Watching TV is the most popular pastime in Britain. 75 per cent of British people watch, on average, 25 hours of TV each week, and TV programmes are one of the main topics of conversation among family and friends. Chat shows are among the most popular programmes with viewers, and TV companies love them too because they are cheap: a 30-minute drama costs ten times as much as a half-hour chat show. One of the most famous chat shows in Britain is Wogan. Its host, Terry Wogan, presents a half-hour show three evenings a week on BBC1. The show is broadcast live from BBC Television Centre in London, and guest celebrities have included Princess Anne, Sting, Carrie Fisher, Harrison Ford, the England football team, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner, Madonna... to eight million viewers.
Hundreds of thousands of people sit down in front of a TV set and there they stick, with their eyes glued to the screen, hour after hour. They do not do their housework, they do not practise sport in the fresh air, they do not read good books or bad ones either, and they ruin their eyesight because they have nothing better to do.
Millions of people all over the world love watching American TV programmes like Dallas and Dynasty. The names of some of their characters like J.R. and Sue Ellen in Dallas, and Alexis and Blake Carrington in Dynasty are well known in many countries.
Why are these programmes so popular? Perhaps it is because they are not like real life at all. Nothing is ever ugly or old-fashioned. The women are either young and beautiful or old and beautiful. The men are either clever and good-looking or stupid and good-looking. The people are never fat.
So, why do many people like "soap operas"? Because watching television is comfortable - we turn on TV set and turn off our brain, and what is very astounding, we realise consequences and we are perfectly satisfied with this passive enjoyment.
The television is the world which has been pulled for our eyes and blinds us from the truth. TV provides us things, like significant political or cultural events, catastrophes, accidents, films, comedies, shows, sport programmes, but television chooses what we should watch and what we should know. We can see this watching other channels - public TV says completely different thing than private TV.
We watch much violence - crimes, murders, fights, wars, dead people, brutal scenes and many other shocking things. We become passive for these things, these scenes become our normal live. Sometimes we cannot distinguish fiction from reality. Violence on television also has a very negative impact on children - they spend hours daily watching silly and violent cartoons.
Some people could not imagine their life without this useful invention. Television has emerged as a major source from which some people get the news and watching it has become a kind of social ritual. They set up their day schedule around a TV program. They have their eyes glued to the TV instead of exchanging impressions or views. They do not communicate their feelings - relationships in the family are weakening.
Moreover, we are influenced by trashy commercials. Advertisements are all around us, not just on TV, radio and in the press, but also at sports grounds, in shop windows, and on posters, carrier bags, badges, T-shirts, buses, hot air balloons. Whether we like it or not, advertising is a powerful force, and all countries have rules about what is acceptable advertising. In parts of Europe, naked women are common in advertisements, but not in Britain and the USA. In some countries of Islam, it is illegal to use photos of women - only line drawings are acceptable. So different countries advertise the same product in different ways.
The campaign for Impulse body perfume showed a man who bought flowers for a woman he had never met before because she was wearing Impulse. In France, the woman was naked on the beach; in Britain, a romantic relationship was suggested; in Japan, the meeting was respectable and restrained; in the Arab countries, no version was acceptable and the advertising campaign was dropped. Britain, like many countries, has strict rules controlling advertisements for alcohol. For example, people shown drinking must clearly be 25 or over, and the ads must not suggest that a particular drink offers the key to success in personal relationships, or that it will make you more attractive or popular.
Spirits cannot be advertised on TV in Britain; in other countries, such as Norway, alcohol cannot be advertised at all. Advertisements are supposed to be truthful, so advertisers avoid saying their product is the best; they usually say it is better So the slogan for British Airways promises "We will take MORE care of you". and Polaroid encourages to use their camera and film to "Make life more colourful". The message behind most advertisements is "This product will change your life" - by making you richer, healthier, happier, more attractive more popular, more efficient, more successful.
All over the world people watching the same programmes, the same shows, the same news, the same entertainment and the same commercials. Watching television is comfortable and cheep, whenever we are bored, we can turn on our set TV and watch what we want. However, is it good or bad? - we must reply to this question ourselves.