MIAMI, Florida -- The following is an open letter send to the Discovery Network by The Shark Group:
From: *The Shark Group*
September 3, 2009
Open Letter to the Discovery Network
Object: Shark Week 2009, Discovery's Tribute to The Year of the Shark
Mr. John Hendricks, Founder & Chairman, Mr. David Zaslav, President & CEO
We, The Shark Group, wrote to you in June, about the nature of the new programs created for Shark Week 2009. We were concerned that you were focusing once more on sharks as dangerous man-eaters, thus misleading your viewers about their true nature, and facilitating their mass slaughter with almost no public sympathy, nor protest. Not only did we not receive a reply, but the programs themselves were worse than their titles and advertising.
You have misread and discounted your viewers in presenting such an extreme shark horror show, with absurd special effects. The contrast with your conservation message was so blatant that it has lost you your credibility.
The reports received predominantly reflect viewer's disgust with its lack of scientific content, its boring, repetitive theme of blood and teeth, and its hypocrisy. People then add that it was too stupid to watch.
Check this link for a typical summary of public judgement: http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=138322
If your sole interest is presenting blood and horror for profit, why not have a Car Accident Week? That would be more relevant for a majority of viewers, since it would touch each one's daily life. You could be credited by increasing driving safety instead of being black listed as the company who profited unethically by demonizing the ocean's top predators while they went extinct.
As we have tried to convey to you in the past, the public is not so ignorant of the facts about sharks as you have apparently assumed.
Your tribute to The International Year of the Shark, Shark Week 2009, was a big mistake, which will discredit your company and affiliates, and increasingly damage your reputation as time passes.
We are greatly increasing our efforts to publicize the lack of ethics Discovery displays in presenting Shark Week. So perhaps you should start taking our concerns seriously, because ignoring this problem is not going to make it go away.
We will be waiting to see what you have planned for 2010.
Ila France Porcher Alex Buttigieg
The Shark Group
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