The networks plug their own shows relentlessly, as do the supposedly advertising-free premium channels. And if you happen to subscribe to channels like HBO because you're a fan of some particular series (in my case, "The Wire," which may be the best drama ever produced for television), you can be watching something unobjectionable only to have soft-core porn flash on screen in the form of a promotion for another of the network's shows.
Even the program guides that list channel offerings can be a challenge. You may block offensive programs or channels, but just perusing the on-screen guide looking for something decent to watch can be a minefield. Recently, the PG animated movie "Happy Feet" aired right before "Cathouse," which the guide helpfully describes as a documentary on "the Moonlite Bunny Ranch . . . a legal brothel in Nevada." And if you're looking for entertainment after 10 p.m., you'll find listings for shows like "Real Sex," "Sin City Diaries," or the latest HBO affront, "Katie Morgan on Sex Toys."
You don't have to be a child, or even have children in your home, to find this intrusion of Hollywood values into your living room troublesome. But unless you're willing to throw out your set altogether, there doesn't seem much you can do about it.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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