In commercials and programming, commercial television shapes public opinion about the acceptability of violence, the importance of youth and good looks, the pleasures of consuming, what you should think about the environment, diet and health issues, or the characteristics of race, age, class, and ethnic groups. Public Service Announcements are one of the ways non-profit organizations, government agencies, and international organizations can offer their often very different point of view. A powerful PSA can give credibility to other points of view, let other voices be heard. It can publicize community events, provide health and safety tips, assist in fund raising efforts or membership drives, and inform and influence public opinion.


The internet is good at presenting information, but nothing matches television and radio when it comes to moving and persuading people. TV and radio are especially powerful ways to reach older persons, minorities, and people with low incomes, for the traditional means of communication -- print materials -- are limited in their ability to reach them. In the field of health, for example, a Roper survey in 1998 revealed that 40% of Americans' health information comes from television, as opposed to 36% from their physicians, and 35% from magazines and journals (David Haber, Health Promotion and Aging). A study by the Robert Wood Johnson foundation found that television is the primary source of information for those aged 65 and older.

Hispanics rely even more on television for health information and advice. AARP's National Eldercare Institute on Health Promotion found that 1) many Hispanic elders are unfamiliar with senior citizens' centers or find cultural insensitivity there, 2) Hispanic physicians are in short supply and beliefs in folk medicine and the healing power of God often delay medical visits, 3) lack of knowledge and experience with the American health care system, limited funds, and lack of transportation are barriers to timely health care services, and 4) for Hispanics, Spanish-language television and radio are the most credible sources of health information, followed by extended family, work sites, churches, community-wide activities and social clubs and organizations (David Haber, Health Promotion and Aging).

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