infomation + commercial
A TV like the one we had at home when I was younger. (source: homeimprovementbasics.com)
Until about thirty years ago, TV stations in the US went off the air for a few hours every night (in the early days, they’d also go off the air in the middle of the day). I don’t think there was any regulation about this; I think it was more a case of running out of material to show their viewers. With the advent of cable TV in the 1970’s and 1980’s, more channels began keeping later hours, and pretty soon it was standard operating procedure to stay on the air all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including Sundays and holidays. This included not just the network stations and cable channels but also the local independent stations, ones that weren’t affiliated with the networks and who had to license their programming from syndicators. Many cash-strapped stations, not wanting to go off the air but not having anything to show in the wee hours of the morning, would look for programming that would actually pay them to broadcast it.
Thus, the infomercial was born. These are usually a half hour to an hour long, and are a more detailed discussion of the product they’re selling. For example, they might feature an interview with the author of a diet book, where the author will share some information from his book, and tell you where to find it in his book. Or it might be someone selling a juicer who demonstrates a few “delicious” recipes someone can make with it.
Shel Silverstein wrote a song that Steve Goodman did on his last album, Affordable Art, about someone who falls asleep with the TV on and buys everything advertised in the infomercials that run all night… (one case of mild profanity; be careful at work!)
Ever buy anything from an infomercial?