Television has been on a steady decline for many years now — not just fewer eyeballs watching glowing rectangles, but also due to a severe drop in content quality. There was a time, believe it or not, when there was intelligent and educational programming on TV. Unfortunately, those days have come and gone.
What happened to the Discover Channel and TLC?
Both the Discovery Channel and TLC have seen dramatic changes to their programming over the last decade or so, a dramatic shift from stimulating and educational to low-brow, sensationalist “reality TV”. There was a time when you might refer to TLC as The Learning Channel. Alas, that time is no more.
I grew up watching these channels, learning about the diversity of wildlife, history, science and technology and can honestly say that a good portion of what I know about the world came from these two channels that I used to watch religiously with my father. I cannot imagine what would happen to a child that were to grow up watching these channels now. Would they end up as a societal travesty like Honey Boo Boo?
TLC is undoubtedly the winner of the “Biggest Drop in Content Quality” award but Discovery comes in a close second with the History Channel as an honourable mention. While TLC has completely discarded any semblance of its former self, Discovery has tried to camouflage its content decline. While Discovery has kept a select few reasonable shows like Mythbusters, it has largely abandoned quality content as well with few shows that are not reality shows and car modification train wrecks.
Hilariously, Discovery will occasionally air a documentary to try and maintain this camouflage, however it recently blundered badly. Last month, on August 4th, 2013, Discovery aired a fake documentary about the Megalodon, a prehistoric shark that is believed to be extinct for the last 1.5 million years. They eventually confessed by adding a disclaimer at the beginning of the mockumentary the next time it was aired.
I still haven’t answered the main question posed in this post but the answer should be obvious. Discovery and TLC used to be extremely popular with intellectuals that love to learn about the world around them. Unfortunately, it seems intellectuals are too “niche”. So they have ditched their old high-brow content for something that appeals more to the “average” person.
What is truly unfortunate, is that they must be making more money as a result because they have not gone back to their previous ways yet. They pursued the dollar to the detriment of everything they used to stand for.
Thankfully, there is still one way out: Discovery World. It seems to have taken the place of the original Discovery Channel. It is still not the same, but the content is much closer to the way it used to be.
Unfortunately, it looks like intellectuals will be left to suffer in the new world of television. It’s okay, just close your eyes and do your best to block out the Honey Boo Boos and Jershey Shores in this new hell.