April 10, 2006

“Family Tier” of Time Warner: Channels and Pricing

Posted by Eric Jaffa
Friday December 16th 2005, 5:46 pm
Filed under: PTC, Cable/Satellite, TV

Subscribers to the “family tier” from Time Warner will receive these 15 channels, according to MediaPost:

Boomerang, Discovery Kids, The Science Channel, Disney Channel, Toon Disney, Nick Games & Sports, La Familia, The Weather Channel, C-SPAN-2, C-SPAN 3, CNN Headline News, DIY Network, Food Network, HGTV, and Fit TV.

From a USA Today article by David Lieberman:

“We selected channels that were G-rated in nature, did not include ‘live’ entertainment programming and which contained content that was generally perceived as acceptable for the entire family to view,” Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt said in a statement. While prices and packages vary in different systems, Time Warner says the average Family Choice subscriber will pay $33 a month for about 35 channels. That includes the entry-level, basic service, which usually includes as many as 20 broadcast and public service channels, and $8 for a digital set-top decoder.

It seems reasonable to me that Time Warner is giving families with small children a convenient way of ordering cable TV, while at the same time avoiding content that may be inappropriate for the small kids.

« Bozell of the Parents Television Council »

Conservative Brent Bozell doesn’t see things that way:

“It is perfectly obvious Time Warner is deliberately offering a product designed to fail,” Parents Television Council President L. Brent Bozell said in a statement. “According to Time Warner, no family should want to watch sports. According to Time Warner, no family should want to receive any news channel other than Time Warner’s CNN. According to Time Warner, classic movies are not appropriate for families. And neither is religious programming.”

At the PTC website, Brent Bozell lists channels he thinks Time Warner should have included in the package, but didn’t. The following AREN’T in the family tier package:

History Channel, QVC, Turner Classic Movies, Home Shopping Network, TVLand, Biography Channel, Animal Planet, The Learning Channel, Hallmark Channel, Game Show Network, ESPN, MSNBC, ESPN2, Fox News Channel, ESPN Classics, CNBC, Outdoor Life, WORD Network, Golf Network, Eternal Word Television Network, Speed Network,Trinity Broadcasting Network, Travel Channel, Inspiration Network, CMT, Sprout, and GAC.

Bozell implies that the family tier lineup is entirely Time Warner’s decision. In reality, Time Warner has to negotiate with the content providers on these issues. I assume that the Sprout channel, which shows a lot of cartoons for small children, wasn’t included for contractual reasons.

Regarding Fox News and MSNBC, there is discussion of pornography on both channels. They don’t meet the G-rated criteria of Time Warner for the family tier.

Regarding sports channels, some athletes curse. (Expletives aren’t a big deal to me, but they are to the PTC.) Also, the two biggest “indecency” controversies of the past two years involved football: Janet Jackson exposed a breast during the Super Bowl half-time show; and during a promo for “Desperate Housewives” at a Monday Night Football broadcast, DH star Nicolette Sheridan pretended to come onto then-Philadelphia Eagle Terrell Owens.

Regarding classic movies, the “classic” movies broadcast on Turner Classic Movies aren’t necessarily appropriate for small children. TCM is showing “He Walked by Night” tomorrow morning at 7AM Central. “He Walked by Night” is a 1948 noir film about a serial killer, and it was the basis for the TV series “Dragnet.” The PTC has often complained about the crime-heavy plot lines (plots as well as imagery) of current-day television shows like CSI and NCIS.

Regarding the TVLand channel, which shows sitcoms, one of their shows is “Night Court.” The prosecutors on the show likes soliciting prostitutes. TVLand has also aired “Three’s Company,” the sex-com from the late 70s and early 80s about a man who lives with two women. These shows aren’t necessarily appropriate for small children.

« It’s not all or nothing »

A family with small children, in which the parents want to subscribe to channels different from those offered in family-tier, can order “basic cable” and easily block channels they don’t want.

All major cable and satellite providers offer such blocking technologies. Information on how to configure channel blockers is available at ControlYourTV.org.

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