On TV, There's a Killer Corporate Image Problem
On the heels of last month's conviction of top Enron Corp. executives comes this nugget from the Media Research Center, a conservative television watchdog group that examines programming to determine how certain groups are portrayed. In this study, the group claims that Hollywood unfairly and overwhelmingly casts businessmen and women as "criminal CEOs and murdering MBAs."
The group's Business & Media Institute watched 129 episodes of the 12 top-rated prime-time shows on ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox during the May and November "sweeps" periods of 2005. If you're a TV businessman, you may want hire a crisis-management group to help your image. After which, apparently, you will kill them. Among the group's grave findings:
? You (assuming you are a prime-time TV character) are 21 times as likely to be kidnapped or murdered at the hands of a businessman than by a member of the mob. Business thugs committed five times as many crimes as terrorists and four times as many as gangs.
? Negative plots about businessmen and women outweighed positive plots 4 to 1.
? NBC's "Law & Order" series was the most "overtly hostile" toward business, the center said, with 11 of 24 plotlines featuring businessmen behaving badly.
? The only two programs in the study that showed positive business role models were NBC's "Las Vegas," in which the fictional casino was staffed "by a band of enterprising, creative and honest employees," the study said, and "Medium," about a crime-solving telepath.
The study concludes: "Heroes don't have to be just policemen and social workers. Private-sector businessmen help society as well."
-- Frank Ahrens