Thus, Leo Bogart of the Newspaper Advertising Bureau observed that in the 1992 Winter Olympics, the CBS coverage was crammed with so many ads that the event itself has been relegated to a “mere sideshow.” Media is also a business concern and media organizations need advertising revenues to survive, but too much of ads smack of greed and present an irritating distraction to consumers.
Regulating the volume of ad placement in media will not work, as demonstrated in the US when the National Association of Broadcasters required radio and TV stations to limit the quantity of their commercials in a given program as part of a code of ethics for the broadcast industry. The stations protested and the federal court subsequently ruled against the NAB-ordered limitation as arbitrary and monopolistic. Therefore, the best way to solve the problem of advertising clutter, I think, is to leave the matter alone to consumer welfare groups since it is the consumers themselves who feel slighted by this media practice. There are well-organized consumer groups everywhere who can mount a campaign to persuade newspapers and magazines, radio and TV networks to moderate their ad placements by appealing on their common sense and spirit of fair play. Among the possible arguments is that by serving up more ads than content, the newspapers or stations might alienate their readers or listeners who will feel that their interest is being subordinated to monetary considerations.
Regulatory bodies like the Advertising Standards Canada have helped advance consumer interest in such areas as public health, child welfare and quality programming. For example, the ASC edict controlling or banning ads on alcoholic beverages in broadcast media, depending on the age and educational level of a program’s target audience, certainly promotes public health and well-being through responsible consumption of alcohol.