57 Channels and Nothin' On The Networks' New Cable Services: Too Much, Too Late

Children play games of musical chairs. Teenagers play games of chicken. And adults make jury-rigged deals to launch expensive, redundant cable-TV channels. What else is one to make of the panic and quien-es-mas-macho giddiness variously gripping all of television's big boys right now? It's just the latest chapter in the ongoing struggle between the broadcasters -- NBC, ABC, Fox, CBS, their hundreds of affiliate stations -- and the cable-TV operators, but this time the frenzy is particularly intense and farcical, the ironies especially rich, the broadcasters wussier and the cable industry more bullying than usual.

Cable-TV operators are the robber barons...