Cable TV Could Be So Much Better


When I was young, the TV set was known as a “black and white,” because nothing was broadcast in color, until 1964. “Rabbit ears” sat on top of it, so we could receive of one of the three VHF Milwaukee stations. We could also get one UHF channel, but the picture quality was grey and fuzzy, and frankly not very good.

The three networks, ABC, CBS, and NBC, had regular programs that allowed us to plan our TV viewing. The Green Bay Packers always kicked off their weekly game on Sunday, at Noon. The Johnny Carson Show started at 10:30 p.m. Most prime time entertainment comedies ran new episodes in their usual weekly half hour slots, the entire season from Sep. through May.

The major networks also carried a certain amount of educational programming. 60 Minutes first aired in 1968. The Sunday morning lineup included Face the Nation (CBS) and Meet the Press (NBC). In those days, networks adhered to quality standards. Facts were distinguished from opinion. People needed credentials to appear before national audiences. They behaved while on TV. No one shouted down, cut off, or interrupted other guests. The best part about TV in the day was that it was free.

Cable TV gradually replaced the old-style of broadcasting. While it made TV reception better, particularly in rural areas where there had been no broadcast signals, the quality of programming went down, despite additional stations, since most new ones carried nothing worth watching, and competition weakened the networks.

On the plus side, ABC, CBS and NBC remained on the air. Although PBS is still shown, they are routinely threatened with extinction by Congress. I like it when cable offers the BBC, because American networks are weak as to international news. The Weather Channel comes in handy in a storm. CSPAN is a plus when Congress is debating something important. The History Channel occasionally has a good story, and Discovery once in a while carries solid science. The Travel Channel is sometimes educational. MSNBC was needed to counterbalance Fox, the Republican network, and to replace CNN, which inconsistently jumped from serious news, to frivolous stuff.

But cable could be so much better, if consumers were allowed to pick a minimum basic lineup of 12 stations, for $1 per channel. I would select PBS, BBC, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, the Weather Channel, C-Span, C-Span-2, ESPN and the Big Ten Network. After purchasing a basic 12-pack, consumers could then select additional stations, again for $1 each. I would add History, Travel and Discovery, bringing my total to $15. I might also add a few movie channels, depending what they carried, for $1 sums.

We currently subsidize many stations not worth watching with our monthly payments. By allowing consumers to choose, we could remove most of the junk from cable, as several stations would find themselves without enough viewers. Why should I be forced to subsidize Fox, the Republican political network? Does anyone really watch religious programming? Degenerate entertainment like the hideous Jerry Springer Show, where people swear and throw chairs would die. How many Sci-Fi ax murderers do we need? Dumb Hollywood-types, like Paris Hilton, Ozzie Osborn, and the Kardashians, who have never done anything to deserve TV attention, would come to an end.

Viewers are smarter than cable companies assume, and most would turn to quality programs. We should let consumers choose their cable shows via their pocketbooks and improve TV viewing.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s