Commercial abuse

When does television advertising become abusive? How many commercials in a row does it take to satisfy the definition? Last night, we might have seen the answer.

Back when Matt and Amy still were married and their four children were  younger, Betsy and I enjoyed watching “Little People, Big World” on the cable channel TLC. Over time, the episodes have appeared less frequently, but we have caught one now and then and enjoyed watching the weddings of both Zach and Jeremy.

Last night, TLC programmed a string of episodes of the show, so we made ourselves comfortable expecting to watch two of them and record the others for later viewing. Between all the commercials we actually got to see some program segments and were able to catch up on the family a bit. Life is moving along for the Roloffs. Both Zach and Jeremy are about to become fathers, and Matt and Amy each are cozying up to new love interests, which creates more tension.

Mainly we watched commercials. A lot of them. Each half-hour episode was interrupted by long strings of them, a minimum of 10 in a row. Finally, after watching one uninterrupted run of 18 commercials, yes, 18, we turned the television off and went to bed. We decided that 18 in a row is an abuse. And yes, I include self-serving promotions by the network in the list. They are not part of the show we tuned in to see.

We understand the necessity of advertising to pay the bills. Producing TV programs costs money, and advertising revenue brings in a lot of it. We would strongly prefer, though, that those who produce the shows not unload all that unwanted garbage on us viewers all at once. That’s abuse. Don’t abuse us, and maybe we’ll start watching again. Maybe.

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