Scandalous News from MTV

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The litany of scandalous, alleged cooked-book stories now tallies seven companies, beginning with Enron Corp. and its accounting firm Arthur Andersen LLP. Then the guys at Global Crossings Inc. got nabbed. Ditto for Tyco International Ltd., ImClone Systems Inc. and Adelphia Communications Corp. And now the same stink is emanating from WorldCom Inc.

All scary, scary stuff. But wait, there's more. The researchers at MTV Networks informed us last week that by the year 2020, 60 percent of the population will have been born after 1975.

What that means is that baby boomers will no longer prevail, and a new generation — which MTV has dubbed "media actives" — will dominate the world and what we see on our television sets.

Perish the thought. MTV somewhat breathlessly preaches that programmers should start preparing right now for a generation of viewers that has very different media habits than us geezer boomers.

I guess that means there will be even more inane entertainment than there already is, targeted to a bunch of kids who presently worship Brittany Spears, but many of whom are not old enough to drive to her concerts without a chaperone.

And let's not forget that the human brain does not fully develop until the age of 21, as countless research about why teenagers get into so many fatal auto accidents attests. These kids might be able to simultaneously instant message their pals online, pretend to do their homework, watch TV and talk on the phone, but they are not capable of getting themselves out of life-threatening conditions on the road.

The good news out of that MTV research for baby boomers like me and my pals is that presently only 35 percent of the nation's population are among those media actives, who range in age from 12 to 24.

So I figure we have a good 18 years left to take a stance, make an impact and wrest back our television sets from a bunch of youngsters who by and large cannot afford to buy the products being advertised on the medium.

With all due respect to the researchers at MTV, I don't like that rally to action — to start programming more to these kidlets — one bit at all. MTV's researchers say the hallmarks of behavior of the media actives are that they are selective, confident, expert, impatient and want to connect.

Excuse me, but I think those attributes describe a lot of baby boomers too. More important, we control the purse strings.

So let MTV — which has made a huge profit on catering to this set — continue to do its fine work. But give the rest of us a break, the folks who actually pay the bills and give us more programming that caters to our needs, too.

By the way, MTV, like your young and restless media actives, I "process information differently," too. Get a load of this. This aging chick is now writing a column on a computer at home, channel surfing the television, answering the occasional phone call, having a truncated chat with my husband who wanders in and out, hungry for dinner, all while I keep an eye on Lucy our baby yellow lab who is destroying a rawhide bone. Wow, I guess that means I'm media active too.

After I save this column to disc, I'll check out my corporate and personal email, with the TV in the background. Maybe I'll burn a few CDs. Maybe I'll do a little instant messaging. But probably, I'll make several online purchases, because I have the credit cards, and MTV's media actives do not.

So who do you want to keep happy? Think about that MTV.

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