A general theory of relativistic television programming

A general theory of relativistic television programming

J.M. Woithe+ & R. Liang*


It has come to our attention that the quality of TV programming has declined markedly [1] since sensationalist values [2] descended on operators, practitioners financiers, producers, proprietors [3] and miscellaneous administrative staff of television broadcasting companies and/or organizations. This paper serves to define what appears to be the driving relationships of this phenomenon, identified following a combined observation time of over 40 years.


  1. The PROFIT of a broadcasting organization is denoted p.
  2. The VIEWER PERCENTAGE is considered to be the ratio of the number of television viewers viewing a given broadcast to the total number of viewers viewing television concurrently. It is denoted v and ranges from zero to one inclusive.
  3. The EXPENSE is a generic term used to refer to the amount of money the ruling bodies must begrudgingly part with in order to run a broadcasting entity. It is denoted e.
  4. The NUMBER OF TV PROGRAMMERS refers to the cumulative count of executives responsible for the arrangement of broadcasting schedules, and is denoted P.
  5. It has been found [4] that the perceived success of a TV station can be easily observed via the so-called "smile index". The SMILE INDEX s is defined as the number of smiles on the faces of members of the boards of directors of the respective television broadcasting company/organizations.
  6. The ADVERTISEMENT INDEX is the ratio of advertisement time to program time, divided by the relevance factor of the respective advertisement.
  7. The RELEVANCE FACTOR of advertisements is a number greater than 0 which indicates: The smaller the relevance, the smaller the contribution to the factor. The relevance percentages A and P are found by empirically. The factor is calculated by forming the product of A, P and I.


Our investigation into the phenomenon of modern day TV programming has turned up seven (7) major relationships which appear to form the underlying foundation for TV program scheduling and production.
  1. The broadcast priority of a program is inversely proportional the amount of substantial content [5], and directly proportional to amount of tabloidal content [6].
  2. When filling the least popular timeslots, programs will be chosen according to their education or information content, with the most informative chosen first. [7]
  3. The content of advertisements must be such that the subject matter is:
    1. as mundane as possible [8]
    2. more interesting than the program being shown at the time [9]
  4. Programmes for prime time viewing must include the greatest possible proportion of sexual inuendo, violence, inane humour and American culture and require as little cerebral effort as can be sustained without allowing the viewer to fall asleep [10].
  5. News programmes must include the latest results of the local football code within the first five items [11]
  6. Local programmes should only be allocated minimal funding and star well-known local actors to offset the effect of poor quality production, and detract from the lack of a credible plot. [12]
  7. Censors exist to make the regulatory committees think that content is being screened effectively while simultaneously putting in only a token effort. [13]
Furthermore, the existence of these seven (7) relationships appears to be governed by the underlying truth that those responsible for television programming are bound by a relativistic relationship to the quantities "viewer percentage", "expense" and "profit". Experimental results far indicate that that this relationship can be summarized thus:
  1. the number of TV programmers (relative to profit) must be small
  2. the profit (relative to expense) must be large
  3. the expense (relative to viewer percentage) must be small
  4. the viewer percentage (relative to profit) must be small
It can be seen from the above that the smile index s can be expressed in terms of these quantities:
The exact power relations however, are known to vary from situation to situation, and will require greater clarification from ongoing research in the field.


The ongoing action of the recursive relationship described above means that profit is driven to a maximum as expense is driven to a minimum, while a sincere attempt is made to simultaneously gain a viewer percentage greater than 100%. In addition, the action of point (b) concurrently drives the advertisement index up. Unfortunately, it seems this process is being left to run its course with no attempt being made to even slow it down. If this deplorable situation is maintained the ultimate result will be a catastrophic explosion of inane programming, which will leave behind a television wasteland uninhabitable for many years to come.


[1] Baywatch et al, US chat shows ad nausium

[2] See for example the first 5 stories of any TV news broadcast, and the incessant "live" crosses for no worthwhile reason

[3] Murdoch, R, Packer, K et al

[4] A correlation study between the stock prices and executive smiles. Many people have carried out such a study, most easily done around annual general meeting time.

[5] Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place et al

[6] Witness, Today Tonight, A Current Affair et al (Aust), Hardcopy (US)

[7] Refer to the timing of Science etc related programs in your local TV guide

[8] Most foodstuff ads

[9] Most car ads

[10] Samurai Pizza Cats (NZ), so called "quality drama"s, highlights of football games, endless reruns of Olympic gold medal victories

[11] General easily observed observation

[12] Police Rescue (Aust), Shortland Street (NZ)

[13] Models Inc, Sex/Life, Late night chat/variety shows

+ The dept of physics and mathematical physics of the University of Adelaide
* The medical school of the University of Auckland

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