Free broadcast TV in U.S. in peril

Apple Online Store“For more than 60 years, TV stations have broadcast news, sports and entertainment for free and made their money by showing commercials. That might not work much longer,” Andrew Vanacore reports for The Associated Press.

“The business model is unraveling at ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and the local stations that carry the networks’ programming. Cable TV and the Web have fractured the audience for free TV and siphoned its ad dollars. The recession has squeezed advertising further, forcing broadcasters to accelerate their push for new revenue to pay for programming,” Vanacore reports.

“That will play out in living rooms across the country. The changes could mean higher cable or satellite TV bills, as the networks and local stations squeeze more fees from pay-TV providers such as Comcast and DirecTV for the right to show broadcast TV channels in their lineups,” Vanacore reports. “The networks might even ditch free broadcast signals in the next few years. Instead, they could operate as cable channels – a move that could spell the end of free TV as Americans have known it since the 1940s.”

“‘Good programing is expensive,’ Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox, told a shareholder meeting this fall. ‘It can no longer be supported solely by advertising revenues.'” Fox is pursuing its strategy in public, warning that its broadcasts – including college football bowl games – could go dark Friday for subscribers of Time Warner Cable, unless the pay-TV operator gives Fox higher fees,” Vanacore reports.

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You know, there’s one company in particular that likes to take broken, antiquated industries and fix them…


  1. “‘Good programing is expensive,’ Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns Fox, told a shareholder meeting this fall.

    …so expensive, in fact, that Fox doesn’t have any. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    I stopped watching any kind of broadcast/cable/satellite TV in 2006, and haven’t looked back since. Let’s use those TV airwaves for something that’s actually useful, like long-range wireless internet access.

  2. With the advent of HD/Digital broadcasts companies like Time Warner thought the FREE RIDE was going to continue. But they conveniently leave out of their arguments that Network Providers like Fox (and their Local Affiliates) have the right with Digital to CHARGE for their feed, unlike the older analog model where Cable Companies got it for free and built a empire on top of their backs. Now they want to bitch about having to pay a few pennys per customer! Greedy SOB’s. Either pony up or stop your bitchin!

    This happened with the Olympics as well. Our local affiliate held out and expected to get paid and eventually Time Warner HAD to. DirecTV was unaffected as they’d already worked out a agreement for their feed from the affiliate. The chinks in Time Warners armor is showing and they think their little grass roots “protest” holds water… incredible… <shakes head>

  3. That box in my living room is becoming more irrelevant everyday. It’s role has now been reduced to playing mindless chatter in the background as I busy myself with more important activities.

    I just don’t care anymore.

    I’m tired of it yelling at me, always trying to sell me something! When you think about it, woven into every plot of every show on television is this incessant desire to sell you something.

    Television is so, white-bread!

  4. I don’t get this business of “free” TV. I haven’t had free TV since I was in junior high in the early 1980s and we got cable. I’ve always had cable or satellite since. The signal quality of free TV sucked and there were only a few channels. Now I get hundreds via satellite.

  5. Looks like it’s time for me to let loose my basic cable that I’ve been paying for $9.99/month. I have a feeling though that Cox will compensate my move by increasing my monthly highspeed internet to make up the difference….greedy bastages!!!!

  6. Well here in the UK there never has been free TV. To own or rent a TV you are required to have a license for it.

    That includes computers that can display broadcast TV. This is how the BBC get their funding. And you cant avoid the license fee even if your defence is that you have never watched BBC.

    Its riskier not to have a license than be a member of Al Qaeda!

  7. I enjoy my 30″ FTA system. 200 Channels, all free, and less than $250 invested in equipment.

    Of course, there is a lot of religious/non-English stations, but there are some real gems such as 100% FREE Discovery, History Channel, RTN, THIS TV, a few Fox Channels, Ohio News Network,WHite Springs TV (24 hour old movies), and Al-Jazerra English. Lots of wild feeds for sports (I like Soccer and Hockey and there is tons of that).. Between my FTA dish and a digital antenna, I pay nothing and always have lots to watch..

  8. Losing free and independent over-the-air broadcasting is never a good thing. Some networks may not meet the “independent” criteria as much as they used to, though their affiliates still may. Cable networks can be taken over or shutdown faster than some of the smaller over-the-air independents. In countries, such as the US, where there is increasing government control, a (further) loss, or threat of loss, of free speech is not a good thing. That can protect the people through appropriate government oversight. Over-the-air radio is still alive and should stay that way. But, increasingly, large companies have been buying them out, too. Programming on most of the networks really is bad today. I don’t think their going to cable will help that much. And there are still places in the country without cable or Internet services.

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