Open Mike


Give the Kids a Break

The NCTA's criticism of DIC's proposed kids channel and digital must-carry reeks of hypocrisy when they state that channels "should compete on the merits of their content."

In an ideal world, this would be true. In the real world of vertical integration, retransmission consent deals, and the leveraging of established channels to launch new channels, it seems that channels are seldom judged solely (or even mostly) on their merits. Instead, the judgment is based on how new channels will fit into the growing media empires.

Furthermore, the NCTA fails to note that the DIC kids channel will have to succeed solely on the basis of advertising revenue, since they will not be able to collect per-subscriber fees—unlike their cable competitors.

DIC has a big job to turn this idea into a successful and profitable channel. But if they can do so, the broadcast industry and those who depend on it for free over-the-air programming will certainly benefit.

Tom Desmond, University of Texas, Dallas (received via e-mail)

To Be Fair

Your editorial ("The New Fairness Doctrine," Nov. 11) jumps on the bandwagon of CBS bashing following the cancellation of The Reagans. If indeed CBS bowed to governmental or political pressure, official or otherwise, thus allowing outside interests to enter a journalistic decision, then all the bashing in the world would fall far short of a needed noise level when someone stomps on First Amendment rights.

But what if that is not the case? What if CBS looked at what they had produced and simply found that it sucked? What if they found it to be totally lacking the credentials of good television? What if they found they got bad script, bad production—all far afield from what they originally ordered?

Networks shelve pilots all the time when they find them falling below their own standards. If this or anything close to this occurred, then maybe, just maybe CBS did the right thing in applying its own fairness doctrine in terms of what is right and what is wrong when it comes to what they schedule on their own network.

I'm not sure at what point storytelling crosses the line from writers' creativity in selecting words attributed to what one supposes a prominent person may have said to pure fiction. But maybe CBS should be given the benefit of the doubt that, given what they saw, they did the right thing.

Ave Butensky, former president, Television Advertising Bureau (received via e-mail)