NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 6, 2006

Researchers from the Business & Media Institute found that businessmen on TV committed more crimes than any other demographic.  BMI looked at 129 episodes from 12 top-rated dramas on the four networks: ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC.  These broadcasts were picked from two "sweeps" months in 2005 -- May and November -- when networks try to attract the largest audiences to maximize ad dollars.

In this look at primetime, BMI found:

  • Negative plots about business and businessmen outnumbered positive ones by almost 4-to-1. Of the 39 episodes that included business-related plots or characters, 30 (77 percent) cast businessmen and commerce in a negative light.
  • When businessmen appeared on TV, they were up to no good. Only NBC's "Medium" and "Las Vegas" featured businessmen in a consistently positive light.
  • According to primetime TV, you are 21 times more likely to be kidnapped or murdered at the hands of a businessman than the mob. Businessmen also committed crimes five times more often than terrorists and four times more often than gangs.
  • Businessmen turned up as kidnappers or murderers almost as often (21 times) as hardened criminals like drug dealers, child molesters and serial killers put together (23 times).

While Hollywood's exaggeration of criminal businessmen might be good for the networks, it is bad for America, says BMI.  Research has shown the negative messages of TV can impact the attitudes of young viewers.  The constant parade of criminal CEOs and murdering MBAs on television can create a climate of mistrust in a basic institution of society.  Network executives have a responsibility not to tear down the free enterprise system -- the very system that enables their networks to succeed. 

Source: "Bad Company: For American Businessmen, Primetime is Crimetime," Business & Media Institute, June 2006.


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