May 7, 2001
9:38 AM   Subscribe

Is TV dumbed down so much these days that even educational or documentary material needs to appeal on a broader audience? It seems that TLC and Discovery are going overboard in their need to draw viewers, though, then their motto 'a place for learning minds' becomes just another example of false advertising. If you were to tune in at prime time, chances are the stuff that's on would be about a)aliens, b)Christianity, or c)aliens and Christianity. Tune in for TLC you'll always get 'worst drivers 3: road rage' or 'plastic surgery gone BAD'. Their good productions, such as the Great Books Series have been shut down over 2 years ago, and these days the most interesting stuff that's on is shown in reruns over at the discovery civilization or science channel. BBC and PBS creates interesting programs, but not all that often.

Sometimes people complain at how Survivor and the rest of the reality show stuff is dragging down TV to the very bottom, but is it really effecting everything?
posted by tiaka (47 comments total)
Greed. And entropy.

We're all doomed.
posted by rushmc at 9:40 AM on May 7, 2001

BBC2's early-evening output these days divides into cookery, gardening, DIY and travel programmes, aimed at people without the time and space to cook, garden, decorate or travel.

We're doomed.

Except: Simon Schama's great History of Britain resumes tomorrow, dateline 1603. So if we get Ready Steady Grounding Rooms for the next year, at least we know where the money's gone.

(Though you can still pick up the Open University broadcasts in the wee small hours. And there's BBC News overnight, rather than infomercials.)
posted by holgate at 9:53 AM on May 7, 2001

You have brought up a very interesting point. A few years back, I decided that I wanted to be part of "good" educational television. I started to hunt for jobs within "educational" television. For starters, the search was exhausting. After about 5 months of networking, searching and begging I finally landed an interview at TLC. It was hands down the most depressing interview of my life. He asked me, "Why do you want to be part of TLC."
I replied "I want to be part of The Learning Channel because I enjoy teaching. Television is a great way to educate the public."
He stared at me blankly for a few moments and said smiling, "First, we are no longer called The Learning Channel. We took learning out of our name. People don't think that learning is cool and that is what we want to be. We want to be cool. TLC could stand for anything, TENDER LOVING CARE.... "
I was shocked. They only cared about ratings. What a wake up call. Even stations that promote themselves as "educational" don't care much about education. TLC does stand for something, Total Load of Crap.
posted by aj100 at 9:53 AM on May 7, 2001

Discovery/TLC were better when they started getting more "poppy" but they've shifted the pendulum now to crap, and the good stuff is harder to find...
posted by owillis at 9:57 AM on May 7, 2001

When was T.V. ever NOT dumb?
posted by greensweater at 9:57 AM on May 7, 2001

I have to say, I just grind my teeth in dismay every time I see a promo for a show about the "science of UFOs", or "what we know about alien biology" or some other crap. Since we have no proof of any of this, all "science" is pure speculation, and these shows are, as Tiaka says, pandering for ratings. Yes, there is some science involved in trying to determine what might be out there, but these shows barely touch that. "Junkyard Wars" and "Walking with Dinosaurs" are two items that come to mind when thinking of quality programming on TLC/Discovery - though they are both British Imports. One show I find I learn a lot from these days is PBS' "Scientific American Frontiers"
posted by kokogiak at 9:58 AM on May 7, 2001

I've never been impressed with anything that TLC has done, with the exception of Junkyard Wars. It's educational and entertaining all at the same time.
posted by andrewraff at 10:11 AM on May 7, 2001

Is it possible to "drag TV down?" It seems to have already found the bottom.
posted by muppetboy at 10:14 AM on May 7, 2001

I saw a Hard-Copy-esque "documentary" about a "club kid" who may or may not have killed a drug dealer, according to the Village Voice, on A&E! Isn't that supposed to be, like, the high brow channel?
posted by transona5 at 10:16 AM on May 7, 2001

Thanks for lifting the veil aj100 - while I expected TLC to be concerned with ratings, I always assumed that there was at least some element of the organization that was interested in providing intelligent programming. The fact that they've divorced themselves from learning is depressing indeed.

I agree with tiaka's assessment of the Discovery channel as well. I can't stand seeing that irritating Australian guy. It bothers me that children are growing up influenced by his rather combative perceptions of wildlife. Gone are the carefree days of Wild Kingdom and Marty Stouffers Wild America - both shows are being recast with a more "extreme" sentiment.

PBS is still the best (and only) source for decent documentary programming. Could Ken Burn's Jazz documentary have aired anywhere else?

It's true that PBS doesn't produce programs all that often. This is directly attributable to their completely insufficient funding. Funding that's sure to dwindle even more under the esteemed leadership of our current president. As a result, PBS is forced to grow ever more "commercial". Here in Chicago, WTTW actually opened up a chain of stores in an effort to increase revenue - the WTTW Store of Knowledge.

It's a sad day when a pubic television station must resort to selling plastic dinosaur trinkets and build-it-yourself radio kits.
posted by aladfar at 10:21 AM on May 7, 2001

Television is appreciably better today than it was 30 years ago, assuming you have cable. You just have to work harder to find it among all the dreck.
posted by rcade at 10:27 AM on May 7, 2001

While I rarely watch TV to be 'intellectually stimulated' (that's what books and the internet, or portions of the internet, are for... Although, I still won't watch 'Reality TV' because it is neither.), I was somewhat comforted in the thought that there are channels that specialize in such programming should that urge ever arise in me. Unfortunately, it seems that channels must be ratings driven to survive, to state the obvious, and as such need to 'sell out' a bit in order to stay alive. which in the case of the channels mentioned, is a little depressing.
posted by srw12 at 10:31 AM on May 7, 2001

Although, I still won't watch 'Reality TV' because it is neither.

I'd have to disagree with that Linda Richman crack. Survivor is as TV as TV gets (until CBS carries out the threat to do an all-celebrity Survivor).
posted by rcade at 10:32 AM on May 7, 2001

I think every PBS station has a store of knowledge. I know that the one in Portland has one in Pioneer Place downtown, or did when I lived there.

As for television, as for all shared culture, I weep for the future. Everything is dumbed down nowadays. Last year I got into a kick watching WWII movies, and rented The Great Escape, the Dirty Dozen, and even Where Eagles Dare, which isn't exactly highbrow, but anyway; what I noticed most is that scenes from the sixties are far longer than scenes in movies today, as well as the fact that dialogue is emphasized, you have to pay attention, and subtlety was actually good for something. In today's movies, if you see a detail -- ANY DETAIL, it's got something to do with the plot. It's just demoralizing.

It ain't just the television.
posted by norm at 10:33 AM on May 7, 2001

TLC has two versions of crap -- a pink and a blue version. Lots of dating in the morning, will-they-or-won't-they things, and maybe a bit of marriage talk simultaneously. The planes and car chases come on at night. A&E is also not the highbrow channel, nor has it ever really been. Anyone see the most livable cities special, in which they played up places with lotsa nature and hiking and cycling opportunities, stately oaks or golden ponds or blah blah, then would go back to the studio, surrounded by text and graphics, which made it seem as if they were broadcasting from the Planet Shockwave, a place that knows no nature? The hosts had to be on psychotropic pharmaceuticals the size of horse pills too, so happy and energetic were they.

I've always found A&E biographies hilarious, though, in the best cheesy way possible, especially the Larry King-Genghis Khan double header. Liked the Jimi preview for the bio channel too, which gave viewers lots of fancy time-lapse photography, which practically screamed, "This has nothing to do with Hendrix, exactly, but it looks like we spent of dough on this thing, which we did, actually."

Now, what about the History channel? Still very TV-ish, very A&E cheesy, but educational because, well, they have to talk about actual history?
posted by raysmj at 10:33 AM on May 7, 2001

It occurs to me that there's a basic problem in the US: the theming of channels. Which means that for every high-budget international co-production, there's likely to be another 10 hours of scheduling to fill each day. It's already becoming apparent that the BBC's "themed" cable channels, and Channel 4's e4, are stuffed with repeats and low-budget tat. Fine for people who work in television, but not for the viewer.

It's nearly 30 years since The World At War showed the possibilities of broadcasting as a chronicler of our times; more recently, series such as People's Century have shown the deeply democratic potential of the small screen.

Perhaps we're asking for too much: isn't it better to have that one hour of well-researched, well-made broadcasting to cherish and mark on the weekly schedule (most recently, BBC2's "Dancin' in the Street", on the development of the popular song) than to demand that channels ostensibly devoted to "educational" programming come up trumps all the time?
posted by holgate at 10:37 AM on May 7, 2001

One dodge that used to work was to write to producers of known-good stuff (e.g. National Geographic, Nova/WGBH) and ask them who would be showing their productions and when.

But it's no longer an problem for me. Being a standard-issue geek I figured out a way to block cable channels before there was ever any talk about the V-chip. As soon as my kids outgrew Sesame Street I started doing this. Some channels got the ax for sex'n'violence, even more got it for repellant forms of merchandizing. Before a month was up I found I had blocked everything but The Learning Channel, The Discovery Channel and PBS. At that point I said "I'm paying 40 bucks a month to pipe this stuff into my home and then dumping 99% of it down the drain unwatched. Why am I doing this?" and pulled the plug on the whole cable feed.

I have never seen an episode of Survivor, and before that I never saw a single episode of Seinfield. I'm not even sure I'm spelling it right. When they told me The Rock had a bit part in Return of the Mummy I'm like "The what? Who's that?"
posted by jfuller at 10:39 AM on May 7, 2001

The History Channel is educational? I keep waiting for them to merge "History's Mysteries" with "Hitler's Henchmen" - what if Cleopatra had had an affair with Goering?
posted by agaffin at 10:41 AM on May 7, 2001

Television and radio are among the areas where I'm forced to differ with the free marketeers. If you don't reserve frequencies and funding for public broadcasting, then you're only going to get what sells, and if you're going to argue that the programming that makes the most money is the best programming, then you're making a leap of faith that I can't make.

I heard a debate on public broadcasting a number of years ago, when cable was around, but when there were many fewer channels than there are today. One of the free market types was arguing that PBS was unnecessary because channels like The Discovery Channel were showing great programs. The other debater then pointed out that Discovery mainly was showing shows that had been developed by and originally broadcast on PBS.

There has been a huge expansion of cable channels, without an equal expansion of quality programming. There is still some out there, but it gets lost among all the noise. And aladfar is right: PBS funding has not kept pace with the cost of producing programming. I don't know the details of the funding, but I wonder if PBS doesn't disproportionately fund programs like the Ken Burns documentaries. I don't think it's a good idea to put too many of your eggs in one basket. Besides, I saw the entire Frank Lloyd Wright documentary, and I didn't know any more about architecture after I'd seen it than before.

Anyway. Radio programs are much less expensive to produce, and PBS, NPR, etc. are still able to produce a significant number of outstanding programs. It helps that the number of radio stations hasn't increased nearly as dramatically as the number of TV stations.
posted by anapestic at 10:45 AM on May 7, 2001

agaffin: Yes, but it's more educational-by-default or, rather, through no doing of its own, or by complete accident.
posted by raysmj at 10:51 AM on May 7, 2001

rcade: I guess it is TV, being that is the medium to which its beamed into people's houses. But its not reality. Give me a program where there isn't first-aid staff just off camera, that'll be reality. There's too much censorship on American TV for 'Reality TV' to ever be reality.
posted by srw12 at 10:56 AM on May 7, 2001

I was just wondering then, why doesn't PBS create program for film students? Create low-budget documentaries, if anything, the documentary does not require vast amounts of funding. Considering how these film students, with no resources and no budget create feature-Length pictures using film.

I always wondered why there is never anyone following in the steps of Erroll Morris, whenever I see something of his, I think 'if only everything was like that...' 'if only...'
posted by tiaka at 10:58 AM on May 7, 2001

Try reading books instead
posted by Postroad at 11:03 AM on May 7, 2001

Oh, as far as reality TV goes, I don't mind it, if it is even shot on video, but NBC has shit for film crew, anyway, the stuff's awfully boring and banal. Fishing with John is one of my favorite TV shows EVER. And if you really think about it, it's a celebrity survivor, done extremely creatively, with excellent subtle humor and music. John Lurie is a genius btw.

And thank you Fred. : )
posted by tiaka at 11:06 AM on May 7, 2001

Walk into a bookstore and pick up any book at random. Likely, it's crap. Do the same thing in a music store: probably the same result. Hell, go to any random art gallery, close your eyes, point, and examine. Hey, more crap!

I've made this point before, but TV is different because it's ubiquitous. We don't have paintings piped into our homes, 24/7, nor books, nor dance performances, nor much of anything else (radio, sure, but this only furthers my point--most of it is, of course, crap). The web is the only media that can approach TV in ubiquity, and hey . . . MetaFilter aside, isn't most of the web crap? Of course it is.

Quality is where you find it, if you're bothering to look at all (and some of you aren't, and that's just fine). I have to make an effort to track down my Richard Powers novel; if I just grabbed randomly off the shelves, I'd probably get a goddamn Deepak Chopra book or something.

That's why I have ongoing cable reminders set to notify me about stuff I consider worthy: The Simpsons, The X-Files, The Sopranos, BattleBots, Junkyard Wars, and some others I'm too embarassed to list.

I didn't watch this season of Survivor, but I sure got sucked in the first season. Luckily, I didn't forget to learn how to read or breathe or anything in my haste to dumb myself down. Why do so many people assume that "TV-watching" = "Non-book-reading"? It's reductive and stupid. Hey, book-readers! Stop being such pointy-headed reclusive hermits and go out and support live theater! I mean, if you read books, you must not have any friends or any knack for socializing or appreciation for the living arts, right?
posted by Skot at 11:09 AM on May 7, 2001

Just a quick note. here is how PBS works. Each station, (ie. boston, new york ect) raises funds and produces both local and national programing. Boston, New York are the biggest and produce about 50 of the national programing such as NOVA and American Experience. PBS has nothing to do with production of these funds. They do, however, give money to the programs. The programs then decided which shows they want to produce. For example, PBS will give 15 Million to NOVA (I do not know the exact figures) and NOVA will then divide this money up and make 20 new shows a year. NOVA also gets money from corporate underwriters. It is rather complex.

A little warning. PBS may be changing too. The new CEO of PBS a woman named Pat... I don't recall her last name... is from the networks and is cutting some funding for national shows like American Experience, NOVA, and Frontline. She wants to increase ratings. That is why the show "American High" a failed fox show is now running on PBS. Just thought everyone should know. Write to PBS and tell them not to mess with good programing.
posted by aj100 at 11:14 AM on May 7, 2001

While it is kind of sad that TLC and its ilk must bow down to the ratings gods, I have to say, I don't blame them. They are, after all, only businesses...

I say TV isn't stupid enough. We should be able to wring TV for all the stupid juice we can get. Am I the only one who wants to see a laugh track on Cops or The E! True Hollywood Story? We should sew a tiny third arm onto Oprah's forehead and see what happens.

I think the problem is that TV isn't for intellectuals. Its for people who have had a long day at work and just want something to giggle to while they fall asleep... Intellectuals can read, write, and think. They don't need to have everything visualized for them (even though it is sometimes a good thing:)
posted by tallman at 11:16 AM on May 7, 2001

Tiaka: As for student documentaries and film shorts, one of the most popular programs produced for public television here in Chicago is Image Union. Very cool, and often locally produced stuff.

Also, there is one aspect of televison that we've been ignoring in this discussion: What of public access?

While I know the public access channels serve as a bastion for the bizarre, I've seen a number of programs that are really well done. More importantly, public access is, more often than not, the only avenue of expression for local community groups, etc.

I'm not sure where this fits in with the "dumbing down" of television, but it seems like something that ought to be considered.
posted by aladfar at 11:26 AM on May 7, 2001

The best cable channel, IMHO, is The Travel Channel. You can travel all over the world, experience different cultures, meet all kinds of people, and never leave home. It's better than reality tv anyday, because it is real, no one gets voted off, and no one wins anything. Those hosts have the coolest jobs on this planet: travelling all over the world, and telling us about it!

The other good channel is C-SPAN. It's interesting to see the whole picture of a political event without any (media) filter. I especially like their coverage of special events like Million Man March or Promise Keepers March in Washington. Wall-to-wall, uninterrupted and totally free of talking-head analysis, it's great.

Of course, now if I could only unscramble The Spice Channel .................
posted by Rastafari at 11:38 AM on May 7, 2001

Store of Knowledge, Inc. [google cache, because the site's slow] is a private corporation that opens stores where it can affiliate with a local public television station; the first was KCET in Los Angeles, now grown to 60 stores in 28 public TV markets.

aj100, your post was very confusing, seemingly merging the concept of "program" and "station". In reality your top-down model is very outdated. Each public television station is chartered locally, and raises funds locally -- some of it from viewers, often also from a state fund or through a university affiliation. Some of those stations (notably WGBH, WNET) also produce programs that are intended for national distribution via PBS, which is just a conduit for programming and federal funds. Underwriters such as ADM or Mobil contribute directly to the local production rather than via PBS.

PBS does not control national programming. If you want changes write to your local station.

Necessarily they have to pursue programming that will be either popular with underwriters or contributing audiences. Unrestricted government funds helped give them more independence in that regard, but that percentage has shrunk dramatically.

I think it's great that there's a Scrapheap Challenge/Junkyard Wars; but another great TLC [by the way, their home page still prominently states The Learning Channel] program is the documentary series Trauma: Life in the ER, with cameras right up close showing you the surgery, the family, the patient interaction. (I don't know why there need to be three fighting robot shows, though.)

I think Discovery has slipped away somewhat from its original mission, but it's still pretty good, just not at all hours. I think the SNL sketch about stupid, locally-produced history documentarys on The Hitler and War Channel er History Channel were pretty telling. There's a lot of crap and it always hits on the same inane talking points. I don't think things are completely hopeless, though.
posted by dhartung at 11:58 AM on May 7, 2001

Skot, you are the man. You expressed my own thoughts on this precisely. The vast majority of TV is complete garbage. Sometimes you pick though the garbage and find something worthwhile. Most of the time you find, well, trash. Same thing is true with books and art. More often than not you'll find me with a well-chosen book in hand. But sometimes I'll be rooting through the trash with my remote control...
posted by DeBug at 12:35 PM on May 7, 2001

I fail to see what the problem is. Turn it off if it's so bad. Come ... join us ... don't be afraid ....
posted by anewc2 at 12:39 PM on May 7, 2001

I love a lot of what PBS has to offer. NOVA and the shows on Masterpiece Theatre are just awesome. National Geographic specials, NewsHour, and frankly, the McLaughlin Group are engaging for me. Plus they play great old movies and the local programming is excellent (KQED for me). I don't have cable, so I can't comment, although from time to time I watch Showtime's "Queer As Folk" at a friend's house. I lived without TV for 4 years, mind you, and I don't regret bringing it back to my home. Pick and choose and don't use it as a white noise, and I think it's ok.
posted by doublehelix at 12:45 PM on May 7, 2001


Image Union is by far my most favorite. Wild Chicago is always fun. I have not found their equivalent in Seattle and I miss them like family.

Marty Stouffer pratically reinvented the nature program. We are lucky to have him, but people like him are rare.

Discovery channel has decent stuff, but I like PBS. I give them money when I can. I remember all the times watching channel 11 funding drives as a kid trying to see my Dad on TV working the phones as a volunteer. PBS is often a part of the community and something like Discovery is a very different thing.

Support PBS! (trips off soapbox)
posted by john at 1:30 PM on May 7, 2001

Sometimes you pick though the garbage and find something worthwhile. Most of the time you find, well, trash.

But there's a difference between rooting through the bins in Kensington and those in Peckham, yes? (Apologies to residents of both.) As I said, I don't mind if the BBC budgets for both lowbrow tat, as long as it's compelled to invest in "flagship" programming; ITV, alas, has gone to hell, leaving all the decent commercial stuff on C4. (Anyone remember when ITV last did a decent prime-time factual programme? Or some proper investigative journalism? After all, why make "Survival" and "World In Action" when you can have another cheap home video show? And in the current climate, I doubt we'd have seen "Morse" or "Cracker" commissioned: two-hour drama with 25-minute segments? Never!)

And while I could just snob off and read books, there was something about "People's Century" showing those old enough to remember Queen Victoria's death, or letting the last surviving veterans of the Somme tell their own stories, that no historian could capture.
posted by holgate at 1:36 PM on May 7, 2001

" cutting some funding for national shows like American Experience, NOVA, and Frontline..."

Ack. That's like a lobotomy for PBS. Losing Frontline would be the worst for me: It's easilly the best news program on television, a shinning example of how useful and thought-provoking the medium can actually be.

Speaking of Frontline, what do people think of it and Nova doing programs in conjunction with Nightline on ABC? Is this a result of PBS's budgeting, or just a few good programs working together?
posted by mrbula at 1:39 PM on May 7, 2001

I never pledge to any public broadcasting, but PBS/NPR make up the lion's share of my media diet. I love them, and would support them if I didn't feel like they were stealing from me. So many people I know cannot switch past the public channels fast enough, so I claim the tax dollars of those not watching as my pledge. I would miss it if it were gone, and I am willing to pay a great deal if the stations become willing to get off the dole.
posted by thirteen at 2:10 PM on May 7, 2001

It seems like TLC and Discovery have given up legitimate educational programming to History channel, and replaced it with something that will make sure rednecks order their channels. Can't say its the first nor last time media has disappointed me.
posted by wsfinkel at 4:22 PM on May 7, 2001

"Reality TV"? It's hokey, manufactured, manipulative, sensationalist dog food. Man, P. T. Barnum was SO right.

To me, reality TV would be a network of thousands of TV cameras you could switch between... cameras set up on icebergs, on tiny islands in the subarctic, in the exotic cities of the world ... and one nice big geosynchronous one showing the whole earth in realtime 24/7... warts, auroras, and all.
posted by Twang at 4:23 PM on May 7, 2001

That would be interesting... for about 5 minutes.

Reality tv should just admit that they're "pretty game shows" - totally fun, mindless humor...
posted by owillis at 4:24 PM on May 7, 2001

I say, MORE hours of British police traffic arrest videos PLEASE!

The have this French-German public television station called Arte. Its what a public television channel should be: interesting, avant-garde; no Barney! But it's so far away from what American public television will be in our lifetimes that it's depressing.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:32 PM on May 7, 2001

c-span is a ray of light in the MTV era fast cut/short attention span television style that dominates almost everything produced these days.

how they stay afloat confuses me. anybody know their business model?

now all they need is a c-span style channel that focuses on science, engineering etc. live uncut footage from various top conferences around the world.

the aliens/god/10 most/etc crap on discovery is amazingly annoying and insulting. i'd rather watch E!, because at least they don't pretend to be anything but fluff... well, maybe not.
posted by leinad at 5:51 PM on May 7, 2001

TV is a fork. What you shove in your mouth with it is up to you. Me, I love's a great tool.
posted by davidmsc at 6:31 PM on May 7, 2001

I used to love The Discovery Channel. Beyond 2000, The Next Step, great specials. They suck now though, everything is extreme. I turned on a show about cro magnon man a while ago and the first five minutes was so horribly edited, flashing scenes of blood and rock and ice, along with bass filled drumming, that I had to turn it off. Ugh.

TLC sucks, and has for a long time too. There's only so much one can learn about big trucks and car crashes.

TexhTv has some good stuff, but not much. Someone mentioned Scientific American Frontiers on PBS, that's still good, and Nova. Other than that there's not much out there anymore.
posted by Nothing at 7:40 PM on May 7, 2001

Speaking of Store of Knowledge, our local shop, affiliated with our PBS station KERA channel 13, is closing due to slow business. That SUCKS. The Store of Knowledge is a really cool shop.

I used to LOVE the Discovery channel. I grew up watching every episode I could of Beyond 2000 and Next Step and the like. It just doesn't seem the same these days. TDC and PBS are largely responsible for my love and interest in science and technology today, in addition to a family who would take me to the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History quite often.

It is hard to find good stuff like that on TV today. Everything seems to be "extreme" this or that. Every so often, a gem like "From the Earth to the Moon" (on HBO, no less!!!) or "Walking with Dinosaurs" or something will come along, but like is said above, most of the stuff all around us is crap...
posted by Spirit_VW at 8:23 PM on May 7, 2001

Sometimes people complain at how Survivor and the rest of the reality show stuff is dragging down TV to the very bottom, but is it really effecting everything?

I don't think so. The only thing I've noticed personally is that my enjoyment of television has dropped so dramatically that I no longer watch it. I believe many others besides me have the same feeling, so I wouldn't assume that it's affecting everything. The question I've been pondering tho is whether media is a reflection of society, or vise versa. If media is lumped with society, then I have no problem figuring it out (other than wondering if I missed a logical step somewhere), as it's just another part of our daily lives in which we choose if it will have any meaningful impact for the day. Quality programs are sparse, only because they isolate a certain population of viewers. Yet attracting the majority of viewers is the only way to make it rich. The internet however, provides the quality in content that I enjoy, MeFi included. It is relatively cheap nowadays to host good information, compared to broadcasting, as you reach the intended audience more efficiently and by demand.
posted by samsara at 7:27 AM on May 8, 2001

One of the things that tickled me the most when we moved to Boston five years ago is that we would get to have WGBH as our local PBS station.

aladfar and john -- having also lived in Chicago through my college and grad school years, I fondly remember both Image Union and Wild Chicago, but have never seen them on any other public TV station as I've moved from place to place. Of course, WTTW is responsible for unleashing not only Siskel and Ebert but also The Frugal Gourmet upon the unwitting populace.

Cable proved that there was as much a market for junk educational programming as every other kind of junk programming. Even PBS has been sucked into doing NOVA programs on "Amazing Disasters".

Watching TV is just like eating junk food -- consider it a once in a while treat, choose your item carefully, and enjoy. Unfortunately, most Americans do treat TV and junk food in the same way, which is just to consume as much as possible with little note of the consequences of overindulgence.
posted by briank at 7:53 AM on May 8, 2001

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