Blog: I Just (Don’t) Want My MTV: VMA Performances Spark Movement for A La Carte Cable

 By:  Catherine Gray, Associate Staff 

 

            I admit it. I love the MTV Video Music Awards (VMAs). From Lil’ Kim’s seashell pasty in 1999 to Beyoncé announcing her pregnancy with Blue Ivy in 2011, the VMA’s always deliver just the right combination of crazy, ridiculous, and pure celebrity trash I’m looking for. Unfortunately this year, the event that should have taken the cake—the reunion of *NSYNC and the subsequent restoration of all my middle school hopes and dreams—was overshadowed by Miley Cyrus and her dancing teddy bears. In what can only be described as one of the most bizarre performances in VMA history, Hannah Montana twerked her way into homes across the country wearing nothing more than a spandex bikini.

            While I found this horrific and embarrassing display highly entertaining, I realize that others, particularly those individuals with young and impressionable children, might not find this to be quality broadcast. Moreover, I recognize that these parents might not want their children to have access to networks that offer this kind of programming. Indeed, in the aftermath of Miley’s attempt to prove to the world she’s a big girl now, the Parents Television Council pointed to her display of ‘creativity’ as a reason for Congress to pass the proposed Television Consumer Freedom Act.[1] The bill, introduced by Arizona Senator John McCain, would allow multi-channel distributors to provide video programming to subscribers on an individual, per channel basis.[2]

            Despite the somewhat suspect source of this movement—the Parents Television Council has a history of criticizing MTV programming for failing to adhere to family values—the appeal of the Television Consumer Freedom Act extends beyond parents who want to protect their children from the likes of Miley Cyrus’ foam finger.[3] Even those of us who gleefully tune in to the VMAs, Jersey Shore, and Teen Mom stand to benefit from being able to purchase programming on a per-channel basis. Cost-conscious consumers, instead of paying roughly $70, $80, or $90 a month for a Verizon FiOS package of assorted channels, would be able to select each channel they wish to subscribe to individually, creating a substantial reduction in cost.[4] Gone would be the days of subscribing to a bundled package, paying for channels you’d never watch to have access to ones you want. This option already exists with regard to premium channels such as HBO and Showtime, so why not extend individual subscriptions to basic network channels?[5]

The Television Consumer Freedom Act was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on May 9, 2013. [6] Although it has a slim chance of becoming enacted, the idea of a la carte cable has mainstream consumer appeal.[7] Lastly, just in case you’re interested, you can catch all the highlights from the 2013 VMAs here.




[1] Parents Television Council Blasts VMAs as Serving Sex to Teens, The Hollywood Reporter (Aug. 26, 2013), http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/parents-television-council-blasts-mtvs-614448.

[2] Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013, S. 912, 113th Cong. (2013).

[3] Parents watchdog group assailts [sic] content of MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ and other shows, NY Daily News (Dec. 7, 2011), http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/parents-watchdog-group-assailts-content-mtv-jersey-shore-shows-article-1.988095#ixzz2drd5h9Vc.

[4] TV PackagesFiOS TV Packages, Verizon, http://www.verizon.com/home/fiostv/tv-packages/ (last visited Sept. 3, 2013).

[5] Premium TV Channels – FiOS TV, Verizon, http://www.verizon.com/home/fiostv/tv-packages/#premiumchannels (last visited Sept. 3, 2013).

[6] Television Consumer Freedom Act of 2013 (S. 912), GovTrack.us, http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/113/s912 (last visited Sept. 3, 2013).

[7] Id.

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