Thursday, November 03, 2005

Welcome to sweeps month

Four months a year television stations pull out all the punches to try and get ratings. These months, known as sweeps, are important because ratings from these months will set advertising rates for the rest of the year. November is probably the most important sweeps period because is the first ratings period for the shows introduced at the beginning of the new television season.

Local news is not immune to sweeps; this is when you get the most sensationalistic stories. Often, it's stories that would not normally make the news and usually it is sensationalism over substance. Last night KXAN aired one of these stories, about prostitution on South Congress. More specifically, it was about how some Katrina evacuees have joined the working girls on South Congress. The reporter interviewed a vice cop and evidently the cops have noticed five more working girls on the street.

What got us was the tone the reporter took and how she was trying to make a big deal out of it. It sounded like she was reporting on a horrendous disaster rather than just 5 more prostitutes. Heck, I bet at least 100 working girls come to town during SXSW. Of course, SXSW happens in March, which is not sweeps.

The other thing that got us was the interview with the owner of Opal Divines, a local watering hole. Opal Divines has an outdoor deck and during one police roundup of hookers, customers on Opal's deck would sit there with their beer, watching the arrests and would applaud every time the cops napped someone. The police would then look up at the restaurant crowd, wave, and get another girl.

Now that's Austin for you.

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