Working-class and radical media also suffer from the political discrimination of advertisers. Political discrimination is structured into advertising allocations by the stress on people with money to buy. But many firms will always refuse to patronize ideological enemies and those whom they perceive as damaging their interests, and cases of overt discrimination add to the force of the voting system weighted by income. Public-television station WNET lost its corporate funding from Gulf + Western in 1985 after the station showed the documentary “Hungry for Profit,” which contains material critical of multinational corporate activities in the Third World.
Even before the program was shown, in anticipation of negative corporate reaction, station officials “did all we could to get the program sanitized” (according to one station source). The chief executive of Gulf + Western complained to the station that the program was “virulently anti-business if not anti- American,” and that the station’s carrying the program was not the behavior “of a friend” of the corporation.
The London Economist says that “Most people believe that WNET would not make the same mistake again.” In addition to discrimination against unfriendly media institutions, advertisers also choose selectively among programs on the basis of their own principles. With rare exceptions these are culturally and politically conservative.