'Over-the-top' violence in 'The Walking Dead' sparks calls for cable choice

by Michael Foust |

LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – The president of the Parents Television Council says cable and satellite customers deserve more control over what they pay for in light of an extremely graphic opening to season seven of AMC's The Walking Dead.

The horror TV drama follows the story of a sheriff as he tries to survive a post- apocalyptic America overrun by zombies. The series has been a ratings hit, and its season debut in late October was the second-highest debut for the series in its seven years.

"It's not enough to 'change the channel,' as some people like to advocate, because cable subscribers – regardless of whether they want AMC or watch its programming – are still forced to subsidize violent content," said PTC President Tim Winter. "This brutally-explicit show is a powerful demonstration of why families should have greater control over the TV networks they purchase from their cable and satellite providers."

The season debut featured a villain brutally beating two people to death with a barbed-wire-covered baseball bat. Forbes.com contributor Erik Kain called it "over-the-top, even for The Walking Dead."

"Worse, it was the kind of death that put all the focus on the gore and on the shock value rather than on the loss of a beloved character," Kain wrote.

Winter acknowledged the show's success but argued that "most Americans do not want that kind of ultra-graphic and violent content coming into their homes." Instead of being forced to buy a bundle of channels, customers should have the option of not paying for AMC, Winter argued.

"If they want to watch a football game on Sunday night, or if they want to watch the Chicago Cubs clinch their first pennant in three generations, or if they want to watch news coverage of the election, they are forced to underwrite it as part of their programming bundle," Winter said. "[W]hen a basic cable network like AMC edges or even surpasses the premium networks in terms of explicit content, consumers must be afforded more control over which networks they purchase and which networks they don't."