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Our Fragmented TV World

By RD Heldenfels Published: August 21, 2006

I get a healthy amount of reader mail, not least because I write a nationally distributed column answering TV questions. But I also get letters about things I write, especially when people are ticked off. After I wrote a column for Sunday's Beacon Journal about a new show on Oxygen, this note arrived:

''Oxygen ??  Never heard of it.  Furthermore, there is nothing listed as such in the TV Schedule. Can't you be more explicit? What/Where is Oxygen?  Stop confusing people.''

After an e-mail and a phone call, I managed to persuade that reader that Oxygen has been around for about six years, and that it is indeed in the Beacon Journal's TV grid. But beyond that, the call was a reminder of how scattered people's viewing can be. It's not simply shows that fall off the radar (as I mentioned about my own regarding ''Laguna Beach''). Entire TV operations may go unnoticed -- and not just cable ones -- because their programming doesn't aim at a broader audience, or just because there are so many channels to keep track of. So people longing for ''Summerland'' reruns may not know to look on The N, and fans of the still-not-on-DVD ''China Beach'' have to seek out AmericanLife TV for regular replays. (WE has run a couple of episodes tied to its ''Vietnam Nurses'' special.)

And I'm often reminded of what happened a couple of years ago when I wrote about ''Blue Collar TV's'' debut on The WB.

Fans of host Jeff Foxworthy called with a question. What was The WB, and where could they find it?

The WB was 9 years old at the time.

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