Objectives. To identify the frequency of violent commercials during the major league baseball playoffs in 1998 and to compare it with the 1996 playoffs.
Design and Setting. All 4 World Series games televised on the Fox Television Network (Fox), all 6 National League Championship Series (NLCS) televised by Fox, and 5 of 6 American League Championship Series (ALCS) playoff games televised by the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) were videotaped in October 1998. The results were compared with a similar study that analyzed the 1996 playoffs.
Results. Forty-four commercials (11.0 per game) that included violent interactions were noted during the World Series, 53 violent commercials (8.8 per game) during the NLCS, and 40 (8.0 per game) during the ALCS for a total of 137. Of these 137 violent commercials, 78 contained at least 1 violent act, 126 contained at least 1 violent threat, and 12 contained evidence of at least 1 violent consequence. One hundred five of the 137 violent commercials (76.6%) were television promotions and 23 (16.8%) were for big-screen movie promotions. Twenty-three of 35 big-screen movie promotions (65.7%) were violent. Ten of the 137 violent commercials (7.3%) contained obvious blood, of which 9 were televised by NBC. There were, however, an additional 20 commercials televised by Fox that contained visible blood if the videotape was slowed or paused. Sixty-three of the 137 violent commercials (46.0%) used fire and explosions, of which 53 were televised by Fox and 10 by NBC. Guns were involved in 86 of 137 violent commercials (62.8%), with Fox accounting for 64 (6.4 per game) and NBC accounting for 22 (4.4 per game). Knives were used in 1 violent commercial on both Fox and NBC. Comparisons that can be made to 1996 include the following: 1) violent commercials during the World Series (both televised by Fox) increased from 10.1 to 11.0 per game; and 2) violent commercials during the ALCS (both televised by NBC) increased from 6.0 to 8.0 per game.
Conclusion. Commercials during the 1998 major league playoffs were similar in violent content, compared with 1996. The violent commercials continue to consist primarily of promotions for television programs and big-screen movies. It continues to be counterintuitive to find such commercials in family-oriented programming and makes it difficult for parents to avoid exposing their children to this form of violence.
- Received March 27, 2000.
- Accepted May 18, 2000.
- Copyright © 2000 American Academy of Pediatrics