Page 4, 25th May 1962

25th May 1962
Page 4
Page 4, 25th May 1962 — Catholics and T.V.

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Catholics and T.V.

FR. A'GNELLUS ANDREW does not. understandably. identify the pressure groups which he claims are ridiculing the Pilkington committee on television and seeking to discredit its suggestions in advance.

The truth is, of course. that everyone with anything to gain from the Committee's recommendations is constituted in a pressure group using what means it can to further its special interests.

What is, perhaps, more to the point about Fr. Agnellus' remarks, which we report in another page. is that Catholics are doing nothing to make their presence felt in this important field. In other words, Fr. Agnellus is not attacking pressure groups as such: what he is criticising is that the only pressure groups which exist are those which are seeking to promote purely sectional and selfish interests at the expense of the silent masses. A Catholic pressure group would do something to correct the imbalance. It would not. of course. seek to force sectarian ideas down the throats of people who do not accept them. What it should do would be to promote the rights of the majority against the self-interest of the minority groups.

ONE of the large unanswered questions about television is whether it is to be regarded strictly as a medium for entertainment or if it has a more important function. As things are. the majority of television programmes are purely entertainment (in intent, if not in fact). The medium has accepted the lowest standards of the cheap newspapers. particularly their slickness and superficiality, without any of their compensating virtues. including a sense of social crusade and a courage to criticise.

This negativeness about television is creating the "supine people and a democracy which will not exercise its rights" which Fr. Agnellus so rightly condemns.

If a Catholic pressure group could serve to awaken the people to how television is atrophying their capacity to concentrate and to look beneath the surface and to convince both producers and viewers that it is not enough to give people what they want (or what someone thinks they want) but to want what is best, then it would serve a very important purpose. At any rate. one hopes that the publication of the Pilkington committee's report next month will provide an opportunity for a really thoroughgoing examination of the phenomena of modern television viewing.

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