It has been a long time since I wrote here at this page, and yet, it seems to be just at the right time.
This article is about disclaimers. We’ve all seen the disclaimers, on the back of the product packages, and on television commercials, and sometimes even in the oddest of places, like on plastic bags – disclaimers that say silly things like, “do not put over your head”. Duh, so who’s going to do that anyway?
For the most part, the majority of disclaimers are simply tools that corporations and that lawyers use to make sure that if someone sues, they don’t get harmed or they can get away with claiming innocence.
Yet, some disclaimers are needed, and some make sense and some are quite helpful. So, how does one distinguish between the ordinary, useful disclaimers and the ones that are, so obviously, lawyer’s tools and corporations’ tools to simply stop you from having recourse after one of their products or services has really harmed you? How do you decide which disclaimers are important and which are just plain annoying, and a waste of time, and space and, in many cases, a waste of good human energy?
Or does it really make a difference if we distinguish them, separate them or not? Only you know the answer to that question.
I am writing this article to bring attention, to you, and to the public, the new use of ‘specifically-worded’ disclaimers that are now being demanded for display on some community access channels, and shows. The disclaimer for television is not a real problem. Many producers put disclaimers on their shows, without even being asked to do so.
The huge problem for the latest development in community access television corporations is that ‘specifically-worded’ disclaimer. That’s it — the “specific words”. And when I read the specific disclaimer, I saw, quite quickly, that it simply wasn’t the truth.
So, I ask you. Can a corporation demand that you lie on television (if the disclaimer is obviously not the truth) and if you don’t agree to the lie, can the corporation or the Board of Directors or the boss say that you can not air your show on community television?
While I am not sure that I can answer this question directly, I’m pretty sure that I can answer the question by a process of elimination technique. I’ll try that here.
So, by process of elimination, I’ll say that for the most part, on many of the community access television shows, there usually is, more than one person, sometimes as many as four or five guests on the show or four or five “talents” on the show. And, if you think about this logically, you have to know that all those people do not have identical ideas and probably not talking about identical problems or issues.
One guest on the show could be an author, while another guest could be a singer, and another guest could be a folk-song writer, and one guest could be a lawyer. Yes, all those guests can be on one single community access television show. And then there is the Executive Producer. So with the specifically-worded disclaimer notice, it states that the opinions you hear on the show are “solely” of the Producer. And that clearly could not be the truth. There are many times in a show when an Executive Producer can or does invite someone to the show that has a different or even opposite opinion than the guest(s) might have.
So, a more appropriate disclaimer, a more truthful disclaimer might be worded like this, “Disclaimer: The opinions on this show are not the opinions of staff or admin. but they are the opinions / facts of the Executive Producer or of the guests, host or talent on this episode”.
Now, that’s honest, and that’s more truthful and that’s way more acceptable than the other cookie-cutter disclaimer that isn’t truthful.
Yet, in a particular community access studio, the other “specifically worded” disclaimer that doesn’t always represent the truth, is the disclaimer that is being pushed by (some in) the corporation.
Even a member of the Board of Directors has stated that the show will not be aired without the proper (specifically-worded) disclaimer.
So, what does an Executive Producer do, in this case, when the Producer wants to promote a true disclaimer, one that is more accurate than the mis-statement of the ‘specifically -worded’ disclaimer?
Producers’ choices are either:
- Say the lie on television (if the show has more than one opinion from various persons), to have their own show aired.
- Not put the specifically-worded disclaimer and as a result of that not have the Producer’s show aired on community access television.
- Produce the shows somewhere else, in a place that is not requiring the producers to lie on air.
- Stop creating television shows.
- Wait until the lawyers have their meeting and see what the outcome of the meeting is -regarding the disclaimer notice.
- Do the research and the footwork that will come up with better answers than the above answers.
And there are other solutions also, when one really thinks about it. But those are the most obvious solutions, for now.