LegalWorks Apostolate - Counsel for a Culture of Life

Family Friendly Content Boosts Radio Ratings

By Matthew Milhon

When considering the climate of the contemporary American entertainment industry one does not have to look far to find that the majority of mainstream films, music, television shows, etc. are ensconced with gratuitous violence and sexual imagery that, even a generation ago, would have been deemed inappropriate for public consumption. Take this and couple it with record breaking budgets for Hollywood films and chart topping musical performers whose singles promote same-sex relationships and blatantly ridicule Christianity, and yet are still invited to perform in TV specials such as "A Very Gaga Thanksgiving". One would think that the trend in modern entertainment would be driving headlong deeper into the moral quagmire in which it currently finds itself.

But an investigation into the trends of the modern audience found that the entertainment industry has as strong a hold on the public as it did in years past. As documented by Michael Medved in his book, Hollywood vs. America, ticket sales at movie theaters are half of what they were 30 years ago, which could be attributed to the advent of revolutionary rental systems such as Netflix but for the 6 percent decline in home movie viewing over the last 20 years; network-television audiences are tuning out as well with a 34% decrease in the past 15 years. In short the American audience is so saturated with entertainment the runs contrary to its morals that it is simply forgoing what Hollywood has to offer and the financial pinch is being felt, which is why advertisers are turning to radio this Christmas season.

This month, Hollywood Reporter published an article highlighting this very fact. Stations that switch to a Christmas themed format usually double their usual ratings and win a significant portion of these seasonal listeners over as full-time supporters when the station switches back to its regular format. "There's simply no other programming tactic in radio history that consistently delivers ratings increases better than Christmas music," said Darren Davis, who is senior vice-president at Clear Channel.

Such an incentive is unable to go unexploited by advertisers, but what is the message behind the data? It would seem that even in a country whose traditional values are routinely being pushed aside we are not yet ready to give up on the joy of the Christmas season. And even though there is a preponderance of tunes on Christmas themed stations whose content has more to do with reindeers and snow than the Word made Flesh, most of them come with a message of the value of spending time with family and friends and of times that are not inundated with the rush of day to day life.

Yes, Christmas invites us to stop and take stock of what really matters and proposes to the world that the real shock value in modern media isn't modern at all. Rather, it is as old as that little baby in the manger who came to save us. For there lay He who is a stumbling block to the Jews, who is a scandal to the Gentiles, and who would routinely best both broadcast television and Hollywood filmmakers in advertising revenues for years to come.

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