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News trumps showbiz in most memorable TV

11 July 2012, 14:22

 Los Angeles - Watching news coverage of the September 11 attacks, Hurricane Katrina disaster, and the OJ Simpson murder verdict proved to be the most significant TV moments of the past 50 years in the United States, according to a study released on Wednesday.

Television researcher Nielsen and Sony Electronics partnered to find which TV events were the most memorable for audiences.

The Challenger space shuttle disaster in 1986 and death of Osama bin Laden rounded out the top five.

"What we were trying to measure was perception," Paul Lindstrom, a senior vice president at Nielsen told Reuters.

"The most significant things, when it comes to television, weren't the events, but the moments shared with people. Things like 'watching baseball with my dad,' seeing the Olympics together, all those types of things brought emotional memories together."

The study questioned 12 000 participants online over three days in February.

From Kennedy to Friends

Respondents were provided a list of choices selected by media experts that ranged from news coverage such as the assassination of President John F Kennedy in 1963 to pop culture events such as the airing of final episodes of Friends, Seinfeld, and Cheers.

News-oriented items that crossed generations proved to be the most influential TV experiences, and stories of a communal nature or with widespread relevance also resonated with viewers.

Princess Diana's funeral, the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2010 earthquake in Japan and football star OJ Simpson's famous car chase by police also scored in the top 10.

Ubiquitous memories

"What's interesting for me is not what's on the list, but what's not on the list," said Brian Siegel, vice president of television for Sony Electronics.

"There wasn't entertainment - no Super Bowl, no Friends finale. It was all news and events... Memories that are ubiquitous among all of us."

Sony commissioned the study to assess emotions that audiences attach to TV with an eye toward boosting its program development and marketing.

Following is a list of the top 20 most memorable and striking TV moments of the past 50 years, according to the study.

1. September 11 attacks -  2001

2. Hurricane Katrina levees break - 2005

3. OJ Simpson murder verdict - 1995

4. Challenger space shuttle disaster - 1986

5. Death of Osama bin Laden - 2011

6. OJ Simpson high-speed car chase - 1994

7. Earthquake/tsunami in Japan - 2011

8. Columbine school shooting -  1999

9. BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico - 2010

10. Funeral of Princess Diana - 1997

11. Death of Whitney Houston - 2012

12. Capture and execution of Saddam Hussein - 2006

13. Barack Obama acceptance speech - 2008

14. Prince William, Kate Middleton wedding - 2011

15. Assassination of John F Kennedy - 1963

16. Oklahoma City bombing - 1995

17. Bush/Gore election results - 2000

18. Los Angeles riots/Rodney King beating - 1992

19. Casey Anthony murder trial verdict - 2011

20. Funeral of John F Kennedy - 1963

- Reuters

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