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Passage A

1
ffi"a
We are constantly subjected to the drip, drip, drip of arguments and
concerns in the media about specific aspects of television. Perhaps you
read last week about a new connection between television viewing and
obesity; today, you may hear of another controversy about television
violence; tomorrow, a study looking at the effects of television on our
social skills will be published. But debate has focused on the narrower
and in many ways safer issue of the messages relayed by television as
opposed to the wider issue of the medium itself. Yes, we are watching
too much, but there is far more to this issue that we are not aware of

2 To some, this devotion to television means simply that people enjoy 10
watching television and make a conscious decision to watch it.
Nowadays this is couched in the inviting language of'lifestyle' and
'choice'. But if this is true, why is it that so many people experience
misgivings about how much television they watch? Researchers in
Japan, the US and ihe UK have even identifled a middle-class guilt 15
arising from knowing that you watch too much television instead of doing
somethinq more productive.

3 To consider television as habit-forming is an understatement. Why does
Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Johnson, who has pdblished a
number of key studies on the effects of television, declare that 'television
is highly addictive'? Why would anyone consciously choose to watch a
television screen for twelve years of their life? lf our relationship were
with a substance as opposed to a screen, we would be talking in terms
of abuse, overdose and going cold telly. Even so called sex addiction is
a more readily accepted concept. We would not watch this much 25
television unless there were powerful physiological mechanisms at work-
ls the cosy expression 'telly addiction' really an overstatement?

4 Reconsidering the role of television in our lives is inconvenient. We like
to slob out after a hard day and we use television to occupy our children
in order to buy us some time for ourselves. However, unlike 30
straightforward health debates, a /a Fast Food Nation, where additives,
contaminating agents and hidden fats can be revealed and blamed
directly for causing cancer, heart disease and food poisoning,
television's route to harm is more covert and hitherto difficult to explain.
Yet another problem in evaluating the effects of television is the sheer 35
lack of control groups to provide a point of comparison. lt seems that
everyone has gone to the movies.

5 Perhaps the biggest obstaele to having an honest look at the effects of
television is the simple fact that we enjoy watching it. Criticising our
main waking activity, aside from work, tends to bring about a selective
deafness, along with an inclination to shoot the messenqer. Yet if we
based our health policies on how much we enjoy things, hospital waiting
lists would be even longer than they are now. Whether it is sunbathing,
drinking alcohol, smoking in the family sitting room or eating junk food,
we enjoy lots of things that are, after a ceilain point, bad for us or farthe 45
resi of society. That js precisely why we recognise concepts such as
units of alcohol, sunblock SPF, cholesterol levels, passive smoking and
body lveight. Envisage a lime when we will finally talk in terms of
recommended limits t'or hours per day of screen time.

This state of afairs is reminiscent of how ihe tobacco industry managed 50
for years to claim that people enjoyed smoking and that there waJno
definitive proof that cigarette smoking actually caused lung cancer _ that
there was only an association beiween the two, noi a causative
relationship. The industry's scientisis were also pressured to cover up
the findings that nicotine was addictive. ln a similar way, the sugar 55
industry is successfully funding and pressuring World He;lth
Organisation scieniists to issue international guidelines and reports that
cover up the strong link betur'een refined sugar and diabetes, obesity
and death.

The most influential arena of all television - is hardly likely to 60
broadcast bad medical press about itself and contribute io its own
demise. There is a suryival instinct within most powerful industries with
prediciable responses to those who question their virtues: ' .._ this is
merely speculation - there's no definitive proof'. Those who do advise a
beiter safe-than,sorry approach are predictably referred to as being 65
:rlarmist, over-reacting or jumping the gun. A slock answer is: .it's too
early to conclude... there's no empirical basis for these assertions'. The
most popular refrain is: 'This presents a one-dimensional analysis of
ielevision as the cause of so many problems, it,s too easy to blame
one thing for society's problems...' lt is reassuring to accept this type of 70
soothing balm as it excuses us from having to change a comfortabie and
fundarnental part of the way we live.

There is also the gritty reality of academic funding and image. There is
little money, funding and public gratitude in looking for the negative
effects of the television screen. lt is far easier and safer to eiplore 75
avenues ihat seem to acquit television or, better yet, seek out its virtues.
Centres for media studies, which produce most of the research about
television, seem curiously prone to sitting on the fence, so it is hardly
surprising that the incriminating research concerning television comes
from outside their jurisdiction. lt is often studies that focus upon health BO
rather than television that happen upon worrying links between the two.

Finally, there are other reasons why we have not had ihe biq debate Vet.
Televrsion is a cultural force equalled in history only by reliqion, so
should we be surprised that the media and government have stood jn
the way of a forensic examination? After all both need us - the 85
bewildered herd - to continue to take our cue from the screen

Adapted from "Remotely Controiled,' by Arig Sigman
Passage B

'1 Television turns out to be a brilliant medium for assessing other people's
emotional intelligence - a property that is too often ignored when critics
evaluate the medium's carrylng capacity for thoughtful comment. Part of
this neglect stems from lhe age-old opposition beh/veen intelligence and
emotion: intelligence is following a chess match or imparting a
sophisticated rhetorical argument on a matter of public policy; emotions
are the province of soap operas. But countless studies have
demonslrated ihe pivotal role that emotional intelligence , plays in
seemingly high-minded arenas: business, law and politics. Any
profession that involves regular interaction with other people will place a 10
high premium on mind-reading and emotional lQ. Of all the media
available to us today, television is uniquely suited for conveying the flne
gradients of these social skills. A book will give you a better vista of an
individual's life story, and a newspaper op-ed is a better format for a
riggrous argument, but if you are trying to evaluate a given person's 15
emotional lQ and you do not have the option of sitting down with them in
person, the tight focus of television is your best bet. Reality
programming has simply recognised that intrinsic strength and built a
whole genre around it.

2 Politics too, has gravitated toward the television medium's emotional 20
fluency. This is often derided as a coarsening or sentimentalising of the
politicai discourse, tuming the rational debate over different political
agendas into a Jerry Springer confessional. The days of the Lincoln
Douglas debates have given way to'Boxers or briefs?" The late Neil
Postman described this sorry trend as the show-businessification of 25
poliiics in his influential 1985 book, Amusrtg Ourse/ves to Death. ln
Postman's view, television is a medium of cosmetics, of surfaces, an
endless replay of the Nixon-Kennedy debates, where the guy with ihe
best makeup always wins.

3 But the visibility of the medium extends beyond hairstyles and skin tone. 30
When we see our politicians in the global living room of televised
intimacy, we are not able to detect more profound qualities in them: not
just their grooming, but their emotional antennae - their ability to
connect, outfox, condemn or console. We see them as emotional
mindreaders, and there are few qualities in an individual more predictive
of their ability to govern a country, because mindreading is so central to
the art of persuasion. Presidents make formal appearances and sit for
portraits and host galas, but their day-to-day job is moiivating and
persuading other people to follow their lead. To motivate and persuade,
you have to have an innate radar for other people's mental states. For 40
an ordinary voter, it is almost impossible to get a sense for a given
candidate's emotional radar without seeing them in person, in an
unscripted setting. You cannot get a sense of a candidate's mindreading
skills by watching them give a memorised stump speech, or seeing their
thirty-second ads, or God knows reading their caripaign blog posis. But 45
what does give you ihat kind of information is the one-on one television
intei-view format - Meet the ,Dress and Chalie Rose, of course, but
probably more effeclively, Oprah, because the format is more social and
free-flowing.

So what we are getiing out of the much-maligned Oprahization of 50
politics is not boxers-or-briefs personal trivia - it is crucial information
aboui the embtional lQ of a poiential President, information we had
almost no access 1o until television came along and gave us that tight
focus. Reading the transcript of the Lincoln-Douglas debates certainly
conveyed the agility of both men's minds, and the ideological differences
that separated them. Bul I suspect they conveyed almost no information
aboui how either man would run a Cabinet meeting, or what kind of
loyalty they would inspire in their followers, or how they would resolve
an internal dispute. Thirty minutes on a talkshow, on the other hand,
might well convey allthat information - because our brains are so adept 60
at picking up those emotional cues. Physically unappealing candidates
may not fare as well in this environment. (Lyndon Johnson would have a
tough time of it today.) But the candidates who do pass the appearance
test are judged by a higher, more diseriminating standard - not just the
colour of their skin, but the content of their character.

That is not to imply thal all political debate should be reduced to
talkshow banter; there is still plenty of room for position papers and
formal speeches. But we should not underestimate the information
conveyed by the close-ups of the unscripied television appearance. That
first Nixon-Kennedy debate has long been cited as the founding moment 70
of the triumph of image over substance - among all those TV viewers
who ihought Nixon's sweating and five o'clock shadow made him look
shifty and untrustworthy. But what if we have had it wrong aboui that
debate? What if it was not Nixon's lack oi makeup that troubled ihe TV
watchers? After all, Nixon did turn out to be shifty and untrushr\,/orthy in 75
the end. Perhaps all those voters who thought he had won after they
heard the debate on the radio or read the transcript in the papers simply
did not have access to the range of emotional information conveyed by
television. Nixon lost on TV because he did not look like someone you
would want as President, and where emotional lQ is concerned, looks BO
do not always deceive.

Adapted from "EveMhing Bad ls Good For You" by Steven Johnson
Answer all the questions.

Note: When a question asks for an answer iN YOUR OWN WORDS AS FAR AS
POSSIBLE and you select the appropriate material from the passage for your
answer, you must still use your own words to express it. Litfle credit can be given to
answers which onli copy words and phrases from the passage.

From Passage A

Paragraph 1
1 What does 'drip, drip, drip' suggest about the arguments and concerns in
the media about specific aspects oftelevision? pl
Paragraph 2
2 Why are 'lifestyle' and 'choice' enclosed within inverted commas? t1l
Paraqraph 4
3 Why is it 'inconvenient' to reconsicler the role of television in our jives?
Use your own words as far as possible.
I2l
Paragraph 5
4 Why, according to the author, is it difficult ,to have an honedt look at the
effects of television'? Use your own words as far as possible .
l2l
Paragraph 6
5 What is the author's purpose in referring to the ry, sugar and tobacco
induslriest pj
6 From paragraphs 7 and 8, summarise the factors that the author believes
impede or hinder proper consideration of the negative effects of television.

Write your summary in not more than 120 words, not counting the
opening:

"One of the facto.s that impede or hinder such proper consideration is ...', Igl

From both passages

7 Explain the meaning of the following words as they are used in the
passages. Write your answer in one word or a short phrase.

a) covert (Passage A, line 34)
b) envisage (Passage A, line 48)
c) vista (Passage B, line j3)
d) intrinsic (Passage B, tine 1B)
e) banter (Passage B, line 67)
I5l
From Passage B

B Paragraph 1
What does the author mean by 'the tight focus of television'? 121

Paragraph 2 .
I Why does Johnson say ihat'the guy with the best make-up always wins'? [2]

Parcgraph 4
10 What does 'much-maligned' say about the author's attitude towards
popular TV talk shows on politics? t1l

From both passages

11 Arig Sigman argues that television is a habit-forming medium of
entertainment that has serious negative effects on society, while Steven
Johnson suggests that television is educational because it helps us
assess ihe political competencies of public figures.

Which author's view do you sympathise with more, based on your own
knowledqe and experience? You may use examples from your own
country to substantiate your ideas. IBl
!!

End of Paper