I think that particular quote has a lot to do with the piracy problems that TV companies face. By saying "It's all free!" rather than "You have to pay for it one way or another", this encourages people to think that downloading episodes doesn't take money away from the company. Conversely, if I am a paying customer then it's reasonable to say that they should deliver a product that's worth paying for, otherwise I'll stop buying it.
That does bring us nicely back to the "you don't have to watch it" sentiment from the original Slashdot thread though, does it not? :)
Yup, certainly. I think there's a difference between complaining about something you've just seen (spending time/money in the process), and complaining about something that you could choose not to see in the future.