A Morality in Media study says that advertiser support for so-called “trash talk” television is on the decline and that several talkers have also started to clean up their act.
The survey was a study of the November sweeps that attempted to measure the quality of daytime talk, while charting which national advertisers were prominent sponsors. It was a follow-up to the advocacy group’s February 1996 sweeps survey.
The survey was conducted by having more than 140 volunteers watch a given talk show for one week and submit a report on the program based on both content and advertisers.
While the survey’s methodology may not have been rigorously scientific, the trend of increasing advertiser wariness toward racier talk shows is confirmed by the study’s findings.
The survey says that AT&T had spots in all 10 talk shows in the February sweeps; in the November sweeps, the long distance carrier did not appear in any of the leading advertiser lists. Taking over as a leading advertiser in talk was weight loss firm Jenny Craig.
Procter & Gamble, one of the biggest advertisers in daytime TV, has cut back on its talkshow spots. According to the survey, P&G had spots on Warner Bros.’ “Jenny Jones” 20 out of 21 days during the Feb. sweeps, but cut back to 16 out of 21 days in the November sweeps. Also, P&G cut its support of Columbia’s Ricki Lake from 19 out of 21 shows in February to seven of 21 in November.
It’s worth noting, however, that the shows still had no problem selling ad inventory.
On the content front, Morality in Media said that talkers “Gordon Elliott” (20th Television); “Geraldo” (King World and Tribune); “Montel Williams” (Viacom) and “Maury Povich” (Paramount), have improved their content. Multimedia’s “Jerry Springer” remains the advocacy group’s “bottom-of-the-barrel” talker.
On the subject of the recently adopted TV ratings system, the group said that the talkers should be rated TV14, which signifies unsuitability for children under 14.