Where’s the Consumer Demand for THIS?

Written by PTC | Published May 21, 2013

How many times have you heard it argued that television content providers are just delivering what audiences want? That since networks are in the business to make money, they would never air content that would drive away viewers, and so if you’re offended by what you see, you must be in the minority. If that’s true, I’d love to see the audience tests and market surveys showing that consumers just really, really, really want to watch someone drink their own urine on television. Because MTV apparently thinks the demand is there. Tonight on “Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life,” viewers will be treated to the spectacle of Ke$ha drinking her own urine. But there’s a bigger issue here: why should we have to pay for this kind of garbage just so we can get access to Discovery, Disney, or the Golf channel? It’s outrageous – and it shouldn’t be that way. You wouldn’t expect to have to pay for issues of Esquire, Cosmopolitan, and Sports Illustrated just because you want to pick up a copy of Better Homes and Gardens, would you? Consumers deserve choice. We should all have the ability to choose and pay for only the channels we want to watch. What the “change the channel” crowd refuses to acknowledge is that the current system represents a market failure, but an a la carte solution would correct the balance and truly bring market forces to bear on programming. With only six companies controlling 90% of the media we consume, CBS/Viacom can afford to sustain short-term losses in advertiser revenue on MTV because they’re still getting their $.30 per subscriber per month, and they’re still bringing in millions of dollars from their other broadcast and cable properties. Under an a la carte system, programs like “Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life” probably wouldn’t last, because there wouldn’t be enough demand to justify keeping it on the air, and Viacom would have a much harder time artificially sustaining it. Fortunately, it seems the chorus of voices calling for Cable Choice -- from Senator John McCain, to writers at the LA Times and Daily Kos – are growing stronger and impossible to ignore.

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