Our list-happy lawmakers don’t want to stop with just a national no-call list. It sounds like a do-not-e-mail registry is imminent, and there’s even been talk in a few states about a do-not-mail list. But why stop there? With a little imagination, they should be able to dream up several doozies. First up, how about a do-not-air-any-more-commercials list? They’re annoying. They don’t drive response. Even the ones during the Super Bowl aren’t all that good, and a lot of the time you can’t even tell what they’re selling, though I could say the same thing about a few DM campaigns I’ve seen. There also are quite a few shows that, quite simply, seem to have more commercials than show.
While we’re at it, can’t Congress do something about the networks that intentionally start a show late by a minute or two or run over their scheduled time in an effort to stop people from changing channels? Couldn’t that be considered entrapment? It’s certainly a deceitful marketing technique. Maybe the best answer is for everyone to buy a Tivo, then we’d really see a few network marketing types sweat.
And what about a do-not-show-any-more-ads-before-the-movie-starts list – or, DNSAMABTMS list for short – banning theaters from showing ad after ad before a movie starts, especially when they run past the movie’s scheduled start time? I thought that was the reason I was paying $10, plus another $7-$10 for popcorn, a soda and Milk Duds, to go to the movie in the first place. I think National Cinema Network calls the commercials “pre-show entertainment.” Funny, I call them ads. I doubt that our lawmakers – who are hell-bent on stopping the calls into our homes (except theirs, of course) and spam into our in-boxes (which won’t do a damned bit of good, says Federal Trade Commissioner Tim Muris) – will take on this nuisance. (Isn’t that what they called telemarketing?) But the courts will. A class-action lawsuit was filed earlier this year against Loews Cineplex Entertainment Group alleging fraud and breach of contract because these ads “stole time” from moviegoers.
What’s wrong with a no-spam list? Last week, The Wall Street Journal Online called it an exercise in futility and said the answer will be technological. “Legislation, no matter how many good intentions it comes with, isn’t going to help,” it wrote, “and misplaced faith in it could hurt if it hampers efforts to find a solution.” Let’s hope someone finds one before Congress creates another list.