Year in Review 2010:  Media Mind

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What Richard Weaver called "The Great Stereopticon," the modern media, marched on this year, sometimes enlightening us, more often wasting our time. For better and for worse, here are some of the media highlights and lowlights of 2010.


Air out of America
Air America, the counterpoint to conservative talk radio, called it quits. The network lasted six years. The board announced it will soon file for bankruptcy under Chapter 7. Network representatives said the financial downfall had to do with declining revenue across the radio dial. Cliff Kincaid, editor of the Accuracy in Media Report, said that the problem had more to do with content. "I just don't think there is a market for liberal, left-wing talk radio," he said.


Buzz over Tebow
The much-anticipated—and maligned—Focus on the Family ad featuring Tim and Pam Tebow aired during the Super Bowl, and it received mixed reviews even from within the Christian community. For weeks, pro-abortion groups had made the media circuit complaining about the "anti-abortion" ad and calling on CBS to pull it from its Super Bowl lineup. This, in spite of the fact that none had seen the ad. When the commercial finally made its debut, Gary Schneeberger, vice president of ministry communications for Focus on the Family, said the critics were nearly silenced. "The buzz since the ad aired has been nothing but, 'What was all the controversy about?'" he said.  This wasn't political. This wasn't advocacy. This wasn't controversial. It's an inspirational story about a mother and son who love each other."


Family-friendly TV 
Two advertising heavyweights responded to research showing desire for wholesome programming. Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart are collaborating to produce TV shows for the whole family. Tom Minnery, senior vice president of Public Policy at Focus on the Family, said there's a dire need for such programming. "If people have not watched primetime network programming lately, they no idea have low it has sunk," he said, "and how welcome this news is from Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart."


Time Warner pornography
Time Warner Cable showed Playboy Channel previews on kids' channels in North Carolina on March 16. Company officials apologized and called the incident an accident. Gail Dines, professor of sociology and women studies at Wheelock College, said it's a sign of the times. "It just brings to mind the increasing 'pornification' of the culture," she said. "Wherever you go, pornography is leaking into our society." She added that most people do not realize the harms of sexually explicit material.  "It is a form of violence against women," she said.


FCC focuses on indecency
After a nearly two-year break, the Federal Communications Commission is tackling its backlog of indecency complaints—there are more than a million. Many of the complaints deal with inappropriate content and profanity during primetime. The FCC has been busy fighting court battles, including Janet Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction. Dan Isett, director of public policy for the Parents Television Council, said the commission is examining which stations may have broadcast indecent material when children were watching. "Obviously this is the first step in the process of hopefully finding against some of these broadcasters that air that type of material," he said.


Nevada brothel ads
A federal appeals court has upheld a Nevada law that prevents brothels from advertising in areas of the state where prostitution is not legal, such as Las Vegas and Reno, according to a report by the Associated Press. There are about two dozen brothels in the state. The ruling applies to billboards, newspapers and leaflets. Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto hailed the ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The court reversed a 1979 ruling that laws prohibiting brothel advertising in counties where prostitution is illegal were overly broad and unconstitutional. Family advocates expect an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.


Zondervan goes digital
To accompany the long-awaited iPad launch, Zondervan was one of the first publishers to release titles in Apple's iBookstore beginning April 3. More than 1,000 titles were expected to be available for download from all product groups. Zondervan said it planned to release all its future ebooks in an iPad version and was working to release more than 150 additional books during first three months after the launch. Users are able to purchase the books from Apple's iBookstore, as well as read excerpts, reviews and additional details about Zondervan books and its authors. Among the 1,000-plus books offered are three translations of the Holy Bible. Also included:  more than 30 Spanish and 150 children's books.


Gay characters on TV
An annual "Network Responsibility Index" survey done by GLAAD—the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ranked network and cable programming on the inclusion of gay-identified and transgender characters and issues. Five broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, Fox and NBC) and10 cable networks (MTV, ABC Family, TNT, Showtime, Lifetime, HBO, FX, USA, A&E and TBS) were evaluated. On cable, MTV ranked "excellent," followed by ABC Family, TNT, Showtime, Lifetime and HBO.  USA, A&E and TBS ranked last. On network television, the CW ranked at the top, with CBS in last place. As a response to the survey, CBS announced that they would be adding more gay characters to its line-up.


EP


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