Joined: 10 Aug 2013
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31 Aug 2013, 14:53
Business manager of a TV station:
“Over the past year, our late-night news program has devoted increased time to national news and less time to weather and local news. During this time period, most of the complaints received from viewers were concerned with our station's coverage of weather and local news. In addition, local businesses that used to advertise during our late-night news program have just canceled their advertising contracts with us. Therefore, in order to attract more viewers to the program and to avoid losing any further advertising revenues, we should restore the time devoted to weather and local news to its former level.”
Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.
The reasoning that the TV station manager has expressed is flawed for several reasons. The most egregious flaw is that there was no indication that viewership has actually decreased. Also, the manager has not effectively argued that advertizers have pulled out because of the lack of local coverage, nor has he/she shown that viewer complaints about local coverage are due to its being too short.
Firstly, there is actual no evidence that viewership has decreased. Besides generating more advertising revenue, another aim of the new policy is to attract more viewers to the program. However, the manager only presupposes that viewership has actually decreased. If the manager tries to infer that it has decreased just from the fact that the station has received complaints concerning weather and local coverage, this inference is not valid since viewership could possibly stay the same or even increase in the face of receiving complaints, since the silent majority could be in favour of their coverage.
Also, even the mere fact that many advertisers have suspended their contracts does not necessarily imply that ordinary viewers, many who are not business people, are still watching the late news program. The manager, then, would still need to find evidence based on ratings that viewership has indeed decreased.
Secondly, local advertisers canceling their contracts with the station were not shown to be a result of devoting less time to local news and weather. The manager here is fallaciously attributing a cause to the effect. It could be that local advertisers have become fed up with the expensive cost that the station charges for advertizing spots. Or, it could simply be that the advertizing manager is rude, and offended most of the local advertisers. Whatever the case, the manager must produce stronger evidence, even anecdotal advertiser feedback, to show that the loss of advertising contracts is specifically caused by less coverage of weather and local news.
Thirdly, complaints from viewers concerning weather and local coverage are not necessarily indicative of too little coverage of those subjects. As it stands, complaints "concerned with our station's coverage of weather and local news" is vague. Especially in light of the specific changes that the manager proposes, one would have wanted the complaints to be specifically identified as dissatisfaction with the meagre coverage given to local news and weather.
This vagueness leaves room open to multiple alternate explanations for what viewers were unhappy about. It could be that viewers did not like the inexperienced weatherman doing that segment every night. It could be that the local news reporting was too biased in favour of some local corporation. Ironically, the dissatisfaction could even be that there was too much time devoted to local news and weather. To remedy this, the manager would be well advised to specify what viewers were unhappy about, perhaps even conducting a viewer survey of their news program.
Thus, to rectify the flawed argument, the manager must give indication that viewership has actually decreased. Also, the manager must effectively argued that advertizers have pulled out because of the lack of local coverage, and show that viewer complaints about local coverage are due to its being too short. Otherwise, as it stands, the manager's argument is severely flawed.