Guided preferences

Any criticism of the endless moral lapses and nonsense that dominate Greek televisions is countered by those responsible with the apparently irrefutable argument: «It’s what our viewers want.» And statistics are duly summoned to back up this assertion, which relieves TV executives of all responsibility for the quality of their programs. Of course, no blame ever falls on the advertisers. The programs they select as a springboard for their promotional messages are, again, the type that most viewers are drawn to. If that’s what the people want, that’s what we’ll give them. Hurrah for democracy! But the alibi of the TV programmers is less reliable than it seems. That’s because it begs certain questions: How instinctual is this popular preference for bad TV programs? Who cultivated this preference and how? And, what is the media’s role in shaping these predilections, along with the moral and aesthetic sensibilities of the average TV viewer? These questions apply to the whole of the consumer society. After all, the theory is that the economy produces in order to fulfill consumer needs. But which needs? Those created through successful advertising? Demand is dictated by what’s on offer. In the case of that product we call the television program, first you cultivate viewer interest, then you pretend you are enslaved to it. Sometimes, however, when this interest flourishes independently, it is no longer necessary to pretend, as there is actually now a need to fulfill.