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Democracy & Technology Blog Bundles of Joy?

Many parents are fed up with violence on TV, and rightly so. This has led many social conservatives to weigh in on the side of a la carte regulation. Self-described “veteran of the culture war” Paul Weyrich of Free Congress Foundation has now joined the chorus.
Weyrich is certainly right to be appalled at the amount of time spent watching TV–so much so that he wonders if “the television set ha[s] become the equivalent of a parent.” And yes, “it would be simpler if Americans could simply pick the stations we want and not take the channels we do not.” We do not, however, have a right to demand that companies whose products we choose to buy package their product to our liking.
I’m reminded of a colleague’s reflection that when he had to replace his child’s purple crayon he had to buy an entire bundled package of crayons rather than just the one he wanted. This is a common business practice, and it is hardly conspiratorial. Companies must remain free to determine how to package their products.
I know the “just turn off the TV if you don’t like the programming” response gets old. But as Weyrich notes, a Nielsen Media study recently showed that American homes have the TV for an average of 8 hours 11 minutes everyday. So the “I’m doing my part but the bad programming keeps coming through” hardly seems true. This is not to mention V-Chip technology, set top boxes, TiVo/DVR, etc.
And finally, as content choices become ever more available–nitch content of all sorts–consumers have more freedom than ever before to find the programming they desire. Network shows are regularly available online, and cable news is hardly the only (or perhaps best) way of finding out what is going on in the world.