Cable FutureEditor: I am responding to your...

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Cable Future

Editor: I am responding to your Jan. 13 editorial, "Corraling Cable Television."

It has taken a tremendous amount of capital to wire America for cable. Before deregulation, cities held cable rates artificially low.

Cable operators, not banks have provided most of the financing for networks including CNN, C-SPAN, A&E; and BET. In Maryland, Home Team Sports and the Discovery Channel are perfect examples of cable networks funded and supported by the cable industry. These programming services in all likelihood would not be available today had Congress not deregulated the industry.

Cable today is one of the best entertainment values available in America. But it is not just entertainment. It provides some of the broadest and most encompassing news coverage the world has ever seen through CNN. C-SPAN provides gavel-to-gavel coverage of both houses of Congress. Network television has never offered the kind of coverage that these new programming services, developed and funded by the cable industry, have provided.

Cable rates have escalated rather sharply since 1986. For the most part they have brought the industry in line with inflation after being held artificially low before deregulation. The industry has reinvested huge sums of money in the development of the new programming networks and the new technologies used to delivery cable television today.

If passed by the House and signed by President Bush, the recently approved highly reregulatory Senate bill could potentially kill the cable industry's future growth in developing new programming services and bringing on line new technologies. Both new programming development and implementing new technologies require tremendous capital investments, frequently at great risk.

Wayne O'Dell. Annapolis.

The writer is president of the Cable Television Association of Maryland, Delaware and District of Columbia.

Not 'Benefited'

Editor: In regard to the latest debate surrounding the "benefits" of marine parks, and on the issue of captivity of marine mammals in general, I wish to state my opposition to statements made by marine park officials and others that "capture and public display of dolphins has helped save them from tuna nets."

As a representative of the organization that has researched the tuna/dolphin issue and led the fight to protect dolphins, I must state that our success in saving dolphins, and what led to the major tuna companies' decision to sell only dolphin-safe tuna, is the result of a nationwide campaign which has included a consumer boycott of all canned tuna, public demonstrations and public education including several television documentaries, not by harassing, capturing and publicly displaying wild dolphins.

The facts are that removing dolphins from wild populations that have already been depleted due to a number of natural and human-caused factors, including marine pollution, overfishing and habitat destruction, can only harm these already stressed ,, mammals. This not only endangers the dolphins, it damages the entire ocean ecosystem on which we all depend.

Brenda Killian. San Francisco.

The writer is associate director of the Earth Island Institute.

Grateful Mom

Editor: On Jan. 24, my 9-year old son, Eric, was hit by a car on Route 165, just south of Jarrettsville.

We want to thank our neighbors, the Jarrettsville Voluntary Fire Company, the Medevac crew, the doctors, nurses and staff at Johns Hopkins Hospital, all those involved that we have never met but will always be truly grateful to for their quick thinking and compassion.

At a time like that, a mother has no idea what to do. We can't express how thankful we are for having our son given back to us.

Our son crossed the road with his friend to get his mail. I am opposed to my neighbor's mailboxes being on the opposite side of the road because even the adults have a terrible time getting their mail. Route 165 has changed over the years and is now a straight thoroughfare to Pennsylvania.

The postmaster at Forest Hill said it is an inconvenience to them. Well, it is an inconvenience to have your child in Johns Hopkins Hospital with a severe concussion and a crack in his skull.

I only hope that postal authorities change their minds and attitudes and move the mailboxes to their right place so we don't have this happen again.

Carmen Lott.

Forest Hill.

COLAs

Editor: My wife and I receive Social Security benefits and strongly protest the statements in recent letters regarding cost of living increases and taxation of benefits respectively.

For 45 years these funds were deducted from our paychecks and all this time the money was accruing interest for the government's account. Now it is payback time and these individuals must think we are getting a gift. As it is, we both are caught in the "notch years" fiasco and estimate each of us is losing over $100 per month.

, Thomas W. Millenburg Jr. Baltimore.

Not Persuaded

Editor: On Jan. 26 I had the unfortunate experience of reading John Dorsey's comment on controversial art.

I call this experience unfortunate because the attitudes expressed and implied in Mr. Dorsey's article illustrate so clearly the art world's ignorance and misinterpretation of, in Mr. Dorsey's words, "maturity and good sense about freedom of expression and freedom of discussion."

Especially striking is Mr. Dorsey's characterization of the photographs of Andres Serrano and Robert Mapplethorpe as "dealing with religion and sex." One might similarly characterize "Mein Kampf" as "dealing with Judaism," or snuff films as "dealing with sexual domination." The nonchalance with which Mr. Dorsey considers the obscenities perpetrated by Serrano and Mapplethorpe and funded by taxpayers belies a scathing contempt for the normal societal standards of decency and taste which such "art" violently and offensively spurns.

Reading Mr. Dorsey's article, one gets the impression that there is a massive right-wing conspiracy to deny artists' rights to expression, publication, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. He speaks of "a trend of art bashing that . . . would be downright laughable if it were not so ominous." But it is the point of view Mr. Dorsey represents which would be downright laughable were it not held by so many otherwise intelligent people. For the kind of art the display and support of which Mr. Dorsey advocates would be downright laughable were that support not coming from taxpayers' pockets.

It would seem that Mr. Dorsey, with all his laudable discussion of political controversy and the potential art has to fuel it, is unaware of the position of the majority of his adversaries: the art of the nature of the late Robert Mapplethorpe's, for example, should not be censored; however, neither should it be funded by taxpayers.

Most people aren't terribly pleased with the idea of their hard-earned tax dollars going to fund somebody who takes pictures of himself engaged in an activity involving a bullwhip and a certain bodily orifice, an activity for which neither were in all likelihood designed. It is not the activity or the photographic recording of it that disturbs most citizens so much as the fact that they're paying for it.

The First Amendment to the Constitution, which guarantees this right, also guarantees the right to petition the government for redress of grievances and the right to free exercise of religion. But who would seriously suggest that the government should make paper, writing materials, transportation, etc. available to those who wish to do so?

And in our republican democracy, it is the preferences of the people which must inspire the decisions made when the time to subsidize art rolls around. If the people prefer "quilts and landscapes" to nude renditions of George Bush and Dolly Parton, then they should have them. And those "artists" who produce the latter should peddle their wares to a less discriminating crowd.

$ Jason A. Poling. Towson.

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