Thursday, July 28, 2005

The purpose of private television

In a book published in 2004, Patrick Le Lay, CEO of the biggest private television station in France (TF1) wrote:

TF1’s job is to help Coca-Cola, for example, sell its product. (…) For an advertisement message to be perceived, the brain of the spectator must be available. The purpose of our shows is to make it available: that is to say, entertain it, relax it in order to prepare it between two advertisements. What we are selling to Coca-Cola, is temporal space of available human brain.

(Les dirigeants face au changement, Editions du Huitième jour, Paris, 2004)

What is more amazing here? The fact that this is private television’s well self understood function ? That the CEO of such a company would be honest enough to make a completely realistic description of it? Or, finally, that a company can publicly assume such a function without losing a large number of spectators?

Antonio Molfese points out that Le Lay’s argument is not : 1/ that TV needs advertisement to live, 2/ that, as a private company, its purpose is to make profits which mostly come from advertisement. He is saying that the purpose of the company is to sell available human brain.

That is not necessarily in contradiction with 2/ as we can conceive that its purpose is to make profits and that the best way to do it is selling mushy brain space. In that case, profit is the ultimate goal while, mushy brains is the instrument.

However, that is one possibility; the other would be that mushy brain is the ultimate goal.

No comments: