Here's An Idea: If You Don't Like What's On TV, Don't Watch It

from the personal-responsibility-goes-missing-again dept

The idea of so-called family-friendly cable TV packages is turning into quite the Goldilocks tale. First, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin tacitly threatened operators with a la carte programming to get them to fall into line, and once they did, he complained first that their channel choices weren’t bland enough, then later said they were awfully boring. Now, supporters of the family tiers say cable companies aren’t doing enough to market them (via IP Democracy), in a conspiracy to make them a failure. The cable companies say they’ve advertised the plans on bills and their web sites, but it’s unclear why they should have to assume all the responsibility. If people so offended by what’s on cable TV, you’d think they could bother to either get rid of it, or at least get in touch with the cable company somehow to see what they can do to keep offending material out of their house. One family-tier supporter says that cable companies should let people “decide for themselves what constitutes a family tier”. Again, if what’s on cable TV is so troublesome, perhaps they should just decide for themselves to get rid of it. Cable companies aren’t completely stupid — if offering a la carte, or spending more to market family tiers would pay off, they’d jump on it. But forcing them to change their business to satisfy the moral objections of a vocal minority (albeit one that seems to have the ear of the government) is out of line.

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Comments on “Here's An Idea: If You Don't Like What's On TV, Don't Watch It”

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Family Unfriendly says:

Family Unfriendly

The truth is- the only reason cable companies can get away with NOT having a-la-carte cable is that they have a monopoly.

If a viewer had a choice of cable companies and one company offered a-la-carte- they would all have to to compete.

This is what is bad about the government promoting monopolies in the cable industry.

Let companies compete and we the viewer will win.

Posterlogo says:

Re: Family Unfriendly

“If a viewer had a choice of cable companies and one company offered a-la-carte- they would all have to to compete. ”

Right. Which one? Yours? You gonna invent a cable company based on an ala-carte model? Really? Which channels you think you’re gonna get to sign up with you? How much you gonna pay them? You really think your business model would work. Next think about it a little bit. Some networks would do OK, most would not. I don’t even want ala carte cable. I want just the on demand part. Just pay for only the shows I want to watch. How about that? Think that model would work? Think again.

T says:

Re: Family Unfriendly

Ummm…The funny thing is in order to say things like “the truth is…blah blah blah….” you actually need to KNOW what the truth is.

al-a-carte programming is NOT defined by whether or not a cable company WANTS to provide it. Do some research on VIACOM for instance. They own a good handfull of channels that some of us do or may watch on a daily basis. They are making lots of money selling the viewing rights to these channels to television service providers (directv/cable co./whomever can afford it.) They sell them bundled in most cases, so if they own HGTV (for example) and MTV, MTV is obviously going to garner a hell of alot more sales in an al-a carte world. So Viacom loses out on the non-sale of HGTV, but if they make service providers pakage you with channels you love and channels you didn’t even know existed, they win either way. In order to make corporations such as this all of the sudden decide that they no longer like money, well that would take more political and judiciary involvement. And chances are you would probably end up paying a good 10.00+ per month for every channel you decided you were going to watch.. So lets decide: 65.00 for 140+ channles or 70.00 for 7. Either way…when all is said and done you (the consumer) will pay it, and Joe Shmuk Channel Co. will get paid. Face it, what utility/luxury service has EVER goten cheaper in the last 30 years? To the best of my knowledge, NONE!

Topher3105 (profile) says:

How about this

Just let us pick the individual channels we want. Stop trying to lump content together.

How many crap channels are lumped in with the big 4 networks? Having said that, how much crap is on those big 4 networks.

But this kind of ranting is rediculous because if your are concerned what your kids are watching at home, get a freaking Clue!

There are all kinds of televisions and cable boxes that let you lock out channels. If you don’t want your kids watching HBO at 10pm, then lock out that channel. The V-Chip was designed to ensure that you can set the rating of the shows allowed to air.

Too often, parents want the rest of the world to raise their kids. They want the game companies to be sued if their underage child plays GTA. They want the cable companies to ensure that there is only family friendly programming, they want the internet to become a bland wasteland of family values.

Parent HAVE TO BE PROACTIVE, period. Get involved in your kids lives and stop being selfish and self serving. Most parents are just to involve in their own affairs and don’t spend enough time with their children. If your TV or Cable box doesn’t allow channels to be locked out, get a new TV or cable box and LEARN how to use it.

The cable companies can’t raise your kids, and not everyone in North America has 2.5 children and a white picket fenced yard. Leave the programming as is for those of use that are mature enough to enjoy it, and just learn how to be better parents and deal with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Media Center (MCE)

If it’s up to Microsoft to save us, we should just start showing our kids porn now! 😛

There actually is competition in non-broadcast television, but only if you live in a rural enough area that satalite is your only choice, like me. Let’s face it, it costs way more than most cable, no matter what they try to say. But if you do use sat, it costs a lot more money to change services than to just live with what you have. You have to get new equipment, put up a new dish pointing a different way, clear trees in some cases, and you still end up with signal losses durring large storms.

L (user link) says:

Re: Re: Responsibility Shifts

I don’t have children, but I just turned 23 a few weeks ago. Thus I remember how my parents kept me from watching shows not approved.

One television with satellite access. No TV in my room until I was 15ish.

Next, the TV with sat was the common family TV. I don’t know about you, but if I have to share the TV with Mom and Dad then I won’t be watching anything they’re not watching.

Then you could always raise your kids to agree with your morals and you won’t have to worry about them seeking out things you disapprove of…also known as parenting from day 1.

Live your life as you want your kids to live their life as actions will always speak far louder than words.

And then you always have to respect the fact that your kid will find ways to look at things you don’t like…however, if you raised them right to begin with they’ll get their thrill and move on. Continue to make it taboo and children will continue to seek it out for the excitment of breaking the rules.

Ryan (user link) says:

Re: Re: Responsibility Shifts

you could probably just use common sence, shocking i know, but its pretty easy (and no, you cant buy common sence, sorry) but think about it, you have 2 kids around the age of 5 or so, there impresionable, do you really want them watching all the stars and hbo channels with cursing, nudity, violence etc?

if ya had common sence youd monitor what they watch by simply blocking those channels from them, easy huh?

and the whole, spending time with your kids, like the other posts said, thats a good idea too, thats kinda why they call it parenting…

Rob Miles (profile) says:

Biggest opponents of ala carte programming

I’d love a la carte programming, personally. I’d get rid of all of the religious channels (hell, who wouldn’t?), any channel that shows Golden Girls or Full House, and any “music” channels that don’t actually show music. Come to think of it, I haven’t watched a music channel in years anyway, so those would go too.

I bet I could get by with, like, 20 channels and never miss a beat. The only reason I pay for the tier of programming I get now is because to get the few I really want I have to have a shit load that are completely useless to me.

Rob Miles

There are only 10 types of people in the world;

those who understand binary and those who don’t.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: It's about extortion

Who is forcing you to pay for programing you dont want ?

If you don’t wan’t the package, dont buy it.

If I go shopping for somthing, and it comes with extras that I don’t want, I’ve got 2 choices. Buy it or Don’t Buy it, no one is forcing me to Buy it if I don’t want it.

kweeket says:

Re: It's about extortion

My understanding was that a la carte programming actually ends up being more expensive than bundled cable, even if you select far fewer channels. It has something to do with consumers watching the channels they don’t really want if nothing else is on, or while flipping through, and therefore watching those commercials.

chucklebutte (profile) says:

i hate comcrap

hahaha kiss my6 ass comcrap with my tv tuner card and winamp tv plugin i easily watch tv and remove all but the 15 out of 96 channels i have that actually have enough content on it the make them watchable for more than 3 min why am i paying 70 a month for 79 channels i dont even watch our “cable/dvr box” never even gets turned on we download our tv no commercails why must we be punished for comcraps crap! stupid country i hate this place mexico is looking better and better hell i’ll even drink the water

Utahcon (user link) says:

Parents and Community

I couldnt agree more with Topher above.

Parents want the community to be responsible for what happens to their children. This is all to often the case, and it makes me sick.

This type of situation makes me proud that I have enough brain cells to think for myself.

Now I can agree with al-a-carte too as I would love to have HBO, Cinemax, Discovery, TNT, and Cartoon and scrap the rest.

I have over 500 channels, probably 15 I watch regularly, and then beyond that… yeah anyways.

I would love to see the channels al-a-carte or better yet the programs al-a-carte. That is what my Tivo does for me now, I dont watch TV, I watch the shows I like and that is it.

BTW – I have DirecTV not cable, did cable – hated it.

David T (user link) says:

It's about extortion


It’s not extortion, it’s common-sense.

Packaging a product is pretty commony. I love the little rainbow marshmallows in my Lucky Charms cereal, but I am extorted by the evil cereal manufacturers to have to eat the stupid clovers and horseshoes too. Extortion? Yeah, right.

FYI, on average you wouldn’t save any money by switching to pure a la carte. The religious channel viewers wouldn’t buy your Full House channels anymore and you’d be forced to pay more for them since others wouldn’t subsidize them anymore for you. In turn, the religious channel viewers would pay more per channel since they aren’t being subsidized by you anymore. Net wash, if not a LOSS to consumers (since right now you’re essentially getting the religious channels free).

ruawake (user link) says:


I totally agree, if you don’t like it get rid of it. That is exactly what we did when our satellite company raised our rates for the third time in less than two years. We dumped our “pay to view” about 1 1/2 years ago. We had been contemplating the termination for a while because of the tiered programming, the increasing amount of intense advertising, and then we had our first child. We only wanted about 6 or 7 channels out of about 40.

Parents are responsible for what their children watch… to a point. You can’t control what your kids watch if they are at someone else’s home. Hopefully you have given your children some good resources to make good decisions. In your own home you can control what they watch. You absolutely must be involved in your child’s development and show a “good” (your version) example.

Cable and satellite have become so commercialized it is disgusting. I remember the early days (yeah, I am 43) when you paid for the service and there were no commercials. Slowly over the years they aired a few ads here and there, and now, if you want to view, almost every channel has become “pay to view” advertising, __ck that! Yes, you can BUY more/newer equipment to eliminate the ad watching but that is part of the point, spend more money. B.S. Of course this is about the bottom line, and when I say bottom line I don’t mean just making money, I mean greed! This is another perfect example of united we stand (and could change things) and divided we pay out the _ss! Imagine if 10,000,000 people said “a-la-carte programing or we are cancelling”. What do you think would happen? They (the sat/cable companies) would change programming so fast it would make heads spin.

Hey, I can fantasize.

evan (user link) says:

the title?

why is the title of this article “Here’s An Idea: If You Don’t Like What’s On TV, Don’t Watch It”? the fact of the matter is, there isn’t a la carte cable now as far as i know, and you have to pay for a lot of crap channels to get the 5-10 you actually want. so reguardless of the fact you choose not to watch those other channels, you still pay for them. the complaint for most people would be, hey put some better stuff on the other channels, then i can watch it.

also, i agree that cable companies have a ridiculous monopoly. i personally would love to see a la carte programming, and then see how fast the crap like the E! network would disappear.

Bob Smith says:

How about, *GASP*, NO TV

“If You Don’t Like What’s On TV, Don’t Watch It”

And here I was thinking that finally people were catching on.

I’m 16, and my family has no TV, since all the content is inappropriate/violent/just lame. (We watch dvds on the computer occasionally)

So, here I am thinking, finally someone else is suggesting that maybe TV sucks, and we should just stop watching it.

And then I read the article….

OK, so now you (IE, other, TV possessing, people) want to be able to choose which channels you want to buy, based on which content you like/don’t like.

And the only thing I can think of is:


Really, who wants to watch boxing (faked, or so I hear), or ‘reality’ (quote, unquote) TV. Or maybe you couldn’t survive without your Simpsons. (That being the other show i used to watch when we had a TV, along with ‘Pokemon’, which I’m sure was reeeeaaaaly good for me.)

I honestly thought that “Seinfield” was a animated show, just because the name was similar to the Simpsons.

And yet…. somehow I’ve never really felt I’m missing out on anything.

Sure, maybe the odd conversation I can’t take part in, because I didn’t see yesterday’s “Survivor” (if they still have that), but I DON’T CARE.

And you know the best part: I come into virtually no advertising (ad-blocker on ff), thereby letting me make sensible buying decisions, because I am uninfluenced by all the BS they pour on you pitiful TV viewers.

Whatever says:

Re: How about, *GASP*, NO TV

I’m happy for you that you are a seemingly well-adjusted teenager who doesn’t feel as if he needs television to go on through life.

But, for the rest of us, that’s not a choice that we’re making.

I actually do like tv (oh, the shock and horror!) but I don’t watch it that much because there isn’t that much on that I’d want to watch and I like reading more than television. I also pay for cable, but since I’m watching basic, I don’t get – or pay – that much for it.

There are people who enjoy lots of different programming. I like the Simpsons (but they aren’t as good as they used to be) and cartoons in general. Many people (actually) like watching reality television because it’s something to do and something to talk about with friends the next day. So, it’s kind of a bonding thing for a lot of people. [Boxing is something I occasionaly follow, but for the penultimate in fakery, my friends go for professional wrestling.]

I also tend to just go online to look up what happened in reality shows just so I don’t have to watch them (something you don’t do even though you have Internet access…but that is your choice and I won’t deny you that).

While you may not feel like you’re missing out on anything without television (and, believe me, you’re really not), but to think that there is something wrong with the rest of us “pitiful TV viewers” because we DO choose to watch the squak box is a bit closed minded. We all have choices that we can make, and for you to put down those who choose to do something that you no longer do (which, admittedly, wasn’t 100% your choice as it was your parents who removed the television from the home) is about as fair as me making negative comments about you because you don’t watch it anymore.

Be glad for your liberation from the television, but don’t think you are superior to others because of that choice.

And while you may not be influenced by advertisements on television, there is still the matter of your Internet access which can assault you with ads that may never make the light of day on tv. It just goes to show you that nobody is safe from the advertising machine.

Go ahead and boo me; I went after a sixteen-year-old.

Mike Mixer says:

Cable and the average consumer

Family channels only have a limited appeal so the market is limited. The same thing happened in the car market, the greens yelled that the car companies weren’t doing enough to market alternative autos so

sales were crappy. We all know the truth is that people just didn’t want the little pieces of junk and that is what family programming is, JUNK. I hope for a time when we really are free to express ourselves

and I don’t need an expensive cable or radio subscription to see and hear what I want. I am tired of these damn cult members being able to run my life. We should put all those yayhoos on some island

and just quarantine the thing. I hate religious freaks

Bob says:

Death and Cable

Just because things are the way they are or have been, doesn’t mean that’s the way they should be.

If a cable or satellite company has 400 channels and the most premium package (or all 400 channels) costs $100/month, then the average cost per channel for someone subscribing to that package is 25 cents per month. If that person regularly watches 20 of those channels, they’re paying $90 per month for stuff they don’t watch and $10 per month for the stuff they do watch.

If they wanted a la carte programming, even if they paid $2 per channel average (an 800% upcharge per channel), they’d still only be paying $40/mo for 20 quality channels.

Why should I subsidize the channels I don’t watch? If there is a problem finding people who want to pay for a specific unpopular channel, then subscribers pay more for that channel. If 100% of users want a channel, that one can cost maybe 10 cents a month or be free.

If the producer of an unpopular channel wants more viewers, they can improve their programming or do better marketing.

If a channel has too few subscribers, the cable company can drop it from the lineup, keeping only the ones that sell enough subscriptions to stay profitable.

Why do I need to get oxygen in order to watch FX? If I want the History Channel, why do I have to get 15 other channels I have no interest in viewing?

The problem is choice. We don’t really have a choice to watch what we want. We have a choice to watch what is provided or not watch anything. We can’t go to a competitor, because for each market there is only one provider. And if you think choosing between cable and satellite is a choice, you are wrong. Wrong because changing from cable to satellite means nothing in terms of a la carte programming or tiers offered. I’ll still have to buy a ton of channels I don’t want in order to see the handful I do want. That’s not a choice, given that I want quality entertainment.

That’s like asking someone, “Given that you’re going to be killed, would you rather be shot in the stomach and left for dead, or be hanged? Or would you like to be left here to die on your own time.”

To choose neither, means being left for dead out in the middle of the desert (hey, good choice!). Or in the case of TV, choosing neither means no TV, ever.

Makes one give in and just say, “Fine, send me 10 channels; I’ll pay for 100.” Or “Shit, just shoot me.”

SBBrian says:


To all the ignorant people that think Cable is a Monopoly,

IT’S NOT!!!!

If you do not like it don’t buy it! You have options i.e. Satellite and off air local channels! Yes some Cable and Satellite companies are run by greedy funks that will bundle your channels with other channels that you do not want. It is to help pay for the Equipment, infrastructure, and pay all the employees that have to listen to all your winning people. They’re businesses not Charities looking out for your best interests. There here to provide programming for everyone that like sports news and shows like GOLDEN GIRLS to the people that like them even if you don’t.

If you would like to save some money on cable, or satellite and watch what you want prepare to fork up the money buy your own equipment and look into FTA (FREE TO AIR) Satellite. You will receive several hundred cannels free, no monthly charges, just a one time expense for the equipment. You will need the ability to follow instructions and If setting up you VCR time is an obstacle then get use to paying cable companies for stuff you don’t watch.


OnlineCop says:

Alternate solutions

Some are screaming, “A-la-carte or nothing!”

Some are screaming, “Give me everything and I’ll choose myself!”

Some are screaming, “My family! Give me only good stations!”

Some are screaming, “Let us use our own moral judgement to screen what our family should/shouldn’t watch!”

Some are screaming, “Just go outside and forget the TV!”

Some are screaming, “Network television is communism!”

If network television providers are the ones dictating which stations are displayed on their networks, ratings USUALLY dictate which are worth it and which aren’t. If smut television stations are getting good enough ratings, it’s possible that you may not agree with them, but your (neighbor, friend, spouse, child) just MIGHT be watching those movies, even if you don’t agree that they should.

TVs now come with V-Chips. Tvs come with the ability to remove channels when you CHANNEL_UP or CHANNEL_DOWN through the list of stations (read the manual). TV accessories can help block bad content.

Would a-la-carte be cheaper? Some are arguing NO (actually, a lot argue that). Would it be any different than filtering out the stations on your TV so ONLY those shows appear?

If YOU didn’t watch those stations that come in your Television Package, would the Network Television companies get the hint that the shows need to be changed because of ratings? (Maybe not, unless you get all your friends and neighbors to do the same.)

Some Network Television stations are just garbage, agreed. If there is smut on TV after midnight, turn off the TV. There are probably perverts somewhere watching it. Big deal. Turn off YOUR television set and let them do what they will with their television sets. Go read a book or jump on the internet. (Be careful with the internet, though. Unlike TV, if you watch “bad things,” your spouse may find it.)

Television Network providers usually follow the following:

1) They get paid by the commercials inserted into movies as well as the viewing publics’ monthly subscription rates.

2) Large-scale ratings (communities, not just one or two households) dictate which shows are most watched (meaning, you could turn off YOUR television, but will everyone else?).

3) Customers who watch these highly-rated shows also watch commercials, which drives customers to the stores’ shops and websites.

4) Money from commercials (from ALL the stations) pays the Television Network providers’ families, which is a good incentive to keep using this method instead of “a-la-carte” (which would mean SELECT stations, which means fewer commercials, and therefore less money).

So options?

1) If you know any really good hackers who can “hook you up…”

2) Go online to Torrent sites and find the TV shows, movies, or funny Superbowl Commercials you wanted to see

3) (insert your own logical answer here)

Anonymous Coward says:

When supply does not change but demand increases,

A la-carte will not save anyone money. The cable companies will say that they have to change their infrastructure to be able to provide that in the first place. They will not do so out of the goodness of their hearts, they will kindly let you, the consumer pay that price via an a-la-carte service cost recovery fee. Hmm cost recovery fee, that sounds familiar.

Then, they will look at the business model. Everyone wants this one channel, and they want it really bad. How can we get more money? We could charge $10 for the channel everyone wants, then everyone will pay it. Our costs will not go up, because we pay a fixed cost to the content providers. The channels no one wants will not be more expensive, they will be cheaper, because they will want to sell them.

No matter what the offerings, tiered, or a la carte, you are always going to be paying for channels you are not watching. Some have posted they only want 7 or 20 channels, can you watch 7 channels at once, or 20?

People, think about what you are saying for even one minute. I think the cable companies are foolish for not going a la carte, they would make a slaying. You would buy your channels you want for $10 a pop, then buy another 20 for just $2 more. I mean, you are already paying $70-$200 a month, what is another 2 dollars. Now you are paying five times more for the same thing.

Think of ANYTHING you buy in a package that is more expensive than buying each piece separately.

And what makes you think they are not going to come up with packages anyway? “Well sir, you bought HBO and MTV for $15 each for a total of $30. If you wanted to get HBO2 and MTV2 at $5 each we will even throw in kfuk and ksht for FREE!” How many suckers buy something they don’t even want just because they get something free.

Man, the list can go on and on and on.

George Jones says:

Ever order a la carte from a restaurant?

Let us look at an example of a provider that offers both a la carte, and packages… RESTAURANTS!! Have any of you that want the a la carte cable so desperately ever been to any restaurant, fast food or not? If you buy a meal, or a special, yes it comes with more things, maybe even things you don’t want, but it is cheaper. Look at the a la carte on a menu at a real restaurant, and the prices are almost as much as the specials, but you only get one stupid thing. So yes, if you order ONE cable channel you will pay less. But I bet no one who is in favor of a la carte will order only one channel.

And why in the world would a capitalist company want to change their model to something where EVERYONE pays them less, but their costs go up? The idea is ridiculous!!! Seriously.

George Jones again... says:

How about we get music a la carte?

I have another proposition. We should start buying music a la carte. Why should I have to buy a CD with a bunch of songs that I don’t want? I want to buy only the songs that I want. That way I will save money, and instead of thinking carefully about dropping 15-25 on a CD, I will blow it off and say, it is only a dollar. Then the record companies will be clamouring to lower the prices on all the songs that everybody wants, and raise the prices on the songs that nobody wants.

And then instead of spending maybe 80-100 a month on CDs, I can siphon a good 200-300 a month on iTunes or Crhapsody, or Crapster. Does anyone who supports a la carte realize that the same companies that are trying to screw you by offering “flexible pricing models” on songs are the same companies that own the cable channels? Time-Warner, Sony, etc…

Anonymous Coward says:

I seem to hear/read a lot of people say that the cost of the cable packages is dictated by the bundles that the cable provider pays for. Well… I see it like this. Cable prices are a lot like oil prices. The price we pay is due to greed. Oil companies get to blame it on the market prices, and the cable companies get to blame it on the networks.

So, what would happen if the govt (and don’t think I want them to govern this, but they seem to be the only ones with any level of control.) tells the oil companies that they are no longer allowed to be greedy anymore. They are only allowed to charge $1.00/gal at the pump. .50 goes to the oil co, the rest goes to distro and the station. No more huge profits.

This could work for cable. The FCC says, a la carte it is, and you are only allowed to make $x.xx dollars per channel. Any profits should be put into making cable better and less expensive. a la carte does not have to be more expensive if the networks would just get off their butts and stop worrying about the status quo. This is what is hurting the music and movie industry… status quo.

Eric (user link) says:

The whole a la carte debate is stupid

We already have a la carte TV, it’s called the internet.

Seriously, I don’t get this big push on the part of some to drop the channels they don’t watch, because in most cases the channels I do watch amount to no more than an hour or two a week anyway? There’s 23 hours a day of programming on any given channel I’m paying for but don’t watch, under this theory.

I cancelled cable a while ago, and I choose the individual shows that I want to watch – via bittorrent if there’s no legal option. Even better, I watch them when I want to watch them without the obnoxious ads. That’s the future – I can’t imagine a world where the current appointment based broadcast model survives, even if networks get sold a la carte.

So I wholeheartedly agree. If you don’t like what’s on, don’t watch it. No one forces you to watch any individual show, let alone any individual program. If you don’t like the bulk packaging just cancel cable and save yourself 60 bucks a month (or more).

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