Why TV Is the Pits

advertisingI am increasingly distressed by, and unhappy with, BBC Canada. And BBC America isn’t any better, based on the program schedule on its website.

When BBC Canada launched as a stand-alone subscription service several years ago, it offered a truly remarkable array of programs. Now that it is established as part of a multi-channel, want-one-take-’em-all, package, it has become a warmed over re-hash of reality shows, cooking programs, DIY makeovers, middle-aged men test-driving cars, and bizarre housewife swapping extravaganzas.

What happened to the network that once offered a solid line-up of crime drama’s every Monday night? Cutting edge Britcoms on Tuesdays and Thursdays? Experimental drama’s on Fridays? Always interesting, sometimes weird, little films on Sundays?

Now, every weeknight, BBC Canada wedges one prime time drama series it’s aired countless times before between episodes of profane, abusive chefs and dysfunctional, irrational families. It sometimes tops off the night with a talk show hosted by a professional homosexual – one of those people who is famous only for being a celebrity – who keeps his audience and guests tittering with anal sex references.

BBC America offers viewers even less.

Keep in mind, the real BBC doesn’t own either the American or Candian versions of the network. So, without much say-so from London, it is evident that owners of the North American networks prime goal is to spend as little money as possible on programming and churn as much cash as possible from commercials. Worse, the network shows little regard for its “social contract” with viewers or its license agreement with federal regulators. Just because hosts speak with a British dialect and many have bad teeth does not mean it is showing “The best and boldest of British television” as it advertises.


Far from it.

BBC Canada and BBC America are living examples of the decline of network television; explanatory proof of what is wrong with so much of TV today. It explains why the medium continues to lose viewers to DVDs, the web and – for as much entertainment value as BBC Canada and BBC America offers these days – playing a game of whist with a lonely, aging, and incontinent auntie who smells of mothballs, feral cats, and cheap perfume.

What it doesn’t explain is why my cable bill keeps rising.

Yes, the economy plays a role in television’s business problems. But idiotic and unfathomable programming decisions are playing as great, if not greater, role.

Charley James
The Progressive Curmudgeon

LA Progressive


  1. Jonathan Baker says

    Really, it’s all about the money. If you (and I) want to change the programming offered on cable, we make the programming directors realize that “dumb and dumber” are not what sells. How is that done? By canceling our cable subscriptions and finding alternate modes of entertainment.

    I, too, have had it with the garbage offered on cable and I will be cutting myself loose from my cable company’s tv and voip phone service just as soon as I have set up a cell phone as my “at home” phone service over the internet, now that femtocells are being offered by the cell phone carriers. My future business arrangement with my cable company will be solely for internet access.

    My DVD player offers me Netflix and Blockbuster, when it is connected to the internet. I can watch the movies that I want to watch, when I want to watch them, and for a lot less money out of my pocket, too. My computer allows me to get the latest news and provides me with entertainment. And, of course, I can catch up on reading the classics: my neighborhood library is still open for business!

    Do I need cable TV? I think not!

  2. Harry says

    Charley, I didn’t see anything wrong with your “professional homosexual” comment. (Full disclosure: I’m a white, heterosexual guy.) It appears to me that there are people, regardless of gender, that appear to have created a public persona based on their sexual orientation. I don’t see your reference much differently than “professional cook”, “professional law maker” or any other “professional” category. For me, sexual orientation is just another category with which we define ourselves.

  3. Charley Jamea says

    Roman …

    Thanks for reading the article and taking time to comment.

    I certainly didn’t mean to state or imply that gays should not host television programs, and I apologise for my poor word choice. Rather, I was trying to illustrate the point that BBC Canada and BBC America have sunken into being just another hack network after a promising start of showing “The best and boldest of British television.”

    Instead of what I wrote, I should have simply said:

    “It sometimes tops off the night with a talk show hosted by one of those people who is famous only for being a celebrity who keeps his audience and guests tittering with anal sex references.”

    Thanks for keeping me honest.


  4. Ryan says

    “a talk show hosted by a professional homosexual”

    Why is it important that he’s gay? If he were straight, would you have written, “a talk show hosted by a professional heterosexual”? And not only do you go out of your way to point out his sexuality, but this is contained in a list of negative programming choices which you feel degrade the quality of the network. So whether you meant to or not, your implication is that his homosexuality is one of the factors which lower the quality of the programming.

    Perhaps you simply meant that his low-brow humor is what you find offensive, but if that was your intent, to qualify your statement with a declaration of his sexuality is totally unnecessary.

    Or perhaps you truly do feel that homosexuals shouldn’t be hosting TV programs. (As you are writing on a progressive website, I doubt this is the case–But I only say so to point out that your statement is unclear at best, and very offensive at worst)

  5. Roman says

    Another thing that I believe contributes to the decline of network television and I’m not speaking of cable here is the homogeny of the casting, storylines and content. As an African-American actress, I have to say that I am quite sick of seeing the white American experience hashed out over and over again in vary little variation on about three themes: hospital dramas, cop dramas and ensemble-cast “Friends/Seinfeld-esque” comedies.

    The more diverse the racial make-up of this country becomes the more the media gods try to ram down our throats that the only experiences that count in this country is those of European Americans. Where are the shows about American-born and raised Asians, Latinos, Arabs, etc? I know plenty of them because I grew up with them! Why are minorities window dressing in shows set in big cities? At least in the 70s and 80s Blacks headlined their own shows; now all we serve as is secondary or tertiary characters to the main White hero/heroine! I love all people, but I swear I get tired of watching generic, white characters. “The Sopranos” (and now “The Real Housewives of New Jersey”) was the best thing to happen to the bleaching of network tv. At least they had/have some flava!

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