Editor's Column

"Get ready to watch Execution TVTimothy McVeigh's execution on May 16 will be on closed circuit TV with only a small audience, but who could blame network and cable TV execs for dreaming of something larger? Watch the all-news channel talking heads and you'll hear plenty of chatter about the possibility of televising all executions. Some hope the spectacle would turn American off on the death penalty, while others see it as a further deterrent to crime. In all likelihood, it's only a matter of time until we have Execution TV.McVeigh's demise will be witnessed only by relatives of his victims, a reality which leaves TV executives gnashing their teeth. They should be able to bid for the broadcast rights to executions and package the program to appeal to the masses. Execution TV would make the XFL look like a kid's game.It's easy to imagine how big TV would package an execution. The McVeigh show will take only a short time as the audience watches the insertion of the needle and the few minutes until death is declared. It'll take about as long as Saturday's two-minute Kentucky Derby, around which the network managed to wrap two hours of airtime. We can expect Execution TV to start with a pre-needle show at 11 p.m., the actual execution at midnight, and an hour of interviews and reaction afterwards. The derby coverage was unaffected by the fact Monarchos can't talk, so the the unavailability of the star for post-event interviews is clearly a problem that can be solved.The cost of commercial air time would likely be based on the notoriety of the particular show. Someone like McVeigh could bring in big bucks, while the mentally challenged killer of some unlucky senior citizen in Arkansas would be less profitable. To keep the audience interested, Execution TV execs would have to come up with other attractions. Perhaps those unemployed XFL Cheerleaders could be brought in to momentarily revive the spirits of the doomed prisoner and boost viewership in the process.If viewership is high enough, corporate sponsorship will follow. Disgusting content has never stopped the corporations before, and with Execution TV a strong possibility they might already be preparing their ads. BUDWEISER: The scene shows a pond with several frogs sitting on lily pads, with the prison in the background. The voiceover is simple. Croak. Croak. Croak. Croak. Enjoy a Bud, before he croaks.NIKE: Recreated scenes of the condemned man's crime are flashed on the screen, with the perpetrator and victim attired in Nike shoes, warm-ups and cap. The camera zooms in on the doomed man lying on the gurney, and on the doctor holding the official Nike hypodermic needle. Just do it, the commercial demands. And the doctor does it.Execution TV will need a good host, such as Regis Philbin, and plenty of great interviews with the victim's family and the murderer's family. To add suspense, every 100th hypodermic needle should be filled with water, giving the man a slim chance at life. Then, he can appear on the next episode of Survivor. "

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