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Channel Surfing Past Your Democracy

A funny paper I stumbled upon thanks to Larry Prusak who's talking about knowledge populism.

"Our cable company offers over seventy channels. About 7:00 p.m. there are mostly sitcoms, game shows, and tabloid TV. The FCC decided to strike a blow for programming diversity by effectively forbidding the major network affiliates to program network-produced shows before 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.(8) The major result of this regulation is that the independent stations (and Fox) fill the time with reruns of previous network shows. This means I get to see all the episodes of Roseanne I missed over the years. Generally speaking these are shows that appealed to a broad enough segment of the public taste that they have survived long enough to go into syndication. So much for diversity. Meanwhile local network affiliates fill the time with game shows like Wheel of Fortune and tabloid shows like Hard Copy and Inside Edition. So much for attention to serious issues. One station has started showing reruns of The Simpsons. I am delighted. Nothing like good, cynical humor that undermines everything honorable about American life.

"It may seem controversial or strange to say that there is a problem for the Madisonian system if people do not seek serious coverage of serious issues. Perhaps this suggestion is unacceptably paternalistic; perhaps we should take people however we find them. But as I have noted, the system of deliberative democracy is not supposed simply to implement existing desires. Its far more ambitious goal is to create the preconditions for a well-functioning democratic process..."

Hmmm. Let's think for a second. Nah, better to click on something else.

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