OPINION

The subtle tyranny of the television set

We might as well accept it. Unfortunately, the true enemy of bad television is not good television nor public protests against the poor quality of TV programming; nor is it existing codes of conduct because they are violated systematically and punishment is rarely meted out, either by the broadcasting watchdog or by the journalists’ unions. The really serious – and perhaps only – rival of television is summertime, when people venture out of their homes and meet with friends on balconies, at tavernas and open-air cinemas. At times like these, even if the topic of TV comes up in conversation, the aim is usually to criticize rather than just «recycle» the content of its programs and debates. In the outside world – beyond the realm of TV – one is not obliged to watch five «shocking» news bulletins per day or a barrage of vulgarity. We are faced with a real social problem – which has become a great advantage for TV channels – namely, that many people have associated their homes with their television sets. Indeed, as a great proportion of the public watches TV irrespective of what is being aired, channel heads know that they can compromise on quality and cut costs. The unfortunate truth is that we do not live in a utopian society where everyone has the financial ability to see two plays and five movies each month and to spend hours hanging out in trendy cafes and bars. And so, many of us – exhausted after a long day’s work – will stretch out on the sofa and fall into something of a lethargic stupor, not only escaping our families but ourselves too. And it is this spiritual void – which grows as we forget how to organize our free time creatively – that television increasingly fills.