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Fads, Fashion and Foolery for 1994

January 04, 1994|MICHAEL PARKS

Jerusalem — THOSE DARN COMMERCIALS: Life here will never be the same, if you believe the doomsayers. No--they're not talking about peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. It's TV commercials that have got them astir.

"An irreversible plunge into consumerism," one social commentator said. "An all-out onslaught on what remains of our sensibilities," added another critic. "We will have Michael Jackson dancing into our homes for Pepsi."

More than 25 years after television came to Israel, many viewers of state-run Israel Television are only now getting their first taste of real commercials as opposed to "public service announcements," such as those urging Israelis to fly the national airline.

More than that, state television for the first time faces real competition this year from a full-fledged commercial rival that, for want of a better name, is called New Channel 2. Previously broadcasting only experimentally, the new station will be battling seriously for the 1994 television audience, counting on novelty and the promise of more entertainment to give it an edge.

The New Channel 2's impact is already noticeable:

* A struggling evening newspaper closed in anticipation that much of its advertising would go to television.

* The dinner hour and children's bedtimes were changed at many households to accommodate a nightly newscast brought forward for competitive reasons by Israel Television.

* Several prominent rabbis have issued religious injunctions against watching "pornographic" advertisements on the commercial channel, where in-house censors admit to being troubled by the degree that sex is used to sell products.

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