U can’t watch this

One of the great mysteries of contemporary life is how, as Springsteen put it, there seems to be 57 channels and nothing on. This is explained, I think, by the concept that they seek to cover every conceivable demographic except yours:

[T]here’s the “channel for men” (or so it used to be called), the channel for teens/twentysomethings, the LGBT channel, a couple kids’ channels, a tween channel. I wish there were a “middle aged spinster channel,” but I suppose we don’t count demographically. And anyway, what would they show? Programs about cats? (Maybe Hallmark is actually the middle-aged spinster channel, now that I think of it). I just wish there were still a channel that actually showed educational programming that was actually educational. PBS does sometimes, though most of the daily block here is taken up with kids’ educational shows rather than ones aimed at adults. I also wish HGTV still occasionally showed quilting or crafts shows, instead of just the “couples arguing over what home they want to buy” programs. (Why are so many programs now about conflict? I have enough conflict and arguing in my day-to-day life that I want something just kind of soothing for my entertainment.)

And of course you have to pay for all 57 of them, even the ones you wouldn’t watch if you were stuck on a desert island and nothing else was within range. Beyond that, there are additional tiers of service, presumably called that because when you see what they do to your bill you will weep.

Then again, I’m old enough to remember A&E as the Arts & Entertainment Network, which occasionally provided entertainment and once in a while some actual arts. And nobody would dare program like this anymore:

Among the programs broadcast on SPN were Video Concert Hall, an early music-video show (before the launch of MTV); News from Home, a program for Canadians in the US, hosted by early CNN news anchor Don Miller; The Shopping Game, a Nicholson-Muir game show produced in Nashville and hosted by Art James; The Susan Noon Show, featuring celebrity interviews; Nutrition Dialogue, hosted by Dr. Betty Kamen; Sewing with Nancy; and Moscow Meridian, a current-affairs program produced by Soviet authorities and hosted by Vladimir Posner. Reruns of old situation comedies and movies, mostly from low-budget studios, rounded out the schedule.

The Satellite Program Network, to give it its full name, was born in 1979; its rotting corpse is still operating as CNBC.







3 comments

  1. fillyjonk »

    3 April 2014 · 12:28 pm

    Interesting how SPN used to be one channel with ten different kinds of programming; now we have 25 channels that are essentially showing the same show. And showing “marathons” of it. ALL THE FREAKING TIME.

  2. sya »

    3 April 2014 · 1:43 pm

    That’s why I have no inclination to get cable (or even a TV). It’s probably more cost effective getting only shows you want to see online or on DVD.

  3. McGehee »

    3 April 2014 · 2:48 pm

    My internet connection is through a cable TV provider. As a rule people either connect by cable or DSL unless neither is available. Cable company or Ma Bell? Decisions, decisions…

    I’ll keep the cable, but would like a la carte for TV content so i can drop MSNBC.

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