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I'd Like Sci-Fi With a Side of Bravo, Please

So the FCC is now amenable to "a la carte cable." In layman's terms, this practice would eliminate the channel-bundling requirements media firms like Disney and Viacom impose on cable carriers like Cox and Comcast: instead of being forced to carry niche networks SoapNET and SpikeTV in addition to the crowd-pleasing ESPN and VH-1, cable operators would sell the channels on an individual basis. Presumably, this will be cheaper for some consumers, as they'll only be paying for a handful virtuous and personally-enhancing channels like C-SPAN instead of the decadent Cartoon Network. More importantly, a la carte cable will shield the delicate sensibilities of television viewers: those who object to MTV's programming philosophy ("Now with 25% more neuron-suppressing reality programs!") can opt not to subscribe, and those who object to the Eternal Life Network's spiritual and/or aesthetic creeds don't have to suffer its existence in the upper reaches of the cable box.

I say, forget giving subscribers the option to pick-and-choose their channels. That's thinking small. Anyone who's running a network should offer a la carte programming, period. The sheer numbers of people who will pay the USA Network to keep the Law & Order reruns coming -- and hold The Dead Zone -- must number in the dozens. The disenfranchised Farscape fans could guarantee that series' perpetual airing on The Sci-Fi channel. Whichever lucky Paramount channel gets the Veronica Mars re-runs will be set for life. With picking and choosing to pay for only the shows you want to see, it'll be easy to keep programs on the air -- or to force them off. So long, The Nanny reruns! See you in hell, Movie and a Makeover! Best of all, being able to pick and choose on the TV shows you want to see guarantees that you'll never be forced to endure anything that doesn't already neatly conform to your worldview. News Corp. stands to make a killing if they start charging on a per-show basis for Fox News.

Sure, your cable bill would probably be more expensive if you had to pay on a show-by-show basis. But isn't the ability to move through life wrapped in a cocoon of your own choosing worth a premium?


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