Discovery Channel – Playing both sides of the fence – Teaming up with John Kerry

According to the article, Kerry teams with cable channel to protect sharks, the Discovery Channel has “teamed up” with Massachusetts Senator, John Kerry, to support the The Shark Conservation Act of 2009, which is intended to strengthen the ban on shark finning in the U.S. and encourage international shark conservation. The article features a letter from John Ford, the President & General Manager of Discovery Channel, in which Ford states that Discovery Channel will be participating in “a public service announcement campaign, to air throughout Shark Week, with the goal of educating viewers about the plight of sharks and encouraging them to take action.” and that they will be “putting all of our media weight behind this effort.”

Ford also says, “As the #1 non-fiction media company in the world, Discovery Communications strives to educate and inform viewers about our planet. The flagship network, Discovery Channel, reaches over 98 million viewers in the U.S. alone and is committed to providing the highest quality content on television.”

I wonder if the video above is what Ford considers to be striving to “educate and inform.” If this kind of media is the “highest quality content on television,” people might be better off pulling an Elvis and shooting their t.v.

I really wish the Discovery Channel would put “ALL their media weight” into a conservation-minded Shark Week, but it seems like a good chunk of their media weight has been put into promoting fear and misconceptions regarding sharks. For Shark Week 2009, The Discovery Channel has “put their media weight” behind 4 different ads involving fictional shark attacks on humans (like the one seen above), the Frenzied Waters website, and a YouTube Channel page, which features bloody water and floating articles of clothing presumably to be from shark attack victims.

Kerry was quoted as saying, “We need to get serious, and I’m thrilled to see Discovery Channel’s willingness to roll up its sleeves and help get the job done,” in reference to shark population declines and the disruption of the oceans as a result of the finning industry. Eliciting fear towards sharks to increase your ratings (and ad revenues) and then turning around and proclaiming to being committed to shark conservation is hardly “rolling up your sleeves” and helping to “get the job done,” as far as I’m concerned.

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