This won’t be news to anyone who knows me: I’m a big fan of movies, particularly older movies, and watch at least a movie or two every day. As I type this, for example, I’m watching a 1957 classic sci-fi film called The 27th Day, recorded off Turner Classic Movies.
In the universe of old movies, there are two cable / satellite channels that cover this genre, TCM, from the Turner network, and American Movie Classics, owned by Rainbow Media (who also owns Women’s Entertainment and the Independent Film Channel). But there’s a big difference between the two: TCM shows films unedited, uncensored and without advertisements, and AMC has been slowly degrading into a tedious network channel, complete with edited content, bleeped-out obscenities, and advertising interjected into the programs.
And that’s just what bugs me the most about AMC, their decision to ruin the movies that they ostensibly “love”…
Why does AMC include advertising? Well, they explain it thusly:
Why did AMC change its format from airing older classic movies?
In October, 2002, AMC changed its format from a classic movie channel to a broader-based movie network to appeal to a larger audience, including younger folks. We have refreshed our movie library to add some newer titles to the mix, but still feature a wide range of movies.
Why did AMC add commercials?
By adding advertising to our schedule, AMC generates additional revenue that enables us to provide a broader range of movies and original programming to our viewers. AMC carries among the fewest commercials per hour of any basic cable channel.
Let me translate: they felt that they weren’t getting a big enough viewership, so they added more contemporary movies (typically from the 80s and 90s). Those movies had higher license fees than classic archival movies, so their expenses increased. To solve the problem they didn’t place ads between movies, what we could call the PBS model, they decided that the more valuable ad placement spots are by interrupting the movies.
In my opinion, at least, that’s a terrible decision and instantly changed AMC from one of my favorite channels to one that I can only watch if I recorded the movie so I could skip through the ads, and even then only as a last resort because while I’m not a fan of obscenities, I am darn concerned with the integrity of a film that I watch, whether color, edit, composition, framing or, yes, dialog.
But AMC doesn’t just bleep out naughty words, they actively censor their content. Here’s how they explain it:
Does AMC edit movies for content?
Yes. Like most advertiser-supported networks, AMC edits programming for certain “objectionable” content, including nudity and offensive language. As a national network available on basic cable, AMC adheres to standards that will be acceptable to the majority of our viewers, our sponsors and our cable and satellite affiliates. Whenever possible, the movie studios provide us with TV-ready versions of their movies designed to be acceptable to most TV networks.
What’s so interesting about this justification is that TCM is also “a national network available on basic cable” yet they don’t edit or alter their films in any way. They have the MPAA warnings prior to the movie, warnings that let you know whether an upcoming movie has violence, obscenities, sexual situations, etc etc.
I might be alone here, but for years I have been disgusted by the editorial decisions that the team at American Movie Classics made when they switched from showing unedited classic movies without advertisements to broadening their library, adding advertising and, the worst offense, editing and censoring their content. Blech.
For me, Turner Classic Movies rocks, and if I had to pick just one channel on my TV when stuck on the proverbial desert island, it’d be TCM, no question.