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Evolution, revolution, and the construction of a gay cable channel
Unformatted Document Text:  5 perpetuating old stereotypes: that more and new images may not be “better” ones. (This, of course, engages the debate about “positive representations” and who has the cultural and community authority to decide what “negative” stereotyping looks like.) Further, as mainstream channels are more likely to include gay themes and shows than in the past, gay cable must offer producers of strong new shows distinct incentives to commit to a channel which is a riskier option, delivering shows with lower budgets to smaller audiences. The channel’s combined subscription and advertising revenue stream partially insulates content from advertiser pressure, but the need to appeal to advertisers at all may have a chilling effect on content, especially sexual and political content, as we have seen in gay publishing and on the Internet. On the other hand, attempts to court a heterosexual crossover audience might also have a chilling effect—although the very sexy Queer as Folk suggests straight women, at least, are more than happy to see gay men getting it on. Falk explained that the channel will abide by an R rating for all their shows: under this condition the Queer as Folk boys can talk about rimming but “pornography” would be considered beyond the pale. Finally, gay cable executives face the challenge of getting enough cable distributors to offer the service. Indeed, the R rating limit for shows may be considered necessary for general distribution. As I mentioned above, however, Queer as Folk has somewhat allayed concerns about distributors’ resistance to openly gay (and saucy) content. That the new channel will be partly subscriber-based has two advantages over network television and basic cable. Because subscribers have to opt in, the channel and distributors can counter criticism that gay cable is “force-feeding innocent children” with homosexual images, and offer as much GLBT content as audiences want (or is profitable to produce). As Gene Falk explained,

Authors: Sender, Katherine.
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perpetuating old stereotypes: that more and new images may not be “better” ones. (This, of
course, engages the debate about “positive representations” and who has the cultural and
community authority to decide what “negative” stereotyping looks like.) Further, as mainstream
channels are more likely to include gay themes and shows than in the past, gay cable must offer
producers of strong new shows distinct incentives to commit to a channel which is a riskier
option, delivering shows with lower budgets to smaller audiences. The channel’s combined
subscription and advertising revenue stream partially insulates content from advertiser pressure,
but the need to appeal to advertisers at all may have a chilling effect on content, especially sexual
and political content, as we have seen in gay publishing and on the Internet. On the other hand,
attempts to court a heterosexual crossover audience might also have a chilling effect—although
the very sexy Queer as Folk suggests straight women, at least, are more than happy to see gay
men getting it on. Falk explained that the channel will abide by an R rating for all their shows:
under this condition the Queer as Folk boys can talk about rimming but “pornography” would be
considered beyond the pale.
Finally, gay cable executives face the challenge of getting enough cable distributors to
offer the service. Indeed, the R rating limit for shows may be considered necessary for general
distribution. As I mentioned above, however, Queer as Folk has somewhat allayed concerns
about distributors’ resistance to openly gay (and saucy) content.
That the new channel will be partly subscriber-based has two advantages over network
television and basic cable. Because subscribers have to opt in, the channel and distributors can
counter criticism that gay cable is “force-feeding innocent children” with homosexual images,
and offer as much GLBT content as audiences want (or is profitable to produce). As Gene Falk
explained,


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