Airing Adult Entertainment A C.E.M.

The funny things you remember when you were in college. 
 
Ken Wallis was one of my professors during my three years of participation in the Television Broadcasting program at Mohawk.  He had worked in TV for decades and frequently shared entertaining anecdotes about the business.
 
He also made sure we were absolutely prepared for any potential dangers we might face upon entering our chosen field.  One time, he taught us two important acronyms that I’ve never forgotten:  CLM and CEM.
 
A CLM is a Career Limiting Move.  Let’s say you’re working for a major network.  Great gig, great pay.  Everything’s going the way you want it to.  But something happens, maybe you unwittingly get into a verbal disagreement with a bigwig off-the-air and behind-the-scenes.  Let’s say instead of venting quietly to a trusted co-worker over lunch you fire off an intensely detailed email to that same person instead.  But accidentally, the message gets sent to everybody with an address within the company, including the aforementioned bigwig you just tossled with. 
 
Chances are, you would lose that great network gig and greatly reduce your future prospects.  But thankfully, you haven’t been completely blackballed by the industry.  Why?  Because what happened was most likely kept behind closed doors.  Word might leak out within parts of the industry but no further than that.  The public-at-large would never learn the truth.  Other companies might think twice about hiring such a foolish and disgruntled blabbermouth who appears to have a huge problem dealing with authority but because it’s not the worst thing you could do and it was likely a one-time incident, you might be given a second chance.
 
However, that wouldn’t be the case if you aired adult entertainment on Television.
 
Last week, in Phoenix, Arizona, local station KPPX-TV was airing a special prime-time news program that featured Tom Brokaw.   (Here’s the original report.)  At some point during the broadcast, which was about national health care, viewers got a literal eyeful when a scene from an adult movie suddenly popped onto their screens.  It is unknown what viewers actually saw and what movie the footage was from.
 
The station was flooded with complaints and an investigation was conducted immediately.  There were worries that those 30 seconds of booty-slapping action had been witnessed by a national audience.  Fortunately, for the so-called “family-friendly” station, only viewers in Phoenix saw the carnal surprise.
 
Eventually, an unnamed employee responsible for the sabotage was fired and, according to the station, is not completely out of the woods yet.  He’s also facing “further legal action” according to a spokeswoman.  (Here’s the rest of the story.)
 
This would qualify as a CEM, a Career Ending Move.  In fact, it’s exactly what Professor Wallis warned all of us TV students about over a decade ago.  He said that the surest way to kill your career in TV is by putting hardcore pornography on a station that isn’t supposed to be airing hardcore pornography.
 
Even though we don’t know the name of the fool who did this, what are the chances any TV station would give him a second chance?  That’s something he should’ve thought of before making that fatal error.  And the funny thing is, this isn’t the first time something like this has happened.
 
Then again, maybe this was more a CLM than a CEM.  In his defence, his employer was Cox Communications.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
8:54 p.m. 
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Published in: on March 21, 2007 at 8:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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