Don't Forget Viewers' Views

Well, Disney/ABC and Time Warner, was it really worth it?

Protests are brewing in living rooms from L.A. to New York after Time Warner pulled ABC from 3.5 million cable viewers. Regis Philbin had to create new millionaires - short a few million viewers!

Yet the corporate media titans battle on regardless. Cable giant Time Warner says Disney, owner of ABC and its top-rated lineup of shows, wants unreasonable fees for running its shows. Disney says Time Warner is throwing its cable-monopoly weight around - and getting even for Disney's vocal opposition to the pending merger between Time Warner and Internet powerhouse America Online.

We say it's time to step back and consider what's really going on.

Cable, satellite, and other means of transmission are locked in hot competition. Digital technology and the Internet are transforming the notion of electronic information and entertainment. Corporations are wrestling over who'll control the interactive features on future Internet/TV programming.

Meanwhile, the idea of public airwaves run for the public good has been shoved into the background.

Technological forces seem to be outrunning government regulators. Nonetheless, Disney is pleading with the Federal Communications Commission to curb Time Warner.

A somewhat leery FCC should take the leap. Here's an opportunity to reaffirm the public interest. Corporate pique is no excuse for lapsed or inconsistent service - now, or in the digitally interactive future we're beaming toward.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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