TNT’s The Alienist Proves Urgent Need for Consumers to Have Cable Choice

Written by PTC | Published January 24, 2018

The PTC applauds T-Mobile’s goal of unbundling entertainment.

The PTC is calling on the cable industry to give consumers true choice over the cable networks they can buy, given TNT’s graphically violent and gory new show, The Alienist, which all cable customers must subsidize whether they want to watch the show or not. The group also praised the stated goals of T-Mobile to provide greater consumer choice via its new video service to be launched later in the year. From The Atlantic’s review of the show: “It says something about how fiercely The Alienist commits to discomfiting its audience that the most disturbing scene in the first two episodes isn’t when the camera disappears inside the darkness of a young boy’s mutilated eye socket, or even when it lingers on the syphilitic sores on the bloodied face of a shrieking asylum inmate. The new TNT series, based on the 1994 bestselling novel by Caleb Carr, is viscerally gruesome (literally visceral, in some cases), portraying a late 19th-century New York City that’s a fetid, teeming quagmire of disease, corruption, and iniquity. You want butchered bodies? Ten a penny. Pox-ridden psychopaths destined for the electric chair? The Alienist is a veritable grab bag of triggering visuals and nauseating images.” “For cable subscribers – and even TV critics – who have any objection to the ‘viscerally gruesome’ content on The Alienist, it is not enough to 'just change the channel.' Cable and satellite customers – especially families – should not, must not, be forced to underwrite something as brutally offensive as the content of this new show, just to have access to family-quality programming on other cable networks. Even more outrageous is that subscribers are forced to pay not only one, but two, cable network subscription fees for TNT and TBS, both owned by the same conglomerate, for airing The Alienist. Such a scheme proves how broken the cable bundle regime is, and how urgently consumers need true Cable Choice, which would give them the ability to pay only for the networks they actually want,” said PTC President Tim Winter. “As we have asserted for years, the cable TV industry is ensuring its own demise by forcing its customers to choose and pay for unwanted, and often harmful, network programming. And as we’ve also asserted for years, the so-called ‘skinny bundles’ are no solution to prevent customers from abandoning the cable TV model entirely – which they are indeed doing. Those who want to watch explicit content like The Alienist should be able to choose to pay for it. But it is unconscionable that those who are offended by it must also underwrite it. “We are encouraged that T-Mobile, through its just-completed acquisition of Layer3 TV, has pledged to allow consumer-centric unbundling with its new TV service, to be launched later this year. We applaud T-Mobile for their determined efforts to provide a way for consumers to have real choice, and we call on others in the industry to follow suit.”

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