Inside Move: Tube turnabout

TV auds want escape but topicality, too

In these conflicted times, American TV viewers have, not surprisingly, conflicting urges when wielding their remote controls, declares a new survey by Frank N. Magid Associates.

And while opinion polls typically skew toward respondents’ idealism rather than their practical reality, the Magid survey does offer some worthwhile observations to TV insiders looking for direction in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

Viewers want the small screen to deliver the same entertainment and relaxation that it always has. Yet they also seek more uplift, less graphic violence and supplementary news content from some unlikely sources.

“Americans may want somewhat different content and tone from entertainment television now,” observe the pollsters, who queried 1,000 U.S. citizens aged 18-64 between Sept. 24 and 27. “They want more ‘serious’ programming, whether or not it is directly related to the terrorist attacks.”

Still, a strong majority urged gamers, soaps and other lightweight fare to stick with familiar fare..

And, happily for the networks, most are eager to sample new fall shows, one reason why 52% of respondents hope TV delivers “the same things they have always been looking for.”

A healthy 68% report watching more news programming than usual — and they even expect shows that usually deal in topicality, such as “Entertainment Tonight” or “The View,” to tackle Central Asia and the threat of terrorism.

And this just in: Bucking the usual trend, nearly two-thirds of viewers would welcome a news bulletin preempting their favorite program.

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