UK TV’s Channel 4 has some ‘poignant’ 9/11 money spinners

There seems to be no depths to which the media will not slither to cheaply fill viewing time and/or get ratings. For a moment I thought I was seeing things when I noticed that UK’s Channel 4 is tonight running a 1 hour and 40 minutes special called ‘9/11: Phone Calls from the Towers’.

They have decided that Sunday night’s prime time entertainment will be a programme which will feature recordings of telephone calls of doomed people in New York’s Twin Towers.  Their blurb for the programme states: Trapped in the twin towers … thousands of ordinary people struggled to survive and make contact with the outside world. Many knew that time was ticking away and wanted to speak to their loved ones for a final time…’

You can almost see the executives, at one of those meeting where programme projects are evaluated, putting on their most sincere ‘public has a right to know’ faces and earnestly backing the project – while privately agreeing ‘the punters love this the sort of stuff – if we put a good ‘public interest’ spin on it we’ll make a killing. Let’s just make sure the PR people use lots of phrases such as ‘poignant’, ‘treasured legacy’, and ‘historical document’ – that’ll do the trick – give them an alibi for listening to or watching dying people.’

Back in November 2008 I decided to look at the media through NLP eyes and to use the NLP principle of paying more attention to the motivation behind a behaviour than the behaviour itself. I came up with what I believe to be the formula that all of the traditional print, radio and television media use to attempt to hang on to their rapidly dwindling customer base. Looking at the various tactics and angles what’s which they used I recognised a simple formula: Shock, Sadden, Scare and Seduce.

It seems to cover most of the tactics used to get ratings, further the reporter’s career or sell newspapers. And, whether this is thought-provoking television or cynical exploitation, Channel 4 seems to have hit on a strategy that scores 3 out of 4 in that formula.

But they haven’t stopped there, either. They’ve decided to really milk it! In their 9/11 week their customers can look forward to at least four other ‘poignant documentaries’ in the same vein.


Related articles (March 2006) (March 2008) (August 2008) (November 2008)  (January 2009)  (September 2009) (January 2011)

1 Comment

  1. Sarah Ross on 6th September 2009 at 9:56 PM

    Having been touched personally by the events of 9/11, and paid my respects at Ground Zero, the need to remember my friend in a dignified way for me, far out weighs the need to sensationalise what was an horrific day. Pity the media doesn’t see it the same way.

    The sensational documentaries which are now being used to drive the ratings are best switched off. The victims will never be forgotten.