Free-enterprise capitalism: Give the people what they want! -more 'entertainment', more homogenization, more dumbing-down!
Human Nature and Continuing Human Existence
September 9, 2008 - All Things Considered National
Cable TV Moves To Find Wider Audience
ROBERT SIEGEL, host: And I’m Robert Siegel.
NEDA ULABY: Just for a second, let’s pretend it’s the 1980s and you love
the performing arts. Let’s say you go to cable TV to watch Belgian
documentaries about the avant-garde choreographer Pina Bausch.
ULABY: What happened with Bravo between Pina Bausch and Heidi Klum?
Entertainment Weekly writer Whitney Pastorek sums it up in six words.
ULABY: Now, Bravo’s shows are about cutting hair and working out,
decorating and dating. Before “Queer Eye’s” debut in 2003, Bravo never
attracted more than 1.3 million viewers. “Queer Eye,” at its peak, brought in
three million. Andy Cohen is Bravo’s senior VP for programming. He says the
show opened Bravo’s eyes to the possibility of enormous audiences.
ULABY: What stuck was not Pina Bausch. It was “Top Chef” and “Real
Housewives of Orange County.” By generously expanding its definition of arts
programming, Bravo positioned itself to compete not just with other cable
channels, but the major networks. And Bravo is far from alone. About 60 percent
of Americans have basic cable, so cable channels are leaving their specialized
niches to court the maximum number of viewers.
ULABY(Soundbite of TV show “Ice Road Truckers”)
ULABY: EW writer Whitney Pastorek offer points to the channel formerly
known as Court TV, now called TruTV. And AMC, celebrated for its original
series, “Mad Men.”
ULABY: Pastorek brings up a critical point, says media analyst Derek
Baine of SNL Kagan.
ULABY: Of course, some channels do not need to go too far, those
covering sports, news, kids’ programming and food.
ULABY: But Baine says some channels that have not diversified their
programming probably should. For example, he says the Science Channel and the
Travel Channel focus their programming narrowly. They need to change their
strategy to survive. The glory days of basic cable mining a specialized niche
may be over, but Baine says you can still find programming that’s narrowly
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