When the kids were just up to the age for telling the time, we gave them so many minutes per day of TV time, which could be to their choice. They learned quite quickly to select the programmes they really want to watch.
We have a telly, and religiously watch a very few programmes - Doctor Who and Robin Hood, plus news and current affairs. The lad, who is ten, will happily switch it off, the daughter (8) is getting there.
I could live with watching DVDs on a laptop or with a projector and hi-fi for the times we do that, and live without. Each season's "exciting new schedules" contain less I can stomach watching.