Exposing a woman’s breasts on mainstream media programs is not supposed to happen, short of a “wardrobe malfunction.”
But in a four-part report on [breast cancer] beginning Thursday night, WJLA, Channel 7 in Washington, will break TV’s unspoken taboo by showing two women fully exposed on its late-afternoon and evening newscasts.
The station claims there isn’t enough, ahem, detail shown about how women should examine their breasts to catch the cancer early. Oh, OK. Well, if there’s a good reason…. In fact, there is a really, really, very good reason.
The reports will air on the first two days of TV’s traditional "sweeps" month, a period in which stations air their most eye-catching stories to boost ratings that are used to set advertising rates.
Eye-catching, indeed. Nonetheless, station manager Bill Lord said that’s just a coincidence. And besides,
Lord said he did not expect many viewer complaints, in part because the reports will be preceded by "viewer discretion" disclaimers. Further, he said, WJLA’s 5 p.m. newscast follows "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and its 11 p.m. newscast on Thursday follows the ABC medical drama "Private Practice," both of which have audiences largely made up of women. On Friday, the 11 p.m. news follows "20/20," a news program that has an older following.
“[A]udiences largely made up of women”? Not those nights, baby. And the guys won’t be complaining.
Reportedly, next ratings period, the station is going to demonstrate, in detail, how you can catch syphilis. (OK. That’s not true, but I’ll let you know if the station calls me to thank me for the idea.)