Businessmen Behaving Badly: Prime Time's World of Commerce
Table of Contents:
Bigger Not Better in TV's Business World
There were fewer big business characters than small business characters during the study period, but they were portrayed far more negatively. Of the total 731 business characters, 302 (41.3 percent) owned or managed big businesses; 424 (58 percent) were small business owners. The size of business owned or managed by five characters was not made clear to viewers.
There were 65 business characters who murdered; 47 (72.3 percent) were big business characters while only 18 (27.7 percent) were small business characters. In all, 15.6 percent of big business characters (47 of 302) were murderers; 4.2 percent of all small business characters (18 of 424) were murderers. Viewers were also more likely to see a big business character than a small business character cheat to get ahead. Fully 46 percent of big business characters (139 of 302) tried to profit from cheating compared to 16.7 percent of small business characters (71 of 424). TV's big businesses were less likely to be shown meeting the needs of society, too. Only 9.3 percent of prime time big business characters (28 of 302) did, while 36.6 percent of small business characters (155 of 424) contributed. (See Appendix V.)