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Friday, December 16, 2005

And While We're Focusing On Hypocrisy ...

James Taranto, writing for "Best of the Web Today," asks a great question:
Hypocrisy à la Carte

The Portland (Maine) Press Herald offers some advice to the cable TV industry:

"Why does a sports fan have to buy a package that includes women's programming or rock music videos--or a country music afficianado [have to be] forced to pay for shopping channels or public affairs networks?

The solution is simple: Let customers pay for just the channels they want. Cable companies could sell so-called 'a la carte' programming at a bit of a markup, but would be restrained from excessive charges."

We haven't been to Maine in a while, so perhaps one of our Down East readers can answer this question for us: How much does it cost at a newsstand to buy just the sports section of the Press Herald?

I posed a similar question to the leading newspaper in Louisville, Kentucky a number of years ago in a letter to the editor when I lived nearby (there were no weblogs then; I had to play the letter-to-the-editor game).

A private company, Channel One Network, was setting up - or had proposed to set up - TV sets in Louisville public schools and was offering - free of charge - news, public affairs segments, and a few commercials to students in attendance. The local newspaper came out with clamorous condemnation of the very idea that students in public schools would be subjected to propagandizing, brainwashing and insidious corporate-induced degradation. Channel One was a for-profit operation - a corporation - and, therefore, was not to be trusted. The newspaper demanded that Louisville public schools ban Channel One.

My question to the geniuses at the paper was:

The ownership of your newspaper, last time I looked, was a for-profit corporation, and while it has news and current affairs sections, it also contains commercial advertisements. Does this mean you support a ban on your paper in the same schools?

I never heard back from the op/ed page editor and my letter never appeared in the paper. Perhaps the editorial team is still pondering the implications of its silly ethically-challenged line-in-the-sand.

Or maybe I just confused them ...