Is The End Of Free Broadcast TV Fast Approaching?

First it was the newspaper that started to fail across the country; now it seems that free broadcast of TV may soon end as well. It seems that the old business model for ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox of paying for their programing via commercials may not be enough to keep these stations alive much longer. Now these stations are asking that cable TV start to pay to view their content. Some are even saying that TV stations could stop broadcasting their signals for free and instead become paid content for cable and satellite subscribers.

A recent article states:

“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. For its part, Time Warner Cable is asking customers whether it should “roll over” or “get tough” in negotiations.

The future of free TV also could be altered as the biggest pay-TV provider, Comcast Corp., prepares to take control of NBC. Comcast has not signaled plans to end NBC’s free broadcasts. But Jeff Zucker, who runs NBC and its sister cable channels such as CNBC and Bravo, told investors this month that “the cable model is just superior to the broadcast model.”

The traditional broadcast model works like this: CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox distribute shows through a network of local stations. The networks own a few stations in big markets, but most are “affiliates,” owned by separate companies.

And there is this:

A small chunk of the ad revenue is being recouped online, where the networks sell episodes for a few dollars each or run ads alongside shows on sites such as Hulu. Media economist Jack Myers projects online video advertising will grow into a $2 billion business by 2012, from just $350 million to $400 million in 2009.

But that is not significant enough to make up for the lost ad revenue on the airwaves. Advertisers spent $34 billion on broadcast commercials in 2008, down by $2.4 billion from two years earlier, according to the Television Bureau of Advertising.

There he is once again. Old Rupert rears his ugly head once again crying he isn’t making enough money on his investment. I hope that the cable companies hold their ground. Let the TV stations go belly up. There are pay channels that would be happy to pick up the programming that free TV leaves behind.

What do you think? Is it time for broadcast TV to go the way of the dodo?  Or is it time for Rupert Murdoch to go the way of the dodo?

Comments welcome.

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I have been writing for LockerGnome since relocating to Missouri seven years ago, where I continue to be a technology enthusiast who enjoys playing with the newest and latest gadgets.

  • leftystrat

    Judging by the `quality’, it’s almost already dead.

  • http://wp3.lockergnome.com/nexus/blade/ Ron Schenone

    Are you saying you could live without American Idol? LOL

    Have a great New Year!

  • Dick

    I’ve had no TV for over 5 years now. It’s been wonderful.
    I see what’s on while visiting others, and it’s not getting any better.

  • Tom

    Let’s hope not. Over the air broadcasting is practically the ONLY FREE source of information left for Americans.

  • Glen Abalayan

    I barely even watch television these days, mainly because its programming, except the news, isn’t interesting anymore. There’s always the same shows having the same exact plot that after a few years, it becomes bland. Then there’s the summer replays with those so called “reality shows” :{P And this is why I watch YouTube instead. :{D

  • tony teeee

    rupert murdoch is a greedy old bastard.

  • winchesterdoug

    I cancelled my cable TV and put up a digital TV antenna because the cable bill was getting too high. I am retired and can’t afford to be paying $700 a year to watch television. But I have been telling my friends that the crooks that run the cable and satellite companies would find a way to do away with free over the air TV. Seems like it is happening sooner than I had expected. Poor people in this country cannot get a break on anything. This country is run by the rich for the rich. It is such a pathetic joke.

  • Cheryl

    Our government just made a significant investment of $40 vouchers so that citizens recieving TV signals by antenna could make the HD transition using a converter box. Especially with the recent demise of many local daily news papers we need broadcast TV. We still have AM radio. Many said it would die with the advent of FM, then TV. Networks need to ride the tide just like the rest of us. Of course revenues are down in a recession! Subscription TV and radio are way overpriced. Maybe if so many household didn’t go COMCASTIC they might have money for mortgage, utility, food, and medical concerns.

  • Joe

    If the credit card companies tried to charge me to use their product I would cut them off; the same goes for TV, if they do away with free over the air broadcasting I will stop watching. I gave up cable and satellite because the programming was not worth 2 cents and now this new digital signal comes and goes like satellite in a rainstorm, it’s a disaster. The suckers will pay $10 a day for TV but millions of us will shut it off and curse the greedy sons and daughters of a Beaach. If the credit card companies tried to charge me to use their product I would cut them off; the same goes for TV, if they do away with free over the air broadcasting I will stop watching. I gave up cable and satellite because the programming was not worth 2 cents and now this new digital signal comes and goes like satellite in a rainstorm, it’s a disaster. The suckers will pay $10 a day for TV but millions of us will shut it off and curse the greedy sons and daughters of a Beaach.

  • KsDevil

    If the networks exit the broadcast TV market, the micro-power movement will fill the gap. Just like the internet, small groups and individuals will transmit their own message free of corporate influence.
    Local affilliate stations will have to either go away or become more creative in attracting a local audience. They would also become free agents instead of being slaves to a single corporate mentality.
    I say it’s a good thing for the people. After all, the airwaves belong to the people.

  • Elmer Fudd

    After all, the airwaves belong to the people.

    UH, Hello, the stations own the frequencies. Do you honestly think they’ll sell it off so that someone else can compete with them. This is a serious problem for those who are sick of getting stuck by the fat cats.

  • http://wp3.lockergnome.com....endoffreebroadcastTV? Ron

    Rupert can go pound sand. Even though I am a cable customer right now, I have used the free airwaves in the past when I just did not want to afford cable TV.

    Yeah, right, doesn’t matter what American citizens want, it’s the big money that’s going to eventually win on this latest way to control the airwaves.

    Just like digital TV broadcast vs. old analog. Cable companies got their way, didn’t they?

    Yes, I know, going to digital TV broadcast freed up more frequencies for cell phones and the like, but now one cannot tune in a fringe TV station on the airwaves with digital. It’s all or nothing. Thanks cable companies.

    You think our congresspeople and senators care? NO. One word…Lobbists. We need to put a two term limit on senators and a 6 term limit on our representatives (twelve years total for both positions). That way these public servants don’t become carreer Washingtion payroll leaches nor become too powerful and connected.

    Take care.

  • Kelly

    Broadcast TV has been free since we got our first set (when I was a baby, late 50’s)…my grandparents paid only a couple of dollars a month for cable (they were out of range for broadcast) for a dozen or so stations from a wide radius. After enough cable battles over the years (they don’t understand BASIC, & always tried to connect/charge for more), I settled for one (sometimes 2!) stations I could pick up from 45 miles out. Now, with the digital box, I get those, plus a couple more, depending on how the wind blows (my antenna…a gifted relic from a friend).
    I already have to PAY for satellite radio to listen to someone else’s musical choices (can pick up no stations in this river valley)…this seems a very effective way of cutting the public off from local news…or anything else Mr. Murdoch doesn’t want us to know (wonder how life in Beijing is treating him)

  • Jim

    Holy cork sucking son of a ditch fatman how much are they going to charge per molecule of air water how about charging me just because I opened my wallet. this greed needs to stop or people need to get thier defication together and march on a capitol that gives a hoot about the folks that elected them. I can’t even describe how pissed I am. Is greed the only thing in this world that matters any more!!!
    I’ll stop watching T.V. altogether and if I am uninformed tuff! Oh so we have to pay to be informed now. If there is a disaster of some type we have to pay to find out. Guess who got elected pay anjd see. Mother of dog do give me a break.
    Rupert can pound more thasn just sand, maybe the gene pool with weed out people like him, greenspan, and a few others Gawd !!!!