When your kids watch their favorite TV shows, have you ever wondered how these programs make it on the air? Sure, there are writers, producers, cast and crew that create what you see on the screen, but did you know there is also a group of professionals tracking the shows you and your family love as they develop? These professionals are otherwise known as the folks in Standards and Practices—and, I am one such professional. Our job is assuring that the content you watch on television and online upholds the standards of our network, appropriately reflects the brand associated with our network, and abides by related federal laws, while still being entertaining and educational.
In our department, colleagues are assigned to specific series or movies and are part of the many stages that happen to get a show aired: from the development of the premise to the working out of a storyboard to the writing of a script to the final product that runs on TV. Depending on the target audience and the show itself, we provide notes that will help the show reflect the standards I mentioned before. For example we comment on things such as whether the dialogue is appropriate for the audience, whether the wardrobe matches standards we’ve agreed to, and whether the actions of the characters are something kids might imitate and could possibly be hurt by doing.
One of the most interesting types of guidelines we have to accommodate are those from the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC notes that children have difficulty determining when a television show ends and a commercial begins. Therefore guidelines require that we use “bumpers” to assist the child in making the visual transition between the show and the commercials, so that we do not falsely persuade them to purchase items they may believe are a continuation of the show.
For me, one of the most exciting aspects of this profession is that as new trends emerge in popular culture and world affairs—including new media platforms and developments in public health -- the standards by which we review a program also evolve. I really enjoy being able to say that my job is to review content to make sure it is safe and healthy for our audiences to watch.