There’s a large TV mounted on the wall at the liquor store where I work. The atmosphere is very casual, we don’t have any specific policies regarding it. We change the channel whenever we feel like it and it has Chromecast to connect to YouTube. There is a new girl who has been putting on things I don’t think are appropriate. We watch music, but usually pop from the 90s and she puts on bands like Die Antwoord. Aside from her choice of music being different from what we usually have playing, many of the music videos she plays have suggestive themes or content.

She also puts on videos like Creep Captures. I’m not sure if anyone’s heard of but they are a controversial group of vigilantes that lure out suspected pedophiles and film their confrontation with them. Personally I’m not ok with this as they have had some questionable behavior, for example chasing a mentally handicapped man into traffic. I’d rather not be seeing this at work (though such it’s such a hot subject I want to be careful what I say).

Any one could walk in and see the TV. What, if anything, should I say or do? I could just change the channel myself but she changes it back. Especially the pedophile one, I find disturbing and don’t want to hear about it (given the store layout you can’t get away from the TV).

To draw a bit more of a picture, the girl who does this is young and she’s in a punk metal band. Her general attitude seems to be “in your face” style entertainment. I know music is really important to her so I don’t want to offend by asking her to turn off her favorite song.

I understand and respect that people have different tastes in music. I consider this a problem more because of our perception with customers in the store. I didn't mean for this to turn into a large discussion.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Jane S
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 12:40
  • Although many pop music fans consider 90s pop music to be objectively inoffensive, there are people who dislike it as much as you dislike bands like Die Antwoord!
    – komodosp
    Commented Jan 16 at 11:28

9 Answers 9


This is not something you should have a confrontation over. If it's affecting you too much, then you need to speak to whoever has the actual authority to create a TV policy.

In a similar situation with inappropriate use of a screen, one of my clients asked me to automate everything and took away the staffs capability to monkey around with it. Problem solved, everyone hated me, but staff didn't hate each other, and they soon got used to it.

Take away the toy and the kids can't fight over it. Best if it's done by someone that can't be argued with, and minimise tension and recriminations within the staff.

  • 83
    Why are you discouraging an informal "Hey, I don't like those shows very much, could we switch to something else?" before escalating? If the environment is relaxed and friendly, this could help. If the reply is unfriendly, that's another point to raise with management, along with the TV issue!
    – BgrWorker
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 11:03
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    @BgrWorker because it's a young lady he doesn't know well with a chip on her shoulder and something to prove to the World, that could get messy real quick. She's not playing those things for fun, she would welcome a confrontation, she's playing them for shock value. I'd go to management about the content, not the young lady.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 11:06
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    Yep, she knows full well that it's not appropriate, she's looking for some drama to spice up her working hours
    – Kilisi
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 11:42
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    @BgrWorker Also, this answer wants to reduce tension between immediate co-workers. If you bring it up to her, it doesn't go well and then a few days later there's a new decree from management about it, she's probably gonna put two and two together pretty quickly, which would likely sour the grapes even further.
    – user56887
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 13:26
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    @C_Z_ yes, it's an assumption, which is why I don't say it in the answer but only in comments. The answer is valid either way. But I'm an old man, experience tells me the assumption is correct.
    – Kilisi
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 2:52

In contrast with the other answers here I do think you should try raising this with your coworker directly. Any manager worth his salt will ask you if you've tried resolving the problem yourself before you came to him. Passive-aggressive channel switching doesn't count for that, the point is to talk to your colleague and try to reach common ground.

As you know we don't really have a set channel for the TV, but we're used to listening to [genre / channel]. While I don't mind changing it up occasionally, I'd like to find a balance in the type of music we put on or perhaps figure out if there's a channel that we all enjoy.

Aside from that though, I wanted to ask you to avoid putting on stuff like [show name / reality TV / controversial genres]. Those kinds of programs are rather distracting and sometimes controversial [because of ] and I find it difficult to have this on in the background knowing some of the history behind their production. I'm also worried that it could be off-putting for some of our customers so I was hoping we could agree to keep the TV turned to music.

That last line brings up an important point: if your clientele is likely to find the music she puts on disruptive, then that's an important argument to make instead, and a much stronger one. At that point you effectively do have an unwritten policy in place as the TV should be restricted to mainstream music to avoid pushing away your potential clients. Pop music and classic rock are mainstream for a reason as most people don't feel strongly about listening to it and it's common for workplaces or stores to have that on in the background. Anything non-standard, and Die Antwoord certainly qualifies, is more risky. Of course this all depends on what your store is selling, what the culture is and what your clientele expects. You won't hear the same kind of music in GAP and Hot Topic.

This conversation can go any number of ways and it's not always an easy conversation for people to have. If you get the impression that you're not getting through to her or if she starts arguing why her desire to watch something trumps your right not to be distracted or offended then you probably need to involve your manager. People with no work experience can have trouble adjusting to such an environment and don't always react well to these kinds of conversations and sometimes need to hear it from a manager. I'm assuming she might fall in this cateogry given that you call her young and she's apparently unaware of what kind of content is appropriate for a workplace, even if that's a liquor store.

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    As for the comments below Kilisi's answer, asking directly really depends on the kind of person she is. If she actually is as described in the question (punk, teenager, serious about music), this could quickly lead to a fight, as she could interpret it like a violation of her freedom.
    – BgrWorker
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 11:17
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    @BgrWorker Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is an unreasonable stereotype of the label others apply to them. Most people are in fact decent human beings that you can have a simple conversation with.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 11:32
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    @Lilienthal Exactly. And to add to that, I don't see the big deal if they behave irrationally. I highly doubt they will do anything beyond making themselves look foolish. It's really shouldn't be a big deal to say you're concerned about what customers might think. As "offensive" as it may seem to the coworker, your place of business exists to make money. Anything that can jeopardize that without good reason should not be tolerated.
    – JMac
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 12:45
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    Personally, I'd ask my "manager worth his salt" if he objected to having the content where customers can see it. If manager doesn't care, then I can comfortably stop caring too.
    – tjd
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 13:53
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    @tjd That's an option if this was just about "my coworker is watching filth and I'm worried what our clients think" but you're forgetting that the OP actually objects to the content and he feels uncomfortable having to watch it.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 15:13

In a fairly casual environment like a liquor store, I'd suggest an approach that matches that environment. In my experience of retail work, approaching your manager directly over something like this will not go down well with either your manager or the coworker. A better approach is probably simply to address things you find objectionable as they happen. Just a simple "Hey, could we not have pedophiles trying to defend themselves in the background while we're working?" or "This video's a bit much for a customer space - could we dial it back to something a bit more mainstream?"

Also, the impact on customers is probably more important than the impact on you. If any customers are reacting unfavourable to whatever she's playing, maybe take her to one side and say something like "A customer has commented on some of the stuff you're playing on TV. If they'd spoken to a manager instead of me it could have caused you a problem. Do me a favour and save the Die Antwoord and stuff for cleaning after close - if management get complaints about what we're playing, we'll end up with YouTube being banned and the TV locked to CMT or Harmony."

  • Dunno, in my option mainstream really is a poor choice of word when talking to a punk :) [jk] Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 14:10
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    Instead of mainstream, which is completely subjective/relative...go with......keeping it to something that does not have a potential to induce confrontation in the customer base. You are in a liquor store after all. Vigilante justice, which is illegal almost everywhere, is not something I'd call appropriate for the setting. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 15:46
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    Something I think might be smart to add to this answer is don't start the nonsense where the employees are polling/prompting the customers. Employee 1 starts saying to the customers, "it would be great if we could listen to XYZ, but I'm not allowed to put it on unless a customer requests it." Followed by similar politicking from employee 2. When I was a ski tech we had this problem from time to time.
    – Erik
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 20:01
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    +1 for the focus on the customer. Although I think you should not wait until someone complains. Many people won't say anything but avoid your shop. And your coworker has to understand that customer happiness is the key to her paycheck.
    – Arsak
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 9:53

I think all of the answers are going too much into what taste of music the employees have.

What should matter, is what music brings in the most customers within the values the company wants to show.

If hard punk happens to bring in most customers (I don't think so) then why not put that on? I'd say do what's in the interest of the business to do and take that as a starting point for discussion instead of personal tastes.

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    While I agree with you, what's best for the business instead of personal flavor should still be first thing on your list to think about.
    – Pieter B
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 14:02

The only thing you can do is report this to the office manager (or the person who holds the role). It will, however, be extremely hard to produce a serious, comprehensive guideline, on what kind of music should be broadcasted on TV. That being said, building a guideline that doesn't feel unfair will be challenging.

Consider the other's opinion. Maybe this girl can't stand 90's pop, and absolutely can't work with this music on. As people join and leave, you're going to have a single music broadcast for very different tastes of music - clashes are going to happen.

Overall, I think the best you can ask for is to broadcast neutral things, like a 24-hour information network, and not music, because of the controversies raised.

  • Just because she doesn't like pop doesn't mean she needs to change it to something disturbing or disgusting.
    – HarlyK
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 10:42
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    "a 24-hour information network" You should know that those are arguably more controversial in the US than what the coworker is currently watching.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 10:45
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    On the 24-hour info network : indeed, my point of view is biased, i'm not from the US. On the "disturbing or disgusting", this is your opinion (it might be based on facts, but it still is). If she doesn't see things this way, you're going to argue on something you can't agree about anyway.
    – Thalantas
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 10:49
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    I second the neutral channel suggestion. Music is a very personal thing, and having 90's pop in my ears all day long would surely annoy me a lot. Maybe putting something heavy and disturbing is her method to tell you she doesn't like the music...
    – BgrWorker
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 11:09
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    @HarlyK You didn't mention passive aggresive approach in the OP. Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 14:03

If you can find a way to talk w/ your coworker first and resolve it that way (several answers suggest good means of doing so) it will probably work out better... If MGMT has to make a policy it'll very likely be more strict than either of you would like or might even end up with the TV stuck on News or Sports or some other channel that is odious to everyone with no recourse.


First thing to try is to talk about this directly. It's quite important not to be defensive or bossy about it, just say that you don't like particular show instead of switching the channel. Punk is not about being a dick, so I'd expect she'd listen.

However that turns out, there's another thing to consider. If your visitors can hear and see the TV, they might not like it too. Music is IMHO ok, Die Antwoord does not seem unusually suggestive to me, but controversial TV shows - like the pedophile chasing thing - especially out of context may leave negative impression. It's just a liquor store, but I'd recommend that you settle on playing just the music.

Regarding the whole suggestive aspect, in McDonalds they play pop music videos that are often as suggestive as is possible without being porn, so I think there's quite a different standard on music videos than on TV shows. That's mainly why I recommend sticking to it and maybe switching who's "DJing".

I strongly advise against complaining to the manager especially if you don't know him well (unless really necessary). In the setting of three people this ought to turn really uncomfortable. And it will look stupid. If you came to me about that, I'd wonder if you (both) are really so immature that you can't settle over TV.

  • Some people think punk is about being a dick tho. Specially youth these days........Oh gods I made myself out to be the old guy.,...... Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 15:47

I would address this with the owner/site manager of the establishment. Do so in a manner in which you are expressing concern for the business, do not attack/address the employees taste in music/style/ or anything along these lines.

If the coworker has an "in your face" attitude, they may take any confrontation, no matter how neutral or well worded as an attack, instead of a mere suggestion, hence the approaching the owner/site manager directly.

Also, to defuse the situation, one could suggest a rotating playlist with a wide mix of music, in which different genres are reflected.

  • Comments on downvotes are greatly appreciated (and reflect intelligence) Commented Feb 2, 2017 at 15:01

I would say that your right to not endure something that you strongly dislike is much stronger than someone else's right to watch something that they have a perverted interest in.

For TV programs in the workplace, the default if there is no agreement is: No TV. You feel harassed by it, so the harassment needs to stop.

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    It's not clear to me whether this TV is intended for just the employees or if it is also intended for the customers (particularly since they often put on music videos). I don't think that "No TV" is an option here.
    – David K
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 13:38
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    Actually it is clear. "A large TV mounted on the wall" is not something the employees watch behind the counter and the customers can not see.
    – TomTom
    Commented Jan 31, 2017 at 15:04
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    Wait, one persons rights are more important than the rights of another? Please tell me where you live, so that I may avoid this location like the plague. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 3:56
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    @NZKshatriya. Are you deliberately misinterpreting what gnasher729 said? There are positive and negative rights. A right to be free from harassment takes priority over any perceived "right" to perverted entertainment while at work. Of course it does.
    – TRiG
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:52
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    @TRIG Vigilante justice, while illegal is "perverted" how? Define what is a right here anyway? TV viewing is not a "right" it is a privilege that can be taken away....same as driving, marriage (needs a marriage license) and the internet. Also, there is no "right to be free of harassment" other than in your own home. Once you leave your home, your expectation of privacy, as well as your expectation of not being "harassed" or offended, is virtually nil. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 17:56

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