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Free broadcast TV in danger

Posted at 31 December 2009 12:10 CET by Randomus

The popularity of cable TV and Internet-based content has fractured free TV broadcasts as the industry continues to struggle to find advertisers and new viewers amidst a bad economy and new competition.

A combination of too many ways to view content and less ad dollars is putting pressure on content owners, as broadcasters expect even less ad revenue in 2010. Could an end to free, over the air broadcast TV be looming in the near future?

For example, Fox said it may black out Time Warner Cable subscribers from watching popular sitcoms and college football bowl games at the end of the week — mainly because Fox isn’t happy with the fees it is receiving from Time Warner and other companies.

Grunge vintage televisionThe outlook may change in the near future, with Comcast now controlling 51% of NBC.  Major television networks ABC, NBC, Fox and others are now moving material online, but they are still having trouble competing with Hulu and other more established sites.  Furthermore, many individual sitcoms offer full episodes, show clips, trailers, and similar material online.

If advertisers are unable to bring in adequate funds for broadcasters, subscribers may have to pay more for cable and satellite TV bills.  The problem is, many cable and satellite subscribers say they either won’t pay more, or are unable to pay more if subscription prices increase.

Comcast’s TV Everywhere service, available only to subscribers, is supposed to offer a one-stop shop entertainment portal for consumers.  If broadcasters want to remain relevant moving forward, they may have to launch similar online businesses, learning from the successful decisions and mistakes made by Hulu and Comcast.

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There are 10 comments

MyCE Junior Member
Posted on: 31 Dec 09 14:04
    I still see plenty of commercials on OTH TV. They must still be making money. Does it bother anyone else to spend $70 USD for satellite or cable services and see nothing but infomercials on at night? This is what should be better regulated. The money we pay for stations like TBS, WGN, USA, etc. that have commercials should be used to pay for upkeep of satellites, cable system, etc. Those stations should pay the providers to carry their stations to get more exposure for their advertisers. It really gripes my ass to pay to watch infomercials!
    MyCE Resident
    Posted on: 31 Dec 09 16:26
      so they want to keep going with the model, where we pay cable/sat providers to watch commericials.. yah thats going to work.

      Cable started as a way to get tv channels to areas where OTA didn't work, the stations didn't charge fee's, and cable fees were nominal.

      over the years, the networks want their cut, and theres so many non-network stations that its ads up. But now we pay to watch commericials.. pay alot to watch commericials. A business model I see struggling in the future.
      MyCE Resident
      Posted on: 31 Dec 09 17:24
        There's still a large number of people in the US who only watch over the air TV, many of which are unable to afford a cable TV bill. If the networks start dropping their OTA feeds, that would be a big shame.
        MyCE Senior Member
        Posted on: 01 Jan 10 05:18
          Here in central Florida, my local cable company, Bright House Networks (subsidiary of time Warner), is engaging in a pissing contest with Fox. If they don't settle by midnight tonight (New Year's eve/New Year's Day), there will be no Fox channels on cable locally tomorrow. All of the parties involved have so far expressed pessimism for a settlement. Of course, you can always go get some digital "rabbit ears" and see Fox, but this would not be possible if OTA broadcasting were gone.
          MyCE Resident
          Posted on: 04 Jan 10 07:03
            Would not bother me if I never got a fox channel I am hoping that sooner or later the government makes cable and other providers of tv allow us to only pay for what we want. My cable channels would be less than half.
            MyCE Resident
            Posted on: 04 Jan 10 14:41
              Originally Posted by samlar
              I am hoping that sooner or later the government makes cable and other providers of tv allow us to only pay for what we want. My cable channels would be less than half.
              Exactly . . . let ME pick the channels that I actually want to watch and then pay for them and not all the extra junk.
              New Member
              Posted on: 17 Jan 10 10:48
                FINALLY...I see someone else who is concerned about this topic. I just saw an ad run on NBC, warning that free OTA tv may soon end if we do not act.

                By "free", I do not mean commercial-free either. I mean that no one will be able to receive broadcast programming without paying a fee to one agency or another: DISH, ComCast, Direct TV, or.....eventually....the government?

                When we first began to hear about the transition to DTV, I asked myself, "WHY did we, the people, not have any say whatever in this decision? I do not want DTV. What happened to the 'will of the people'?" It did not take me long to realize that this was just the beginning of the end for free OTA tv.

                Now we have a new DTV and often the reception on certain channels is lousy: interrrupted by "pixelation" or lost signals. I see all of this as a planned conspiracy to force us to change to cable or satellite. The sad thing is that many people - retirees, low income, unemployed, etc. - cannot afford this forced change.

                Has anyone stopped to think what will become of this freedom of ours when the govt begins to exert control over cable and satellite transmissions? So much for free speech!

                If the people do not object NOW to all this forced "change", there will be an unintended result: more crime in the streets. Free tv has been the only entertainment that many young people can enjoy. When that ends, the crime rate will certainly go up too. is the time to let your representatives know that we ARE NOT HAPPY with these forced changes!
                New Member
                Posted on: 17 Jan 10 10:50
                  Sorry - duplicate entry.
                  MyCE Resident
                  Posted on: 17 Jan 10 17:13
                    The FCC sold out becuase they are getting a truckload of money for some of the leftover spectrum of channels now that analog is mostly dead. Then they claim it's better for the consumer
                    I now have many TV's that are next to useless without a cable box or outboard ATSC tuner converter that I paid good money for.
                    I'm on cable here but by the time I pay for Internet and TV I'm paying over 100 a month and Comcast and many other cable systems are or soon will encrypt all but the basic channels so you HAVE to use some form of their box to get the channels you used to get with your TV for no extra cost, sure they provide a "free" box but it's a POS that can't even do HD.
                    Tempting to tell them to stuff their TV and get a antennae again but there are many shows on cable I really like...
                    New Member
                    Posted on: 23 Feb 10 17:16
                      It is true the signal is often poor aon some station with Over the air DTV.
                      I cannot beleive that Over the air DTV could be coming to an end though.
                      One transmission tower can now broadcast a host of many channels with out have to string a wire to every home.
                      Say Fox Station broadcasting an All Sports, an All News, an ALL Movies, an ALL shopping, channel from a single tower.
                      Cost savings there.
                      No more expensive trucks and linemen to pay.
                      Cost savings there.
                      Less cost for the advertiser if their cost is spread out over the various channels of a single Network.
                      Yes they will have to buy more equipment and need to use more power but the over all cost would be less than cable or putting a Sattilite in orbit.
                      As for any job losses in the cable industry the could easily sell cell phones, :P, that would also pick up those Over the AIR Broadcast signals.
                      Just my opinion...

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