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August 30 , 2008

Noise Wars

Compulsory Media and Our Loss of Autonomy


Robert Freedman looks at the role of media in society in a unique way—by focusing exclusively on the emerging trend of audience captivity: the relocation of TV and other intrusive electronic media from our home, where we have personal control over it, to all the settings outside the home in which we don’t have control: buses, subways, taxis, elevators, retail stores, hotel and office lobbies, street corners, street furniture, and gas station pumps, among others.

Although the book comes down squarely against audience captivity as a media business model, it takes a conversational, even-handed approach that lets the facts speak for themselves. It does this by showing on the one hand the growth of captive-audience platforms and on the other the rise in people's resentment—even anger—at being made captive to electronic media they haven't asked for and from which they can't escape without personal cost.

By approaching the topic in this way, the book makes a compelling case that the media industry's growing reliance on audience captivity as a business model is setting up a values war not unlike the war between smokers and opponents of second-hand smoke. As the first systematic look at audience captivity from a social perspective, the book makes a crucial and timely contribution to research on and discussions about media and society.

This book offers resources, ideas and tools for people who care about the proper role of television and other electronic media in their lives and the lives of children. Consumers who are interested in media and society, and groups such as the Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood, Action Coalition for Media Education, Commercial Alert, Center for Screen Time Awareness, Center for Successful Parenting, and Parents Television Council, will find this book of high interest.
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