It’s worth revisiting a topic that never goes off the radar: Concern about content. Everybody can agree that cable transformed the television landscape by vastly expanding viewing choices, but not every viewing option is to everybody’s taste.
But the important point to remember that what cable delivers is choice. You get a ton of options and then you pick out the ones that appeal to you. Spouses, partners, kids, friends and neighbors all are likely to make different choices. But by starting with a wide initial set of options, everybody can have a better chance of being satisfied.
Some people are very concerned about certain programs. This is very understandable, because not all programming is appropriate for all ages. Some content may not be to your taste or may even offend you. Fortunately, there is a solution: parental control features.
You can find out more at our website Control Your TV or from a report prepared by the Progress & Freedom Foundation’s Adam Thierer. Suffice it to say that between your television’s V-chip controls and those of cable’s digital set-top boxes, you have the ability to block by channel, rating or show. (Also, read this chronology to see how long the cable industry has been addressing this issue.)
Philosophical argument #1: I don’t like a piece of content, so it ought to be stopped. The problem with this approach is that what’s a problem for you may not be a problem for me and vice versa. The best solution is not to ban, but to allow me to choose that content and allow you to block it out.
Philosophical argument #2: That piece of content is so offensive that it’s wrong that I’m “forced to subsidize it” with my cable subscription. Currently, the best and most economically efficient way to deliver a broad array of viewing options is through bundles of channels. You may feel like you’re “subsidizing” the channels you don’t watch, but your fellow subscribers who don’t watch your favorites may be “subsidizing” yours. There is plenty of evidence to show that a mandatory a la carte system would lead to fewer viewing options, less diversity of content, and higher prices overall.