Sunday, March 16, 2014

The 1950s quiz show scandals

The American quiz show scandals of the 1950s were a series of revelations that contestants of several popular television quiz shows were secretly given assistance by the show's producers to arrange the outcome of a supposedly fair competition. The quiz show scandals were driven by a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons included the drive for financial gain, money, the willingness of contestants to “play along” with the assistance, and the lack of current regulations prohibiting the rigging of game shows.

An interesting thing about all this is the admittance that television is not regulated when it comes to using deception on the viewing audience.

Here is Herb Stempill, one of the "Twenty One" contestants, talking about the extremely lax laws that were implemented after the scandals. [video]

And then...when I tried to find the actual law all I get is this...

18 U.S.C. § 1304 (derived from former § 316 of the Communications Act of 1934, 48 Stat. 1088-1089, repealed by 62 Stat. 862, 866): "Whoever broadcasts by means of any radio station for which a license is required by any law of the United States, or whoever, operating any such station, knowingly permits the broadcasting of, any advertisement of or information concerning any lottery, gift enterprise, or similar scheme, offering prizes dependent in whole or in part upon lot or chance, or any list of the prizes drawn or awarded by means of any such lottery, gift enterprise, or scheme, whether said list contains any part or all of such prizes, shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than one year, or both." "Each day's broadcasting shall constitute a separate offense."

...which has nothing really to do with tricking the public but is mainly concerned with the prize money.

So, basically there is probably no laws in existence that prohibit television producers from engaging in blatant deception.

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