Friday, June 02, 2006

commercial novelty

Browsing through the AP article about this year's national spelling bee winner, I was pretty impressed by the amount of column space devoted to implicitly and explicitly criticizing ABC's prime-time broadcast and attendant frequent commercial breaks. Most strikingly, the following:

"The pace of competition, held in the basement ballroom of a Washington hotel, was slowed by the need to accommodate commercial breaks in the TV coverage provided by ABC, as well as earlier by ESPN.

'We're out for another two-minute commercial break,' or 'We're out for about a minute and a half,' bee director Paige Kimble announced frequently, connected by headset to the network directors.

The competition paused for ABC to air commercials pitching credit cards, fast food, cell phones, digital cameras, clothing stores, breath fresheners, allergy medication, storm doors, kids movies, spray-on sunscreen, electric shavers for men and pastel-colored razors for women."
It seems so unavoidable that sports broadcasts are perpetually interrupted. (This is one of the reason that I hate televised sports, except for things like soccer and tennis that have more continuous play, and so don't get cut to commercials as often. Sports like football, on the other hand, require perpetual monitoring of your TV screen to know when the game's coming back on.) But props to AP for noting something that I haven't thought much about since my return to TV watching two years ago (not a deliberate decision; I just moved to a house with good TV reception): the profusion and types of products promoted on prime-time TV. How Don DeLillo of them to not only notice the ads, but actually criticize their predominance by calling them to the reader's attention! Do they dare to suggest that the commercialization of the spelling bee is bad form?

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