Television: Panic Buttons

On a Los Angeles street corner last week, solicitors for Audience Surveys Inc. invited passers-by to a free "evening of entertainment" at a theater on Sunset Boulevard. The entertainment consisted of previews of two new television series, and all that the survey company asked of its audience was that each guest manipulate a rheostat-like dial during the show—twist it counterclockwise toward "very dull" or clockwise toward "very good" as the mood struck. On both coasts, CBS's Program Analyzer Unit conducts similar screenings, except that CBS's sample viewers operate not dials but buttons—pushing the green one when they like what...

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