May 23, 2007

A Secular TV Channel?

Do you feel that you are bombarded with religious messages on television? Does a lack of openly atheist characters on TV trouble you? Do you ever find yourself wishing that there was a channel on which you could count on finding secular viewpoints expressed? The Atheist Jew asks, "Is it time for a secular TV channel?" What might such a channel look like, and is it feasible?

As for the programming one might find on such a channel, The Atheist Jew offers plenty of intriguing examples. He sees the channel as focusing on "science, reality and facts." It might have a 2-3 hours/day devoted to atheism where viewers would be treated to The Infidel Guy, Penn and Teller, or similarly appropriate programs. He also envisions a nightly show from the Rational Response Squad. Other programming would include secular news, movies, and other content yet to be determined.

This is an interesting idea to consider. It drives me crazy to see news shows report on religion as if it is somehow factual, going out of their way not to offend the vast numbers of people who intentionally maintain belief in ancient superstitions no less absurd than the mythology of any primitive society one can name. Time and time again, such shows propagate myths about atheism, fostering ignorance and bigotry.

Unfortunately, I do not think that such a channel would be either particularly feasible or even appealing. The problems with feasibility are obvious and include the lack of original programming, the difficulty securing advertising dollars for such a venture, and the tiny audience which would be served by such a channel. Who is going to watch such a channel, and what can they find here that they cannot find elsewhere?

Honestly, I have a hard time imagining myself wanting to watch such a channel. I love the History Channel and Discovery. When they air religious nonsense, I watch something else. I would much rather encourage a secular perspective on existing channels rather than create an artificial bubble in which freethought could flourish. The challenge is how we can gain a voice in existing media. Love them or hate them, I think this is one of the things Harris, Dawkins, and Hitchens are now doing for us.

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