June 24, 2018
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TV show interrupts advertising

By Emmet Meara, Special to the News

Forget global warming and poisoned children’s toys. We need emergency legislation to control the number of ads allowed on television shows, especially the ones I watch, such as “The Sopranos.”

I can no longer watch television movies because of the eight or nine commercials that run back to back.

I watch very few shows, just “The Sopranos” “Two and a Half Men,” movies and sports shows. Now, they are making even that impossible.

We used to get at least 25 minutes of show content and a few minutes of advertising. Today, advertising creep has overtaken time once used for show programming. We now get 15 or 16 minutes of content per 30-minute show while the rest of the time is used for commercials.

Yet Nielsen Media Research says TV viewership in U.S. homes hit record highs last season, according to USA Today.

“There’s been a lot of hand-wringing in the business about when viewers are going to say, ‘Enough’s enough,’ but they haven’t,” says Tim Brooks, a TV historian and research chief at Lifetime. “It may never be that commercials drive people away from the set, but it makes them pay less attention to avoid the irrelevant interrup-tions.”

We have become immune to the ads.

Although legislation was passed last year to limit the volume on television commercials, no federal agency regulates the amount of commercial time on television. Until 1982, the major networks adhered to a voluntary code of the National Association of Broadcasters that limited commercials to 9.5 minutes per hour in prime time. But since the code was dropped, the number of commercials on prime time TV has crept steadily higher.

This week, I tried to watch one of my favorite “Sopranos” episodes, “The Knight in White Satin Armor.” That’s the one when Richie Aprile is dispatched by Janice Soprano for domestic violence. Thankfully, “Junior” Soprano decides against murdering Tony.

The show lasted all of eight minutes when the commercials started.

Subway. Ancestry.com. HBO “Pacific.” Sopranos gear. Ed.Connect.com. Time-Warner. A&E “Heavy.” Then A&E “Breakout Kings.”

Back to the show, where Tony’s Russian girlfriend tries to kill herself.

At 2:19 p.m., the commercials are back.

“Storage Wars.” Angie’s List. Alka Seltzer. State Farm Insurance. H&R Block. Dell Computers. Ricola. Wendy’s (chicken club). A&E “Scared Straight.”

Back to the show. Some dippy house painter actually considers an affair with Carmella, Tony’s wife. Luckily, he changes his mind.

Commercial break at 2:33 p.m.

A&E “Breakout Kings.” Sensodyne toothpaste. PeachTree. Nutrisystem (Dan Marino). 21st Century Insurance. Aleve. Wheat Thins.

Back to the show. Tony decides to kill the obnoxious Richie, but Janice beats him to it, with two in the chest. “It was an accident,” she tells Tony, as he mops up the blood. Heroin addict Christopher Moltisani, as he is sawing up Richie’s body at the local meat market, says, “It’s gonna be a while before I eat anything from Satri-ale’s.”

But back to the commercials.

A&E “Criminal Minds.” “Storage Wars.” ATT. Subway. Excedrin (I could use some). REMax.Com. Atkins diet (I could use some). State Farm Insurance. Nadeau Chiropractic Services and Portlandia.

As Tony puts visiting murderer Janice on the bus back to Seattle, Tony says, “All in all, I think it was a pretty good visit.”

All in all, I counted 36 commercials in a one-hour show. That’s more than one every other minute.

I might have to buy the “Sopranos” DVD.

Send complaints and compliments to Emmet Meara at emmetmeara@msn.com.

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