Keep the TV on and Set Your Parental Controls High
After years of fighting the incursion of satellite distribution and federal concerns over monthly consumer price hikes, some congressmen want to put the business in the same indecency regulations arena as broadcasters.
The cable industry believes the threat is real - so much so that it's starting a campaign, airing $250 million in public service announcements to tell consumers that have the ability to block offensive programming with specific parental controls in their cable control features.
I have a better method: Turn off the TV.
The cable industry, its lobbying group, and the National Cable Television Association don't want viewers to do that. It needs viewers to watch local and national cable advertising to keep the lights on at the cable operators and cable networks.
The cable industry should do all it can to help parents protect their kids, but the vast majority of that protection work is still with parents. It's not a perfect world and there's always spillage. Try as we can, bad TV stuff will get through to kids, no matter how much we try to stop it. A parent's job will always be to explain the world.
In reality, except for a few raunchy cable programs, the great majority of cable entertainment is relatively similar to the broadcast networks. That is by design to get those similar big spending TV advertisers who buy network and local over-the-air television.
In that regard, I'd say the cable industry isn't daring enough. The good news here is that if the programs aren't getting good saleable ratings, networks will pull it off the air because it can't make money.
The marketplace takes care of itself: Not-so-funny shows go off the air (CBS' "Bette," starring Bette Midler), good shows with low ratings are canceled (ABC's "Sports Night"), and raunchy shows are also shown the door (NBC's "Coupling").
Just because a show has a famous actress in it, doesn't mean people will watch it. Just because a show is written well, doesn't mean people will watch it. Just because a show's racy, doesn't mean people will be entertained.