Time for TV viewers to have choices?

  1. Found this article this morning . . . I've always wanted more choice in what I have on my tv. Why can't I just choose that channels I want instead of having to take what is offered? What do you think? Are you sick of being surprised by garbage and having to grab the remote and change the channel or would it be nice to have some reassurance that your kids won't see crap?



    It's time for cable choices
    Brent Bozell (archive)


    April 10, 2004 | Print | Send


    Anyone with cable television in his or her home ought to have a sticker on the remote control warning: "Subscribers with children under 18: Abandon hope, all you who push these buttons."

    As bad as broadcast TV has become, with sex and violence and explicit language pouring through the screen, it's nothing compared with what children can find, day and night, on basic cable. Not obscure, late-night, pay-per-view cable, but the cable on your set right now. Offensive content was more than twice as frequent on original cable programming as on broadcast TV, according to a recent study by the Parents Television Council.

    The indecency debate is only half-addressed if Hollywood and Washington don't address indecency on cable as well. Take this stomach-turning new example. On the April 6 edition of the cable channel FX's shock-a-thon "The Shield," one of the cops is overpowered by some gang thugs. What comes next is (edited for gross content by steph - sorry about that)


    We're only lucky that after the act was finished, they didn't shoot the cop in the head on camera, splattering blood and guts all over themselves in the process. Maybe FX is saving that treat for next week.

    Basic cable has become a kind of Pandora's box for families. Many parents welcome basic cable into their homes because it opens up a whole universe of family-friendly programming. There's the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, ABC Family Channel, the Discovery Channel and more. But to access these sometimes educational and usually family-friendly networks, they are also forced to pay for channels they don't want. Now, in addition to trying to protect their children from the filth on FOX, NBC, UPN and the other broadcast networks, they also have to try to protect their children from the much more explicit fare on FX, MTV, Comedy Central, Bravo, and on and on.

    In the aftermath of the Super Bowl MTV raunchfest, how many parents now being forced to take (and pay for) MTV would continue to do so if given the choice?

    While members of Congress are urging the cable industry to give viewers more choices, the cable guys argue that the customer is wrong on this one. Allowing "a la carte" viewing, letting viewers choose channels -- or, more likely, tiers of channels -- would reduce the availability and diversity of programming, they claim. Well, yes, Earth to cable salesmen: That's the idea. Forced oral sex depictions are "diversity" we'd rather avoid.

    Cable lobbyists say that parents have the option of blocking channels they don't want -- but what kind of a choice is that, when they still have to pay for those channels? Analog cable subscribers actually have to pay extra money to scramble the channels they don't want. Consumers need to have a better option.

    Some options are already surfacing. In New York City, Cablevision announced an agreement with the YES sports network (the Yankees' TV home). The new deal will allow customers who do not want to receive the YES Network to avoid being forced to pay for its programming. Customers will be able to purchase three sports networks, including YES and two networks owned by Cablevision (MSG Net and FOX Sports New York), as a package or as a la carte options at individual monthly rates. That's an important early example.

    There is no doubt that the industry will vehemently oppose any efforts to change, and everyone should expect they will hit every fancy bar and restaurant in Washington to push hard on Congressmen and their employees to stay the smutty course. They will assert that moving toward an a la carte cable menu will lead to economic disaster for the industry and that it presents problems of technical infeasibility and constitutional violations. But these allegations are false. Parental pressure should persuade Congress to draft legislation capable of withstanding constitutional scrutiny.

    Cable is now in nearly as many homes as broadcast TV. Most children live in homes with cable TV. We can no longer afford to ignore the rising tide of vulgar and violent programming on cable. How many new frontiers of sleaze, gore and profanity do we have to cross before the cable industry realizes the customer is right?
    Last edit by Spidey's mom on Apr 10, '04
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  2. 23 Comments

  3. by   Brownms46
    Rauncy TV didn't start with the Superbowl! It started a loooong time ago, but now it has become more evident on just about EVERY channel you turn to. If it's not on the program you are watching, it's in the previews or commericals!

    When my children were growing up, I had NO cable! Not because I couldn't afford it, but because I couldn't control what they saw all the time. But now days even regular TV can be offensive! At least there are parental controls, which filter out abusive, or vulgar words/phrases.

    However, I do feel you shouldn't have to pay for channnels you don't want.
  4. by   Spidey's mom
    I don't think anyone is saying raunchy tv started with Janet and the Justin.

    The reason I posted the article is I've always wanted to be able to pick and choose which stations I want and not have to pay for those I don't.

    Seems a fair option to me.

    And it would eliminate all the complaints of "raunchy" tv . . . .you chose the station so don't complain. Although, even on some channels you think should be safe, you can get surprised.

    I'm just more and more glad my tv is broken.

    steph
  5. by   VivaLasViejas
    Steph, that is a fabulous idea.......the phone company's been allowing customers to pick and choose their service packages for years, why can't cable TV?? I'd love to be able to get rid of MTV, FX and Spike TV, and add Bravo and the Science Channel......but of course I can't. Yet I pay upwards of $90 a month for expanded basic cable + high-speed Internet.

    The problem, I think, is that we're at the mercy of the cable companies because one company will monopolize the market in a given area, and since there's no competition, there's no incentive for them to improve services or be more flexible in their offerings. This is one area where I'd actually LIKE to see competition between utilities......prices would drop, services would be more attractive, and I think everyone in general would be happier. Works for me.

    Good thinking, Steph, as usual.
  6. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    What amazes me is that years ago when Dennis Franz's butt was plastered on the TV on "NYPD Blue", people acted like it was no big deal because it was aired after 10 pm. Well, so what???

    I like "The Shield" (could have lived without the sodomy scene by far) and it's been awhile since i liked a show that was a drama, BUT i also don't have kids to worry about seeing this. And if i did i'd like the ability to lock them away from that channel. Since my cable is run through the VCR, i can block it for now, but if i got a new tv.

    And MTV is NOT MTV anymore. I can't remember the last time i've seen a VIDEO on that show!
  7. by   Tweety
    I think it's a great idea that you pick and choose which channels you want to subscribe to.

    But seriously, most channels, including network tv is so raunchy what would be left. TV Land and Nick?
  8. by   SharonH, RN
    I don't understand why this is such a huge issue. Why is it so hard to block out the channels you don't want? You're not "forced" to buy anything. You can just get basic cable with the big 5 networks and PBS and there is plenty of kids and educational programming on those channels if that is all you want to watch. Otherwise you can pay for cable and block out the extras, that is what I do. Is it really such a big deal to just change the channel?
  9. by   kids
    Quote from SharonMH31
    <snip> You can just get basic cable with the big 5 networks and PBS and there is plenty of kids and educational programming on those channels if that is all you want to watch.<snip>
    In my area you can get this basic cable package but I suspect that it is not some sort of "industry standard".

    It is easy to block inappropriate programming and unwanted channels but, I agree (with those who said) I shouldn't have to pay for the channels I don't want and don't watch (and the list is long).

    The technology is there but the cable companies are being slow to update their equipment. I do think (some) cable companies are getting a wake up call from the dish companies who are offering more services for the same if not less money.
    In my area the cable company is hyping something called "On Demand". The pretty glossy brochure they stuffed in my bill shows the basic service as being pretty "bare bones" with an additional 200 hours (per month) of "on demand" programming. I like the idea of "On Demand" (whoo hoo! Sopranos without having to pay for HBO!) but I wont be getting it anytime soon as I DO NOT want digital cable, the box is huge and doesn't fit in my entertainment cabinet and the same "expanded basic" service costs twice as much with digital than it does with the cable coming out of the wall and plugging into the back of the TV.
  10. by   Brownms46
    Quote from stevielynn
    I don't think anyone is saying raunchy tv started with Janet and the Justin.

    The reason I posted the article is I've always wanted to be able to pick and choose which stations I want and not have to pay for those I don't.

    Seems a fair option to me.

    And it would eliminate all the complaints of "raunchy" tv . . . .you chose the station so don't complain. Although, even on some channels you think should be safe, you can get surprised.

    I'm just more and more glad my tv is broken.

    steph
    Step ...please re-read the last part of my post.

    However, I do feel you shouldn't have to pay for channels you don't want
    I agree with everyone having the ability to decide what they want coming into their homes. I would love to eliminate a whole lot of stuff!
  11. by   Brownms46
    Quote from SharonMH31
    I don't understand why this is such a huge issue. Why is it so hard to block out the channels you don't want? You're not "forced" to buy anything. You can just get basic cable with the big 5 networks and PBS and there is plenty of kids and educational programming on those channels if that is all you want to watch. Otherwise you can pay for cable and block out the extras, that is what I do. Is it really such a big deal to just change the channel?

    The big deal Sharon is that I don't wish to have some channels, and pay for them. I would like to chose only the channels I wish to pay for. Example I am a Sci fi fan, and if I get that channel, I have to get other stuff I don't want.
  12. by   jnette
    Quote from 3rdShiftGuy
    But seriously, most channels, including network tv is so raunchy what would be left. TV Land and Nick?
    Discovery Channel, History Channel, PBS... for starters?

    I avoid TV like the plague... don't like the constant chatter. DH thinks he has to have it on 24/7, but at least he watches golf (mellow), and the politics, news, and weather. I crawl off to the back bedroom where I'm at now with my computer and music... and as soon as he goes out the door, I MUTE that thing ! :chuckle Or shut it off completely if he's going to be gone for awhile.

    I do enjoy the history channel a lot, though. And Discovery, Wild Kingdom, etc.
  13. by   Marie_LPN, RN
    Hmm not sure, i've seen some pretty X-rated stuff on PBS and Discovery involving the plains and two antelope. lol
    Last edit by Marie_LPN, RN on Apr 10, '04 : Reason: spelling, as usual
  14. by   smk1
    Quote from SharonMH31
    I don't understand why this is such a huge issue. Why is it so hard to block out the channels you don't want? You're not "forced" to buy anything. You can just get basic cable with the big 5 networks and PBS and there is plenty of kids and educational programming on those channels if that is all you want to watch. Otherwise you can pay for cable and block out the extras, that is what I do. Is it really such a big deal to just change the channel?
    that s what we currently have now. the basic networks and E!,TBS, discovery, hallmark, and cable access. we have been married yrs and never even had the basic service until last semester when i was required to watch two psych. videos per week that were on the cable access channel. i have however, always thought it would be a great idea to have a list of all available channels through a carrier with a per month price attatched to that channel something like this
    basic the flat 10-12 dollar rate that it is then add additionals as many as you want
    HBO, Showtime etc disney nickelodean etc..(all the highh end movie channels) 3.99 each channel per month or some other approriate price 3.99 is just an example. or maybe buy so many and the rate goes down type of deal.
    anyway so my bill could be the $10 for the basic service then
    i would add
    nick.
    disney
    tlc
    hgtv
    soapchannel
    espn

    so my total cable bill would be about 34 dollars (under my system but it seems reasonable!) and i don't have the movie channels and mtv to worry about with my kids. though prevention is no replacement for supervision!

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