Is the life of free Network Television dying an expensive death? There are many sources predicting the death of free TV by as soon as 2011. Maybe the demise could hold off until 2012, which would be kind of ominous, maybe even ironic to those that claim television as a blight on our culture. It is not as crazy as it may sound to those whom have never considered paying – for the costs of cable and/or satellite television signals.
As an AP article points out network television is bleeding greenbacks and not showing the quality profits as cable/satellite stations. Plus some cable/satellite stations like HBO, Showtime, USA Network, SYFY Network, Lifetime, MTV etc. have began to create their own original programming and movies. With the prodigious procreation of new cable/satellite only stations with a considerable amount of quality original programming- the available advertising dollars are spread thin. And cable/satellite stations are more creative in their selection of advertisers. I can remember 1-800 phone-sex advertising was common in the early 90’s on cable shows like the USA Up All Night with Rhonda Shear late night movie programming. Cable/satellite has also progressed (regressed?) to numerous 24 hour and late-night home-shopping programs; some even consist of selling adult themed sex toys. Trust me there is something a little unnerving, when you fall asleep in your La-z-boy rocker/recliner watching a family oriented television show and wake up to two hot babes selling forearm sized dildos on your 48″ HDTV. The cable/satellite channels have many more advertising sources to create revenue than are possible for standard broadcast television stations.
It was just about nine years ago when I got into a heated discussion over HDTV versus Standard Broadcasting TV signals, with an individual whom preached that broadcast television would always be available in standard format. I said at the time HDTV was a mandated signal switch by the Government and that stations would only broadcast in non-HDTV format as long as it was profitable. Many people told me – that I was talking crazy talk. I was talking reality that has now come to fruition. So when I read an article like the above AP story, where it claims that free network television may be going the way of the dinosaur, I tend to believe them. Companies need profit to operate and as sources of advertising revenue grow thinner – the weaker stations will die off. I suppose they could all apply for a government bailout or for endangered species protection from Obama.