"Broadcast Programming

"

This is an important movie for the broadcasting industry for many reasons. Fisrt of all, to my knowledge there never before was a movie

that dealt with the programming aspect of the broadcasting industry before (except for Switching Channels, which was released at approximately the same time). Also, this movie depicts many things common to the

broadcasting world in a way which the average moviegoing viewer can relate to them, the same ones who watch the prime-time television news that this movie centers about. Moreover, Broadcast News shows the pressures and demands involved with broadcasting. A great deal of work goes into the little subtleties in

television situations that before I watched this movie I had taken for granted. One instance that sticks out in my head is when actress Holly

Hunter and the rest of the news staff in Washington raced to get a tape into the machine which was to be broadcast nationally; the characters had talked like it was such a big deal if it were a few seconds late. At

first, I didn't think that this was such a big deal; when an anchorman on a television news program announces a special report and there is a four or five second delay during which everything is blacked out, I noticed that I became slightly irritated, but not much. But when you are dealing with a

national audience and battling between two other major networks for the same people at the same time, I suppose that little things like this mean a lot. Also, when Holly and her partner went on a special assignment to a

warfront, they risked their lives for a thirty second spot on the newscast.

It was incredible to realize that this happens every day, on three major networks, all for advertising dollars. Even the small things like I

mentioned earlier apparently mean a whole lot to the networks; in the movie Jack Nicholson laid off a slew of the Washington staff, "all because they just couldn't program Wednesday nights." Another thing that the movie did was to portray a bad image for anchor people, writing most of them off as people who just have to look good and not understand anything at all about what they are reporting about. This

is also related to the subject of favoritism, in which a job is given to someone by who they know or what they look like rather than how they can actually perform. This often leads to the wrong person getting the job,

and is common in any business industry (like in our resume worksheets in which the woman, who was better qualified, did not get the job). Lastly, this movie puts broadcasting in the spotlight - it exposes the weaknesses of commerciality in a comical, almost satrical way. It shows

how programming is often unoriginal, and how bad choices are made by programming executives in today's world in hopes of more money. But if any

of this is true, it is not just the programmer's fault - they need a job, and the networks need to operate. do that. Without advertising money, they cannot

And advertisers won't pay to advertise on networks that people So maybe the movie is important because it shows the viewers

don't watch.

that we could be our own biggest enemies by demanding shallow, stale television programming instead of fresh and different things. In doing

this, cleverly enough, the movie makes one big satire of itself.

Broadcast Programming Professor Allen Michael Stutz

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