There is a lot in the news today about Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexual behavior and other issues. Those comments have now led the A&E cable network to suspend Robertson indefinitely from the show, and I feel sure that there are PTC members on both sides of this latest cultural flash point.
A lot of what we do at the PTC is geared toward holding the entertainment industry and the advertisers who support them publicly accountable for the programming decisions they make via our Advertiser Accountability Campaign. In that respect, the PTC’s work is similar to what some other advocacy organizations do. However, the PTC’s mission is strictly to protect children from sex, violence and profanity in entertainment, and to do so, it’s important that we cast a wide net and bring as many people and voices who agree with our common sense mission as possible. As such, we won’t comment on the substance of what Mr. Robertson said because it’s a point of personal conviction for him and those who agree as well as those disagree with him.
But that’s not really the point that deserves to be made in all this.
Almost 10 years ago, MTV produced a Super Bowl halftime show that included the now-infamous Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake strip tease which shocked the entire world. Imagine if outraged parents and families had the ability to pick up the phone and unsubscribe from MTV the following day. It’s all but certain that millions of people would have made the economic decision to no longer support MTV with their cable subscription dollars, but the current cable cartel makes such economic activity impossible through the forcing of huge bundles of programming onto consumers.
No matter your feeling on Mr. Robertson’s comments and A&E subsequent decision to suspend him, there is no doubt that millions of fans of the show are upset with A&E’s decision in this case. Now imagine if those consumers had the ability to make a free market-based economic decision to no longer subscribe to A&E today. In a free market, consumers can “vote with their wallets” rather than have to resort to postings on social media to make their feelings known. Conversely, in a free market, those who agree with A&E’s decision could actively seek out more of their programming and pay for it.
We call on those who are upset with the programming decisions made by cable networks to support our Cable Choice campaign. Ask your Congressman and Senator to support Senator McCain’s a la carte cable legislation. If cable choice can be a reality in Canada and other parts of the world, it’s time for America to catch up.