Jewish World Review Jan. 18, 2002 / 5 Shevat, 5762

Greg Crosby

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Consumer Reports

NBC = No Broadcast Code -- FOR some years now we've watched the big three television networks "push the envelope" of common decency and good taste in order to compete with cable channels for ratings. But did you ever think you'd actually hear a top network executive literally BRAG that his network was going to abandon the broadcasting of family-friendly programs? It happened recently in an announcement from Scott Sassa, West Coast president of NBC and reported by AP.

Referring to family-oriented programming, Sassa stated, "We don't see them as really the kinds of shows that are in our wheelhouse." (whatever that means!) Regarding some of the newer family programs that have enjoyed moderate success on other networks, he said, "They don't have the upscale demos that we want that would allow us to keep them on the air."

Sassa readily admitted that he wants NBC's programming to be competitive with shows like HBO's "Sex and the City."

What a lofty goal! If there's one thing this nation needs, it's more sitcoms where the main characters' conversations revolve around the most intimate and coarse details of human sexual relations and bodily functions -- discussed in the most uninhibited (and unrealistic) fashion using vulgar street vernacular. Nice objective, Scott!

The AP story also quotes NBC President, Jeff Zucker, as saying that his network will develop shows "that fit the NBC mold -- smart, upscale, urban comedies. We know what we do well and we're going to continue down that road."

DOWN that road is right! NBC has most certainly decided to take the low road in it's broadcast options.

In a related announcement last month, NBC became the first network to accept hard liquor advertising. There's no question that NBC is trying hard to appeal to the teen and young adult viewers and basically thumbing it's corporate nose at families.

To talk of the days when NBC broadcast wholesome programs like Bonanza, Wonderful World of Disney, Little House on the Prairie, The Cosby Show, and Family Ties would probably cause Messieurs Sassa and Zucker to chuckle at the very thought of such cornball naiveté. Undoubtedly they would state that those were different times. They might say that people had different viewing habits then -- different values, perhaps. I wonder. Can an entire culture really change so drastically in such a relatively short period of time? Maybe it can. But one thing is for sure -- the broadcast and entertainment industries have certainly changed what options are available for the TV viewer.

So, the network of the peacock has decided to put all its eggs in the vulgarity basket. And in making this announcement to the world, the NBC executives have actually done families a service by warning them in advance that if you're looking for shows to watch with your children, you won't find them at NBC. Run, do not walk to your remote control and change channels immediately.

If nothing else, we should acknowledge that at least NBC is being up-front about where it stands from now on. And from now on we can depend on N.B.C. standing for Nothing But Crude.

JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2001 Greg Crosby