Last week the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) published new health guidelines recommending we reduce the time we spend watching television with strategies such as TV-free days or setting a limit of no more than two hours a day in front of the screen.
On the day the story was released we received several calls from journalists for our take on the story. Many of them thought that we were ‘anti-television’ and would welcome any advice which suggested watching less TV.
Clearly there are health benefits in pursing physical activity over sedentary television watching. However, watching television impacts not only physical health but mental and social wellbeing too.
Many of the journalists who contacted us this week were expecting us to say that television was bad and best avoided. We pointed out that, over the years, television has brought us some outstanding programmes but these have been shown alongside potentially harmful content such as The Joy of Teen Sex. To compare the two extremes is almost impossible.
Our campaign stems not from the fact that we are anti-television; indeed it’s because we recognise the importance of the medium that we continue to press for more responsible broadcasting. To quote Mary Whitehouse, television programmes should “lead people on and up not down and out.”
With this in mind, please do take time to let broadcasters know what you think of their output. They would love to hear from you if you think a programmes is especially worthy of praise but if you see anything on television which you consider unacceptable or potentially harmful it’s really important to flag it up.