TV TURNOFF 1999
It's primetime, and the living rooms of North America are flooded with news of war overseas and a chilling assault on schoolkids in Colorado. Then CNN Headline News cuts to a commercial. Out of the blue, a young girl flashes up on the screen, riveted to the tube and fidgeting as a barrage of violent images flashes before her eyes. A voice breaks in: "Whose child is she, yours or the networks? - Take back your children; turn off your TV."
More than a dramatic launch, the April 22 airing of two 30-second TV Turnoff "uncommercials" was nothing short of historic - a network advertising its own shutdown. Still, CNN distinguished itself by being the only major network to accept the spots. As has happened eight years running, the Big Three (CBS, NBC, ABC) turned Adbusters away with responses ranging from "too controversial" to more evolved stonewalling tactics involving obscure Charity Review societies located in the US.
Make no mistake, however. Adbusters has no plans to give up the fight, and we urge you to let the networks know how you feel. Our website provides cyber-links to the Big Three's comment pages.
This year's TV Turnoff Week (April 22-28) moved beyond questions of lifestyle choice to focus on the ultimate TV concern, freedom of expression on the airwaves. Past years' passive declarations of consumer sovereignty - "I am not a slave to this box" - were transformed into an active campaign against the networks: "Stop feeding me this crap and stop censoring your opponents." The shift in tack left media pundits, eager to pigeonhole the campaign as a cute but ineffective gesture, floundering without a snappy comeback.
Support for the sixth annual TV Turnoff came in from far afield this year, proof that more and more people are tuning in to the idea of turning off. TV Free America, a US advocacy group, rallied the support of schools and families across the country and received the Surgeon General's stamp of approval. The group estimates it convinced seven million Americans to tune out for the event. Across the waters, the British-American joint group White Dot encouraged those planning to take the leap with such on-line support as a Life Waste-O-Rama Quiz (www.whitedot.org). Adbusters also received word of local TV Turnoff "firsts" from Spain, Australia, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Netherlands. With the North American movement growing steadily and international interest taking off, TV Turnoff 2000 is set to join Buy Nothing Day as the world's next great culture-jamming festival.
TV TURNOFF 2000
There is a battle being waged for freedom of the airwaves, and this year's TV Turnoff Week (April 22-28) saw new struggles in France and Australia as jammers tried to get the word out.
Down under, every major commercial TV network refused to air the "Uncommercial" despite its having received a "G" rating from the advertising authority.
"Who do you think you are, trying to harm our business? Do you think we're stupid!? Why would we agree to air an ad our advertisers might not like?" demanded one Aussie TV exec.
In France, the Uncommercial didn't even get as far as the TV execs - the ad itself was banned by the Bureau de VŽrification de la PublicitŽ (Advertising Regulation Bureau) because it was neither a commercial message nor a message from a "recognized" advocacy group.
The good news is that instead of being aired during commercial breaks, the Uncommercial was seen on news programs describing these incidents of censorship and TV Turnoff is now more popular than ever.
TV TURNOFF WEEK 2002
Set your VCRs to 5PM Eastern on April 18th. We're claiming 30 seconds of black screen on CNN Wolf Blitzer Reports. There could be well over a million viewers tuned in -- that's far more than we've ever had for a single uncommercial.
Your support for buying the airtime has far exceeded our expectations. We thank everyone who helped us raise $5,000 in just under a week. Call it springtime optimism, we hope it keeps rolling in so we can buy a second timeslot on CNN Headline News. (The cost is $2,500 - 25 people sending $100 each would do the trick - visit our donation page if you want to help out.)
TELL US YOUR TV TURNOFF STORIES
7 days of TV freedom can be a surprising challenge. More than a few people have reported to us that they find the weaning process torturous. We want to hear how you fare. Keep a TV Turnoff diary. Write a short story about your trials. Paint pictures. Hell, push the bounds of irony and make a documentary. However you choose to do it, chronicle your experiences outside the box.
If you plan events over the week, make sure to send us pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Adbusters TV Turnoff, 1243 W 7th Ave, Vancouver BC, V6H 1B7, Canada.