones critical attention to the other and also make them attractive to each other. The consequence is susceptibility to political corruption, liaison between authorities in state institutions and television industry, manipulation of television broadcasting by political interests and domination of commercial control of information over the general social control and interests. The state agencies want the television broadcasters serve the public interest that is indeed a general moral and doctrinaire principle of those who see them as the foundational characteristics of the state. Television broadcasters claim they serve public while in fact serving their own selves, advertising agencies and their clients, and political interests they ally themselves with. In a speech before the Association of National Advertisers, James Duffy, President of ABC Network, asked, “How effective television today? It is not only serving the so-called affluent masses, but has become a pacesetter for their aspirations. This, of course, is caused by your commercials and our programs – probably in that order.” (Variety, 4/15/1970). 

Threat and surveillance: It is not the commercial television under serious ratings threat and surveillance, but the general public. Real threat and surveillance is built in the commercial system which generates its own checks and balances and establishes an organizational route by which personal and professional advancement is possible. While the proponents of commercial television claim professional freedom, the process of control of information dictated by the organizational structure and corporate environment becomes internalized through established professional ideologies and practices, through identification of personal values and objectives with those of the firm for which they work. 

The gap is still growing between a small group of people who control production, distribution and channels of communication and valuable resources, and the public which is subject to the intended objectives and impact. At the same time, the both government agencies and broadcasting media encroach on what had been the domain of private life. Dangers are seen in the power possessed by those with great technical and capital resources to impose their ideas on others. In the developing countries, many people have become dissatisfied with the manner in which communication systems work. (UNESCO, 1980:13). It was then. Now, can we call this system (including the rating systems) in The U.S. and Turkey an egalitarian democracy? I definitely don’t think so. 


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