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The controversy over à la carte cable and satellite programming keeps resurfacing. The basic problem is that cable prices keep rising, to the point where the basic level of digital cable is over $50 a month in many places. Prices have risen 40% in the last decade.
(As an aside, I’m amazed at the whiners in the UK who complain about paying £126.50 a year for a TV license that gets them the best premium programming from the US, as well as UK TV. I pay $588 a year to get a similar selection.)
Viewers find it galling to pay for a hundred channels when there are only a handful they watch on a regular basis. Hence there has been a campaign to get the FCC to rule that cable and satellite providers must offer the option of à la carte programming, where you can choose to subscribe to only the channels you actually want.
The cable and satellite companies don’t want to see that happen, as it would eat into their fat profits. Since the same companies own a lot of the mainstream media outlets, I’m constantly seeing astroturf coverage explaining why à la carte programming is impossible, would make your cable bills skyrocket, is tantamount to Communism, and so on.
This is my attempt to cut through a lot of the common bullshit spouted on the subject.
For the first half hour or so, I really wondered what miracle they had worked on Bush. He seemed intelligent, friendly, engaging, likeable…he didn’t lapse into awkward silences, or give the camera that “chimp in the headlights” look.
Definitely no wire on him, as far as I could tell. Any kind of radio pack on his back would have been clearly visible to the audience as he walked around, and the C-SPAN coverage featured several good shots of his back. Perhaps that’s why he seemed less robotic?
So Bush was looking horribly credible; but then, around the 40-45 minute mark as I recall, he started to lose it. Before long he transformed into an angry demagogue. I could actually see his face turning slightly red as he ranted, and then he shouted down the moderator!
Then, when he calmed down again after another 15 minutes or so, he seemed to retreat into a mode where he just kept saying the same stale talking point catchphrases we’re already sick of. You know the ones, “denigrating our allies”, “pass a global test”, “most liberal senator”, and so on.
All in all, a rather bizarre performance. Maybe he really is as mentally unbalanced as some of the rumors have been suggesting. If so, I can only hope that Kerry manages to goad him as effectively in the third debate as Edwards managed to goad Cheney.
Yes, that was definitely the most amusing moment so far—Edwards saying how admirable it was that Cheney was willing to talk about his gay daughter, followed by Cheney’s face as he said “No comment”. If looks could kill, Edwards would have been eviscerated on live TV. No that’s comedy.
Also noted today that even Newsweek thinks Kerry was the clear winner of the first debate. I suspect the same concensus will emerge about this one, albeit for different reasons.
I saw Time and Newsweek on the newsstand in Harvard Square.
Let’s face it, we all knew what this week’s cover picture was going to be. But just for once, I’d have liked to have been surprised. I’d have liked them to do something tasteful, something which treats the subject with dignity and sorrow, rather than exploiting it.
But no, we got big lurid photographs of planes flying into buildings and exploding in a searing fireball of aviation fuel.
They could have printed a plain black cover with the word “After”. They could have printed the names of victims. They could have picked out photos of some of the heroes who gave their lives trying to save others. They did none of those things; they went for sensationalism, exploitation and overkill; they forced America yet again to look at an image already seared into the collective consciousness. Maybe I’m misreading the national consciousness, but I just don’t think anybody needs or wants to see that fucking image again.
CNN is worse. They now have a seemingly permanent graphic “America at war” with the latest scare headline below it, and round the clock coverage as we play the “Where’s Osama?” game. Loving profiles of war hardware are interspersed with interviews with military insiders about how much butt we’re going to kick, where we’re going to kick it, when we’re going to kick it, and so on.
Of course, CNN would love a war. Especially a really big, messy one. Their ratings always go up in a war. You may think I’m being exceptionally cynical to ascribe such base motives to them, but just go watch the coverage for a few minutes and look for the subtext.
Yes, we’re at war. They haven’t told us who we’re at war with, but as soon as they decide, we’ll sure be at war with them, so keep watching. We’re going to kick some ass. We’re not sure where we’re going to kick it, or who’s ass it’s gonna be, but ass will be kicked, and you’ll see it here. Look at the shiny ships, look at the big planes. And now, a word from our sponsor, the US Army. Enroll now and bomb a raghead! So, when can we expect to start enjoying a real war? Let’s ask an expert in disinformation from the Pentagon, who helps us write our stories…
I don’t know anyone who wants a war. Like with the whole Clinton fiasco, there seems to be a total disconnect between the media and the population. Then again, the People’s Republic isn’t exactly typical of America as a whole, and there are plenty of people on the net who are willing to stomp along with the drumbeat.