The cable industry is officially out of gas. Or are they?
They now have a new line of attack. And I think we should hear them out, don't you? The Oxygen network is one of those that has complained that cable choice will put it out of business, a proposition certain to send shudders down the spines of its dozens of fans. Now Oxygen Media chairman Geraldine Laybourne is back with another argument: "TV viewers don't know what they want to watch until it's there for them as an option."
The silly, ignorant consumer. Just what will he, or she, be missing with cable choice? Ms. Laybourne tells us, and I swear to God I'm not making this up: "Who would have known to subscribe to Bravo to watch 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' prior to it airing?"
Laybourne is using an awfully odd show as an example, the one program that's likely to cause more viewers to opt out of Bravo than any other, unless the consumer is attracted to this show's brand of ribald references, like wondering whether home stains were caused by male bodily fluids.
But Laybourne didn't need to stop at "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." Thanks to her industry's commitment to diversity, and options, 18 million cable households -- check your dial, this could mean you -- also now are subsidizing Viacom's gay channel Logo, another network they'd never otherwise have the forced opportunity to enjoy with cable choice.
On the weekend before Valentine's Day, Logo premiered a new documentary called "Beautiful Daughters." It's about the first all-transgendered production of the play "The Vagina Monologues."
The FCC has given parents concrete evidence that giving cable choice to consumers is feasible and affordable, despite all the cable industry's millions in lobbying and buckets of excuses. Sen. John McCain, who claims to have the support of 40 national organizations, is offering legislation to mandate it. It's time for the cable moguls to offer some version of unbundled programming for viewers who want it.
No more excuses. No more dodges. And please, no more arguments like Ms. Laybourne's.