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Why you really don't want advertisers determining content for radio, TV and the press

Whenever you cheer about an sponsor pulling their advertising from a radio show, television program, magazine, or newspaper, the marketing people cheer even louder at your reaction. It's all about who gets to censor America's media. Obviously the marketing and advertising people would like to be the ones to do this. But, trust me on this one, you really don't want them to.

There are a lot of ways of censoring distasteful things. You can, of course, self-censor - which means not listening to that particular radio program, or watching that particular television show, etc. But that only goes so far. When obscene and hateful things surround us in public places, the law is necessary. And while you may not entirely trust the legal system - which includes lawyers, the court system, that sort of thing, at least they are in some way accountable to the people - that's us.

Advertisers and marketing people are not accountable to anyone but themselves. Within the constrains of the law, they are free to do whatever they can to promote their products. In the early years of the twentieth century, sponsors could virtually dictate the content of the media they advertised in. The radio programs, TV shows, magazines and newspapers had no choice but to follow the wishes of their sponsors, who were, after all paying for it. And the more power the sponsors have, the more they can dictate content.

Freedom of speech is a complex thing. Speaking for myself, I'd rather not have it determined by advertising people.