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Identifying Immoral Advertisements and Networks and Time Slots

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Most of the focus has been on TV programs and film but only recently with the increase in controversial and questionable advertising, more attention has been given to the content of commercials. Out of the thousands of commercials screened every year, only a fraction have any violent or objectionable moral content. Many advertisers, though they sponsor programs that contain guns and violence, would prefer to distance their products or services from the program content itself. But there have been a number of ads that have come out in the recent years which are controversial in nature using social taboo subjects to make their point.

One 30 second ad shows the ejection of a few people, a gay couple, an African-American woman and an old man with a walker, from their church pews. A voiceover says: “ God doesn’ t reject people. Neither do we (National Catholic Reporter (2006)” . Although this ad ran in a number of cable channels, it was rejected by the major networks deeming it unsuitable for telecast due to its references to gender, homosexuality and race.   Perhaps the most difficult factor in characterizing, identifying and measuring ad quality is the determination of what constitutes immorality since different people have different versions of what they think is immoral.

While some would consider a certain commercial as adding to the moral decay, others might view the same commercial in a lighter vein, finding it amusing and creative (Hall 1980). Non cigarette smokers may consider smoking or tobacco advertising as immoral since they promote the habit, cause public nuisance and harm the health of smokers as well as non-smokers. Smokers, on the other hand, may find that these ads only justify their continuing the habit.

Similarly, drinking may be considered immoral by some but not by others. Whether a commercial shows just a picture of a cigarette or drink or embeds them in elaborate audiovisual content, most people would still consider this as immoral or offensive to their tastes.    

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