My husband and I have noticed an interesting transformation happening with several cable network brands. Some of the more intellectual, educational networks have succumbed to reality TV hysteria, and it now seems that their content doesn't quite match the brand meaning as it was originally intended.
Consider A&E, the Arts and Entertainment Channel. If you read the description of A&E at their corporate site, it states:
Now reaching more than 88 million homes, A&E Network brings viewers the Art of Entertainment through a unique combination of three genres -- the Art of Biography, the Art of Documentary and the Art of Drama. A brand synonymous with excellence in television, A&E Network offers a diverse mix of programming ranging from critically acclaimed original series and movies, to innovative documentaries, to the Emmy award winning Biography series ...
If you watch A&E, you know they feature a lineup of such excellence in television as "Dog, the Bounty Hunter" (about a Hawaiian bounty hunting family), "Criss Angel Mindfreak" (about a David Blaine wannabe), and "Growing Up Gotti" (about the daily lives of the relatives of the famous mob boss). My husband is fond of asking: "Does this show represent the A or the E in Arts & Entertainment?" We've come to the conclusion that most of them probably represent the ampersand. Not that we don't love Dog, because he is in fact awesome, but these shows seem like strange bedfellows if you think back to the type of network A&E was when it was launched.
Then there's TLC, or the Learning Channel network. TLC features such shows as "What Not To Wear", "Trading Spaces" and "Overhaulin'". In my household, we've renamed it the Loser Channel, since it seems to be aimed at people who have no idea how to dress or decorate their home, and who drive cars in need of serious body work. When I think of TLC, I think of shows about space, and nature, and ... and ... "Sports Disasters"? As they describe it:
Through emotional storytelling, TLC seeks to unite, engage and empower people to transform their lives. TLC is one of the most valued entertainment brands in the marketplace today, a trusted place for viewers to find high-quality programming ...
High quality programming indeed. Should I watch "Miami Ink", about a tattoo parlor in Miami airing on TLC, or "Inked", about a tattoo parlor in Las Vegas airing on A&E? Decisions, decisions.