I agree about the quality of the shows on FN. I've only been watching FN for about a year, and in the beginning I thought it was great. However, it didn't take long for me to see a lot of faults, and now, with one or two exceptions, I don't watch the cooking shows. Maybe that's because my style of eating isn't served by Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, and Emeril Lagasse.
The shows that do try to educate, like Alton Brown, Ellie Krieger, Sara Moulton, and to a lesser extent, Robin Miller, work for me. I'd love to see AB lose some of his shtick, but not all of. It's kinda fun to be entertained while learning something and getting some good recipes and ideas. Mario is also enjoyable as often he provides a little history or background on the food he's preparing.
I like some of the entertainment shows - Iron Chef America does it for me. I think it's tha pace at which the chefs work that holds my interest, and I always look forward to the Cat Cora episodes.
Recently I've been able to watch some PBS shows, and some shows on other channels as well. For the most part, I find them more useful because there's more instructional technique and less frenetic pacing. I wish I could get some cooking shows from these other stations here at home. Oh well, there's always Chef Talk :)