- The Washington Times - Friday, September 14, 2007

Americans may watch an average of 12 to 17 hours of television a week, but they continue to hate what they see.

When asked which of the new fall programs they were looking forward to viewing, a whopping 86 percent said they were anticipating “nothing,” were unsure of the lineup or dismissed the new offerings altogether, according to a poll released yesterday by the Associated Press and AOL.

Viewers see a dim future. Almost two-thirds — 62 percent — say TV programming in general is “getting worse.” Among evangelical Christians, the number was 85 percent, the survey found.

Some programming proved more irksome than others.

There are too many reality TV shows on the air; the genre was cited by 71 percent of the respondents as being too abundant. Crime and talk shows followed, each cited by 49 percent, and game shows, cited by a third. Least offensive, was news, sports and dramatic programming — found in appropriate amounts by the majority of respondents.

News, in fact, showed some promise. The findings revealed that 28 percent of Americans would like to see more news on television, compared with 17 percent in a similar survey taken two years ago.

“This is all very telling about the complicated relationships people have with their television. We have so much to chose from right now — some good, some bad. But most Americans tend to fall back into the idea that TV will forever be the ‘idiot box’ and the ‘boob tube,’—” said Robert Thompson, a Syracuse University broadcast professor and director of the school’s Bleier Center for the Study of TV and Popular Culture.

“There’s a divide between our opinions and our behavior here. Americans check off all the boxes on a survey saying TV stinks with one hand, but they’ve got the other hand on that TV remote, believe me. They’re complaining, but they’re still watching,” Mr. Thompson said.

The survey, however revealed that the respondents were, for the most part, politically engaged. More than three-quarters were registered voters — with a few curious particulars. A third said they were Democrat, 20 percent were Republican and 20 percent independent. But 24 percent also said they were “none of these.”

Conservatives outnumbered liberals, 36 percent to 26 percent, respectively. Another 32 percent were moderates, while 37 percent classified themselves as evangelical Christians. The largest percentage of the group — almost a third, were under 34 years old.

Anticipation was tepid for even prime-time heavyweights, meanwhile. Only a quarter said they were looking forward a great deal to NBC’s “CSI,” while CBS’ “Survivor” was voted the program viewers most hoped would be canceled. ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” was called “most offensive,” eclipsing even “Jerry Springer” and “South Park” on the unpopularity parade.

The survey of 1,204 adults was conducted Aug. 24-27 and has a margin of error of three percentage points.

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