Claim: all media companies have a resident sociologist

This is all tongue-in-cheek but MTV suggests sociologists are in demand:

While falling in love can seem complicated at times, behavior experts can break down the science behind attraction in the simplest terms, so we called upon MTV’s resident sociologist (what media company doesn’t have one?) to deconstruct last night’s “Are You The One?” premiere using her Five Factors of Love thesis.

If there are not real sociologists on TV much, perhaps we could argue many networks and stations have people who play sociologists. Aren’t many of the talking heads pontificating about social forces?

On one hand, if these sociologists were primarily tasked with analyzing the latest reality dating shows, the job may not be that exciting. On the other hand, if there was a sociologist who was able to talk about important issues on TV, areas that consistently match with their research, and was afforded the ability to interact with other experts as well as TV personalities, it could be a very interesting gig. All together, this may mean MTV would not be the best place for a TV sociologist…

Chicago suburb and school district won’t allow MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” to film on their property

Not all suburbs want to appear on reality TV shows: the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park and the local school district don’t want MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” to film there.

MTV’s controversial show “16 and Pregnant” is unwelcome in Tinley Park, as village officials and school leaders have pushed back against possible filming in the community.

When Tinley Park Mayor Ed Zabrocki heard the show might be shooting at the 80th Avenue train station’s restaurant, he sent word to the owner of Parmesans Station that the show’s cameras would be unwelcome on Tinley property…

Officials at Andrew High School declined this summer to allow MTV’s cameras on campus, principal Bob Nolting said…

When he was approached about filming at his restaurant, Papandrea said he had the same initial reaction as Zabrocki.

But he changed his mind after giving the matter further consideration, reasoning that the show has a positive effect on teenage pregnancies, he said…

For Zabrocki, who worked for many years as a guidance counselor at Brother Rice High School, the show presents “a bad image.”

Suburbs are often conscious about their image and it sounds like the suburb and school district didn’t want to be viewed as promoting teen pregnancy. Instead, I’m sure they would rather their community and schools are viewed as having a good quality of life, meaning they are the sort of places where teen girls don’t get pregnant. Of course, not all teen pregnancies happen to low-income residents but that seems to be the perception that Tinley Park does not want to invite.

From luxury item to throwaway good: cable TV

Following up on Joel’s post from Wednesday, Figures from the last quarter suggest the cable TV industry continues to lose customers:

The phone companies kept adding subscribers in the second quarter, but Dish lost 135,000. DirecTV gained a small number, so combined, the U.S. satellite broadcasters lost subscribers in the quarter — a first for the industry…

Sanford Bernstein analyst Craig Moffett estimates that the subscription-TV industry, including the untallied cable companies, lost 380,000 subscribers in the quarter. That’s about one out of every 300 U.S. households, and more than twice the losses in the second quarter of last year. Ian Olgeirson at SNL Kagan puts the number even higher, at 425,000 to 450,000 lost subscribers.

The second quarter is always the year’s worst for cable and satellite companies, as students cancel service at the end of the spring semester. Last year, growth came back in the fourth quarter. But looking back over the past 12 months, the industry is still down, by Moffett’s estimate. That’s also a first.

The article goes on to mention a number of reasons for this: a bad economy so consumers are cutting back, younger people don’t see the necessity of cable, and there is a lot of content available through the Internet.

More interesting to me is the idea that cable TV is no longer the luxury good that it once was. Once the industry began in the 1970s and later consolidated, cable moved from being a rarity to being a necessity. As late as mid 2009, “11% of U.S. TV homes only have the capability to receive TV reception “over the air”.” Having cable simply became part of how Americans spend their disposable income. Cable became prism through which many Americans viewed the world. Certain channels arose, such as MTV which has been getting a lot of attention recently because of its 30th anniversary or ESPN which was the subject of an interesting book, and became part of the national consciousness. These channels, for better or worse, came to represent American culture and were exported around the world. I wonder if having cable at home signaled a middle-class lifestyle even if other traits don’t match this standing.

But now the world may have moved on. (At the same time, despite all the articles suggesting people stop paying for cable, bad economic times, and more competition, the drop in subscribers was only 0.2-0.3%.) How exactly will cable companies convince people that their product is a necessity, particularly among the younger generations? What will be the new narrative regarding cable that will push people to include this in their lives?