More Channels – Still A Wasteland

The only way to get decent internet here is via cable broadband, and the only way to get that is by paying through the nose for a “package” of services (like cable TV) that I generally don’t use or want. The “package” rules are that the more bandwidth and usage you want, the more cable television channels you have to pay for (forget unlimited usage, that doesn’t exist here).  So I now have something approaching 100 channels on the TV simply in order to get decent broadband service.

Edward R. Morrow warned that television would become a vast wasteland, and I came across a quote that sums up my experience with cable TV.  In 1961 the Federal Communications Commission Chair Newton Minow addressed the annual convention of the National Association of Broadcasters.

I invite each of you to sit down in front of your television set when your station goes on the air and stay there, for a day, without a book, without a magazine, without a newspaper, without a profit and loss sheet or a rating book to distract you. Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.

You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials—many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you’ll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.

Nearly 50 years later that statement still holds true.

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